I recommend this area because it is full of things to see and to experience too.
Let's start from the Basilica of Saint John in Lateran, the cathedral of the Pope, the main Basilica in the world for Catholics.
This is unique because there are different styles and the result is perfect. In case you want to know more about the complex, you can get an audio guide at the information point which is beside the statue of Constantine in the main porch.
Other interesting sights include; the 12th century cloister; the Baptistery (the Basilica and the Baptistery were the very first Christian sites in Rome); the Scala Santa that was walked on by Jesus on his way to trial by Pontius Pilate and brought from Jerusalem in the 4th century by Emperor Constantine’s mother, St. Helena; the Sancta Sanctorum, the private chapel of the Popes and the Triclinium where you can see the very first flag of the Vatican State.
You need to spend at least 2 days within this area because nearby you can visit the Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem, the small and cosy church of the SS 4 Coronati and its cloister, visit the Villa Celimontana Park, the church of SS Giovanni e Paolo, the very well preserved Roman houses of the Celio, they are located just beside the church.
Remember, just in front of the Basilica of Saint John in Lateran you can get the bus 218 (blue one) that will take you directly to the Catacombs.
Metro Linea A-B and Bus N. 16-81-85-87-117-186-218-650-714-850.
A town in central spain that you can easily get to from Madrid.
It is my favourite place in Spain - it has an amazing aquaduct, a beautiful castle which is supposed to be the inspiration for the Disney/Cinderella Castle, a lovely cathedral and the usual well kept central plaza with lots of great bars/restaurants.
You can get a local train from Madrid to Segovia station.
Palma is the most pleasant city anywhere. It is wonderful for walking, browsing and shopping.
The architecture is splendid, it abounds in cafes, restaurants, dancing, nightclubs etc. The beaches and yacht marinas are part of the city. It has an international airport and ferries to the other islands and mainland.
The coastline and scenery on the island are unparalleled in their beauty, the climate is perfect.
Spring and early summer is the best time to visit. To really admire the wonderful scenery and mountains, it is essential to have a car. The springtime flowers are almost beyond belief in their boundless colours and magnificence.
Palma is THE PLACE TO BE.
The fortress (or Alcazaba) is a tremendous triumph of Moorish architecture which towers over the once independant kingdom of Almeria. The old city walls can be clearly seen branching across the mountain down to the suburbs of modern Almeria. It is much better than the Alcazaba at Málaga - with three huge walled enclosures, in the second of which are the remains of a mosque. The views down to the coast are amazing.
Plaza de Joaquin Santisteban
Entry is free to EU citizens (passport needed), otherwise 1.50 euros.
Opening hours: Tues-Sun 9am-8.30pm (Oct-March closes 6.30pm)
The archelogical museum in Córdoba has the best examples of Iberian, Roman and Moorish art in Andalucía. The most famous piece is a 12th century bronze stag taken from the ruined Medina Azahara palace situated 7km to the north-west of Córdoba.
Horno del Cristo, Córdoba
Entry is free to EU citizens (passport needed)
Opening hours: Tues 3-8pm, Wed-Sat 9am-8pm and Sun 9am-3pm.
The Baños Arabes are regarded as amongst the finest Moorish hammams in Spain. It feels light and airy because of its horseshoe arches and brickwork ceilings with their famous star-shaped windows. Admittedly it is sometimes hard to appreciate its beauty because of its neglected and ruined appearance in parts, but on the whole it has been wonderfully restored. It's still a good introduction to Moorish social life and architecture.
Palacio de Villardompardo, C/San Andrés, Jaén
The baths are free to visit and are open from 9am-8pm between Tuesdays and Fridays and from 9.30am-2.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
One of the entrances to Cathedral La seu is through the cloistered courtyard. It’s a wonderful space, stone flagged floors, arched recesses, gothic columns and lush green foliage. One can easily imagine walking slowly around the cloisters in quiet contemplation. Ah, except for the interruptions of the geese which share the space.
There are 13 geese, each representing one-year of the life of the martyred Santa Eulalia, the patron Saint of Barcelona. One does get the sense that the geese feel they are the real owners of the courtyard; everyone else is just an interloper. And they are probably right.
Inside the beautifully cool interior are some wonderfully ornate side chapels, paintings and gilding. The high ceiling has carved round plagues at each axis and the patches of weathering on the roof rather than detracting from the decoration actually add to the feel of the place, giving a sense of history and continuity.
The choir stalls are handsomely decorated with coats of arms and all through the cathedral are wonderfully rich colours and decorative flourishes. It is an incredibly impressive building, a focal point for the area and community, imposing yet also welcoming and peaceful.
A lift takes you to the roof and a walk along the bouncy steel walkway not only gives you fantastic views over the city but also allows you to see up close the architecture of the cathedral itself.
Plaça de la Seu
Barri Gotic. Metro: Lines 1 and 3 (Catalunya Station) and Lines 2 and 4 (Urquinaona Station.)
Designed by Gaudi, begun in 1883 and still being constructed, the Sagrada Familia radiates a compelling presence in the city, even before you visit it. Maybe it is the fact that it is unfinished, maybe it's the unusual architecture and decoration - which includes broken bottles and ceramics - but there is something so creative about the building that it'll work on your imagination.
From a distance the facade looks like someone has taken a lump of clay, kneaded and moulded it into a mass of spikes, icicles, holes and ridges. Closer up and you begin to pick out elements, even closer and you become overwhelmed by the intricate details. Inside the lines of the stone are clean, elegant, tactile.
The structure and composition of the building is very organic - photographs show how some of the columns were inspired by trees - and it is almost as if the building has developed on its own burgeoning from the earth, expending and blossoming as it grows. I particularly sensed this inside the structure and when climbing around inside the thin towers, the building has such a strong sense of identity, its own identity, separate from the person who designed it and the people building it. Maybe that is in part what makes this a remarkable structure, the way that is both representative of Gaudi's vision but is also somehow independent. This is not just a building it's an ongoing work of art.
Carrer de Mallorca 401
Metro: Line 2 or 5 Station: SagradaFamilia
El Llanillo is the heart and soul of the town with its streets slowly winding up the hill to La Mota castle. Just get lost and seek out its hidden historic gems. Amongst the whitewashed houses with roses around the balconies are nineteenth century architectural wonders such as churches and arcades.
El Llanillo is all of Alcalá la Real! All streets leading off the central square take you into the district.
Jehangir Kothari is a place dedicated to the public, built by Mr. Jehangir.
It is a beautiful example of colonial architecture and is built with stones favoured by the British in pre-partitioned India.
Jehangir Kothari Parade is located on the opposite side of The Point (Pak Towers). Ask any taxi or rickshaw to take you there. It's a popular place in Karachi so most people should know it.
Mérida in Extremadura is the site of the finest collection of Roman remains in Spain, perhaps anywhere outside Italy. A stunningly beautiful theatre seating 6,000 is still in use today, and an amphitheatre accommodating 15,000, thankfully not in use, are the centrepieces.
A number of villas with mosaics, paintings and frescos, a Temple of Diana, a Trajan Arch, an 800 metre long Puente Romano with 64 arches over the river and the vast three tier Acueducto de los Milagros help complete the picture.
But you must still visit Rafael Moneo's imaginative, modern museum, full of artefacts, and a truly wonderful evocation of Roman life and culture.
A number of good hotels exist for those who are attracted to stay for a while.
Mérida in Badajoz province in Extremadura, near the Portuguese border.
Always stamp your trenitalia tickets at the little yellow boxes at the station, otherwise the conductor will charge you 25euros extra.
Any violinists should go to Cremona for the birthplace of stradivari violins and beautiful architecture.
The yellow boxes are usually found at the beginning of a platform. Just stick in the ticket and the end will get stamped.
Cremona is near Brescia and is accessible by train.
Five-star accommodation and thermal spa designed by Hundertwasser, Austria's most famous architect and artist.
Easily reached by taxi from Graz airport (fly direct from Stansted), this place is a wonderland - a cross between Gaudi and Mondrian, hidden in the hills. All food organic, outdoor and indoor baths, massage, reflexology etc and all for 120 euro per night.
Acres and acres of land on which you can take a hike, horse riding, yoga, etc. Bliss, bliss, bliss!
The Roman citadelle is open from 9.30am-11.30am and 2pm-5.30pm (6pm in July and August). The citadelle is an extremely rare example of Romanesque palatial architecture and is a powerful symbol of the power of the Adhémar de Monteil family.
The views from the towers take in the Alps to the east and the flatter valley of the Rhone river to the north and to the south.
What a find on the drive from Les Baux de Provence to Tarascon. An ancient city with a triumphal arch and cenotaph. The cenotaph is fantastic - so different from the other Roman relics in the area. You can see these two relics any time but the excavations are not open on a Monday.
Accordion music, fountains and a cheery greeting of “Bonjour” from the hotel staff and you have to be in Paris. Or do you?! Well, you could also be in the Paris Hotel Las Vegas and, of course, you can’t have Paris without the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas is not quite as tall as the original, in fact it is exactly half the size, however it has been reproduced with a superb eye for detail. An elevator whisks you to the observation deck, 460 feet above the Strip. The lift attendant was extremely friendly and informative. I can’t remember exactly how much he told us it cost to build the tower but it was in the millions of dollars range. However he also told us that they had recouped all the building costs in about six months of opening.
The views across Las Vegas are fantastic, taking in a 360 degree panorama that includes the Strip, the city and the mountains in the distance. In the evening it also allows wonderful views across to the Bellagio fountain display.
The observation deck is quite small (holding about 30 to 40 people at a time) so you may have to queue to get in and, needless to say, it is not for those at all nervous of heights.
Paris, Las Vegas, 3655 S. Las Vegas Blvd
First opened in 1887 and now due to reopen on its 120 year anniversary after many years of restoration. The outside is complete but to bring the interior back to glory they may have a long way to go. That said it’s a great opportunity to see restoration in progress and get to chat to the helpful and informative couple who are on hand to show you around. You’ll find it in the middle of Chinatown and is a reminder of a previous wave of immigrants who expectantly set up home, business and faith in the Lower East Side.
The Alcazaba which is undoubtedly, the most important military fortification remaining from the Hispanic-Arabic period. This malaguenian fortress of Bobastro was built on the hillside of the Gibralfaro mountain (Yabal-Faruk, meaning mountain of the lighthouse) from where it is possible to watch the African coast. The Arabic historian Maqqari, assured that Badis el Ziri, king of Grenada, ordered its construction between the years 1057 and 1063, being the inside palaces remade by the following Nazaries kings copying the style of the Grenada Alhambra.
Just think of yourself in the Roman Empire. You are surrounded by beautiful pine trees and an ocean that is as blue as you can ever imagine. You are sipping a coffee in a café and you are contemplating an afternoon swim in the most crystal clear water that you have ever seen. You are surrounded by renaissance and baroque architecture and the sound of the bell towers is ringing in your ears as you dip yourself into the waters of a paradise. Welcome to the island of Rab.
Wander around and look up to enjoy the combination of some of the finest neo-classical and contemporary architecture in the country. The gorgeous golden sandstone in the Grainger Town area and the cutting edge developments on Gateshead Quays will finally put pay to any of your southern preconceptions that it's grim up north!
Classical: Grainger Town, Grey Street, Grainger Street, Monument area.
Contemporary: Gateshead Quays
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