April 26, 2017

Art Around Town: Budapest

To enjoy art you don’t have to visit a museum.  In fact, art can be seen while wandering the streets of any city you visit.  You see it in the statues, monuments, fountains and buildings lining the streets and squares.

A city that has a lot of art along its streets is Budapest Hungary where the streets are full of beautiful buildings and hundreds of sculptures.  But you better be prepared to look up to take in all the amazing art work.

Here are a few examples of the beautiful artwork you’ll see wandering the streets of Budapest!

 

Parliament Building

This icon of Budapest sits beautifully along the Danube River.  Best seen either from the river or from across the river, this Neo-gothic design was completed in 1902 and is one of the largest Parliament buildings in the world.  Look closely and you’ll see many statues of Hungarian rulers, arcades, gargoyles and spires along with other Gothic decorations.

Stunning Parliament Building Budapest Hungary

Stunning Parliament Building Budapest Hungary

St Stephen’s Basilica

Named in honor of Stephen the first King of Hungary, the Neo-classic basilica was completed in 1905 and, along with the Parliament Building, is one of the tallest buildings in the city.  Walk around the facade enjoying the many columns, 2 bell towers, the bust of King Stephen over the main portal, the beautiful tympanon over the main portal and statues of the 12 apostles.

Wonderful western facade St Stephens Basilica Budapest Hungary

Wonderful western facade St Stephens Basilica

Museum of Ethnography

Originally built to house the Supreme Court, the Museum of Ethnography is housed in a 19th century palace.  The architectural masterpiece is stunning from the outside but I’ve heard the inside is even more impressive.  Look at all the statues adorning the top of this building!

Art litters the top of the Museum of Ethnography Budapest Hungary

Art litters the top of the Museum of Ethnography

Opera House

Liszt and Erkel adorn the lower portion of the beautiful Opera House but take a look up and you’ll see statues of some of the world’s greatest composers lining the top.  Included are Mozart, Beethoven and Verdi.

Great composers line the top of the Opera House Budapest Hungary

Look up to see some of the worlds greatest composers!

Hungarian National Bank

Besides the beautiful entrance, people come to see the bas-reliefs adorning the outside of the Hungarian National Bank.  These reliefs depict trade across the ages from camel traders to tea traders.  Sitting along Freedom Square, the building is a wonderful example of the late classical style.

Notice the Bas-Reliefs along the Hungarian National Bank Budapest

Notice the Bas-Reliefs along the Hungarian National Bank

As you can see, Budapest is full of many examples of art around town and now you’re forewarned you might develop a sore neck taking it all in!

These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday! For more great pictures, make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle and Alpine Bavaria

When people visit Germany it almost always includes a stop in Bavaria and, with good reason, this trip will include a visit to Neuschwanstein, just one of King Ludwig’s castles. Perched high atop a hill deep in Bavaria, near the Austrian border, sits Neuschwanstein castle. The castle combined with the dramatic scenery created by the jagged peaks of the Alps equal a beauty that is unsurpassed.

This impressive castle, built in the medieval style, creates a dreamy fairy tale vision that also exemplifies the feeling of this southern portion of Bavaria. It’s no wonder the castle is so popular!

View of Neuschwanstein Castle Bavaria Germany

View of Neuschwanstein Castle from www.schloesser.bayern.de - Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung

I recently had the opportunity to read a new guide to visiting Neuschwanstein and her sister castle Hohenschwangau. Written by Edd Morris, Neuschwanstein Castle 2013: An ‘Exploring Castles’ Travel Guide would be a great read for anyone visiting the castle for the first time. The author not only gives tips to enhance your visit of Neuschwanstein but also includes nearby hotel recommendations, not to miss excursions, ways to save a few euros on your visit and some interesting history on King Ludwig and the rooms in the castle. Also included is a discussion on the various ways you can reach the castle.

Alpsee Bavaria Germany

Alpsee by Nicholas Even

The close proximity to Munich enables visitors to reach the castle on a coach as a day tour from Bavaria’s capital city. My first visit to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles was on a coach trip from Munich. There are many pros and cons to this type of trip and while I thoroughly enjoyed my bus tour and could recommend it if you only had one day to experience King Ludwig’s castle, it’s not my preferred way to visit Neuschwanstein and her environs.

My favorite way to visit Kind Ludwig’s castle is by personal car spending multiple days in the area to fully experience the Bavarian Alpine countryside.

Why? Let me tell you just some of the reasons you should explore the region!

Oberammergau Bavaria Germany

Oberammergau by Oberau-Online, on Flickr

  • Visit villages that are famous for their painted buildings, violin making (Mittenwald), wood carving (Oberammergau) and organ music (Ottobeuren)
  • Fresh air, green meadows and National parks
    The Alpspitze and Waxenstein as seen from Garmisch Germany

    The Alpspitze and Waxenstein near Garmisch by Octagon

  • Enjoy a picnic in one of the meadows listening to lovely Alpine music from the bells around local Cows necks
  • Make cheese from the milk produced by these Happy Cows!
  • See storybook villages complete with chalets and window boxes overflowing with color
  • Hike up the Tegelberg mountain or around Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze
  • Swim, sail, canoe or walk around the many lakes in the area including Alpsee, Forggensee or Obersee
  • Drive along the Alpine Road stopping to visit other castles like Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee
  • Visit beautiful Wieskirche or the Baroque Abbey in Ettal which dates back to 1330 and is famous for its beer and schnapps
  • Ettal Abbey Bavaria Germany

    Ettal Abbey from wikimedia

    What do you think? Would the Alpine Scenery make for a wonderful holiday?

     
    While I did receive a copy of Neuschwanstein Castle 2013: An ‘Exploring Castles’ Travel Guide for free, all opinions are mine.

9 Reasons to Visit Le Mans France

Over the weekend my husband was watching the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race. He’s the race fan, so while he was giving me a little education on the cars and watching the race, I set out to discover more about Le Mans itself.

 
Le Mans France is situated about 113 miles south west of Paris in the Pays de Loire region. Sitting along the banks of the Sarthe river, Le Mans dates back to Roman times which gives the city a vast and varied history including ties to the Plantagenet royal family. Geoffrey V. d ‘Anjou (Plantagenet) was born in Le Mans during 1113, married Mathilda, daughter of Henry I of England, in Le Mans and his tomb is here too. The marriage of Geoffrey and Mathilda gave us Henry II a future King of England.

Here are 9 reason to visit Le Mans!

1)  All car enthusiasts will be interested in visiting Le Mans. There are 2 race courses in the city but the most famous race is the 24 Hours of Le Mans which has been taking place since 1923. A visit to the Musee de l’Automobile is enjoyable for everyone.

 

Gallo Romaine Walls Le Mans France

Le Mans Gallo Romaine Walls by OldLion

2)  The fortified Old Town is surrounded by Gallo-Roman walls which were built during the 3rd century to defend the city and are some of the best in all of France. A stroll through the Old Town is delightful as you pass many cobbled streets and half timbered houses.

 

Cathedral St. Julien Le Mans France

Cathedral St. Julien Le Mans France 080804 467 by juergen.mangelsdorf, on Flickr

3)  The Cathedral St. Julien rivals the magnificent cathedral in Chartres. Visitors are quite taken by the cathedral’s Gothic flying buttresses, Romanesque portal and stained glass windows. The oldest part of the cathedral dates back to the 11th century. The cathedral is also where Geoffrey married Mathilda and the resting place to the wife of Richard the Lionheart.

4)  The Sarthe River cuts a beautiful image through the city. Overlooking the river is Le Menhir, a monument to Celtic beliefs that has been looming over the town for 5,000 years.

 

Palais des Comtes du Maine Le Mans France

Palais des Comtes du Maine and brithplace of henry II Le Mans by Benchaum

5)  Today the city hall is in the Palais des Comtes du Maine which is the birthplace of Henry II.

6)  The Tunnel was built in the 19th century to make access to Le Mans easier but it also has some interesting lighting and landscaping along with a monument dedicated to Wilbur Wright.

7)  Besides the Roman walls, there are other items attesting to Le Mans’ Roman heritage including the Crypte Archeologique des Thermes Romains. In other words, remains of the Roman baths have been discovered near the river and are open to visitors.

 

Abbatiale de l'Epau near Le Mans France

Abbatiale de l'Epau by Benchaum

8)  Just at the edge of town is the impressive Cistercian Abbey of l’Epau. Founded by the wife of Richard the Lionheart, the medieval Abbey is situated along the Huisne River and offers a sanctuary for those seeking peace and calm

9)  Le Mans is home to many museums. Museums full of natural history, Automobile history, aquariums, Egyptian artifact and art. But to learn more about Le Mans and its history from Roman times through the 15th century, don’t miss the Museum of Archaeology and History of Mans on Plantagenet Square where you’ll be able to explore the vast history of the city dating all the way back to 50 BC and its Roman settlement.

 

Old Town Le Mans France

Le Mans, France by Sue Elias, on Flickr

Looks like there’s much more to Le Mans than cars! No wonder it has also been the site of many movies including Cyrano de Bergerac, Man in the Iron Mask and The Three Musketeers.

Next time I’m in the area I’ll be stopping by,

Will You?

To Market, To Market

Farmers markets that is!


There are a lot of reasons I love summer but one of the best things (in my humble opinion) is the bounty of summer fruits and vegetables. And the best place to buy these goodies is at a Farmers Market.

With Summer officially beginning next week, its time to get out and spend some time wandering a local Farmers Market. . .  no matter where you are.

 

There is not a better place to enjoy a Farmers Market than in Europe!


The longer days and warmer weather of summer combine to produce a feast for your belly and eyes!  It seems each town in Europe has their own Farmers Market offering up a beautiful array of colorful fruits,

Farmers Market Bamberg Germany Fruits

Fruits in Bamberg Germany Farmers Market

Delicious vegetables,

Farmers Market Freiburg Germany Vegetables

Vegetables at Freiburg Germany Farmers Market

even some I’m not familiar with!

Farmers Market Freiburg Germany Carrots

Who knows what the long red vegetables are??

Plus a rainbow of colors from vibrant flowers!

Farmers Market Freiburg Germany Flowers

Colorful Flowers at Freiburg Germany Farmers Market

Farmers markets are a wonderful place to grab some snacks or items for a picnic lunch plus strolling the market is a great way to get out with the locals!

 

Do you visit Farmers Markets in Europe?

 

 

These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday! For more great pictures,make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Remembering World War I

Last week we remembered D-Day and the troops who risked their lives to liberate France from German occupation .  The D-Day beaches in Normandy France are a huge tourist draw but it seems as if time has forgotten those soldiers who lost their lives during World War I.

There are not many sights left in Europe that remind us of the First World War but in Eastern France travelers can learn about the war and remember those who gave their lives during heated battles taking place from 1914 to 1918.

Known as the “Western Front” this region is full of beautiful rivers, Gothic cathedrals and picturesque villages but it is also dotted with grim reminders of the devastation that took place here during World War I.

Battelfield Verdun France

1916 Battelfield of Verdun still retains traces of shellimpacts from wikimedia

Besides the craters and trenches that are still visible, the area is home to many cemeteries, museums and memorials that will help you appreciate the extent of battles that took place in the area.

Some of the fiercest fighting occurred near Verdun and the Somme Region of France and today there are many museums and memorials honoring those that served.

Verdun France

The Battle of Verdun lasted 300 days and left 300,000 dead. The Memorial de Verdun was opened in 1967 to remember French and German soldiers as well as civilian citizens lost during the siege. The museum displays military armaments, vehicles, uniforms and equipment and is built on the site of Fleury, a village that was wiped out during fighting.

Memorial de Verdun France

Memorial de Verdun by Wolfgang Staudt

Also in the area are Fort Douaumont, which was a strategic command post and gives a real sense of the conditions the soldiers endured, and Fort Vaux which includes a memorial to the carrier pigeons used during the war.

Fort Douaumont Ossuary France WWI Battle site

Douaumont Ossuary by Gordon T Lawson, on Flickr

The French National Cemetery commemorates the 130,000 unknown French and German soldiers killed at Verdun while the Douaumont Ossuary holds the bones of these unknown soldiers. This moving location will definitely leave you thinking about the war that left so many dead or wounded. Climbing the bell tower overlooking the cemetery with its rows of white crosses or visiting the Trench of Bayonets, where an entire company was buried alive, brings home the horrors of war.

Somme France

The Somme region was the site of one of the bloodiest battles on the Western Front. Over 620,000 French and British soldiers died here along with over 600,000 German soldiers. The remains of the dead were not transported back to their countries which is why the area has 280 plus graveyards and memorials.

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing France

Thiepval Memorial to the missing by Chris Hartford from London, UK

The Thiepval Memorial honors the missing and is a beautiful red brick arched structure. This is “the largest British battle memorial in the world” and the names of 72,000 missing soldiers are engraved on the walls. Occasionally, the remains of a soldier are found in one of the former battlefields.  If the remains are somehow identified, the name is then removed from the list of the missing and the soldier is given a full military burial.

Entrance to Museum of the Great War Peronne France

Entrance to Museum of the Great War at Peronne by mifl68, on Flickr

Peronne is a lovely French town very near many of the battle sites in the Somme. It is also home to the Museum of the Great War. Located in a castle, this museum strives to show the common suffering of not only the soldiers but the impact war has on the citizens.

This portion of France is a must see to any history and/or war enthusiast. Next year marks the 100th anniversary of World War I and the region will host many ceremonies and events commemorating those that served.

 

Do you visit battle sites while traveling?

Less Crowded Options for European Summer Travels

School is almost out which means summer vacations are right around the corner. If you’re able to vacation any time of year, you might not choose summer to visit Europe but many vacationers only have summertime for a European family vacation.

So how do you beat the summer crowds in Europe?

In my local Sunday paper I found a list of travel options that are less crowded than the more popular destinations. Here are their suggestions for quieter summer destinations in Europe!

Budapest Hungary instead of Paris France

Danube and Parliament Building Budapest Hungary

Budapest by ** Maurice **, on Flickr

Paris is probably one of the most well known travel destinations in the world so it’s not surprising Paris is crowded during the summer! While Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Seine River, the Louvre and the Champs Elysee bring people to Paris, Budapest also has its well known sites. People come to Budapest to see the Fisherman’s Bastion, Parliament Building, the grand boulevard Andrassy Ut and its Spas. Some even say Budapest is the most beautiful city in Central Europe and with the beautiful views over the Danube River I can see why Budapest has earned this label. Budapest and Paris both have long and tumultuous histories, grand architecture covering a vast array of time periods, beautiful cathedrals and gobs of cultural opportunities!

Korcula Croatia instead of Corfu Greece

Panorama of Korčula Croatia

Panorama of Korčula by Zupec on wikimedia

Korcula and Corfu are both stunning islands that offer warm weather, crystal clear waters and beautiful beaches but the comparisons stop there. Sitting off the coast of Greece, Corfu has been the playground for the rich and famous for eons. The island also has a rich heritage dating back to 1300 BC and is full of historic monuments and museums displaying archeological finds from the temples and ancients cities on the island. If you’re looking for a quieter vacation centered on water and beaches, then Korcula may be the perfect place for you! Relax on one of the beautiful beaches, kayak around some of the other islands or snorkel in the clear cool waters of the Adriatic. Korcula also offers great views back to the Dalmation Coast of Croatia!

Baltic Coast of Germany instead of Bavaria Germany

National Park Jasmund on Rugen Island Germany

National Park Jasmund on Rugen Island by Thomas Wolf on wikimedia

If Germany is your destination, you really can’t go wrong visiting either Bavaria or the Baltic Coast.  But if you’re looking for a quieter seaside trip, then the Baltic is an excellent option. When I wrote Warnemunde – A Baltic Beach Resort the number one comment I received was people were surprised Germany has beaches. Yes Germany has glorious beaches and Warnemunde is just one of them! The Baltic coast had been a popular resort area with the aristocrats for years and since reunification, this coastline is gaining in popularity but is still a peaceful respite from the summer crowds found in the more popular tourist destinations. Germany’s Baltic coast is full of long sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, sand dunes, popular resort islands, nature reserves and quaint seaside towns with centers that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Baltic coast still maintains a very definite maritime feel and is a great place to relax while watching sailboats or enjoy a walk or bike ride along the miles of sandy beaches!

What other less-crowded European destinations can you suggest?

Six Reasons to Visit Badenweiler Germany

I love reading and enjoy books that whisk me off to wonderful places in Europe. If you’re like me, you’ve spent hours traveling through European cities in books like The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, London and Russka by Edward Rutherford or even Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know how much I love visiting Germany. So it was with great glee I purchased the book Badenweiler Waltz by SW Kroeker which is a book about a young woman diagnosed with a fatal disease who decides to spend her last days in Badenweiler Germany and also maybe find a cure in the spa village. While the book wasn’t a barn burner, I did enjoy visiting this small village in the Black Forest through the eyes of Elizabeth Kurz, the main character.

 

Panorama over Badenweiler Germany Black Forest

Panorama over Badenweiler by Wladyslaw wikipedia

I was enchanted by the people and sights she found in Badenweiler and decided to discover more about the village.

 

Here are six reasons I’d visit Badenweiler Germany!


  1. Badenweiler is a spa resort known for its curative treatments for tuberculosis, arthritis, osteoporosis and other cardiovascular diseases. Along with the main character in the book, the spa has been attracting the ill for a long time including Anton Chekhov who spent his last days here. The city’s spa, Cassiopeia Therme, is set in a wonderful garden which helps make the spa a great place to rejuvenate your body!

    Spa at Badenweiler Germany

    Spa at Badenweiler Germany by Jayjay P, on Flickr

  2. Wandering the streets of Badenweiler Germany visitors will find ruins of a Roman Bath and Castle plus a church which stands on the grounds of an ancient Roman temple. Today St. Paul’s Church is an example of neo-Romanesque architecture but its grounds have been sacred for many decades dating back to Roman times. The well preserved Roman Baths were discovered in 1784 and can be explored while the ruins of Baden castle, first mentioned in 1122, loom over the village and offer breathtaking views.

    Vestiges Roman Baths Badenweiler Germany Black Forest

    Vestiges Roman Baths Badenweiler Germany by Wernain S. wikimedia

  3. The Black Forest is a great place to hike and Badenweiler is no exception! There are short day hikes surrounding Badenweiler which bring you to wonderful forests in a very short time. If you’d like longer hikes, these can be found too.

    St Pauls Church Badenweiler Germany Black Forest

    St. Pauls Church from wikimedia

  4. The rolling hills surrounding Badenweiler are full of vineyards where visitors can explore wines of the region. You could opt to enjoy a hike through some of the vineyards or even a lovely bike ride. The orchards and vineyards in the area can also be explored by driving the Baden Wine Route
    Aerial view of Badenweiler Germany in the Black Forest
    Aerial view of Badenweiler Germany courtesy of Badenweiler spas and Touirstik GmbH / Erich Meyer
  5. Badenweiler is in a great location to not only explore more of the Black Forest but also neighboring countries. A quick 17 mile drive will bring you to Basel Switzerland and an even shorter 7 mile drive finds you arriving at the French border ready to explore the amazing vineyards and villages in the Alsace region Badenweiler is also only 19 miles from Freiburg Germany another quaint and wonderful city in the Black Forest.

    View over Badenweiler Germany Black Forest

    View over Badenweiler by Wenain S. wikimedia

  6. This enchanting village is known as a sanctuary for relaxation. Adding to the dream like feel of Badenweiler is the warm weather the area is known for. In fact, you may find that you come under the spell of Badenweiler and succumb to the most wonderful German tradition – Kaffee und Kuchen each afternoon!

 

What books have inspired you to learn more about a destination?

Humorous Gargoyle of Freiburg

Anyone traveling in Europe has seen Gargoyles staring down at you from high atop cathedrals like Notre Dame in Paris France.

Gargoyle Notre Dame Paris France

Gargoyle Notre Dame Paris France

They do have a menacing look to them and, in fact, part of their lore says they protect the churches from evil spirits. In actuality, they have a very useful function. Gargoyles are water spouts which keep rainwater away from the sides of the building where the forces of water would damage them in the same way rivers carve canyons.

Gargoyles on the Munster Freiburg Germany

Different types of Gargoyles look down on you in Freiburg!

Although we usually associate Gargoyles with medieval time they were used during other times until architects started using gutters. We also usually associate Gargoyles as being scary and grotesque but some Gargoyles depict monks, animals and some are even very humorous.

Horse Gargoyle Munster Freiburg GermanyHuman Gargoyle Munster Freiburg Germany

I ran into a humorous Gargoyle while visiting the Munster in Freiburg Germany.  As I was looking up at the church, I noticed many Gargoyles dotting the sides.  Then I ran into this one.  After a double take, I realized I was right.  This Gargoyle seems to be mooning everyone!  Since it rained while I was in Freiburg, I actually got to see it work too : )

Humorous Gargoyle Munster Freiburg Germany

Look closely at the Gargoyle on the left, it is mooning you!

Have you seen a humorous Gargoyle?


These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday! For more great pictures,make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Slovenia: Tiny but Beautiful!

From the Adriatic coast to the mountains of the Alps, tiny Slovenia is one of Europe’s most impressive countries and yet one of its best kept secrets.

Wedged at the crossroads of Austria, Italy, Hungary and Croatia, Slovenia is a unique blend of each country. Roughly the size of New Jersey, the surprises waiting for visitors include beaches, rolling green countryside, quaint Alpine villages, interesting architecture, snow-capped mountains and a multitude of outdoor activities.

I’ve never been to Slovenia but here are 7 reasons I would visit Slovenia!

1.  Beautiful coast along the Adriatic

Sitting on a beach in Piran you’ll feel like you could be on the French Riviera or Italy but you’re actually enjoying the beauty of the Adriatic from Slovenia! Piran is home to lovely views, rolling vineyards and a wonderful Italian cuisine but not the hordes of people, yet!!

 

Piran Sailboats Slovenia

Piran Sailboats Slovenia author: Ubald Trnkoczy from Slovenia Tourist Board

2.  Wine

The hills near the Austrian border are full of vineyards producing wonderful Slovenian wine! The last few years have seen a huge growth in the quality and quantity of wine produced here. At the same time, tasting rooms and Vinoteka’s have popped up all over Maribor’s streets.

3.  Fairy Tale Castles

There are hundreds of castles in Slovenia. Some rest on hills overlooking towns, cling precariously to the side of a mountain, sit in the middle of lakes and rivers while even others are linked to underground caverns.

 

Predjama Castle Slovenia

Predjama Castle Slovenia by Ayack wikimedia

4)  Cities

The cities of Slovenia are traditional and charming. Ljubljana, the capital, is a blend of Old World charm and contemporary energy. The picturesque medieval city of Skofja Loka is nestled amongst green rolling hill, Piran still has its town wall and Ptuj is the countries oldest city.

 

Skofja Loka Slovenia

Skofja Loka Slovenia from wikimedia

5.  Alpine Mountains

The Julian Alps are a mountain lover’s paradise full of hiking, climbing, skiing and other outdoor activities.  It is here you’ll find inspiration in Triglav National Park home to the highest peak in Slovenia, Mt Triglav ( 9,396 feet).  The lakes, rivers, mountains, villages and flowers of the Julian Alps create a picture perfect spot to unwind and enjoy nature.

 

Alpine Valley Slovenia

Alpine Valley Slovenia by Matijap wikimedia

6.  Caves

Not only is Slovenia beautiful above ground but it shines underground too! With over 8,800 caves, Slovenia has more than its share of caves. The world’s longest cave, Postojna Cave, will take your breath away and the underground canyon in Skocjan Cave is amazing. But these two caves are just the tip of the iceberg!

7.  Rivers and Lakes

The rivers and lakes of Slovenia only add to its charm. Famous Lake Bled is probably the most photographed place in the country but is still a tranquil spot especially since motor boats aren’t allowed. Bigger Bohinj Lake is pristine and surrounded by stunning mountains and some say the Soca River is Europe’s prettiest. The emerald water of the river allow for great rafting, kayaking and fishing while the lakes are great places for hiking and biking.

 

Lake Bled Slovenia

Lake Bled Slovenia author: J. Skok from Slovenia Tourist Board

 

 

What do you think, is Slovenia worth the visit?

Forbidden in Potsdam

The history of Potsdam Germany includes its glory days as the playground for the rich, famous and Prussian Kings, the years spent behind the “Iron Curtain” and today where it is experiencing a rebirth.

One of Potsdam’s darkest hours started at the end of World War II and ran until the fall of the Berlin Wall. During this time this once vibrant and beautiful city suddenly developed spots that were forbidden.

Crossing the Glienicke Bridge Potsdam Germany

Crossing the Glienicke Bridge Potsdam Germany

Sitting at the west side of Berlin, Potsdam was cut off from the capital city once the Berlin wall was erected. The Glienicke Bridge, which spans the Havel River and connects Potsdam to West Berlin, was closed to citizens from both sides and earned its nickname, Bridge of Spies, by being the location where many captured spies were exchanged. Today the bridge is open to traffic but in the dark days it was a forbidden spot in Potsdam.

The Havel River from the bridge Potsdam Germany

The Havel River from the bridge Potsdam Germany

When the Soviets came to power, one neighborhood within Potsdam became forbidden. This area was walled in and became known as the “little Soviet Union” because the Soviets took over the beautiful villas in the neighborhood moving the KGB in and residents out.

Belvedere on top of Pfingstberg Potsdam Germany

Belvedere on top of Pfingstberg Potsdam Germany

Potsdam’s highest hill, the Pfingstberg, is a wonderful place to hike and has amazing views over the region. But during the occupation, it was closed to the public and became known as the “Forbidden City”. Those views the public loved so much happened to include KGB headquarters and other sites important to the Soviets!

Reflecting Pool Belvedere Potsdam Germany

Reflecting Pool Belvedere Potsdam Germany

The views were also the reason this hill was selected by Frederick Wilhelm IV to be the home for the Belvedere. Designed after Italian Renaissance castles, construction began in 1847. The Belvedere was to be part of a larger castle project which never came to fruition. Today the Belvedere has been restored and still has its gorgeous views but is also a peaceful place to wander the Roman style building, hike or attend one of the concerts held on top of the hill that was once forbidden to all.

Columns inside Belvedere Potsdam Germany

Columns inside Belvedere Potsdam Germany

 

These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday! For more great pictures,make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.