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March 18, 2017

France: Côte d’Or


The commune of Vosne-Romanée

Burgundy’s most famous and most expensive wines originate in the Côte d’Or appellation, a band of vineyards extending from the southern outskirts of Dijon to Santenay. On the east side of this limestone escarpment the vineyards spill down the hillside onto the valley floor. A designated 60-kilometer long road route through the vineyards, the Route des Grands Crus, takes oenophiles (more…)

March 27, 2016

France: Strasbourg


Trip boats are a popular way to see Strasbourg

Trip boats are a popular way to see Strasbourg

Visiting Strasbourg was one of our highlights for 2015. And as well it should have been. UNESCO World Heritage designated Strasbourg is a very interesting and photogenic city. You’ll have to take my word on the photogenic. Somehow I managed to only get a few pictures mostly taken in some of the more out of the way areas of the city.

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January 30, 2016

Spain: Caceres


 

Plaza Mayor de Cáceres

Plaza Mayor de Cáceres

The Romans founded Cáceres Spain in 25 BC. Following the Romans, the Barbarians, the Visigoths, the Moors, and the Christians occupied Cáceres. Through it all Cáceres’ medieval quarter has remained remarkably intact. Today UNESCO recognizes historic Cáceres for its blend of Roman, Moorish, Northern Gothic and Italian Renaissance architecture. (more…)

Portugal: Elvas


The aqueduct in Elvas

The aqueduct in Elvas

About 12 kilometers to the east of the Spanish border is the fortified Portuguese town of Elvas. Elvas was Portugal’s chief frontier fortress south of the Tagus during the Portuguese Restoration War. From the 17th to the 19th Centuries the area was heavily fortified to protect against Spanish invasion. When construction was completed, two forts and several fortified hilltops formed a defensive perimeter around the walled town. (more…)

December 31, 2015

Portugal: Lisbon, Jerónimos Monastery and Tower of Belém


Torre de Belém

Torre de Belém

Along the north side of the Tagus River estuary at the edge of the municipality of Lisbon Portugal is Belém. This civil parish is the location of the UNESCO World Heritage designated “Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém in Lisbon,” two of Lisbon’s top tourist attractions. (more…)

December 27, 2015

Spain: Córdoba, Catedral y Mezquita de Córdoba


The inside of the Catedral y Mezquita de Córdoba looks like a mosque...

The inside of the Catedral y Mezquita de Córdoba looks like a mosque…

It is not unusual for a cathedral in Andalusia to be constructed on the foundations of a Moorish Mosque. Indeed, post the Reconquista, the Spanish symbolically reasserted the supremacy of Catholicism by rebuilding mosques as churches. The Moors, as they occupied Iberia, had done the same thing: early Christian churches were recast as mosques when the Moors took control in the 8th Century. (more…)

Spain: Seville, Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See and the Giralda


Looking up inside Seville's Cathedral.

Looking up inside Seville’s Cathedral.

Seville’s cathedral, the Catedral de Santa María de la Sede, is the largest cathedral in the world. It gets this distinction through a technicality: There are two larger churches in the world, the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil and the Vatican’s St Peter’s Basilica, but these structures are not seats of bishops and thus do not qualify as cathedrals. (more…)

December 26, 2015

Portugal: Sintra, Pena National Palace


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Pena National Palace’s story begins in the Middle Ages with the construction of a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pena on a hilltop above the Portuguese town of Sintra. Later, in 1493, King Manuel I ordered the construction of a monastery to house eighteen monks at the site. In 1755 the catastrophic Lisbon earthquake heavily damaged the structure leaving it in ruins. The monastery remained unused for decades until in 1838 King consort Ferdinand II acquired the ruins, the surrounding land, and the nearby Castle of the Moors. (more…)

Portugal: Sintra National Palace


Sintra National Palace

Sintra National Palace

Considered to be the best-preserved medieval Royal Palace in Portugal, the Sintra National Palace is located centrally in the town of Sintra Portugal. As a consequence of its prominent location, Palácio da Vila or “Town Palace”, as the National Palace is called, is the first of Sintra’s numerous attractions that many visitors encounter. (more…)

Portugal: Sintra, Castle of the Moors


Tourists climb the ramparts of Castelo dos Mouros.

Tourists climb the ramparts of Castelo dos Mouros.

A popular day trip from Lisbon Portugal is the Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sintra is known for its 19th-century Romantic architecture. In the woody hills surrounding the old town center are numerous fanciful villas, royal retreats, estates, and castles. Though Sintra is celebrated as the 19th Century playground of the aristocracy, human history in the area dates to much earlier times. Indeed, one of the more popular tourist attractions in the area, the Castle of the Moors, dates to Moors rule in the 8th Century. (more…)

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