November 22, 2017

Oh La La, La Seine!

It is no mistake that most of the world’s largest cities are located along major rivers. As our ancestors explored new areas they settled along rivers which offered them food, water, transportation, trade and more.

Among these grand European rivers are the Thames, the Danube, the Volga, the Rhine and madam La Seine!

Seine View Paris France

Seine View by polarjez, on Flickr

The 2nd largest river in France is 482 miles long and traverses through some of the most wonderful French landscapes before reaching the English Channel.  The Seine’s humble beginnings are about 19 miles northwest of Dijon deep in the Burgundian wine area. From here it meanders through or near Troyes, Fontainebleau, Paris, Giverny and Rouen before reaching the 6 mile wide estuary separating Le Havre and Honfleur.

Giverny France

giverny 2009 by ho visto nina volare, on Flickr

Outside of the large cities, a journey along the Seine passes Gothic cathedrals, battlefield remnants of past wars, tiny hamlets, forests that were the playground of Kings and rolling countryside with superb scenery.

The Seine is navigable by ocean vessels 75 miles inland to Rouen, by commercial river boats to Burgundy and can be enjoyed for recreational purposes along most of the length.

A series of locks keep the Seine at an even depth of 9 ½ meters and helps avoid catastrophic floods like the one in 1910.  However, even with these precautions, severe storms can cause the river to rise threatening villages, farmers and the billions of dollars of artwork located in Paris.

River Seine Paris France

vue Paris depuis Notre-Dame by Myrabella

At times the Seine has been described by historians as an “open sewer”.  Today the water quality has improved but the sewage system of Paris can experience failures during heavy rainfall allowing untreated sewage to seep into the river.  Despite this, in 2009 the Atlantic salmon returned to the Seine!

Even though the Seine passes many villages and cities, it seems to be synonymous with the capital of France, Paris! Just about everywhere you turn in Paris is a reminder of the importance the river has played in the city today and yesterday.  From the cathedral of Notre Dame to the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Musee d’Orsay and many other priceless wonders, history abounds near the river! So important is the Seine to Paris, that in 1991 both the Rive Gauche and Rive Droite were added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in Europe.

Pont-Alexandre-III-et-Invalides Paris France

Pont-Alexandre-III-et-Invalides by Benh

In Paris alone, there are 37 bridges that cross the river. The Pont Neuf, the oldest, dates back to 1607.  I’m sure every visitor to Paris walks across at least one of these beautifully romantic bridges!  Or even passes under them during a wonderful tour along the Seine.

The Seine has been the subject for many artists including Claude Monet.  From his home in Giverny, Monet drew upon the Seine for his inspiration. Many of these important artworks can be seen in the cathedral at Rouen.

Rouen is another important city along the Seine.  Not only famous for its display of artwork inspired by the Seine but for being the site of the execution of Joan of Arc whose ashes were said to be thrown into the Seine after her fiery death in 1431.

Pont de Normandie Le Havre Normandy France

Pont de Normandie by François Roche

Finally at rivers end is the Seine estuary which is flanked on either side by Le Havre and Honfleur.  Here is another of the many bridges spanning the Seine.  Pont de Normandie, one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world, stretches between the two cities.

Pont des Arts River Seine Paris France

Pont des Arts Wikimedia Commons by Benh

Although we tend to view the Seine as a tourist attraction, you can see that this river is still important to France today!

 

How have you enjoyed the Seine?

Catalonia – Spain’s Best Kept Secret?

Sitting in the north east corner of Spain is Catalonia. Home to a varied landscape that offers many surprises, Catalonia is a well kept secret that is waiting to enthrall you with all its charm.

Barcelona is the capital and most well known city of the region but there is so much more to be found.  A land of contrasts, Catalonia offers a rugged coastline, mountain peaks, lakes, rivers, forests, and surprises around every corner.  The villages are as lovely as the natural environment. Sights range from Romanesque architecture to Arab remnants and from prehistoric relics to avant-garde art.

San Mauricio Lake Catalonia Spain

San Mauricio Lake by Gligan


Here are 5 reasons to visit Catalonia!


Natural Wonders

You are surrounded by nature in Catalonia. The countryside varies from coastline to mountains and includes wetlands, rivers, valleys, lakes, plateau, forests and even volcanoes.  All of this beauty combines to offer a multitude of options for outdoor activities.  You can find something to do whether your time is spent on the snow-capped peaks or on one of the majestic beaches. In one trip you can enjoy the Pyrenees and then find yourself lounging by the Mediterranean!

Boi Valley Catalonia Spain

Vall de Boi: Boi and the valley by David Domingo, on Flickr

Outdoor Activities

The options for outdoor activities are as vast as the landscape.  Ranging from gentle easy hikes to canyoning or enjoy an easy glide down a river or the intensity of white water rafting!  Your days can be spent on horseback or quads.  You may choose to explore the region from the heights of a hot air balloon or from a seat on a horse-drawn carriage.  You could even visit a Natural Park made of salt to feast your eyes on salt stalagmites and stalactites!

Kayaking in Catalonia Spain

kayak by miuina, on Flickr

Culture

The historical and artistic heritage of Catalonia is also very diverse. Catalonia’s cultural treasures include cave paintings, ruins of great civilizations both Greek and Roman, Romanesque architecture, medieval castles, Gothic cathedrals, Jewish quarters, modern buildings and great art.  This is the land of great artists such as Dali, Miro, Picasso, Gaudi and Pau Casals.  A visit to the museums, houses and scenes that inspired their works can be enlightening!  If this isn’t enough, enjoy one of the many concerts, performances or local festivals the region offers.

Village of Cruïlles Catalonia Spain

Village of Cruïlles by Vincent van Zeijst

Cuisine

The world famous cuisine of Catalonia uses all the resources of the region from the mountain, sea and farm. In fact, people travel to this destination solely for the cuisine.  Traditional favorites include Pa amb Tomaquet (bread smeared with tomato and drizzled with olive oil), Escudella (a meat and vegetable stew) and Bacalla amb Samfaina (Cod with a ratatouille).  But also of importance is the modern cuisine found by renowned chefs and Michelin rated restaurants.  Learn about local cuisine by enjoying a cooking class, visiting a local fresh market, gastronomic museum or at one of the many festivals and fairs.  Catalonia also produces great wine and Cava.  The wine production in this area dates back to Roman times and has been growing since.  Visit museums related to the wine industry or enjoy tastings at the vineyard.

Barcelona Cuisine Catalonia Spain

Barcelona by George M. Groutas, on Flickr

Wellness

Spas seem to have grown in popularity lately but wellness has been important to Catalonia since the Roman era! In Catalonia there are 18 thermal baths found in natural surroundings including at least one Natural park.  The spa towns can be found spread throughout the region.  Other wellness centers can be found in resorts near the coast and other inland areas.  Each offers a variety of treatments including mud treatments, paraffin baths, massage as well as facial and beauty treatments.

Tossa de Mar Catalonia Spain

Tossa de Mar by Gordito1869

 

Whether you want to spend your time on a bike, at a spa, on the golf course, touring the historic sites of a city or on the sea, you’ll find an abundance of options in Catalonia!

 

Why would you visit Catalonia?

Off the Beaten Path in Rostock Germany

Germany offers a lot for any traveler.  Unfortunately most of us only touch on a few destinations of this wonderful country – Munich, the Castles of Ludwig, Bavaria, Berlin and the Rhine river garner most of our travel dollars.  I’m as guilty as any and this is one of the reasons I’ve decided to dig into other parts of Germany and see what they can offer us travelers.

After I saw a few pictures of Rostock, I decided to Go North and explore this Baltic area.

Hanse Sail Rostock Germany

Hanse Sail © Lutz Zimmermann

Rostock was once one of the most powerful trading centers in Europe.  Today it is a more quiet and peaceful location offering unique architecture, coastal scenery, wonderful beaches and a maritime history that will fascinate us all!

In Rostock you will discover churches, gabled houses, town gates, a Fisherman’s bastion complete with canons, an astronomical clock and red brick building dating back to Hanseatic times!

Alter Strom river Rostock Germany

Alter Strom River © Angelika Heim

Here are 4 great reasons we all should spend time in Rostock –
Germany’s “Gateway to the North”!

Architecture

Eight hundred years of history are preserved in Rostock’s gabled houses, brick warehouses, town gates and churches.  Of the important medieval and Renaissance buildings, the Hausbaum House dates back to 1490.  Other architectural beauties, many of which date back to the same era, include the Marienkirche (don’t miss the astronomic clock), Petrikirche (climb the tower for views of town and Baltic) and the Rathaus.  These are some of the buildings created using the deep red bricks characterizing the Gothic Brick style of architecture famous in Northern Germany.  Wander Rostock and you’ll find many more fine examples.

Brick Gothic House Rostock Germany

Brick Gothic House © HHoG/Mayerer

Maritime History

Founded by maritime traders in 1218, it is no wonder Rostock holds on to its nautical atmosphere.  A great place to learn about the maritime and shipbuilding history of Rostock is at the Maritime Museum.  This unique museum is situated on a ship that is moored on the Warnow River opposite the port of Rostock.  Not only will you find exhibits detailing shipping history but you will also discover sea plane construction and marine research.  There is also an open area portion of the museum where you can see a floating crane and other items dealing with the shipping business.

Waterfront Harbor Rostock Germany

Waterfront Harbor © Nordlicht

Hanse Sail Festival

The 2nd weekend of August brings fully rigged ships, schooners, cogs, cutters, steamboats, the ice-breaker “Stettin” and “Waltman” the tugboat to Rostock for the annual Hanse Sail Festival.  This festival is one of the largest maritime festivals in the world and will be any maritime history buff’s definition of nirvana!  Visitors are also able to view water-skiing demonstrations, rowing regattas and have the opportunity to actually sail on some of these wonders! If you need a break from the maritime themed events, enjoy the markets or fireworks.  The festival closes with a ship parade of nations.

Hanse Sail Beach Rostock Germany

Hanse Sail Beach © Nordlicht

Beaches

In 1323, Rostock purchased nearby Warnemünde to ensure it would have free access by water to the Baltic.  Today, this is where you will find a long stretch of beautiful white sand beach and a 19th century lighthouse.  This old fisherman port is a great place to wander the streets looking for local food or just a nice respite from sunbathing.  If you’re looking for a beach town with a laid back small town charm, Warnemünde is it.

Lighthouse Rostock Warnemunde Germany

Lighthouse Rostock Warnemunde© Tourismusverband Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

 

I’d love to hear about your experience in Rostock!

European Travelista’s 7 Super Shots!

I have been enjoying reading everyone’s entries to HostelBookers 7 Super Shots!  As I don’t consider myself a good photographer I was secretly glad that I hadn’t been asked to participate.

Then it happened. . .

Both Sabrina from Country Skipper and Courtney of Haunt Jaunts asked me to participate.  Feeling good to be included, I now had to find some photographs that were worthy of the project.

I started by thinking what photos represent.  Photos keep our memories fresh and alive. All it takes is a glimpse and we are whisked back to that very day experiencing that trip, event or the fun as if we were there now.  The photos we take are snapshots of our life.

After getting over my initial angst, I wandered through my memories and found some photographs that represent each of the categories.

Here is a photo . . .

. . . that takes my breath away

It is no secret that I love mountains, lakes and small villages.  While I find them all remarkable in their own way, Gruyeres Switzerland just took my breath away.Bucolic Gruyeres Switzerland

. . . that makes me laugh or smile

I actually had a little trouble with this one but then it dawned on me that the one that made me smile every time was this shot taken on my very first trip to Europe.  In fact, this one is a lot of “firsts”.  My first time to Europe, Germany, Bavaria, Munich.  I smile each time I see this much younger me sitting by a lake in the Englischer Garten and, yes, I’m enjoying my first beer in Munich.

Englischer Garten Munich Germany

Enjoying a beer in Englisher Garten's Munich

. . . that makes me dream

This shot of the French Basque countryside makes me dream about all of the less traveled, peaceful places I have been and will go to.

Basque vista Southwest France

Basque Hills

. . . that makes me think

Looking down on the way up the Jungfraujoch is a tremendous sight!  This lovely village nestled at the foot of the mountain makes me think about how amazing Mother Nature is. . . The beauty of Switzerland isn’t too shabby either 🙂On the way up Jungfraujoch Interlaken Switzerland

. . . that makes my mouth water

As I look at this picture my mouth is literally watering.  I can still feel the relief as I sat down at this table at Klosterbrau Brewery in Bamberg Germany.  I can also remember how ravenous I was and how wonderful this schnitzel, potato salad, green salad and beer tasted!Schnitzel at Klosterbrau Bamberg Germany

. . . that tells a story

Visiting the D-day beaches in Normandy is a must see. This photo, taken at the American cemetery, tells the story of all the Americans that died during WWII.  More than that, it tells the story of all the lives lost from all countries involved.American Cemetery Normandy France

. . . that I’m most proud of

Gothic Royaumont Abbey gets the distinction of being my National Geographic moment!  The lovely Abbey and its grounds are a serene respite to busy Paris.Gothic Royaumount Abbey near Paris France

 

Now its my turn to nominate 5 bloggers to participate:

Eurotravelogue

EasyHiker

To Europe with Kids

This is My Happiness

Downtown Traveler

 

Rules

  1. Choose a photo for each of the 7 categories above.
  2. Write a short description for each image.
  3. Write somewhere in your blog post: I am taking part in HostelBookers 7 Super Shots.
  4. Tell HostelBookers that you have participated and tweet the hashtag #7SuperShots

Nominate 5 other bloggers by including a link to their blog in your post.

Moravia: Exploring the Czech Republic

In recent years, the Czech Republic has become a major tourist destination and rightly so!  Prague has become the number one stop for tourists to the republic but should you stop there?  That answer is No, there are many other areas to discover of equal interest.

One of these regions is Moravia.

Located in the eastern part of the country, Moravia is known as the quieter and more “real” Czech Republic.  The region is full of quaint villages, lush green vineyards, history, outdoor activities and has held on to its traditions.

Brno Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul Moravia Czech Republic

Brno Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul by Millenium187

Below are 5 reasons to include Moravia in your itinerary of the Czech Republic:

  • Castles & Chateaux

There are more than 2,000 Castles and Chateaux in the Czech Republic and Moravia has more than its fair share.  Among these are medieval Helfstyn Castle with its imposing walls and setting above the Becva river; gothic Buchlov Castle; lavish baroque Kromeriz Castle was built in 17th century and includes must see gardens ;  Slavkov Chateau was the site of a famous victory for Napoleon at Austerlitz; and gothic Lednice Chateau whose grounds include an English style park and a Temple of Apollo.

Lednice Chateau Moravia Czech Republic

Lednice Chateau by Zp

Kromeriz Castle and Gardens Moravia Czech Republic

Kromeriz Castle and Gardens courtesy of Czech Republic Tourist Bureau

  • Wine

Wine is up and coming in the Czech Republic and Moravia produces the vast majority of it.  Most notably known for its dry white wines the reds are coming up.  There are many wine festivals held during the harvest time with the largest held in Znojmo, Mikulov, Brno and Melnik.  Twelfth century Valtice Castle houses the Czech Republic’s National Wine Center where you can enjoy tasting some of the best wines produced in the country.

Valtice Castle Moravia Czech Republic

Valtice Castle courtesy of Czech Republic

 

  • Towns & Villages

The towns and villages of Moravia include thousand years of history and were once the stomping grounds of the Liechtenstein’s.  Visiting the towns and villages of Moravia will help you understand the long and varied history of the region.  One of the most ancient towns is Znojmo where you can see wall paintings in the Romanesque Chapel of St. Catherine.  Telc is known as one of the most beautiful towns in the Czech Republic and is listed on UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Olomouc has long been a cultural center and is full of cobblestoned streets, stately cathedrals and grand palaces.  Mikulov offers history, architectural wonders and nature.

Telc Moravia Czech Republic

Telc courtesy of Czech Republic Tourist Bureau

 

  • Tradition

The diverse folk customs can still be found in Moravia, in fact, they have seemed to flourish.  During travels, visitors will come across people in tradition clothing as well as many folk festivals including Easter, music, Gypsy Song and Kings Ride festivals.

Moravian Costumes Czech Republic

Moravian Costumes Czech Republic by Jialiang Gao

 

  • Outdoor Activities

Moravia is full of beautiful and varied natural wonders.  These include many trails for bikers or hikers, parks, gardens, lakes, rivers as well as caves and chasms. The Litovel Morava Natural Park is best explored by bike as its trails are smooth and wide.  In the Jesenik Mountains adventurers will find waterfalls and the eerie Hill of Crosses.  Those wanting to explore the underworld, sights include Javoricko caves and Karst caverns.

Moravian Karst Czech Republic

Moravian Karst courtesy of Czech Republic Tourist Bureau

 

Yes, there are a lot of reasons to visit Moravia! Whether you want history, architecture, wine, nature or castles and chateaux you will find it here.  The one thing you won’t find are the crowds of PragueLife is a little slower in Moravia.

 

Would you visit Moravia while in the Czech Republic?

A Year at European Travelista

Today is the first anniversary for European Travelista!!!

It’s Been a Year and What a Year It’s Been!

As I looked back at the year, I discovered that during this time I’ve written 134 posts which received 2,868 comments.

Together we’ve visited 18 of Europe’s countries!

The countries we’ve visited include France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Along with those we’ve also touched ground in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Holland and even Estonia.Views walking up the hill to Gruyeres Switzerland

We’ve looked at food, aperitifs and experienced European wine beer and beer festivals!

Our journey has been by train, feet, bikes and post bus crossing rivers, bridges and scenic routes. We’ve taken a look at the awesome waterfalls in Europe along with some festivals, even if they are a bit crazy!Budapest and Danube River

Because I had a hard time telling the difference between Baroque, Gothic or Romanesque, we spent some time learning a bit about all that wonderful architecture found in European capitals.

I’ve shared my love for Germany and in particular Bavaria.  Heck one of my first posts was titled “Bavaria, Bavaria How do I Love thee?”.  That should have been your first clue 🙂

Hohenschwangau Bavarian Castle

View from Hohenschwangau

Together we delved into my passion for those small little quaint charming picturesque mountain villages.  Yes you know that I am a mountain girl!

We’ve spent time in castles, feasted our eyes on jewels, taken drives and just dreamed.

Cesky Krumlov Castle Czech Republic

Cesky Krumlov Castle by Docsj

Yup it’s been quite a year!

And it’s not going to stop yet!

I have many more adventures lined up for 2012 but I also want to include some of your interests.

Where do you want to go?

How do you want to get there and what do you want to do once you get there?

Where or where in Europe shall we go during 2012?  Help me out by leaving suggestions in your comment!

 

Before I go, I want to send out a BIG thanks to you all for making 2011 such a great year!

Gracias.Köszi.Merci.Takk.Grazie.Obrigada.Danke.

 

Thanksgiving in Holland?

This week the US will be celebrating Thanksgiving, a day spent with family and friends celebrating all we are thankful for.

The first Thanksgiving actually combined both European and Native American traditions of celebrating the good harvest. It was this tradition that Pilgrims brought with them to their new land but it was not only the good harvest they celebrated on the first Thanksgiving.  They also were celebrating their safe voyage and peace in their new country.

There are quite a few Thanksgiving celebrations held in Europe but I found one that has special ties to the Pilgrims and where you can still enjoy a celebration of Thanksgiving!

Leiden harbour Holland

Leiden harbour by Qiou87, on Flickr

A village about 25 miles from Amsterdam was home to many of the Pilgrims for a few years before they set sail for what is now the US.  Leiden Holland is where many of the Pilgrims who came to the New World were from and to this day there is a non-denominational service held in Pieterskerk the morning of the US Thanksgiving commemorating the Pilgrims and the role Leiden played in their lives.

East Gate in Lieden Holland by Erik Zachte

East Gate by Erik Zachte

The Pilgrims, or Separatists as they were known back in the early 1600’s, fled England for religious freedom.  They settled in Leiden before returning to England and boarding the Mayflower for America.  It is said that some of the values the Pilgrims cherished, free-market capitalism, civil marriage and separation of church and state, came from their time in Holland.

Rhine in Leiden Holland

Rhine in Leiden by Erik Zachte

Located near the mouth of the Rhine River, Leiden is full of canals, old wooden bridges, windmills, churches, and many museums.  It is also the birthplace of Rembrandt!  Situated in the middle of beautiful meadows and little villages, Leiden is also a great place to rent a bike for a ride among the famous flower fields.

Windmill Museum in Leiden Holland

Windmill in Leiden by Erik Zachte

Among the museums in this University town are the National Museum of Antiquities, National Museum of Ethnology and the National History Museum whose collection includes bones from a Dodo.  The American Pilgrim Museum may be of interest to those from the US as it is dedicated to the Pilgrims.  Set in a house built from 1365-1370, it is furnished in the style that was common to the Pilgrim era.

West Gate Leiden Holland by Erik Zachte

West Gate by Erik Zachte

Pieterskerk, named after the patron saint of the city, was built in the late-Gothic style and is associated with the Pilgrim father’s.  Some of the pilgrims are buried here and there is an exhibition on the Pilgrims from Leiden.

Yes this village has a link to the US and I am sure it would be a great place to celebrate Thanksgiving if you can not be at home. But I think it has a lot to offer at other times of year too!

 

What do you think; would you enjoy spending Thanksgiving in Leiden?

Happy Thanksgiving to you all where ever you are in the world!!!

Worlds 2nd Largest Tomb is in Innsbruck!

If you were of nobility how would you design your memorial? Would you opt for something regal but understated?  A beautiful place where people could come and remember you surrounded by beautiful gardens?  Or would you opt for a grand tomb in the center of a magnificent church surrounded by larger than life statues of your family members and ancestors?

Hofkirche Innsbruck Austria

from wikimedia

Well if you were Maximilian I of Innsbruck your tomb you be the grand scale of the last option.  In actuality, he didn’t make this decision but his Grandson Ferdinand I did.

Statue Hofkirche Innsbruck AustriaStatue Hofkirche Innsbruck Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferdinand designed and had built what is today the 2nd largest tomb in the world (the first being in Xian) which is located in the Hofkirche (Court Church) in Innsbruck.

Marble relief on tomb in Hofkirche Innsbruck Austria

from wikimedia

The highlight of the Gothic church is the giant marble tomb of Emperor Maximilian.  The tomb contains 24 marble reliefs depicting the Emperor’s accomplishments.

Hofkirche with embellishments Innsbruck Austria

from wikimedia

Embellishments were added in 1584 and include the wrought iron grille surrounding the tomb plus the kneeling emperor and the four virtues adorning the top.

Statues Hofkirche Innsbruck AustriaStatue Hofkirche Innsbruck Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surrounding the marble tomb are 28 larger than life statues of Maximilian’s relatives including legendary King Arthur.Statue of King Arthur Hofkirche Innsbruck Austria

Alas, after all the expense and effort Maximilian’s remains were never moved here.  They are still in their original burial site in Wiener Neustadt, which is south of Vienna.

 

So what type of memorial do you want?

The 6 EST’s of Europe

What is the largest, longest or biggest in Europe?  Come on a journey with us to find out the best-EST and most-EST that Europe has to offer.

Largest Castle – Prague Castle

In fact, Prague Castle is the largest castle in the world and not just Europe.  Dating back to 870, the castle is home to the Bohemian crown jewels, the National Gallery, Toy Museum, Czech history museum and a gallery displaying the history of the castle.  Over the years, the castle has been remodeled and, therefore, you will find representations of every architectural style including Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral and Romanesque Basilica of St. George.  No visit to Prague is complete without taking a tour of the castle or spending time in one of its many museums.

Prague Castle Czech Republic

Prague Castle by Adam Zivner

Tallest Mountain – Mount Elbrus

At 18,510 feet this inactive volcano stands above the rest in this part of the Urals.  Located near the Georgian border, Mt Elbrus’ permanent ice cap feeds 22 glaciers which in turn feed into the Baksan, Kuban and Malka rivers.  Legend has it, this is the place where Zeus had Prometheus chained to a rock!  This mountaineering area will be hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Mt Elbrus and the Caucasus Mountains

Mt Elbrus by Jialiang Gao

Largest City – Moscow, Russia

The capital of Russia was first mentioned in 1147 and is the most northern city to have a population of over 10 million people.  Sitting along the banks of the Moskva River, Moscow has seen the history of Russia play out before its very eyes.  To say that Russia’s history has been stormy is an understatement but Moscow has been the capital through the Grand Duchy of Moscow, Tsardom of Russia, Soviet Union and today’s Russia.  With the fall of the Iron Curtain Moscow has become quite a tourist destination and no one does not recognize the famous architectural style, the Onion Dome.  Sites to be seen include 2 UNESCO World Heritage sites, Red Square and the Kremlin, a zoo, museums, art galleries, 96 parks, 18 gardens and the world famous ballet.  One of Moscow’s newest claim to fame is it has the most billionaires (79) than anywhere else beating out NYC!

Red Square Moscow Russia

Red Square Moscow by Christophe Meneboeuf

Northernest City – Hammerfest & Honningsvag, Norway

Seems there is a little disagreement on what constitutes a city which is why there are 2 claimants to the most northern city in Europe.  Norwegian law says that to be a city there needs to be a population of at least 5,000 people.  Hammerfest is south of Honningsvag but Hammerfest is the only one that meets the city population requirements.  Both cities are important fishing and hunting areas with histories dating to prehistoric time.  Strange as it may seem for the most northern city, but the ocean off Honningsvag is ice free!  Hammerfest has a huge migration of reindeer during the summer.

Hammerfest Norway

Hammerfest Norway by Clemensfranz

Honningsvåg Norway

Honningsvåg Norway by Luca Boldrini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longest River – Volga

Ending in the Caspian Sea, this 2,194 mile long river skirts its way through Central Russia after its humble beginning in the Valdai Hills about 200 miles south east of St. Petersburg.  Even though the Volga freezes for most of its length for 3 months of the year, it has played a very important role in the movement of people from Asia to Europe during decades past.  The Volga estuary, the largest in Europe, is the center of the caviar industry and home to many species of animals including pelicans, flamingos, lotuses and beaver.  The river has also endured many wars, much strife by its people, pollution and the destruction of towns to make way for dams.  As with other great rivers of the world, if only they could talk the stories we would hear!

Volga River Russia

Volga River by Evgeny Pavlov

Oldest Amusement Park – Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens is in the center of Copenhagen, Denmark and was opened on August 15, 1843.  At this time it was actually outside the city limits but as the city grew the park became one of its central points and is right next to Copenhagen’s central station.  Legend says that Walt Disney decided to build Disneyland after visiting Tivoli.  The park is best known for its wooden roller coast, which was built in 1914, but today has many other modern roller coasters containing loop-to-loops and zero-G’s.  Inside this beautiful park there are performing art theaters, including one dedicated to Pantomime, concert areas, parades and gardens.  The park is spectacular at night where it sparkles under the many lights.

Tivoli Gardens Copenhagen Denmark

Tivoli Gardens by Tbmurray

 

These are few of the -ests of Europe.  I’m sure there are many more.

What other -ests or do you know?

Classic and Powerful: Neoclassical Architecture

A few months ago I started a series on the different architecture styles travelers usually come across in Europe.  So far we have covered Gothic  (Gothic Architecture of Europe), Romanesque (If it’s Tuesday, it must be Romanesque!), Baroque (Baroque: The Emotional Style), and Rococo (Rococo – Flirty & Decadent).

Continuing with this series, today’s post will delve into discovering Neoclassical architecture. This style came to prominence during the mid-18th century to make a symbolic statement against the extravagances of the past age.

Arc de Triomphe Paris France

Arc de Triomphe by Benh LIEU SONG

You could say Neoclassical architecture is the antithesis of Baroque and Rococo!  These styles were seen as over-the-top, shallow and the styles of aristocrats.  With the end of the French Revolution came a desire to move away anything having to do with “the regime” and towards a pure style, that of Ancient Greece and Rome.

Neoclassical architecture is very similar to the classical structures of Italy and Greece in its simplicity, symmetry and functionality.  Even though the style is the complete opposite of Rococo, it still is evocative and picturesque but in a self-restrained way.

Structures from the Neoclassical time will include most (if not all) of the following attributes:

Tall columns,

Vilnius Cathedral Lithuania

Vilnius Cathedral by Juliux

Clean basic lines replacing curves,

Prado Madrid Spain

Prado Madrid Spain by Fanghong

Shape is symmetric,

Marynkas Palace in Pulawy Poland

Marynkas Palace in Pulawy Poland by Ghalas

Domed roof, and

Lutheran Cathedral Helsinki Finland

Lutheran Cathedral Helsinki Finland by Purpy Pupple

Triangular pediment.

Pantheon Paris France

Pantheon Paris France by Kpjas

All of this together reflects the virtue, philosophy and harmony of ancient Italy and Greece.  In this style, the emphasis is on enriching and influencing lives instead of frivolous aesthetics and can be seen in libraries, schools, banks, capital building and monuments.

The imposing structures convey a feeling of superiority in an intimidating manner.  This commanding presence was seen as way to demonstrate state power and was one of the reasons Napoleon used it so widely in Paris.    Taking it further, Neoclassical architecture was the favored style of Hitler and the leaders in communist Russia.

Ostankino Palace in Moscow Russia

Ostankino Palace in Moscow Russia by Ghirlandajo

Even though you may not have known the name of this style, I know you have seen it in Europe and across the world!

 

Do you have a favorite Neoclassic building or monument?