.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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.All Trips / Europe / Food / Spain

Barcelona’s Santa Catarina Market

13 Santa Caterina Market, Barcelona

Situated in the El Born region of Barcelona, close to the Picasso Museum, Santa Caterina is one of the finest markets in Barcelona.  Built on the ruins of an old monastery, the market opened in 1848.  The market was constructed on the former site of the convent of Santa Caterina (from which it derived its name).  It has served its working class neighborhood for more than 150 years.

Santa Caterina market has recently undergone modernization and extensive renovation, completed in 2005 (while preserving the old walls of the market).  This is most evident in its brightly colored wavy Modernista roof, which consists of 325,000 ceramic pieces in dozens of colors intended to be coordinated with the produce sold under it.  The …

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.All Trips / Europe / France

Les Invalides (and the Army Museum), Paris

les-invalades1

One of the more familiar landmarks in Paris is the gold-capped dome of Les Invalides, also known as Hotel des Invalides, and the adjoining Army Museum (Musée de l’Armée).  This is a complex of buildings in Paris containing, most famously, the tomb of beloved leader Napoleon Bonaparte.

King Louis XIV, the Sun King, began the project in 1670.  King Louis saw the need for a home and hospital for war heroes who had long and faithfully served their country (20 years of service were needed for residency).  It was later realized that a royal chapel should be part of the complex, which was completed in 1708.  During the 18th century the veterans were required to attend church every day.

The area …

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.All Trips / Europe / Spain

Palau Güell, Barcelona

Palau Guell, Barcelona 04-2016 (86)

Palau Güell is a mansion designed by Barcelona’s favorite son, the highly imaginative architect, Antoni Gaudí, for tycoon Eusebi Güell.  It was to be the first of their collaborations.  The home was built between 1886 and 1888 and is in the El Raval neighborhood, near the popular pedestrian mall, la Rambla.  It’s part of Barcelona’s “Works of Antoni Gaudi” UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The building was refurbished in 2011 and is fresh and beautiful throughout.

Palau Güell was the first important commission Antoni Gaudí received as a young architect.  Mr. Güell (a wealthy industrialist and patron of the arts) asked Gaudí to build him a unique urban home.  The result is Palau Güell, a great example of Art …

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.All Trips / Europe / Poland

Signs of Krakow

Signs of Krakow (23)

I loved the days we spent in Krakow!  The city was everything I expected — and more.  Krakow and its people that have survived a lot of hardship over the years, most recently including Nazi and Soviet occupation.  The country and its people are now free and thriving.  And remarkably, Krakow has endured the ravages of war and occupation with its beautiful medieval core intact.
There’s a lot to see and do in the town, from historic Wawel Castle (and its Cathedral), inviting Market Square, to beautiful churches and museums in the old town.  It’s a city of advanced learning with a strong tradition of faith, from which Pope John Paul II advanced as leader of his church.  The former Jewish …

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.All Trips / Europe / France

A walk up Paris’ grandest boulevard, the Champs

22 Paris 05-2013.  Strolling down the Champs (65)

One of the world’s greatest streets to explore on foot is Paris’ Champs-Elysées.  A walk up or down the Champs makes for a fine day of exercise, window-shopping, sight-seeing, and eating. Champs-Elysées means “Elysian Fields” — a bit of heaven on earth. Its sidewalks are enormous and teaming with thousands of people, and the many lanes of the street are constantly jammed with traffic, especially near the Arc de Triomphe. The crowds are there day and night and the mood and ambiance change with the transition from daylight to evening. While it is in one of Europe’s most populous cities and much of it is congested, the Champs is a green tree-lined street with some charming smaller buildings, dotted by …

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