This church may be less well known than many in Prague, but inside it reveals the story of an act of great heroism from the days of World War II. Two Czech partisans, Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabcik, had assassinated the hated deputy Reich- Protector of occupied Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich. They were hiding out in the crypt along with five of their comrades when they were betrayed to the Gestapo by one of their own. There followed a three hour siege, during which 800 members of the SS and Gestapo were held at bay, until Kubis and Gabcik took their own lives. The crypt today is a compelling place to visit, with a strong sense of the events that unfolded there many years ago. There is a small museum and shop, and a film made by the Nazis with dramatic footage of Hitler attending the state funeral of Heydrich. At street level you can see the air vent with the surrounding stonework still scarred by the bullets that were fired at it in an attempt to dislodge the Czech partisans. It is also possible to follow the story to its final dreadful conclusion by visiting the village of Lidice, outside Prague – shortly after the assassination the anticipated reprisal took place there, the men shot, women and children deported to concentration camps and the village dynamited.
At the Church St Peter and St Paul in Veliko Tarnovo, often in the main and the shoulder season, three or four members of the choir sing beautiful hymns for 10/15 minutes. One competed at LLangollen International Musical Eisteddfod 20/25 years ago. Match the visual quality of the town with a magnificent aural feast.
Google map: bit.ly/11rsCA2
A nice little town on the drive to/from Andorra in northern Catalunya. Walk round the old quarter and go into the cloisters of the romanesque cathedral - calm and cool, amusing capitals - then walk round the back and get a great view of the nearby sierra.
Carrer Major, 25700 Seu d'Urgell, Spain
Google map: bit.ly/MQ26PB
Scones and tombstones: a slice of home-made jam sponge with a pot of Earl Grey in a graveyard may not be everyone's cuppa. Yet Sunday afternoon tea outside St Anne's Church, from 3-5pm during the summer, has much to offer. Earn yourself a treat after strolling in nearby Kew Gardens or listening to a free music recital inside the church. Soak up the genteel Women's Institute atmosphere, with cakes baked and served by ladies of the parish. Make a discovery or two - you could be perched on Gainsborough or Zoffany. The summer silence is punctuated by the occasional 'Howzat' of the local cricket team playing alongside on Kew Green.
Packed with colonial buildings and pickled charm, Fort Cochin is a gentle way of easing yourself into the sometimes Medieval comforts of India. Strolling through the flower-bordered lanes and weatherboard houses, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Sussex. Vasco da Gama first arrived on India's Malabar coast in 1498, returning for the third time in 1524 to die on Christmas Eve. He was buried in St Francis Church. This refreshingly unfussy building—the first European church to be built in India—still stands amid the banyan trees and cricket fields (unlike Vasco da Gama whose remains were removed to Portugal). Rubbed to a smooth polish by centuries of fervent worship, the wide flagstone floor is cool under bare feet. A high timber-beamed ceiling and rope operated punkahs (fans) bring some welcome relief from the relentless tropical heat of steamy Kerala.
Google map: bit.ly/JiMWQ8
Cirencester is a small town with narrow streets, but there is everything that anyone could wish in such a place. The usual shops WH Smiths, Next, House of Fraser, Superdrug, Fat face and New Look etc. Banks and travel agents and pubs.
The one thing that stands out about Cirencester however, is the Church of St John the Baptist, which is more like a cathederal than a church and dominates the skyline on your approach to the town.
With the Roman Amphitheatre and the white Cotswold stone buildings, Cirencester is a town well worth a visit and a good base for exploring the Cotswolds.
Google map: bit.ly/eyHYCB
St Barts Church is the oldest parish church in London and even though there is a small admission price of £3 from what I remember its simply stunning. It's not only atmospheric, old and beautiful but if you're a film buff like myself you'll easily recognise it from being in films like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Shakespeare in Love, Sherlock Holmes, The Kings Speech to name but a few. Check out this amazing church near Smithfield market. You wont regret it.
Los Angeles's largest Greek Orthodox church and filled with rich murals and a rich interior of gold leaf. It's an inspiring must see for visitors and locals alike. Built by the vision of movie makers and it houses a large greek festival in September.
Built at the turn of the 20th Century by a wealthy, and presumably somewhat eccentric family, the Kirk really has a magical atmosphere. A mixture of architectural styles and fascinating details, which somehow contrive not to be a dog's dinner but a beautiful building. Looking across the loch on a misty day even the most cynical traveller must surely feel this is a special place.
New York's oldest building that is still in continuous use dating from 1766. Amazing when you think it is right in middle of the financial district, surrounded by skyscrapers.
Since it was only across the road from the Twin Towers, this chapel was used by the rescue workers as a place of respite. A lot of displays relate to the 9/11 period and are moving reminders of what happened that day. This was the church on whose railings people pinned photos of loved ones missing in the days following the terrorist attack.
Largest Catholic church in the US.
Perfect to get away from the hustle and bustle of 5th Avenue. Seen famous funerals in past such as Robert Kennedy's.
The Duomo Di San Giovanni is Turin's only example of Renaissance architecture. It was completed in 1498 and dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. The Chapel of Holy Shroud was added between 1668-1694 and will be the resting place of the famous Shroud of Turin in the spring of 2010 from 10th April to 23rd May following a long period of restoration to remove pieces of cloth that had been burned in the fire of Chambéry in 1532. The Pope will make a pastoral visit to Turin on Sunday 2nd May 2010.
Piazza San Giovanni is very close to Piazza Castello in the centre of Turin.
Google map: tinyurl.com/yeesoeq
Sant Vicenç is a fine example of a Benedictine monastery which was partly demolished. Like Sant Pere you can't always get inside but the exterior is pretty enough with a rotund chapel containing the altar.
Praça de Sant Vicenç
Google map: tinyurl.com/ye66gdq
Sant Pere church is a Romanesque jewel with outstanding architecture and peace. You can't always get inside but the exterior is pretty enough with carvings and windows.
Praça de Sant Pere
Google map: tinyurl.com/ye66gdq
The cathedral is at the heart of the city and its impressive nave is the second widest in the world. Its mixture of Gothic and Romanesque architecture is stunning with an ornate façade with delicately carved and handsome sculptures and rose windows. The best time to see the cathedral is at sunset when the light reflects off the polished marble and lights are turned on in the Torre de Carlemany.
You can't miss it - the cathedral looms over old Girona all of the winding lanes lead to it eventually.
Google map: tinyurl.com/ybmma79
A Palestinian Christian village perched high in the hills above Ramallah. Jesus stayed here with his disciples to escape the intense atmosphere in Jerusalem. Nothing changes!
Taybeh has three churches, a brewery and a ruined Crusader church.
The Crusader church is built high and gives long views over the rolling hills around.
The brewery welcomes visitors, has a small shop and will show you a video of how come there's a brewery making modern beer in Palestine.
You will need to drive either from Jericho or Ramallah.
Taybeh is 15km north east of Ramallah. I travelled with friends but Lonely Planet says you can catch a servis for 10 NIS (around £2).
The best cream teas in England are served on Sunday afternoons in the Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul in Great Missenden. The Church is situated above the beautiful Misbourne valley in Buckinghamshire. Teas are served by members of the Church and include an exciting range of home-made cakes and scones. You can eat your tea inside the wonderful 14th-century Church or take your tray outside where you can sit with views over the Buckinghamshire countryside. On many Sunday afternoons, the teas are accompanied by music – ranging from organ recitals to local young student musicians and classical guitar to modern jazz – details are on the Church’s website. www.missendenchurch.org.uk
The Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul, Church Lane, Great Missenden, Bucks, HP16 0BA. 01494 862352.
Nearest station: Great Missenden (Chiltern Rail)
The cathedral in Beauvais is extraordinary. It remains unfinished; having been started in 1227, the work stopped in 1578. Had it been completed on the scale originally proposed it would have been the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.
The chunk which was built measures 72m long and nearly 50m high. The choir alone is 37m long, and when you stand inside gazing upward you grasp the enormous scale of the existing building and sense what might have been.
The builders had terribly bad luck (or weren't very good) because right from the start bits kept falling down, and the 153m high spire collapsed in 1573.
Beauvais centre was destroyed by incendiary bombing when the Germans invaded in 1940 and consequently lacks any old buildings. But the cathedral survived and is well worth visiting. The modern town has attractively laid out streets and squares, with many good places to eat and drink. Fans of French cathedrals could see Beauvais, Amiens and Rouen easily over a couple of days. All three (cathedrals, not fans - there must be more than that surely) are extraordinary and beautiful.
Beauvais is halfway between Abbeville and Paris, off the A16, and south of Amiens.
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