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Sights in Valletta, Malta

Valletta is the capital of Malta and is a city with a rich cultural and military history. It is very religious with several churches and a basilica.

  • Barrakka Ta’ Fuq (Upper Barrakka Gardens)—a lookout point with a troupe of cats, greenery, and views of Grand Harbour and the Three Cities across the water; Castile Square
  • John’s Co-Cathedral—an impressive church designed by the architect Gerolamo Cassar between 1573 and 1578 with an interior renovated in the 17th century in a Maltese Baroque style with a painting of John the Baptist by Caravaggio, a long low nave with walls and pillars encrusted with rich ornamentation, marble floors, and a vault with paintings by Mattia Preti that depict events from the life of St. John the Baptist; Triq ir-Repubblika
  • Grand Master’s Palace—the former residence of the Grand Masters of the Knights of St. John and until 2015 the seat of Malta’s parliament is now home to a collection of over 5,000 suits of 16th to 18th century armor and weaponry including crossbows, muskets, swords, and pistols and the State Apartments with five rooms usually opened to the public; Pjazza San Gorg
  • National Museum of Archaeology—a museum housed within the Auberge de Provence that features exhibits that include artifacts such as stone tools dating back to 5200 BC, Phoenician amulets, and a temple model from Ta’Hagrat as well as model prehistoric figurines that were found within the area, pottery from the Bronze Age, animal figurines, and jewelry; Triq-ir-Repubblika
  • Fort St. Elmo and National War Museum—this fort named after the patron saint of mariners was built in 1552 in only four months to guard the harbors on either side of the Sceberras Peninsula and was restored and reopened in 2015 with the addition of the National War Museum which covers Malta’s wartime history from 1565’s Great Siege when Turkish forces attacked the country to World War II with audiovisual displays and artifacts such as a biplane and the George Cross awarded to the country in 1942
  • City Gate—this city gate designed by Renzo Piano resembles the dimensions of the original 1633 entrance to the city giving visitors the feeling of crossing a real bridge with a frame designed to look like knights’ sabers
  • Parliament Building—this building completed by Renzo Piano in 2014 includes two massive stone volumes that are supported by stilts and photovoltaic panels on the roof which generate much of the energy required to ventilate the building and inside is the northern block which contains the parliament chamber and the southern block containing the offices of the members of parliament
  • Lascaris War Rooms—a mechanically ventilated underground tunnel complex that lies 40 meters below the Upper Barrakka Gardens that housed Great Britain’s secret command in Malta during WWII and remained in use until 1977 with a restoration completed in 2009 with the rooms laid out in their original configuration staffed by wax figures; Lascaris Ditch
  • Church of St. Paul’s Shipwreck—a church honoring St. Paul who was shipwrecked in Malta in 60 AD and brought Christianity to the country with a 19th century façade and a 16th century interior with treasures such as a gilded statue of St. Paul carved in Rome in the 1650s, a golden reliquary containing bones from his wrist, and part of the column on which he was killed in Rome; Triq San Pawl
  • Carmelite Basilica—a basilica originally built in 1570 and expanded in the mid-19th century that was rebuilt between 1958-1981 after being damaged in World War II with a 42-meter-high dome and an interior with an early 17th century painting of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and red marble columns; Triq I-Arcisqof
  • Valletta Contemporary—a modern art gallery with a rotating roster of exhibitions and installations from local and international artists; 15-17 Triq il-Levant
  • MUZA—the current incarnation of Malta’s Museum of Fine Arts located in the Auberge d’Italie, a 16th-century building that was once home to Italian members of the Knights of St. John, with historic maps and paintings; Auberge d’Italie
  • Casa Rocca Piccola—a 16th century palazzo that is the family home of the 9th Marquis de Piro who currently lives there and allows visitors to see parts of his luxurious home and the family’s WWII air-raid shelters; 74 Triq ir-Repubblika
  • Malta Postal Museum—a small museum with a permanent exhibition that tells the story of the postal system of the Knights of St. John; 135 Triq-I-Arcisqof
  • Malta Contemporary Art—a space dedicated to photography, painting, mixed media, and other art exhibitions; Triq Felix
  • James’ Cavalier—a 16th century fortification transformed into an arts center with galleries, theater, and a cinema; Castille Place
  • Sacra Infermeria—located in the former 16th century hospital run by the Order of St. John, this museum has an exhibition about medieval medicine; Triq-it-Tramuntana
  • Prospettiva—an installation designed by a Maltese architect to celebrate Valletta’s distinction as the 2018 European City of Culture that merges the city’s five gates into a two-dimensional structure disassembled into planes; Glormu Cassar Avenue
  • Siege Bell Memorial—a memorial erected in 1992 that commemorates those who lost their lives during the war convoys between 1940 and 1943; St. Christopher Bastion
  • Toy Museum—a doll-sized museum with a large private collection of model toys such as tin cars from 1950s Japan, tin toys from 1912 Germany, Matchbox cars, farmyard animals, train sets, and dolls; 222 Triq-ir-Repubblika
  • Triton Fountain—a grand fountain sculpted by Maltese sculptor Vincent Apap in 1959 restored and reopened early in 2018
  • National Library—a library with a classical façade erected by the Knights of St. John with book-lined shelves and occasional temporary exhibitions
  • Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial—a monument to the 2,298 members of the Commonwealth Air Force who died in World War II with no known graves
  • War Memorial—a monument to the 600 Maltese and almost one million British servicemen who died in World War I
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Sights in Vaduz, Liechtenstein

Vaduz is the capital city of the small principality of Liechtenstein. It seems to be a pretty place to explore with some museums, a privately owned castle, a winery, and a history of visitors admiring Liechtenstein’s beautifully designed postal stamps.

  • Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein (Liechtenstein Museum of Art)—a modern art museum with regularly rotating exhibitions of modern art by artists such as Peter Fischli, David Weiss, Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, Bill Bollinger, and Gunter Fruhtrunk as well as a café and bookshop; Stadtle 32
  • Liechtensteinisches Landesmuseum (National Museum)—situated within a former tavern and customshouse, this museum has a collection that describes the geology, history, and folklore of Liechtenstein; Stadtle 43
  • Postmuseum—a small postal museum that depicts the principality’s history as a creator of well-designed limited-edition postage stamps; Stadtle 37
  • Cathedral of St. Florin—a picturesque cathedral with stained glass, statues, and gargoyles
  • Hofkellerei (Wine Cellars) of the Prince of Liechtenstein—a winery with high-quality wines to sample and a wine trail where 12 signs describe the wine’s age through words and illustrations; Furstliche Domane

Sights in Rome–sorry for the delay in posts!

I apologize for the delay in a new post here, do not worry, this one was worth the wait! Below is just a sampling of the many remarkable sights in Rome and Vatican City. Enjoy!

  • Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Augustan Peace)—a monument of the Roman Imperial age that is located within a modern architectural landmark that is a rectangular glass and travertine structure designed by Richard Meier and dates back to 13 BC and was commissioned to celebrate the Pax Romana; Lungotevere in Augusta
  • Arco di Costantino (Arch of Constantine)—a grand arch erected in AD 315 to commemorate Constantine’s victory over Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge with rich marble decorations salvaged from earlier monuments; Piazza del Colosseo

 

  • Arco di Tito (Arch of Titus)—a triumphal arch erected in AD 81 to celebrate the sacking of Jerusalem ten years earlier after the first Jewish-Roman War with a great view of the Colosseum from the arch; east end of Via Sacra

 

  • Basilica di Massenzio (Basilica of Maxentius)—a basilica with only 1/3 of the original structure remaining with great arched vaults that was once a center of judicial and commercial activity; Via Sacra
  • Basilica di San Pietro—the world’s largest church built over the tomb of St. Peter that is the grandest Renaissance achievement covering 18,000 square yards and running 212 yards in length surrounded by a dome rising 435 feet and measuring 138 feet across its base; work was done on the basilica by five major Italian artists: Bramante, Raphael, Peruzzi, Antonio Sangallo the Younger, and Michelangelo and it was fully consecrated and completed in 1626; it includes the balcony where newly elected popes are announced and where popes stand to give their apostolic blessing on feast days and beautiful architectural design inside the basilica; located at Piazza di San Pietro
  • Bioparco—a remodeled eco-friendly zoo with plenty of room for the animals that mostly came from other zoos or were born from animals already in captivity with animals such as big cats, elephants, chimpanzees, and brown bears, a Reptile house, a picnic area, and a farm; Piazzale del Giardino Zoologico 1
  • Sistine Chapel—the renowned chapel originally commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV that Pope Julius II asked Michelangelo to fresco the more than 10,000 square feet ceiling for and its lower walls were decorated by Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Perugino, Signorelli, and Pinturicchio with scenes from the life of Moses on one wall and scenes from the life of Jesus on one wall; over 20 years later Michelangelo was asked by Farnese Pope Paul III to paint the Last Judgment on the wall over the altar whose depiction was considered controversial at the time because of its use of nudity; located at Vatican Palace, enter through the Musei Vaticani
  • Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore—one of seven pilgrimage basilicas in the world founded in 432 AD and the site where Bernini, the famous architect, was buried; Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore 42
  • Pantheon—a temple dedicated to the seven planetary divinities and featuring a beautiful marble interior that is considered to be one of the most impressive Augustan Rome monuments; Piazza della Rotonda
  • Colosseum—one of the best-preserved monuments of ancient Rome that was built to house the more than 50,000 spectators who watched violent gladiator battles; Piazza del Colosseo
  • Galleria Borghese—a museum set in Villa Borghese which has sculptures, reliefs, and ancient mosaics and paintings and sculptures from the 15th to the 18th century with masterpieces by Antonello da Messina, Giovanni Bellini, Raffaello, Tiziano, and Caravaggio among others; Piazzale del Museo Borghese
  • Palatine Hill—the commercial, political, and religious center of ancient Rome which features the Arch of Septimus Severus, Temple of Saturn, Arch of Titus, and House of the Vestals; Piazza Santa Maria Nova
  • Trevi Fountain—one of the most visited sites in Rome that has a story that whoever throws a coin into the fountain will someday return to Rome; Piazza di Trevi
  • Piazza Navona—a Baroque square that features Bernini’s Fountain of Rivers at its Center that faces Borromini’s church, Sant’ Agnese in Agone
  • Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo—a museum divided into four sections that depicts the history of Castel Sant’Angelo through vintage prints and scenic views; Lungotevere Castello 50
  • Welcome to Rome—a multimedia experience that takes visitors through the history of Rome by way of video projections on the walls, ceilings, and floor accompanied by a narrator and four exhibitions that immerse visitors in the history of Rome; Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 203
  • Estasi di Santa Teresa—a church known for its frescoes and Bernini’s sculptures and artwork; Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria
  • Centro Storico—a section of Rome with narrow streets that provide great examples of Roman classical and Baroque architecture
  • Palazzo Colonna-Galleria Colonna—a Baroque palace with an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and furniture from the 14th to 18th centuries; Via della Pilotta 17
  • Abbazia di San Paolo Fuori le Mura—a basilica built under the edict of Constantine consecrated by Pope Sylvester in 324 AD and continually restored and enlarged between 384 and 395 AD with Pietro Cavallini’s mosaics in the façade, the Vassalleto family’s cloister, Arnolfo di Cambio’s Gothic baldachin, and the candeladrum for the Paschal candle attributed to Nicola d’Angelo and Pietro Vassaletto and unfortunately was destroyed in a fire in 1823 but reconstructed with the elements that had survived the fire; Via Ostiense 186
  • Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano—the first Christian church that belongs to the Vatican with beautiful artwork inside; Piazza di Porta San Giovanni 4
  • Mausoleo di Santa Costanza—a church that was originally built as a mausoleum in the 4th century for Costanza, son of Constantine, and eventually became first a baptistery and then a church; Via Nomentana 349
  • Museo Nazionale Romano-Palazzo Massimo alle Terme—a palazzo built on the ruins of the Domitian theater with beautiful mosaics and Roman statuary; Largo di Villa Peretti 67
  • Spanish Steps—an elegant square surrounded by 18th century buildings and flowers that adorn the steps by Francesco de Sanctis consisting of 12 flights of varying width which descend to the Franciscan Church of Trinita dei Monti; Piazza di Spagna
  • Palazzo Doria Pamphilj—a beautiful palace owned by the Doria family that has paintings by artists such as Caravaggio, Titian, Raphael, and Velasquez; Via del Corso 305
  • Domus Aurea—the former imperial estate of Nero built in 64 AD that has a series of pavilions and is set within a spacious garden with an artificial lake in the center; Via della Domus Aurea
  • Vatican Necropolis—an ancient Roman necropolis with chambers 10-15 feet wide that have frescoes and mosaics; Piazza San Pietro, beneath St. Peter’s Basilica
  • Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia—a 16th century palace that is home to ancient Roman and Etruscan sculpture and artifacts; Piazza di Villa Giulia
  • Chiesa di Santa Maria del Popolo—a Renaissance church that has Baroque decorations and 18th and 19th century monuments; Piazza del Popolo 12
  • Colle del Gianicolo—a beautiful hill known for its great views of the city; Via Garibaldi, Salita di Sant’Onofrio
  • Case Romane del Celio—an ancient Roman apartment block converted into a museum in 2002 featuring an underground series of rooms that include painted figures, the confession altar of St. John and St. Paul who were executed under the edict of Julian the Apostate, and the antiquarium which has amphorae, pots, and ancient Roman bricks; Clivio di Scauro
  • Castel Sant’Angelo—one of Rome’s most prominent landmarks that was originally built as a mausoleum for the emperor Hadrian and was completed around AD 140 initially consisting of a large square base topped by a marble cylinder upon which a ring of cypress trees was planted before it became a fortress for popes to take refuge during wars and sieges; it now includes a chamber where Hadrian’s ashes were kept, a courtyard that is the resting place of stone cannonballs, and the marble angel that stood above the castle; Lungotevere Castello 50
  • Catacombe di San Sebastiano (Catacombs of St. Sebastian)—a 4th century church named after the saint who was buried in the catacomb that burrows underground on four different levels and was the only early Christian cemetery to remain accessible during the Middle Ages as well as a site where well preserved pagan mausoleums were found in the early 20th century; Via Appia Antica 136
  • Centrale Montemartini—Rome’s first electricity plant that was reopened as a museum in 2005 and is home to Roman sculptures and mosaics set against machinery and pipes that are organized by the area where the pieces were found with a highlight of the collection being the 4th century AD mosaic of a hunting scene with a horseman driving his sword into a boar; Via Ostiense 106
  • Crypta Balbi—the fourth portion of the collections of the Museo Nazionale Romano that depicts several periods of Roman history with well-lit exhibits and written explanations; Via delle Botteghe Oscure 31
  • Fontana Della Barcaccia (Leaky Boat Fountain)—a half-sunken boat powered by Rome’s only surviving ancient aqueduct that was designed as a solution to low water pressure by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and his father, Pietro, under the commission of Barberini Pope Urban VIII; Piazza di Spagna
  • Fontana delle Tartarughe—a 16th century fountain designed by Giacomo della Porta in 1581 and sculpted by Taddeo Landini featuring four bronze boys holding onto a dolphin spouting water into a shell and turtles in their hands drinking from the upper basin; Piazza Mattei
  • Gagosian Gallery—a contemporary art gallery that opened in a former bank in 2007 that has been home to temporary exhibitions by major artists such as Cy Twombly, Damien Hirst, and Jeff Koons; Via Francesco Crispi 16
  • Galleria d’ Arte Moderna—Rome’s modern art gallery situated within the 18th century Convent of the Discalced Carmelites and featuring Roman 19th and 20th century paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures including pieces by Giorgio de Chirico, Gino Severini, Scipione, Antonio Donghi, and Giacomo Manzu as well as rotating exhibits; Via Francesco Crispi 24
  • Giardini Vaticani (Vatican Gardens)—a 40-acre garden landscape on the Vatican hill with a formal Italian garden, a French flower garden, an English garden, and a small forest as well as a museum of coins and stamps made in the Vatican
  • Il Gesu—the mother church of the Jesuits that is considered to be the first fully Baroque church with a beautiful interior that was not decorated until 1684 with gold, lapis lazuli, gold and precious marbles, and a ceiling painted by Baciccia; Piazza del Ges, off Via del Plebiscito
  • Le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini—an excavated ruin of two upscale urban homes that have well-preserved mosaics, inlaid marble floors, and staircases with multimedia displays and a guided voice that narrates visitors through the rooms pointing out interesting sights such as the heating system for the private baths, statue fragments, and porcelain; Via Foro Traiano 85
  • MAXXI—Museo Nazionale Delle Arti del XXI Secolo (National Museum of 21st Century Arts)—Italy’s first national museum devoted to contemporary art and architecture with glass ceilings and steel staircases and a rotating permanent collection including pieces by artists such as Andy Warhol, Francesco Clemente, and Gerhard Richter; Via Guido Reni 4
  • Musei Capitolini—the world’s first public museum that features Roman art from ancient times to the Baroque period with a bronze sculpture of Marcus Aurelius, the ruins of the Temple of Jupiter, a painting gallery with Baroque masterpieces by Caravaggio and other artists, and busts of Roman emperors among other pieces; Piazza del Campidoglio
  • Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums)—one of the largest museums in the world situated in Vatican City with highlights of the collection including an ancient sculpture collection which includes selections from Pope Julius II’s private art collection; statuary fragments; the Raphael Rooms where Pope Julius II moved into in 1507 that feature Raphael’s frescoes; and the picture gallery with primarily religious paintings arranged in chronological order; Viale Vaticano near intersection with Via Leone IV
  • Museo Napoleonico—a small museum in the Palazzo Primoli with a collection of Napoleon memorabilia including a bust by Canova of the general’s sister, Pauline Borghese; Palazzo Primoli, Piazza di Ponte Umberto I
  • Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia—the world’s most renowned collection of Etruscan art and artifacts housed in Villa Giulia which was built around 1551 for Pope Julius III and has a sunken sculpture garden, terra cotta statues such as the Apollo of Veio and the Sarcophagus of the Wedded Couple, and beautiful Etruscan jewelry; Piazzale Villa Giulia 9
  • Museo Palatino—a museum that depicts the history of Palatine Hill from Archaic times with models of early villages to Roman times with a video reconstruction of the hill on the ground floor, a collection of colored stones used in the decorations of the palace, terra-cotta moldings and sculptural decorations from various temples, and a selection of imperial portraits including one of Nero; northwest crest of Palatine Hill
  • Palazzo Altemps—part of the Museo Nazionale Romano, this palazzo contains some of the finest ancient Roman statues in the world with a restored interior that showcases the collection of the Ludovisi family and exhibits that explain in English how and where Renaissance sculptors added missing pieces to classical works; Piazza Sant’Apollinare 46
  • Palazzo Barberini and Galleria Nazionale D’Arte Antica—one of Rome’s most magnificent Roman Baroque landmarks with a façade designed by Carlo Maderno and Gianlorenzo Bernini with a staircase leading up to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica whose collection includes Raphael’s La Fornarina, Guido Reni’s Beatrice Cenci beheaded in Rome for patricide in 1599, and Caravaggio’s Judith and Holofernes; the palace’s Gran Salone, a large ballroom with a ceiling painted in 1630 by Roman Baroque master Pietro da Cortona depicting the Glorification of Urban VIII’s Reign; Via Barberini 18
  • Palazzo Colonna—a palazzo that is considered to be Rome’s grandest private palazzo built by one of the richest families in Rome that is still home to some members of the Colonna family and features a family picture gallery which has the Sala Grande, an ancient red marble column, and a ceiling fresco of the Battle of Lepanto painted by Giovanni Coli and Filippo Gherardi in 1675; Via della Pilotta 17
  • Palazzo Doria Pamphilj—a family palace that has a graceful façade and galleries containing works by Velasquez and Caravaggio including John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene, and Rest on the Flight to Egypt, and Velasquez’s Pope Innocent X considered by some historians to be one of the greatest portraits ever painted, and a Bernini bust of the pope; Via del Corso 305
  • Palazzo Farnese—the most spectacular Renaissance palace in Rome that is known for its Galleria Carracci whose ceiling epitomizes the essence of the Baroque age and contains works by Michelangelo in the frieze decorations and main window overlooking the piazza; French Embassy, Servizio Culturale, Piazza Farnese 67
  • Palazzo Massimo Alle Terme—part of the Museo Nazionale Romano, this museum houses the ancient treasures of the archaeological collection and the coin collection with highlights such as the Dying Niobid and the Discobolus Lancelloti and ancient frescoes on display on the top floor to recreate the appearances of the houses they once decorated; Largo Villa Peretti 1
  • Palazzo Mattei di Glove—an opulent palazzo decorated in a turn of the 17th century style and designed by Carlo Maderno with a collection of sculpted busts, heroic statues, sculpted reliefs, and Paleo-Christian epigrams collected by Marchese Asdrubale Mattei; Via Michelangelo Caetani 32
  • Piazza del Popolo—a Roman landmark with an obelisk and twin churches that marks what was for centuries the northern entrance to the city and is named after the 15th century church of Santa Maria del Popolo which is located on the right side of the Porta del Popolo, the city gate, and is now a popular pedestrian area that has been the site of political rallies and a major New Year’s Eve alfresco party
  • Piazza di San Pietro (St. Peter’s Square)—one of Bernini’s grandest masterpieces where the pope makes his public appearances and is surrounded by a pair of quadruple colonnades topped with 140 statues of saints and martyrs and an 85-foot-high Egyptian obelisk brought to Rome by Caligula in AD 37 and moved to its current location by Pope Sixtus V in 1586; west end of Via della Conciliazione
  • Pincio—a beautiful garden with off-white marble busts of Italian Risorgimento heroes and artists along the pathway; Piazzale Napoleone 1
  • Portico d’Ottavia—situated over the Jewish Ghetto, this portico enclosure with few surviving columns is picturesque with the old church of Sant’Angelo in Pescheria built into its ruins; Via Tribuna di Campitelli 6
  • San Carlo Alle Quattro Fontane—a church designed by Borromini that is situated within a space no larger than the base of one of the piers of St. Peter’s Basilica with a coffered dome, a double-S curved façade, and subdued white stucco interior with a Baroque cloister; Via del Quirinale 23
  • San Clemente—an archaeological site that is the home of a 12th century church built over a 2nd century pagan temple to the god Mithras and 1st century Roman apartments; the upper church has an apse with a 12th century mosaic depicting Jesus on a cross that turns into a living tree and early Christian symbols decorating the 4th century marble choir screens; the 4th century church was used until 1084 when it was damaged beyond repair during a siege of the area by Norman prince Robert Guiscard but still has 11th century frescoes that show scenes from the life of St. Clement; Via San Giovanni in Laterano 108
  • San Giovanni in Laterano—the main cathedral in Rome that was built by Emperor Constantine 10 years before he built the church dedicated to Peter and is the ecclesiastical seat of the Pope with the current incarnation designed in the 16th and 17th century in a Baroque style by Borromini; Piazza di Porta San Giovanni
  • San Pietro in Vincoli—Michelangelo’s Moses was carved for this church that was designed to be the tomb of Pope Julius II but only three of the dozens of commissioned statues had been completed when Julius died and his successor abandoned the project; the church has the set of chains that bound St. Peter during his imprisonment by the Romans in Jerusalem and Rome in a bronze and crystal urn under the main altar; Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli
  • The Campidoglio—this plaza was transformed from an unkempt hill into a third palace with Renaissance style facades and a grand paved piazza that features newly excavated ancient sculptures installed in the palaces; Piazza di Campidoglio
  • Villa Borghese—Rome’s Central Park that was designed in its current form at the end of the 18th century in an 18th century English style by Scottish painter Jacob More with highlights including an amphitheater, Piazza di Siena, a botanical garden, the Temple of Aesculapius, Bioparco zoo, and the Villa Giulia museum as well as bikes, in-line skating, electric scooter rental concessions, and a children’s movie theater

 

 

Sights in Dublin

Dublin is a lively capital with many noteworthy sights such as Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Phoenix Park, and Merrion Square. It is an old city that is certainly worth taking a trip to although you may need a week to see everything the city has to offer its visitors.

  • Baily Lighthouse—a lighthouse built in 1814 that provides great views across the Irish Sea and the parking lot above the lighthouse looks out over the bay and Dublin; Howth Summit
  • Bank of Ireland—located across the street from the west façade of Trinity College is this striking building that was formerly the home of the Irish Parliament and has a pedimented portico; inside is the original House of Lords with an oak-panel nave, a 1,233 drop Waterford glass chandelier, and tapestries that depict the battle of the Boyne and the Siege of Derry; 2 College Green
  • Chester Beatty Library—deemed a library but actually more like a museum, this collection assembled by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty is considered to be one of the most significant collections of Islamic, Early Christian, and Far Eastern art in the Western world with exhibits including clay tablets from Babylon that date back to 2700 BC, Japanese wood-block prints, Chinese jade books, early papyrus bibles, and Turkish and Persian paintings with a second floor dedicated to the major world religions that includes 250 manuscripts of the Koran from across the Muslim world and an early Gospel; Castle Street
  • Christ Church Cathedral—a Dublin landmark that was first built in 1172 by Strongbow, a Norman baron and conqueror of Dublin from England and finished constructed in 1222; major reconstruction occurred in the late 19th century due to the deterioration of the church and added a bridge that connected the cathedral to the old Synod Hall which is now home to a Viking multimedia exhibition called Dublinia; the crypt has 12th and 13th century vaults and is Dublin’s oldest surviving structure and the most noteworthy feature of the cathedral with an exhibition called “The Treasures of Christ Church” that has manuscripts, various historic artifacts, and a tabernacle used when King James II was a worshipper; Christ Church Place and Winetavern Street
  • City Hall—this building that was once the Royal Exchange is at the southwestern corner of Temple Bar and is now the seat of Dublin Corporation, the governing body of the city, that was designed by Thomas Cooley with 12 columns that encircle a central rotunda and 12 frescoes that show Dublin legends and ancient Irish historical scenes and inside is a multimedia exhibition that features artifacts, kiosks, graphics, and audiovisual presentations that trace the evolution of Dublin; Dame Street
  • Custom House—a beautiful Georgian building that was built by James Gandon, an English architect, between 1781 and 1791 with a statue of Commerce atop the copper dome and statues based on allegories on the main façade and a visitor center that recounts the history of the building and the life of Gandon; Custom House Quay
  • Dublin Castle—the seat and symbol of British rule of Ireland for over 700 years and is used today for Irish and European Union governmental purposes with a large Great Courtyard that allegedly is the site of the Black Pool (Dubh Linn) from which Dublin got its name; the Record Tower which is the largest remaining relic of the original Norman buildings built by King John between 1208 and 1220; the clock tower building that houses the Chester Beatty Library; and the State Apartments which are now used by the president of Ireland to host visiting heads of state and EU ministers; Castle Street
  • Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane—Francis Bacon’s studio that was reconstructed exactly as the artist left it upon his death and has a beautiful façade with two half-moon arcades and was built as a town house for the Earl of Charlemont in 1762 and is now an art gallery named after sir Hugh Lane, a nephew of Lady Gregory, W.B Yeats’s aristocratic patron, who collected impressionist and 19th century Irish and Anglo-Irish works; Parnell Square North
  • Dublin Writers Museum—a museum situated within a restored 18th century town house on the north side of Parnell Square that features the Gallery of Writers which includes rare manuscripts, diaries, posters, letters, limited and first editions, photographs, and other mementos and a room dedicated to children’s literature; 18 Parnell Square North
  • Dublin Zoo—founded in 1830 and the third-oldest public zoo in the world that went through a major renovation completed in 2007 and is home to animals from tropical climates, Arctic species that swim in lakes near the Reptile House, lions, an African Plains section, a safari, and a primate area; Phoenix Park
  • Farmleigh—a 78-acre Edwardian estate located northwest of Phoenix Park that includes Farmleigh House which has antique furnishings and historic art and accommodates visiting dignitaries; a working farm; walled and sunken gardens; picnic grounds; an organic food market; and a restaurant in the boathouse; Castleknock
  • GAA Museum—the main stadium and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association as well as a museum that explains the four Gaelic games (hurling, football, camogie, and handball) and has high-tech displays that allow visitors to learn about the history and highlights of the games; St. Joseph’s Avenue, Croke Park Stadium
  • Gallery of Photography—the premier photography gallery in Dublin with a permanent collection of early 20th century Irish photography and monthly exhibitions of works by modern Irish and international photographers; Meeting House Square South
  • Garden of Remembrance—a garden in Parnell Square that honors those who died fighting for Ireland’s freedom and at the entrance has a large plaza with steps that lead down to the fountain area where there is a swan sculpture; Parnell Square
  • General Post Office—a rebuilt post office building with a long history that dates back to the early 19th century when it was built by the British as a communications center and was used by Irish rebels in 1916 during the Easter Rising when Irish Republican forces stormed the building and issued the Proclamation of the Irish Republic; it was rebuilt and reopened in 1929 becoming a working post office in 1929; O’Connell Street
  • Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum—the most well-known burial ground in Dublin that is the site of the graves of many Irish leaders including Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins as well as the late 19th century poet Gerard Manley Hopkins and Daniel O’Connell who helped fight for Catholic emancipation which was achieved in 1829 and also includes a museum with a “City of the Dead” permanent exhibition that delves into the burial practices and religious beliefs of the 1.5 million people buried in Glasnevin and a gallery with exhibits on significant historical figures buried there; Glasnevin
  • Guinness Storehouse—Ireland’s top brewery founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759 and once the largest stout-producing brewery in the world that covers a 60-acre area west of Christ Church Cathedral and is the most popular tourist destination in Dublin with a museum housed in a 1904 cast-iron and brick warehouse spread out over six floors built around a central glass atrium shaped like a giant pint glass; under the glass floor of the lobby is Arthur Guinness’s original lease for the site for 9,000 years and the exhibition in the museum explains the brewing process and its history with antique presses and vats; a glimpse into bottle and can design over the years; a history of the Guinness family; an archive of Guinness advertisements; and a chance to pull a perfect pint with the main attraction being the top-floor Gravity Bar with 360-degree floor to ceiling glass walls that provide a great view out over the city; St. James’ Gate
  • Irish Jewish Museum—a museum opened in 1985 by Israeli president Chaim Herzog and dedicated to the European Jews who fled pogroms of Eastern Europe to Ireland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that features a restored synagogue and a display of photographs, letters, and personal memorabilia from Dublin’s most prominent Jewish families as well as exhibits that explore the Jewish presence in Ireland dating back to 1067 and references to Jews in Ulysses; 3-4 Walworth Road
  • Irish Museum of Modern Art—situated within the Royal Hospital Kilmainham this art museum focuses on the work of modern Irish artists, has international exhibitions, displays works by non-Irish artists such as Picasso and Miro in addition to more current artists like Damian Hirst, and hosts touring shows from major European museums; Kilmainham La
  • Iveagh Gardens—a garden designed in 1865 by Ninian Niven in an “English landscape” style that has a rustic grotto and cascade, sunken lawns with fountains, a blooming rosarium, and wooded areas as well as a waterfall with rocks from each of Ireland’s 32 counties; Clonmel Street
  • James Joyce Centre—a center devoted to James Joyce housed in a restored 18th century Georgian townhouse that was once the dancing academy of Professor Denis J. Maginni (a figure in Ulysses, just one of Joyce’s celebrated novels), and features an extensive library and archives, exhibition rooms, a bookstore, and a café with the collection including letters from Beckett, Joyce’s guitar and cane, and an edition of Ulysses illustrated by Matisse; 35 North Great George’s Street
  • Little Museum of Dublin—an eclectic museum with a singular purpose to tell the history of Dublin in the last hundred years through objects and stories from residents with a collection including art, photography, ads, letters, objects, and other items relating to life in Dublin since 1900; 15 Stephen’s Green
  • Malahide Castle—a castle that was occupied by the Talbot family from 1185 to 1976 when it was sold to the County Council and has a large expanse of parkland around the castle with over 5,000 different species of trees and shrubs clearly labeled, a three-story tower house dating back to the 12th century, walled gardens, and the only medieval great hall in Ireland kept in its original form; an addition includes a visitor center, Avoca restaurant, and a shop; 6 miles north of Howth on Coast Road, Malahide
  • Marino Casino—an architectural landmark built between 1762 and 1771 from a plan by Sir William Chambers that has a china-closet boudoir, a huge golden sunset in the ceiling of the main drawing room, and the signs of the zodiac in the ceiling of the bijou library, and a mysterious amount of rooms; Malahide Road, Marino
  • Marsh’s Library—Ireland’s first public library with a collection of 250 manuscripts and 25,000 books from the 15th to the 18th centuries that has been restored with attention to its original architectural details; St. Patrick’s Close off Patrick Street
  • Merrion Square—a beautiful square lined on three sides by well-preserved Georgian townhouses and on the west side are Leinster House, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Gallery; also, in the square are flower gardens, evergreen grounds with sculptures and winding paths, and the south side which has the Church of Ireland St. Stephen’s Church
  • National Botanic Gardens—this botanic garden dates back to 1795 and has more than 20,000 varieties of plants, a rose garden, and a vegetable garden as well as the Curvilinear Range that are 400-foot-long greenhouses designed and built by a Dublin ironmaster, Richard Turner, between 1843 and 1869; Glasnevin Road
  • National Gallery of Ireland—an art museum that has over 2,500 paintings and 10,000 other works including pieces by Caravaggio, Van Gogh, and Vermeer with highlights that include a major collection of paintings by Irish artists from the 17th to 20th centuries with works by Roderic O’Conor, Sir William Orpen, and William Leech and a Yeats Museum section with works by members of the Yeats family including pieces by Jack B. Yeats, brother of W.B. Yeats, and the most well-known Irish painter of the 20th century; Merrion Square West
  • National Library—a library that includes works by W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, and Seamus Heaney and features first editions of every major Irish writer including works by Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, and James Joyce, and almost every book ever published in Ireland housed within the library along with a great selection of old maps and a large collection of Irish newspapers and magazines; Kildare Street
  • National Library Photographic Archive—a significant photographic resource with regular exhibitions and a collection that has 600,000 photographs many of which are Irish and provide a visual history of Ireland; Meeting House Square
  • National Museum of Archaeology—this museum which is one of four branches of the National Museum of Ireland has a vast collection of Irish artifacts dating from 7000 BC to the present with the largest collection of Celtic antiquities in the world including gold jewelry, carved stones, bronze tools, and weapons; the Treasury permanent collection with the 8th century Ardagh Chalice, a two-handled silver cup with gold filigree decoration, the bronze St. Patrick’s Bell, the oldest surviving example of Irish metalwork (5th-8th century), the 8th century Tara Brooch made of white bronze, amber, and glass, and the 12th century jewel-encrusted Cross of Cong; an exhibit on Vikings with a life-size Viking skeleton, swords, leather works recovered in Dublin and surrounding areas, and a replica Viking boat; location: Kildare St. Annex 7-9, Merrion Row
  • National Museum of Decorative Arts and History—the National Museum’s large collection of glass, silver, furniture, and other decorative arts located within the Collins Barracks named after the assassinated Irish Republican leader, Michael Collins, and featuring one of the best collections of Irish silver in the world and Irish period furniture; Benburb Street
  • National Museum of Natural History—one of the four branches of the National Museum that is Victorian in nature with an Irish room that features skeletons of the extinct giant Irish elk; the International Animals collection with a 65-foot whale skeleton suspended from the roof; and the Blaschka Collection with detailed glass models of marine creatures; Merrion Street
  • National Transport Museum of Ireland—a museum that houses a tram that once traveled from the railway station in Howth over Howth Summit and back to the station and other vehicles such as horse-drawn bakery vans; Heritage Depot, Howth Demense
  • National Wax Museum—an engaging museum with famous figures from Irish history and literature in wax form, figures from children’s cartoons, and movie characters as well as a green-screen room where music videos can be recorded; The Amoury, Foster Place
  • Newbridge House and Farm—a stately Irish home built between 1740 and 1760 for Charles Cobbe, archbishop of Dublin, that is still home to the Cobbe family although the municipal government took over the house in 1985 and features the Red Drawing Room which is Ireland’s most luxurious 18th-century salon with Old Master paintings, Corinthian columns, and a rococo-style plaster ceiling and 366 acres of parkland, a restored 18th century animal farm, and a well-regarded coffee shop; Donabate, 5 miles north of Malahide, signposted from N1
  • 29—a refurbished home dating back to 1794 that is in line with the lifestyle of the middle class in Dublin between 1790 and 1820 with period furniture, paintings, carpets, curtains, paint, wallpapers, and bell pulls; 29 Fitzwilliam Street
  • Phoenix Park—Europe’s largest public park that extends about 3 miles along the Liffey’s north bank and has 1,752 acres of green lawns, woods, lakes, and playing fields with old-fashioned gas lamps lining both sides of Chesterfield Avenue, the main artery of the park, Victorian-era tea rooms, a flower garden, a visitor center, a café, and a walled garden
  • Royal Hospital Kilmainham—the most important 17th century building in Ireland that was commissioned as a hospice for disabled and veteran soldiers and completed in 1684 surviving into the 1920s as a hospital but then falling into disrepair until its renovation and includes a beautiful Baroque chapel with unique plasterwork ceiling and wood carvings and the Irish Museum of Modern Art; Kilmainham Lane
  • Science Gallery—a family-friendly museum/gallery with rotating exhibitions that allow art and science to interact with hands-on experiments and a sister shop on a neighboring street with a walk-in area where visitors can join in workshops on a variety of topics from robotics to clockmaking; Pearse Street
  • Patrick’s Cathedral—the largest cathedral in Dublin and the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland which was built in honor of Ireland’s patron saint and dedicated in 1192 in an early English Gothic style; it is the longest church in the country at 305 feet and has the Choir of St. Patrick’s with medieval banners and the tomb of Jonathan Swift, the most famous of St. Patrick’s deans, who held office from 1713 to 1745, the 17th century Boyle Monument with many painted figures of family members, and the monument to Turlough O’Carolan, one of the country’s finest harpists; located on Patrick Street
  • Stephen’s Green—a year-round 27-acre square that was once a private park and renovated in 1880 under the patronage of Sir Arthur Guinness and includes flower gardens; formal lawns; a Victorian bandstand; an ornamental lake with waterfowl; and winding paths with many statues throughout the park including a memorial to W.B. Yeats and another to James Joyce
  • The Ark—a children’s cultural center with creative activities such as music, poetry readings, film, dance, painting, interactive exhibitions, and other activities; 11a Eustace Street
  • The Old Library and the Book of Kells—home to Ireland’s largest collection of books and manuscripts with its most treasured work, the Book of Kells, which is considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces of early Christian art dating back to the 9th century and bound in four volumes in 1953; other treasures in the library are the Long Room which is the main room of the library with 200,000 of the 3 million volumes in Trinity College’s collection, a series of marble busts including one of Jonathan Swift, and the carved Royal Arms of Queen Elizabeth I (the only surviving relic of the original college buildings; Front Square, Trinity College
  • Trinity College—Ireland’s oldest and most well-known college founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I that has had a host of famous alumni including Jonathan Swift; Oscar Wilde; Bram Stoker; and Samuel Beckett and is spread out over 40 acres with many of the buildings built in the 18th and early 19th centuries including the West Front which has a classical pedimented portico in the Corinthian style, faces College Green, and is across from the Bank of Ireland; a cobblestone quadrangle called Parliament Square usually referred to as Front Square; Examination Hall which dates back to the mid-1780s and has an interior designed by Michael Stapleton and an organ recovered from an 18th century Spanish ship and an oak chandelier from the old House of Commons; and a bell tower erected in 1853 that is at the center of the square
  • Wall of Fame—the front wall of the Button Factory music venue that has a huge mural dedicated to major Irish rock musicians such as U2, Sinead O’Connor, and Shane McGowan; Curved Street

Shopping in Reykjavik

Reykjavik does not have a wealth of shops to explore but the ones that the city does have  seem interesting and unique.

  • 12 Tonar—both a record shop and an independent record label that has a café and sells music by popular Icelandic artists such as Bjork, Agent Fresco, FM Belfast, and Dikta; Skolavoraustigur 15
  • Anna Maria Design—a workshop and store that sells a variety of jewelry for men and women made from materials that include silver, gold, and Icelandic stones; Skolavoraustigur 3
  • Gallery Fold—an art gallery that has a large selection of prints, drawings, paintings, and sculptures by modern Icelandic artists and older Icelandic art; Rauaararstigur 12-14
  • Handprjonassambandid—the Handknitting Association of Iceland’s outlet selling hand-knit items of various kinds; Skolavoraustigur 19
  • Islandia—a store that sells woolen items, gifts, and souvenirs; Kringlan Mall
  • JS Watch Co—the official watch of the Icelandic Coast Guard and a celebrity favorite and a watchmaker that sells nicely crafted timepieces; Laugavegur 62
  • Kormakur and Skjoldur—a men’s store that sells men’s clothing and hair accessories with brands such as Bertie and Wooster’s of London which sells threads, cuff links, and designer clothing; Harris Tweed; and Ben Sherman; Laugavegur 59
  • Kringlan Mall—a mall with a variety of decent clothing stores, a movie theater, and souvenir shops; Kringlun 4-12
  • Kronkron—owned by an Icelandic couple who are known for their designer footwear in all sorts of colors and silk clothing; Laugavegur 63b
  • Lucky Records—a record store that has the largest collection of vintage and contemporary vinyl in Iceland and also has performances by underground and new alternative bands; Rauaararstigur 10
  • Smaralind—one of Iceland’s two major shopping malls located in Kopavogur, a neighboring community, that has the British-based Debenhams and Iceland’s hypermarket chain store, Hagkaup; Hagasmara 1

Sights in Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and is a city with interesting attractions, museums, historic buildings, and landmarks such as Mt. Esja. My cousin and her husband went to Iceland and loved it and I think I could see  myself liking it as well.

  • Alpingishus (Parliament House)—one of the country’s oldest stone buildings built from 1880-1881 and home to the oldest representative parliament in the world with its first session in AD 930 with a visitor’s gallery to view parliamentary proceedings; Austurovollur Square
  • Aurora Reykjavik—a local attraction with technological simulations of the intensity and color spectrum of the auroras, a high-definition movie of the northern lights in action, and a practice booth with detailed instructions on how to successfully photograph the northern lights; Grandagaur 2
  • Fjolskyldugardurinn Family Park (Family Park)—located next to Laugardalur Park, this amusement park has rides and games such as Crazy Bikes, a driving school with miniature traffic lights, and a scale model of a Viking ship; Fjolskyldugardurinn
  • Grasagardur Botanic Garden—a botanic garden in Laugardalur Park with a large collection of native and exotic plants; Laugardalur
  • Guido Van Helten Mural—the works of Australian-born artist, Guido Van Helten, can be seen throughout Iceland but his most noteworthy are those painted on the walls of an old theater building in the Grandi Harbor area of the city featuring characters from a 1961 production of Sartre’s play No Exit; Seljavegur 2
  • Hallgrimskirkja (Hallgrimur’s Church)—a church built over the course of forty years and completed in 1986 that was named after the 17th century hymn writer, Hallgrimur Petursson, and has a concrete façade that reminds viewers of organ pipes and basalt formations seen throughout Iceland and in front has a statue of Leifur Eiriksson (Leif Erikson) who discovered Iceland; at top of Skolavoraustigur
  • Kjarvalsstadir—a modern building that has a large permanent collection dedicated to the life and works of Johannes Sveinsson Kjarval, a well-regarded Icelandic landscape painter, and rotating temporary exhibitions with works by local and international artists; Flokagata
  • Listasafn—the Reykjavik Art Museum—a former warehouse of the Port of Reykjavik that is now the city’s art museum with six galleries on two floors with a permanent collection with a large number of pieces donated by modern Icelandic artist Erro and regular temporary exhibitions; Tryggvagata 17
  • Esja—one of the most recognizable landmarks in Reykjavik with a network of winding trails and a great view from the top of the mountain
  • Reykjavik Maritime Museum—housed in an old fish factory, this museum has an exhibition on Icelandic fisheries, trading vessels, and a Coastal Guard vessel to explore; Grandargarai 8
  • Whales of Iceland—an exhibition opened in spring 2015 that features 23 different species of whales in a great pod of life-size models including blue whales, fin whales, humpbacks, and belugas and provides information on supporting whale tourism instead of whale hunting; Fiskisloa 23-25
  • Arbaejarsafn—an outdoor municipal museum that includes 19th and 20th century houses furnished with old-fashioned furnishings and displayed inside are authentic household utensils and tools for cottage industries and farming; Artunsblettur, Kistuhyl 4
  • Asmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum—a gallery, studio, and garden that has the original sculptures of Asmundur Sveinsson that depict working people, myths, and folktale episodes; Sigtun 105
  • Pjodminjasafn (National Museum)—a museum with Viking artifacts, silverwork, wood carvings, whalebone carvings, maritime objects, historic textiles, jewelry, and crafts; Suaurgata 41

Sights in Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is the capital city of Hungary and like many European cities is steeped in history with a Communist and royal past. It has interesting sights to explore and unique attractions.

  • Aquincum—a complex that consists of the reconstructed remains of a Roman settlement that can be dated back to the first century AD with excavations uncovering artifacts such as a gymnasium and central heating system along with ruins of two baths and a shrine once run by the cult of Mithras; a museum on the site has notable archaeological discoveries such as ceramics, a red marble sarcophagus showing a triton and flying Eros on one side and Telesphorus, the angel of death, on the other, Roman board games, interactive videogames, and a reconstructed Roman musical organ in the basement level; District III, Szentendrei ut 135
  • Budapesti Allat-Es-Novenykert (Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden)—a renovated zoo and botanical garden that began renovations in the late 1990s and is still undergoing renovations but the upgrades add to its appeal; the zoo has a monkey house, elephant pavilion decorated with Zsolnay majolica and glazed ceramic animals, and other animals; District XIV, Varosliget, Allatkerti korut 6-12
  • Citadella—a fortress atop a hill that has great views of Budapest and has a graphic exhibition with relics of Budapest’s 2,000-year-old history and a WWII bunker exhibition; District XI, Citadella setany
  • Gozsdu Udvar (Gozsdu Courtyard)—a series of connected courtyards filled with restaurants, cafes, and bars that has painters selling their works on Tuesday and Thursday and on weekends is home to a bustling marketplace with jewelry, textiles, and other unique items for sale; District VII, Kiraly utca 13
  • Gyermekvasut (Children’s Railway)—a 7-mile-long railway operated mainly by children runs from Szechnyi-hegy to Huvosvolgy with great views along the route; District XII, Szilagyi Erzsebet fasor and Pasareti ut
  • Hadtorteneti Muzeum (Museum of Military History)—a museum situated in the former barracks on the northwestern corner of Kapisztran ter that has cannonballs lodged in its walls and exhibits that include collections of uniforms and military regalia that trace Hungary’s history from the Magyar conquest in the 9th century through Ottoman rule to the mid-20th century; District I, Toth Arpad setany 40
  • Halaszbastya (Fishermen’s Bastion)—a neo-Romanesque porch that looks out over the Danube and Pest rivers and is a cluster of white stone towers, arches, and columns above a bronze statue of St. Stephen, Hungary’s first king, and has merchants selling souvenirs and crafts and musicians; District I, East of Szentharomsag ter
  • Holocaust Emlekkozpont (Holocaust Memorial Center)—Hungary’s first major center for Holocaust research with a stone façade and two tall massive iron doors as an entrance into a courtyard where the names of Hungarian Jewish and Roma (Gypsy) victims are listed and inside a cellar has family and individual stories told through photos, films, original documents, personal objects, and touch-screen computers; District IX, Pava utca 39
  • Hosok Tere (Heroes’ Square)—Budapest’s version of the Brandenburg Gate that is a semi-circular twin colonnade with statues of Hungary’s kings and leaders between its pillars and in the center is a 118-foot stone column crowned by a statue of the archangel Gabriel bearing the ancient emblems of Hungary; District VI, Hosok tere
  • Janosjegy (Janos Hill)—the highest point in Budapest at 1,729 feet that provides the best view of the city; District XII, Zugligeti ut 97
  • Kiralyi Palota (Royal Palace)—a site with a long history that was a palace in the 13th century for the kings of Hungary and was reconstructed in Renaissance style under King Matthias’s supervision during the 15th century before being demolished when Buda was recaptured from Turks in 1686; it was rebuilt under the direction of Habsburg empress Maria Theresa in the 1700s before being damaged during an attack by revolutionaries in 1849 and completed in 1905; District I, Szent Gyorgy ter 2
  • Magyar Nemzeti Galeria (Hungarian National Gallery)—the national gallery that is in the center block of the Royal Palace and showcases Hungarian fine art from medieval ecclesiastical paintings and statues through Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque art to 19th and 20th century works; District I, Kiralyi Palota (entrance in Wing C), Disz ter 17
  • Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum (Hungarian National Museum)—a museum that describes the everyday experiences of Hungarians from the past to the present with a 20th century exhibit featuring an early cinema with films from the period, an old schoolroom, a 1960s apartment interior, and historical posters and masterpieces of cabinetmaking and woodcarving; District IX, Muzeum korut 14-16
  • Memento Park—a park with statues and memorials to former Communist leaders and souvenirs for sale as well as a tiny speaker system that plays songs from the Hungarian and Russian workers’ movements; District XXII, Balatoni ut, corner of Szabadkai utca
  • Miniversum—an attraction with miniature dioramas of Budapest and Hungary’s major sights and landmarks with moving trains and pedestrians and interactive screens that provide historical context on highlights; District VI, Andrassy ut 12
  • Matyas-Templom (Matthias Church)—known as the Matthias Church since the 15th century, this church’s ornate white steeple is the highest point on Castle Hill and has been renovated once into a mosque and rebuilt in 1686 with a fine Gothic stone carving of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Trinity Chapel which is home to an enameled casket containing a miniature copy of the Gospel to be worn on the chest of the 12th century king Bela III and his wife Anne of Chatillon; District I, Szentharomsag ter 2
  • Nagy Zsinagoga (Great Synagogue)—Europe’s largest synagogue that seats 3,000 and was built between 1844 and 1859 in a Byzantine-Moorish style but was desecrated by German and Hungarian Nazis and donations facilitated its reconstruction; it reopened in 1996 and is used for regular services during much of the year but not generally used in midwinter due to the heating space and also includes a courtyard behind the synagogue that has a metal weeping willow honoring victims of the Holocaust; District VII, Dohany utca 2-8
  • Neprajzi Muzeum (Museum of Ethnography)—formerly the home of the Supreme Court, this 1890s neoclassical building is now home to a permanent exhibition entitled “The Folk Culture of the Hungarian People” which explains aspects of peasant life from the end of the 18th century until WWI and features artifacts such as embroideries, pottery, carvings, farming tools, furniture, and traditional costumes; District V, Kossuth ter 12
  • Szechenyi Furdo (Szenchenyi Baths)—the largest medicinal bathing complex in Europe located within a neo-Baroque building in the middle of City Park with several indoor thermal pools, two outdoor pools, medical and underwater massage treatments, carbonated bath treatments, and mud wraps; District XIV, Varosliget, Allatkerti korut 9-11

 

Sights in Athens, Greece

Athens was a pivotal city in the birth of civilization and is filled with archaeological sites, museums, and landmarks such as the Acropolis and Hadrian’s Arch. If you’re a history buff like I am, Athens seems like it would be a perfect place to visit.

  • Acropolis—a landmark monument that pays homage to ancient Greek history with newly restored temples, the Parthenon, and the Propylaea that has played various roles over the years including as a Florentine palace, an Islamic mosque, a Turkish harem, and a landing site for British paratroopers during WWII; Dionyssiou Areopagitou
  • Acropolis Museum—a modernly designed museum that features glass walkways, high ceilings, and panoramic views of the Acropolis with exhibits about the artifacts around the Acropolis, statues from the Archaic period, and many marble decorations; Dionyssiou Areopagitou 15
  • Ancient Agora—the ancient side of the commercial center of Athens that was once filled with statues and expensive stores with long colonnades and arches under which Socrates and Zeno convened and home to the Museum of Agora Excavations, a two-story museum, that contains well-known sculptures of historic and mythological figures, as well as more about the history of the agora
  • Benaki Museum—Greece’s oldest museum that was recently expanded with a very modern new addition that adds to the architectural appeal of the main complex which is a large neoclassical mansion and traces the history of Greece from prehistoric times to the present with artifacts such as a 5,000-year-old hammered bowl, Lord Byron’s pistols, and costumed mannequins among several others; Koumbari 1
  • Benaki Museum of Islamic Art—home to a large and significant Islamic art collection, this museum has 8,000 pieces of art from a wide variety of geographic regions including ceramics, gold, metalwork, weaponry, and textiles; Dipilou 12
  • Byzantine and Christian Museum—a museum that displays Byzantine and Christian icons, mosaics, tapestries, and sculptural fragments from Byzantine times (4th-15th century AD) to the present; Vasilissis Sofias 22
  • Greek Folk Art Museum—a four building museum that has folk art from the 1650s to the present with embroideries, stone and wood carvings, costumes, and shadow player figures among others; Kidathineon 17
  • Hadrian’s Arch—an Athenian landmark that is one of the most significant surviving Roman monuments built in AD 131 with Corinthian details that was designed to honor Hadrian, a Hellenic emperor; Vasilissis Amalias at Dionyssiou Areopagitou
  • Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum—a museum featuring the vast creations of world-renowned artist and jeweler, Ilias Lalaounis, with fifty collections that include pieces inspired by diverse subjects such as Greek wildflowers and the Treasure of Priam of Troy; Kallisperi 12
  • Lycabettus—Athens’s highest hill that offers one ride every half hour on what is known as the teleferique (funicular) to the summit where Ayios Georgios chapel and bell tower is located along with coin-operated telescopes that allow you to view Aegina Island; there is also a small shrine to Ayios Isidoros, an 1859 site where students prayed for Greeks fighting against Austrians, French, and Sardinians that King Otho supported
  • Museum of Cycladic Art—a museum home to 350 Cycladic artifacts that date back to the Bronze Age, Cypriot art, art from other eras dating from the Bronze Age to the 6th century AD, and an exhibition on scenes from the past along with a skylit café in a courtyard, an art shop, and children’s activities; Neofitou Douka 4
  • Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments—a museum dedicated to the history of Greek music with three floors of instruments and headphones so you can listen to their diverse sounds; Diogenous 1-3
  • National Archaeological Museum—Greece’s most significant museum that displays major ancient Greek sculptures and paintings and has been recently renovated so that works previously left unseen are now publicly viewable and displays have English translations; the most noteworthy pieces are the Mycenaean Antiquities found in 1876 during an excavation of Mycenaean royal tombs; 28 Oktovriou 44
  • National Garden—a beautiful garden built in 1860 that has 500 species of trees and plants, a café and open-air theater, track area, playgrounds, a duck pond, and small zoo
  • National Historical Museum—a museum that traces Greek history from the mid-16th century through WWII with paintings, costumes, and artifacts that include arms to flags and ships’ figureheads; Stadiou 13
  • New Municipal Gallery of Athens—one of Athens’s oldest classical buildings housed in a former silk factory designed in 1833 by a Danish architect that has almost 3,000 art works from 19th and 20th century Greek artists; Leonidou and Myllerou
  • Numismatic Museum Iliou Melathron—a coin museum in the former home of Heinrich Schliemann who excavated Troy and Mycenae in the 19th century with artifacts such as colored marbles, wall paintings, over 600,000 coins from the archaeologist’s personal collection to 4th century BC coins used as measures against forgers; Panepistimiou 12
  • Roman Agora—Athens’s commercial center from the 1st century BC to the 4th century AD that now includes the Gate of Athena Archegetis completed around 2 AD, the late 15th century Fethiye Mosque, and the world-renowned Tower of the Winds that has kept time since the 1st century BC and has eight sides that face the direction of the eight winds that the compass was divided into; Pelopidas and Aiolou
  • Technopolis—a 19th century gasworks complex transformed into an arts complex that is home to the Industrial Gas Museum, exhibition spaces, and a large courtyard with a coffee shop; Pireos 100
  • Temple of Olympian Zeus—a sprawling temple completed in AD 132 by Hadrian that has a large gold-and-ivory statue of Zeus; Vasilissis Olgas 1

 

Shopping in Berlin

Berlin has a decent number of clothing stores, bookstores, and the largest European department store (Kaufhaus des Westens). The stores seem pretty interesting and could lead to hours of browsing and shopping.

  • Andreas Murkudis—a former newspaper office space that was remade into a fashion retailer selling designer clothing for men, women, and children with designers including Kostas Murkudis, Dries van Noten, and Christian Haas, along with accessories and home products; Potsdamer Str. 81e
  • Baerck—a store that has wheeled displays of European and German men’s and women’s clothing by designers such as Stine Goya, Henrik Vibskov, and Hope along with handbags, scarves, lamps, mirrors, and handmade furniture; Mulackstr. 12
  • Bucherbogen—a beloved bookstore with a large selection of books including special editions and out-of-print stock with extensive international books; Stadtbahnbogen 593
  • Chelsea Farmer’s Club—a stylish menswear retailer selling tuxedoes, hunting jackets, a store line of British-style smoking jackets, and other well-designed clothes and fashion accessories; Schluterstr. 50
  • Das Neue Schwarz (The New Black)—a secondhand clothing store with designers including Vivienne Westwood, Helmut Lang, and Yves Saint Laurent; Mulackstr. 38
  • DepartmentStore Quartier 206—Berlin’s most luxurious department store with women’s and men’s designer clothing by the likes of Prada, Givenchy, and Tom Ford as well as cosmetics, perfumes, home accessories, art, and books; Friedrichtsr. 71
  • Do You Read Me—a bookstore with a large selection of magazines and literature with many English titles with subjects including fashion, photography, architecture, interior design, and culture; Auguststr. 28
  • Frau Tonis Parfum—a perfumery where you can create personal scents from vials filled with scents such as acacia, linden tree blossoms, cedarwood, or pink peppercorns that are produced locally; Zimmerstr. 13
  • Galeries Lafayette—a four-level French department store with expensive clothing and luxuries as well as a food department that provides French cuisine and a great produce market; Friedrichstr. 76-78
  • Gestalten Pavilion Store and Café—a bookstore that sells coffee-table books with a wide range of subjects such as craft beer and typography; Bikini Berlin, Budapester Str. 38-50, 2nd floor garden
  • Hallesches Haus—a quirky general store, café, and outdoor cinema that sells terrariums, gardening tools, blankets, housewares, and witty gifts; Tempelhofer Ufer 1
  • Kaufhaus des Westens (Kadewe)—the largest European department store that has seven floors of food and deli counters, a wide variety of goods, champagne bars, beer bars, an atrium café, and a sneaker hall for men as well as services such as gift basket arrangements, travel guides, and an international box office; Tauentzienstr. 21-24
  • Lala Berlin—a trendy boutique run by a former Iranian MTV editor that sells fabric scarves, sweaters, and accessories that utilize a Palestinian keffiyeh pattern; Alte Schonhauser Str. 3
  • Shakespeare and Sons—a bookstore with a nice collection of new and used English books and a small café that has an assortment of freshly cooked bagels; Raumerstr. 36
  • SOTO—a menswear boutique that sells classic and trendy menswear including a store brand called Le Berlinois as well as brands such as Band of Outsiders, Norse Projects, and Our Legacy and self-care products and accessories; Torstr. 72
  • Super Store—a small shop that sells odds and ends from all over the world including Turkey, Italy, and Switzerland and locally made items including linens, housewares, pantry items, and jewelry; Dieffenbachstr. 12
  • The Store X Soho House—a beautiful interior that delivers designer fashion by the Row and Alexander Wang among others as well as cosmetics and jewelry; amenities inside the store include a beauty parlor, laptop workstations, and an organic café; Torstr. 1
  • Voo—a boutique located in a former locksmith’s workshop that sells men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, accessories, and outerwear as well as offering a coffee shop; Oranienstr. 24
  • Wheadon’s Beauty Shop—a beauty store that sells scented candles, lotions, body products, and cosmetic products and has a basement level men’s spa and barbershop as well as a women’s beauty salon; Steinstrasse 17

 

Sights in Berlin, Germany

Berlin is the capital of Germany and is very industrial in nature but does have some landmarks such as the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) and a large complex of museums, galleries, and a performance hall known as Kulturforum. A visit there could yield some surprises and it has a history worth exploring.

  • Aquadom and Sea Life Berlin—a commercial aquarium with indoor tanks that feature native marine life with waterfront urban scenes, starfish petting tanks, overhead tanks, and a submarine room with a glass elevator that takes visitors through a fish tank to the exit; Spandauer Str. 3
  • Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)—a large cathedral originally built in 1905 that is the largest 20th century Protestant church in Germany with a wide stairwell that leads up to the dome, historic photos and models, and sarcophagi of Prussian royals; Am Lustgarten 1
  • Berliner Fernsehtrum (TV Tower)—a 1,207-feet-high tower that is higher than western Berlin’s broadcasting tower and the Eiffel Tower with an observation level where you can see for 25 miles and a rotating restaurant; Panoramastr. 1a
  • Berlinische Galerie—a Berlin-centric museum with modern art, photography, architectural models and plans, and artists’ archives; Alte Jakobstr. 124-128
  • Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate)—a top landmark in Berlin that is a gateway to Berlin since the dismantling of the Berlin Wall where the Unification Day and New Year’s Eve parties are held—only one gate remains out of the 14 built between 1788 and 1791 by Carl Langhans and faces an historic square, Pariser Platz that houses bank headquarters, the French embassy, and the federal parliament offices; Pariser Platz
  • Britzer Garten—named after its surrounding neighborhood (Britz), this is a large park where seasonal floral exhibitions are held and home to small brooks, streams, and other waterways; Buckower Damm 146
  • Brunnenplatz—a sprawling castle with turrets and gables inspired by a real castle that is the district courthouse and a local park with mosaics, decorative flower beds, and a central fountain
  • Contemporary Fine Arts—a modern art museum housed in a very modern building that highlights Berlin-based artists and other major artists; Am Kupfergraben 10
  • DDR Museum—a museum that highlights life in socialist East Germany with a recreation of an East German kitchen, a simulated ride in a Trabi (the only car average East Germans were allowed to own), and a walk inside an interrogation cell; Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 1
  • Denkmal Fur Die Ermordeten Juden Europas (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe) —a memorial for the Jews killed during the reign of the Nazis during the Holocaust designed by an American architect with more than 2700 concrete slabs and an underground information center about the Holocaust; Cora-Berliner Str. 1
  • Deutsches Historiches Museum (German History Museum)—a combination of a theater that shows German and international films and a museum that provides an overview of German history since the early Middle Ages; Unter den Linden 2
  • Deutsches Technikmuseum (German Museum of Technology)—a museum with several floors of machinery including two airplane rooms, train sheds, and an historical brewery; Trebbiner Str. 9
  • Ehemalige Judische Madchenschule—a brick building that once was a Jewish girls’ school and a military hospital during WWII that is now after some neglect a multiplex with art galleries, restaurants, a bar, and a Jewish deli that serves Jewish delicacies; Auguststr. 11-13
  • Galeria Plan B—an art gallery that showcases unique Eastern European art; Potsdamerstr. 77-87, Building G, 2nd courtyard
  • Gedenkstatte Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall Memorial Site)—memorials as well as a museum and research center on the Berlin Wall along with the Reconciliation Chapel; Bernauer Str. 111
  • Gemaldegalerie (Picture Gallery)—one of Germany’s top art galleries with a large collection of European paintings from the 13th to 18th centuries with seven rooms dedicated to paintings by German artists, a special collection showcasing Italian artists, and the world’s second largest Rembrandt collection; Kulturforum, Matthaikirchpl
  • Hamburger Banhof-Museum fur Gegenwart (Museum of Contemporary Art)—a remodeled train station that has post-1960 modern Western art with a permanent collection including installations by German artists Joseph Beuys and Anselm Kiefer as well as paintings by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, and others along with the largest and most valuable collection of contemporary art in the world; Invalidenstr 50-51
  • Heilandskirche Sacrow—a lakeside church with a bell tower and colonnade that was closed from 1961 to 1989 by the East German government due to the fact that it was perceived as a possible hiding place for those trying to flee; Fahrstr, Potsdam
  • Kulturforum—a collection of museums, galleries, and the Philharmonic Hall that includes the Gemaldegalerie (Picture Gallery), the Kunstbibliotek (Art Library), the Kupferstichkabinett (Print Cabinet), the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts), the Philharmonie, the Muskinstrumenten Museum (Musical Instruments Museum), and the Staatsbibliotek (National Library)
  • Mauermuseum—Museum Haus AM Checkpoint Charlie—a museum that depicts the history of the Berlin Wall and those who tried to escape through, under, and over it with human rights exhibits and paintings included as well; Friedrichstr. 43-45
  • Museuminsel (Museum Island)—located on the site of Berlin’s two original settlements, this complex of five state museums is a UNESCO World Heritage site with the Alte Nationalgalerie, the Altes Museum (Old Museum), the Bode-Museum, the Pergamonmuseum, and the Neues Museum (New Museum)
  • Spy Museum—a newer museum opened in September 2015 that has interactive exhibits from Biblical times to the present that provide overviews of military interrogation techniques and the secret services as well as fictional spies; Leipziger Pl. 9

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