Traveling to Dubrovnik, Croatia

Traveling to Dubrovnik, Croatia

The islands of the Dalmatian coast are the most architecturally beautiful in the world. Dubrovnik is the most famous resort of the Dalmatian coast, has not only managed to preserve its 16th century atmosphere, but has 250 days of sunshine too. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the warring between Venice and Ragusa (Dubrovnik) left a legacy of handsome fortified cities built of honey-colored stone, of which Hvar’s is the finest.

It is fashioned around an enormous piazza, a Baroque cathedral at one end, a small-boat harbor at the other, and is flanked by Gothic Venetian palaces. Occupying one corner is a building known as the Arsenal: It is topped by a theater that was built in 1612, when Shakespeare was still alive, and is claimed to be the oldest public theater in Europe. The ancient part of the Dubrovnik town is encircled by high walls with huge guard towers. There are many outstanding buildings including the Church of Sveti Spas, St Saviour, the Sponza Palace, and the Rector’s Palace.

During the summer festival of Dubrovnik Shakespeare is performed in the Lovrejenac fortress, concerts are given in the Sponza Palace and all the countryards and squares are used for operas, plays and music. Among restauruants are the Dubravka Cafe, the Jadron at the old convent near the Onofrio fountain, and the Ocean, specializing in grilled meats. For something different, have lunch in a Benedictine abbey on the nearby isle of Lokrum.

Mannheim and Heidelberg in Germany

Mannheim and Heidelberg in Germany

Mannheim, further west along the Neckar River, is the second largest inland port in Europe. The 17th century town center is laid out like a chessboard: the streets are numbered and the blocks are lettered. The Elector’s Palace is a large baroque building with a lovely library. The Fine Arts Museum has a good collection of 19 – 20th century European paintings.

The first bicycle and the first automobile (Benz) were built in Mannheim. Karlsruhe, about 40 miles south, is an elegant city with a Ducal Palace and an excellent collection of German Primitive Paintings in its Art Museum. About 80 miles east of Frankfurt lies Würzburg. The baroque Residenz Palace has a splendidly decorated Great Hall. In the Imperial Fortress (Marienberg Festung) is a superb collection of the religious woodcarvings of Riemenschneider.

Heilderberg, 50 miles south of Frankfurt, is a romantic university town at the head of the Neckar Valley. The old quarter is clustered around a Gothic church. The famous castle (reached by cable railway) and old bridge are illuminated in summer. In the town musuem, partly housed in a baroque palace, is the Twelve Apostles altarpiece by the 16th century woodcarver Riemenschneider.

Frankfurt: Once upon a time Goethe lived there

Frankfurt: Once upon a time Goethe lived there

Frankfurt is equally proud of its international trade fairs and of Goethe, whose birthplace is now a museum (Grosser Hirschgraben 23). The highlights of the old part of town are the steeply gabled Gothic bulidnigs on Römerberg square, including the Town hall with the Emperor’s Coronation Hall, the Cathedral with its tall 15th century bell tower, St Leonhard’s and St Nicholas’ churces and the Carmelite monastery which houses a museum. Frankfurt Zoo is one of world’s greatest: afternoon concerts and plays are presented here.

Frankfurt Landmarks

Römer

“Römer” is the German word for “Roman” and the name of a complex of nine houses that form Frankfurt city hall (Rathaus). The houses were acquired by the city council in 1405 from a wealthy merchant family. The middle house became the city hall and was later connected with its neighbours. The Kaisersaal (“Emperor’s Hall”) is located on the upper floor and is where the newly crowned emperors held their banquets. The Römer was partially destroyed in World War II and later rebuilt. The surrounding square, the Römerberg, is named after the city hall.

The former Altstadt (old town) quarter between the Römer and the Frankfurt Cathedral was to be redeveloped as the Dom-Römer Quarter through 2016, including reconstructions of historical buildings that were destroyed during World War II.

Frankfurt: Once upon a time Goethe lived there

Frankfurt Cathedral (Dom)

Saint Bartholomew’s Cathedral (Dom Sankt Bartholomäus), (named after Bartholomew the Apostle), is a Gothic building constructed in the 14th and 15th centuries on the foundation of an earlier church from the Merovingian time. From 1356 onwards, kings of the Holy Roman Empire were elected in this church, and from 1562 to 1792, Roman-German emperors were crowned there. It is the city’s main church.

Since the 18th century, St. Bartholomew’s has been called “the cathedral” by the people, although it was never a bishop’s seat. In 1867, it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in its present style. It was again partially destroyed in World War II and rebuilt in the 1950s. Its height is 95 meters. The cathedral tower has a viewing platform open to the public at a height of 66 meters, accessed through a narrow spiral staircase with 386 steps.

Frankfurt Cathedral (Dom)

Saint Bartholomew’s Cathedral (Dom Sankt Bartholomäus), (named after Bartholomew the Apostle), is a Gothic building constructed in the 14th and 15th centuries on the foundation of an earlier church from the Merovingian time. From 1356 onwards, kings of the Holy Roman Empire were elected in this church, and from 1562 to 1792, Roman-German emperors were crowned there. It is the city’s main church.

Since the 18th century, St. Bartholomew’s has been called “the cathedral” by the people, although it was never a bishop’s seat. In 1867, it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in its present style. It was again partially destroyed in World War II and rebuilt in the 1950s. Its height is 95 meters. The cathedral tower has a viewing platform open to the public at a height of 66 meters, accessed through a narrow spiral staircase with 386 steps.

Saint Paul’s Church

Saint Paul’s Church (Paulskirche) is a national historic monument in Germany because it was the seat of the first democratically elected Parliament in 1848. It was established in 1789 as a Protestant church, but was not completed until 1833. Its importance has its roots in the Frankfurt Parliament, which met in the church during the revolutionary years of 1848/49 in order to write a constitution for a united Germany. The attempt failed because the monarchs of Prussia and Austria did not want to lose power. In 1849 Prussian troops ended the democratic experiment by force and the parliament dissolved. Afterwards, the building was used for church services again.

St. Paul’s was partially destroyed in World War II, particularly its interior, which now has a modern appearance. It was quickly and symbolically rebuilt after the war; today it is used mainly for exhibitions and events.

Archäologischer Garten Frankfurt

The Archaeological Garden contains small parts of the oldest recovered buildings: an ancient Roman settlement and the Frankfurt Royal Palace (Kaiserpfalz Frankfurt) from the 6th century. The garden is located between the Römerberg and St. Bartholomew’s. It was discovered after World War II when the area was heavily bombed and later partly rebuilt. The remains were preserved and are now open to the public. There are plans underway to construct a building on top of the garden but anyhow it is decided that the garden will stay open to the public.

Haus Wertheim

Wertheim House is the only timbered house in the Altstadt district that survived the heavy bombings of World War II undamaged. It is located on the Römerberg next to the Historical Museum.

Saalhof

The Saalhof is the oldest conserved building in the Altstadt district and dates to the 12th century. It was used as an exhibition hall by Dutch clothiers when trade fairs were held during the 14th and 15th century. The Saalhof was partly destroyed in World War II and later rebuilt. Today it serves as a part of the Historical Museum.

Eiserner Steg

The Eiserner Steg (Iron Bridge) is a pedestrian-only bridge over the Main river that connects Römerberg and Sachsenhausen. It was built in 1868 and was the second bridge to cross the river. After World War II, when it was blown up by the Wehrmacht, it was quickly rebuilt in 1946. Today some 10,000 people cross the bridge on a daily basis.

Hauptwache

Although today “Hauptwache” is mostly associated with the inner-city underground train station of the same name, the name originates from a baroque building on the square above the station. The Hauptwache building was constructed in 1730 and was used as a prison, therefore the name that translates as “main guard-house”. Today the square surrounding the building is also called “Hauptwache” (formal: An der Hauptwache). It is situated in the city centre opposite to St. Catherine’s Church and houses a famous café.

Frankfurt Central Station

Frankfurt Central Station (Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof), which opened in 1888, was built as the central train station for Frankfurt to replace three smaller train stations in the city centre and to boost the needed capacity for travellers. It was constructed as a terminus station and was the largest train station in Europe by floor area until 1915 when Leipzig Central Station was opened. Its three main halls were constructed in a neorenaissance-style, while the later enlargement with two outer halls in 1924 was constructed in neoclassic-style.

Traveling to Valetta, Malta

Traveling to Valetta, Malta

Lying between Sicily and North Africa are Malta and her sister islands of Gozo and Comino. There are modern hotels, night clubs, discotheques, an elegant casino and a coastline with first class facilities for swimming and all water sports. But Malta is also the historical island of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem who, from 1530 to 1798, built palaces and churches and defended their fortress against all invaders, including the Turks’ attack during the Great Siege of 1565.

Valletta, the island’s capital, designed by Francesco Laparelli, Michelangelo’s assintant is named after Jean de Vallette, the heroic Grand Master who organized the island’s defences at the time of the Siege. At the beginning of the 19th Century the British came and they stayed until the island was granted independence in 1964.

Climate is high summer can be oven hot, but there’s usually a light breeze. Winter is mild, but you will need a raincoat. Sunshine all the year round. Nearly everybody speaks English, Maltese and Italian.

Lupa Airport is four miles from Valletta. Airport bus service. Taxis are metered. Most hotels charge bed and breakfast, though fulland half pension terms can be arranged. Your travel agent, or the Malta Tourist Board (9 Merchants Street, Valletta) will give you a complete list of hotels. Most hotels add a 10 % service charge. Rates usually lower between November and March.

Katmandu with Temples and Palaces in Nepal

Katmandu with Temples and Palaces in Nepal

Katmandu is a medieval city set 5.000 feet above sea level in the terraced foothills of the Himalayas, guarded by the white tops of Everest and Annapurna. Visit Hanuman Dhaka, the traditional seat of Royalty with its multi-roofed temples and palaces all intricately carved; the Temple of the Living Goddess with profusely carved wooden balconies and latticed windows; the temple of Kashta Mandap, said to be built from the timber of a single tree. Buddhist stupas like Swayambhu and Bouddha are massive and artistic.

Near to Katmandu is Nagarkot, a mountain resort with a sweeping view of the eastern region of the Himalayas, including Mount Everest. Patan, three miles south of Katmandu, is a city abounding in Buddhist monuments and Hindu temples.

Bhadgaon, nine miles east of Katmandu is the home of Napalese medieval art. It is a gold mine of stone sculptures, wood carvings, temples anld palaces. Danbar Square is full of pagodas and statues. The Golden Gate is a masterpiece in sculpture and embellishments. The Picture Gallery in Bhadgaon contains many valuable and beautiful works of Tantra art.

Namche Bazar is the gateway to the Everest region; 180 miles from Katmandu, it gives you a panoramic view of Sagarmatha (Everest) Llotse, Nhuptse and Ama Dablam. This region is the home of the Sherpas. Pokhara Valley, a 45 minute flight from Katmandu is one of the most picturesque spots in Nepal. The beautiful lakes of the valley fed by glaciers of the Annapurna Range make this region ideal for trekking.

Tiger Tops is a ‘treetop’ hotel in the heart of 1.000 square mile wild life sanctuary has singles including tours and airport transfer.

Famous Places in Nicosia, the Capital of Cyprus

Famous Places in Nicosia, the Capital of Cyprus

Nicosia is the largest city on the island of Cyprus. It is located near the centre of the Mesaoria plain, on the banks of the River Pedieos.

Nicosia is the capital and seat of government of the Republic of Cyprus, and as such is the farthest southeast of all EU member states’ capitals. It has been continuously inhabited for over 4,500 years and has been the capital of Cyprus since the 10th century. Nicosia was divided into the southern Greek Cypriot and the northern Turkish Cypriot parts in 1963, following the intercommunal violence that broke out in the city. Today, the northern part of the city is the capital of Northern Cyprus, a de facto state that is considered to be occupied Cypriot territory by the international community.

Apart from its legislative and administrative functions, Nicosia has established itself as the island’s financial capital and its main international business centre. In 2012, Nicosia was the 5th richest city in the world in relative purchasing power.

The Cyprus Museum in Nicosia is the largest and oldest archaeological museum in CyprusIn old Nicosia, the Ethnological Museum (Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios Mansion) is the most important example of urban architecture of the last century of Ottoman domination which survives in old Nicosia.

Today, the mansion which was awarded the Europa Nostra prize for its exemplary renovation work, functions as a museum where a collection of artifacts from the Byzantine, Medieval and Ottoman periods are displayed. Other museums in Nicosia include the Cyprus Museum of Natural History and the Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia and Von World Pens Hall in the south.

In the north, the Dervish Pasha Mansion, similar in architecture to the Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios Mansion, serves as an ethnological museum, displaying Ottoman and archaeological artifacts. Other museums include the Lusignan House, the Mevlevi Tekke Museum, associated with the sect of the Whirling Dervishes, and the Lapidary Museum.

Nicosia offers a wide variety of musical and theatrical events, organized either by the municipality or independent organizations. Leventis Gallery hosts over 800 paintings from Cypriot, Greek or European artists.

In June 2011, Nicosia launched a failed campaign to become the European Capital of Culture for 2017. Nicosia hosted the Miss Universe 2000 pageant.

Val de Loire: The land of the nobility, partisans and revolutionaries

Val de Loire: The land of the nobility, partisans and revolutionaries

The river Loire flows through the Chateau Country: five centuries of the history of France beautifully preserved in magnificent castles, fortresses and abbeys. Kings and Queens and the nobility, partisans and revolutionaries come to life again in the gorgeous son et lumiere spectacles.

Traveling south by car along the N10 highways, you will come to the fortress castle of Chateaudun; follow the same route and you will reach the Loire and the city of Tours, the center of this region. To the east, along the valley (upstream) you will find Amboise, in whose chateau Charles VIII died and where 1,500 Huguenot conspirators were massacred in 1560; Blois, where you will be shown the death chamber of Catherine de Medici; Chambord, which has 440 rooms, walled-in gardens and the largest estate in France.

Westward along the walley towards the Atlantic, you will come to Azy le Rideau, with one of the most beautiful castles of early Renaissance; Saumur, renowned for the Cavalry School and its Cadre Noir (Black Squadron); Angers, whose chateau with 190-ft high towers is surrounded with 30-ft deep moats and where you shouldsee the Cathedral Saint Maurice and the Museum of Tapestry. There are 120 castles to visit. You must see the vineyards of Vouvray, where some of the finest wines in the world come from, and the Cognac country. If you are in France on 7 and 8 May, go to Orleans for the annual festival of Joan of Arc.

Historical Buildings in Antwerp, Belgium

Historical Buildings in Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerp, the second city, has the Cathedral of Notre Dame in its heart containing three major Rubens paintings; the Elevation of the Cross; the Deposition; and the Assumption. The house Rubens occupied for the last 25 years of life is off the Meir (9 Rubensstraat). The Gallery of Fine Arts (Leopold de Waelplaats) has over 1,000 works by Old Masters. Antwerp has its own Grand Place with the Stadhuis, a Renaissance Town Hall.

The Century Hotel (60 – 62 Keyserlei), Antwerp Docks (82 Noordelaan 100), the Excelsior (Pelikaanstraat 8) and the Grand Hotel de Londres (58 de Keyserlei), the Tourist (Pelikaanstraat 22).

There are a number of theaters, mostly Flemish, which leaves the Royal Opera (3 Frankrijlei) if you do not speak Flemish. Ancienne Belgique (26 Kipdorpvest) and Billard Palace (Astridplein) are both music halls, and symphony concerts are held at the Queen Elizabeth concert hall. Restaurants in Antwerp include La Rade (8 Van Dyck Kaai), the best and most expensive; Criterium (25 de Keyserlei); Le Gourmet sans Chique (3 Vestingstraat) and Terminal (214 Leopolddok).

Historical Buildings on Ostend Harbor in Belgium

Historical Buildings on Ostend Harbor in Belgium

Ostend is perhaps the most famous of the seaside towns, with a promenade 100 feet wide and 10 miles long. The city has an aquarium, casinos, and Royal Theater. Hotels include the Palais des Thermes (or Grand Hotel), the Imperial (76 van Iseghemlaan) and Wellington (60 Promenade Albert 1er), the Royal Astor (15 rue Cerf).

Other spots worth visiting on the coast are Knokke Le Zoute – stay either at Chateau de Namur (Avenue Milieu Monde 1) or Grand Hotel de Flandre (Place de la Gare 14) – Zeebrugge, one of the newer coastal resorts and Le Coq, expensive and still largely unspoilt.

In earlier times, Ostend was a small village built on the east-end (oost-einde) of an island (originally called Testerep) between the North Sea and a beach lake. Although small, the village rose to the status of “town” around 1265 when the inhabitants were allowed to hold a market and to build a market hall.

The major source of income for the inhabitants was fishing. The North Sea coastline has always been rather unstable and in 1395 the inhabitants decided to build a new Ostend behind large dikes and further away from the always-threatening sea.

Ostend is famous for its sea-side esplanade, including the Royal Galleries of Ostend, pier, and fine-sand beaches. Ostend is visited by many day-trippers heading to the beaches, especially during July and August. Tourists from inland Belgium and foreigners mostly arrive by train (day trips) and head for the closest beach area, the Klein Strand, located next to the pier. The locals and other residents in Belgium usually occupy the larger beach (het Groot Strand). Ostend used to be widely visited by the British, Germans, French and Dutch, but is now mainly frequented by Belgians and Dutch.

Near the beach is a well-preserved section of the fortified Atlantic Wall, open to the public as the Atlantic Wall Open Air Museum located in Raversijde. During summer evenings (or just any kind of weather) one can walk through the little streets around Het Vissersplein. At certain times there are local markets in the neighbourhood streets and in the summer the Vissersplein has music festivals. The Vissersplein (Bonenstraat / Kadzandstraat) is a car free zone with many brasseries where patrons can sit outside and have a drink. Towards the port side there are many little fish outlets, and beyond that the ferries can be observed docking.

Interesting locations

— The Casino and Fort Napoleon, Ostend.
— Oostende railway station.
— The Mercator, the ex training sailing ship for Belgian merchant navy officers, now open to the public to view.
— Hippodrome Wellington, horse racing venue.
— St Petrus and St Paulus Church, Ostend (Sint-Petrus-en-Pauluskerk), built in Neo Gothic style.

Petra, The Holy Land Buildings in Jordan

Petra, The Holy Land Buildings in Jordan

Petra, originally known as Raqmu to the Nabataeans, is a historical and archaeological city in the southern Jordanian governorate of Ma’an that is famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. Another name for Petra is the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved.

Established possibly as early as 312 BC as the capital city of the Arab Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan, as well as Jordan’s most-visited tourist attraction. It lies on the slope of Jebel al-Madhbah (identified by some as the biblical Mount Hor) in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.

The site remained unknown to the western world until 1812, when it was introduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. It was described as “a rose-red city half as old as time” in a Newdigate Prize-winning poem by John William Burgon. UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”. Petra was named amongst the New7Wonders of the World in 2007 and was also chosen by the Smithsonian Magazine as one of the “28 Places to See Before You Die”.