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  • History | Germany > Lubeck > Altstadt > Lubeck Hanseatic buildings
    Updated at May 22,2013

    The 14th century remarks Lubeck's summit of power and influence. Lubeck was the capital of the Hansa League - association of German and Dutch maritime towns. Many of Lubeck buildings are covered or decorated with black and red brick courses. Here is a Hanseatic-character road in the Altstadt:

    A typical Hanseatic building in the Engelgrube strasse:

  • History | Germany > Lubeck > Altstadt > The Lubeck Synagogue
    Updated at May 22,2013

  • History | Germany > Lubeck > Altstadt > Lubeck Cathedral - Domkirchof
    Updated at May 22,2013

    The most ancient church in Lubeck. Built in 1783 by Heinrich "The Lion". Destroyed in the 2nd World War and rebuilt during the years 1958-1977.

    Inside the Dom don't miss the modern Vitrage windows and the modern, huge organ.

  • History | Germany > Lubeck > Altstadt > Burgtor
    Updated at May 22,2013

    The eastern gate of Lubeck walls:

  • History | France > Paris > Place de la Madeleine
    Updated at May 30,2013

    The first time Hemingway visited Paris was during WWI, on his way to the Italian front, in the beginning of 1918. Hemingway and a friend came from America on a ship named "Chicago" while the city was under heavy German bombardment. Hemingway's friend wanted the two to drive straight to the safe hotel, but Hemingway asked the taxi driver to take them as close to the place where the bombs were falling as he could. One of the bombs landed dangerously close to the taxi, chipping away a piece of the facade of Madeleine Church.

  • History | Peru > Cusco
    Updated at Jul 3,2013

    Cusco, the famous capital of the Inca Empire, is believed to have been founded by Manco Capac, the legendary first Sapa Inca of the Kingdom of Cusco and a figure of Incan mythology. The inner city of Cusco was  shaped like a puma, whose head was the fortress of Sacsahuaman. His body was shaped by the rivers Tulumayo and Huatanay and his tail was where both rivers meet in a place known as Pumaq Chupan. His heart was the Huacapata - the holy square.

    Panoramic view of Cusco. photo by Martin St-Amant

  • History | United Kingdom > London, United Kingdom > Charlton House
    Updated at Mar 16,2014


    From the Charlton National Rail Station climb the Charlton Church lane (15 minutes walk) until you arrive the Charlton Park. Turn a bit right to enter through the main entrance of the part. The Charlton House is immediately in the entrance.

    Admission: Charlton house is owned by the local community and hence does not demand entrance fee. It is currently used as a community centre. I was told that the local community negotiates with the National Trust for a shared ownership - which means that it will be closed for a long period for restoration and opened with future admission fees...

    Monday - Friday 09.00 - 20.00 (!), Saturday 10.00 - 17.00. Quite frequently there are local events and tourists are not permitted to enter. You should get permission to visit its various rooms. Usually, you are accompanied by a local guy from the house staff.

    Duration: 1/2 hour (2 hours including walk from/to the railway station and visiting the park around).

    The majority of the rooms are quite impressive, but, do not expect fully restored grandor.

    Charlton House is the finest Jacobean mansion in or around London. It is a pleasant suprise to see the marvelous ceilings and heavy wood furniture.

    The wonderful oak wood staircase:

    The Great Hall:

    Beautifully carved plant and bulb - shaped newels:

    Balusters with grotesque creatures and faces:

    The Library:

    Long Gallery:

    White Room Ceiling:

  • History
    Updated at Mar 23,2014

    Houses of Parliament:

    One of the most beautiful and amazing buildings in the world. If you love history, visit Houses of Parliament, you can not get much nearer to history than this.

    Map: excellent map in:

    Tips and warnings: You are not allowed to sit down inside the houses, so if you have a problems walking, do not go.

    Orientation: Visitors should go to the Cromwell Green visitor entrance to Parliament. All visitors will be subject to a security scan and bag search. Upon leaving security, visitors will enter Westminster Hall where they should proceed to the top of the stairs at the end of the Hall, turn left and keep going until they reach Central Lobby. Here, you sit and wait for your entry turn. Central Lobby is the central point in the Palace between the House of Lords and House of Commons - the 'crossroads' of the Houses of Parliament.

    The Parliament Square: see below  - in the end of this trip.

    Nearest Underground Stations: Westminster (3 minute walk), St James's Park (9 minute walk).

    Entrance for the Public: Cromwell Green (visitors) / St Stephen's Entrance, roughly in the middle of the building's western front:

    The Sovereign's Entrance, at the base of the Victoria Tower, is located in the south-west corner of the Palace and is the starting point of the royal procession route.

    Members of Parliament enter the building through the Members’ Entrance in the northern part of the west façade.

    1. Victoria Tower
    2. Queen's Robing Room
    3. Royal Gallery
    4. Prince's Chamber
    5. Lords' Chamber
    6. Central Lobby
    7. Commons' Lobby
    8. Commons' Chamber
    9. Noes Lobby
    10. St Stephen's Chapel
    11. Westminster Hall.

    Attend Debates: (Part of the text - taken from the formal web site of the Houses of Parliament). 

    Spare time to sit in an afternoon or morning parliamentary debate. It is really thrilling to be in these places, chock full of tradition. visitors may watch debates for free on current issues or proposed new laws in both Houses by visiting the public galleries. The galleries are open to the public when the Houses are sitting (meeting), which is from Monday to Thursday and on Sitting Fridays, with differing times for each House. The galleries are not open during recess, when neither House is sitting.

    Sitting times:

    House of Commons - Main Chamber:

    Monday: 14.30 - 22.30, Tuesday: 11.30 - 19.30, Wednesday: 11.30 - 19.30, Thursday: 9.30 - 17.30, Sitting Friday: 9.30 - 15.00.

    House of Lords:

    Monday: 14.30 - 22.00, Tuesday: 14.30 - 22.00, Wednesday: 15.00 - 22.00, Thursday: 11.00 - 19.30, Sitting Friday: 10.00 - close of business.

    Westminster Hall:

    Tuesday: 9.30 - 14.00, Wednesday: 9.30 - 11.30 & 14.30 - 17.00, Thursday: 14.30 - 17.30.

    Tickets are not required at other periods and there is a public queue for both UK residents and foreign visitors - outside the Cromwell Green visitor entrance. A wait of one or two hours is common (although it's usually less for the House of Lords).

    Question Time:

    In both Houses, the busiest time is during Question Time. In the Commons it is Prime Minister's Question Time. Free tickets are necessary to ensure entrance, and are only issued to UK residents who contact their MP or a Lord to request them. Overseas visitors and UK residents without tickets can queue but will only gain entrance if there is space after ticket-holders.


    Airport style searches are in place at the Houses of Parliament. Leave plenty of time to pass through security. Expect this to take at least 15 minutes. At busy times, which are unpredictable, the delay will be longer. On Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons the queue can exceed 45 minutes. This security check is like an airport; remove coat, belt, watch etc. the following items are not permitted on the parliamentary estate and will be confiscated: Personal defense equipment, Items that make a noise (e.g. whistles), sharp items (including Swiss army knives, scissors, cutlery and screwdrivers) paint spray/padlocks, chains. In the Debates/Committees rooms/galleries you enter ONLY with your own clothes (no mobile, camera, bag, book etc').

    Photography: No photographs allowed inside the parliament but you can take photographs of the Great Hall.

    Guided Tours:  An expert guide accompanies you throughout 100 minute tour through the House of Lords and House of Commons. Tour highlights include: Grand Committee Room, Queen’s Robing Room, Royal Gallery, Prince’s Chamber, Lords Chamber, Moses Room, Central Lobby, Members’ Lobby, Aye Lobby, Commons Chamber, St Stephen’s Hall, Westminster Hall. Specialist themed tours are also available. The tours are on Saturdays and on selected weekdays during Parliamentary recesses including Easter, summer and Christmas. when the houses are devoid of politicians. Professional guides take you through the buildings. You need to book the tour in advance. Guided tours in English start every 15 to 20 minutes throughout the day. Guided tours in Spanish, Italian, French, German and Russian start at set times on all opening days. Adults: £16.50, Concessions (students, over 60s and members of the UK Armed Forces): £14. Individual bookings can be made: Online on the ticketmaster website -

    By telephone on 0844 847 1672 (calling from the UK) and by telephone on +44 161 425 8677 (calling from outside the UK).

    Tickets can also be purchased in person in advance or on the day (subject to availability) from the ticket office located adjacent to the Jewel Tower, opposite the Houses of Parliament.

    The Great Hall: This is the only part of the inside you can take photos.

    The Central Lobby:

    The Central Lobby is situated in the middle of the Palace of Westminster and was designed by Charles Barry to form the crossroads of the building. This is half way between the House of Lords and the House of Commons and is used by members of both houses. Everything to the south of it is part of the House of Lords, and everything to the north is part of the House of Commons. Central Lobby is octagonal and features mosaics of several Saints.

    File:London - The Parliament - 2779.jpg

    The Lords Chamber: The Chamber of the House of Lords is located in the southern part of the Palace of Westminster. The furnishings in the Chamber are predominantly decorated in red. The layout consists of red benches on three sides of the Chamber, with a table in the middle and the Throne at the southern end. The monarchs of England and Scotland were depicted in the original stained-glass windows by Pugin, but these were lost during the Second World War, and their 1950 replacements show the coats of arms of peers between 1360 and 1900. Between the windows are statues of the sixteen barons and the two bishops known to have been present at the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.

    The Commons Chamber: The furnishings in the Chamber are predominantly decorated in green. There are two sets of green benches opposite to each other (so that Government and Opposition MPs sit facing each other), with a table in the middle and the Speaker's Chair at northern end. The Chamber is actually quite small as there is only room for 437 MPs to sit down when there are 659 MPs in total. The current Chamber was rebuilt after the Blitz by the architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in relatively austere style (although it was less ornate than the Lords Chamber even before 1941). Many of the objects in the Chamber, such as the Speaker's Chair, are gifts from Commonwealth countries.

    File:House of Commons.jpg

    The Speaker's Chair in the Commons Chamber:

    The Member's Lobby:

    Members' Lobby sits between Central Lobby and the House of Commons Chamber and features statues of former Prime Ministers. It is an area where MPs meet informally before and after business in the Chamber.

    (the following 3 images are taken from site).

    Churchill Arch and Statue in the Members Lobby:

    Margaret Thatcher in the Members' Lobby:

    The Robing Room:

    The Robing Room is where the Queen prepares for the Annual Opening of Parliament. She puts on ceremonial robes and the Imperial State Crown.

    The Royal Gallery:

    The Royal Gallery is adjacent to the Robing Room. Its walls feature two large frescoes by Daniel Maclise, The Meeting of Wellington and Blücher at Waterloo and The Death of Nelson. The room sometimes hosts foreign dignitaries

    Houses of Parliament Exterior:

    Cromwell Green, outside Westminster Hall, is the site of Hamo Thornycroft's bronze statue of Oliver Cromwell, erected amid controversy in 1899:

    File:Statue of Oliver Cromwell outside Palace of Westminster.jpg

    Statue of King Richard I:

    Houses of Parliament from Abingdon Street:

    Victoria Tower occupies the south-western corner of the Palace. At the top of the cast-iron pyramidal roof is flagstaff, from which flies the Royal Standard (the monarch's personal flag) when the Sovereign is present in the Palace. On all other days the Union Flag flies from the mast.

    Houses of Parliament (Victoria Tower) from Victoria Tower Gardens (photo from 2010):

    Houses of parliament from Westminster Bridge:

    Houses of parliament from Lambeth Bridge:

    The Parliament Square is a square at the northwest end of the Palace of Westminster in London. it is also the place where many demonstrations and protests have been held. It features a large open green area in the centre with trees to its west and it contains ten statues of statesmen and other notable individuals:

    Northern edge of the green - David Lloyd George, UK Prime Minister 1916–1922:

    Northern edge of the green - Jan Smuts, Prime Minister of South Africa 1919–1924 and 1939–1948:

    File:Jan Smuts monument.JPG

    North-eastern edge of the green - Winston Churchill, UK Prime Minister 1940–1945 and 1951–1955:

    South-western edge of the green - Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa 1994–1999:

    In front of the Middlesex Guildhall - Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States 1861–1865:

    File:Abraham lincoln memorial london 20050523.jpg

    At the square's junction with Great George Street - George Canning
    UK Foreign Secretary 1807–1809 and 1822–1827; Prime Minister 1827:

    File:George Canning statue, Parliament Square SW1 - - 1318077.jpg

    Western edge of the green - Lord Robert Peel, UK Prime Minister 1834–1835 and 1841–1846:

    Western edge of the green - Benjamin Disraeli, UK Prime Minister 1868 and 1874–1880:

    File:Benjamin Disraeli monument.JPG

    North-western edge of the green - Edward Smith-Stanley, UK Prime Minister 1852, 1858–1859 and 1866–1868:

    File:Earl of Derby statue.jpg

    North-western edge of the green - Henry John Temple, Lord Palmerston, UK Prime Minister 1855–1858 and 1859–1865:

    File:Palmerston monument.JPG

  • History | Italy
    Updated at Jun 5,2014

    The Colosseum, Imperial Forums and Markets, Trevi Fountain.

    Start: Colloseo Metro (line B, the blue line):

    End   : Fontana di Trevi.

    Duration: 3/4 - 1 day.

    Orientation: easy-pace walking day. We combined the Trevi Fountain after spending half a day with historical, archeological sites. The way from Piazza Venezia / Via dei Fori Imperiali or from the Imperial Markets/Forums to the Fountain is through atmospheric, typical Roman-character part of the Centro Storico: cobbled, narrow roads, picturesque piazzas and lanes with quiet and elegant houses and churches.

    Note: the blog contains text and photos from a couple of days browsing Rome: 5/5/2014 and 9/5/2014. The photos indicate, incorrectly, year 2013.

    Colosseum Opening hours:

    Last Sunday of October to 15 February: 8.30 - last admission at 15.30 - exit at 16.30.

    16 February to 15 March: 8.30 - last admission at 16.00 - exit at 17.00.

    16 March to last Saturday of March: 8.30 - last admission at 16.30 - exit at 17.30.

    Last Sunday of March to 31 August: 8.30 - last admission at 18.15 - exit at 19.15.

    1 September to 30 September: 8.30 - last admission at 18.00 - exit at 19.00.

    1 October to last Sunday of October: 8.30 - last admission at 17.30 - exit at 18.30.

    Closed 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.

    Colosseum Prices: Tickets can also be bought at the ticket offices of the Palatine Hill located in Via San Gregorio No. 30 and Piazza Santa Maria Nova No. 53, near the Via Sacra (200 metres from the Colosseum) and allow entrance to the Palatine Hill and to the Roman Forum as well.

    Full price: 12 euros. Reduced Fee: 7 euros for European Union citizens between 18 and 24 years old and for European Union teachers. Free Entrance: Visitors 17 and under and European Union citizens over 65 years old. The combined ticket is valid for 2 consecutive days and includes: The Roman Forum, the palatine Hill and the Colosseum.

    Audioguide: 5 euros, videoguide: 7 euros.

    Pre purchased tickets can be of great advantage as line to get it can be very long.

    Colosseum Tips:

    +You buy a combined ticket (12 euros for Spring-Summer 2014) for the three highlights: The Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum. Do buy your ticket in the Forum (entrance opposite the Colosseum Metro station - in the Via Sacra) or in the Palatine Hill entrance (Via Gregorio, south-west to the Colosseum). The combo ticket is valid for all 3 sites, for TWO-CONSECUTIVE days. The queue for tickets in the Colosseum is huge. The queue for tickets in the Roman Forum is far smaller and the queue in the Palatine Hill is the shortest.

    +We recommend "packaging" the Forum and the Palatine Hill for your first day and the Colosseum (and other Imperial forums and markets) - for the second consecutive day. You can, easily, pack all 3 sites - into one long (summer) day. If you leave the Colosseum for your second day - start with with the Colosseum in the morning and continue to the other forums and markets later. If you are doing all three sites in one day - leave the Colosseum for the late afternoon hours with the sunset special light. A special experience. In any case you stride into the Colosseum with your combo ticket, straight on, without waiting for buying tickets in the long queues. During the late afternoon hours you'll face less visitors, in the Colosseum - than all other parts of the day.

    + the visit in the Colosseum is the shortest one. The Forum deserves 3 1/2 - 5 hours, the Palatine Hill will require 2 1/2 - 4 hours and the Colosseum will require, at most, 2 hours.

    + Get there early. Have already pre-booked tickets online. Get there before 10.00 or else the entire place will in inundated with tour groups.

    + OR: Head over in the afternoon when the crowd will be less.

    + Recommend visiting 2-3 hours before sunset.

    + Guided tour allows you into other areas that are off bounds.

    + Underground tour tickets ( 2 euros) are purchased at the booth where audio-guides are hired. You get a chance to stand on the reconstructed section of the arena floor, walk underground to view the maze of tunnels and corridors of the Colosseum, and climb up to the third tier.

    + Tip for families with children: book your tickets in advance directly via the "co-op culture" website. You can book a group tour directly with their tour guide which is much cheaper than external conducted tours. Children are free and only pay a booking fee for the tour so 2 adults and 2 kids comes to 55 euros, including the tour of the underground area and 3rd level. These areas are restricted and you can't book them online so phone the booking line and do it in advance. They speak good English and charge your credit card in advance. You can then print out your booking confirmation and walk past the huge queues to the fast track ticket office to collect your tickets. The only disadvantage of directly booking the tour with the Colosseum is that they don't guide you round the Roman Forum or Palatine Hill but you can still enter those without additional charge with your combo ticket for 2-consecutive days.

    + Beware the pickpocketers.

    + The sight of Colosseum is amazing during the day and absolutely breathtaking at night.

    + The Colosseum is "decorated", for years, with scaffoldings around its exterior structure.

    Colosseum Background: When in Rome do as the Romans do.... and go to the Colosseum. It is the largest amphitheatre not only in the city of Rome but in the world. The Flavian Amphitheatre, or, more commonly, the Colosseum, stands for monumentality. visitors are impressed with its size, its majesty, and its ability to conjure up the cruel games that were played out for the pleasure of the Roman masses.  Also today there are masses: It is completely packed with people every day in the summer months. The monument is electrifying. The queues are equally colossal...

    Colosseum - General: Architectural marvel of antiquity and symbol of the Eternal City throughout the world, the Flavian Amphitheatre is the largest structure for entertainment with gladiators and wild animals ever built by the Romans. Erected in 8 years (72-80 AD) by the Flavian dynasty on the place previously occupied by the artificial lake of Nero’s Golden House, using 100.000 square metres of travertine and 300 tons of iron, the Colosseum was inaugurated with 100 days of games. The 60.000 spectators that it could hold entered through the 80 numbered arches at street level and, after spending the entire day there, could leave in under 20 minutes. The programme offered hunts with wild animals in the morning, executions of condemned criminals at midday and gladiator combat in the afternoon, and in warm weather the audience was protected from the sun by a awning consisting of 240 sails maneuvered by sailors of the imperial fleet. The underground section at the centre of the arena was used to keep the cages with the animals and the equipment for the games. The floor was placed above that and was made of wooden flanks covered with a layer of sand. Walking through the corridors of the Colosseum today we cannot help but notice its ambiguous and almost paradoxical attraction as, on one hand it seems to represent the best of the Roman civilization in the grandiosity of its architecture, and on the other it seems to express its darker side in the cruelty of the shows that were offered here.

    Inside the Colosseum:

    Rome Colosseum 2nd floor:

    Archeological artifacts unearthed in the Colosseum - in an exhibition in the Colosseum:

    Underground tour tickets ( 2 euros) are purchased at the booth where audio-guides are hired. You get a chance to stand on the reconstructed section of the arena floor, walk underground to view the maze of tunnels and corridors of the Colosseum, and climb up to the third tier:

    After the GUIDED visit of the underground you go up to the 2nd and 3rd floor, where one can enjoy a magnificent view of the Arch of Constantine and of via dei Fori Imperiali:

    Without the GUIDED tour, accessible on two levels offering a wide overview onto its interiors, but also brief glimpses of the city from its outer arches. The view you have from the top on to the Forum is just something impossible to describe.

    Arch of Titus from the Colosseum:

    Venus Temple in the Via sacra from the Colosseum:

    The Roman Forum entrance from the Colosseum:

    Be aware of "Glidiators" outside the Colosseum site. They demand a huge amount of money for one photo...:

    Horse carriages outside the colosseum:

    Via dei Fori Imperiali:

    With your back to the Colosseum and your face to the north-west walk along Via dei Fori Imperiali and keep to the right side of the street. Mussolini issued the controversial orders to cut through centuries of debris and junky buildings to reveal many archaeological treasures and carve out this boulevard linking the Colosseum to the grand 19th-century monuments of Piazza Venezia. The vistas over the ruins of Rome's Imperial Forums from the northern side of the Via dei Fori Imperiali boulevard make for one of the most fascinating walks in Rome.

    First sights you'll see from the boulevard include the ones already explored during your visit in the Roman Forum: colonnades that once surrounded the Temple of Venus and Roma. Next the back wall of the Basilica of Constantine/Maxentius.

    Shortly, on the street's north side, where Via Cavour joins Via dei Fori Imperiali are the remains of the:

    Nerva's Forum or Transitorio: The Forum of Nerva was the fourth and smallest of the imperial fora. Its construction was started by Emperor Domitian before the year 85 AD, but officially completed and opened by his successor, Nerva, in 97 AD, hence its official name. It is also referred to as the “Transient Forum” (Forum Transitorium) from its function and location between Forum of Augustus and Forum of Vespasian, Your best view is from the railing that skirts it on Via dei Fori Imperiali. It is actually in Largo Romolo e Remo Roma - where is the northern entrance to the Roman Forum.

    It was built by the emperor whose 2-year reign (A.D. 96-98) followed that of the paranoid Domitian. You'll be struck by just how much the ground level has risen in 19 centuries. The only columns surviving are the so-called "Two Colonnacce" (ugly columns) with a relief in the attic representing "Minerva and frieze with female figures linked to the myth of Arachne". This forum was once flanked by that of Vespasian, which is now completely gone. It's possible to enter the Forum of Nerva from the other side, but you can see it just as well from the railing.

    The next forum you approach is the:

    Forum of Augustus: The Forum of Augustus is very well seen also from Via Alessandrina - from elevated wooden platforms, temporarily built along the Allessandrina road and the Forum of Augustus. You can see this site entirely from the main road (via dei Fori Imperiali). It is somewhat confusing as Augustus's Forum is wedged between those of Nerva and Trajan (see below). There doesn't seem to be any separation until you sort it out with a map or the minimal signage around. The Forum is dominated by a Temple to Mars. The Forum of Augustus was built to both house a temple honoring Mars, and to provide another space for legal proceedings, as the Roman Forum was very crowded.This was built to commemorate the emperor's victory over the assassins Cassius and Brutus in the Battle of Philippi (42 B.C.). Fittingly, the temple that once dominated this forum - its remains can still be seen - was that of Mars Ultor, or Mars the Avenger, in which stood a mammoth statue of Augustus that, unfortunately, has vanished completely. You can enter the Forum of Augustus from the other side (cut across the tiny footbridge). There is night light & voice spectacle (21.00, 22.00, 23.00) about Ancient Rome inside Foro di Augusto through every evening (15€): During the evening-night hours the Forum of Augustus, the forums and markets nearby are lit with lights that will stress out even more fantastic their splendour:

    Nerva Statue in Via Alessandrina - opposite the Form of Augustus:

    Augustus Statue in Via Alessandrina - opposite the Form of Augustus:

    Continuing north-west along the railing, you'll see next the vast semicircle of Trajan's Market.  From Nerva's Forum: Head northwest on Via dei Fori Imperiali, after 50m. sharp right to stay on Via dei Fori Imperiali, after 25 m. turn left onto Via Alessandrina. Walk in Via Alessandrina 250 m. north-west  and continue onto Piazza Foro. After 50 m. Trajan's Market will be on the left. Admission is 8€. Entrance is at the Column of Trajan, a prominent landmark clearly visible (we shall return to this column - later below).

    Another way: Head northwest on Via dei Fori Imperiali toward Piazza della Madonna di Loreto - 18 m. Turn right onto Piazza della Madonna di Loreto - 30 m.  Turn right onto Piazza Foro Traiano - 110 m.  Turn right to stay on Piazza Foro Traiano. Here, you see the market from its back side.

    The surviving buildings and structures, built as an integral part of Trajan's Forum and nestled against the excavated flank of the Quirinal Hill, present a living model of life in the Roman capital and a glimpse at the continuing restoration in the city, which reveals new treasures and insights about Ancient Roman architecture. Thought to be the world's oldest shopping mall, the arcades in Trajan's Market are now believed by many to be administrative offices for Emperor Trajan. The shops and apartments were built in a multi-level structure, and it is still possible to visit several of the levels. Highlights include delicate marble floors and the remains of a library.

    Its teeming arcades, stocked with merchandise from the far corners of the Roman Empire, long ago collapsed, leaving only the ubiquitous cats to watch over things. The shops once covered a multitude of levels. In front of the perfectly proportioned semicircular facade, designed by Apollodorus of Damascus at the beginning of the 2nd century, are the remains of a great library. Fragments of delicately colored marble floors still shine in the sunlight between stretches of rubble and tall grass.

    Walk eastward in Piazza Foro Traiano toward Via di Sant'Eufemia 59 m.  Continue straight onto Via Magnanapoli. Take the stairs 130 m. Continue onto Largo Magnanapoli 32 m. Enter the roundabout 10 m. Tower of Milizie (in Via Quattro Novembre) will be on the right. The actual construction of the tower probably dates to the time of Pope Innocent III (1198–1216) under the Aretino family. This 12th-century structure was part of the medieval headquarters of the Knights of Rhodes. The view from the top (if it's open) is well worth the climb. From the tower, you can wander down to the ruins of the market, admiring the sophistication of the layout and the sad beauty of the bits of decoration that remain.

    When you've examined the brick and travertine corridors, head out in front of the semicircle to the site of the former library; from here, scan the retaining wall that supports the modern road and look for the entrance to the tunnel that leads to the  Forum of Trajan. It is, actually, south-west to the Tower of Milizie, between the Tower and Trajan's Market (which is also south-west to the Tower). It's entered on Via IV Novembre near the steps of Via Magnanapoli. Once through the tunnel, you'll emerge in the newest and most beautiful of the Imperial Forums. The site now lies some fifteen feet below street level, as can be seen here, where one almost is at eye level with the capitals of the columns. Designed by the same man who laid out the adjoining market. There are many statue fragments and pedestals that bear still-legible inscriptions, but more interesting is the great Basilica Ulpia, with gray marble columns rising roofless into the sky. You wouldn't know it to judge from what's left, but the Forum of Trajan was once regarded as one of the architectural wonders of the world. Constructed between A.D. 107 and 113, it was designed by the Greek architect Apollodorus of Damascus. By the way, you can arrive to the Trajan Forum, Market and column something northward (descending) from the Piazza del Campidoglia and Capitoline Hill (and bypassing the southern edge of Piazza Venezia).

    Panoramic view of the forum with the Trajan's Column on the far left:

    Trajan's Column and the ruins of the Basilica Ulpia:

    Beyond the Basilica Ulpia is the Trajan's Column that commemorates Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars. The detail of the carving is stunning. This column is in magnificent condition. It's great feature is the immense spiral bas relief carvings that progresses to the top illustrating the wars. Built to commemorate the Emperor's victorious campaigns against the Dacian's in the early 2nd Century AD. The structure is about 30 metres in height, 35 metres including its large pedestal. The emperor's ashes were kept in a golden urn at the base of the column. If you're fortunate, someone on duty at the stairs next to the column will let you out there. Otherwise, you'll have to walk back the way you came. It is not possible to get close to the column, but it is still an impressive sight from the distant sidewalk. The column is hollow and includes an internal staircase to the top but this is not operative:


    Trajan Column from Palazzo Valentin:

    The next stop is the Forum of Julius Caesar. This is the last of the Imperial Forums. It lies on the opposite side of Via dei Fori Imperiali, the last set of sunken ruins before the Vittorio Emanuele Monument. Although it's possible to go right down into the ruins, you can see everything just as well from the railing. This was the site of the Roman stock exchange, as well as of the Temple of Venus, a few of whose restored columns stand cinematically in the middle of the excavations.

    The Forum of Caesar and the Temple of Venus Genetrix:

    We completed the historical/archeological part of the day. We'll find a typical, budget place to dine and continue to Trevi Fountain through interesting part of historical Rome. Return to the Via Alessandrina road and walk until its north-west end. Continue direct to Piazza Foro Trajiano when the Basilica Ulpia and Trajan's Column and Palazzo Valentini with its fountain on your left:

    Continue in the same road, now, named Via di Sant'Eufemia until its end. turn left into the Via 4 Novembre and, immediately, right, onto the quaint, impressive Piazza Santi Apostoli. The Palaazo Colonna and Chiesa dei Sani Apostoli on your right:

    Pass Via dei Santi Apostoli on your left and a few steps further, on your left try your fortune for dining at Antica Birreria Peroni bar-restaurant, Via di San Marcello, 19. This is a typical, Roman, crowded, noisy and very informal restaurant with reasonable prices and GOOD food. It is full with locals, dining on long,common tables with very busy, but still, polite and patient, hurrying waiters. The food is down to earth but excellent. it is exactly the type of local place you would want to go for the local scene. It is very difficult to find a non-touristic restaurant in this area - so close to the Imperial sites, Piazza Venezia and Trevi Fountain. Open: 12.00-24.00:

    Head north on Via di San Marcello toward Via dell'Umiltà. Turn right onto Via dell'Umiltà and, immediately, turn left onto Piazza dell'Oratorio. You arrived to Galleria Sciarra - one of the less known gems of Rome but, still, a stunning surprise. Situated very close to the Trevi Fountain on Piazza dell' Oratorio, this gorgeous and utterly surprising arcade is easily missed. The arcade is named after the building's original owner, Prince Maffeo Sciarra, who in the late 1880s commissioned the architect Giulio De Angelis to design a glass-domed galleria to serve as a fashionable shopping centre for Rome. Painter Giuseppe Cellini decorated the space and the frescoes he produced are a wonderful example of the influence of English pre-Raphaelite art on Italian artists at the end of the 19th century, in their mixing of Renaissance decoration with images of contemporary women: Misericors -is cutting her long hair and thus making a sacrifice, Fidelis - points to her faithful heart, with a dog symbolically placed at her feet, Amabilis - stretches out her arms in welcome.

    Cross the Galleria Sciarra from south to the north, continue northward along Via di Santa Maria in Via. Immediately after leaving the Galleria Sciarra you see, on your right, this relief:

    Take the first turn to the RIGHT - Via delle Muratte. It is long, busy, colorful market road - leading you to Trevi Fountain and Piazza. Be careful with most of the restaurants around: touristy, over-rated and not-so-good service. The only one which deserves your attention is the Al Moro, Vicolo delle Bollette 13.

    Trevi Fountain (Italian: Fontana di Trevi) is a fountain designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci. Standing 26.3 metres high and 49.15 metres wide. It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. The fountain has appeared in several notable films, including Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, and is a popular tourist attraction. The Trevi Fountain is situated at the end of the Aqua Virgo, an aqueduct constructed in 19 BC by Agrippa, the son-in-law of Emperor Augustus. Legend holds that in 19 BC thirsty Roman soldiers were guided by a young girl to a source of pure water thirteen kilometers from the city of Rome. The discovery of the source led Augustus to commission the construction of a twenty-two kilometer aqueduct leading into the city, which was named Aqua Virgo, or Virgin Waters, in honor of the legendary young girl. Competitions had become the rage during the Baroque era to design buildings, fountains and even the Spanish Steps. In 1730 Pope Clement XII organized a contest in which Nicola Salvi initially lost to Alessandro Galilei – but due to the outcry in Rome over the fact that a Florentine won, Salvi was awarded the commission anyway.[8] Work began in 1732 and the fountain was completed in 1762, long after Salvi's death, when Pietro Bracci's Oceanus (god of all water) was set in the central niche. Salvi died in 1751 with his work half finished. The Trevi Fountain was finished in 1762 by Giuseppe Pannini, who substituted the present allegories for planned sculptures of Agrippa and "Trivia", the Roman virgin. It remains one of the most historical cultural landmarks in Rome. The central figure of the fountain, standing in a large niche, is Neptune, god of the sea. He rides a shell-shaped chariot that is pulled by two sea horses. Each sea horse is guided by a Triton. One of the horses is calm and obedient, the other one restive. They symbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea. Every day some eighty million liters of water flow through the fountain. The water is reused to supply several other Roman fountains, including the Fountain of the Four Rivers, the Tortoise Fountain and the Fountain of the Old Boat in front of the Spanish Steps. Tradition has it that you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the fountain's water basin. You should toss it with your right hand over your left shoulder (or left hand over your right shoulder) with your back to the fountain. You're not allowed to look behind you while you're tossing the coin but the fountain is so large it's basically impossible to miss:

    From Trevi Fountain it is 12 minutes, 600 m. walk to Piazza Venezia or 4-5 minutes walk to Via del Corso. Both of them - with plenty of buses from and to all parts of Rome.

  • History | Austria
    Updated at Nov 18,2014

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    Schönbrunn Palace interiors -  Rooms included in the Grand Tour.

    Blue Chinese Salon: The Blue Chinese Salon was the first room in the private apartments of Franz Stephan. The walls are decorated with the Chinese paper wall-hangings that give this room its name. This room also has historic significance: it was here that the negotiations were held which led to the renunciation of any further participation in the affairs of government by the last Austrian emperor, Karl I, on November 11th 1918. In the Blue Chinese Salon Emperor Karl I signed a document stating that he would not interfere or participate in state affairs - a phrase used to avoid a formal abdication, in November 1918. This marked the collapse of the empire and the end of the World′s oldest dynasty in office. The next day the Republic of Austria was proclaimed, thus ending the history of Schönbrunn as an imperial residence.

    Vieux-Laque Room: The Vieux-Laque Room was used by Emperor Franz Stephan as his study. Following his sudden death in 1765, Maria Theresa had the Vieux-Laque Room remodelled as a memorial room. Black lacquer panels from Peking were set into walnut panelling and embellished with gilt frames. The empress also commissioned several portraits for this room which still hang here. The portrait of her husband by Pompeo Batoni was completed in 1769, four years after the death of the emperor:

    Napoleon Room: When Napoleon occupied Vienna in 1805 and 1809, he chose Schönbrunn as his headquarters. During this time he probably used this room as his bedroom. His marriage to Marie Louise, the daughter of Emperor Franz II/I in 1810 was intended to seal the peace between the two rulers. A son was born of this union, known as the Duke of Reichstadt. After the defeat and abdication of Napoleon, Marie Louise brought her two-year-old son to Vienna, where he grew up at his grandfather's court. An especial favourite of his grandfather, he shared the latter's interest in botany. The portrait of him as a child shows him gardening in the park at Laxenburg Palace. The young duke suffered from tuberculosis and died in this room in 1832 at the age of only 21. His death-mask and his beloved pet, a crested lark, today remain as mementoes of Napoleon's only legitimate son:

    Porcelain Room: The furnishing and surfaces of the Porcelain Room as can be seen today date back to 1763, when the room was Maria Theresa’s playroom and study. The mounted wood panelling and the carved blue-and-white painted framing were intended to imitate porcelain, a material that was in high demand in the 18th century. 213 delicately framed blue Indian-ink drawings are integrated in the wood panelling. They are copies of originals by the French artists François Boucher and Jean Pillement made by the children of the imperial couple Francis I of Lorraine and Maria Theresa. In the course of the restoration, the surfaces of the wood panelling and the carved decorations are to be cleaned in order to re-establish the porcelain impression of the room ensemble. For conservatory reasons, the ink drawings will not be restored, and instead will be subject to longer-term monitoring. The objective is to develop a gentle method that can then be used to treat the strong brown discoloration of the works:

    Millions Room: This room was given the name ‘Millions Room’ after the end of the Monarchy in reference to its precious palisander wood panelling. Set into this panelling are 60 Rococo cartouches with Indo-Persian miniatures taken from a manuscript which show scenes from the private and court life of the Mogul rulers in India in the 16th and 17th centuries. In order to make them fit the asymmetric forms of the cartouches, the miniatures were cut up and reassembled in a sort of collage technique to form new images and then surrounded with a Baroque painted border. It had been assumed that the collages were the work of Maria Theresa’s children, but recent research has been unable to confirm this. The original Rococo ensemble of the room from the reign of Maria Theresa also included the chandelier that still hangs there today, a remarkable work by Viennese court artists made of fire-gilt cast bronze with drip-pans in the form of enamelled blossoms. The bisque porcelain bust from the royal porcelain manufactory in Sèvres portrays Maria Theresa’s youngest daughter Marie Antoinette as queen of France:

    Miniatures Cabinet: From the Millions Room one can glance into the Miniatures Cabinet. It is decorated with numerous small pictures painted by the children and husband of Maria Theresa, some of which are signed. The breakfast table is set with 19th-century porcelain which imitates Imari porcelain from the time of Maria Theresa.

    Gobelin Salon: The walls of this room are hung with 18th-century Brussels tapestries (gobelins) showing market and harbour scenes. The large tapestry in the middle represents the harbour at Antwerp. The six armchairs are also upholstered with tapestries depicting the twelve months of the year and the signs of the zodiac. Last used by Archduchess Sophie, the mother of Emperor Franz Joseph, as her drawing room, after her death it was given its present decoration on the occasion of the World Exhibition in 1873:

    Study room of Archduchess Sophie: During the 19th century this room was furnished as a study for Archduchess Sophie, the mother of Franz Joseph. Intensely ambitious, Sophie energetically pursued an ultimately successful plan to secure the Habsburg throne for her son. In 1848 Franz Joseph succeeded his uncle Ferdinand as Emperor of Austria:

    Red Salon: The Red Salon contains portraits of several Habsburg emperors, including one of Leopold II, who briefly succeeded his brother Joseph II as emperor. The painting shows his son and successor, Franz, who in 1792 as Franz II became the last emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1806 he was forced to dissolve the Holy Roman Empire in the face of Napoleon's victorious campaigns. Two years previously he had elevated the Crown Lands of the Habsburgs into the Empire of Austria. Thus Franz II, the last Holy Roman Emperor, became Emperor Franz I of Austria:

    Eastern Terrace Cabinet: Also known from 1775 as the Flower Cabinet on account of the garlands of flowers painted on its walls, the Eastern Terrace Cabinet lies on the Parade Court side of the palace and enabled the imperial family to gain access to a terrace above the arcades that enclose the Parade Court. The room has a remarkable ceiling fresco painted by Johann Zagelmann around 1770:

    Rich Bedroom: Emperor Franz Joseph was born in this room in 1830. The original wallpaper with its printed pattern of foliage dates to the time when Franz Joseph's parents, Franz Karl and Sophie, occupied these apartments, this being their bedroom. Today this room houses the only surviving bed of state from the Viennese court. Up to 1947 the bed remained in the former bedroom of Maria Theresa at the Hofburg, but was moved to Schönbrunn in 1980 and has recently been restored:

    Study and salon of Franz Karl: This room together with the adjoining salon was last occupied by Archduke Franz Karl, the father of Emperor Franz Joseph. After the death of the archduke in 1878 the rooms were refurbished and the decoration and furniture have remained largely unchanged to this day. The paintings that hang in the former study bring us back to the time of Maria Theresa one last time. The famous family portrait by Martin van Meytens and his studio shows Emperor Franz Stephan, Maria Theresa and eleven of their sixteen offspring on the terrace at Schönbrunn. Absent from the picture are the two children who were born later and three who had died previously:

    Hunting Room: The Hunting Room is the final room in the tour of the palace on the first floor and is intended to evoke Schönbrunn's former role as a hunting lodge. The background of the painting entitled Partridges in front of Schönbrunn by Hamilton shows the palace built by Fischer von Erlach. Other paintings and exhibits in the display cases illustrate the subject of hunting and the imperial family.

    Palace Chapel: The palace chapel at Schönbrunn still retains the original spatial structure and architectural arrangement given to it by the architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach (ca 1700). During the expansion from a hunting lodge to residential palace, Maria Theresa refurbished the palace chapel, a task which was obviously of great importance to the monarch. In keeping with the Habsburg tradition, participation at church services was an indispensable part of daily life in the court. In 1743 the decoration of the chapel was relatively simple, and Maria Theresa employed renowned artists to give the chapel a new prestigious interior. The consecration of the palace chapel took place on 29th April 1745 and was conducted by the Archbishop of Vienna, Count Sigismund Kollonitsch. The ceremony, which was attended by Maria Theresa, her family and the whole court, lasted four hours. The chapel was originally dedicated to Mary Magdalene, but with its refurbishment it was dedicated instead to the marriage of the Virgin Mary:

    Bergl Rooms: The east and southeast Bergl rooms were occupied by Crown Prince Rudolf (Crown Prince Apartment), the south Bergl rooms were the summer rooms of Maria Theresia (today known as the Goëss Apartment). Since 2009 the remarkable rooms of the Crown Prince and the Goëss Apartments, with its breathtaking mural paintings, has been open exclusively for groups. The Gisela Apartment in the west wing of the Palace is nowadays a part of the Children museum. Prices per guided tour of one apartment: Groups of less than 10: set price of € 90.00, Groups of 10 to 25: € 9.00 per person, Maximum size of groups: 25 persons. Reservation required!

    Guided tour of the Goess Apartment: One of the first commissions Johann Wenzel Bergl undertook at Schönbrunn was the painting of Maria Theresa's summer apartment, which consists of four rooms, and is known today as the Goëss Apartment. The murals in the rooms display a succession of landscapes, starting with an untouched exotic landscape and ending with a formal Baroque garden:

    Guided tour of the Crown Prince Rudolf Apartment: Unlike to the Maria Theresia Apartment, the paintings in the Crown Prince Rudolf Apartment are of native landscapes but nevertheless still enhanced by exotic and antique set pieces. In 1864 the apartment was furnished for the six-year-old heir to the throne. The walls of four of the six rooms were decorated with exotic landscape paintings by Johann Wenzel Bergl and his studio between 1774 and 1778. Since April 2009 the apartment has again been dedicated to the crown prince. His life is illustrated with numerous objects grouped according to the subjects of family, women, education and science: