Europe’s oldest royal palace and now a world heritage site. Built in the 14th century, it has beautiful, calm gardens and pools with towering palm trees right in the city centre. It’s next to the overbearing gothic Seville Cathedral - the third largest in the world - and its tower, La Giralda.
Plaza del Triunfo
This exquisitely built chapel, contains some of the most beautiful and historically important stained glass windows in the world. Architecturally it
gained enormous acclaim for being the first ever building to use so much glass in its structure. People expected it to collapse. yet almost a millenium later it remains one of the most grandiose establishments imaginable. As well as its own merits it gains ironic value for being placed within the police headquarters
of Paris. Providing an interesting juxtaposition of state and church within a secular country.
Sainte-Chapelle is extremely central, only 200m from the ile de Notre Dame on the right bank.
What appears to be just another medieval church (which has excellent mosaics) sits above a fourth-century church which in turn sits above an even older pagan Temple of Mithras and underground spring. Not for the claustrophobic.
A couple of hundred yards from the Colosseum.
A beautifully situated fortress city adjacent to the majestic Tajo river. Don't miss the enormous cathedral and the medieval fortress. For the best view of the city take to the hills on the southern outskirts of the city.
There are plenty of 'Cercanias' trains which depart from Atocha station.
Why Big Wild Goose? Nothing to do with the 1978 action film Wild Geese, legend states that Xuan Zang (Monk Tripitaka) and the Monkey King were saved by a big wild goose during their epic journey to the west. Built during the Tang dynasty, as pagodas go this is one of the country's best.
AKA Dayan Ta, located in the south of the city
Famous for the monastery built by Philip II, a building as austere and powerful as its patron, San Lorenzo offers plenty to the visitor. The monastery tour is essential; you'll see a vast basilica with some fine art (the Cellini Crucifixion in particular), the 'panteon' where most of Spanish royalty lies rotting away, King Philip's bedroom overlooking the high altar, and a fine art collection.
After all this, a bit of relaxation is needed. Try Cafetín Croché for posh cocktails in Art Nouveau environment, or Café Babel for something more arty and bohemian.
Train from Atocha or Chamartín stations to El Escorial, then station bus to monastery. Buses 661 or 664 from the Moncloa bus station.
Has been called the greatest neo-classical building in the world. It is certainly impressive and is the heart of the newly formed 'cultural quarter' in Liverpool. Liverpool Walker Art Gallery and Musuem are only a five-minute walk away on the impressive William Brown Street
Opposite Liverpool Lime Street Station and the Empire Theatre
It's a Moorish palace from the Moor occupation. It's much less manicured than al Hambra in Granada, thus much more human in atmosphere and scale. If you're a fan of Islamic art (I am) then your breath will be taken away by the exquisite, mathematically inspired carvings.
It's right in the centre by the cathedral, which is dark and dingy in comparison
China never fails to throw out a surprise for you now and again. Xi'an was once the capital city and the starting point for the Silk Road to the Middle East and ultimately Europe. Xi'an was thus pollinated by a variety of influences and today it is still an oasis of Islam in a secular sea.
The Muslim Quarter has one of the best street markets in China for souvenir shopping, with trinkets on show from Little Red Books to Arab coffee pots and everything in between. It's also a great place to see life as it once might have been, when China was a centre of world trade much as it is now.
Xi Dajie, near the Bell Tower
A beautiful, imposing structure. Archbishop Tutu wrote that “as a site and focus of resistance against apartheid, St George's won the splendid accolade contained in the title The People’s Cathedral”.
Sunday mass (at 11am) is legendary, but you can visit at any time. The Cape Philharmonic sometimes performs here and on Friday evenings you can listen to jazz in the crypt.
Wale Street, CBD, www.stgeorgescathedral.com, 021 424 7360.
The Market Square in Krakow is the heart of the city – both physically and figuratively - in so many ways. Situated almost at the centre of the Old Quarter, roads branch off into other areas of the city making it a good starting point for exploring.
In summer, tables spread out from the surrounding cafes turning the square into an outdoor bar. Towards the end of the year, a Christmas Market brings stalls selling gifts, decorations and hot wine to cut through the cold evenings.
It’s a thoroughfare, meeting place, promenade and, at 656-feet-square, the Rynek Glowney is the largest town square in Europe. Surrounded by the colourful facades of merchant’s houses and palaces - with fantastic names such as “Under the Lizards” and “Palace of the Rams” – the square also encloses the wonderful Cloth Hall, St. Mary’s Church, and the Town Hall Tower, all that is left of the old Town Hall.
Visitors to Krakow will probably find themselves returning again and again to the Market Square either to sit and watch the world go by in one of its restaurants and bars, to admire its buildings and architecture or stretch their legs with a walk around its perimeter. Or maybe the city simply draws people back to its vibrant, bustling and magnificent heart!
In the middle of the Old Quarter
St Mary’s Church stands on one corner of the Market Square (Rynek Glowny), its distinctive silhouette forming a recognisable marker point.
The two towers of unequal height give the outside of the church an idiosyncratic air, this asymmetry prompting feelings of friendliness and comfort. The building looks welcoming.
The interior of the church is highly decorated in bright colours, reds, blues, greens and gold, with the choir stalls backed by low-relief carvings of intricate detail.
For many, the most astonishing part of the church will be the High Altar, made by Wit Stwosz between 1477 and 1489. The altar screen is like a large cabinet with huge doors which can be opened out. Both the outside and inside of the altar screen are wonderfully carved and decorated, showing scenes from the lives of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The figures are life-like, the detail fantastic and the whole effect vigorous.
The huge outer doors are opened at midday so it is worth visiting the church a little before that so you can witness both the outer and inner decoration as well as the ceremony when the doors are open.
Every hour the bugle call (hejnal) is sounded from the taller of the two towers. According to legend this is to commemorate a bugler who saved the city from the threat of a Tartar invasion in the mid-13th Century. A Tartar arrow shot the bugler before he could finish, however, he had already played enough for the citizens to be alerted.
Today the henjal is stopped at the note on which the bugler was shot. And like St. Mary’s Church it soon becomes an easily identifiable and rather affecting symbol of the city itself.
Mariacki Sq. 5
On one corner of the main Market Square
A suburb of old West Berlin which still feels like a medieval village a million miles away from Berlin. Full of 12 and 13th century timber-framed houses straight from a children's story. Off the tourist trail but it's worth seeing for an idea of how Berlin was before the wall was erected.
U-bahn line 7 will take you into heart of Spandau.
An independent city bordering Berlin with it's own unique character. It's full of wonderful churches and the old town hall is not to be missed. A must see is Parc Sansouci - allow a whole day to see it all.
Only 30-45 minutes from Mitte on Line 7 of the S-bahn. Direct line to Potsdam Hautbanhof (Potsdam city centre).
St Nicholas Church, Ljubljana’s cathedral, is easily recognisable by its green-topped dome and twin towers. The cathedral was consecrated in 1707, 6 years after building began. However there has been a church on the site since the 13th century dedicated, as is the current church, to the patron saint of fisherman and boatman.
Start your visit by walking round the exterior. On the southern wall is a brightly decorated pieta, a copy of one that possibly used to be in the Gothic cathedral that preceded the present one. Two huge stunning bronze doors, on the side and front of the building, were added in 1996 to commemorate the visit of Pope John Paul II. Decorated with raised relief scenes depicting 1,250 years of Christianity in Slovenia and the bishops of Ljubljana they resemble sculptures as much as doors.
Inside the decoration, particularly the vivid paintings by Giuilo Quaglio and Matevž Langus, create a sense of excitement, movement and vitality. The wonderful ceiling in the nave is so full of detail that after a while you find your eyes swimming as you pick out the various figures, animals and scenes. Likewise the inside of the dome (a later addition to the church in 1841) may set your head spinning as you swivel your neck upwards to see the intricate frescos that decorate it.
In the chancel are the imposing stalls for the bishop and clergy decorated with gilded wooden backrests, above is Langus’ impressive altar painting of St. Nicholas and above that small figures seems to hang from the wall linked together by vines of gold.
Very near the Triple Bridge, Dragon Bridge and Vodnikov trg
Your first impression of Ljubljana Castle will probably be from below staring up at it, standing like a sentinel, on the top of the hill overlooking the city. You are aware of its presence in the background well before you visit it.
Climbing up to the castle you meander on curving streets past beautiful cottages, views of the city and, in our case, under the watchful gaze of a number of neighbourhood cats! Once at the top you are rewarded with more fantastic views over the city from the 19th Century Belvedere Tower (there has been a settlement on the site since Celtic times but much of the castle is now based around 16th Century and after rebuilding) and a chance to look round St. George’s Chapel and the Castle itself.
During its lifetime the Castle has been used as a garrison, seat of provincial government and a prison. Now it is used for weddings, concerts and art exhibitions. While we were there was a fascinating exhibition of iron/metal work sculpture by Aleksander Arhar.
Castle Hill. Either take the Tourist Train from Prešeren Square or Walk up from Ciril-Metodov Trg or via Gornji trg and Ulica na Grad
The Alte Pinakothek offers a very profound overview of the Old Masters which ranges from the 14th to the 18th century. There are paintings by Dürer, Rubens, Tintoretto, Brueghel and others on display. Designed by the Bavarian mid-19th-century architect Leo von Klenze for King Ludwig I, the building itself was exemplary for European museum buildings in the 19th century.
Closed on Mondays, just €1 entrance fee on sundays.
The museum is the centre of the Munich "Kunstareal", the "art quarter", where you can find a lot of other museums (eg the two other "Pinakotheken") as you can see on the recommended homepage.
This large mosque, completed in 2001, is a fabulous, stunning building. Non-Muslim visitors are allowed in between 8am-11am on any day except Friday and certain religious holidays. The earlier you go the better; it deserves to be savoured over a few hours. You'll feel slightly nervous standing under the chandelier in the men's prayer hall as it is huge!
All the taxi drivers will know
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