If you are not passionate about gambling, luxurious restaurants, cars and shops, visiting Monaco in a few hours won’t be a problem. Otherwise you won’t be able to leave it that easily.
Monaco, or officially the Principality of Monaco, is a microstate on the French Riviera,
about 15 km away from the Italian state border. With the area of 2.1 square
kilometers, it is the second-smallest
state in the world, after the Vatican City, and with about 40,000
residents, i.e. about 19,000 inhabitants per square kilometer, it is the most densely-populated sovereign
state in the world.
It is also widely known as one of the world’s most expensive
and wealthiest places.
Its economic boom happened in the late 19th century with the
opening of the country’s first casino,
Monte Carlo, and a railway connection to Paris. Its mild climate, fascinating
scenery, and gambling facilities made it immediately a tourist destination for
Monaco is also well known for being a tax haven, with no income tax, and low business taxes. In recent years, it has become a major banking center, and about 30% of its population is made up of millionaires.
It is a constitutional monarchy, with Prince Albert II as
head of state. Its defense is the responsibility of France, although Monaco
maintains two small military units.
Monaco is the host of the annual street circuit motor race Monaco Grand Prix, and has a successful
football team, AS Monaco.
The state consists of three municipalities: Monaco-Ville, Monte Carlo and La Condamine,
that were merged into one in 1917, when they got the status of Wards or
Quartiers, and Fontvieille, a newly
constructed area claimed from the sea in the 1970s, was added later, as a
fourth main ward. Monaco-Ville, or “The Rock” is the old city and the
seat of the government positioned on a rocky promontory extending into the
Mediterranean. Monte Carlo is the principal residential and resort area with
the famous Monte Carlo Casino, and La Condamine is the southwestern section
that includes the port area, Port Hercules.
I decided to start my tour at the Fort Antoine Theatre in Monaco – Ville, near the cruise ship dock.
The theatre was originally constructed as a fortress in the 18th century on the
northeastern part of the Rock of Monaco. It was seriously damaged in 1944, and
then rebuilt in 1953 but its interior is now home to an open-air theater. Its
watch towers, and pyramids of cannon balls still remind of its military usage.
The cannons were used to announce the births of Princess Caroline, Prince
Albert and Princess Stephanie.
Then I climbed up to the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco (Musée océanographique), a museum of
marine sciences, inaugurated in 1910 by Monaco’s modernist reformer, Prince
Albert I. Jacques-Yves Cousteau was its director from 1957 to 1988.
The museum is home to 4,000 species of fish and over 200
families of invertebrates. It also includes a great variety of sea related
objects, model ships, tools, weapons etc.
The building itself is a monumental example of the Baroque
Revival architecture with an impressive façade above the sea, towering over the
cliff to a height of 85.04 m. It took eleven years to build, and 100,000 tons
Just after the museum, I entered beautiful Saint-Martin Gardens (Les Jardins Saint
Martin), with its paths and wonderful flora including Aleppo pine trees and
yellow agaves and with a bronze statue of Prince Albert I as a sailor at the
center. It also offers a spectacular view of the sea coast and of the whole Fontvieille.
Exiting the garden, I stayed amazed by the beauty of
the Cathedral of Monaco. The Cathedral
of Our Lady Immaculate (Cathédrale de Notre-Dame-Immaculée), or Saint
Nicholas Cathedral, as it is sometimes called, or simply Monaco Cathedral
(Cathédrale de Monaco) was built in 1875, on the site of a 13th century church,
dedicated to Saint Nicolas.
It is an impressive Roman-Byzantine style building, where
Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace got married and it houses the tombs of
the former Princes of Monaco.
Just next to it, there is another treat for the eyes, the Palace of Justice (Palais de justice).
Its unique architecture is definitely going to draw your
attention. It was built in Neo- Florentine style at the beginning of 1924, from
a porous stone called maritime tuff, that consists of many small pebbles and
sometimes shells of mollusks.
It was inaugurated in 1930 and it is now the seat of the
Rue Colonel Bellando de Castro, after about 100m, leads to
the Prince’s Palace, built in 1191.
It’s not particularly palatial, but it’s unique and worth
seeing because it reflects the history not only of Monaco, but of the family Grimaldi, which in 1997 celebrated 700
years of rule from the same palace.
While other European rulers were building luxurious, modern
Renaissance and Baroque palaces, politics and common sense here demanded
The absence of alternative palaces and land shortages made
this place be the only residence for more than seven centuries. The family
Grimaldi could only build a new tower or wing from time to time, or rebuild an
existing part of the palace.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, they became
symbols of the glamour and decadence associated with Monte Carlo and the French
Riviera, especially with the arrival of the American film star Grace Kelly in 1956.
The palace is still the residence of the current Prince of
There are two other beautiful places nearby for those ones
with more time to spend at their disposal: The Zoological garden and The Exotic
Instead, I headed towards La Condamine and Port Hercules, the only deep-water port
in Monaco. It has been in use since ancient times. The modern port was
completed in 1926, and it was substantially improved in the 1970s. It provides
anchorage for up to 700 vessels.
The streets of Monte Carlo and of La Condamine around the harbor,
form the famous Circuit of Monaco.
The circuit is annually used on two weekends in May. Its building takes six
weeks, and the dismantling after the race another three weeks. It is narrow,
with many elevation shifts and tight corners, that make it one of the most
demanding tracks in Formula One racing.
The idea for a Grand Prix race around the streets of Monaco
came from Antony Noghès, the president of the Automobile Club de Monaco, and
close friend of the ruling Grimaldi family. The first race was held in 1929.
Heading to Monte Carlo’s main attractions, above the famous Monte Carlo Tunnel, I found a beautiful
promenade, with plenty of sculptures, benches and plants, but also The Auditorium Rainier III, a 1000-seat
performance hall and events venue on Boulevard Louis II. It has been home to
the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra since 2002.
A bit further there is the beautiful Japanese Garden, for the ones who need a place to chill, or to have
a calm break for picnic.
The promenade gives a beautiful view of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo and of the
attractive terraced courtyard in front of it.
The opera building is attached to the casino, and is just as
impressive, if not even more.
Due to the lack of cultural events in Monaco in the 1870s,
Prince Charles III, decided to include a concert hall as part of the casino.
The main public entrance to the hall was from the casino, while his private one
was on the western side.
It opened in 1879 as the Salle Garnier, after its architect
Charles Garnier, who also designed the Paris opera house, known as the Palais
Garnier. The Salle Garnier is much smaller, with only 524 seats, compared to
about 2,000 of the Palais Garnier, but their ornate style is quite similar and
many of the same artists worked on both theatres.
The Casino de
Monte-Carlo was built in 1863 by Charles Garnier. Its marble paved
“atrium”, surrounded by 28 Ionic columns made of onyx, gives access
to the Opera Hall which is entirely decorated in red and gold, with bas-reliefs
and sculptures. Its “Gaming Rooms” are beautifully decorated with
stained glass windows, sculptures, and allegorical paintings. The Casino is
open to players from 2 pm until the last table closes.
Since 1869, the Casino de Monte-Carlo has generated so much
money for the Principality that the ruling family Grimaldi stopped taxation. It
made Monte Carlo a tax haven and today’s residents are 80% to 90% foreigners.
Monaco has become one of the world’s most expensive places to live, with about
30% of its population made up of millionaires. Ironically, the citizens of
Monaco are forbidden to enter the gaming rooms of the casino.
Only the cars worth more than $100,000 can be parked in
front of it.
On its left there is the Hôtel de Paris, a five-star, luxury hotel, managed by the Hermitage
and owned by the government, opened in 1863. Since then it has welcomed
countless royalty, movie stars and dignitaries. Its circular tower provides
outstanding views of the harbor and the Mediterranean.
Right next to it, there is another marvelous building, The Hotel Hermitage, a five-star, luxury
hotel opened in 1896 famous for its spectacular Belle Époque architecture
designed by Gustave Eiffel, the same man who built the Eiffel Tower in Paris in
I always finish my tour at Casino Square, because it is the place where I can enjoy Monte Carlo at its best. A beautiful fountain, Sky Mirror sculpture, a magnificent building of the famous casino, all those rich and famous people around you, and expensive cars parked everywhere… Simply breathtaking…
Unable to travel,
unable to dance, but still happy and grateful for being safe and healthy at
home, with my family…
When your main goal in life is to live as intensely and
healthily as possible, to travel as much as you can and dance all day long, and
to avoid wasting a second of it in front of TV or playing games, and then
suddenly, you are forced to change everything overnight and to adjust to
completely new circumstances, you realize how tiny you actually are in this
huge Universe that never gives anything for granted. For a millionth time you
realize that the only thing you can do is to make your own choices and to do
your best at every moment.
Extremely happy and grateful to have transformed my business
activities into working online long before this situation, now I could only
choose to commit myself to further education and personal growth.
That’s also why, during this period when we all have to stay
at our homes, I’ve decided to write about towns I visited last year, but due to
their quantity I haven’t manage to process so far.
The choice of an Italian town, the town of the country that
I adore and endlessly admire, and that was hit by this disaster in the most
terrible way, seemed so logical.
The Cathedral of Saint Lawrence (Duomo di Genova, Cattedrale di San Lorenzo)
The Doge’s Palace (Il Palazzo Ducale)
The Church of Jesus and the Saints Ambrogio and Andrea (La Chiesa dei Santi Ambrogio e Andrea detta del Gesù)
The Porta Soprana
The House of Christopher Columbus
The St. Andrew’s Cloister
Piazza De Ferrari
The Teatro Carlo Felice
The Ligurian Academy of Fine Arts (L’Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti)
Il Palazzo della Nuova Borsa (new stock exchange)
The Teatro Carlo Felice
Via Garibaldi (The palazzo Doria-Tursi, The Palazzo Rosso, The Palazzo Bianco, The Palazzo Giò Carlo Brignole …)
The Basilica of St Syrus (La Chiesa di San Siro)
The Porta dei Vacca
The Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato
The Palazzo Balbi Senarega
The Royal Palace (Il Palazzo Reale)
The Church Santi Vittore e Carlo
The Christopher Columbus Monument
The Lighthouse (La Lanterna di Genova)
We will start our tour from the Old Port (Porto Antico), a beautiful area to enjoy the sunshine and take pictures. This popular place offers a nice view of the city, of the yachts and cruise ships, has a lot of little cafes and restaurants for everyone’s taste, benches to sit on and watch the people pass by.
If your time allows you, I would highly recommend a visit to
the Aquarium of Genova. Prepare for
a long day of walking, but the reward will be priceless!
The Aquarium of Genoa (Acquario di Genova) is the largest
aquarium in Italy, of 3,100m² that welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors each
It was originally built for Genoa Expo ’92 to celebrate 500
years since Christopher Columbus, the famous Genoese sailor, discovered the new
The aquarium includes 70 tanks which host 12,000 animals of
400 different species, including dolphins, sharks, seals, jellyfishes, penguins
and many others.
Here, you will also find the largest maritime museum in the
Mediterranean Sea, the Galata (Museo
del mare), opened in 2004; a huge pirate ship the Neptune (Galeone Neptune), which is a replica of a 17th-century
Spanish galleon, built in 1985 for Roman Polanski’s film Pirates. It is
currently a tourist attraction and its interior can be visited.
Right next to the Aquarium, there is the Biosphere, known as Renzo Piano’s Bolla, a glass and steel
spherical structure built in 2001. It is suspended over the sea, offering an
exhibition area of about 200m² of a tropical rain forest with over 150
species. A computerized conditioning system guarantees the maintenance of an
adequate level of temperature and humidity inside the sphere.
You can also have fun and amazing views from the Bigo, an architectural structure
designed by Renzo Piano in 1992, inspired by the bigo, the crane used for
loading and unloading in the naval environment.
It has a panoramic lift which leaves the ground every 10
minutes, rises up to 40m in height and rotates 360 degrees to afford wonderful
panoramic views of the harbor, city and beyond, with background music, written
panels and voice guidance in different languages, indicating the buildings and
structures worth visiting.
You will definitely notice here the Palace of St. George (Palazzo San Giorgio), built in 1260, a
colorful building with lovely frescoes on its exterior. For a while it was used
as a prison with Marco Polo as one of its most famous residents. In the 15th
century, it became home to the Bank of Saint George.
From here, we will take Via St.Lorenzo to get to the most
important church in Genoa, the Cathedral
of Saint Lawrence (Duomo di Genova, Cattedrale di San Lorenzo), a Roman
Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Lawrence.
This, over thousand years old, cathedral went through
relocation, expansion, fire, reconstruction and restoration. In 1133 it became
the seat of the archbishop of Genoa. It has a magnificent white and black
striped marble and stone front façade.
Following Via di Porta Soprana we will go past the Doge’s Palace (Il Palazzo Ducale).
It was built between 1251 and 1275, during the flourishing
period of the Republican history of Genoa, when the local government decided to
purchase two buildings belonging to the Doria and Fieschi families, between San
Matteo and San Lorenzo churches in the center of the mediaeval city, and in
1339 it became the seat of the doge. The
Torre Grimaldina or the Torre del Popolo (Tower of the People) was added in
1539, when the palace was restored.
In 1777 it was
devastated by a fire, and later rebuilt in Neoclassicist style by Simone
In July 2001 it hosted the G8 Summit.
It is now a museum and a center for cultural events and art
Right next to this palace, there is the Church of Jesus and the Saints Ambrogio and Andrea (La Chiesa dei
Santi Ambrogio e Andrea detta del Gesù). It is a Baroque church, belonging to
the Jesuits, erected between 1580 and 1606. It hosts two valuable paintings by
the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens:
The Circumcision on the main altar and Saint Ignatius heals an obsess.
The same street will take us to the Porta Soprana, the best-known gate of the ancient walls of Genoa,
famous Barbarossa Walls. Although it dates back to the 9th century, it has been
rebuilt numerous times, and stands impressively right next to the House of Christopher Columbus.
Columbus was born in 1451 and lived there between 1455 and
1470. It was destroyed in the French Bombardment of Genoa in 1684, and rebuilt
in the early 18th century on the basis of the original ruins. It currently
operates as a museum.
There can also be found the St. Andrew’s Cloister, the remains of the ancient monastery of St.
Andrew, probably founded in the early 11th century. It was a Benedictine
monastery inhabited by nuns from to the most illustrious families of the city.
Taking Via Dante now, we will soon get to Piazza De Ferrari, Genoa’s main square,
dedicated to Raffaele De Ferrari, who donated a considerable amount of money in
1875 to expand the port.
It is a meeting point for many important city events, and
the financial and business center of Genoa.
It has a monumental bronze fountain in the center, crafted
Many amazing buildings look onto this square: The Teatro Carlo Felice and the Ligurian Academy of Fine Arts
(L’Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti), the side façade of Palazzo Ducale, and
the new stock exchange (Il Palazzo della
Nuova Borsa), one of the finest examples of Genoese Art Nouveau, built in
The Teatro Carlo Felice is Genoa’s opera house, designed and
built in 1827, and completely rebuilt after suffering a heavy damage during the
Following Via XXV Aprile we will get to one of the most
beautiful streets of Genoa, to Via
Garibaldi. This street is a must-see attraction, 250 m long and pretty
narrow, built around 1550’s and originally named Strada Maggiore or Strada
Nuova. In 1882 it was dedicated to Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Each building here is a small masterpiece of architecture, many
of them listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Charles Dickens gave a
beautiful description of it in his travelogue Pictures from Italy.
The Palazzo Doria-Tursi together with the Palazzo Rosso and the Palazzo Bianco house the Strada Nuova
Museums. Since 1848 The Palazzo Doria-Tursi has also housed the city
hall of Genoa.
The palaces are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site
Genoa: Le Strade Nuove and the system of the Palazzi dei Rolli.
After The Palazzo Giò
Carlo Brignole we will enter Via Cairoli, that will take us to Via San Siro
and to The BasilicaofSt
Syrus (La Chiesa di San Siro).
It is a Roman Catholic basilica and one of the oldest
churches in the city, occupying the site of a former church dedicated to the
apostles. Later, it was renamed after St Syrus. The inside is full of stunning
paintings, statues, and history.
Salita di San Siro will take us to Via del Campo and thus, we will get to the Porta dei Vacca. The Porta dei Vacca, originally called Porta di Santa Fede, after the nearby church, or Porta Sottana, as opposed to the contemporary Porta Soprana, its twin gate, was built as a part of the works of fortification of the Genoese city wall in the XII century.
This gate is located near the port, it is less visible than the twin, and kept worse, but still very important. In the seventeenth century it was incorporated into two neighboring Rolli palaces.
Going up Via delle Fontane, we get to the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del
Vastato, a Catholic cathedral decorated by the major baroque studios and
artists of Genoa in the 17th century. Its name “Vastato” refers to the
area outside the walls of the city, where houses had been “devastated”.
In a site of the small church of Santa Maria del Prato, the
Franciscans started building this church in 1520. In the early 17th century it
got its rich Baroque decoration and the current Neoclassicist façade dates from
1830-1840s. The church was severely damaged during the World War II.
This church’s modest exterior hides a truly spectacular
interior. Rows of Corinthian columns in red and white marble, lead to the
stunning frescoes covering the ceiling and dome. The individual chapels contain
extraordinary paintings and sculptures.
Via Balbi will lead us to our final destinations in Genoa.
First of them is the Palazzo
Balbi Senarega, with its magnificent stairs, the courtyard and the entrance
itself, built as a residential house and now converted into the Faculty of
Humanities of the University of Genoa.
The Royal Palace
(Il Palazzo Reale), constructed in 1618 for the Balbi family is a major palace
in Genoa. From 1919, the palace has belonged to the state. A visit to this
museum is a real step back to the golden era of Genoa’s history.
The palace contains countless original items such as
paintings, tapestries, furniture, sculptures, etc. The inner courtyard and
garden provide quite luxurious and peaceful atmosphere, and the top floor
terrace offers very nice view of the city and the port.
The Church Santi
Vittore e Carlo, right opposite the palace is a Baroque style church that
originally belonged to the Discalced Carmelite Order. It was constructed
between 1629 and 1635, in the shape of a Latin Cross and has a number of
artistic works of 17th- and 18th-century inside.
At the end of the street, we will get to the Christopher Columbus Monument,
commemorating Genoa’s most famous historic figure.
The great explorer was born in this city in 1451, and the
impressively large statue reminds us of how the whole world changed through the
actions of this one single man.
It stands in Piazza Acquaverde near the central train
Genoa has really so much to offer. No matter how often I
visit this place, it always surprises me in new, fascinating ways.
You may also want to visit the symbol of the city, and its
most famous sight, the Lighthouse
(La Lanterna di Genova), the third oldest
lighthouse in the world. Although the panorama from it is not too
impressive, because of the industrial area around it, the building itself is
quite beautiful, especially at night.
The fact that Prague was ranked sixth in the TripAdvisor world list of the best destinations in 2016 and the fifth most visited European city after London, Paris, Rome and Istanbul in 2017, made my writing of its itinerary quite challenging. One can always discover so many new great things to see and do there. However, for those ones who haven’t visited Prague yet, I managed to compose this list of its main attractions and sights that can be seen just in one day. After all, the main concept of my posts is visiting cities and seeing as much as possible of their attractions, if you have only a few hours at your disposal.
Prague (Praha) is the capital
and the largest city in the Czech
Republic and its political, cultural and economic center, with millions of
tourists who visit it every year. It is situated on the Vltava river and has
about 1.3 million inhabitants.
Its history is incredibly rich and it is home to a number of
well-known cultural attractions, to more than ten major museums, numerous
theatres, galleries, cinemas and to many public and private schools, including
Charles University in Prague, the oldest university in Central Europe.
The Museum of Decorative Arts
The Jewish Quarter: The Old Jewish Cemetery, Maisel Synagogue, The Jewish Town Hall, The Spanish Synagogue
The Basilica of St. James
Republic Square: The Municipal House, The Powder Tower, The Czech National Bank, The Palladium shopping mall
The Jerusalem Synagogue
The Musee Grévin
Old Town Square: The Church of Mother of God before Týn, The Church of Saint Nicholas, The Old Town Hall with The Astronomical Clock, The Kinský Palace, The Gothic House at the Stone, the Prague meridian
The House at The Minute
The Cathedral of St. Clement
The Church of St. Salvator
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi
The Old Town Bridge Tower
The Lesser Town Bridge Tower
The Church of Saint Nicholas
The Church of Our Lady beneath the Chain
Hradčany Square: The Schwarzenberg Palace, The Archbishop’s Palace, The Tuscany Palace, The SalmPalace
Hradčany – Prague Castle: The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert, St George’s Basilica
The National Theatre
The Dancing House
Our tour will start from the Rudolfinum, a beautiful concert hall. The Rudolfinum is a building designed in the neo-renaissance style on the bank of the river Vltava in 1885. It is named in honor of Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria, who presided over the opening. Apart from the period between 1919 and 1939 when it was used as the seat of the Czechoslovak Parliament, it has always been associated with music and art. The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Gallery Rudolfinum are based in it. Its largest music auditorium, Dvořák Hall, is one of the oldest concert halls in Europe. Antonín Dvořák himself conducted the Czech Philharmonic in this hall in its first concert ever, on 4 January 1896.
Just across 17th November street, right opposite the Rudolfinum, there is another amazing building, the Museum of Decorative Arts, a real jewel among Prague’s lesser known museums, with an impressive collection of Czech and Central European clocks, furniture, women’s clothes, porcelain, Bohemian glass and jewelry from the 17th to the 19th century, as well as Czech calligraphic books and maps. The ground floor usually hosts some temporary exhibitions of famous Czech photographers or artists.
Široká Street, right next to this building will take us to
the Jewish Quarter with the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Pinkas Synagogue (Pinkasova synagoga),
the second oldest surviving synagogue in Prague.
The graveyard is one of the largest of its kind in Europe and one of the most important Jewish historical monuments in Prague. It has about 12,000 visible tombstones positioned over almost 20 layers of graves beneath!
(Maiselova synagoga) on the right, was built from 1590 to 1592 by the mayor of
the Jewish Town, Mordechai Maisel, during the golden age of the ghetto. The
original Renaissance building was seriously damaged by fire in 1689, and its
appearance has changed several times since then. Its actual style is neo-gothic
and is administered by the Jewish Museum in Prague.
High Synagogue (Vysoká Synagoga) on the left, was built in 1568, as a Renaissance themed building, funded by the mayor of the Jewish Town together with the Jewish Town Hall.
The Jewish Town Hall
(Židovská radnice) was later remodeled into Baroque (Rococo) style. The Rococo
facade includes an unusual clock tower with remarkable Hebrew figures as well
as an additional clock with Roman symbols.
What makes the clock with Hebrew figures so remarkable is
that its hands move counter-clockwise, probably because Hebrew is read from
right to left instead of left to right.
Široká Street will take us to The Holy Ghost Church, Kafka
Monument and to the beautiful Spanish
Synagogue. In order to cover the furthest points immediately, we will take
V Kolkovně Street, opposite Kafka’s Monument, and then Masná St and Malá
Štupartská St, to get to the Basilica of
St. James, another beautiful church in the city full of beautiful churches.
It’s not impressive from the outside, but the inside is gorgeous, with a magnificent
high ceiling covered in spectacular artwork. It was built in the 13th century
for the Franciscans in the Gothic style, and destroyed in the fire in 1689. It
was rebuilt in the Baroque style.
Jakubská, then Rybná and Králodvorská St, will take us to Republic Square (Náměstí Republiky), lying at the boundary of the Old Town and New Town. The square is a very popular spot for locals and tourists, and is very close to several significant buildings: Kotva Department Store, Municipal House, Powder Tower, Czech National Bank and Palladium shopping mall.
The Municipal House
(Obecní dům) is an Art Nouveau building, built from 1905 to 1911. It used to be
The Royal Court palace and the King of Bohemia used to live there from 1383
Today it is used as a concert hall and a ballroom, with
cafes and restaurants, but many of the rooms are closed to the public and open
only for guided tours.
The Powder Tower
(Prašná brána) is a Gothic tower built in 1475, and one of the 13 original city
gates in the Old Town.
Intended to be an attractive entrance into the city, it was mainly used as a gunpowder storage instead. Afterwards, it was used as the starting point for the Coronation ceremonies.
Taking Senovážná Street, opposite the Municipal House and
then Senovážné nám and Jeruzalémská St. you will get to the Jerusalem Synagogue, another beautiful
synagogue, built in 1906, definitely worth seeing, although a bit distant.
Celetná St will take us back from the Municipal House to the Musee Grévin, Prague Wax Museum of Legends, and one of the largest in Europe, opened in 2014 in one of the city’s main shopping streets.
Soon after it, we will come to Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) the most significant square of historical Prague, founded in the 12th century. One of its dominant features is The Church of Mother of God before Týn (Kostel Matky Boží před Týnem), or simply Týn Church. It is one of the most impressive Gothic sacral buildings in Prague, built from the 14th to the 16th century. Its towers are 80 m high with four small spires on the top, and its organ from 1673 is the oldest in Prague.
The square is dominated by the Church of Saint Nicholas (Kostel svatého Mikuláše), a Baroque church built between 1704-1755 on the site of a Gothic church from the 13th century, also dedicated to Saint Nicholas which astonishes visitors with its size and monumental interior.
In addition, we will find here the Old Town Hall, the Rococo Kinský Palace, the Gothic House at the Stone Bell and the monument to Jan Hus. In the pavement of the square are memorial stones marking the execution of 27 Czech lords in 1621, and the Prague meridian.
The Old Town Hall
with The Astronomical Clock (Staroměstská radnice s orlojem) is one of the
most visited monuments of Prague. It is a complex of several ancient houses,
established in 1338 as the seat of the Old Town administration.
It consists of a beautiful Gothic tower, almost 70 m high,
offering amazing views of the city, and a unique astronomical clock, known as
the Prague Orloj (Pražský orloj), where, every hour between 9 am and 11 pm, the
twelve apostles appear.
It was installed on the southern wall of Old Town Hall in 1410, and it is the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest clock still operating. According to a local legend, the city would suffer if the clock were neglected.
The Kinský Palace (Palác Kinských) is the seat of the National Gallery in Prague. It is a Rococo building with wonderful stucco and sculptural decoration. The Gothic House at the Stone Bell, is a remarkable Early Gothic house from the 13th century, named after the stone bell embedded in the outside corner.
We will leave this marvelous square walking towards The House at The Minute (Dům U Minuty). The
house is a part of the Old Town Hall complex, and a typical example of Czech
Burgher Renaissance architecture. It has an impressive facade, covered with
sgraffito decorations representing scenes from Greek mythology and biblical and
Renaissance legends. Franz Kafka lived here with his parents from 1889 to 1896.
On our way to Charles Bridge, we will also find the Clementinum, a stunning old baroque
Library, founded in 1781, that contains some of the oldest and the rarest books
in world. Its tower provides an exquisite panoramic view of Prague.
Three beautiful churches are placed here, one next to each other: The Cathedral of St. Clement, The Church of St. Salvator and The Church of St. Francis of Assisi.
The Baroque Cathedral
of St Clement is a part of the Clementinum. It was built between 1711 and
1715. Its exterior is simple, but it is amazing inside.
The Church St.
Salvator is also a part of the former Jesuit College of St. Clement. It is
a Baroque building founded in the 16th, and completed in the 17th century. The
tradition of organ concerts in this church is very long, thanks to its
beautiful and recently restored, organ from the 18th century.
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi was built in Baroque style between 1679 and 1685. It replaced the original church of St. Francis of Assisi of 1270. It has magnificent interior decoration, a monumental, nearly 41m high dome, and the second oldest organ in Prague dating from 1702.
The Old Town Bridge Tower (Staroměstská mostecká věž) is one of the most beautiful Gothic gateways in the world, designed by the Schwabian architect Peter Parler, who also designed the famous Charles Bridge and the magnificent St. Vitus Cathedral. The tower and the bridge were built by Emperor Charles IV in the 14th century. The construction began in 1357 and it was completed in 1380. The gate was imagined as a symbolic triumphal arch, through which Czech kings would pass on their coronation processions. It offers you an unforgettable view of the city, if you climb its 138 steps to the viewing gallery.
On the opposite side of Charles Bridge, guarding the
entrance to the Lesser Town, there is The Lesser
Town Bridge Tower (Malostranské mostecké věže).
The taller (43.5m) Late Gothic tower was built in 1464, to
replace an earlier Romanesque tower upon the model of Parler’s Old Town Bridge
Tower. Its gallery, will offer you another stunning view of the Vltava River
and the historical city center.
The smaller Judith’s Tower is connected to it by a gate, and represents the only remaining part of the original Judith’s Bridge, destroyed by floods in 1342. Originally built as a Romanesque tower in the 12th century, it got its current Renaissance appearance in1591. Inside the Lesser Town Bridge Tower, there is an exhibition dedicated to the history of Charles Bridge.
(Karlův most) is one of the most famous and the most beautiful bridges in the
world. Its construction across the Vltava river started in 1357 under the
auspices of King Charles IV. It replaced the old Judith Bridge built 1158–1172
that had been badly damaged by a flood in 1342. It is 516 meters long, 9.5
meters wide, and is decorated by a continuous alley of 30, mostly Baroque
statues, erected around 1700. Now they are all replaced by replicas.
One of the most interesting among these magnificent statues
is the Statue of St. John of Nepomuk,
one of the most significant Czech saints, and many people believe that it
brings luck if you touch it.
The Statue of Saints Vincent Ferrer and Procopius is one of the most artistically important ones. There is a column with a sculpture of a famous mythical Bohemian knight Bruncvik behind this statue, then the sculpture group of St. Lutgarde, the Sculpture of St. Judas Thaddeus and many others.
Following Mostecká St, we will soon get to The Church of Saint Nicholas (Kostel
svatého Mikuláše), and the beautiful Holy
Trinity Column in front of it. The Church of Saint Nicholas is a
Late-Gothic and Baroque church built between 1732 and 1737 on the site of a
Gothic church from the 13th century.
Its dome has an impressive diameter of 20m, and its interior height is over 49m, which is the highest interior in Prague. Concerts are held here all over the year on the historic organ from the 18th century.
We will leave Mostecká St for a minute, and turn left to
Karmelitská St, just to see The Church
of Our Lady beneath the Chain (Kostel Panny Marie pod řetězem), the oldest
in the Little Quarter, which was founded in the 1100s. Its name refers to the
chain used in the Middle Ages to close the monastery gatehouse.
A Gothic presbytery and two square towers were added in the 13th century, and he Baroque renovation of the church was carried out in 1640.
Our next target is Hradčany
Square, a charming square full of astonishing Baroque and Renaissance
palaces and houses. It is one of the best-preserved districts of Prague and one
of the access points to Prague Castle.
The square is dominated by a plague column of Virgin Mary and surrounded by some spectacular buildings, such as The Schwarzenberg Palace, The Archbishop’s Palace, The Tuscany Palace, The Salm Palace and others.
The National Gallery of Prague – The Schwarzenberg Palace (Národní galerie Praha – Schwarzenberský palác) is an amazing Early Renaissance building with rich black-and-white sgraffito decorations on the walls, situated on the area of three buildings that were destroyed by great fire in 1541.
Palace (Arcibiskupský palác) has been the seat of Prague archbishops and
bishops since the 1660s. The palace was built on the site of eight town houses
in the Renaissance style in 1562, rebuilt in the Baroque style in the 17th
century, and got its current appearance in 1760´s when Its facade was decorated
in Rococo style.
Hradčany was an independent district until 1784, when, with others that had constituted Prague: Malá Strana (Lesser Quarter), Staré Město (Old Town) and Nové Město (New Town), was proclaimed a single city.
The castle Hradčany is one of the biggest in the world
(about 570m long, and 130m wide). It was built in the 9th century and was a
seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of
Czechoslovakia. It attracts over 1.8 million visitors a year
Its first building, the Church of the Virgin Mary, was built
in 870. The Basilica of Saint George and the Basilica of St. Vitus were founded
in the 10th century, the first convent in Bohemia was founded there, next to
the church of St. George, and a Romanesque palace was erected here during the
12th century. The castle houses several museums, the National Gallery
collection of Bohemian baroque and mannerism art, exhibition dedicated to Czech
history, Toy Museum and the picture gallery of Prague Castle.
Its buildings represent a mixture of almost all the architectural styles of the last millennium.
Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert (Metropolitní katedrála
svatého Víta, Václava a Vojtěcha), one of the most famous landmarks in Prague,
is a Roman Catholic metropolitan cathedral and the seat of the Archbishop of
Prague. It is the largest church in Prague and in the whole Czech Republic.
Until 1997, it was dedicated only to Saint Vitus, and thus
still commonly named St. Vitus Cathedral.
It is located within Prague Castle and contains the tombs of
many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors.
It was founded in 1344 on the site of the original Romanesque rotunda. The construction took nearly 600 years and was finally completed in 1929.
The main tower (Hlavní věž), above the south door is Gothic,
the lighter colored parapet Renaissance, and the cupola is Baroque. The South
Door, known as the Zlatá brána,
underneath the tower is from 14th century and it is featuring a mosaic of The
Last Judgement. Beside the South Door, there is one of the most important parts
of the cathedral, the Chapel of St
Wenceslas, the country’s patron saint, who was killed by his pagan brother
Boleslav the Cruel in 929.
St George’s Basilica
(Bazilika sv. Jiří) is one of Prague’s most significant Romanesque monuments,
and the city’s second oldest church, founded around 920.
It has two white stone steeples, reaching a height of 41m. The wider, southern tower is called Adam, and the narrower, northern tower is called Eve. Its interior is Romanesque, and its Baroque façade dates from the late 17th century.
The building now houses the 19th century Bohemian Art
Collection of National Gallery in Prague and serves as a concert hall, as well.
If you still have strength to move your feet, I suggest
going down to the river again. This time you can choose either Charles Bridge
or beautiful Legion Bridge to cross the Vltava.
connects the National boulevard with the Lesser Town going over Střelecký
Island, a frequent place for many cultural events.
It was built in a combination of neo-Baroque and Art Nouveau styles, between 1999 – 1901 to replace Chain Bridge of Emperor Francis I. It is 343m long and 16m wide and it has two towers on both sides.
100m to the left you will find beautiful Kranner’s Fountain. It is a Neo-Gothic
monument by the river designed by the architect Josef Kranner in 1850.
It was completely reconstructed in 2003 and now is fully functional. The whole park around it is a great place to relax and enjoy the view of the city.
We will go to the right instead, pass the beautiful
historical building of the National
Theatre, constructed in 1883, and visit our last point, the Dancing House.
The Dancing House (Tančící
dům), or Fred and Ginger, was designed by the Croatian-Czech architect Vlado
Milunić and the Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry on a riverfront plot in
1992 and completed in 1996.
They were inspired by the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – the stone tower symbolizes Fred Astaire and the glass tower, his partner Ginger Rogers.
If you ever returned from a trip and realized through chats
with others that you hadn’t seen some of the beautiful places which were just
around the corner, you will understand why I write these itineraries.
Every inch of Prague has a landmark worth seeing.
This route of mine, although it will cost you a few calluses, will likely allow you to regret missing none of its most beautiful attractions.
Timișoara, the largest city in western Romania, has been influenced by many cultures. Romans, Turks, Austrians, Germans and Serbs, all left their mark, and their influence can be seen all around the city even today. The first records of the city, built on the site of an ancient Roman fortress, date back to 1212.
Settled on the northern bank of the Bega River, this city offers a distinct architecture and vibrant
cultural life. It is also known as “Little
Vienna” thanks to many musical and theatrical performances, art
galleries, museums and an active nightlife.
Timișoara was the first city in Europe and second in the world after New York, to use electricity to illuminate its public streets (1884).
It is quite easy to explore Timișoara on foot. Thanks to its
mild climate, it has many public squares and green parks full of flowers, ideal
to take a short break from sightseeing.
The following itinerary, should enable you to visit all the important sites of the city, without wasting time and making unnecessary steps.
The Notre Dame Church in Timișoara
The Church of the Nativity
of the Virgin Mary
The Orthodox Cathedral
The Artesian Fountain
Timisoara’s Opera House
The Huniade Castle
St. George’s Cathedral
The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral
The Palace of the Serbian Episcopacy
The Brück House
The Monument of the Holy Trinity
The Cardinal Points
Maria Theresia Bastion
The Millennium Church
Thus, we will start our tour from The Notre Dame Church in Timisoara (Biserica Notre Dame). It was built at the end of the 19th century, combining neo-Romanesque style with two neo-Gothic towers. It currently serves the Catholic community of the Banat Bulgarians.
Following Boulevard 16 Decembrie 1989, we will get to The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary (Biserica Nașterea Maicii Domnului Iosefin), an amazing Orthodox church with an unusaual architecture.
was built between the two world wars (1936), by the architect Victor Vlad in
neo-Byzantine style, inspired by the model of St. Sofia Church in Istambul,
especially the shape of the dome and the separate bell tower with six bells.
The height of the dome is 24m, and the bell tower is 33m high. The mural paintings, were made in the “fresco bono” style, and the floor is made of white and pink marble.
The boulevard will then take us across the Bega river to the very centre of the city. On our left there is a huge and beautiful Central Park (Parcul Central „Anton Scudier”), one of the oldest parks in Timișoara, established in 1880. It is full of fountains, benches, chess tables, and monuments, including The Monument of the Unknown Soldier or The monument dedicated to the Romanian host (Monumentul Ostașului Român). The controversy related to its name, positioning and inscription on its pedestal, aroused by the political changes over the years.
The plateau in front of it is an important place for the Romanian Army Day, celebrated on October 25-28.
further, we will get to Timisoara’s major landmark, a fascinating building of The Orthodox Cathedral (Catedrala
Mitropolitană Ortodoxă), dedicated to the Three Holy Hierarchs, that stands
majestic in the heart of the Old Town.
It was built between 1936 and 1941 in neo-Moldavian style, with many Romanian, Orthodox, late Renaissance, Ottoman, and Byzantine architecture elements.
It has 1,542 m2 (16,600 sq ft), and 11 towers, vividly ornamented, of which the central and the highest is 90.5m high, and seven bells, whose sound can be heard throughout the city. Its interior design is equally fascinating with many historic and artistic religious objects.
It is the seat of the Archbishop of Timișoara and Metropolis of Banat.
The Metropolitan Orthodox Cathedral sits at the southern end of Victory Square (Piata Victoriei), where the Romanian revolution started in 1989. In front of the cathedral there is a monument memorializing revolutionaries who perished in 1989.
Victory Square (formerly Opera Square) lies between the astonishing façades of the cathedral and Timișoara’s Opera House in the north, as an ideal place for coffee lovers and romantics.
Its center is full of flowers and pigeons with a famous monument of The Wolf Statue (Lupoaica cu puii), set high on a pedestal, which is a replica of the Capitoline Wolf (Lupa Capitolina). It was a gift received in the 1920s from Rome in recognition of Romania’s Latin origin.
Another landmark located in this square is The Artesian Fountain, also known as the Fish Fountain, built in 1957.
the right we will see The Huniade Castle
(Castelul Huniade), the oldest monument of Timişoara, built in 1447, over the
old royal castle dating from the 14th century.
castle was rebuilt by the Turks in the 17th century and by Prince Eugene of
Savoy in the 18th century, and got its present appearance during the
reconstruction in 1850s. It houses the History Section and the Natural Sciences
Section of the Banat Museum.
Two lamps in front of the museum are there to remind that Timişoara was the first European town to have introduced electric public lighting in 1884.
Iulia St. will then take us to Liberty
Square ( Piața Libertății), another beautiful square of Timişoara, where we
will find the old City Hall and the beautiful St. Nepomuk’s Statue. During the Ottoman rule (1552 -1716)
this square was its central part, but the subsequent Austrian rulers removed
almost all the traces of the Turkish occupation. Fortunately, there are a few
surviving elements like a merchant’s house at the southern side of the square,
built in 1803, and the imposing Faculty
of Music on the northern end, with an Ottoman inscription on the wall,
referring to Turkish baths, formerly situated on the square, as well as the
outlines of the ruins of the Turkish bath.
On the left of the faculty, there is Cetate Synagogue, one of the most distinctive and original buildings in the city, built between 1863-1865 in Moorish style. It is rectangular with a dome and arches, and two towers on the west side.
Vasile Alecsandri St. will take us to Union Square (Piața Unirii), one of the most beautiful squares in the capital of Banat, made in Baroque style, that hosts many historical buildings and monuments and some of the best restaurants and coffee houses in town.
It hosts beautiful St. George’s Cathedral (the Roman Catholic Cathedral), the Baroque Palace (now a beautiful art gallery), the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, the Monument of the Holy Trinity, the fountain with mineral water and other architectural monuments.
St. George’s Cathedral (Catedrala Sfântul Gheorghe) or The Dome is one of the most valuable buildings of Baroque architecture in Timișoara and the Banat. Its interior is luxurious and expressive, with Rococo elements created by Vienna’s painters and sculptors and the acoustic is amazing.
Even though the exterior of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral (Catedrala Ortodoxa Sarba) doesn’t look so promising regarding to architectural beauty, its interior is, on the contrary, amazingly beautiful. This church was built by the Serbian Orthodox Church for the local Serbian community in the 18th century and is one of the most beautiful Serbian Orthodox churches.
The Palace of the Serbian Episcopacy is Orthodox bishop’s residence.
It was built in the Austrian Baroque style in 1747, then in
1906, the façade was rebuilt in the so-called “neo-Serbian” style, using some
traditional details of Serbian and Russian religious architecture.
Recently, it has been renovated and it can be visited inside at certain hours of the day. The building is very important for the Serbian minority in Romania, but it is equally pleasant for all the tourists who visit Unirii Square.
It has a rich Orthodox religious art collection from the
18th and the19th century.
The Brück House
(Casa Brück) is an early 20th century Art Nouveau (Secession) style historical
monument, standing in the location where a previous, Austrian Baroque style building,
known as the Golden Cross Pharmacy, originally stood in the early 1800s.
For more than 100 years, there has always been a pharmacy functioning on its bottom level floor, including the one operating to this day.
The Brück House has a basement, ground floor, and three
upper floors, symbolizing, with its impressive height, the separation of the
dominant Baroque style of the square.
The building’s façade is covered by a large number of colored ceramic tiles inspired by Hungarian folklore motifs.
The Statue of the
Holy Trinity, or “the plague monument” in the middle of Unirii Square,
is considered the most beautiful monument of Baroque art in Timişoara. It was
sculpted in Vienna between 1739 and 1740 and brought to Timişoara in 1740.
Its base is a pedestal with three sides; on each side there are figurative reliefs representing plague, famine and war. Rich in figurative elements, the statue represents the Virgin Mary, St. John of Nepomuk, the patron saint of Catholics in Banat, Saint Sebastian with arrows in his chest and St. Rochus with a wounded leg.
Taking George Coșbuc St near the Cathedral, we will leave
this beautiful square and get to The
Cardinal Points Fountain (Punctele Cardinale) and Maria Theresia Bastion (Bastionul Maria Theresia) right next to it.
Named after the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, it is the largest preserved
piece of defensive wall of the Austrian-Hungarian fortress of Timișoara. It was
built between 1732–1734 Today it houses commercial spaces, restaurants, bars, a
disco and a library, and two permanent exhibitions of the Museum of Banat.
Bulevardul Revoluției 1989 and then Bulevardul 3 August 1919, after crossing the Bega river will take us to our final destinations, Fabric Synagogue (Sinagoga din Fabric) and The Millennium Church (Biserica Millenium).
The Fabric New
Synagogue was built in Neo-Moorish style in 1838 or in 1841 by the
well-known Hungarian architect Lipot Baumhorn, and it is still one of the most
impressive buildings in the city, and
The Millennium Church,
the largest Roman-Catholic church in Timisoara, was built in the Neo-Romanesque
style by Lajos Ybl and sanctified in 1901.
It was built to commemorate 1,000 years since the formation
of the Hungarian State, and thus it got the name Millennium.
Cannes is one of the most beautiful and the most famous cities on the French Riviera, usually associated with the rich and famous people. It is well known for hosting the annual Cannes Film Festival, but also for its luxurious hotels and restaurants, beautiful architecture, beaches, boutiques and weather. If you have only a couple of hours to visit it, you will probably have to avoid the irresistible charm of its restaurants and cafes.
This itinerary of mine could spare you some time, so that you can spend it, doing what you like best, instead of wandering.
The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès
The Path of the Stars
The Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage
The Marche Forville
The Mairie de Cannes
The Vieux Port
Cannes Film Murals
The Musèe de la Castre
The Croisette or The Promenade de la Croisette, is 2km long boulevard that stretches along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea with many prestigious stores, restaurants, and hotels on one side and a long beach with cafes, beach chairs and broad sun umbrellas on the other. Nice for the eyes but disastrous for the credit cards!
At the top of the Croisette there is the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès
(Palace of Festivals and Conferences), where the Cannes Film Festival is held.
The original convention hall was built in 1949 in a different location, but due to the huge success of the Cannes Film Festival, the Cannes Municipality started building a new hall in 1979 and it officially opened in 1982.
The new six-story building was built on the grounds of the
It has 35,000 square meters for exhibitions, numerous rooms
and auditoriums, the largest of which has a capacity of 2,300.
Don’t miss the opportunity to take nice pictures on the famous red carpet.
Right in front of the Palais des Festivals you can find the Path of the Stars, handprints of famous
people on the sidewalk.
Crossing the Croisette, on the opposite side of the Palace
of Festivals, we will find the beautiful church Notre Dame de Bon Voyage (Our Lady of Good Voyage) that was the
first stop of the Emperor Napoleon on his return from Elba on 1st March 1815.
In the 15th century it was just a small chapel and
fishermen’s shelter, later it become Notre Dame of the Seaside, then Notre Dame
of Bon Port and finally the church Notre Dame de Bon Voyage at the end of the
During a restoration project undertaken between 2018 and 2019 its facade, stained glass, vaults, columns and the monumental chandelier, were cleaned and repaired, and the bells were returned to service.
Following Buttura St (Rue Buttura) not more than 100m, we
will get to Rue d’Antibes, the
ultimate shopper’s heaven.
There are so many stores and restaurants and cafes in this long street, ideal to sit down and enjoy its great atmosphere.
Turning left, and taking the second street on the right, we will get to another famous street of Cannes, Rue Meynadier, that is the best ‘bargain’ shopping street in town. It is narrow and shaded throughout the day, and its 18th-century houses, now repurposed as shops, offer plenty of excellent wine and cheese, chocolates, souvenirs and so much more!
In the end of this street, there is another heaven waiting, but this time for food lovers. Marche Forville is a typical Mediterranean market, very attractive both inside and out. Apart from on Mondays, when it becomes a massive antiques and collectors market, it’s a giant farmers market, with delicious little bit of everything for everyone, from snails to quails, fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, cheeses, bakery… The range of local food is excellent and at reasonable prices.
Going back towards the old port we will find the impressive City Hall of Cannes (Mairie de Cannes), a historic, well maintained building, beautifully restored to its original state. It has huge reception rooms with enormous windows overlooking the port.
Vieux Port, old town harbor, with plenty of yachts and surrounded by colorful houses, bars and restaurants is well worth seeing and an amazing place for a relaxing walk.
It is also the place where you will find the famous mural depicting 100 years of cinema,
near the bus station. The movies are the theme of the 15 painted walls to be
found throughout Cannes.
Following Rue St-Antoine, a cobbled lane lined with local bars, restaurants and shops, we will reach the Suquet hill, Cannes’ oldest quartier, offering fantastic views of the bay.
Le Suquet is
formed of a labyrinth of winding streets and steep stairways, which climb up to
the Church of Notre Dame de l’Esperence
(Eglise Notre Dame d’Esperance), completed in 1648 and dedicated to Our Lady of
Hope. Although it looks a bit uninviting from the outside, it is very
attractive inside offering beautiful wood paneling and a collection of 19th
Right next to it, there is the Musèe de la Castre, an art and history museum offering an
interesting world tour, and displaying historic items from different world civilizations,
collected and donated by wealthy local people.
The best part is actually walking through the old castle courtyard and climbing up into the tower. The 360 degree views of Cannes and the harbor are simply spectacular!
While I was planning my trip to the Cote d’Azur in France this spring during the month of May, around the Cannes Film Festival and the Formula 1 Grand Prix, some friends of mine, knowing how crazy I am about perfumes, recommended me a short visit to a mountain village called Eze, between Nice and Monaco. Having discovered that there are actually two perfume factories that I could visit there (Galimard and Fragonard), I decided to take their advice and spend a couple of hours in this place.
Instead of the original idea, I spent almost the whole day
there, totally enchanted and unable to leave.
The nickname “Eagle’s Nest”, Èze got due to its location on a high cliff 427 m (1,401 ft.) above sea level on the French Mediterranean.
Located between Nice and Monaco, it offers a convenient,
jaw-dropping scenic ride from either city, along the sea and up the mountain.
No cars are allowed there, but the entrance to the historic
Eze is only a short walk from the bus stop and a small parking lot. As soon as
you step inside, you will feel like being in the Medieval period thanks to its
stone streets, low archways, and narrow passages, followed, of course, by
modern tourist traps, gift shops, expensive art galleries, cafes and
restaurants, and the numerous small art and craft boutiques that are so hard to
The climb from the parking area up the narrow winding
pathways to the top of the rock is steep and have numerous stairs, but the view
of the Mediterranean is breathtaking.
With or without a guide, you will be able to find the Jardin Exotique, its panoramic garden at the top quite easily.
This exotic botanic garden, has spectacular panoramic views
of the Mediterranean and the hills below, and an impressive collection of
cactus, plants and rare vegetation, surrounding the remains of an ancient
Eze was once surrounded by a 12th-century fortified castle, that was torn down in 1706, but the villagers did an excellent job of restoring the old buildings.
Eze is positioned so high that its light ochre Church of Our Lady of the Assumption of Eze (Notre Dame de l’Assomption), can be seen from afar.
The church was rebuilt between 1764 and 1778 to replace the
previous one, which fell in ruins.
The bell tower was built in the 19th century, and several
times hit by the lightning which made the original dome disappear.
Its classical façade contrasts with its Baroque interior.
An Egyptian cross inside shows the ancient roots of this
village, when the Phoenicians erected a temple there to honor the goddess Isis.
At the end of the “Avenue du Jardin Exotique”, you can take the Friedrich Nietzsche path and visit “Eze bord-de-mer”. It appears that Nietzsche composed the last part of his work “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” here, in the shadow of the olives and pine-trees.
The architecture of Eze is simply fascinating: small narrow
roads, archways and fantastically restored stone houses, elegant wrought-iron
street lamps, colorful shutters, shady squares and refreshing ancient
fountains, all in one place. No wonder I was completely seduced by this
medieval village and its marvels.
Although you are used to me writing about beautiful European cities and amazing things that you could see there, this time I couldn’t help writing a few words about a ritual of mine concerning seaside.
I am crazy about architecture and sightseeing, but every single year, considering it the most precious therapy for my body and soul, I choose a peaceful place at the seaside, with clear and calm, warm water and sandy beaches, where I can spend days just swimming and relaxing, without being distracted by other city attractions.
My choice is usually Greece, because it is very close to my
country, and its beaches are absolutely fascinating.
In those ten days, I simply feel the energy flowing into my
body and the stunning immensity of water calming my soul and mind. I have a
feeling that my skin is absorbing health that will protect me all year long and
give me the necessary strength for the crazy rhythm that my character drives me
to. That fusion with nature and observing its perfection and harmony is something
that fascinates me year after year. And the body, which in the water puts in
motion every, even the tiniest dormant muscle, looks as if born again and
simply shining with health.
This year, I found this source of bliss in Ierissos, in the Chalkidiki Peninsula, not as quiet as I expected, but still with the intact and unspoiled nature. These few photos will express more than my words.
Although you may not need my itinerary for San Marino at all, because it is almost impossible for you to get lost there, I couldn’t help describing this little gem in the heart of Italy.
The Republic of San Marino is a small independent state on
the northeastern side of the Apennines, completely surrounded by Italy. It is
the world’s oldest republic and the
third smallest country in Europe, after Vatican City and Monaco.
It is situated only 10km from Rimini, and it lies 657 m
above sea level, offering spectacular views of the surroundings and the
According to the legend, it was founded by a Christian named Marinus in 301, who arrived there from the island of Rab in Dalmatia, climbed Monte Titano and found a small community of Christians, persecuted by the Emperor Diocletian.
San Marino consists of a few towns around the mountain sides, with the capital called ‘San Marino’ itself, situated on a mountain top and surrounded by a wall and three distinct towers. It became part of the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008.
It is among the
wealthiest countries in the world, with one of the lowest unemployment
rates in Europe, no national debt, a budget surplus, and the world’s highest
rate of car ownership, as the only country having more vehicles than people.
The official language is Italian, and San Marino’s foreign policy is aligned with the Italian, but it is duty free, so be also prepared to shop, as you can get liquor, leather, and perfumes at excellent prices.
Visiting this city made me feel as if I were in a fairy tale: old architecture, colorful and very clean streets adorable to walk around, many charming little shops, various museums. During the day it is always full of tourists, but it is almost empty later in the afternoon and completely fascinating, quiet and mystic at night.
These sites will definitely attract your attention:
Liberty Square (Piazza della Libertà)
The Statue of Liberty (Statua della Libertà)
The Palazzo Pubblico
The Basilica of San Marino
The Guaita Tower.
San Marino’s cable car (Funivia di San Marino)
The State Museum
The Basilica of San Marino
The 3 Towers – Guaita, Cesta and the Montale Tower
The Museum of Ancient Arms
The Monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi
The Museum of Torture
Porta San Francesco
Liberty Square (Piazza della Libertà) is located at the heart of San Marino’s Historic Centre, offering important landmarks, marvelous panorama and the exquisite charm of its cafés.
The Statue of Liberty (Statua della Libertà), also depicted on the San Marino’s two-cent euro coins, dominating the square’s center, is made of white Carrara marble, in the neoclassical style, symbolizing freedom. The statue is a carrying a crown with three towers representing the fortified city of San Marino. It stands atop a fountain with drinkable water.
The Palazzo Pubblico on the north side of the square is the city’s town hall and its official Government Building. It was built between 1884 and 1894 by Roman architect
Francesco Azzurri, and completely restored in 1996. The building is made of
stone, recreating the majestic style of 13th- and 14th-century Italian
buildings with the Gothic arches, the rooftop battlements and the clock tower,
adorned with a mosaic of the saints Agata, Leo and Quirino.
You will also find there The State Museum of San Marino, inside the Palazzo
Pergami-Belluzzi. It was formed in the second half of the 19th century, of the
donations from all over the world, with numerous archeological findings,
historic objects and works of art.
A short walk from Liberty Square there are other major city attractions such as the Basilica of San Marino and Guaita Tower.
It’s also close to San Marino’s cable car, travelling between the Historic Center and Borgo Maggiore.
The Basilica of San Marino, another impressive building here, dedicated to Saint Marinus, the founder and patron of the Republic is a Catholic church situated on Piazza Domus Plebis in the northeastern edge of the city, adjacent to the Church of St. Peter. It is an elegant Neoclassical Style Cathedral built in 1836 with a porch of eight Corinthian columns.
The 3 towers
Guaita, Cesta and the Montale Tower, at the peaks of Mount Titano, were
bastions of the liberty.
The First Tower, called the “Rocca Guaita” was built in the X century, directly on the rock with no foundation, with a pentagonal base. It was a refuge for the population during sieges and some parts of it were used as prisons up to 1970.
The Second Tower, on the highest pinnacle of Mount Titano (756 meters), is The Cesta Castle, also with a pentagonal floor plan. It was built at the end of the XI century, and today it houses TheMuseum of Ancient Arms, containing more than 500 pieces.
The Third Tower, called Montale is the smallest, and dates back to the end of the XIII century.
Going back down, you may find interesting The Monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the famous Italian general and politician, considered the father of the modern Italy, at beautiful Garibaldi Square, full of flowers. He is celebrated here as the one who permitted San Marino to stay out from the unification movement.
Coming to the end of the visit, near the entrance to the city,
you may also want to see The Museum of
Torture, interesting and shocking at the same time. It gives a fascinating
overview of our ability to inflict pain and suffering on each other.
Torture devices themselves are shocking, but reading the descriptions is even worse, as they give an amazing insight into how evil the human mind can be.
Porta San Francesco is right next to it. This gate was constructed as a watchtower in1361 and restored in 1581. It is an impressive, well-preserved building, adorned with the coat of arms of the Republic. It is the main entrance to the city, with a uniform guard, regulating the traffic.
I highly recommend a visit to this dream town, where postage stamps are the number one
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.
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.
The Lungomare dell’Imperatrice
The Russian Orthodox Church
The Villa Angerer
The Casino of San Remo
The Convent of the Capuchin Friars
The Cathedral of San Siro
The Sanctuary of the Madonna Della Costa
The Statue of Mike Bongiorno
The Museum of Palazzo Borea d’Olmo
The Ariston Theater
The Monumento ai caduti
The Forte Santa Tecla
The Anima in Quartetto
The Villa Ormond
The Villa of Alfred Nobel
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.
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 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, 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.
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.
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!
Very close to it, we will find the beautiful Civic Museum of Palazzo Borea d’Olmo and the famous 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
Promenade du Soleil
The Casino Barriere
The Marché des Halles
The Jean Cocteau Museum
The Bastion Museum
The Cathedral of Saint Michel
The Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs
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, 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.