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One of Los Angeles’ most famous landmarks is the Griffith Observatory, which is situated on a hill (in massive Griffith Park) overlooking the Los Angeles basin. Designed to be an observatory of the planets and stars, it’s a beautiful Art Deco structure that houses space and science exhibitions and has a great planetarium.
While smog obscures the views from the Observatory most of the time, the place is especially memorable for its great views on a clear day like the one I had the …
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 …
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 …
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 …
Many people I know are fond of books, so visiting libraries during our travels is an obvious extension of this interest. Some libraries are fairly dull, but others are far more than places where books and magazines are stored. They are buildings of great architectural beauty. And a few even have interesting art displays, enough to warrant their consideration as small “art museums”. Such certainly is the case with the Boston Library, a place you can wander about for hours taking in all of its charms. Of course, it’s all completely free.
The Boston Public Library system is the second largest in the United States and contains approximately 23 million items, including 1.7 million rare books and manuscripts. Its annual circulation is …
The Royal Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus, also known as Wawel Cathedral, is situated in Kraków, Poland. The church is part of the Royal Palace complex atop Wawel Hill, where a church has been for more than 900 years. Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II, was ordained to the priesthood at Wawel Cathedral and performed his first mass here. Wawel Cathedral is where Polish kings were coronated and where many lie buried.
The current Gothic cathedral is the third church on the site and dates to the 14th century. It is a small cathedral with elaborate and ornate side chapels. Most of the church is open to the public and admission to the common areas is free. Photos …
One of my favorite cities in which to go for a long walk is Vancouver, BC. It lends itself to walking because its setting is incredibly beautiful, its architecture interesting, and there’s a lot of fascinating street art you can enjoy. I especially like exploring the harbor area around the new Convention Center and Canada Place.
Situated just outside the Convention Center are several interesting works of art, including Pixel Orca, a massive outdoor piece that definitely catches your eye, partially because it’s framed by beautiful North Vancouver. It’s a reminder that many Orca pods live off the coast of the city (which you might see if you take a guided boat tour).
The Drop resembles a raindrop, but is made of …
Today we’re going to visit Western Canada’s oldest Natural History Museum, the quirky yet fascinating Banff Park Museum National Historic Site. I first visited this museum as a boy decades ago and it’s one of the few things around that hasn’t changed over the years.
Situated at a prime location in Banff, beside the Bow River at the corner of Buffalo St and Banff Ave, there’s a large building constructed of logs, the Banff Park Museum. It’s been declared a national historic site because the museum’s original exhibits are still on display, a collection reflecting an early (some might even say “primitive”) approach to the interpretation of Western Canada’s natural history. Also, the architectural style and detailing of …