Genoa in a Few Hours

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.

Via Garibaldi, Genova
Via Garibaldi , Genova

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.

Genoa (Genova) is the sixth-largest city in Italy, its largest port, and the capital of the Italian region of Liguria. If you have just a few hours to visit this beautiful city, this itinerary of mine may help you see the most of its best attractions without making unnecessary steps.

The Old Port (Porto Antico)
The Old Port (Il Porto Antico)

ITINERARY:

  1. The Old Port (Porto Antico)
  2. The Aquarium of Genoa (Acquario di Genova)
  3. The Galata (Museo del mare)
  4. The Neptune (Galeone Neptune)
  5. The Biosphere (Biosfera)
  6. The Bigo
  7. The Palace of St. George (Palazzo San Giorgio)
  8. The Cathedral of Saint Lawrence (Duomo di Genova, Cattedrale di San Lorenzo)
  9. The Doge’s Palace (Il Palazzo Ducale)
  10. The Church of Jesus and the Saints Ambrogio and Andrea (La Chiesa dei Santi Ambrogio e Andrea detta del Gesù)
  11. The Porta Soprana
  12. The House of Christopher Columbus
  13. The St. Andrew’s Cloister
  14. Piazza De Ferrari
  15. The Teatro Carlo Felice
  16. The Ligurian Academy of Fine Arts  (L’Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti)
  17. Il Palazzo della Nuova Borsa (new stock exchange) 
  18. The Teatro Carlo Felice
  19. Via Garibaldi (The palazzo Doria-Tursi, The Palazzo Rosso, The Palazzo Bianco, The Palazzo Giò Carlo Brignole …)
  20. The Basilica of St Syrus (La Chiesa di San Siro)
  21. The Porta dei Vacca
  22. The Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato
  23. The Palazzo Balbi Senarega
  24. The Royal Palace (Il Palazzo Reale)
  25. The Church Santi Vittore e Carlo
  26. The Christopher Columbus Monument
  27. 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.

The Aquarium of Genoa (Acquario di Genova)
The Aquarium of Genoa

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 year.

It was originally built for Genoa Expo ’92 to celebrate 500 years since Christopher Columbus, the famous Genoese sailor, discovered the new world.

The aquarium includes 70 tanks which host 12,000 animals of 400 different species, including dolphins, sharks, seals, jellyfishes, penguins and many others.

The Neptune (Galeone Neptune)
The Neptune (Galeone Neptune)

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.

The Biosphere (Biosfera)
The Biosphere (La Biosfera)

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.

The Bigo
The Bigo

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.

The Palace of St. George (Palazzo San Giorgio)
The Palace of St. George (Il Palazzo San Giorgio)

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.

The Cathedral of Saint Lawrence (Duomo di Genova)
The Cathedral of Saint Lawrence (Il Duomo di Genova)

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.

The Doge's Palace (Il Palazzo Ducale)
The Doge’s Palace (Il Palazzo Ducale)

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 Cantoni.

In July 2001 it hosted the G8 Summit.

It is now a museum and a center for cultural events and art exhibitions.

The Church of Jesus and the Saints Ambrogio and Andrea (La Chiesa dei Santi Ambrogio e Andrea detta del Gesù)
The Church of Jesus and the Saints Ambrogio and Andrea (La Chiesa dei Santi Ambrogio e Andrea detta del Gesù)

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 Porta Soprana
La Porta Soprana

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.

The St. Andrew's Cloister
The St. Andrew’s Cloister

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.

Piazza De Ferrari
Piazza De Ferrari

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 in 1936.

Il Teatro Carlo Felice
Il Teatro Carlo Felice

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 1912.

The Teatro Carlo Felice is Genoa’s opera house, designed and built in 1827, and completely rebuilt after suffering a heavy damage during the WWII bombings.

Il Palazzo Bianco
Il Palazzo Bianco

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 (Il Municipio)
The Palazzo Doria-Tursi (Il Municipio)

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.

Palazzo Gio Carlo Brignole
Palazzo Gio Carlo Brignole

After The Palazzo Giò Carlo Brignole we will enter Via Cairoli, that will take us to Via San Siro and to The Basilica of St Syrus (La Chiesa di San Siro).

The Basilica of St Syrus (La Chiesa di San Siro)
The Basilica of St 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. 

The Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato
The Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato

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.

The Palazzo Balbi Senarega
The Palazzo Balbi Senarega

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 Royal Palace (Il Palazzo Reale)
The Royal Palace (Il Palazzo Reale)

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 station.

The Christopher Columbus Monument
The Christopher Columbus Monument

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.

Prague in a Few Hours

Prague in a Few Hours

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
Prague

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.

Itinerary:

  1. The Rudolfinum
  2. The Museum of Decorative Arts
  3. The Jewish Quarter: The Old Jewish Cemetery, Maisel Synagogue, The Jewish Town Hall, The Spanish Synagogue
  4. The Basilica of St. James
  5. Republic Square: The Municipal House, The Powder Tower, The Czech National Bank, The Palladium shopping mall
  6. The Jerusalem Synagogue
  7. The Musee Grévin
  8. 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
  9. The House at The Minute
  10. The Clementinum
  11. The Cathedral of St. Clement
  12. The Church of St. Salvator
  13. The Church of St. Francis of Assisi
  14. The Old Town Bridge Tower
  15. The Lesser Town Bridge Tower
  16. Charles Bridge
  17. The Church of Saint Nicholas
  18. The Church of Our Lady beneath the Chain
  19. Hradčany Square: The Schwarzenberg Palace, The Archbishop’s Palace, The Tuscany Palace, The SalmPalace
  20. Hradčany – Prague Castle: The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert, St George’s Basilica
  21. Legion Bridge
  22. Kranner’s Fountain
  23. The National Theatre
  24. The Dancing House
The Rudolfinum
The Rudolfinum

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!

Maisel Synagogue
Maisel Synagogue

Maisel Synagogue (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
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
The Municipal House

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 until 1485.

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.

The Powder Tower
The Powder Tower

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.

Old Town Square
Old Town Square

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 Church of Mother of God before Týn
The Church of Mother of God before Týn

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.

The Church of Saint Nicholas
The Church of Saint Nicholas

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
The Old Town Hall with The Astronomical Clock

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
The Kinský Palace

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.

The House at The Minute
The House at The Minute

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 Church of St. Francis of Assisi
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
The Old Town Bridge Tower

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.

The Lesser Town Bridge Tower
The Lesser Town Bridge Tower

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.

The Lesser Town Bridge Tower
The Lesser Town Bridge Tower

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.

The Church of Saint Nicholas
The Church of Saint Nicholas

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.

The Church of Our Lady beneath the Chain
The Church of Our Lady beneath the Chain

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 Schwarzenberg Palace
The Schwarzenberg Palace

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.

The Archbishop's Palace
The Archbishop’s Palace

The Archbishop’s 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 Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert

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.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert

The Metropolitan 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 Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert

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.

St George's Basilica
St George’s Basilica

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.

Legion Bridge 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.

Kranner's Fountain
Kranner’s Fountain

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.

The National Theatre
The National Theatre

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.

The Dancing House
The Dancing House

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.

Prague
Prague

Timișoara in a Few Hours

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.

Timișoara

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).

Timișoara

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.

  1. The Notre Dame Church in Timișoara
  2. The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary
  3. Central Park
  4. The Orthodox Cathedral
  5. Victory Square
  6. The Wolf
  7. The Artesian Fountain
  8. Timisoara’s Opera House
  9. The Huniade Castle
  10. Liberty Square
  11. Cetate Synagogue
  12. Union Square
  13. St. George’s Cathedral
  14. The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral
  15. The Palace of the Serbian Episcopacy
  16. The Brück House
  17. The Monument of the Holy Trinity
  18. The Cardinal Points Fountain
  19. Maria Theresia Bastion
  20. Fabric Synagogue
  21. The Millennium Church
The Notre Dame Church in Timișoara
The Notre Dame Church in Timișoara

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.

The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary
The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary

It 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.

Central Park , Timisoara
Central Park

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 monument dedicated to the Romanian host
The monument dedicated to the Romanian host

The plateau in front of it  is an important place for the Romanian Army Day, celebrated on October 25-28.

The Orthodox Cathedral, Timisoara
The Orthodox Cathedral

Going 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.

The Orthodox Cathedral, Timisoara
The Orthodox Cathedral

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.

The Orthodox Cathedral, Timisoara
The Orthodox Cathedral

It is the seat of the Archbishop of Timișoara and Metropolis of Banat.

Victory Square, Timisoara
Victory Square

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.

Timișoara’s Opera House
Timișoara’s Opera House

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.

The Wolf Statue , Timisoara
The Wolf Statue

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 Artesian Fountain
The Artesian Fountain

On 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.

The 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.

St. Nepomuk's Statue
St. Nepomuk’s Statue

Alba 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.

Cetate Synagogue
Cetate Synagogue

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. 

Union Square, Timisoara
Union Square

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
St. George’s Cathedral

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.

The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral
The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral

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.

The Palace of the Serbian Episcopacy
The Palace of the Serbian Episcopacy

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.

Unirii Square
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
The Brück House

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
The Statue of the Holy Trinity

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.

Union Square
Union Square

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).

Union Square
Union Square

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.

I hope this itinerary will serve you well! As always, your comments will make me happy!

Cannes in a Few Hours

Cannes Film Murals

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.

Cannes, Vieux Port
Cannes

This itinerary of mine could spare you some time, so that you can spend it, doing what you like best, instead of wandering.

  1. The Croisette
  2. The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès
  3. The Casino
  4. The Path of the Stars
  5. The Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage
  6. Rue d’Antibes
  7. Rue Meynadier
  8. The Marche Forville
  9. The Mairie de Cannes
  10. The Vieux Port
  11. Cannes Film Murals
  12. The Suquet
  13. Rue St-Antoine
  14. 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!

Palais des Festivals et des Congrès
Palais des Festivals et des Congrès

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 Casino
The Casino

The new six-story building was built on the grounds of the Municipal Casino.

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.

The Path of the Stars
The Path of the Stars

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 19th century.

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.

The Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage
The Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage

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.

Rue Meynadier
Rue Meynadier

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!

Marche Forville
Marche Forville

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.

Marche Forville
Marche Forville

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.

The Mairie de Cannes
The Mairie de Cannes

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.

Vieux Port
Vieux Port

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
Le Suquet

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 century paintings.

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!

Cannes
Cannes

San Marino in a Few Hours

San Marino

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.

San Marino

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 Adriatic coast.

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
San Marino

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:

  1. Liberty Square (Piazza della Libertà) 
  2. The Statue of Liberty (Statua della Libertà)
  3. The Palazzo Pubblico
  4. The Basilica of San Marino
  5. The Guaita Tower.
  6. San Marino’s cable car (Funivia di San Marino)
  7. The State Museum
  8. The Basilica of San Marino
  9. The 3 Towers – Guaita, Cesta and the Montale Tower
  10. The Museum of Ancient Arms
  11. The Monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi
  12. The Museum of Torture
  13. Porta San Francesco
San Marino
San Marino

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.

  Liberty Square (Piazza della Libertà)
Liberty Square (Piazza della Libertà) 

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.

San Marino’s cable car (Funivia di San Marino)
San Marino’s cable car (Funivia di San Marino)

It’s also close to San Marino’s cable car, travelling between the Historic Center and Borgo Maggiore.

 The Basilica of San Marino
The Basilica of San Marino

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 Basilica of San Marino
The Basilica of San Marino

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 Cesta Castle
The Cesta Castle

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 The Museum 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.

 The Monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi
The Monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi

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.

 The Museum of Torture
The Museum of Torture

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
Porta San Francesco

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.

San Marino
San Marino

I highly recommend a visit to this dream town, where postage stamps are the number one purchased product.

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