.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Palermo’s Palazzo dei Normanni

02 Exterior of Palermo Palazzo del Normanni (2)

Palazzo dei Normanni (Palace of the Normans) is the old Royal Palace in Palermo, Sicily.  It was built in the 9th century by the Arab/Islamic rulers for the harems of their emirs.  It was expanded and renovated by the Normans who subsequently conquered Sicily in 1072.  The Norman kings transformed the building into a multi-functional complex that served as an administrative center and a royal residence.  During the period of Norman rule, Sicily thrived and prospered.

The Palazzo sits on the highest spot in Palermo and is the oldest royal residence in Europe.  After the Normans left, Palazzo dei Normanni was not used for several centuries.  But the palace returned to an administrative role in the second half of the sixteenth century, when the Spanish governors chose …

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“Pic of the Week”, July 7, 2017. A Wedding in Palermo

04 Wedding in Palermo Palazzo del Normanni (16)

One of the pleasures of traveling is stumbling on memorable scenes of everyday life.  So it was as we waited to gain admittance to the Capella Palatina

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Karl on | Comments Off on “Pic of the Week”, July 7, 2017. A Wedding in Palermo
.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Exploring Historic Segesta, Sicily

02 Segesta

When we visited Sicily a few aspects of our time there surprised me.  1)  The food was even more delicious than I expected.  2)  The landscape was far more hilly and mountainous than I thought it would be.  3) The large assortment and general good state of preservation of the country’s archaeologic sites.

Segesta (also known as Egesta) is close to the island’s most populous city, Palermo, and is even closer to its airport.  It is easily accessible by car, the Autostrada only minutes away, so a car rental is the easiest way to get there (bus connections are said to be slow and difficult).  Unlike Agrigento in southern Sicily, there is no modern city nearby — just beautiful hills, farms …

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.All Trips / Europe / Food / Italy

Catania’s Fabulous Market

13-Catania-Fish-Market

 

Besides the sight of Mt. Etna looming not far away, perhaps the most famous landmark in Catania is its lively fish market, La Pescheria.  There’s more to the market than seafood, but I’ve never encountered a more diverse selection of fresh seafood anywhere.  And the operative word is fresh as much of the merchandise was still flopping and flipping about.  The fish mongers are a lively bunch, trying to entice everyone passing by to purchase their fish, which are said to be the best and/or cheapest in the market.

Given that it’s situated on the Gulf of Catania, it’s not surprising to find that seafood is so popular with the locals and a key ingredient in local cuisine.  You’ll find massive …

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.All Trips / Europe / Spain

Escoles de la Sagrada Família (Sagrada Familia School)

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Situated beside and overshadowed by the vast and magnificent La Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona is a small schoolhouse built more than a century ago.

The Sagrada Família Schools (Escoles de la Sagrada Família) building was constructed in 1909 by Barcelona’s favorite son, architect Antoni Gaudí.  The school was made for the children of workers building the cathedral, although other children from the neighborhood also attended.  When construction of La Sagrada Familia cathedral began, it was at the outer edge of Barcelona making it hard for the worker’s children to walk to school — hence, Gaudi’s motivation to built the school near that cathedral during its first phases of construction, as you can see from these photos in this …

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.All Trips / Europe / Germany

A Visit to Berlin’s famous Reichstag (Reichstagsgebäude)

01 Reichstag exterior

A Brief History of the Reichstag

When Germany first unified in the late 19th century, the need for a parliament building was apparent and a competition for the best design was held.  The winning entry for the Reichstag building was from Paul Wallot (there were 183 entries), and his beautifully designed building was completed in 1894.  It featured a neo-renaissance style with a grand classic entrance including columns and a broad staircase.  There was a crown atop of the building’s steel dome.  The famous inscription, ‘Dem Deutschen Volke’ (To the German People), was added in 1916 by Emperor William II.

The building was severely damaged by a fire in 1933, seen as an opportunity Hitler who used the incident to blame the …

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.All Trips / Europe / Ireland

Trim Castle, Boyne Valley, Ireland

04TrimCastle

The pretty town of Trim, a heritage town in County Meath, is home to Ireland’s largest Anglo-Norman castle; the castle and its grounds dominate the town.  The castle rests on the south bank of the River Boyne.  It was constructed over a thirty year period by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter; they were granted this right by King Henry II in 1172 in an attempt to stop the expansionist policies of Richard de Clare (Strongbow).

Construction of the impressive three storied keep at the center of the castle was begun about 1176 on the site of an earlier wooden fortress.   The keep is unique in that it has 20 sides and is cruciform in shape; its walls are 3m …

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.All Trips / Europe / Spain

The Roman Bridge, Córdoba, Spain

05 Roman Bridge, Cordoba

The Roman bridge is in the historic center of this Andalusian city in southern Spain, very close to the fascinating Mezquita (mosque that has been converted to a cathedral).  The Romans built a bridge across the Guadalquivir river in the 1st century BC, possibly replacing a wooden structure that previously spanned the river.  The Via Augusta, a road which connected Rome to Cádiz, likely passed through here.   The bridge was long admired for its beauty and solid construction.

The bridge has undergone a number of reconstructions and today likely bears only minimal resemblance to the one the Romans built.  After Moorish reconstruction, the bridge we visit today has 16 arcades, one less than original bridge, with a total length of 247 …

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