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Sights in Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest is an old city and the capital of Romania. It is home to some beautiful churches, interesting museums, and two palaces.

  • Arcul de Triumf (Arch of Triumph)—a landmark built in 1922 to commemorate the 1877 War for Independence and honor those who died in World War One that also provides great views of the city; Bulevardul Maresal Constantin Prezan
  • Biserica Cretulescu (Cretulescu Church)—a church dating back to the 1720s with a red brick exterior and nice interior frescoes and an iconostasis that depicts religious scenes; Calea Victoriei 45
  • Biserica Curtea Veche (Old Court Church)—Bucharest’s oldest church that was completed in the mid-16th century in a Wallachian style with horizontal bands of brick and plaster moldings and frescoes near the altar; Str. Franceza 33
  • Muzeul National Al Satului Dimitrie Gusti (National Village Museum)—an open-air museum that shows the many architectural styles of traditional Romanian houses, workshops, and churches with some of them featuring regional furnishings; Soseaua Pavel Dimitrievici Kiseleff 28-30
  • Muzeul National De Arta (National Art Museum)—a former royal palace that has Romania’s most significant art collection with 15 rooms of paintings and sculptures by European artists and a large collection of Romanian art from medieval times to the present including works by Brancusi and works from the Brueghel school; Calea Victoriei 49-53
  • Muzeul National De Istorie (Natural History Museum)—a museum with a large collection of objects dating from the Neolithic period to the 1920s with a treasury section containing golden objects from Roman times to the present; Calea Victoriei 12
  • Muzeul De Istorie Naturala Grigore Antipa (Natural History Museum)—a museum with exhibits on Romanian wildlife and dioramas of different ethnic cultures; Soseaua Pavel Dimitrievici Kiseleff 1
  • Muzeul de Istorie Al Comunitatilor Evreiesti Din Romania (Museum of the History of the Jewish Community in Romania)—a museum located within a synagogue that dates back to 1850 that describes the history of Romania’s Jewish population which at 750,000 was the second largest in Europe before World War II and now numbers over 10,000; Str. Mamulari 3
  • Muzeul Taranului Roman (Romanian Peasant Museum)—a museum with over 90,000 items from traditional costumes and textiles to ceramics and icons and a basement exhibition on Communist-era statues and posters; Soseaua Pavel Dimitrievici Kiseleff 3
  • Palatul Cotroceni (Cotroceni Palace)—a palace built in the late 19th century that has a mix of French, Romanian, Art Nouveau, and other styles of architecture that was rebuilt after a major 1977 earthquake and is the home of the Romanian president that features sumptuous furniture, art, and personal possessions; 1 Geniului bld
  • Palatul Parlamentului (Palace of Parliament)—one of the largest buildings in the world that houses the Romanian parliament with 24-karat gold on the ceilings to a large hand-woven carpet on the floor; Strada Izvor 2-4
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Sights in Madrid, Spain

Madrid is the capital of Spain and has an impressive history and scenic parks, museums, and churches that are certainly worth exploring.

  • Basilica de San Francisco El Grande—a basilica built by Carlos III on the site of a Franciscan convent founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1217 with a large dome that is the largest in Spain, seven main doors made from American walnut, three chapels joining the circular church with one containing a famed Goya painting, and 16th century Gothic choir stalls; Pl. de San Francisco
  • Caixaforum—an arts complex designed by two Swiss architects that appears to float on the public plaza and has a vertical garden designed by a French botanist; inside are huge exhibition halls that display ancient and contemporary art; Paseo del Prado 36
  • Campo del Moro (Moors’ Field)—a park with shade trees, winding paths, and lawn that lead up to the Palacio Real and inside the gardens is the Museo de Carruajes (Carriage Museum) that has royal carriages and equestrian gear from the 16th to 20th centuries; Paseo Virgen del Puerto
  • Casa Museo Lope de Vega—the former home of famed Spanish playwright Fray Lope Felix de la Vega who wrote 1,800 plays and attained great success in his lifetime that now is a museum with whale-oil lamps, candles, bed-warming pans, poetry readings, and workshops; Calle Cervantes 11
  • Catedral de la Almudena—this cathedral adjacent to the Royal Palace had its first stone laid in 1883 by King Alfonso XII and its structure consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1993 and in a classical and Gothic style with a wooden statue of Madrid’s female patron saint, the Virgin of Almudena, who was discovered after the conquest of Madrid by Christians in 1085; Calle Bailen 10
  • Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Queen Sofia Art Center)—Spain’s national museum of contemporary art that has works by all of the major Spanish painters and sculptors such as Picasso, Miro, Goya, and Dali displayed in a manner that puts these works into their historical context with the highlight piece on the second floor, Picasso’s Guernica, that depicts the Nazi bombing of the ancient Basque town of Gernika in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, and the fourth floor dedicated to art created post-World War II; Calle de Santa Isabel 52
  • Centro de Conde Duque—an imposing building that was used as a military academy and astronomical observatory in the 19th century that after a fire in 1869 was renovated and converted into a cultural and arts center with a modern art museum and temporary art exhibitions; Calle Conde Duque 9 and 11
  • Museo Arqueologico Nacional (Museum of Archaeology)—a large neoclassical building that is a museum with three floors with Spanish relics, artifacts, and treasures such as La Dama de Elche, a bust of a wealthy 5th century BC Iberian woman whose headwear is a precursor to traditional Spanish dress, Visigothic votive crowns discovered in 1859 that date back to the 7th century, and the ivory crucifix of Ferdinand and Sancha; Calle de Serrano 13
  • Museo Lazaro Galdiano—the former mansion of writer and editor Jose Lazaro Galdiano that has décor and paintings by Bosch, El Greco, Murillo, and Goya among others; Calle de Serrano 122
  • Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporaneo—a museum inside the Centro de Conde Duque that was founded in 2001 and has 200 modern art pieces by local artists; Centro de Conde Duque, Calle Conde Duque 9 and 11
  • Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza—this museum opened in 1992 that is located within the 18th century Villahermosa Palace and has a collection of almost 1,000 paintings that depict the history of Western art from 13th century Italian Gothic to 20th century American pop art with highlights such as Hans Holbein’s Portrait of Henry VIII, an impressionist halls, and German expressionist works; Paseo del Prado 8
  • Museo de Historia de Madrid—a museum founded in 1929 in a former 17th century hospice that has paintings, drawings, pictures, ceramics, furniture, and other objects that illustrate Madrid’s history with exhibits divided into four major historic periods: Empire, Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, and Modern Times; Calle Fuencarral 78
  • Museo del Prado (Prado Museum)—one of the world’s most renowned art museums that was renovated in 2007 with an addition of a large new wing and building centered around the remains of the Cloister of the San Jeronimo el Real which features works by Zurbaran and Antonio de Pereda; highlights of the permanent collection are works by three renowned Spanish masters: Goya, Velasquez, and El Greco and pieces by Flemish, Dutch, German, French, and Italian artists; Paseo del Prado
  • Museo del Traje (Costume Museum)—a museum that depicts the evolution of Spanish dress from royal burial garments to the introduction of French fashion by Felipe V and 20th century couture by Balenciaga and Pertegaz; Av. Juan de Herrera 2
  • Palacio Real—this palace built on the land where Muslims built their defensive fortress in the 9th century was commissioned in the early 18th century by Felipe V with classical French design and inside are 2,800 rooms including King Carlos III’s private apartments; a grand throne room with the royal seats of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia; a banquet hall that seats 140 for state dinners; a music museum with the world’s largest collection of stringed instruments; a painting gallery with works by Spanish, Flemish, and Italian artists; the royal armory with historic suits of armor; and the royal pharmacy with vials and flasks used to mix the king’s medicines; Calle Bailen
  • Parque del Buen Retiro (The Retreat)—Madrid’s largest park with formal gardens, fountains, lakes, exhibition halls, children’s play areas, outdoor cafes, and a puppet theater; Puerta de Alcala
  • Plaza de Oriente—the plaza in front of the Palacio Real that is surrounded by stone statues of Spanish monarchs including one that is the first bronze equestrian cast with a rearing horse
  • Plaza de la Cibeles—a majestic plaza with a well-known fountain, Fuente de la Cibeles (Fountain of Cybele), that depicts the nature goddess driving a chariot drawn by lions
  • Plaza de la Paja—this plaza was the most important square in medieval Madrid with the focal point being the Capilla del Obispo (Bishop’s Chapel) built between 1520 and 1530 that was the site where peasants gave their tithes (1/10 of their crop)
  • Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (St. Ferdinand Royal Academy of Fine Arts)—a museum that displays 500 years of Spanish paintings from Jose Ribera and Bartolome Esteban Murillo to Joaquin Sorolla and Ignacio Zuloaga with a gallery that displays paintings up to the 18th century including some Goya paintings; Calle de Alcala 13
  • Real Jardin Botanico (Botanical Garden)—a garden with plants, flowers, and cacti from around the world; Pl. de Murillo 2
  • Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial (Royal Monastery of St. Lawrence of Escorial)—a granite monastery commissioned by Felipe II built from 1563 to 1584 with treasures from the Spanish empire; a pantheon with the tombs of every king but three since Carlos I and royal children; a colorful library with ceiling paintings by a follower of Michelangelo and 50,000 rare manuscripts, codices, and ancient texts; San Lorenzo de El Escorial
  • Zoo-Aquarium—a comprehensive zoological park with a large variety of animals including an albino tiger, dolphins, and wild birds; Casa de Campo

Sights in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the lively capital of the Netherlands and has a rich and vibrant history. It has many museums, interesting architecture, beautiful parks, and plenty more to explore.

  • Allard Pierson Museum—a former National Bank that is now home to a museum with archaeological treasures from the University of Amsterdam’s collection from the early development of Western civilization with Roman and Egyptian artifacts and Near Eastern cultures (Anatolia, Persia, and Palestine); Oude Turfmarkt 127
  • Amsterdam Museum—a museum housed in a rambling series of buildings with the Schuttersgalerij (Civil Guards Gallery) filled with portraits of city militias and 21st century versions of civil guards’ paintings; Kalverstraat 92 and Sint Luciensteeg 27
  • Amsterdam Pipe Museum—a museum that illustrates the history of tobacco trading and smoking in Amsterdam with a large collection of items such as prehistoric pipes, smoking gear from around the world, pipe making tools, tobacco wrappers, and vignettes; Prinsengracht 488
  • Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest)—a nearly 2,500-acre and 124 miles of foot, bike, and bridle paths crossed by 116 bridge crossings in Amsterdam’s largest park that has large recreational fields, a boating lake, the Olympic Bosbaan rowing course, playgrounds, and water-play areas as well as a goat farm; Bosbaanweg 5, Amstelveen
  • Anne Frank House—the home where Anne Frank and her family as well as the Van Pels family and a dentist moved into and hid in a maze of rooms in the back; Prinsengracht 263-267
  • Artis (Amsterdam Zoo)—a zoo founded in 1838 that has more than 900 species of animals, over 200 species of trees, a butterfly pavilion, and an insectarium as well as the Micropia, the world’s first museum devoted to microbes; Plantage Kerklaan 38-40
  • Beurs van Berlage (Berlage’s Stock Exchange)—Amsterdam’s first modern building and the country’s most significant piece of 20th century architecture that was once a stock exchange and now has room for conferences, collaborative workspaces, exhibitions, and events; Damrak 243
  • Bijbels Museum (Bible Museum)—a beautiful museum with a large collection of Bibles, exhibits on archaeological finds from the Middle East, and models of ancient temples; Herengracht 366-368
  • Centrale Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (Central Amsterdam Public Library)—the country’s largest public library with a large theater, seminar and conference rooms, an art space, and a large music library as well as an incredible international magazine selection, a restaurant on the 7th floor, and over 1000 desks available for study and going online; Oosterdokskade 143
  • Cobra Museum of Art—an art museum with hundreds of pieces by the avant-garde CoBra movement including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics as well as temporary modern art exhibitions; Sandbergplein 1, Amstelveen
  • Eye Film Institute Netherlands—a futuristic-looking waterfront structure that has film archives, four huge screening rooms that show classic and modern films, a permanent display with historical objects and interactive elements from cinema, and a public library; IJpromenade 1
  • Heineken Experience—a museum dedicated to the Heineken beer label that is an interactive visitor center with tours of the former brewery including its vast copper vats and multimedia exhibits and a 4D virtual reality ride that simulates the brewing and bottling process; Stadhouderskade 78
  • Het Scheepvaartmuseum (Maritime Museum)—this former arsenal for the Admiralty of Amsterdam became the home of the Maritime Museum in the 1970s with a glass and steel roof and an interior that has one-room exhibitions each with different themes and items such as maritime objects, paintings, a significant globe collection, nautical instruments, yacht models, and ship decorations and two family-oriented wings with interactive activities such as a sea voyage and an exhibition about whales; Kattenburgerplein 1
  • Homomonument—the world’s first monument to persecuted gays and lesbians that was designed by Karin Daan and unveiled in 1987 and features three huge pink granite triangles that represent the past, present, and future and the points of the triangles pointing to the Anne Frank House, the National Monument on Dam Square, and the COC Center (a gay and lesbian organization founded in 1946); Westermarkt
  • Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam—a botanical garden originally configured as a medicinal garden in 1638 by the Amsterdam City Council before the collection expanded to include exotic plants from the East India Company’s foreign expeditions with 4,000 species of plants in the ornamental gardens, a three-climate greenhouse, and a butterfly house as well as an orangery with a café terrace; Plantage Middenlaan 2a
  • Huis Marseille (Marseille House)—a contemporary photography museum located in a 17th century canal house and the neighboring house that was once owned by a wealthy merchant and now has 13 exhibition rooms that show various genres of photography and thousands of photography books in the library; Keizersgracht 401
  • Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge)—the most famous of Amsterdam’s drawbridges that provides wonderful views of the Amstel and surrounding area and is illuminated at night; between Kerkstraat and Nieuwe Kerkstraat
  • Museum Het Rembrandthuis (Rembrandt House Museum)—a grand home owned by Rembrandt until his bankruptcy in 1656 with a restored interior that has reception rooms filled with elegant furniture and artwork and a small etching studio with a printing press and a line hung with drying prints (the museum owns 260 of the 290 etchings Rembrandt made); Jodenbreestraat 4
  • Museum Van Loon—formerly the home of one of Rembrandt’s most successful students, Ferdinand Bol, this house and its neighbor were remodeled in the 18th century by Abraham van Hagan and his wife Caterina Trapp, and was occupied by the prominent Van Loon family from 1886 to 1960 before a major restoration returned it to its 18th century incarnation and turned it into a museum with elegant salons filled with Van Loon portraits and possessions; Keizersgracht 672
  • NEMO Science Center—a copper-clad building opened in 1997 that was designed by world-famous architect Renzo Piano in a curved shape resembling a ship’s bow rising out of the water and featuring a rooftop café and terrace with the major highlight being five floors of hands-on and high-tech scientific activities for children such as bubbles on the ground floor and experiments in the Wonder Lab; Oosterdok 2
  • Rijksmuseum—one of the world’s top art museums with works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Vermeer and 7,500 other works of art such as Delftware, detailed dollhouses, and the Asian Pavilion; Museumstraat 1
  • Van Gogh Museum—a museum that has the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh’s masterpieces and traces his life history with additional pieces by Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, and Bernard; Museumplein 6
  • Hermitage Amsterdam—a branch of St. Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum that shows the relationship between Russia and the Netherlands with temporary exhibitions displaying works from the Hermitage’s collection and a portrait gallery of 17th century Dutch luminaries; Amstel 51
  • A’Dam Tower—a 22-story building with excellent panoramic rooftop views of the city, a four-person swing over the edge, a green-screen for photos, a bar, two nightclubs, a revolving restaurant, and a stylish hotel; Overhoeksplein 1
  • Royal Palace—originally a town hall, this building became a palace in the 19th century with marblework inside including a floor with maps of the world, 51 chandeliers, damasks, gilded clocks, and paintings by Ferdinand Bol and Jacob de Wit; Dam
  • Stedelijk Museum—a museum featuring the collection of its curator Willem Sandberg with a rotating selection of works by Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Van Gogh, Rothko, De Kooning, and Warhol with activities for children in the family zone; Museumplein 10
  • Museum Willet-Holthuysen—a canal house built in 1687 and remodeled in 1739 that is named after Louisa Willet-Holthuysen who inherited the home from her merchant father and lived there with her husband; she sold the house to the city in 1895 and inside are displays featuring part of the family’s 275-piece Meissen table service and a French-style garden; Herengracht 605
  • Joods Historisch Museum—a restored complex of four Ashkenazi synagogues from the 17th and 18th centuries with displays highlighting the growth of Jewish enterprise and how it contributed to the Dutch economy and the history of Jews in the Netherlands; Nieuwe Amstelstraat 1
  • Verzetsmuseum—a museum that illustrates German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II through letters, artifacts, and personal stories showing resistance and at times collaboration with Nazi forces with a section on what was then the Dutch East Indies and is now Indonesia; Plantage Kerklaan 61
  • Micropia—the world’s first microbe museum with hands-on exhibits and microscopes to look through with facts on living organisms and how they exist on everyday objects as well as information on viruses; Artisplein, Plantage Kerklaan 38-40
  • Tropenmuseum—a three story collection of artifacts from former colonies including Indonesian shadow puppets and dioramas of tropical life with a hands-on children’s section, a music section, a gift shop, and a café; Linnaeusstraat 2
  • Foam—a prominent photography gallery with spacious galleries featuring skylights and large windows showcasing major annual exhibitions; Keizersgracht 609
  • Nieuwe Kerk—a 15th century late-Gothic basilica with an interior featuring a grand carved oak chancel, a bronze choir screen, a large organ, and large stained-glass windows that is typically used for art exhibitions and concerts; Dam
  • Westergasfabriek—a late 19th century Dutch Renaissance complex that was the western gasworks for the city until 1967 before it was restored into a cultural and recreational park with spacious lawns, a wading pool, bike paths, and buildings housing creative businesses such as advertising agencies and TV production studios with regular festivals, events, dining, and entertainment; Pazzanistraat
  • Het Grachtenhuis—an interactive museum with multimedia exhibits that explore how the canals and houses that line the city’s Canal Ring were built; Herengracht 386
  • Hollandsche Schouwburg—a theater opened in 1892 that was a cultural hub until World War II when Germans turned it first into a theater solely for Jews and then a detention center for Jews scheduled for deportation to death camps; inside are glass panels engraved with the names of deported Jewish families and an exhibit hall with photos and artifacts of Jewish life before and during the war; Plantage Middenlaan 24
  • Amsterdam Tulip Museum—a small museum that provides an overview of the country’s favorite flower through exhibits, timelines, and English films about the history of tulips with a collection of tulip vases and a gift shop; Prinsengracht 116
  • Stadsarchief—a striped building dating back to 1923 that was a former bank and is now home to Amsterdam city archives with displays including the 1942 police report on the theft of Anne Frank’s bike and a letter from Charles Darwin to Artis Royal Zoo; Vijzelstraat 32
  • Huis Marseille—a curated photography museum with traveling shows with varying themes such as portraiture, nature, or regional photography and exhibitions over several floors; Keizersgracht 401
  • Amstelpark—a park created in 1972 for a flower show that occurs throughout the country every ten years with creative garden layouts featuring a variety of flower species, a petting zoo, miniature golf, and a playground; Europaboulevard
  • Hortus Botanicus—a botanical garden since 1638 that flourished as tropical seeds and plants were smuggled by Dutch trading ships and from there coffee, pineapple, cinnamon, and palm-oil plants were distributed; it now features 4,000 species of plants kept in a seed house and a three-climate greenhouse and a butterfly house; Plantage Middenlaan 2a
  • Geelvinck Pianola Museum—a museum featuring a collection of pianolas dating back to the early 1900s, 30,000 music rolls, and a player pipe organ; Westerstraat 106
  • Multatuli Museum—the former home of novelist Eduard Douwes Dekker who is best known for Max Havelaar, a novel about colonialists in the Dutch East Indies, that is now a museum that describes his life and work; Korsjespoortsteeg 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sights in Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and has an interesting history explored through museums and art galleries.

  • Arheoloski Muzej (Archaeological Museum)—a museum with exhibits that focus on prehistory to the Tartar invasion with artifacts such as the Vucedol Dove, a three-legged ceramic vessel shaped like a bird that dates back to the 4th millennium BC, and a linen piece that has the longest known text in ancient Etruscan writing; Trg Nikole Subica Zrinskog 19
  • Botanicki Vrt (Botanical Garden)—this garden was founded in 1889 as research grounds for the faculty of biology at Zagreb University and features an arboretum with English landscaping, an artificial lake, and an ornamental Japanese bridge; Marulicev trg 9a
  • Crkva Svete Katarine (St. Catherine’s Church)—this church built for the Jesuits between 1620 and 1632 has one nave, six side chapels, and a shrine with the vaults and walls decorated with pink and white stucco from 1732 and hung with 18th century illusionist paintings; Katarinin trg BB
  • Crkva Svetog Marka (St. Mark’s Church) – an old church built in the 13th century that was once the parish church of Gradec with a Baroque bell tower added in the 17th century, a steeply pitched roof decorated in multi-colored tiles to depict the coats of arms of Zagreb on the right and the kingdoms of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia on the left, and in the 20th century wall paintings by Jozo Kljakovic; Trg Svetog Marka 5
  • Dvor Trakoscan (Trakoscan Castle)—a heavily visited castle that was originally built in the 14th century and remodeled in the mid-19th century by Juraj VI Draskovic whose family had owned the castle for 300 years and lived there until 1944; the interior has wood-paneled rooms in different architectural themes filled with period furniture and family portraits; located 3 miles northwest of the village of Bednja, Trakoscan 1
  • Entomoloska Zbirka (Entomological Collection)—a museum with 50,000 insect specimens; Franjevacki trg 6/I, Varazdin
  • Galerija Starih I Novih Majstora (Gallery of Old and Modern Masters)—an art museum located in the 18th century rococo Palaca Sermage (Sermage Palace) with traditional paintings by Croatian and European artists; Trg Milijenka Stancica 3, Varazdin
  • Museum of Broken Relationships—a unique museum centered around mementos of relationships that have ended with donations from around the world with featured stories including a broken toaster and sad notes; Cirilometodska 2
  • Croatian Museum of Naïve Art—a gallery of paintings within the naïve art genre that was popular during the 1960s and 1970s but has declined since with works by artists such as Generalic, Mraz, Rabuzin, and Smajic; Cirilometodska 3
  • Croatian Association of Artists—a gallery designed by Ivan Mestrovic with a rotating program of exhibitions and events throughout the year that was once a mosque; Mestrovic Pavilion, Trg Zrtava Fasizma 16
  • Museum of Contemporary Art—an art museum designed by famed architect Igor Franic that has solo and themed shows as well as a permanent collection featuring 620 works by 240 artists half of which are Croatian; Avenija Dubrovnik 17
  • Maksimir Park—a wooded park that is 18 hectares that was the first public promenade in southeastern Europe and has English garden-like landscaping with alleys, lawns, and artificial lakes as well as the Bellevue Pavilion which is often photographed and a house resembling a Swiss cottage; Maksimirski perivoj bb
  • Museum Mimara—a private art collection donated by Ante Topic Mimara consisting of Ptolemaic glassware from Alexandria, delicate jade and ivory Qing dynasty ornaments, 14th century wooden crosses decorated with semi-precious stones, and a European painting collection with works by Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Bosch, Velasquez, Goya, Renoir, and Degas; Rooseveltov trg 5
  • Croatian State Archives—an Art Deco building with wise owls on the corners of the roof that was built in 1913 to house the royal library and land archives and is now home to the state archives and a reading room with chandeliers and a painting depicting influential Croatian figures; Marulicev trg 21
  • Galerija Klovicevi Dvori—an art gallery housed within a former Jesuit monastery that has a large roster of temporary exhibitions throughout the year with past exhibitions including pieces by Picasso and Chagall; Jezuitski trg 4
  • Lauba—a private art collection within a former textile-weaving mill that displays Croatian contemporary art from the 1950s to the present with rotating works and regularly scheduled programs including free creative workshops for children; Baruna Filipovica 23a
  • City Museum—this museum situated within the 17th century Convent of St. Claire has exhibits that illustrate the history of Zagreb with archaeological finds from the restoration of the building in the 1990s, old city plans, lithographs, documents, altar and stone masonry from the Cathedral and St. Mark’s, and socialist era paraphernalia; Opaticka 20
  • Museum of Illusion—an interesting museum with sensory activities, a slanted room, a mirror of truth, and over 70 other exhibits, hologram pictures, puzzles, and educational games; Ilica 72
  • Mestrovic Atelier—the former home of Ivan Mestrovic, Croatia’s most recognized artist, who lived in the house from 1922 to 1942; inside the home is a collection of sculptures, drawings, lithographs, and furniture; Mletacka 8
  • Art Pavilion—an art-nouveau pavilion that has rotating exhibitions of contemporary art; Trg Kralja Tomislava 22
  • Gallery of Modern Art—a gallery with works by Croatian artists from the past 200 years including 19th and 20th century artists such as Bukovac, Mihanovic, and Racic; Andrije Hebranga 1
  • Stone Gate—a shrine that was once the eastern gate to the medieval Gradec Town and has a painting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus by an unknown 17th century artist; Kamenita
  • Zagreb 80s Museum—a four-room museum that illustrates Zagreb in the 1980s with reconstructions of typical lounge and kitchen interiors from the decade, a room with games with a Commodore 64 and Atari, and memorabilia; Radiceva 34, 1st floor
  • Zagreb 360 Observation Deck—an outdoor deck atop Zagreb’s tallest high-rise located on the 16th floor that provides panoramic views of the city and the street below; Ilica 1a, 16th floor
  • Ethnographic Museum—a museum located in a domed 1903 building with a collection of 70,000 items and 2,750 on display including jewelry; ceramics; musical instruments; tools; weapons; and folk costumes such as gold-embroidered scarves from Slavonia and lace from the island of Pag along with artifacts from South America, Ethiopia, China, Japan, and Australia; Mazuranicev trg 14
  • Museum of Arts and Crafts—a museum that explores craftwork from the Middle Ages to the present with ornate walnut furniture, rococo ornaments, liturgical vestments, and votive images and a collection of black and white photographs depicting Croatia until the 1950s; Trg Republike Hrvatske 10
  • Technical Museum Nikola Tesla—a science museum with steam-engine locomotives, scale models of satellites, a replica of a mine, and exhibits on agriculture, geology, energy, and transportation as well as a planetarium; Savska 18
  • Art Park—a small park that holds activities from June to October such as live-music sessions, film screenings, and mural painting sessions; off Tomiceva
  • Backo Mini Express—a model railroad displayed across 75 square meters—the largest in southeastern Europe—that runs across 1050 meters of railway lines and well-crafted scenery; Gunduliceva 4
  • Galerija Greta—a storefront gallery in an old textile shop that has rotating exhibitions with different art forms such as sound installations and video to sculpture and fine art; Ilica 92
  • Zoo Zagreb—a zoo with animals such as seals, sea lions, otters, and piranhas; Maksimir Park
  • Croatian Natural History Museum—a museum with prehistoric tools and bones excavated from the Krapina cave and exhibits that illustrate the evolution of animal and plant life in Croatia with temporary exhibits focusing on different regions; Demetrova 1

Sights in Tirana, Albania

Tirana is the capital of the former Soviet-held Albania and has some interesting museums, a cemetery, and cultural attractions.

  • Bunk’Art—a former bunker that was transformed into a history and contemporary art museum with several floors of exhibits on the modern history of Albania and contemporary artwork and furnished rooms where political figures huddled waiting for invasion; Rr Fadil Deliu
  • National Gallery of Arts—a museum that illustrates the history of Albanian painting from the early 19th century to the present with temporary exhibitions, a collection of 19th century paintings depicting scenes from daily life in Albania, and communist statues; Blvd Deshmoret e Kombit
  • National History Museum—the largest Albanian museum with most of the country’s archaeological finds and a replica of Skanderbeg’s (an Albanian nobleman and military commander who served the Ottoman Empire between 1423-1443) sword as well as information on the history of Albania from ancient Illyria to the post-Communist era; Sheshi Skenderbej
  • Dajti National Park—the most accessible mountain in Albania with a cable car that takes 15 minutes to take visitors to the top of the mountain where there are beech and pine forests and picnic areas
  • Clock Tower—a 35-meter high clock tower completed by Ottoman architects in 1822 that was for many years the tallest building in Tirana and provides great views of Sheshi Skenderbej
  • Martyrs’ Cemetery—a cemetery at the top of Rr Elbasanit where 900 citizens who died in WWII were buried with scenic views of the city and surrounding mountains
  • Palace of Culture—a white stone complex with a theatre, shops, and art galleries; Sheshi Skenderbej

Shopping in Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is home to some interesting markets, shopping complexes, galleries, and craft stores that appeal to all tastes and interests.

  • Katariina Kaik—a series of artisans’ studios with the works of 14 female designers with pieces such as ceramics, textiles, patchwork quilts, hats, jewelry, stained glass, and leather-bound books; off Vene 12
  • Masters’ Courtyard—a 13th century courtyard with a chocolatery/café, a guesthouse, and artisans’ stores that sell ceramics; glass; jewelry; knitwear; woodwork; and candles; Vene 6
  • Balti Jaama Turg—a market complex with niche food vendors in huts, a supermarket, food halls, green grocers, fashion retailers, and a gym; Kopli 1
  • Estonian Design House—a store with designs from over 100 Estonian designers selling shoes, lamps, furniture, ceramics, and sustainable clothing; Kalasdama 8
  • Kalev—a legendary sweet shop open since 1806 with chocolates and other confections; Roseni 7
  • Solaris Centre—a shopping complex with a supermarket, boutiques, a bookstore, restaurants, and cinemas; Estonia pst 9
  • Ivo Nikkolo—one of the first labels to come from independent Estonia that is known for its women’s clothing in casual and dresswear made with natural fabrics; Suur-Karja 14
  • Telliskivi Flea Market—a flea market with clothing, books, and household items; Telliskivi 60a
  • Nu Nordik—a boutique that sells unique household products, clothing, accessories, and jewelry with a Nordic aesthetic; Vabaduse valjak 8
  • Viru Keskus—a large shopping mall with over 100 stores including fashion boutiques, a bookstore, and a ticket agency; Viru valjak 4/6
  • Kaubamaja—an upscale clothing store with international and local labels such as Ivo Nikkolo, Bastion, and Monton; Gonsiori 2
  • Rae Antiik—an antique market with items such as samovars, military items, and Orthodox icons; Raekoja plats 11
  • Luhikese Jala Galerii—a small gallery with textiles, jewelry, glass art, and ceramics from local artists; Luhike jalg 6
  • Central Market—Tallinn’s largest market with vendors selling fresh produce and shops selling a variety of items including Soviet memorabilia; Keldrimae 9
  • Foorum Keskus—a high-end shopping avenue; Narva mnt 5
  • Zizi—a housewares store with Estonian-made linen napkins, place mats, tablecloths, and cushion covers; Vene 12

Sights in Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and is rich in culture and history. It was formerly occupied by Nazi and Soviet forces and only became an independent country in 1991.

  • Estonian Open-Air Museum—a sprawling complex with historic Estonian buildings, a chapel dating back to 1699, and an old wooden tavern serving traditional Estonian cuisine and activities such as weaving, blacksmithing, and cooking; Vabaohumuuseumi tee 12
  • Kumu—a futuristic-looking seven story building made of limestone, glass, and copper that contains the largest collection of Estonian art in the country and rotating contemporary exhibits as well as a permanent collection featuring works from the early 18th century to the end of World War II and art from the Soviet era; A. Weizenbergi 34
  • Lennusadam—a maritime museum honoring Estonia’s extensive history with the open seas that was designed in a concrete shell frame fashion and includes a walk-through 1930s naval submarine and ice-breaker and minehunter ships outside; Vesilennuki 6
  • Kadriorg Art Museum—a Baroque palace built by Peter the Great between 1718 and 1736 that has a branch of the Estonian Art Museum that is devoted to Dutch, German, and Italian paintings from the 16th to the 18th centuries and Russian works from the 18th to early 20th centuries; A. Weizenbergi 37
  • Niguliste Museum—a deconsecrated church originally built in the 13th century but was damaged by Soviet bombers in 1944 and a fire in the 1980s but has since been restored and is now home to a branch of the Estonian Art Museum devoted to religious art with artifacts such as painted altarpieces, carved tombstones, and ecclesiastical silverware; Niguliste 3
  • Great Guild Hall—a building dating back to 1410 that was once home to the Great Guild and is now the Estonian History Museum with interactive displays on Estonia, coins dating back to Viking times, military artifacts, and Estonian cultural exhibits; Pikk 17
  • Nuku—a puppet museum which has a collection that introduces the art of puppeteers from different cultures and eras through interactive exhibits and workshops; Nunne 8
  • Tallinn Botanic Garden—a lush garden with 8,000 species of plants scattered between greenhouses, themed gardens, and arboretums; Kloostrimetsa tee 52
  • Tallinn Zoo—this zoo has the world’s largest collection of mountain goats and sheep plus 350 other species of animals such as lions, leopards, elephants, bears, lynx, owls, and eagles; Paldiski mnt 145
  • Kadriorg Park—a large park commissioned by Peter the Great for his wife Catherine I after his conquest of Estonia that has oak, lilac, and horse chestnut trees; a formal pond; gardens; and a playground
  • Tallinn TV Tower—a 341-meter-tall tower opened in celebration of the 1980 Olympics that has great views from the 22nd floor, interactive displays in the space-age pods, and an adventure walk; Kloostrimetsa tee 58a
  • Museum of Occupations—a museum with displays that depict the struggles and hardships of 50 years of occupations briefly under the Nazis and then by Soviets with evocative videos, photos, and artifacts; Toompea 8
  • City Museum—the main branch of the City Museum (there are ten sites overall) is located in a 14th century merchant’s house and illustrates the city’s development from its early days with displays on Estonian language, everyday life, artifacts, and cultural development; Vene 17
  • Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral—a beautiful onion-domed Russian Orthodox cathedral completed in 1900 known for its icons and frescoes; Lossi plats 10
  • Town Council Pharmacy—the oldest continually operating pharmacy in Europe once run by the same family until 1913 and featuring painted beams and a small historical display; Raekoja plats 11
  • Mikkel Museum—a former kitchen in Kadriorg Palace that now has some of the Estonian Art Museum’s collection with a small collection of paintings and porcelain; A. Weizenbergi 28
  • Estonian Museum of Natural History—a natural history museum with over 300,000 examples of the country’s plants and animals with revolving exhibitions; Lai 29a
  • Maarjamae Palace—a limestone manor house built in 1874 for a Russian count that is now home to the Estonian Film Museum, a branch of the Estonian History Museum focusing on 20th century Estonia, and a Soviet sculpture graveyard; Pirita tee 56
  • Maarjamae War Memorial—a Soviet-era monument with a bowed obelisk set within a concrete plaza with part of the complex built in 1975 as a memorial to Red Army soldiers killed fighting the Nazis; Pirita tee
  • Tallinn Museum of Orders of Knighthood—a museum featuring one of Europe’s largest collections of medals and military insignia; Kuninga 3
  • Estonian National Library—one of independent Estonia’s first public buildings designed with dolomite limestone that has frequent exhibitions on the upper floors; Tonismagi 2
  • Children’s Museum Miaamilla in Kadriorg—a small museum and activity center for children between the ages of 3 and 11 with a child-size grocery store, activity room, and café; L. Koidula 21c, Kadriorg Park
  • Architecture Museum—a museum that displays building and town models and temporary exhibitions; Ahtri 2
  • House of Peter I—a cottage that Peter the Great and Catherine I occupied during their visits to Tallinn that is filled with portraits, furniture, and artifacts from the period; Maekalda 2
  • Draakoni Gallery—a commercial gallery that has small but interesting exhibitions of contemporary art including works from many local artists; Pikk 18

 

Sights in Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monte Carlo is the capital of Monaco and is a beautiful city close to the ocean with museums, parks, interesting collections, and gardens.

  • Casino de Monte Carlo—a lavish casino with marble and gold décor open to visitors in the morning and for gambling after 2 pm with games such as blackjack; English and European roulette; baccarat; and poker as well as slot machines in two gambling salons; Place du Casino
  • Musee Oceanographique de Monaco—this world-renowned museum stuck to the edge of a cliff since 1910 has an aquarium with a 6-meter-deep lagoon with sharks and predators separated from tropical fish by a coral reef, two colonnaded rooms which illustrate the history of oceanography and marine biology as well as Prince Albert I’s contributions to the field, and 90 tanks overall in the aquarium with 450 Mediterranean and tropical species; Av. St-Martin
  • Jardin Exotique—a series of gardens with the world’s largest succulent and cactus collection from echinocereus to African candelabras and mazes of paths, stairs, and bridges; 62 Boulevard du Jardin Exotique
  • Palais Princier de Monaco—a palace that is the private residence of the Grimaldi family protected by the Carabiniers du Prince with a changing of the guard daily at 11:55 am and tours of the state apartments that feature lavish furniture and artwork collected by the family over the course of centuries; Place du Palais
  • Collection de Voitures Anciennes—a large car collection amassed by the late Prince Rainier beginning in the early 1950s and opened to the public in 1993 with Ferraris, Maseratis, Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces, several F1 and rally race cars, and the Lexus that took the current prince to his wedding in 2011; Terrasses du Fontvielle
  • Roseraie Princesse Grace—a collection of over 4000 rose bushes next to the Parc Fontevielle that is particularly colorful in the spring; Avenue des Papalins
  • Cathedrale de Monaco—an 1875 Romanesque-Byzantine cathedral that has the graves of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace Kelly; 4 rue Colonel Bellando de Castro
  • Parc Princesse Antoinette—a park in the hills above La Condamine shaded by centenary olive trees and a family-favorite for its playground and miniature golf course
  • Nouveau Musee National de Monaco—a white villa built for an American in 1913 that is part of Nouveau Musee National de Monaco and hosts seasonal contemporary art exhibitions that are environmentally themed; 56 Boulevard du Jardin Exotique
  • Musee des Timbres et des Monnaies—a one-room museum that illustrates the history of stamps and coins minted in Monaco with an interesting stamp collection featuring stamps of Dante and Grace Kelly among others, animals, and 1950s movies; 11 Terrasses de Fontevielle
  • Eglise Ste-Devote—a 19th century chapel dedicated to the patron saint of Monaco who was brought to the church after she became a martyr in Corsica in 303 AD; 1 Rue Sainte-Devote

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

Sights in Skopje, Macedonia

Skopje is the capital of Macedonia and an old and very historic city with unique museums, churches, art galleries, and interesting neighborhoods to explore.

  • Church of St. Panteleimon—a church with beautiful 12th century frescoes including a Pieta similar to Giotto’s Pieta; Nerezi Village
  • Carsija—the old town neighborhood of Skopje with winding lanes filled with teahouses, mosques, craftsmen’s stores, nightlife, historic structures, and museums
  • Archaeological Museum of Macedonia—a modern museum made of Italianate-styled marble with three floors that display findings from Macedonian archaeological excavations including Byzantine treasures, 3-D reconstructions of early Macedonian faces, a replica of an early Christian basilica showing the phases of mosaic conservation, and a Phoenician royal necropolis; Bul Goce Delcev
  • Tvrdina Kale Fortress—a 6th century Byzantine and Ottoman fortress with an interior that features two miniature museums that house archaeological finds from Neolithic to Ottoman times; Samoilova
  • National Gallery of Macedonia—Skopje’s national art gallery with seven restored rooms from the former Turkish baths featuring modern Macedonian art and sculpture; Krusevska 1a
  • Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Statehood and Independence—a museum that serves as a memorial to Macedonia’s historic occupation, land struggles, and revolutionary heroes with graphic oil paintings and physical reconstructions; Iljo Vojvodo
  • Memorial House of Mother Teresa—a futuristic-looking memorial to Mother Teresa who was born in Skopje in 1910 that includes memorabilia related to her and on the second floor a chapel with glass walls in filigree with silhouettes of doves carved into the filigree to symbolize peace; ul Makedonija 9
  • Sveti Spas Church—a partially submerged church two meters underground that dates back to the 14th century and is the most historically significant church in Skopje with a bell tower, a restored iconostasis (a wooden screen that separates the nave of the church from the altar area at the back) built in the early 19th century, and tiered carvings; Makarije Frckoski 8
  • Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia—a moving museum with displays that commemorate the Sephardic Jewish culture of Macedonia through photos, English wall texts, maps, and video with an exhibition that documents the Jewish community’s history in the Balkans ending in World War II when 98% of Macedonian Jews died in the Holocaust; Iljo Vojvoda
  • Museum of the City of Skopje—this museum is located in the old train station building where Skopje’s horrific earthquake struck on July 27, 1963, killing 1,070 people and is now an art gallery for rotating exhibitions with one area focused on the events of the earthquake through video footage and photos; St. Kiril and Methodius
  • Museum of Contemporary Art—a museum created in the aftermath of the 1963 earthquake with artists and art collections donating pieces by artists such as Picasso, Hockney, Leger, Meret Oppenheim, and Bridget Riley that is housed in a contemporary building with floor-to-ceiling windows; Samoilova 17

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