San Remo in a Few Hours

San Remo

 

San Remo is a picturesque city in north-western Italy, on the Mediterranean coast, and a well-known tourist destination famous for its tropical parks and gardens, palaces, casinos, boutiques and its never-ending festive atmosphere.

It hosts numerous events, such as the San Remo Music Festival, the Milan–San Remo cycling race, the biggest annual flower fair in Italy, many contests, performances, car races, tennis tournaments, rowing competitions, a sailing regatta, and a variety of fashion shows.

The Lolli Palace
The Lolli Palace

If you have just a few hours at your disposal to visit it, I suggest, as always, my itinerary, that will enable you to see its most interesting sites in the shortest period of time.

  1. The Lungomare dell’Imperatrice
  2. The Russian Orthodox Church
  3. The Villa Angerer
  4. The Casino of San Remo
  5. Corso Matteotti
  6. The Convent of the Capuchin Friars
  7. The Cathedral of San Siro
  8. La Pigna
  9. The Sanctuary of the Madonna Della Costa
  10. The Statue of Mike Bongiorno
  11. The Museum of Palazzo Borea d’Olmo
  12. The Ariston Theater
  13. The Monumento ai caduti
  14. The Forte Santa Tecla
  15. The Anima in Quartetto
  16. The Villa Ormond
  17. The Villa of Alfred Nobel
The Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church

We will start our tour from the Lungomare dell’Imperatrice, and the Lolli Palace.

It is a long, seafront street, with palms and a cozy pedestrian area of a white and reddish checkerboard floor, and with a white marble statue called “Venere dei Fiori” or “Primavera”, representing young, barefoot lady with raising arms full of flowers.

Next to the Lolli Palace there is the Russian Orthodox Church, a legacy of the Russian Empress Maria Alexandrovna, an amazing structure built in 1913 resembling a classic Russian cathedral from the 17th century, with a beautiful stone carving, and a sophisticated interior design, and with an inestimable collection of Russian icons.

The Villa Angerer
The Villa Angerer

Just before the Casino of San Remo there is a hidden sleeping beauty, the Villa Angerer, a beautiful Art Nouveau masterpiece, unfortunately left to oblivion by its present owner. It was built in the early 1900’s by the Austrian lawyer Angerer, with beautiful flower motives on the walls and the windows and sculptures of dragons below. There are so many other beautiful details which can’t be seen as the house is totally closed.

The Casino of San Remo
The Casino of San Remo

The Casino is a magnificent building and a must-see in San Remo. Although it looks absolutely amazing on the outside, it is a bit dull inside. It was opened in 1905 and has operated continuously since then with the only exception of the years of World War II. It is right in the heart of the town, connected to Piazza Colombo via the pedestrian street Via Matteotti, which is an ideal street for shopping, culture and entertainment.

The Convent of the Capuchin Friars
The Convent of the Capuchin Friars

The Convent of the Capuchin Friars, was consecrated in 1668, and dedicated to Saints Bernard and Francis of Assisi and to the Immaculate Conception. The facade is quite simple, with a statue of a friar in the churchyard. The interior has a single nave while, on the walls of the right and left, there are numerous and valuable wooden altars, preciously carved, and dedicated to Saints Capuchins.

In Via Matteotti we will also find the Ariston Theatre and Palazzo Borea d’Olmo, but we will leave it for a moment, taking the Via Francesco Corradi to get to the Cathedral of San Siro.

The Cathedral of San Siro
The Cathedral of San Siro

It is the oldest religious structure in the city, built in the 12th century. The last major reconstruction of the temple took place in the 18th century. It is not an astonishing cathedral, but yet worth visiting.

If you have more time to spend visiting this beautiful town, you can choose the option to explore the Pigna, the medieval quarter and the ancient heart of San Remo. A few steps from its market square you will find a continuous sequence of ancient houses, alleys, silent little squares, covered passageways, and arches. At the top of the hill, there is the Sanctuary of the Madonna Della Costa from the 17th-century with a beautiful interior worth climbing and an amazing terrace with a fantastic view all around.

The Statue of Mike Bongiorno
The Statue of Mike Bongiorno

We will go back to Corso Matteotti to enjoy its shops, bakeries, restaurants and beautiful buildings. One of things that you can see there and that will probably make you smile, is The Statue of Mike Bongiorno, one of the most famous and loved Italian TV presenters, who conducted many shows including the “San Remo Festival” of Italian music. He is waving and every time you see him, you will want to wave back or at least, to have a selfie with him!

The Museum of Palazzo Borea d'Olmo
The Museum of Palazzo Borea d’Olmo

Very close to it, we will find the beautiful Civic Museum of Palazzo Borea d’Olmo and the famous Ariston Theater.

The Ariston Theater
The Ariston Theater

It is a legendary movie theater, and a tourist attraction of national importance, opened more than a hundred years ago, that has become a permanent venue for various cultural events including the annual San Remo Music Festival Competitions, since 1977.

The Monumento ai caduti
The Monumento ai caduti

Following Corso Augusto Mombello, we will pass the Monumento ai caduti, a beautiful bronze statue in memory of the fallen of the First World War, representing a woman on horseback with a sword, and then we will come to the Forte Santa Tecla.

It is located next to San Remo’s port and is one of its main attractions. Built in the 18th century, it was used as a prison until 2002. Now, it has been transformed into a museum and is also used as a place for cultural events.

There is an interesting art structure in the park in front of it, created by the artist Enrico Benetta, and called the Anima in Quartetto.

The Anima in Quartetto
The Anima in Quartetto

These, very original and unusual giant metal chairs, are so appealing and ideal for taking photos…

There is another statue in this area, put in honor of Italian resistance as well as a small piece of ancient ruins.

The Forte Santa Tecla
The Forte Santa Tecla

Our visit finishes here, but for those ones who have more time to spend, there are two other beautiful villas to visit. One is Villa Ormond, an extraordinary architectural monument, built in the 19th century and located on the territory of one of the largest and most beautiful parks in the city. The other is the Villa of Alfred Nobel, the great chemist, where he spent the last years of his life. Today it is a museum with the exposition devoted to his life and achievements.

Those would be the top things to see in San Remo during a short visit. If you find this useful, please leave me a comment. Keep sending me your suggestions regarding my next choice of the city to write about.

Menton in a Few Hours

Menton

 

Menton, also known as a “Pearl of France” is a cute little town situated on the French Riviera, along the Franco-Italian border.

This popular resort for the aristocracy in the 1800s is also famous for its gardens, beaches, a scenic port, fine restaurants, and the Lemon Festival organized every February in the Casino Gardens in the center.

The following itinerary should allow you to see its most interesting sights in just a couple of hours.

Menton
Menton
  1. Promenade du Soleil
  2. The Casino Barriere
  3. Jardins Biovès
  4. The Marché des Halles
  5. The Jean Cocteau Museum
  6. The Bastion Museum
  7. The Cathedral of Saint Michel
  8. The Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs
  9. The Old Cemetery

We will start our tour from the Promenade du Soleil, an amazing promenade where you can stroll and enjoy the sea and beautiful views, or some of many great restaurants alongside.

The Casino Barriere
The Casino Barriere

The Casino Barriere, a small version of the famous casino in Monte-Carlo, with a cozy terrace that is an ideal place to have a drink, is very hard to miss at this gorgeous promenade.

Jardins Biovès
Jardins Biovès

In front of it, on the opposite side of the sea, there is a huge park Jardins Biovès, the venue for the “Fete du citron” Lemon festival in February and March. Huge sculptures, entirely made of tons of lemons and oranges, each year following a different theme, make this event unique and truly spectacular. Try to see the gardens also in the evenings, when the sculptures are illuminated and accompanied by music, performances, refreshments and local citrus-made products.

Down the promenade, towards the old port we will find the Marché des Halles, one of the most beautiful market places in France, offering some fine examples of French food. This historic covered market was built in 1898 by a local architect and is open every day from 5 am in summer or 5:30 am in winter until 1 pm.

The Jean Cocteau Museum
The Jean Cocteau Museum

Right opposite it, there is the Jean Cocteau Museum (Musee Jean Cocteau Collection Severin Wunderman) opened in 2011.

Jean Cocteau, a poet, an artist, a film director, and a close friend of Picassoe, liked Menton very much and left many traces here.

The largest one is his museum, an amazing square building, with curved white pillars interspersed with dark glass, which offers, depending on the current exhibition, drawings, paintings, ceramics and film clips of this multi-talented artist, collected and donated by his greatest fan Sévérin Wunderman.

The Bastion Museum
The Bastion Museum

Right next to it, there is the Bastion Museum, which Jean Cocteau was given full range to decorate. His marvelous stone mosaics outside the Bastion walls and the lively eccentric works inside this small museum gave a special new look to the gloomy old fortress, built overwater in 1636.

Cocteau also painted the Wedding Room at the Mairie (Town Hall) in the 1950s and, transformed it into a giant work of art.

The Cathedral of Saint Michel
The Cathedral of Saint Michel

The Baroque Cathedral of Saint Michel, with its bell tower, was built in the 17th century by the town’s residents after an outbreak of the Black Death in gratitude for their survival. The decoration around the altar and ceiling frescoes are impressive, and there is also an interesting 17th-century organ inside. The Festival of Classical Music of Menton is celebrated in this church every August.

In front of the Saint Michel basilica, there is the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs, a chapel belonging to the White Penitents, Catholic laymen. It is a jewel of Baroque art, built between 1680 and 1687, with a beautiful facade and tower.

The Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs
The Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs

Quite close to this place, and definitely worth climbing is the Old Cemetery, offering some very interesting graves of many British and Russian aristocrats, but more importantly a breathtaking, fabulous view of Menton.

Menton
Menton

We will end our tour here. If you have more time, you will certainly enjoy wandering around, sneaking into its narrow streets, sweet shops and adorable restaurants. Whatever you choose, Menton will not leave you indifferent.

Menton
Menton

Strasbourg in a Few Hours

Strasbourg

Strasbourg, the capital and largest city of the Grand Est region of France is located at the border with Germany in the historic region of Alsace. Being the official seat of the European Parliament and of many other European institutions, it is one of the three main capitals of the European Union, alongside Brussels and Luxembourg,

Strasbourg’s historic center, the Grand Island (Grande Île), was the first of its kind in the world to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and it was the first time such an honor was placed on an entire city center.

Its rather mixed heritage with almost as much German influence in its history as French has been a cultural bridge between France and Germany for centuries, especially through the University of Strasbourg, currently the second largest in France, and the coexistence of Catholic and Protestant culture.

Johannes Gutenberg created the first printing press here and made Strasbourg one of the first centers of the printing industry.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg

If we have only a few hours at our disposal to visit this beautiful city, we will have to stick to the old city center, and the best way to start our tour is from The Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg).

  1. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg
  2. The Astronomical Clock
  3. The Rohan Palace
  4. The Kammerzell House
  5. Gutenberg Square
  6. St Thomas’ Church
  7. The Petite France
  8. The Barrage Vauban
  9. The Ponts Couverts
  10. Place Kléber
  11. Place Broglie
  12. Place de la République
  13. The St. Paul’s Church

Strasbourg Cathedral, also known as Strasbourg Minster, is a Catholic cathedral, considered one of the finest examples of late Gothic architecture, although considerable parts of it belong to Romanesque architecture. Sandstone from the Vosges used in construction gives it its characteristic pink hue.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg

With its 142 meters (466 feet), it had been the world’s tallest building for 227 years (from 1647 to 1874), when it was surpassed by St. Nikolai’s Church, Hamburg. Today it is the sixth-tallest church in the world.

Victor Hugo described it as a “gigantic and delicate marvel”, and Goethe as a “sublimely towering, wide-spreading tree of God”.

Like the city of Strasbourg, the cathedral connects German and French cultural influences, and its famous west front, decorated with thousands of figures, is a masterpiece of the Gothic era.

Astronomical clock
Astronomical clock

The cathedral’s south transept houses an 18-metre astronomical clock, one of the largest in the world, inaugurated in 1547.

Unusually accurate, it was much more a complex calculating machine than a clock, and only specialized mathematicians could use it. The clock was able to determine the date of Easter in the Christian calendar at a time when computers did not yet exist.

It also indicates solar time, the day of the week (each represented by a god of mythology), the month, the year, the sign of the zodiac, the phase of the moon, and the position of several planets.

The Rohan Palace
The Rohan Palace

Right next to the Cathedral, there is a major architectural, historical, and cultural landmark of the city, The Rohan Palace (Palais Rohan), built in the 1730s. It was the former residence of the prince-bishops and cardinals of the House of Rohan, an ancient French noble family originally from Brittany, and it is considered a masterpiece of French Baroque architecture. The palace hosted a number of French monarchs such as Louis XV, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon and Joséphine, and Charles X.

It was owned by the nobility, the municipality, the monarchy, the state, the university, and the municipality again, following the history of Strasbourg.

The Rohan Palace
The Rohan Palace

Since the end of the 19th century, the palace has been home to three of Strasbourg’s most important museums: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts, and the Museum of Fine Arts.

The Kammerzell House
The Kammerzell House

The Kammerzell House (Maison Kammerzell) built in 1427 and situated on the Place de la Cathédrale, north-west of the Strasbourg Cathedral, is one of the most famous buildings of Strasbourg.

It belongs to the German Renaissance but is stylistically still attached to the Rhineland black and white timber-framed style of civil architecture. It now houses a restaurant.

Gutenberg Square
Gutenberg Square

Leaving the Cathedral and following Mercière St, we will get to Gutenberg Square (La Place Gutenberg).

It is one of the city’s most famous squares, with the bronze statue on granite base, created in 1840, commemorating Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the mechanical movable type print, one of the human civilization’s greatest inventions.

Behind the statue, there is a beautiful building of Strasbourg’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry that used to be the building of the town hall (which is now found in Place Broglie).

St Thomas' Church
St Thomas’ Church

Right beneath the square, underground, there is one of Strasbourg’s best public car parks.

The square is usually decorated with a precious and large merry-go-round, and in winter, with Christmas markets that are every year dedicated to another country.

Rue des Serruriers, on the way to the Petite France area, will lead us to St Thomas’ Church (Église Saint-Thomas), also known as the “Protestant Cathedral”, the main Protestant church in the region.

It is a five-naved hall church, the oldest on the territory of former south-west Germany and famous for its historic organs, played also by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Thus, we arrive to the district of Petite-France (La Petite France), at the western end of the Grande Île, where the river splits up into a number of channels that pass through the area that once used to be home to the city’s tanners, millers and fishermen. Now, it is one of Strasbourg’s main tourist attractions with adorable and enchanting half-timbered buildings full of flowers.

The Petite France
The Petite France

Upstream of Petite France, the River Ill flows through the Barrage Vauban, a bridge, weir and defensive work erected in the 17th century to enable, in the event of an attack, the raising the level of the River Ill and thus the flooding of all the lands south of the city, making them impassable to the enemy.

Today it serves to display sculptures and has a viewing terrace on its roof.

Four of its channels are spanned by the Ponts Couverts, erected in the 13th century, which consists of three bridges and four towers. The name comes from the wooden roofs that were built over the bridges to protect soldiers in times of war, but despite the name, it has not been covered since the 18th century.

The Ponts Couverts
The Ponts Couverts

Leaving this beautiful area, we will cross Pont du Faisan, and follow Rue du Bain-aux-Plantes, and then Rue du Fossé-des-Tanneurs, that will take us to the Place Kléber.

The Place Kléber is the central and the largest square of Strasbourg, named after general Jean-Baptiste Kléber, a famous military hero from the French Revolution, born in Strasbourg in 1753. It is located in the heart of the city’s prestigious historical and commercial area, where most of the luxury brands have opened their shops, and it is a host to many city’s events, the famous Christmas markets, flea markets, street protests, etc…

Following Rue de l’Outre we will get to Place Broglie, another interesting square of Strasbourg, famous for its prestigious surroundings: The Opera House, the City Hall, the Governor’s Palace, the Prefect’s Palace and others. Close to the Opera House, there is a huge monument inaugurated in 1951, a sandstone obelisk adorned with bronze statues, commemorating the Liberation of Strasbourg.

The Rhin Palace
The Rhin Palace

Right behind the opera building, there is a huge Republic Square (Place de la République), surrounded on three sides by five buildings, all classified as historical monuments: The Rhin Palace, the National and University Library, the National Theatre, the Préfecture of Grand Est and Bas-Rhin, and the Tax Center.

The Rhin Palace, a magnificent Neorenaissance building with a heavy dome built in 1887, is the former Imperial Palace, surrounded by its own garden and separated from the square by a monumental wrought iron fence.

The St. Paul's Church
The St. Paul’s Church

Avenue de la Liberté will take us to our final destination, to The St. Paul’s Church of Strasbourg (Église réformée Saint-Paul) a major building of Gothic Revival architecture.

It was built in 1897 for the Lutheran members of the Imperial German garrison stationed in Strasbourg, but then it was handed over to the Protestant Reformed Church in 1919, after the return of Alsace to France.

Thanks to its spires of 76 m (249 ft.) and its spectacular location the church can be seen from far away.

Strasbourg is a city offering a little of something for everyone, and if you are lucky enough to have more time to visit it, you will certainly enjoy every second of it!

Strasbourg
Strasbourg

Baden-Baden in a Few Hours

Baden-Baden

Baden-Baden is a picturesque spa town in a valley of the Northern Black Forest in southwestern Germany, and on the small river Oos.

Its name means “baths” and it got it thanks to 29 natural springs of water rich in salt with temperatures from 46 to 67 °C (115 to 153 °F). Baden-Baden means the town of Baden in the territory of Baden, and it was doubled to be distinguished from the other cities with the same name, particularly Baden near Zürich in Switzerland and Baden near Vienna in Austria.

The Romans first discovered the charm of this place, and we can still visit the remains of their baths and enjoy the spa experiences at Friedrichsbad and the modern Caracalla Baths.

Baden-Baden
Baden-Baden

In the 19th-century Baden-Baden became the summer meeting point of European aristocracy and social elite. Many members of royalty, wealthy bankers, industrialists, famous artists came to enjoy the benefits of the healing thermal springs of Baden-Baden on the slopes of Schwarzwald.

It is also an ideal destination for sports enthusiasts, for hiking and horse racing, with many golf and tennis clubs.

If you happen to find yourself in this scenic town without many hours at your disposal, I hope this itinerary will help you see as much of its beauty as possible.

  1. The Festspielhaus
  2. The Trinkhalle
  3. The Kurhaus
  4. The Theater of Baden-Baden
  5. The Old Town
  6. The Rathaus
  7. The Stiftskirche
  8. Roman Bath Ruins
  9. The Fabergé Museum
  10. The Evangelist Town Church
  11. The Russian Orthodox Church
  12. The Lichtentaler Allee
The Festspielhaus
The Festspielhaus

As our starting point, we will choose The Festspielhaus, Germany’s largest opera and concert hall, with a 2,500-seat capacity. It was originally built in 1904 as Baden-Baden central railway station.

The new construction was opened in 1998, and after the initial public start-up funding, the Festspielhaus successfully converted to become the first privately financed European opera and concert company.

The Trinkhalle
The Trinkhalle

Following the river Oos, we will get to The Trinkhalle (pump house) in the Kurhaus spa complex, built in 1942 as the spa’s main building. It is a lovely place in the center of the city with great photo motives, surrounded by a very beautiful and well-kept park. The 90-meter arcade is lined with benches, and decorated with monumental allegorical paintings, illustrating many local legends and myths.

The Kurhaus
The Kurhaus

Right next to it, there is Baden-Baden’s Casino, and conference complex built in 1824 in its unique Belle Epoch styled elegance, with the Corinthian columns and paired-griffins frieze of the grand entrance. It achieved the international fame in the mid-1830’s, when gambling was forbidden in France, which encouraged gamblers to cross the border and try their luck at Baden-Baden’s casino. Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “The Gambler” was inspired by it.

The Kurhaus represents Baden-Baden’s sparkling center stage.

You can stroll through the immaculate Kurhaus gardens or go shopping in the elegant boutiques along the Kurhaus colonnade.

You can pay a visit to casino or to its stylish banqueting rooms. Or, you can simply take a seat in front of the open air stage and listen to the delightful sounds of the Baden-Baden Philharmonic.

The Kurhaus
The Kurhaus

We will then pass by the Theater of Baden-Baden. Especially for its opening, in August 1862, Hector Berlioz composed his opera Béatrice et Bénédict.

Thus, we get to the Old Town. Strolling around its alleys and lanes we can explore its Baroque-influenced architecture, and visit its charming jewelry and antique shops, galleries, and cafes.

The Rathaus
The Rathaus

Gernsbacher Street will lead us to the Rathaus, and immediately after to the Stiftskirche, the Romanesque-style basilica located directly on the Florentinerberg in the old town of Baden-Baden. The Parish Church of Baden-Baden, or the Collegiate Church of Our Lady is dedicated to the holy apostles Peter and Paul.

The Stiftskirche
The Stiftskirche

It is the burial place of the margraves of Baden, where 14 of them found their final resting place. It was redesigned for the first time in the 15th century in the late Gothic style. It received its present tower in the 18th century. At the same time, the interior was baroque. Finally, the church got the present appearance in 1867.

Right behind it, there are Roman Bath Ruins, the Museum of Ancient Bathing Culture. The Romans appreciated very much the relaxing effects of Baden-Baden’s thermal spring water, and we can admire their masterwork by visiting the 2000-year-old bath ruins, which are one of the oldest and best-kept examples in the country.

Roman Bath Ruins
Roman Bath Ruins

Leaving the famous Caracalla Spa behind us, we will take Sophienstraße and find The Fabergé Museum devoted to the work of Carl Fabergé, a Russian goldsmith and jeweler, born in St. Petersburg.

The complete spectrum of his work is represented in this unique collection starting with the famous imperial Easter eggs for the Tsar’s family to the exquisite pieces of jewelry and high quality everyday items from the time of the First World War.

The Evangelist Town Church
The Evangelist Town Church

Taking Lichtentaler Street on the left, we will soon get to the Evangelist Town Church and a little bit further to the beautiful Russian Orthodox Church.

We will finish our tour going back to the river Oos, to enjoy the Lichtentaler Allee, a historic park and arboretum. It is 2.3-kilometer long strolling avenue along the west bank of the river Oos.

The Lichtentaler Allee
The Lichtentaler Allee

 

 

In 1655, it used to be just a path between the town market and Lichtenthal monastery, and today the avenue contains about 300 types of native and exotic woody plants, including alders, azaleas, chestnuts, ginkgoes, limes, magnolias, maples, oaks, etc.

 

 

There are many other interesting things to see in Baden-Baden, like Brahms House, The Paradise Cascade, Geroldsau Waterfall, The Museum Frieder Burda or Merkur Bergbahn (Merkur Mountain Railway), but it would take a much longer visit. I am sure that you will completely enjoy Baden-Baden even with this shorter itinerary, and that you will bring home marvelous memories and many beautiful photos.

Riquewihr in an Hour

Riquewhir

Although you will not need my itinerary to go around this tiny little village, I decided to write about it, just to show you how beautiful it is, and to make sure that you will not miss it, when visiting Alsace.

Riquewhir

Situated on The Wines Road, close to Colmar, in northeastern France, between the peaks of the Vosges Mountains and the Plain of Alsace, this magnificent medieval town is officially considered one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Riquewihr

With its amazing architecture and its world-famous wines, especially the Riesling, this popular tourist attraction is rightly called “The Gem of the Alsace”.

Riquewhir

Riquewihr today looks more or less, as it did in the 16th century, and it was one of the few towns in this area not to be badly damaged during World War II.

It is surrounded by its medieval fortifications, and overlooked by a castle, which is a museum now.

Riquewhir

Within its well-preserved walls, there are tight alleys and uneven streets with no cars, and every piece of architecture is miraculously preserved. Charming half-timbered houses, each one of a different color, dating back to the 15th – 18th centuries, are built very close to each other, and admirably decorated with flowers in the spring and in the summer. Their inner courtyards are embellished by old wells and fountains.

Riquewhir

Do not miss the opportunity to leave the main street and discover some secluded ones, which offer so many wonderful architectural details…

The Dolder Tower
The Dolder Tower

On the upper part of the main street, there is the famous Dolder medieval tower. The five-story tower of the “Dolder”(meaning “the highest point” in Alsatian dialect), is a remarkable 25 meter-high building, constructed of pink sandstone and timber from the nearby Vosges.  This defensive gateway was built in 1291, and strengthened in the 15 and 16 century. It was the house of the caretaker and his family, who were in charge of closing the entry door to the village every night and sounding the alarm in case of attack.

Riquewihr

Today, it is the local history museum, offering details about the rural medieval town of Riquewihr and its evolution from the 13th to the 17th, about its fortification, its lords, its means of defense and its occupants.

Riquewihr

You should also see The Thieves’ Tower (Tour des voleurs), a former prison of Riquewihr, built in 1550. Its pentagonal shape is 18 meters high, and it houses inside the museum with the torture room and authentic instruments of torture of the time, and the guards’ room used for the cross’ examination of the prisoners.

Riquewihr

Although being only a village of 1300 inhabitants, Riquewihr, with its multi-colored flowers and cobblestone streets, is certainly the object of an enchantment, which lasts for centuries.

Riquewihr

 

Kaysersberg in an Hour

Our today’s topic is Kaysersberg, an adorable village in Northeastern France, on the Alsace Wine Route.

With a population of less than 3,000 people, this charming little place can easily be seen in an hour, but it so full of amazing little houses, beautifully looked after, whose details will keep your interest for quite a while and occupy a lot of memory on your cameras.

Kaysersberg
Kaysersberg

With its 400 years long history of wine growing, (the first sorts came from Hungary) and its specially known pinot gris variety, Kaysersberg is a must both for photography and wine lovers.

 

It was founded in 1227, when Emperor Frederick II Barbarossa bought a small castle that gave the village its name (Emperor’s Mountain in German), and it was quickly expanded into one of the largest fortresses in the region.

 

  1. The Église de l’Invention-de-la-Sainte-Croix
  2. The Fountain of Emperor Constantine
  3. Verrerie d’Art
  4. The Loewert House
  5. The Musée Historique de Kaysersberg
  6. La Maison Faller-Brief
  7. The Hertzer House
  8. Pont Fortifie
  9. The Musée Albert Schweitzer
  10. The Castle of Kaysersberg
The Église de l'Invention-de-la-Sainte-Croix
The Église de l’Invention-de-la-Sainte-Croix

We will start this tour in front of the Église de l’Invention-de-la-Sainte-Croix, a beautiful, Romanesque style church from the 13th century, located in the center of the town. There is a beautiful fountain representing Emperor Constantine, next to it, and opposite, a charming shop  and studio Verrerie d’Art, where you can see artisans blowing glass and making various objects d’art from it.

The Fountain of Emperor Constantine
The Fountain of Emperor Constantine

Right next to them, we will see The Loewert House, also known as the house of the Virgin, which is one of the most characteristic residences of the town, built in the 18th century, half-timbered, with a beautiful oriel and a mural of Madonna with her Child.

The Loewert House
The Loewert House

There is the Musée historique de Kaysersberg, a few meters further,   a small museum, but quite interesting with a wide variety of exhibited items including furniture, paintings, stonework, etc.

The Musée historique de Kaysersberg
The Musée historique de Kaysersberg

Walking further, we will encounter many other amazing houses:

La Maison Faller-Brief
La Maison Faller-Brief

La maison Faller-Brief (from 1594), with its remarkable facade with carved wood panels and painted corner windows, located in a magnificent square with the old bathhouse (Badhüs, from 1600), the Hertzer House (from 1592), and the old butchery, all united by the fortified bridge (Pont Fortifie, 1514), under which flows the Weiss.

The Hertzer House Kayserberg
The Hertzer House

Coming to another museum, the Musée Albert Schweitzer, the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner, we will finish our tour.

Kaysersberg
Kaysersberg

Kaysersberg was the birthplace of this great doctor, philosopher, theologian, writer, and musician. The museum shows facts about his work in Gabon, a lot of pictures of the village hospital, the Peace Noble Prize, and some personal, and items brought from Africa.

Kaysersberg
Kaysersberg

For those ones who are not afraid of small climb, I also recommend visiting the Castle Of Kaysersberg that will offer lovely views to the village and surrounding countryside.

Kaysersberg
Kaysersberg

Freiburg in a Few Hours

Freiburg, Germany

 

Freiburg (Freiburg im Breisgau), a city in the south-west of Germany, with about 220,000 inhabitants, is often called the city of forest, wine and Gothic. Thanks to its position on the western slope of Schwarzwald, and in the warmest part of Germany, Freiburg is primarily known for its mild, sunny and pleasant climate.

It is famous for its medieval cathedral and Renaissance university, as well as for its high standard of living. It became a major commercial, intellectual, and ecclesiastical center of the upper Rhine region in the early twelfth century. Situated in the heart of the major Baden wine-growing region, and close to France and Switzerland with excellent traffic connections, it is often the starting point for tourists to enjoy spectacular beauty of the Black Forest and surroundings.

The task to visit its major sights in a few hours is quite feasible, so here is my suggested itinerary that will save you some time and energy.

The New Town Hall
The New Town Hall

 

  1. The town hall (Rathaus)
  2. Freiburg Minster (Freiburger Münster) started
  3. The Historical Merchants’ Hall (Historisches Kaufhaus)
  4. The Schwabentor (Swabian Gate)
  5. The Martinstor (Martin’s Gate)
  6. The Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg)
  7. The University Library Freiburg (Universitätsbibliothek Freiburg)
  8. Freiburg City Theatre (Stadttheater Freiburg)
  9. Freiburg Concert Hall (Konzerthaus Freiburg)
  10. Blue Bridge (Blaue Brücke)
  11. Sacred Heart Church (The Herz-Jesu-Kirche)

 

Rathausplatz
Rathausplatz

Our tour will start from one of the most beautiful buildings in Freiburg, the New Town Hall, which was created by merging two houses from the 16 century with a central arcaded section. It is also connected to the Old Town Hall, built from 1557/1559 with a prestigious columned doorway as assembly between them. The building is beautifully maintained, decorated with plenty of flowers in summer, and an unavoidable background for your photos. There is a cute little park in front of it, where you can sit and watch people passing by and couples coming for their civil marriage ceremony.

It is located close to the Freiburg Cathedral, so it will be our next checkpoint.

Freiburg Minster
Freiburg Minster

The construction of Freiburg Minster (Freiburger Münster) started around 1200 in Romanesque style, but continued in Gothic style in 1230. Its tower with 16 bells, considered one of the most beautiful towers in the whole of Christianity, is nearly square at the base, dodecagonal star gallery at its center, octagonal, and tapered above.

Freiburg Minster
Freiburg Minster

It is the only Gothic church tower in Germany that was completed in the Middle Ages (1330), and has lasted until the present, surviving miraculously the bombing in 1944, which destroyed many houses around it at the market. Even the windows had been taken out of the spire at the time by church staff, so that they suffered no damage either.

In 1827, long after it was built. Freiburg Minster became the seat of the newly erected Catholic Archdiocese of Freiburg, and thus a cathedral.

The Historical Merchants' Hall
The Historical Merchants’ Hall

 

 

In the early 16th century, the Cathedral master builder Lienhart Müller extended the original structure on the south side of the Minster Square, with the construction of the Historical Merchants’ Hall (Historisches Kaufhaus). Thanks to its dominant red facade, and sumptuously decorated turrets and arcades, it stands out as one of the most gorgeous buildings in Freiburg.

 

Behind the wide entrance, there is a large 300-square-meter inner courtyard, where merchandise storage area used to be, and which is now used for outdoor events.

The Historical Merchants' Hall
The Historical Merchants’ Hall

Following Augustinergasse and then taking Oberlinden Street on the left, we will get to the Schwabentor (“Swabian Gate”), another important landmark of this city. The Schwabentor, is the most recent of the two remaining city gates of the medieval defensive wall of Freiburg.

It is easily confused with the other, the Martinstor, but this one is larger and with a beautiful painting of St George, patron of this city.

The Schwabentor
The Schwabentor

The gate was built in the middle of the 13th century from red sandstone, and it has three storeys. The staircase tower and half-timbered extensions were added later, in the 16th century.

We will reach The Martinstor (Martin’s Gate) following Gerberau Street.

The older of the two gates of Freiburg was also known as Norsinger Tor in medieval times, and it dates back to the year 1202. Over the centuries, it has been reconstructed several times. It also served as a prison at a certain point, and its occupants were said to have dressed “The Cloak of Martin“.

In 1901, the Martinstor was heightened from 22 to 60 meters and it got a new roof construction in the architectural style of the 15th century, and an additional gate.

The Martinstor
The Martinstor

There is a fast-food restaurant (McDonald’s) inside the western part of the arch, which was built in 1901. The city council could not prevent this, but at least they managed to avoid the company’s red and yellow sign, and got a more decent coloring. That is why many people referred to Martinstor as McDonald’s-Tor.

Following the same direction, we will get to the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg). It is a public research university founded in 1457 by the Habsburg dynasty as the second university in Austrian-Habsburg territory, after the University of Vienna. Next to it, there is the University Library Freiburg (Universitätsbibliothek Freiburg, UB), open to students, but also to all interested members of the public.

The University Library Freiburg
The University Library Freiburg

Right next to the library, we will see Freiburg Theatre, sometimes also referred to as Stadttheater Freiburg (Freiburg City Theatre), the oldest and biggest theatre in the city, and turning left to Bertoldstraße, we will get to another important building, Freiburg Concert Hall (Konzerthaus Freiburg). It was opened to the public in 1996, as one of the most controversial building projects in Freiburg since the end of World War II. With its multifunctional great hall, it serves as a venue for different events, such as concerts, performances, conventions and meetings.

Freiburg Concert Hall
Freiburg Concert Hall

Wiwilí Bridge (Wiwilíbrücke) or Blue Bridge (Blaue Brücke), will take us to our last destination in this tour, to the Sacred Heart Church (The Herz-Jesu-Kirche), a recent, beautiful Catholic church consecrated in 1897, with a double tower facade, and with an amazing garden around, ideal to spend the rest of our free time there.

Sacred Heart Church
Sacred Heart Church

Please bear in mind that all my itineraries are made with the intention to allow you to see as many important sights of the city as possible in short time and with the fewest steps.

As always, I will be more than happy to read your comments and suggestions!

Footmade Dreaming

Footmade Dreaming

Perhaps the most common question I was asked in my life was where I got my energy from, and how I kept smiling all the time. The secret probably lies in the fact that I discovered my passions quite early and that I stuck to them as much as I could. Apart from the journeys that leave my mind full of memories and sights, smells and sounds to stay there and be remembered forever, there is another passion of mine that keeps me going on a daily basis, and that is dancing.

My First Dance Teacher
My First Dance Teacher

Many years ago, when I was still a teenage girl, I discovered the beauty of Standard and Latin dance. The amazing sensation I have every time I hear a familiar rhythm is something that has been following me ever since. If someone offered me to go to the gym for more than two hours a day, I would have rejected it at no time, but even after four or five hours of dancing nonstop at dancing parties, I always feel sorry when they end.

The two styles are different in technique, rhythm and costumes, but they both exemplify basic elements of ballroom dancing such as control and cohesiveness.

With the appearance of Salsa, Kizomba or Bachata, dancing popularity exploded. In huge cities like mine, if you feel like dancing, you will definitely find a place to do it every single night. Ballroom dance, or Salsa parties, street Tango or a mixture of everything will be waiting for you at every corner.

Plesni studio "Natalija i Ivica"
Plesni studio “Natalija i Ivica”

After so many lectures that I have a day, and despite immense love for my job, I usually feel quite exhausted in the evenings. It happens very often that I come to my Salsa training with zero energy level. However, after just a few minutes of listening to that adorable beat, I feel alive again. By the end of the practice, which is too short for all of us, no matter how long it lasts, my face is radiant and smiling again, and my body is full of bouncing energy.

Dorćol Platz
Dorćol Platz

If you are lucky enough to find your “rechargers“, make the most of them.

Being healthy, and having an adorable son and family, I have already no rights to complain at all. However, with the addition of travelling, dancing and working what I like best, whenever and wherever I want, no wonder I glitter!

That is the answer!

What are your external sources of energy? What can always make you feel better? Leave me your comments; I would love to hear your ideas!

Bachata
Bachata

Bratislava in a Few Hours

Bratislava Castle

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and its political, cultural and economic center. With a population of about 430,000, it is the largest city in the country, but still one of smaller capitals of Europe.

It has several universities, many museums, theatres and galleries, as well as the headquarters of many Slovakia’s large businesses and financial institutions.

It is a small city, easy and quick to explore on foot, from the historic Old Town to the modern UFO Bridge.

As always, in order to save your time and feet, I will offer you a quick itinerary to visit its top sites, without making any unnecessary steps.

  1. The Blue Church
  2. The Slovak National Theater
  3. Hviezdoslav Square
  4. The Holy Trinity Column
  5. St Martin’s Cathedral
  6. The Cumil Statue
  7. The Old Town Hall
  8. The Primate’s Palace
  9. The Roland Fountain
  10. The Holy Savior Church
  11. The Franciscan Church
  12. Michael’s Gate
  13. The Trinitarian Church
  14. The Grassalkovich Palace
  15. Bratislava Castle
  16. The UFO Observation Deck
The Blue Church
The Blue Church

The easiest way to start the tour is from The Blue Church because it offers plenty of space to park if we come by car.

The Church of St. Elizabeth, commonly known as The Blue Church because of the color of its façade, mosaics and blue-glazed roof, was built in the Art Nouveau style at the beginning of the 20th century in the eastern part of the Old Town in Bratislava. It is a Hungarian Secessionist Catholic church, which initially was a part of the neighboring high school where it served as the school chapel. Now it is a popular place for weddings and baptisms.

Grösslingová and then Jesenského Streets will lead us straight to our next destination The Slovak National Theater (Slovenské národné divadlo).

It is undoubtedly one of Bratislava’s most beautiful buildings, constructed in 1886 in the Neo Renaissance style, with the lovely Fountain Ganymed in front, in one of its most famous and picturesque squares, Hviezdoslav Square (Hviezdoslavovo Námestie).

The Slovak National Theater
The Slovak National Theater

The square has existed in the Kingdom of Hungary for 1000 years. Before the reconstruction at the end of the 20th century, it was just a small city park, but now it is a marvelous city promenade.

The magnificent Holy Trinity Column with the Statue of the Virgin Mary on the top stands at the end of the square, on the spot where the bodies of those who died from the Plague were burnt to prevent the disease from spreading.

The Statue of the Virgin Mary
The Statue of the Virgin Mary

St Martin’s Cathedral (Katedrála svätého Martina) is the Roman Catholic Cathedral, situated at the western part of the historical city center, below the Bratislava Castle. It is the largest and one of the oldest churches in Bratislava, and it was the coronation church of the Kingdom of Hungary between 1563 and 1830. A gilded replica of the coronation crown on the top of the cathedral tower at a height of 85 meters reminds of that glorious age.

St Martin's Cathedral
St Martin’s Cathedral

The church and the castle, similar in their striking Gothic lines and colors, dominate Old Town’s skyline.

The Cumil Statue
The Cumil Statue

Walking along Panská Street, we will get to one of many famous bronze statues of Bratislava, “Man at Work” (Cumil), a small good man spending his time by watching people and the life of the Korzo. There are many other attractive statues here like “Napoleon’s Army Soldier Statue“, the sculpture of a soldier with a big Napoleon hat, standing on the Main Square near the Roland’s fountain behind a bench.

One of rare statues with a real story behind it is “Schone Naci Statue“, the sculpture of a real man, Ignac Lamar, born in the family of shoemaker who suddenly became a legendary person of streets, cafes and restaurants of Bratislava being one of the most elegant men of that time.

The Old Town Hall
The Old Town Hall

Thus, we get to the heart of Bratislava and to its Main Square with the Old Town Hall (Stará Radnica) as the most eminent building there. Actually, it is a complex of buildings from the 14th century created by connecting three townhouses. It is the oldest city hall in the country with the tower built approximately in 1370. It is easy to recognize by its colorful tiled roof.

It houses the Bratislava City Museum, its oldest museum, founded in 1868, featuring the exhibition of the city history and of torture devices.

The Primate's Palace
The Primate’s Palace

Behind it, there is the beautiful Primate’s Palace (Primaciálny palác), a neoclassical palace built from 1778 to 1781. In 1805 this palace and its Hall of Mirrors were the location of the signing of the fourth Peace of Pressburg, after the Battle of Austerlitz, which effectively ended the War of the Third Coalition. Today, it serves as the seat of Mayor of Bratislava.

In the middle of Main Square, as one of the downtown’s favorite meeting points, there is the Roland Fountain or Maximilian Fountain (Rolandova fontána or Maximiliánova fontána), the most famous fountain in Bratislava, ordered by Maximilian II, the king of Royal Hungary, in 1572 to provide a public water supply.

Next to the Old Town Hall, there is the Holy Savior Church or the Jesuit Church (Kostol Najsvätejšieho Spasiteľa, Jezuitský kostol), originally a protestant church from the 17th century, built for the  growing number of protestants of German ethnicity in the city.

By the King’s decree it could not resemble a Roman-Catholic churches, so it was built without a spire, presbytery or the entrance from the main street.

The Franciscan Church
The Franciscan Church

Just a little bit further there is the Franciscan Church (Františkánsky kostol or Kostol Zvestovania Pána), the oldest existing religious building in the Old Town of Bratislava, consecrated in 1297.

The building was damaged several times by fire and earthquake and just a small part of its original form is preserved. The adjoining Chapel of Saint John the Evangelist built in the 14th century is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the city.

Zámočnícka Street will take us to Michael’s Gate (Michalská Brána), one of the best-known symbols of the town.

In the medieval times, the town was surrounded by fortified walls, and had four heavily fortified gates. This one was the smallest gate of the four, but the only one that has been preserved. Built around 1300, it is ranked among the oldest town buildings. Its present form is the result of Baroque reconstructions in 1758, when the statue of the Archangel Michael, slaying a dragon was placed on the top. The tower with an elegant copper roof, houses the Exhibition of Weapons nowadays.

Michael's Gate
Michael’s Gate

Michalská Street will lead us to the Trinitarian Church (Kostol trinitárov), a Baroque-style church, on the Župné námestie square, built on the site of the older Church of St. Michael, which was demolished in 1529, during the Ottoman wars.

The Trinitarian Order started construction of the church in 1717 and it was sanctified in 1727.

The Grassalkovich Palace (Grasalkovičov palác), situated a bit further on Hodžovo námestie, is the residence of the president of Slovakia.  The building is a Rococo and late Baroque palace built in 1760 with a French garden, which is now a public park.

Before we leave this beautiful town, I would highly recommend a visit to two sites offering a marvelous view of the city.

Bratislava Castle
Bratislava Castle

One is Bratislava Castle (Bratislavský hrad), the former seat of the rulers of Bratislava, and today the seat of the Museum of History. It is a massive rectangular building with four corner towers, standing on an isolated rocky hill above the Danube River. Due to its size and location, it has been a dominant feature of the city for centuries.

The other is the UFO Observation Deck on the New Bridge (Novy Most), the flying saucer-shaped structure atop the bridge’s 84.6 m (278 ft.) pylon, which is one of the most iconic structures in Bratislava.  The top with a restaurant is reached by the lift, and can be crowded, but is definitely a point not to be missed in Bratislava.

The UFO Observation Deck
The UFO Observation Deck

As always. please leave me your comments if you find my itinerary helpful or if you have some suggestions!