Circular walk from Pest to Gellért Hill, Újbuda and Lágymányos:
Main attractions: Deák Ferenc tér, Ferenciek tere, Klotild Palace, Párizsiudvar, The Inner city Franciscan church / The Kárpátia restaurant, Március 15. tér (March 15 Square), Erzsébet híd (Elizabeth bridge), Rudas Baths, Döbrentei tér, statue of St. Gellért, (Szt Gellért Szobor), Gellért Hill lookout viewpoint, The Citadel (Citadella), The Hungarian Statue of Liberty (Szabadsag Szobor), Szent Gellért rkp., Szazabad hid (Liberty/Liberation bridge), Szent Gellért tér (Gellért Square), Danubius Hotel Gellért, Gellért Hill Cave and church (Gellérthegyi Barlang) (Sziklatemplom), Móricz Zsigmond körtér (Móricz Zsigmond square), The Church of Szentimreváros or the Parish Church of St. Imre, Feneketlen tó (Lake without a bed) (bottomless lake), Október huszonharmadika utca, Lágymányos Info / Science Park, Petőfi híd or Petőfi Bridge, Budapest Technical University (Budapesti Műszaki Egyetem), Central Market Hall ("Nagycsarnok"), Váci utca (Váci street), Kristóf tér, Vörösmarty tér, Deák Ferenc tér.
Tip 1: From Deák Ferenc tér to Gellért Hill (north and south).
Tip 2: Gellért Hotel Baths.
Tip 3: From Danubius Hotel Gellért back to Pest centre via the southern parts of Buda.
Start and End: Deák Ferenc tér.
Distance: 13-15 km.
Duration: 1 day.
Orientation: we walk from Pest centre to the Gellért Hill at the Buda side. Most of the walk is in open spaces. So, reserve the route for a fine day. In the Buda side most of the itinerary is hiking (climbing up ) along the hill slopes. You'll enjoy the wonderful scenery, the panorama of the Danube and Pest from the hill heights, the flower beds along the paths of Gellért Hill and its statues and other monuments. This route includes historic sights on top of the the hill and some of the best spots to take photos of the city. The second half of the day is along the southern parts of Buda - a mixture of old and modern architecture. In the late hours of the afternoon we walk back to Pest through several iconic landmarks of Budapest: the Danube and 2 or 3 of its bridges, the Garnd Market, Váci utca and Vörösmarty tér. It is a long walking day in open spaces.
Weather: Avoid this route in a rainy or very hot day. The ascent to Gellért Hill is quite demanding. Your sole shelters are in: Danubius Hotel Gellért (and its baths) and Gellért Hill Cave and underground church.
Our first destination is Ferenciek tere. We take not-the-shortest route from Deák Ferenc tér. Head east on Deák Ferenc tér toward Károly krt.
60 m. Turn right to stay on Deák Ferenc tér, 45 m. Continue onto Károly krt, (Charles Boulevard) 300 m. This si one of the main thorough-fairs of central Budapest. Walk along the north side of the avenue, raise your head to catch the wondeful mosaics on top of most of the buildings - mainly, on the southern side of the Boulevard:
Turn right onto Vitkovics Mihály utca, 250 m. Continue onto Pilvax köz
110 m. Turn left onto Petőfi Sándor utca, 70 m (named after famous poet of the 1848/49 Revolution and War of Independence). Continue onto Ferenciek tere, 70 m. You can arrive to Ferenciek tere from Deák Ferenc tér by taking the Metro M3 (North-South) line. The square was formally named Kígyó tér in 1874, then renamed Apponyi tér (for Albert Apponyi) in 1921, then Felszabadulás tér (Liberation Square) in 1953, then its earlier name of Ferenciek tere in 1991. It is an important junction, as several bus lines from Buda pass though or terminate here. It is also the station closest to the geographical city centre of Budapest. The station's name was Felszabadulás tér ("Liberation" Square) before 1990. Other means of transporet to this square: Bus: 5, 7 (BKV bus line number 7 connects Pest and southern Buda), 8, 15, 107, 110, 112, 115, 133, 178, 233, 239. Tram: 2. Ferenciek tere (Franciscans’ Square) is right in the middle of the city. The square hosts an posh gourmet restaurants and the fashionable shopping avenue Váci utca opens from here. The square gets its name from the Franciscan Church located in this square, first built in 1743. Among its important sights: the twin buildings of the Klotild Palace (Hotel Buddha Bar), one on each side of the Kossuth Lajos utca, and the Párizsiudvar (Paris Court ) with its dazzling decorations. The Court under the building - once a shopping passage - boasts of a hall with a gorgeous mosaic-glass dome for a roof. The Franciscan Church, the Nereids’ Well, and the University Library are also worth your attention.
The National Scientific Library in the square:
Klotild Palace: Distinguished architects Kálmán Giergl and Flóris Korb were commissioned to design and construct the four-floored neo-baroque twin palaces in 1889-99. The unique historical building stands on the corner of Váci Street since 1900, being the first one to feature an elevator in Hungary. Cheesy shops were opened downstairs, offices for rent operated on the 1st floor, the 2nd 3rd and 4th floors made rooms for luxurious residences. During the siege of Budapest in 1945 the building was badly damaged. In 1950 the building interior was entirely redone. Around 1960 the facades were renovated. In autumn of 2003 Mérték Architectural Studio Ltd. got the assignment from Graziano Beghelli, who purchased the Klotild Development Ltd, to design the reconstruction and renovation of Klotild Palaces building II. The project took 8 years to finish. The unique historical building forms a perfect address for one of Hungary's most iconic boutique hotels, opened in June 2012 (Buddha Bar Hotel). According to a legend, the contractor of the 2 palaces named them after his daughters, in order not to mix them with each other while delivering materials to the construction site. The truth is that Maria Klotild was the name of the Austrian Princess who owned the site and ordered the constructions. The building Matild just got her name from the citizens of Budapest, most likely because of the similar sounding. These two palaces are almost mirror images of each other and were both designed in Spanish-baroque style. They both act like the gates of Pest and as the guards of Elisabeth Bridge:
Parisi udvar is an early 20th century French style department store that was long time in state of disrepair, and, now, is presently in state of renovation. A small hall with shops, the inner part of an eclectic building. Párisi udvar's main entrance lies at a central location along Ferenciek tere, one of Budapest's oldest squares. In 1817, at a time when the area was one of the busiest in the city, József Brudern decided to build a large store here. The building, known as Brudern-has (Brudern House), was designed by the Hungarian architect Mihály Pollack. Inside was a shopping arcade that was modeled after the Passage des Panoramas, a glass-covered passage in Paris. This was probably the reason why the house was also known as Párisi-haz (Paris House). In 1907 the Belváros Savings Bank acquired the property and organized a competition for the construction of its new, prestigious headquarters. They received forty-three submissions and a design by Flóris Korb and Kálmán Griegl was chosen as the winner. The bank's board of directors however decided to select a different architect, German-born Henrik Schmahl. Construction started in 1909 and the building was completed in 1913, one year after Schmahl's death. The new building, also called Brudern House, was mixed-use, with a sumptuous shopping arcade on the two lower levels and room for offices on the upper levels. The arcade was named Párisi udvar (Parisian Court) as a reference to the original arcade. Today it is often written as Párizsi udvar (Párisi is the old spelling). You can easily miss the entrance to the Párizsiudvar building as it seems closed at the first glance. Exterior of the Párizsiudvar building is gorgeous, even if it is run-down. You just need to find the entrance (it is on the left side, when you are looking from the main street). The building exterior is magnificent.
The interior is so beautiful, it must have had great atmosphere when it was still in use. Definitely try to walk inside of Parisi Udvar. It is full with beauty and atmosphere: beautiful exterior facade, stunning glass roof lantern, wood panels, curved glass shop fronts, marble, iron work.
The Inner city Franciscan church: A 13th century a monastery and church used to be on where the Inner City Franciscan Church stands today. The current Baroque shape dates back to the 18th century. The relief on the left side wall of the church commemorates the Great Flood of the river Danube in 1838. The relief is dedicated to Miklós Wesselényi, a real Hungarian hero. He was saving people by his boat from drowning in the river. Some frescoes are the works of Károly Lotz. The Baroque main altar and the statues decorating the altar are worth attention:
Kárpátia étterem: The Kárpátia restaurant, in this building, is a 140-year-old restaurant, which started to operate in the late 19th century and became popular among the citizens of Pest very soon. The restaurant was decorated in the 1920’s by different famous Hungarian artists (frescoes, windows and furniture):
Coming from Petőfi Sándor utca to Ferenciek tere - you turn TO THE RIGHT (south-west) at Ferenciek tere to Kossuth Lajos utca. Continue onto Szabad sajtó útca, 210 m. Continue onto Erzsébet híd (Elizabeth bridge) crossing the Danube from Pest to Buda. The bridge spans over the Danube at the narrowest part of the Danube in the Budapest area, spanning only 290 m. Elizabeth Bridge was named after Queen Elizabeth, the spouse of Francis Joseph I assassinated in Geneva in 1898. Today, her large bronze statue sits by the bridge's Buda side connection in the middle of a small garden (see later below). The original Erzsébet Bridge, along with many other bridges all over the country, was blown up at the end of World War II by retreating Wehrmacht sappers. The Elizabeth Bridge is the only Danube bridge in Budapest that would not be rebuilt after its destruction of World War II. Instead, a completely new bridge was built between 1960 and 1964, nearly two decades after the destruction of the original Elizabeth Bridge. the Elizabeth Bridge is the most elegant bridge of Budapest, attracting the well-deserved attention of tourists due to its charming shape and snow-white color:
On the Pest side of the bridge is the Március 15. tér (March 15 Square). 15 March was the day when the revolt against the Habsburgs in 1948-49 started - a national holiday in Hungary. Nearby (east side of the square) is the oldest church in Budapest, the Inner City Parish Church (Belvárosi plébániatemplom), which was built in the 13th century. It was built on the ruins of an ancient chapel where St Gellért was buried. At the entrance two statues welcome people; St. Jadwiga and St. Kinga are inviting you to the peaceful place. On the Eastern side of the church you can find a statue for St. Florian, wich was erected in 1723 to prevent fires:
There is a display of some ruins in the middle of the 15 March square: Those are the remains of the Roman fort, called Contra Aquincum. The Romans built a fort here in the 4th century AD, to make sure the “Barbarians”, who have been repeatedly attacking the Empire from the East, will not cross the river and take their camp on the Buda side by surprise:
In the NORTH side of the square, facing café, you’ll see a lower building, the Péterffy Palace, today called 100 éves restaurant (the 100-year-old restaurant) (Százéves Étterem). Unbelievable that this little house is a ‘palace’, since it lies below the current street level. When Pest was still enclosed by walls, all houses were like this size or even smaller.The building bears a Baroque-like look and impression. The restaurant was first opened in 1831. The picture right below is taken from Wikipedia:
Also interesting to know that this was the square where Franz Josef, the Emperor of the Astro-Hungarian Empire was crowned in 1867.
The view from the Pest side, near Erzsébet híd - to the Royal Palace in the Buda side (from south to north):
The view to Gellért Hill from the Pest side, on the Erzsébet híd:
Near the Buda end of the Elisabeth Bridge, before crossing the street to Gellert hill
- you see the statue of Sissy, in a very quiet and small garden (Döbrentei tér). It was, originally, set up here in 1932. It was removed during the Communist era but re-installed later at Döbrentei tér where you can see it until today:
Almost at the foot of the bridge are the Rudas Baths. Opening hours: MON - SUN: 06.00 – 20.00, FRI - SAT: 22.00 - 042.00 ! Some days are exclusive for either of the sexes. The weekends are co-ed (bathing suits required); on alternating weekdays men only/women only (with suits or nothing). Prices: Daily thermal-pool-wellness ticket: weekdays - 4 500 HUF, weekends - 4 800 HUF. Daily thermal ticket with cabin usage: weekdays - 3 100 HUF, weekends - 3 400 HUF. Multinational, but, still local hangout, popular place. Might be crowded. Recommended when your are BACK from the Gellért hill:
The Buda side is down beneath the Gellért Hill. The ascent to the top of the hill is a bit of a trek in the heat or in the rain. A slightly challenging hike 900 m. - 1 km.). It might be a bit grueling or oppressing to climb the zigzaging path and the steps up to the top. Not for those with mobility issues. But, plenty of places to sit and catch your breath. It might be also more breezy - compared with city centre heat. There are several stone benches where you can sit and enjoy the wonderful view.
All through and along the ascent path - wonderful views of the city of Budapest, the Danube river, the bridges and all of the surroundings. The trails are pretty easy to navigate up or down the hill.
Take water with you. There are sellers of bottled water - but they hike the prices. Some people prefer to go in the evening: it's beautiful to watch the sun set over the city and all the lights come on. If it is too demanding for you to climb the hill - take bus 27 from the north-west corner of Moritz Zigismond ter. The bus has a stop near the restaurant on the hill - and from there you have to walk 7-10 minutes further up the hill till the Citadella.
Facing the bridge stands the elevated statue of St. Gellért, (Szt Gellért Szobor) with an artificial waterfall, marking the place from where the local pagans put him in a barrel and threw him to his death down the hill into the river Danube in the year 1046. The statue is situated halfway up the hill. The monument, designed by Gyula Jankovits and erected in 1904, is in honor of the 11th century bishop St Gellért who converted the Magyars to Christianity. Below the memorial is a man-made waterfall. We arrive to the statue by climbing the steps and the path that lead from Elizabeth Bridge:
The panoramic views of Buda hills from the bottom parts of Gellért Hill:
The Gellért Hill (Gellérthegy) is the largest hill in Budapest, and thus the prime site for the Citadella and the Liberty Statue, which can be seen from just about anywhere in Budapest. The former name, Pesti-hegy referred to the large cave (now Gellért Hill Cave) in the hillside. The word is of Slavic origin and means "oven" or "cave". Gellért Hill is home to a great number of natural values. It has geological significance, as tectonic lines at its foot are responsible for thermal water springs found throughout Buda, such as the Árpád, Rákóczi and Mátyás springs. Caves in Gellért Hill are subject to national preservation, including Cave Iván and its chapel, as well as the spring caves of the Gellért and Rudas baths. In the 18th century the hillsides of Gellért Hill were covered with vineyards. The Tabán district at the foot of the hill was an important centre of wine-making in Buda.
The view is the most wonderful from the top of Gellért Hill towards the Castle of Buda and you can see the whole curve of the Danube:
The same view from year 1850:
and to Pest (the Parliament, St. Matthias Basilica, Chain bridge):
Now an affluent residential area, a number of embassies and ambassadorial residences line the streets which wind up the hill. Since 1987, the area is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site as part of "the Banks of the Danube". Near and on the hilltop - you'll see several ornate mansions and houses:
At last you arrive to the lookout viewpoint. The site is approached via a very large number of tacky souvenir stalls, and is overwhelmed by coaches and herds of tourists:
The Citadel (Citadella) on the Gellert Hilll is one of the most emblematic locations of Budapest and it is also a popular lookout. Actually, at the top of the hill, from the Citadella (Citadel)there is a view down both directions of the Danube. From its terraces you have one of the best views of the city with the Buda Castle, the Parliament, the Danube bridges, the whole Pest side and the hills of Buda. The Citadel was built after the 1848–49 Hungarian uprising by the ruling Habsburg Austrians, as it was a prime, strategic site for shelling both Buda and Pest in the event of a future revolt. The Citadel was built by the Habsburgs to show their domination over the Hungarians after they were defeated in the War of Independence in 1848-49. In fact, the Citadel has never reached the requirements of modern warfare, the 220 meters long and 60 meters wide fortress with 4 meters high walls and 60 cannons only served to deter the Hungarians. Though it was equipped with 60 cannons, it was used as threat rather than a working fortification. After the Habsburgs and the Hungarian Conciliation they demanded the destruction of the Citadel, but the garrison marched out only in 1897, and then symbolically damaged the main gate. Gellért Hill also saw action in the Second World War and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, when Soviet tanks fired down into the city from the hill. After many debates in 1960 it was decided the formation of the tourist center.
You can get into the Citadella for free after 19.00. Do walk to both ends of the Citadella. Despite being a little small, the bunker museum in the Citadelle was interesting and worth the 3 € price as a very tidy toilet is included in the price. A few Soviet WW2 cannons are also situated on the top. The Citadel on the Gellert Hill has several exhibitions. Three of these can be seen in the glass cases in the courtyard of the fort and an other one is the outer north side of the Citadel. These four are free of charge. For the Second World War wax exhibition located in the building you have to buy ticket:
A view from the Citadella to the Chain and Margaret bridges:
A view from the Citadella to the Elizabeth bridge:
A view from the Citadella to the Szazabad hid (Liberty bridge) (south of Elizabeth bridge):
The Hungarian Statue of Liberty (Szabadsag Szobor): In 1945 the Communism captured Hungary and many statues were built to commemorate its glory. The Liberty Statue, a large monument, was The Statue of Liberty by sculptor Zsigmond Kisfaludy Stróbl erected in 1947 by the Soviet Red Army to commemorate their victory in World War II, the end of the Nazi rule and the ’liberation’ of Hungary by the Red Army. It presents a woman Holding a palm leaf in her hand. On both sides symbolic figures can be seen: the young man's victory over the dragon represents the defeat of fascism. More statues were also built, but they have been relocated to the Memento Sculpture Park. After the fall of Communism, the statue received a new inscription which says: “Memorial for all those who sacrificed their lives for independence, freedom and the success of Hungary”.
If you had enough of stairs - you can take a different path back from the top of Gellért Hill to the bottom. This winds gently through flowers-beds and gardens:
On our way down - we see the Danube between Elizabeth bridge (Erzsébet híd) and the Liberty bridge (Szazabad hid):
One more photo of the statue of St. Gellért, (Szt Gellért Szobor)- on our way down the hill:
We return to the foot of Gellért hill at Szent Gellért rkp. We walk along Szent Gellért rkp. from (our back) north to (our face) south, from Erzsébet híd (Elizabeth bridge) (well, a bit south to the bridge...) to Szazabad hid (Liberty bridge). It is approx. 500-600 m. walk. The constuctions of the Ottoman occupation, that are still standing today are medicinal baths found at the foot of the hill:
Then, we arrive to the Szazabad hid (Liberty/Liberation bridge). The bridge was built to plans resulting from a design competition held in 1893. Originall, it was named Fővám Square Bridge after the Fővám Palace, which currently hosts the Budapest Corvinus University, formerly known as Budapest University of Economics. The bridge was designed by János Feketeházy, chief engineer of the Hungarian Railroads at that time. Construction was started in June 1894. It was inaugurated by Francis Joseph I, who hammered in the last silver rivet on the Pest side on 4 October 1896, at the festivities held for the thousand-year jubilee of Hungary. The bridge was named Francis Joseph after the Emperor. Two years later, in 1898 tramway traffic was started on the bridge. Liberty Bridge is the third oldest and shortest bridge of Budapest. During World War II, on 16 January 1945, Francis Joseph Bridge, as every other bridge in Budapest, was blown up by retreating German troops. After the end of the war, it would be the first bridge to be reconstructed. Its state was not irreparable, only its central parts had to be rebuilt. It was reopened for traffic on 20 August 1946, its new name being Liberty Bridge. It meant also the first time after the liberation of Hungary that a tram connecting Buda and Pest crossed the bridge:
Having reached the Buda end of the Liberty bridge, you get to Szent Gellért tér (Gellért Square) at the foot of Gellért Hill, at its southern tip. The square has several magnificent landmarks. Bear in mind that there is a path leading from here to the top of Gellért Hill with the Citadella and the Liberty Statue. It takes only a 20-25 minutes' comfortable walk. There is a Metro station of Line 4 (green line) beneath the square. In the square, in front of the Cave Church's entrance is a statue of Saint Istvan, for whom the grand basilica across the river is named:
The square is dominated by the Danubius Hotel Gellért, Szent Gellért tér 1 and its Baths, sometimes called the "Grand Old Lady" of Budapest. Danubius Hotel Gellért is one of the oldest and most famous hotels in Hungary. Built between 1916 and 1918 in Art Nouveau style, it's an iconic four-star hotel with the most elegant thermal bathhouse of Budapest. In 1894, the construction of Szabadság Bridge, along with the reconstruction of Gellért Square, was under way. The building of St. Gellért Hotel and Spa started in 1911, but WWI delayed the works. The hotel, built in the Art Nouveau style of the palace-hotels of the turn of the century, was finally opened in September 1918. The traditional, one century-old hotel is still a symbol of Budapest. The building was built by Ármin Hegedűs, Artúr Sebestyén and Izidor Sterk, their style greatly influenced by the works of Ödön Lechner. The characteristic entrance is decorated by reliefs by Aladár Gárdos, while the main entrance to the bath holds grand statues representing the process of healing by József Róna. When the four-storey hotel opened, it had only 176 rooms. All suites had bathrooms, with the supply of both mineral and thermal waters. Soon after the inauguration of St. Gellért Hotel and Spa, the so-called Aster Revolution broke out and the building was utilized for military purposes. Later, consolidation of the political and societal situation enabled the general public to use the hotel and bath for its original function again. The hotel quickly became a hub for social life thanks to its grand interiors, terraces and pools. In October, 1921 the International Convention of Hoteliers was held here. The guestbook was signed by famous individuals. Along with the Governor of Hungary and government officials, European royal families’ dukes, duchesses, mayors, maharajas, poets, writers, musicians, and aristocrats all stayed in the Gellért. Juliana, Queen of the Netherlands, also spent her honeymoon here. In 1927, the outdoor wave pool was built by Artúr Sebestyén and in the same year 60 new rooms were added to the hotel. The wave pool produces waves to the cheers of bathers with the original machinery to this very day. The Jacuzzi pool was opened in 1934. Restaurants of the hotel have always been operated by the leading professionals in the field. From 1927 it was Károly Gundel, who rented and ran the dining rooms. His professionalism contributed greatly to the rise of the Gellért to the level of international grand hotels. Events in the Gellért were carried by newspapers around the world. Gundel created three famous dishes here: the Rothermere Zander, Bakony Mushrooms and Pittsburgh Veal Cutlets. World War II severely damaged the building. The Danube wing burned down completely, and the Gellért Hill wing partly. Reconstructions began in 1946 on the hill side, and in 1957 on the river side. Today’s rooms Duna, Márvány, Gobelin, and the Tea Saloon, as well as the Eszpresszó, were built in 1960. There are two famous dessert specialities from the Gellért. Posztobányi Pudding or Gellért Pudding, rich in dried fruits, and the chocolate-filled Gellért Roll, made by a secret recipe which so many have tried to duplicate. The real Gellért Roll can still only be tasted in the hotel. Until the 70’s, Hotel Gellért was at the forefront of Hungarian tourism. The hotel trained exceptional staff and was a pioneer in numerous innovations in the industry. It was the first hotel in Hungary where guests could pay with their own countries’ currencies, airport taxis were first employed here, and the Gellért was also the first to place minibars in the rooms. The hotel’s Brasserie Restaurant was also the first catering unit to start Swiss plate service. The Gellért accommodated world famous guests again. Violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin was the first among them after World War II. Richard Nixon, Julius Raab and Bruno Kreisky, Austrian chancellors, Shah Pahlavi from Iran and his family, the King of Nepal, the Dalai Lama, Agostino Casaroli, Secretary of State for the Vatican, Nobel Prize winner Heisenberg, American scientist Sabin, actors Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, Marina Vlady, Alberto Sordi, Jane Fonda, cello virtuoso Pablo Casals, violinist Isaac Stern, pianist Arthur Rubinstein, conductors Carlo Zecchi, Gábor Carelli and Roberto Menzi, composer Dmitri Shostakovich, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Hungarian-born Oscar award winning cameraman Vilmos Zsigmond. At present the Gellért has 234 rooms, out of which 13 are suites, 38 are superior doubles, 94 standard doubles, 49 singles with baths, and 40 singles with showers. The rooms, facing the Danube, have balconies with stunning views of Budapest. Today the bath and the hotel have different owners. Hotel Gellért is a member of the Danubius Hotels Group chain, and operates under the Danubius Classic Collection brand, which guarantees a special atmosphere and impeccable service. The bath is run by Budapest Thermal Waters Co. Ltd., and was recently renovated. The open-air wave pool and terrace is now supplemented by a thermal water pool. The Gellért is one of the most frequented and most well-known tourist sites in Budapest. Beautiful decorations of the hotel include the tiles produced by the Zsolnay factory, the columns in the Jacuzzi, and the colorful statues. In Gellért Bath most health spa treatments are available (such as balneo-therapy, mechano-therapy, electro-therapy, mud treatments, etc). It has a complex physio-therapy section and inhalatorium:
Diagonally opposite the bath entrance is the Gellért Hill Cave / Rock Chapel (Gellérthegyi Barlang) (Sziklatemplom), home to the only Hungarian-founded Christian order, the Paulines (the order of St Paul, the only monastic order in Hungary). Take about an hour from your schedule and visit the Cave Church. The design of this grotto church is based on the Shrine at Lourdes. During the Communist regime the chapel was walled in, and the order was disbanded and some leaders were prosecuted and jailed. For years, no one went into the church, but when it was announced that Pope John Paul II would be coming to Budapest, restoration work was quickly undertaken so that the chapel could receive papal blessing. At the same time, the church was dedicated to Polish victims of World War II in honor of the pope's home country. This church is very interesting and unique, as it consists of a number of chambers inside the cave. It has a very peaceful atmosphere and the audio commentary is very informative. The last room is full of beautiful wood carvings, don't miss it. Quite cool inside, so make sure you dress appropriately. Prices: only 500 HUF (about £1.25) including an audiotape guide. Heartily recommended. A stunning site:
We leave, now, the Gellért hill area. We have, approximately, 900 -1000 m. walk from the Danubius Hotel Gellért to Móricz Zsigmond körtér (sqaure) via Bartók Béla útca. Skip, now, to Tip 3 below.
Braga - the historical centre:
Start and End: Braga Railway station.
Distance: 8 km.
Duration: 1 day.
Main Attractions: Arco da Porta Nova, Largo da Praca Velha, Misericórdia, Sé Cathedral of Braga, Old Archbishop´s Palace and Castles Fountain, Paço Arquiepiscopal, Santa Barbara Garden, Igreja do Carmo, Convento do Pópulo, Braga Castle, Reitor Da Igreja Dos Terceiros, Praça da República, Avenida da Liberdade, Largo Carlos Amarante, Palacio do Raio, Convento dos Congregados, Jardim da Avenida Central.
Orientation: Sometimes called the “Portuguese Rome” for its religious air and many churches, Braga is an ancient town in northwest Portugal. Though it is often described in tourist guides as ‘over-religious’ & ‘buttoned-up’ I did not find it so at all. It has a great balance of commerce, tourist sights and religious places. And it’s very friendly. Its history and livelihood are tied to Christianity dating to the 3rd century. This route offers the central sites that can be visited along 1 day. The city’s 12th-century Sé (Cathedral) is still one of the most popular attractions. The second most known attraction lies outside of town - the renowned Bom Jesus de Monte pilgrimage sanctuary, with its striking Baroque stairway. But the Bon Jesus de Monte is NOT included in this itinerary. Instead we concentrate around the historical centre sites. Most of them less reputed - BUT, believe me - you'll love most of them. To visit the Bom Jesus and another couple of more reputed churches or monasteries - you'll need, at least, additional 4-5 hours.
Bear in mind: although Braga is an orthodox town - it is vibrant, sophisticated, sensual and very young. There are wonderful squares, cafe's, restaurants, gardening beds and wonderful buildings. A Portuguese MUST.
Weather: Do yourself a favor - visit Braga in a bright day ! Do not go on a bleak weather day
Transportaion: Catch the Metro in Porto to Campanhã Station or São Bento Station and then get a train to Braga. Duration: 65-75 min. Price (aprox.): 3-4 €. More or less - every hour. From Campanhã Station or São Bento Station - local electric trains of the Porto Urbanos network run to Braga about once every hour every day, with extra faster trains in weekday rush hours. There are simple to use ticket machines in the station's hall. The machines take notes as well as coins. NB these 'Urbanos' tickets are NOT VALID on Alfa Pendular or Intercity trains. Urbanos trains are (mostly) bright yellow! Note: If you do use one of the Alfa Pendular fast trains the trip to Braga will cost you a whopping €14,20 to save about 30 minutes. First train from Porto S. Bento to Braga is at 0615 on weekdays, 0645 weekends and holidays and the last trains are at 2245 then a late train at 0115am daily. These stop at Porto Campanhã five minutes later. Be sure to check timetables at the Portugal Railways Official website; look for Urbanos Porto on the front page. Trains from Braga to Porto run daily from 0434 to 2034 daily, then at 2134 (weekends), 2234 (weekdays) and 2334 daily.
The national long distance bus (coach) network Rede-Expressos has frequent daily service between Porto Batalha bus station and Braga. Times at www.rede-expressos.pt - tickets cost 6€ and can be purchased on line. Journey time 1 hour. (The TRANSDEV bus company runs a bus once each hour from the airport to the city centre Batalha bus station. Details at http://www.transdev.pt/aeroportoporto/).
The railway station in Braga is on the western edge of the city centre, a few minutes walk along a mainly pedestrian street will get you there. None of the city buses directly connect the railway station and main bus station. We shall start our itinerary from the railway station.
The bus station in Braga is a closer to the city centre, in Avenida General Norton do Matos. Taxis outside if you need one.
Braga, the capital of the Minho region, is considered the third most important Portuguese city. Internationally famous as a popular tourist destination, Braga attracts visitors with its monuments, magnificent gardens, cuisine and the animated social and cultural life. Probably the main religious center in the country, Braga is known for its baroque churches, magnificent 18th century houses and elaborate gardens and squares. Known, in the Roman era as “Bracara Augusta”, it was also the headquarters of the Portuguese bishopric in the XII century. Braga’s long history can be seen in its monuments and churches. The most impressive church is the Sé, which has several styles, from Roman to Baroque. Braga is also proud of its splendid houses, especially those from the 18th century.
Braga was Portugal's first city; when Portugal was founded there was only one city on the whole of its territory and that was Braga. The remains of ancient settlements in Braga are thousands of years old and are proven to date back to the Bronze Age.
Braga is one of the oldest Portuguese cities and one of the oldest Christian cities in the world. It was founded in the Roman times as Bracara Augusta and boasts more than 2,000 years of history as a city. Situated in the North of Portugal, in the Cávado Valley (Vale do Cávado), Braga has a population of about 174,000 inhabitants. It is the centre of the Great Metropolitan Area of Minho (GAM - Grande Área Metropolitana do Minho) with a population of around 800,000 inhabitants. Founded by a Celtic tribe called Bracari and later occupied by the Romans (who made it the administrative center of Gallaecia, or present-day Minho and Spanish Galicia), it became the seat of a large archbishopric and the country's religious capital in the 11th century.
Braga has a lot to offer, both in terms of culture and entertainment: its night life, cinemas, theatre, exhibitions, museums and art galleries are exceptional. It is a city vibrant with culture and tradition, where history and religion go hand in hand with technology, industry and university life. There are lots of places to visit in Braga. The historic city center, with the cathedral and other churches, museums and traditional shops. The cathedral is almost 1000 years old, and while in there you can have a guided tour to its treasure. You can also visit the beautiful Braga Municipal Stadium, used for the 2004 European Football Championships held in Portugal. The stadium is on the northern part of the city and it is advised to take a cab. While in Braga, looking east or south-east will probably make you sight two distinct sanctuaries on a mountain just outside the city. The higher one, Sameiro, with a beautiful Church with lots of paintings and gold decorations, and the other one, Bom Jesus do Monte, with a beautiful park around it. While in Bom Jesus, you can ride the Bom Jesus funicular, the oldest funicular in the world moved by water balancing. Although Braga is known in Portugal as "Cidade dos Arcibispos" (Archbishop's Town) and has a clear religious connotation, it isn't related to the faith or devoted Catholicism of its inhabitants. That name comes from the fact that the town has many churches and sanctuaries.
One fact I heard from every inhabitant, in this city, during my visit: Braga is the most fertile city in Portugal - though it is the most orthodox one. Braga has one of the youngest populations in Europe (it was proclaimed to be the European city with the youngest residents in 1989), which makes the city dynamic and energetic. In the past 30 years the District of Braga increased in population by 25 per cent. The district shows parameters of development and quality of living above the national average, which are surpassed only by those of the metropolitan areas of Porto and Lisbon. From statistics and simple calculations one can easily infer that, together with its strategic geographical situation and its rate of development, the aforementioned parameters make this district one of the most attractive regions in terms of investment.
With the railway station (Estacao Braga) on your back - head north-east (and, later, eastward) along Rua Andrade Corvo (the most right climbing up street).
You arrive to an extensive square with non-functioning fountain - Largo das Hortas (public resthouse).
Largo das Hortas - view to the north and city walls:
After 300 m. from our start of climbing up - we arrive to Arco da Porta Nova, Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa. The Arch of the New Gate (Arco da Porta Nova), is a Baroque and Neoclassical arch, designed by André Soares in the late 18th century, in the civil parish of Sé, municipality of Braga. The triumphal arch which decorates the western entrance to the medieval wall of the city, was opened in 1512 and traditionally used to present the city's keys to dignitaries and celebrities. The arch representing the principal entrance to the medieval city. It is surrounded by an urban environment, within one of the city's primary arterial roads, in a space between the Campo das Hortas and Rua D. Diogo de Sousa. In its immediate vicinity (on the left, north side) is a medieval tower, which now houses the Museu de Imagem. King Ferdinand completed the wall of city of Braga around 1373, a project begun during the reign of his predecessor King Denis. THe walls' project called also for constructions of a Torre da Porta Nova (Tower of the New City Gate). Sometime in the 17th century, Archbishop José de Bragança, ordered the reconstruction of the Porta Nova gate, to include the extension of Rococo decoration. The historic arch was used by the municipality, throughout the 20th century, to promotional and marketing campaigns.
The front façade of the arch, looking from west to east along the Rua do Dom Diogo de Sousa:
The front façade of the arch, looking from east to west along the Rua do Dom Diogo de Sousa with the image of Our Lady of Nazareth:
On your right - Largo da Praca Velha. This square is a beautiful place near the Arco da Porta Nova. Its old buildings, brightly colored, its restaurants give you a special atmosphere and giving welcome to tourists and visitors to the city:
Continue east, along the pedestrians-only road of Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa. On your right is the Misericórdia. It is a church built in 1562, the time of Archbishop Bartolomeu Martyrs (1559-1558). it is considered the most important legacy of the renaissance period (Florentine style) in the city, despite the profound changes it suffered in the 18th and 19th centuries. Its monumental Retablo had been built during the years 1735-1740. Its lateral facade is from 1660. Over the centuries it has been the object of several renovations, acquiring the current appearance in 1891. It Is classified as a Public Interest since 1977. The altar is carved authored by Marceliano de Araújo. It is included in the set of buildings in the Se' Cathedral of Braga. Standing against the Cathedral, it is easy to miss...
The interior of the church was remodeled in the Baroque period. The altarpiece is absolutely fabulous and clearly expresses the art of Marceliano de Araujo.
Opposite - the famous Sé Cathedral of Braga, Rua Dom Paio Mendes 10, Rossio da Sé. Open, during the summer months: 09.00 - 12.30, 14.00 - 18.30. No photos allowed inside !!! Taking pictures is strictly prohibited in the premises of the cathedral. So, be cautious !!!Entrance is free. It costs 5 euros per person for the guided tour in the chapels and the museum. Braga is the city of churches, and the Sé is the ex-libris. Due to its long history and artistic significance it is also one of the most important buildings in the country. Built in the 12th century by Count Henry of Burgundy and Dona Teresa. Following his demise, she was chased out of town because of an illicit love affair, but in death Henry and Teresa were reunited in their tombs in the Chapel of Kings. You can visit the Treasury of the Cathedral and the Museum of Sacred Art, an upstairs repository of Braga's most precious works of art. On display are elaborately carved choir stalls from the 18th century, embroidered vestments from the 16th through the 18th century, a 14th-century statue of the virgin and a Gothic chalice from the same period, plus the custódia of Dom Gaspar de Bragança. In the cloister is a pietà, a reflection of human grief.
Main façade of Braga Cathedral. The entrance gallery (galilee) with three arches is gothic (end of 15th century), but the towers and upper storeys are early baroque (17th century). he original romanesque Western façade of the Cathedral of Braga has been totally suppressed, except for some archivolts and capitals of the main portal, heavily decorated with animal and human sculptured reliefs. The figures of one archivolt, with hens, foxes and a minstrel, may be telling a moralistic song like the Roman de Renart, of French tradition. Between 1486 and 1501, an entrance gallery (a galilee) in late gothic style was built preceding the main portal. The galilee has ribbed vaulting and is decorated with statues and gargoyles, the gargoyles were used for spouts so rain wouldn't ruin the side of the buildings. The beautiful manueline metal gate was originally in the interior of the cathedral, but was moved to the galilee in the 18th century. In the early 16th century, Archbishop Diogo de Sousa modified the main romanesque portal, sacrificing the inner archivolts. The upper part of the façade and towers were totally modernised in the 18th century and are unremarkable. The Southern façade of the cathedral has an interesting Romanesque portal.
The entrance from Rua Cabido:
In the courtyard - the Museum of the Se' Cathedral of Braga:
Side entry to the Cathedral:
The main chapel of the apse, rebuilt in 1509 under Archbishop Diogo de Sousa by basque architect João de Castilho. The exterior of the chapel has beautiful late Gothic and Manueline tracery with gargoyles and pinnacles, matched in the interior of the chapel by intricate ribbed vaulting. The outer wall of the main chapel has a beautiful early-16th century statue of the Madonna breastfeeding Jesus (Madona do Leite) between the coat of arms of Portugal and Bishop Diogo de Sousa, sponsor of the Manueline renovation. Under the window there is a Madonna with the Child under a gothic canopy between the coat-of-arms of Portugal (left) and that of Archbishop Diogo de Sousa (right):
Braga Se' Cathedral has three aisles covered by a wooden roof, a transept and five Eastern chapels in the apse. None of the chapels is original Romanesque anymore: the main chapel is Manueline, while the others are heavily decorated in baroque style. In the north wall outside of the cathedral there is a small chapel, of early Romanesque design, that may be a remnant of the late 11th building. This chapel was left outside of the final cathedral, perhaps due to a change of design in the 12th century.
The nave is essentially romanesque thanks to a "purifying" reform in the 20th century that suppressed most later additions, although most original capitals of the columns have been lost. D. Afonso, son of King John I, is buried in a 15th-century tomb made of bronze, which can be seen in the nave of the Cathedral. Head to the north exit of the nave, where you will find the small but well-stocked Museum of Religious Art.
Head over to the desk and for a small price you can visit the treasury, the choir and the chapels.
A high choir was added near the entrance of the cathedral in the Baroque period. You can't help but to stare at the detail of the work. This choir is beautifully decorated with a painted ceiling and sculptured gilt wood (Talha Dourada) choir stalls executed around 1737 by Miguel Francisco da Silva. In front of the high choir there are two gilt wood organs, carved by renowned sculptor Marceliano de Araújo in the 1730s, heavily decorated with baroque and fantastic motifs. These are among the most impressive gilt wood works. Be sure to take the tour of the choir (a small fee) to see the monumental twin baroque organs with exuberant carvings of various cherubs and creatures:
There are twin organs that are just magnificent. These carved woodworks
are by Marceliano de Araújo (1737-1739). The organs are still played during major church events. The organs are the loveliest I have ever seen. I could look at them for hours. The highlight is supposed to be on Sundays - when someone starts to play them. The feeling is heavenly gorgeous:
The cloister offers access to three chapels, which sit adjacent to the cathedral. Visit the tombs of the ArchBishops of Braga. The treassury holds an invaluable amount of gold, diamonds, art, sacerdodal clothing from the 16th, 17th, and 18th century and not to mention some of the best pieces of Ivory in the country.
The first of these, the Capela dos Reis, is built directly onto the nave and is home to the Tombs of Henry and Teresa, the mother and father of the first king of Portugal, as well as the mummified body of Archbishop Lourenço Vicente Coutinho, one of Portugal’s leading 14th-century religious protagonists. It also has the mumified ArchBishop of Braga from the 16th century. You can still see his teeth, hair and jewels.
Next comes the Capela de São Geraldo, which is home to some interesting ceramic works (Azulejos), showing scenes from the life of St Gerald, Braga’s first Archbishop who lived from 1096 to 1108. Words can not do justice...
The Capela da Gloria is home to more Azulejos, as well as the tomb of Archbishop Gonçalo Pereira, who commanded the Minho forces against the Moroccans in the battle of Rio Salado:
Exit the Se' Cathedral (we shall return to its rear facade) northward. Continue walking eastward along Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa and you arrive to Largo do Paço. The buildings with the facades facing the Largo do Paço, are the work of the Archbishops Manuel de Sousa, D. Agostinho de Jesus and D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles. The set of houses can be divided into three wings. West wing: Erected on the initiative of D. Agostinho de Jesus (1587-1609), as attested by his coat of arms, inscribed in the balcony facing the Largo D. João Peculiar (where this archbishop watched the processions) and the center sustained gallery by columns. In the central building of the coat reads the Latin inscription: "D Agostinho de Jesus, Archbishop of Braga and Primate of the Spains":
North Wing: It was also built by D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles. Beneath the coat of arms of the archbishop, is the Latin inscription: "O quam domus antiqua dispari domino dominaris", year 1709 The expression can be translated as "O The old house is different that the Lord has you!" , sentence uttered by Frei Bartolomeu dos Martires when he got there. He added modestly, recalling his predecessors: "How unworthy today what comes to mind your place," the Latin phrase that is due to Cicero:
In the centre stands the Fountain of the Castles - Fonte dos Castelos from year 1723:
The Praca do Paco square is surrounded by buildings of the Episcopal Bracarense, hence its name. It is open only from the south side to the Rua do Souto.
Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa changes its name to Rua do Souto - but still remains pedestrians only road:
We shall explore the hidden sides of the Cathedral of Braga - before continuing (east) to the historical centre of Braga. From the beginning of Rua do Souto - turn right to Rua de Nossa Senhora do Leite which, later, turn right to Rua de S. Joao:
From Rua de Nossa Senhora do Leite - turn right agian to see the rear facade of the Se' Cathedral of Braga. We arrive to a closed square - Roseo de Se' - where we can admire the bell towers, on the southern side of the Cathedral. The Southern façade of the cathedral has an interesting Romanesque portal:
Note the stunning reliefs on this facade while standing in the Roseo de Se':
Turn right to Rua Dom Paio Mendes to see the western facade of the Se' Cathedral. The original romanesque Western façade of the Cathedral of Braga has been totally suppressed, except for some archivolts and capitals of the main portal, heavily decorated with animal and human sculptured reliefs:
Return to Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa / Rua do Souto (the pedestrians roads). Continue walking along the elegant road. You pass Rua da Doutor Justino Cruz on your left. You will be striked by the modern, elaborate architectural commercial centre on your left (north) side. On your right Rua Francisco Sanches with pretty tree-lined avenue:
We turn LEFT (north) to Rua da Doutor Justino Cruz (immediately, on your left, a wonderful porcelains shop. The architectural mix of old and new is admirable. On your right - a dragon statue:
and behind it - the Millenium building:
On your left - the Santa Barbara Garden. It is a municipal garden alongside the eastern wing of the historical Archbishop's Palace of Braga. The garden is located in the northeast corner the Archbishop's Palace, on an elevation. It consists of geometric designs carved from beds of boxwood, decorated with cedar topiaries. In the center of the garden there is a fountain with the statue of Saint Bárbara at the top. It was originally established to enhance the exterior of the palace back in the 17th century and to this day it sets the ancient palace walls off to perfection, framing it in greenery and, on sunny days with the blue skies above. Today’s garden is, however, a modern interpretation of the original space, having been completely re-landscaped in 1955 in keeping with the romantic style of its original period. Plaques on the site identify Jose Cardoso da Silva as the designer and landscaper. The plants, blooms and landscaping are well tended and always found in immaculate condition, making the Santa Barbara Garden a veritable feast for the senses. Do not miss the gardens !!!
The Archiepiscopal Palace (Paço Arquiepiscopal) is seen from the Praca do Paco square and from the Santa Barbara Garden. The Palace is a set of three different buildings with distinct characteristics and time periods: The South wing, defining the Paço Square (see above), is composed of various buildings from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries:
The Eastern wing (facing the Santa Barbara Garden is of Gothic style and dates to the 14th and 15th centuries (see later in this route). The oldest building is set facing the Santa Barbara Garden, being known as Medieval Palace of Braga. It was erected in the late Middle Ages through the initiative of Archbishops Gonçalo Pereira and Fernando the Warrior, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It is currently occupied by the District Archive Braga:
The Western wing (facing the Municipio Square) (see above) was built in the 18th century in the Portuguese Northern Baroque style. Town Hall Square: The building facing the square was erected by the Municipality José de Bragança in the early eighteenth century, with the authorship of the architect André Soares, Baroque design. This building was consumed by fire on April 16, 1866, been rebuilt under the guidance of architect Manuel Fernandes de Sá, during the 1930s. Currently it is installed the Public Library of Braga:
The remains of the medieval arcade of the palace forming the southwest corner of the garden:
Rua da Doutor Justino continues north as Rua do Carmo (on our left is Praca Conde de Agrolungo, and, later, hotel Ibis). On your right, in Rua do Carmo - Igreja do Carmo (Our Lady of Carmel church):
Nearby (east to the church) , I had dinner in Restaurante cantinho do carmo (see Tip below).
Return to Ibis Hotel in Rua da Doutor Justino Cruz / Rua do Carmo. With your face to the south - turn RIGHT (west) to Rua Conde de Agrolongo. The spacious Praca Conde de Agrolongo is on your left. Furher, west, on your right, an impressive building with amazing Azulejos inside - LAR Conde de Arlongo - a retirement hostel for elders. You are not allowed to step inside. What a miss !
In the south side of Praca Conde de Agrolongo stands a modern sculpture opposite pretty-tiled buildings:
Close to the LAR Conde de Arlongo, and belonging to the same architectural block there is an ancient convent / church Convento do Pópulo. The 16th century Church of Populo was built on the orders of archbishop Brother Agostinho de Jesus, as his burial monument. He passed away in 1609, with his remains transferred in 1628 to a wooden tomb, ordered by the city of Braga, and located in the main chapel. The original Mannerist style underwent substantial change in the 18th century when the façade was rebuilt in a neo-classical style according to a design by Carlos Amarante. The church is dedicated to the Virgin after the Church of Saint Mary of Populo in Rome. It is well worth a visit for its elaborate finishings including the blue and white tiling attributed to Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes (18th century). By no means - do not miss the tile panels that make up the walls of the grand staircase of the building of the Convent of Pópulo:
Exit the huge square from its south-east corner. Continue EAST along Rua do Souto. Turn Left (north) Rua do Castelo:
On your right, in Rua do Castelo - Braga Castle (Castelo de Braga) + Torre de Menagem. It is a historical fortification and defensive line encircling the city of Braga. While, in fact, the only remains of this structure are the various gates and towers along its perimeter, the main keep tower is the only true remnant of the medieval castle. The old castle, today demolished, had an approximate rectangular plan, with towers on each vertice. Of the walls of the city, only the gate, tower of Santiago, tower of São Sebastião and Porta Nova remain. The demolition of the grounds began in 1858 in the Largo do Barão de S. Martinho, with the destruction of the Souto Gate, followed by the Eastern and São Bento Gates, still in the 19th century. After the beginning of the 20th century, many other lines of the castle were destroyed between the Arco da Porta Nova and Rua dos Biscainhos, and from Rua dos Biscainhos and Rua do Alcaide. Few remnants of the medieval lines remain today. The ancient wall can be seen in some of the backyards of homes along the Rua do Anjo and Rua de São Marcos. Still further, there still exist the Gate of São Tiago, even if partially altered due to the construction in the second half of the 18th century, through the addition of the Capela da Senhora da Torre:
on your left, in Rua do Castelo - Reitor Da Igreja Dos Terceiros. The Church of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis dates back to 1690. The facade, is in the Baroque style, presents a broken pediment, surmounted by a cross and the arms of San Francisco. Inside, the ceiling is vaulted in stone, the altars are gilded and the walls are tiled with motifs signed by Nicolau de Freitas. The church is not open, regularly, to the public:
The Retablo with Azulejos and list of all Bishops:
You arrive to Avenida Central. Turn RIGHT (east) to the Praça da República. The Praça da Republica Square is Portugal at its best. It is a wide, expansive space with a fountain at its heart and surrounded by grand architecture from a variety of periods that define the history of this historic city. This is a square that opens up between the wide Largo de San Francisco and Barão de São Martinho and Avenida Central and Avenida da Liberdade. The Republic Square, popularly referred to simply as Arcade. The square was opened in the late Middle Ages. The name Arcade is due to existing archway (west side with the Igreja da Lapa), erected on the initiative of D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles in 1715, in place of another, earlier, dating back to the time of D. Diogo de Sousa. It was here, from the late sixteenth century. Here were marketed food products which were supplied to the city. The space was transformed into a public garden in the mid nineteenth century and the works of the present building of the arch, with the municipal engineer Joaquim Pereira da Cruz project, was completed in 1885. Between 1761 and 1904 the square was named Lapa and off, between 1904 and 1910 - Largo Hintze Ribeiro. Finally, with the establishment of the Portuguese Republic (1910), the square received the current name. In the centre - illuminated fountain. The fountain is named the Vianna fountain, and in fact many locals simply refer to the Praça da Republica Square as “Vianna”. In the south-east corner of the square - the Tourist Information office. A MacDonalds is in the middle if you need a stop. By day, the Praça da Republica Square is the perfect place for hanging out, people watching and admiring your surroundings from the comfort of a café chair, with a pastel de nata, rich, freshly brewed coffee or a light local beer for company. Things are livened up regularly by a variety of street artists who come to entertain the crowds. By night the mood changes and the Praça da Republica becomes a popular dining destination, especially in summer when it is possible to sit outside and enjoy the balmy evening weather as you taste some of the gastronomic delights of one of Portugal’s leading culinary centres:
In the west side - Igreja de Lapa and the Arcade (Archway):
The oldest café in the city is the Vianna Café, which lies in the heart of the square and has been a leading congregation point for residents and visitors alike since it was opened as long ago as 1858:
Turn SOUTH along Avenida da Liberdade. A WONDERFUL AVENUE. Magnificent buildings on the east side, manicured flower-beds, cafe's. Portugal at its best. Braga carpeted it with flowers. An utmost pleasure !
From this protesting signpost - you can learn a lot about the economic situation in Portugal 2014 (and about its advantages to foreign tourists...):
On the first crossway - turn RIGHT (WEST) to Rua Doutor Gonçalo Sampaio. In the END of this road - you arrive to Largo Carlos Amarante. This is a wonderful square with admirable gardening and a couple of important, interesting and pretty buildinmgs: The Hospital de São Marcos (right side of the following photo) and the imposing Igreja de Santa Cruz. In the center of the square is a granite fountain shaped flower, surrounded by a small garden area and some stone benches to sit:
Igreja de Santa Cruz - what a facade !!!. IBuilt during the years 1625 - 1631. The tower is from 1735. The Retablo from the XVIIIth century:
The Hospital de São Marcos:
Return to the Avenida da Liberdade and continue southward. Turn, again, right (west) in the next crossway to Rua Raio - to see the (under construction works) the Palacio do Raio. It is an example of the late Baroque, early Rococo style of decoration by Portuguese architect André Soares, notable for his influence in the northern Baroque movement. The construction of this ornate palace was ordered by João Duarte de Faria, a knight of the Order of Christ, who was a rich merchant. The commission was given to André Soares in 1754–1755, an architect already famous in the Braga region for his artistic and engineering projects. In the context of Portuguese art, André Soares was part of the end of the Baroque period, and beginning of the Rococo; his style used the structure of the Baroque, but the decorative style of the Rococo. In 1760, the staircase was painted. A century later, the residence was acquired by Miguel José Raio, then Viscount of São Lázaro (in 1867), thus, over time, becoming known as the Palace of Raio. In the future will be the Interpretive Center of Memories of Mercy of Braga - the estate institution of ancient and traditional health care in the region. fIt will be fully rehabilitated to accommodate the museum center, as well as the documentary collection of the institution. It will contain collections and machines used in medical care, as well as other utensils of ancient hospitals. The Completion is scheduled for mid-2015 the initiative has a budget of € 4.2 million that will be used in the comprehensive rehabilitation of the building. A masterpiece !!!
The second-floor balcony with ornate decoration and monolithic lintel, and flanking sculptures:
Walk back in Rua Raio. Now, your back is in the south-west and your face are in the north-east. Cross Avenida da Liberdadeand look to your left:
and continue north-east along Rua Raio. Turn LEFT (after the parking lot) to Rua Dom João Cândido de Novais e Sousa. Cross from south to north the Jardim da Avenida Central
to see the Convento dos Congregados, Avenida Central 98. A garden with lush greenery, flowerbeds and benches located in the historic city center. A fountain, a lake, a bandstand and statues of individuals. The convent is a 18th-century Baroque Basilica designed by the architect André Soares. It is flanked on the top by two bell towers, one of which was finished in the 1960s:
Walk eastward along the Jardim da Avenida Central until you arrive to Largo Senhora A. Branca:
Return west to the Praça da República and continue west to: Rua do Souto, Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa, Rua Andrade Corvo - back to the Estacao de Braga (Braga Railway station).
Sant-George Castle and Alfama.
Start: Largo Martin Moniz.
End : Praca de Comercio.
Duration: 1/2 day.
Distance: 6-7 km.
Weather: Arrive to Sant-George Castle as early as possible to avoid high temperatures while in Alfama.
Take the Metro to Largo Martin Moniz. We start from this extensive square. There are several places in Lisbon that still remain unmentioned in tourism guides. It's one of Lisbon's biggest squares but has been one of the most overlooked over the last few years. Martim Moniz, a multicultural area, is still one of them. It seems like you’re in the Orient. There are small Chinese groceries, Turkish kebab houses, Indian restaurants and stores, and by the smell you can say you’re in Chinatown or Little Bombay. Great conglomeration of ethnic supermarkets and colorful lifestyle. it's been brought back to life and now attracts all kinds of locals and tourists. Inside the Mouraria shopping center, located in the Martim Moniz square, you’ll find Popat Store. There are African products, dried fish, coconut milk, Okra and hot Piri-piri. Ask the shops owners to find the most exotic spices and products from any corner of the world. On weekends there's a market offering everything from grocery products to clothing. The square is therefore now a meeting place, always accompanied by a view of the Sant-George Castle.
Take Tram 28 from Martin Moniz to Portas do Sol. From there it is 5 minutes walk to Castle Sant-George. Martin Moniz is one of the terminals of Tram 28. It's perhaps Lisbon's most popular activity: A ride back in time over hills and medieval streets in vintage trams that are still part of the city's public transportation network. Line 28 of Lisbon's iconic trams was inaugurated in 1914 and today it has a 7km route between Martim Moniz Square and the neighborhood of Prazeres (between Graça and Estrela in a shorter journey). It survived the rise of the automobile and of the bus by being the best way to squeeze through the narrow streets and corners of the older districts, for being an attractive tour, and for its clean energy. It's now an essential part of Lisbon's life, a city that would lose part of its soul without the constant rattling of these singular yellow, ringing "wagons". The trams are known as ‘electricos’ in Portuguese, so look out for ‘electrico 28’. The 28 line uses about fifty turn-of-the-century cars, built in wood with a capacity for twenty seating passengers and 38 standing (although many more cram in). The average intervals between each one is 15 minutes and the entire trip takes between 40 minutes and one hour (at a maximum speed of 50km per hour), depending on the obstacles (traffic and doubled-parked cars) along the way. The ride to Sant-George Castle takes 10 - 15 minutes. The first one starts the day just after 6AM, and the last one departs shortly after 11PM. Tickets can be purchased from the driver but most passengers use re-chargable / pre-paid cards, including most tourists who buy the Lisboa Card (recommended to avoid having to get a ticket each time you board, and to save money). Upon entering (always through the front door), validate your ticket by scanning it on the machine behind the driver. As you step on and off, watch your wallet and other possessions as this being a major tourist attraction it's a favorite target of pickpockets who easily blend in with tourists. It passes the Saint George’s (São Jorge) Castle, the famous viewpoint (miradouro) Portas do Sol (Gates to the sun) (see below) and the legendary fleamarket ‘Feira da Ladra’ in Alfama, Graça, Mouraria, Bairro Alto, (Lisbon’s bohemien haunt of artists and writers, and posssibly one of the best spots in Europe for a night out). Last stop: Cemetery ‘Prazeres’ (Cemetery of ‘Pleasures’), really worth a visit !
Tram 28, near Lisbon’s legendary flea market ‘Feira da Ladra’ ('Market of Thieves'):
The best stop for St George’s Castle, and there we drop, is at the Largo Portas do Sol viewpoint, which affords delightful views down to the river Tagus, with its boats docked in the harbour and the Alfama rooftops dropping away below. Next stop on the tram 28 route is St George’s Castle itself, sitting at Lisbon’s highest point, perched right on top of a hill and overlooking the Alfama and the river Tagus. Portas do Sol, is a panoramic viewpoint where you can relax or enjoy the cocktail bar and a restaurant offering delicious coffee and light fare:
Statue of St. Vincent - Patron of the City of Lisbon with a boat (symbol of the city) in his hands:
From the square walk south to Largo de Santa Luzia and, immediately, turn right to climb Travessa de Santa Luzia. There are brown signposts leading to Castle of S. Jorge. This is a shady road with houses decorated with Azulejos on your left:
The steep road bends left to Rua do Chão da Feira, bends again left and we arrive to the Entrance gate to Castle of Sant Jorge:
Here, starts Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo and, 2-3 minutes climb and you face the tickets office of Castelo do Sao Jorge. Open (Last admission: 30 minutes before closing time): 1 November - 28 February (Closed - December 25 and January 1) 09.00 - 18.00, 1 March - 31 October (Closed - May 1) 09.00 - 21.00, Periscope - Tower of Ulysses | Subject to weather conditions 10.00 - 17.00. Prices in euros: Adults 8,50, Students < 25 years old 5,00, Families (2 Adults and 2 children < 18 years old) 20,00, People with disabilities 5,00, Senior (> 65 years) 5,00.
Castelo do Sao Jorge:
In brief: It’s located on one of the seven hills in the city and a huge part of the castle was destroyed by the Great Earthquake of 1755. However, the main structures were recovered and, these days, visitors can enjoy the magnificent castle, the views and many cultural activities that are promoted on its grounds. This fortification is situated in the area most difficult to access at the top of the hill, making use of the natural slopes to the north and west. The purpose of the castle was to house military troops and in case of siege. The elite who lived in the Alcáçova (Citadel). Unlike most European castles it was not meant as a residence.
Saint George's Castle can be seen from almost everywhere in Lisbon. Its oldest parts date from the 6th century, when it was fortified by the Romans, Visigoths, and eventually the Moors. It served as a Moorish royal residence until Portugal's first king Afonso Henriques captured it in 1147 with the help of northern European crusaders on their way to the Holy Land. It was then dedicated to St. George, the patron saint of England, commemorating the Anglo-Portuguese pact dating from 1371, and became the royal palace until another one (that was destroyed in the Great Earthquake) was built in today's Lisbon's Comercio Square. It is now an oasis of peace, but just past the main gate is a statue of King Afonso Henriques and a series of cannons, reminders of the castle's original purpose. What remains of the Alcaçovas Palace where medieval kings lived, is a stone building now housing a restaurant, and round the back, a small archaeological museum in three underground chambers (including the one where Vasco da Gama was once received by King Manuel). Most of the castle was destroyed over the years, especially in the Great Earthquake of 1755, but still includes a long extension of walls and 18 towers. Visitors can climb the towers and walk along the ramparts for the most breathtaking views of Lisbon, or relax in the gardens where peacocks, geese and ducks walk around. One of the Castle's inner towers, the Tower of Ulysses, holds the Câmara Escura, a periscope that projects sights from around the city.
Immediately, after your entry - you face a bronze statue of Afonso Henriques, the Portuguese monarch who took the castle from the Moors. This statue is a copy of the 19th-century original by the romantic sculptor, António Soares dos Reis, which is located near Guimarães Castle in central Portugal:
This is one of the most intact castles in Europe with much of the ramparts and keeps still intact. It is awesome to be able to walk the perimeter of the old ramparts and get up into the turrets. It still retains eleven towers, the most outstanding being the Torre de Menagem (Tower of the Keep), Torre do Haver ou do Tombo (Tower of Riches or Trumbling Tower), Torre do Paço (Tower of the Palace), Torre da Cisterna (Tower of the Cistern) and the Torre de São Lourenço (Tower of St. Lawrence) located on the hillside. Ruins of older structures and a cistern still remain in a second courtyard. Also found here is a small door on the northern wall called the Door of Treason which allowed secret messengers to enter or exit when needed.
Tower of Ulysses:
Don Manuel I "O Venturoso", King of Portugal (1495 - 1521):
On your way out - you'll see the Icon of Sant Jorge, protector and defender of Portugal:
Part of the castle grounds are being dug up for archaeological purposes, as it’s known that the hill has been inhabited for millenia. The museum on the grounds has artifacts that date back to roman times. The ruins are of two times, some Roman, and some Islamic.
And the views of the city from the castle are breathtaking. I think you can see the ocean from here. Due to its exceptional location, Castelo de S. Jorge stands out among Lisbon’s belvederes for its unique and majestic sights:
Within the inner courtyard of the castle ruins a small park with water courses and with some animal enclosures has been laid out. Peacocks sit in the old trees or walk along the paths, here and there there are quiet corners in which little fountains babble. There were peacocks roaming the grounds. It is weird. I wonder if they’re natural to the area.
Another cool thing about the St. George Castle are the falcons and owls that you could hold and have your picture taken with for money:
We leave Castelo do Sao Jorge and return to Portas do Sol in the same way. With our face to the Tagus river (south) we take, on our RIGHT, the stairs down to Alfama. The flight of steps (starting from Bar Cerca Moura) is DOWN along Rua Norberto de Araújo. On your right walls from the Vizigoth period, the 10th century:
Alfama is Lisbon's one of the most picturesque and rewarding for walkers and photographers thanks to its medieval alleys and outstanding views. It survived the 1755 earthquake, and a walk through this old-fashioned residential neighborhood is now a step back in time. It is an Moorish-oriental village within a city still made up of narrow streets, tiny squares, churches, and whitewashed houses with tile panels and wrought-iron balconies adorned with pots of flowers, drying laundry, and caged birds. It was settled by the Romans and Visigoths. It was also an important Jewish quarter in the 15th century. But it was the Moors who gave the district its atmosphere and name (Alhama, in Arabic, means spring or bath - a reference to the hot springs found in the area). The Moors were also responsible for its web of streets created as a defense system, while at the same time enabling their homes to remain cool in the summer. Most of the older residents have lived here all their lives and retain a strong sense of community. An increasing number of wealthier people are investing in their properties and moving in. Several renovated buildings directly below the Sant-George Castle have been converted into some of the city's most atmospheric and unique hotels or pensions. The quarter has a quality that needs to be experienced to be truly appreciated, and the best way to get to know it is wander around admiring the postcard-perfect views, visiting the churches, and walking up to the Sant-George Castle for the most breathtaking panorama of the city and the greatest sunsets.
Turn LEFT in the first intersection to Calçadinha da Figueira.Soon, you arrive to Beco de São Miguel:
After 5 minutes of walk you'll see the white towers of the Sao Miguel Igreja (church). The original church was built in 1150 and was renovated several times in the 13th C. and 17th C. After the earthquake it had to be almost completely rebuilt, although old parts of the building were incorporated, such as the valuable carving. The ceiling is of Brazilian jacaranda wood:
With your face to Sao Miguel church - turn right to Calçadinha de São Miguel. From there, immediately, left to Beco de Cardosa. Climb the stairs. On your left:
On your front:
In the end of the flight of stairs - turn right to Rua Castelo Picão:
Turn right to Beco das Cruzes. Bend left along this alley:
In the end of the stairs - climb LEFT to Rua da Regueira:
After 180 m. steep climb in Rua da Regueira - we arrive to Largo do Salvador. Turn RIGHT to Rua de Guilherme Braga. Bend slightly, with the alley, to the right - arriving to Largo de Santo Estêvão and Santo Estêvão church. The church was founded in the 13th C. by Dinos I. It originally consisted of five aisles, a unique feature in Lisbon. The earthquake almost completely destroyed it and it was rebuilt in 1773 to an octagonal plan. The ceiling paintings in the chancel and the sacristy come from the original church. The small square in front of the church offers a fine view across the quarter to the Tagus:
Largo de Santo Estêvão:
Go down with the stairs with your face to the sea:
In the end of the stairs you arrive to Escadinhas de Santo Estêvão. On your right a splendid, typical Portuguese fountain with Azulejos:
Continue descending along the flight of stairs and you arrive to Rua dos Remedios. Do not turn left (we finished with climbing up...). Turn RIGHT, and look on your right on this Manueline door / entrance portal dating from before the 1755 earthquake:
Continuing along this road and we arrive to a broad street with a nice square - Largo do Chafariz de Dentro. On the Largo do Chafariz de Dentro is located the unobtrusive fountain of the same name. It was called Chafariz de Dentro (inner fountain) as it was unusually positioned, i.e. within the old city walls. Originating from the 14th C., it once also bore the name "Horses' Fountain", as the gargoyles portrayed two bronze horses heads. These were stolen in 1373 by Spanish troops. The fountain was built in its current form in 1622. Here you find the Museu do Fado. OPENING TIMES: Museum: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10.00 to 18.00 (last admission: 17.30). Closed on 1st of January, 1st of May and December 25th. Documentation Centre: Monday to Friday, from 14.30 to 18.00 (by previous appointment), Museum School: Monday to Friday, from 14.00 to 20.00. PRICES: Admission – 5.00€, Reduced admission prices for: under 30 years of age and adults over 65 years of age and other pensioners, organized groups and families, Lisboa Card. Go ONLY if you want to know what Fado is and it's history. How to make a museum about music? Answer: include substantial selection of Fado and the artists to listen to. The €5 entrance includes an audio guide which as well as the usual voice overs includes a vast array of music samples. There are many photos of fado singers within this small museum and for each one you can dial the number into the guide and hear a sample of their singing. You can sit on a comfy chair, tune the headphones and choose from a menu of singers - this gives you songs to enjoy while reading about particular singers. Sights and songs with the same ticket:
Opposite the Museu there is charming market of handicrafts and antiquities:
With your back to sea - cross the market and turn left to Rua de Sao Pedro, a narrow and shady alley/road. The Rua de Sao Pedro starts at the northwestern boundary of the Largo do Chafarizde Dentro. This narrow street is very lively. In addition to the open air handicrafts market - there is also an early-hour fish market which takes place here every morning. Building number 6-10 is representative of the houses in this quarter:
On your right you cross Rua da Galé and on your right Largo de São Rafael:
Turn sharply down LEFT to Rua da Judiaria. On your right a fountain with running water. Continue walking down along the steps. Again, another fountain with water. This is Lisbon's oldest fountain, the Chafariz d'El Rei. Rua da Judiaria is the center of the former Jewish quarter. It originates from the 13th C., although a fountain possibly stood on this site in Moorish times. The current fountain dates from the 18th C. The King's Fountain is built right by a piece of the old city wall. Not only did Lisbon's inhabitants come here to fetch water, ships anchored in the harbor were also supplied with water from this fountain. The high demand for water must have led to fights amongst the users as an official decree passed in 1551 regulated exactly the withdrawal of water according to sex, race and position.
Pass through the Arco do Rosário to the Largo do Terreiro do Trigo. During the 16º century it was built a small palace upon the wall. We can still see the windows of it, in the characteristic "Manuelino" style.
Turn RIGHT to Rua Cais de Santarém and you see the wall with the empty windows of it:
There is "hole" in the wall. Pass through the "hole" and turn left to Travessa de São João da Praça. This small road continues west as Rua de São João da Praça. Walking further WEST along Rua de São João da Praça - you pass Pois Cafe (#95) on your left. If you want a break in general with an eclectic but homey atmosphere, this is where you want to go. Not only do they have books to peruse through here, but you can have your cake and eat it too! Their cakes are delicious. Depending on time of day and availability, it's hard to go wrong with any of them. The place is cozy, with large tables if you need to work, and comfortable couches if you're there to just relax. They have free Wi-Fi, which is always a plus.
Continue west along Rua de São João da Praça. It changes its name to Cruzes da Sé. On your right is the Lisbon Se' (Cathedral). It is 650- 700 m. walk to Praca do Comercio. It is a good idea to spare the second half of the day (if it is not so hot...) to Belem. You catch Tram #15 from Praca do Comerci to Belem. Head west on Cruzes da Sé toward Largo da Sé, 67 m. Slight left onto Largo da Sé, 40 m. Continue onto Largo Santo António da Sé, 51 m. Turn left onto Rua da Padaria, 26 m. Turn right onto Rua de S. Julião 170 m, Turn left onto Rua da Prata, 100 m. Continue straight onto Praça do Comércio.
Porto - from Moistero Serra do Pilar to Praça da Batalha:
Orientation: The first half of the day is devoted to walk near the Douro river and to famous, more modern streets in Porto. BUT, the second half - is devoted to the historic centre and, perfectly, complements the routes offered in Porto "Around the Cathedral" and "Historic Centre of Porto" itineraries - in exploring the historic centre of this outstanding city.
Attractions: Moistero Serra do Pillar, Ponte Luis I, Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, Rua de Santa Catarina, Capela das Almas, Trinidad Metro station, Igreja de Lapa, Banca de Materiais (Bank of Materials), Igreja do Carmo and Igreja Das Carmelitas, Praça de Gomes Teixeira and its Fonte dos Leões, Livraria Lello, Igreja de Trinidade, Porto Town Hall, Avenida dos Aliados, Praça da Liberdade, Praca da Batalha.
Start: General Torre Metro station, Vila Nova de Gaia.
End: Praça da Batalha (Sao Beneto Metro station).
From General Torre Metro station walk east, in the direction of the Avenida República (already known from the "Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia- walk along the Douro river - West of Ponte Luis I" itinerary). The House of Culture (Barbot house) located on Avenue of the Republic, in the Jardim da Casa da Família Barbot, Vila Nova de Gaia, district of Porto. This is an old family residence, erected in 1904 on the initiative of the Viennese Bernardo Pinto Abrunhosa, its first owner. However, the name by which is known comes from Ermelinda Barbot, owned the property in 1945. It is listed as a Public Interest since 1982. The Municipality of Gaia acquired the property, recovered it and then installed the Culture House, headquarters of the Department of Culture, Heritage and Tourism of the municipality. The Barbot House - House of Culture currently has an area for exhibitions and promotional events such as debates, seminars, workshops, book launches and musical moments. It is the only example of new art in Vila Nova de Gaia and includes elements of Arabian-inspired rooftop tiles neoclassical inspiration and also elements of oriental taste, approaching the building of a French taste of the late nineteenth century. The roof with sunglasses denotes the influence of the style of the Second French Empire of Napoleon III:
Walk along Avenida República to the north (river direction). In the cross-lights of Rua Rodrigues de Freitas - move to the east side of the avenue and climb along Rampa do Infante Santo to Moistero Serra do Pilar (see our itinerary "From Moistero Serra do Pillar to Praca da Batalha"):
There are FIVE WONDERFUL lookout sites over the Douro river in Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia: Torre dos Clerigos, Moistero Serra do Pilar, Crystal Palace Garden (In my opinion - the best, see later in this route !), Ponte Arrabida and along Avenida Paiva Couceiro in the eastern part of Porto). All of these observation points are described in our Porto blogs. I could not resist returning again (see our itinerary "From Moistero Serra do Pillar to Praca da Batalha") to this Miradouro and taking photos, again, of the magnificent views of Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia and the Douro river:
Ponte do Infante:
Ponte Luis I:
Vila NOva de Gaia:
Caves de Gaia:
Barcos Rabelos carrying some Port wine barrels:
Torre dos Clerigos:
Porto Se' Cathedral:
Funicular of Vila Nova de Gaia:
Metro on Ponte Luis I:
We are, now, in Vila Nova de Gaia but we head to Porto itself. This is the first itinerary in Porto that we cross the Douro river (from VNDG to Porto) via Ponte Luis I ( we did the same in the "Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia- walk along the Douro river - West of Ponte Luis I" itinerary - via Ponte Arrabida). From Moistero Serra do Pilar - head west on Largo Aviz toward Rampa do Infante Santo, Largo Aviz turns left and becomes Rampa do Infante Santo, turn right onto R. Rodrigues de Freitas, turn right onto Av. da República, 210 m, turn right onto R. Casino da Ponte and turn left. We cross Ponte Luis I on the level dedicated to the Metro - over a wooden deck for pedestrians.
Funicular dos Guindais and Avenida de Gustavo Eiffel from the bridge:
Ribeira from the bridge:
Vila Nova de Gaia from the bridge:
The yellow Metro line (No. 5) crossing the bridge:
View from the northern (Porto) enge of the bridge:
Cross Rua Saraiva de Carvalho. On your left the ascent to the Porto Se' - Cathedral and on your right, north-east: Torre dos Clerigos. Head north on Av. Vimara Peres, 17 m, slight left toward Calçada Vandoma (leading to the Cathedral), 23 m. Turn back and take photo of the Porto Se':
Turn right onto Calçada Vandoma, turn left onto Av. Dom Afonso Henriques, 28 m. Turn right onto R. Chã, 110 m and continue onto R. Cimo de Vila. In selecting this route - we opted for the more shady options... Continuing along Rua Cimo de Vila we arrive to an intersection
and coontinue climbing up along Rua de Santo Ildefonso. Opposite us stands Church of Saint Ildefonso. The Igreja de Santo Ildefonso is an eighteenth-century church situated near Batalha Square. Completed in 1739, the church was built in a Baroque style and features a retable by the Italian artist Nicolau Nasoni and a façade of Azulejo tilework. The church is named in honour of the Visigoth, Ildephonsus of Toledo, bishop of Toledo from 657 until his death in 667. Two notable features of the church are the Retable and the blue-and-white tiling. The artist and architect Nicolau Nasoni designed the retable, which was created and installed by architect Miguel Francisco da Silva in 1745. Approximately 11,000 Azulejo tiles cover the façade of the church, which were created by artist Jorge Colaço and placed in November 1932. The tiles depict scenes from the life of Saint Ildefonso and figurative imagery from the Gospels:
With your face to the church, continue with the road on your LEFT (west to the church) - Rua de Santa Catarina. The Rua de Santa Catarina is the most commercial artery of downtown Porto, with much of it now forbidden to traffic and reserved only for pedestrians. The planning was due to the visionary spirit of Almadas whose works of redevelopment in the second half of the eighteenth century, brought to Porto a new life. The street was extended to the Alameda Brandy today Marquês de Pombal. In this extension was named Bela Princess street. Much of the land to the west of the street, especially where later was erected the Grande Hotel do Porto in the first half of the nineteenth century were lands belonging to Dona Antonia Adelaide Ferreira, the Ferreirinha Port wine. The Rua de Santa Catarina features clothing stores, shoe stores, stands selling handicrafts and jewelery - remnants of the permanent fair located at the Battle Square (Praca da Batalha) before the works of redevelopment of the city's downtown. Here are Azulejos opposite the Bolhao Metro station and belong to the pretty Capela das Almas. The facade is really nice and well preserved. The tiles feature the life of St. Catherine:
Capela das Almas interior:
We climb north along Rua Rua de Santa Catarina. In the 4th or 5th turn to the left to Rua de Gonçalo Cristóvão. Walk along this street west and on the 3rd turn, if you turn LEFT (we continue westward) to Rua Bon Jardim to face the Trinidad Metro station - the most central and busy station in Porto. It is the only station where lines A, B, C, E and F (which run as one line within the metropolitan area) intersect with line D. It is in the centre of Porto and is the busiest station in the system by passenger numbers:
We continue west along Rua de Gonçalo Cristóvão and cross rua de Camoes and arrive to Praça República. With the establishment of the Republic in Portugal in 1910, the square's name was changed to the Republic Square.
Along the EASTERN side of the Republic Square walk north along Rua Regeneração. Turn left to Largo de Lapa to face the Igreja de Lapa. Father Angelo Sequeira Oporto received on year 1755 the papal permission of Pope Benedict XIV, with generous donations of the faithful community, to build up the Chapel of Our Lady of Lapa's Confessions. The construction of the church dragged on for over 100 years due to scarcity of resources and the Napoleonic invasions. Since 1835, the interior of the church houses the heart of King Pedro IV. From 1837, it is accommodated in a monument built by Costa Lima and located in the Main Chapel, on the Gospel side:
Monument of King Pedro V:
The huge organ of Lapa Church:
We return south to the Praca Republica. We stick to its west side with our face to the south. Continue south along the narrow Rua dos Mártires da Liberdade road (I suspect the road does not bear a signage in its beginning). BTW, on the south-east corner of the squre - Pingo Doce supermarket. Cross Rua dos Bragas on your right. Take the left, shady side of the road. On your left you pass through Rua Pinheiro. Step a few steps onto this alley to admire the inhabitants passion for football:
Continue south along Rua dos Mártires da Liberdade to arrive to Fonte das Oliveiras in Largo de Alberto Pimentel:
Continue south along Rua das Oliveiras. On your right Teatro Carlos Alberto with restaurant / bar (under reconstruction). I took my lunch, here, in Restaurante a Lareira, Rua Oliveiras 10, Porto, T: 4050-448. See Tip below. In the end of Rua Oliveiras we arrive to Praca / Jardim Carlos Alberto, which we are familiar with from our itinerary "Historic Centre of Porto". Immediately on your right is the Banca de Materiais (Bank of Materials). Here, in the Palace of the Viscounts Balsemão, Plaza Carlos Alberto, 71, 4050-157 Porto, Tel (+351) 223 393 480. http://balcaovirtual.cm-porto.pt/PT/cultura/patrimoniocultural/bancodemateriais/catalogosemateriais/Paginas/catalogosemateriais.aspx
You can find a marvelous collection of Azulejos. This is a project initiated by the Municipality of Porto in order to safeguard, enhance and raise awareness of the numerous different specimens such as Portuguese ceramic tiles. No photos allowed. Walk south along Praca Carlos Alberto and turn right to the Igreja do Carmo and Igreja Das Carmelitas (already covered in "Historic Centre of Porto" itinerary:
With our back to the couple of churches - we turn LEFT (EAST) to Praça de Gomes Teixeira and its Fonte dos Leões (Lions Fountain) (visited in the "Historic Centre of Porto" itinerary:
Leave this square from its south-east side and continue down to the Rua das Carmelitas. On your right you see the the Jardim da Cordoaria / das Oliveiras and the Torre dos Clerigos ("Historic Centre of Porto" itinerary). On your left at Rua das Carmelitas No. 144 - the world-renowned bookstore - Livraria Lello & Irmão. Along with Bertrand in Lisbon, it is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal. In 2011, the travel publishing company Lonely Planet classified Livraria Lello as the third best bookstore in the world. Also known as Livraria Chardron or simply Livraria Lello (Lello Bookstore). In 1881, José Pinto de Sousa Lello established a bookstore in the nearby Almada street. In 1894, Mathieux Logan sold the old Chardron Library to José Lello which, holding a partnership with his brother Antonio Lello, kept Chardron with the registered name of "Sociedade José Pinto Sousa Lello & Irmão", which then would be referred to as "Livraria Lello e Irmão". The bookstore is located in a house decorated in Art Nouveau, with some features of the Gothic revival. You must go to see the inside of the building as it is spectacular. It has a beautiful stain glass ceiling that gives the store a beautiful glow. The staircase is worth a look. Note that it is very popular so gets quite crowded. Don't let the crowds keep you away.Photos strictly NOT permitted inside the store: If you come early, at 9, before the store opens, they do allow you to take pictures then:
All the houses in the left (north-east) side of rua das Carmelitas - are exceptionally beautiful:
With your face in R. das Carmelitas down (south-east) turn LEFT (north-east) onto Galeria de Paris, 140 m. Turn left onto R. Santa Teresa
37 m and turn right onto Rua de José Falcão. Climb up whole Rua Falcao and note houses nos. 86 - 150 with their ceramic tiles. In the end of Rua Falcao - turn RIGHT to Rua da Conceição and walk until Largo de Mompilher and Café Candelabro (MON - SAT 10.00 - midnight). The Chandelier is an open café-bookstore opened in December 2009. The shelves are being filled with books, mostly about film and photography. The cafe' buys used books, especially about photography, cinema, theater, plastic arts. They also seek photographs and postcards, old and new:
If the Café Candelabro is on your right - there is a dmolished red pagoda on your left. We continue in the same direction we've arrived to the square and Café Candelabro - EAST to Rua Doutor Ricardo Jorge. WE walk until the end of Rua Dr. Ricardo Jorge until we arrive to Praça Trindade.
On your left is the Igreja de Trinidade and on your right the City Hall of Porto. The Trinity Church was built during the nineteenth century, according to project architect Carlos Amarante (who is buried in this church). The church was opened for worship on June 5, 1841. In the chancel stands out the large panel of the painter José de Brito, representing the Baptism of Christ:
Porto Town Hall is, formally, in Avenida dos Aliados. Built from 1920 to 1957 in Neo-Baroque style. It is a very impressive building with Doric and Corinthian marble pillars. Its south facade is especially magnificent in the afternoon sun. It is one of Porto’s landmarks, along with Clérigos Tower, this is one of the most famous monuments among tourists. Porto City Hall is an imposing building that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. Also note worthy is the solid 70m high tower with a carillon clock.
Salvador Barata Feyo monument in Avenida dos Aliados:
With the Camara Municipal (CM) (City Hall) on your back - walk south along Rua Clube dos Fenianos which changes to Avenida dos Aliados. The Allies Avenue honors the Allies of World War countries. The magnificence of this avenue and its architectural complexes make it the "living room" of the city, the place par-excellence where Portuenses prefer to celebrate their special days. All the buildings are of quality granite, many of them crowned with skylights, domes and spires. Midway through the avenue on either side are the two entrances of the Aliados Metro Station of Line D. It was the construction of the station that triggered the complete overhaul of the avenue, one work that was given to architects Álvaro Siza Vieira and Eduardo Souto Moura. On the afternoon of May 15, 1982, Pope John Paul II presided over a Mass celebrated next to City Hall, in the Avenida dos Aliados, in his first apostolic visit to Portugal. At the top, where stands the Town Hall of Porto, the avenue gives way to Praca General Humberto Delgado:
The Avenida dos Aliados is lined with many sculptures. Here is a statue of Garreto (1799-1854) in the Avenida dos Aliados:
The Avenida dos Aliados ends, in the south, in Praça da Liberdade:
Head east on Praça da Liberdade toward Praça Almeida Garrett, 65 m. Turn right onto Praça Almeida Garrett, 31 m. Sharp left onto R. 31 de Janeiro, 19 m. Turn right onto R. da Madeira, take the stairs, 290 m. Turn left onto R. Cimo de Vila, 5 m, continue onto R. de Santo Ildefonso and Praca da Batalha will be on the right. From here it is 2-3 minutes walk to Sao Beneto Metro station.
Ribeira (Porto Riverfront): from Rua da Bainharia to Praca da Ribeira:
Start: Tourist Information Office in the Se' - Cathedral square.
End: Praca da Ribeira.
Orientation: The city is quite varied architecturally, with medieval as well as modern living side by side. Porto's geography is hard on the feet, but pleasant to the eye. The city is extremely hilly, with many buildings built into a cliff face that overlooks the river. Stairs cut into the stone run up and down the cliff face and offer a laborious but rewarding walking tour. With photogenic traditional boats floating at the quayside overlooked by colorful ancient houses, this is the most picturesque area in the city and the place everyone loves -- UNESCO did too, and declared it a World Heritage Site. While the main streets are busy with tourists, the backstreets are quiet and often completely empty. Yet, it's here where you can discover the most picturesque everyday scenes. I particularly liked the backstreets behind the overcrowded Praca da Ribeira and Cais da Ribeira. There are lots of nice places - hidden plazas, colorful houses in narrow alleys, stairs leading up to other squares. One of the reasons why Porto is such a pretty town is very much because it has Cais da Ribeira facing the river.
Distance: 6-7 km.
With your face to the Tourist Information Office in the Se' - Cathedral square, turn RIGHT and descend the stairs (Escadas da Sé) northward to Rua Escura. Turn your head backward to catch one more glimpse of Porto Se' Cathedral:
In the end of Rua Escura turn LEFT to Rua da Bainharia. The designation of the street Bainharia has medieval origin and owes its name to the high concentration of this concourse Bainheiros, craftsmen who dedicated themselves to the manufacture of sheaths for melee weapons, including swords. Walk along Rua da Bainharia and find your way into the small streets. Just look for narrow roads, colorful walls and lots of houses !
On the first turn, turn LEFT to Rua de Santana and you arrive to Largo da Colegio. Small square with exceptional view of houses steeply hung over the square. Here you see the rear of the buildings of the street Aldas:
In the square you find unusual, poorly visited gem: Igreja dos Grilos. Built by the Jesuits in 1577. It is a Mannerist-Baroque-style, funded by donations from the faithful, as well as Frei Luís Álvaro de Távora, who is buried here. The Church and Convent of São Lourenço were built enduring strong opposition from both the Municipal Chamber and the population. However, the followers of St. Ignatius of Loyola finally got the much coveted school which provided free classes - this quickly resulted in a remarkable success. With the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1759, by order of the Marquis of Pombal, the church was donated to the University of Coimbra until its purchase by the Discalced Friars of the Order of Saint Augustine that were there from 1780 to 1832. These friars came from Spain in 1663, settling initially in Lisbon, at the "site of Cricket" (lugar do Grilo), where they quickly gained the sympathy of the village, earning the name "brothers-crickets" (irmãos-grilos) and thus the name of the church where they fixed residence in Porto. During the Siege of Porto, the brothers were forced to leave the convent, which later was occupied by the liberal troops of Dom Pedro. The Academic Battalion, integrating Almeida Garrett, settled there. Today the premises belong to the Seminário Maior do Porto, to which they have belonged since 1834. Its interior is unique, with a magnificent light...and so peaceful ! The interior is monumental, magnificent and monochrome. You can appreciate the weight of history and the building tradition, enhanced by magnificent altars and colorful ornaments. A MUST in Porto !!!
Crucified Christ, polychromatic wood, 18th Century:
Ceramic tile (Azulejo) in the church:
South to the Largo de Colegio and Igreja dos Grilos - there is viewpoint terrace over the Douro river and downtown Porto houses:
Return, via Rua de Santana, to Rua da Bainharia. Walk west to its end.
There, turn left to the bustling Rua São João. Walk down south along Rua São João and turn (in the 1st intersection) RIGHT to Rua do Infante Dom Henrique. On your right Feitoria Inglesa - a historic building built by a British consulate in 1785. An excellent testimony to the Portuguese-British alliance and the weight of the British community in the city of Porto, largely engaged in trade of Port wine. The earliest English factory in the North of the country, dating from the sixteenth century, was located in Viana do Castelo. The first regulation of the Factory House of Oporto came in 1727. The house was built between 1785 and 1790, according to a draft of the English consul John Whitehead. The factory house is inspired by the English Palladian style:
After passing Rua Mouzinho da Silveira, on your right, you arrive to Praca do Infante Dom Henrique and the old, historical houses around it. This square, right in the historic center of Porto, honors the Infante D. Henrique - the most important figure of the early Portuguese discoveries - who, according to tradition, to had been born nearby at the so-called House of Prince, in 1394. This square gets its name from the monument that is in the same center, dedicated to Prince Henry, called "Explorer Prince" or "THe navigator Prince". Made by Tomás Costa, the statue was erected in 1894. The statue comprises several sculptured sets. At the top, there is the prince's statue, standing next to a globe of the Earth. The top part is joined to the pedestal by a neo-gothic phytomorphic stylisation. At the base, there are two allegorical sets: one Victory leading two steeds and two tritons, representing the triumph of the Portuguese sea voyages; a feminine shape symbolising the Faith in the Discoveries. The statue also has low reliefs by the pedestal, representing the conquest of Ceuta and the Prince in the Sagres promontory:
Mercado Ferreira Borges in Praça and Statue de Infante Dom Henrique: The name honors Jose Ferreira Borges market, a jurisconsult and Porto politician who was at the genesis of the implementation of the liberal regime in Portugal. Built in 1885 to replace the now old Ribeira Market, despite never having fulfilled the functions for which it was originally intended, due to the reluctance of dealers to leave the previous market, the Mercado Ferreira Borges is now used for exhibitions and fairs cultural context:
Palacio da Bolsa: Palacio de Bolsa, or Palace of the Commercial Association of Porto was constructed in October 1842, due to the end of the House of the Stock Exchange, which temporarily forced the traders to relocate fully outdoors. With a mixture of architectural styles in the building - it presents all its splendor with traces of neoclassical nineteenth century, Tuscan architecture, as well as English neo-Paladian. As headquarters of the Commercial Association of Porto, it,now, serves for the most diverse cultural, social and political events of Porto city. The Arab Hall holds the biggest highlight of all the rooms of the palace because, as the name implies, the nineteenth century stucco captioned Gold with Arabic characters that fill the walls and ceiling of the room. It is in this hall that takes place tributes to the heads of state who visit the city. In the Portrait Room there is one of the famous engraver José Zeferino Pinto tables. The Palácio da Bolsa is open for tourist visits, being one of the most popular heritage buildings in the city of Porto. Opening hours: April - Octobre: 09.00 – 18.30 (everyday). Novembre - March: 09.00 – 12.30, 14.00 – 17.30 (everyday). Individual ticket: €7,00, student/senior: €4,00. Children < 12 years - free.
Pátio das Nações:
There is Mercado - a restaurant/ Cervejaria in the red market building:
Igreja de S. Nicolau: This church is located almost opposite the Church of San Francisco, and practically opposite to the emblematic Palacio da Bolsa, in the Praça Infante D. Henrique. It is an old medieval church, which had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1758, and therefore presents a mix of classic and Baroque styles. It was named by the bishop of Porto, Nicholas Miller, who had built it. It's small, but what stands out most is the main façade, decorated with tiles and large windows, with a monumental entrance, flanked by pillars on which is the coat of arms of the bishop:
We continue down (south-west) along Rua do Infante Dom Henrique. Before this street changes its name to Rua Nova Alfândega, on your left - you see a red house with CESAP.PT sign. I have no idea what is this building and I suspect it belongs to the School of Arts of the University of Porto:
adjacent to the red house is a new hotel: 1872 River House with colored-glass windows (opposite: chemical WC). The 1872 hotel (opened at April 2014) is located at the Ribeira, right where the Muro dos Bacalhoeiros is, and right in front of the Douro. It has eight rooms, some facing the city, some facing the river:
From here look back to see, again, the Se' Cathedral of Porto. This is the view seen by the hotel's rear rooms visitors:
The more expensive rooms are overlooking magnificent views of the Douro river:
Opposite the hotel, on your right, up on a low hill - Igreja (church) de San Francisco. This famous church and other, nearby, religious and cultural sites (Museu da Venerável Ordem Terceira de São Francisco do Porto, Casa da Horta - Associação Cultural) - are reported in another blog/itinerary devoted, more in-depth to the Centro Storico of Porto city.
Turn left to Rua da Reboleira and zig-zag down to the Douro river. I recommend walking, first, to the EAST (right) arriving to Muro dos Bacalhoeiros densely packed with restaurants, outdoor tables and cafe's. In this area of Porto lived one of the most charismatic figures of the city, called the Duke of Ribeira, known for saving several people drown:
Here is also the famous restaurant Vinhas d'Alho: Not cheap, but, good food and fantastic scenery around. A lot of passers-by. Limited space for outdoor tables:
from Muro dos Bacalhoeiros you get a wonderful view over: Ponte (bridge) Luis I, Cais (pier) Estiva, cais Ribeira and Cais Guindais:
Keep walking along the river eastward and arrive to Largo do Terreiro. Here, you hit the ODE Porto Wine House. The ODE Porto Wine House is very nice restaurant, small, cosy and romantic. Their dishes are based on high quality organic food from local products.
Largo do Terreiro - grandiose views to : Ponte Luis I, Villa Nova de Gaia and Praca de Ribeira;
2-3 minutes later, eastward - and you arrive to Praca da Ribeira, Ribeira Square. The square is located in the historical district of Ribeira (riverside in Portuguese). The Ribeira district spreads alongside the Douro river and used to be a centre of intense commercial and manufacturing activity since the Middle Ages. Also since that time the Ribeira Square was the site of many shops that sold fish, bread, meat and other goods. In 1491 the buildings around the square were destroyed in a fire, and the houses were rebuilt with arcades in their groundfloors. During this rebuilding campaign the square also gained a pavement made of stone slabs. In the mid-18th century the city needed new urban improvements to provide for the swift flow of goods and people between the Ribeira neighbourhood and other areas of Porto. In this context, governor João de Almada e Melo opened a new street, the São João Street, that connected the Ribeira Square and the upper town, and promoted the reurbanisation of the square itself. The project, executed between 1776 and 1782, is credited to John Whitehead, English consul in Porto. The square was to become enclosed on its north, west and east sides by buildings with arcades, while the south side of the square, facing the Douro, was enclosed by the mediaeval walls (Muralhas Fernandinas) of Porto. These walls were torned down in 1821, opening the square to the river. The northern part of the square has a monumental fountain, three storeys high, built in the 1780s and decorated with the coat-of-arms of Portugal. The niche of the fountain is occupied by a modern statue of St John the Baptist by sculptor João Cutileiro. The square also has a modern cubic sculpture by José Rodrigues (nicknamed the Cubo da Ribeira) over the remains of a 17th-century fountain. Nowadays the Ribeira Square is a favourite spot for tourists. The small cafes encircle the square, with tables and chairs crammed into the cave like premises. Tables and chairs spill over into the square, with the chance to enjoy a drink or meal, overlooking the river. The Ribeira quarter , lines the banks of the River Douro, from the foot of the Ponte D. Luis, along towards the Praca da Ribeira. This historical (UNESCO protected) area of Porto is well worth a visit, whether just to stroll along the riverside, enjoying the atmosphere, or to linger for a cool drink or meal at one of the many cafes and restaurants. On a blue skied and sunny warm day afternoon, it is very pleasant to choose a table at one of the pavement cafes and enjoy a leisurely drink, and watch the boats gliding up and down the Douro, be entertained by the musicians and singers, and people watch. At the height of summer it's quite crowded and probably not so relaxing. At night time the area changes its character completely, with the thick sea mist swirling around, and the streets leading off Ribeira, being quite dimly lit and narrow:
São João Batista de Cutileiro:
From Pushkinskaya Square to Red Square
Tip 1: Tverskaya. From Pushkin square to the Manege Square.
Tip 3: From the Red Square to the Revolution Square Metro Station.
Main attractions: Pushkinskaya Metro station, Tverskaya Metro station, Pushkinskaya Square, statue of Pushkin, Izvestia building, Tverskaya Street, Moscow Townhall, Central Telegraph Building, Kamergerskiy pereulok (Moscow Art Theatre), Theatre Square, Bolshoy Theatre, Operetta Theatre, State Duma, Yermolova Theatre, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Hotel National, Four Seasons Hotel, Manezhnaya ploshchad or Manege Square, statue of Marshall Gregory Zhukov, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Red Square, Resurrection Gate and the Iveron chapel, The State Historical Museum, former City Hall, Kazan Cathedral, GUM shopping centre, St. Basil's Cathedral, Lenin's Mausoleum, Kremlin Wall Necropolis, Lobnoye Mesto.
Start: Pushkinskaya. Nearest metro stations: Tverskaya, Pushkinskaya,
End: Ploshchad' Revolyutsii (Revolution Square) Metro station (Line 3, the Dark Blue line).
Duration: 3/4 day - 1 day.
Distance: 6 km.
By saying "Pushkinskaya" - we mean, primarily, the Pushkinskaya Square or Pushkin Square (Пу́шкинская пло́щадь) in the Tverskoy District of central Moscow. You can reach this square ONLY from the underground pass. If you're looking for something to do, people to watch, and a general buzzing atmosphere, this is the place to take it all in. After all, this is one of the busiest squares in the world. Moscow's Time Square. We were there, in a gloomy, summer-time Sunday - and it was EMPTY. It was historically known as Strastnaya Square, after Strastnoy Monastery, which was demolished after the revolution, like all other churches. It was renamed for Alexander Pushkin in 1937. It is part of the Boulevard Ring: Tverskoy Boulevard to the southwest and Strastnoy Boulevard to the northeast (followed by Petrovsky Blvd. further to the east). Tverskaya Street, 2 kilometres is leading us from Pushkinskaya Square southeast to the Kremlin (2 km. northwest of the Kremlin). It is commonly known to locals as "Pushka" (cannon).
In 2011, city authorities halted the construction of an underground retail and leisure centre at Pushkinskaya Square. The decision to build the centre had sparked protests from cultural heritage groups, members of the scientific and artistic communities and the public. The project, had been canceled, formally, at 2013. In 2011 Moscow has lost more than 10 historic buildings. So, on 1 OCT 2011, Archnadzor, a Moscow preservation society, organized a rally opposing the destruction of Moscow architectural landmarks. Around 700 people attended. The participants were Archnadzor activists, public figures, experts. They, mainly, protested against the Pushkinskaya Square reconstruction plans.
Do not miss the square during the Christmas period or during local holidays and festivals. In summer, the Moscow Film Festival is held here. The square itself is a bustling collection of restaurants, bars, cafes and entertainment venues. The huge building of Pushkinsky cinema never leaves cinema-lovers in peace: it possesses the biggest screen in Western Europe, and almost every show here is a national premiere. Pushkinskaya Square is home to Russia's very first - and biggest - McDonalds restaurant. With stories of queues around the block upon its initial opening in 1990, and images of McDonalds' staff being given lessons in smiling to patrons, this is worth a stop if only just to contemplate the capitalist journey of this heavenly consumerist city over recent years. Notably, this McDonald has been the largest one in the world for over 20 years, but will be beaten into 2nd place by a new establishment on the London's Olympic site. The restaurant had been closed in AUG 2014 by the Russian authorities. McDonald's has become a casualty of heightened tensions between Russia and the US over the Ukraine crisis, as some of Moscow’s more patriotic officials take aim at the US fast food giant, presumably as a proxy for the White House.
There is a bunch of Metro stations around. Pushkinskaya Metro station is 60 m. east to the Tverskaya Metro station and 180m. west to the Chekhovskaya Metro station. Practically, all the three are interconnected underground. Arguably the most beautiful station on the 7 Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya (violet) line - the architects Vdovin and Bazhenov took every effort to make it appear to have a 'classical' 19th century setting. The central hall lighting is created with stylised 19th century chandeliers with two rows of plafonds appearing like candles, while the side platforms have candlesticks with similar plafonds. The columns, covered with 'Koelga' white marble are decorated with palm leaf reliefs and the grey marble walls are decorated with brass measured insertions based on the works of the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. The grey granite floor completes the appearance of the masterpiece. Architecturally the station put the final stop to the functionality economy design of the 1960s and went against Nikita Khrushchev's policy of struggle to avoid decorative 'extras', which left the stations of 1958–59 greatly altered in their design. “Pushkinskaya” (Пушкинская) metro station is located on “Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya” line (violet line) of Moscow metro, between stations “Barrikadnaya” and “Kuznetski most”. It is possible to get to “Zamoskvoretskaya” subway line ("Tverskaya" station) and “Serpukhovsko-Timiryazevskaya” line ("Chekhovskaya" station) from station “Pushkinskaya”. The station was opened on December 17, 1975. Depth of the station is 51 meters. Width of the middle hall of the station is 8.2 meters, height - 6.25 meters. Pushkinskaya metro station has two underground lobbies: West underground lobby is shared by stations “Pushkinskaya” and “Tverskaya”. The lobby has two underground halls, connected by two passages (here are located ticket-offices). The lobby has entrance on “Tverskaya” street and in the underpass. East underground lobby is shared by stations “Pushkinskaya” and “Chekhovskaya”. The lobby has an exit to the underpass under “Strastnoj Boulevard” street (further north to the start of our daily route).
Tverskaya (Тверская) Metro station is located on the “Zamoskvoretskaya” metro line (green line No. 2), between stations “Mayakovskaya” and “Teatralnaya”. The station was opened on July 20, 1979. Until 05.11.1990 the station had the name “Gorkovskaya”. The station has connections to the station “Pushkinskaya” (Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya line) and “Chekhovskaya” (Serpukhovsko-Timiryazevskaya line). Entrance to the station is via a shared with “Pushkinskaya” station underground vestibule, which is located under Pushkinskaya Square. Exit to the city from the lobby through the underground passages, through of the “Izvestia” publishing building, on Tverskaya Street. Passage to the station “Pushkinskaya” is located in the center of the station underground hall. Passage to the station “Chekhovskay’ is located in the south end of the station hall.
Metro station “Chekhovskaya” (Чеховская) is located on “Serpukhovsko-Timiryazevskaya” line (gray line, No. 9) of the Moscow Metro, between stations “Tsvetnoy boulevard” and “Borovitskaya”. The station was opened on December 31, 1987. Depth of the station is 62 meters. The metro station is located at the intersection of streets “Strastnoy Boulevard”, “Malaya Dmitrovka”, “Bolshaya Dmitrovka”, next to the “Pushkinskaya” square. Passage to the station “Pushkinskaya” of Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya line is located in the middle of the hall. Transfer to the station “Tverskaya” of Zamoskvoretskaya metro line located in the western end of the central hall of the station. Exit to the city through the underpass and ground lobby, located in a building on Pushkin Square.
At the center of the square is the famous statue of Pushkin, funded by public donations and opened by Ivan Turgenev and Fyodor Dostoyevsky in 1880. The square worth a quick visit if only to admire the dominating statue of Pushkin. Originally installed on the opposite side of the Pushkin Square, In 1950 the monument was moved to the place where he stands today. Hard to believe that this wonderful creation exists for more than a hundred and thirty years, and the monument is still maintained in excellent condition. The most popular meeting-place in Moscow. It's hard to find a Muscovite, who at least once did not appoint a meeting at the monument. This poetic genius is seen as the father of Russian poetry and culture, and is immortalized throughout Russia and other post-Soviet countries almost obsessively. This particular Pushkin monument stands near the Moscow center in Pushkinskaya square, where number of poetic performances take place. Alexander Pushkin is depicted (by Russian artist Alexander Opekushin) deeply thoughtful, lays a hand behind his coat, extended leg forward, hands behind his waistcoat - appearing just as philosophical as the father of Russian poetry should be. He looks thoughtful, humble and majestic:
The Izvestia building is on the North side of Pushkin Square (cross Putinkovskiy, Большой Путинковский пер.), just off Tverskaya Ulitsa. The building is not open to the public. Izvestia, still a Russian daily newspaper. It was the official newspaper of the Soviet government (in contrast to Pravda which was the Party newspaper). The Izvestia building in Pushkin Square was built ten years after the Revolution (designed by Gregory Barkhin, 1927) to house both the offices and printing presses of Izvestia newspaper.
Tverskaya Street (Тверская улица) flows between Pushkinskaya and Tverskaya Metro stations. With Tverskaya on your right and Pushkinskaya on your left - head DOWN HILL, south-east along Tverskaya Street. We'll walk 1.1 km along this street. It is hard to find pedestrian crossing on the busy road. To cross you have to go underneath the street. You'll find the street interesting - as on both sides of the streets there are old buildings with beautiful architecture, fashionable boutiques, disco bars, restaurants, hotels, cafés, and arcades. Tverskaya Street is the most expensive shopping street in Moscow and Russia. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Tverskaya Street was renowned as the centre of Moscow's social life. The nobility considered it fashionable to settle in this district. Between the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the rise of Stalinist architecture in mid-1930s, the street acquired three modernist buildings (Izvestia Building, Central Telegraph Building and the Lenin Institute in Tverskaya Square (1926) by Stepan Chernyshyov). During the imperial period, the importance of the thoroughfare was highlighted by the fact that it was through this street that the Tsars arrived from the Northern capital to stay at their Kremlin residence. Several triumphal arches were constructed to commemorate coronation ceremonies. In 1792, the Tverskaya Square was laid out before the residence of the governor of Moscow as a staging ground for mass processions and parades. In 1947, the square was decorated with the equestrian statue of Prince Yury Dolgoruky, founder of Moscow.
You start this street where the 6 storeys Alfa-Bank building is on your left.Note the marvelous (still, decaying) Art-Nouveau building at #12:
A bit further, on your right, at # 13 is Residence of the Mayor of Moscow or Moscow Townhall (Tverskaya Street, 13) - former Moscow Governor General House. Built in 1782, it's decorated with beautiful pillars. It was a residency of Moscow rulers even during the times of Tsars:
Golden St. George the Victorious on the Moscow townhall:
Note, also, this huge picture along this bustling street - at Tverskaya #15:
At Tverskaya square stands a statue of the legendary founder of Moscow, Yuri Dolgoruky, erected for the city's 800th anniversary (year 1947). During the times of Yuri Dolgoruky Moscow is first mentioned in historic documents in 1147 as the place of meeting between Yuri and his ally, some other prince. Yuri Dolgoruky sits on a horse with helmet and armor, pointing to a place where the future Kremlin must be built. The shield in his other hand depicts St. George the Victorious - the ancient heraldic symbol of Moscow:
Fountains behind Tverskaya Square:
The huge building at #11 is a complex built for the past-Communist party VIPs:
Note at #7, down after Tverskaya Square, the Central Telegraph Building (see photo below). It was completed at 1926-7 and designed by Ivan I. Rerberg. it was one of the first major Soviet building projects commissioned in the bland neo-classical style that came to dominate the 1930s, and as such marked the beginning of the end for avant-garde architecture in Moscow. In the post-war years, the surrounding area gained notoriety as Moscow's most prominent red light district, purportedly 'staffed' by the low-wage workers of the Telegraph Office. It wasn't until the beginning of the new millennium that a concerted effort was made to clean up Tverskaya:
At this point - you can divert from Tverskaya street and turn left (north-east) to Kamergerskiy pereulok (Камергерский пер.). Immediately, as we enter this alley, small road we see the statue of K. S. Stanislavsky and V. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko - founders of Moscow Art Theatre:
Moscow Art Theatre, Kamergersky Sidestreet, 3, was established by K. S. Stanislavsky and V. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko in 1898 under the name Moscow Art Theatre (MXT). The Theatre received the status of “Academic Theater” in 1919 (MXAT). It was opened on October 14,1898 with the play “Tsar Fedor Ioanovich” in the “Hermitage” theatre building (Karetny ryad, 3). Since 1902 it is has been located on Kamergersky pereulok in the building of the former Lionozov theatre, reconstructed the same year by architect F. O. Shekhtel. The Art Theatre’s existence began from a meeting of Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko at the “Slaviansky bazaar” restaurant on June 19th, 1897. The Theatre carried the name of “Art-Public” not for a long time: in 1901 the word “Public’ was removed, but the orientation to the democratic spectator remained one of MXT’s principles. The birth of MXT is bound up with Anton Chekhov’s famous palys (“The Seagull”, 1898; “Uncle Vanya”, 1899; “Three Sisters”, 1901; “The Cherry Orchard”, 1904) and with Maxim Gorky (“The Petty Bourgeoisie” and “Lower Depths”, 1902):
Continue along Kamergerskiy pereulok. It is lined with splendid cafe's and restaurants. Nowadays, it is an up-scale quarter in Moscow. We found this road to be one of the most pleasant and atmospheric ones in Moscow. We recommend coming here, especially, in Sundays mid-day and spending one hour in one of the cafe's or eateries around:
Continue along Kamergerskiy pereulok and cross Bolshaya Dmitrovka. Kamergerskiy pereulok changes its name to ul. Kuznetskiy Most (ул. Кузнецкий Мост) another attractive road. Kuznetsky Most runs from Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street to Lubyanka Street. The name, literally Blacksmith's Bridge, refers to the 18th-century bridge over Neglinnaya River, now running in an underground tunnel, and a nearby foundry and the settlement of its workers. Since the middle of 18th century, Kuznetsky Most was the street of fashion and expensive shopping. On your left an impressive square with modern-looking buildings, side-by-side with historical mansions. Since the 1980s, the street reacquired its status as an upper-class shopping lane, notably with rebuilding of Roman Klein's historical TsUM store. Among cultural institutions located on the street are the Moscow Operetta Theater, Kuznetsky Most Exhibition Hall, as well as two major state libraries:
Turn right (south-east) to Petrovka and the second block on your right is the Bolshoy Theatre in the Theatre Square (Teatralnaya Square) (Театральная площадь), (Teatralnaya ploshchad). The square is named after the three theatres located on it — the Bolshoi Theatre, Maly Theatre (under reconstruction in summer 2015), and Russian Youth Theatre. The square is served by the Moscow metro at: the Teatralnaya station on the Zamoskvoretskaya Line; Okhotny Ryad station on the Sokolnicheskaya Line; and Ploshchad Revolyutsii station on the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line:
On the north side of the square: Bolshoy Theatre and on the opposite side (south side) the Karl Marx statue (actually, in the Revolution square):
For a certain period in the beginning of the 19th century, the square held the name Petrovskaya, thanks to the adjacent Petrovka Street. Yet after the theatres were constructed, the square received its current name. A monument to revolutionist Yakov Sverdlov was installed in the square in 1919, and the square even bore Sverdlov’s name up until 1991, when the monument was taken down. The square also used to offer public transportation, which was later replaced with beautiful fountains and greenery. The area to the right of the Bolshoi Theatre (with your face to the theatre) was purchased by prominent Moscow merchant Vasily Vargin. This area soon became home to the Maly Theatre, which was leased to the Imperial Board of Theatres. During summer 2015 - Maly Theatre was covered with heavy scaffolding. To the left of the theatre was the house of General Konstantin Poltoratsky. The house hosted Mikhail Lentovsky’s theatre, the Nezlobin New Opera and Drama Theatre, and during the Soviet era, the Central Children’s Theatre, which was later renamed the Academic Youth Theatre. In 1835, the square saw the installation of a beautiful fountain with allegorical figurines portraying Tragedy, Comedy and Music (designed by Ivan Vitali). The fountain, which was supplied from the Mytishchi sources, drew numerous water carriers. Moreover, horses were brought here to drink. Two Scottish entrepreneurs: Archibald Mirrielees and Andrew Muir opened a department store in Theatre Square in 1892, and it bore their names - called Muir & Mirrielees, up until 1922. Now it is known as one of Moscow’s largest shopping centres — TSUM (central universal store - right side of the photo below and photos above):
The history of the Bolshoi Theatre (Большо́й теа́тр), which was originally called the Petrovsky Theatre, began when Empress Ekaterina II granted a privilege to Prince Pyotr Urusov to produce theatre performances in Moscow. Unfortunately, Urusov went bankrupt and reassigned his privilege to entrepreneur Michael Maddox. The businessman purchased a plot of land at the beginning of Petrovka Street. The three-storey stone building was completed in just five months by architect Christian Rosenberg. The theatre was opened to the public on December 30, 1780, but it burned down in 1805. The new building was constructed after the Patriotic War of 1812, when Moscow was being rebuilt after the great fire. The design of Theatre Square is invariably connected with the name of the famous Russian architect Joseph Bove, who was in charge of restoring Moscow’s historical centre. Bove designed the architectural ensemble with the Petrovsky Theatre as its focal point. As time passed, the theatre was more and more often called the Bolshoi Theatre. Meanwhile, the site of the future square was located on the swampy bank of the Neglinnaya river, which ran across it, and bastions cover the area of the present-day Metropol hotel. In 1819, the river was encased and the bastions were leveled off, providing wide space for construction. The northern part of the square was allocated for military exercises, parades and troop reviews. In general, Joseph Bove’s ensemble in the late classicism style fit in perfectly with all the older buildings in the centre of Moscow. The theatre’s construction was completed in late 1824. People at that time were greatly impressed with the new Empire style building, noting that the theatre "rose from the ashes with the astounding beauty and magnificence of a Phoenix". Another fire hit the Bolshoi Theatre in 1853, destroying everything but the portico columns and outside walls. The renovation work was supervised by Albert Kavos — the chief architect of Imperial theatres. The third building was constructed in the neoclassical style and was opened on August 20, 1856. It was known as the Imperial Bolshoi Theatre. Muscovites were quite critical of the new building, always comparing it to the old one. Kavos added new details, while at the same time maintaining the general look. The building became bigger, a new pediment was added, and the façade changed. The theatre’s portico is adorned with Pyotr Klodt’s sculpture of Apollo riding a four-horsed chariot. The historic Bolshoy Theatre was designed by architect Joseph Bové, and holds performances of ballet and opera. The theatre's original name was the Imperial Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow, while the St. Petersburg Bolshoi Theatre (demolished in 1886), was called the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre. At that time, all Russian theatres were imperial property. Moscow and St. Petersburg each had only two theatres, one intended for opera and ballet (these were known as the Bolshoi Theatres), and one for plays (tragedies and comedies). Because opera and ballet were considered nobler than drama, the opera houses were named "Grand Theatres" ("Bolshoi" is Russian for "large" or "grand") and the drama theatres were called the "Smaller Theatre" ("Maly" is Russian for "small", "lesser", or "little"). The Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera are amongst the oldest and most renowned ballet and opera companies in the world. It is by far the world's biggest ballet company, having more than 200 dancers. The main building of the theatre, rebuilt and renovated several times during its history. Its iconic neoclassical facade is depicted on the Russian 100-ruble banknote. On 28 October 2011, the Bolshoi was re-opened after an extensive six-year renovation. The renovation included restoring acoustics to the original quality (which had been lost during the Soviet Era), as well as restoring the original Imperial decor of the Bolshoi - and, mainly, strengthening its foundations:
Inside ? It is a dream place to be in. Really awesome theatre. Nothing like it anywhere else. Just go there for the building itself, no matter who or what is playing there. A royal experience to watch the crowd, the grandeur, the decorations (and the opera or the ballet, of course). The best way to get your tickets its through the internet a couple of days before (at least 3 days) or rely in your hotel to find you an overpriced resale ticket. Be sure to book well in advance, as cheap tickets run out quick. There is no photography allowed during performances. You can only take a photo of the curtained stage.
Just to remind you: in the south edge of Teatralnaya Square stands (behind Teatralnyy Pr. road: be careful and find a way to cross it !!) - the Karl Marx statue (in the Revolution Square). We explore this square in another blog of Moscow:
With our face to the Bolshoy Theatre and our back to Karl Marx (...) - we continue left (west) along Teatralnyy pr. and, later, Okhotnyy Ryad busy street. As you start to walk in Okhotnyy Ryad street - you see an old stone on your right:
Immediately, turn right (north-west) to Bolshaya Dmitrovka, climb up 200 m. along this street to see the Operetta theatre:
Continue to walk along Okhotny Ryad until it meets Tverskaya street. Before we hit the intersection - we see, on our right, the state Duma (see below). In the intersection itself, and 170 m. further, deep in Tverskaya street , still on your right is the Yermolova Theatre, Teatr im. M. N. Ermolovoy (ул. Тверская) - the first of a number of buildings in the area linked to the flourishing of Moscow drama at the beginning of the last century. One of the largest mansions at Tverskaya street was built in 1830. It was originally part of a nobleman's estate. The two-storied house with an attic in the center existed until 1897 when merchant Postnikov reconstructed it into trade passage with the hotel on the top floors. It was transformed into a theatre after the Revolution. Named in honour of the grande dame of the Maly Theatre, Maria Yermolova, the first person to be named a People's Artist of the Soviet Union, the theatre developed from a studio attached to the Maly, and moved here in 1938. It was the last home of the theatre of Vsevolod Meyerhold, during the years 1931-1938, the brilliant avant-garde director who was executed in 1939. Within the walls of this building, the famous production of Alexandre Dumas' The Lady of the Camellias was created. This stage saw young actors who would later become famous, such as Igor Ilyinsky, Erast Garin, Zinaida Reich, Maria Babanova, Lev Sverdlin, Maksim Strauch and others. There, on 7 and 8 January 1938, the last two performances of the State Meyerhold Theatre, The Lady of the Camellias and Nikolay Gogol's The Government Inspector, took place:
130 m. further down (south-east) along Tverskaya Street (on your right) - you find the Ritz-Carlton Hotel:
and, immediately behind it, the Hotel National, 15/1 Mokhovaya Street, (intersection of Tverskaya and Mokhovaya). Designed and built in 1903 by A. Ivanov, in a style that mixes Art Nouveau with Neoclassicism, and cost close to 1 million rubles, a fortune at the time. it is one of the oldest and most famous hotels in Russia. It was the most prestigious in Moscow before the Revolution, whose famous guests included Anatole France and H. G. Wells. In 1918 the hotel was for some years turned into "Prime House of Soviets" and permanently hosted the members of the Bolshevik Government, including Lenin who lived in room number 107:
Detail of the facade of the Hotel National:
State Duma (Parliament) (Gosudarstvennaya Duma) (Госуда́рственная ду́ма) stays right opposite "National", at the corner of Tverskaya and Okhotny Ryad, north of Manege Square. Former building of the Soviet Ministry of Labour and Defense, it provides a brilliant example of transfer from Constructivism to the Soviet neoclassic style. Its characteristic feature is abandonment of any decoration, because the edifice should be beautiful of its own accord. Closed to the public. It is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia (legislature), the upper house being the Federation Council of Russia. Its members are referred to as deputies. The State Duma replaced the Supreme Soviet as a result of the new constitution introduced by Boris Yeltsin in the aftermath of the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993, and approved by the Russian public in a referendum.
View of the state Duma from Okhotny Ryad:
Hotel National on the left and State Duma on the right:
The National Hotel facade at Mokhovaya Street is opposite Four Seasons Hotel's main facade on Manezhnaya Square (see below). The Four Seasons Hotel Moscow is a modern luxury hotel, opened on October 30, 2014, with a facade that replicates the historic Hotel Moskva, which previously stood on the same location on Manezhnaya Square. The former, old Hotel Moskva was constructed from 1932 until 1938, opening as a hotel in December 1935. Designed by Alexey Shchusev. The Hotel Moskva was demolished in 2004 and replaced with a modern reproduction, with underground parking and other features which were not available in the 1930s. The northeastern portion of the complex, facing Revolution Square, was built on the site of the demolished 1977 wing:
Cross the street (Okhtny Ryad/Mokhovaya) with your face to the south and you face the Manezhnaya ploshchad or Manege Square (Манежная площадь, ) is a large pedestrian open space, served by three Moscow Metro stations: Okhotny Ryad, Ploshchad Revolyutsii, and Teatralnaya. f you time it right, prior to the big parades, the military units form up in the Manege Square prior to going into Red Square. Memorable spectacle ! It is very spacious and well-organized area:
It is dominated by the Hotel Four Seasons (former Moskva) to the east.
It is bound by: the Kremlin, the State Historical Museum and the Alexander Garden to the south,
the Moscow Manege (Exhibition hall for arts and commerce) to the west,
and the 18th-century headquarters of the Moscow State University and the State Duma to the north. It connects the Tverskaya Street (its southernmost end) and Red Square. The Moiseyevskaya Square resided here from the end of the 18th century. In August 1991, Manezhnaya Square became a venue for great demonstrations celebrating the fall of Communism after the Soviet coup attempt of 1991. It was a centre of riots and violence in years 2002 and 2010. During the 1990s the square was closed to traffic and substantially renovated.
The centre of the refurbished square rides above the four-stories "Okhotny Ryad" underground shopping mall and parking lot (open: 10.00 - 22.00) (high prices !),
surmounted by a rotating glass cupola (Saint George and the Dragon, patron of Moscow) which forms a world clock of the Northern hemisphere with major cities marked and a scheme of lights below each panel to show the progression of the hour:
Another innovation is the former river-bed of the Neglinnaya River, which has become a popular attraction with sculptured statues for Moscovites and tourists alike, especially on summer days. The course of the river (which now really flows underground) is imitated by a rivulet dotted with fountains and statues of Russian fairy-tale characters, as sculpted by Zurab Tsereteli. The Neglinnaya River, flows between the walkway, leading to the Manege Exhibitions Hall (see below) and the Alexander Garden (see our blog on the Moscow Kremlin and Alexander Gardens):
The Central Exhibition Hall Manege at the western side of the square: Open: TUE – SUN 12.00 – 22.00. MON - closed. The building of ‘Big Manege’ was constructed in 1817 under the order of Alexander I to celebrate the fifth anniversary of victory in 1812 war. It took eight months to complete this construction designed by a Spanish architect, Agustin Betancourt. It was designed with a unique roof without internal support for 45 m (the building's width), it was erected from 1817 to 1825 by the Russian architect Joseph Bové, who clothed it with a Neoclassical exterior: Doric columns enclosing bays of arch-headed windows in a blind arcade, painted white and cream yellow. The roof, with its internal rafters and beams exposed, rests on external columns of the Manege. The building was as an house of military exercises. The known Moscovian architect Joseph Bové, finished the Manege with stucco and plaster moldings in 1825. Since 1831 the Manege had hosted regular concerts and entertainments. After the revolution, it became a government garage. At the time of Nikita Khrushchev (since 1957) it as used as a Central Exhibition Hall. In order to preserve wooden constructions at Bové’s times the building's attic was covered with tobacco. All possible pests and insects hated its smell. Although the tobacco was completely consumed during the WW2 years - the building wooden constructions stayed brand new during the the 20th century. But even then the attic suffered from a severe tobacco smell. BUT, on 14 March 2004 the building caught fire and burnt out, killing two firefighters. The wooden beams and rafters collapsed, leaving the walls remaining on site. On 18 February 2005 the restored Manege resumed its operation as an exhibition hall by mounting the same exposition that had been scheduled on the day of the fire. A wide elevated walkway dotted with fountains leads to the Moscow Manege:
From here - we continue to the Red Square. Skip to Tip 3 in this blog.
From the Cathedral of Christ the Savior - around the Kremlin walls.
Main attractions: Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Patriarshy (Patriarch’ s) Bridge, Church of St. Nikolas in Bersenevka, Chambers (Palaty) of Averky Kirillov, Krasny Oktyabr (Red October) past factory, Strelka cafe', Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography, House on the Embankment, Pashkov House, Mokhovaya street, National State Library with the sculpture of Dostoevsky, Moscow State University Institute of Asia and Africa, Manege Square, Red Square, St. Basil Cathedral, Vasilievsky Spusk (St. Basil's Descent), Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge, St. Sophia promenade or Kremlevskaya naberezhnaya, Kremlin southern wall and towers.
See our blog "Moscow - Zamoskvorechye 1 - The State Tretyakov Gallery, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Sculptures Park, Gorky Central Park" (Tips 2 and 3) for the first section of this blog.
See our blog "Moscow - from Pushkinskaya Square to Red Square" (Tip 2) for the Manege Square section and (Tip 5) for the Red Square section.
Start: Kropotkinskaya (Кропо́ткинская) Metro Station, Red line, Line # 1.
End: Borovitskaya Metro station, Gray line No. 9 / Biblioteka Imeni Lenina Metro station, Red line, Line # 1 / Aleksandrovsky Sad station, light blue line No. 4, Arbatskaya Metro station, Dark Blue line No. 3 - which are all part of the same interchange Metro complex.
Note: this route can be combined with the Tipter "Old Arbat" itinerary.
The Kropotkinskaya station has two exits. Yours is towards the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Leaving the station you find yourselves in Volkhonka Street. Several museums are to be found here. The best-known is the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (to your left) founded one hundred years ago by I. Tzvetayev, the father of a prominent Russian poet Marina Tzvetayeva. The museum’ s collection boasts of 670 thousand pieces of West-European art. The collection of the works of French impressionists and post-impressionists displayed in the museum is considered to be one of the world’ s most notable.
As for us, let’ s proceed to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. See the blog "Moscow - Zamoskvorechye 1 - The State Tretyakov Gallery, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Sculptures Park, Gorky Central Park" (Tip 2). The entrance is free BUT you have to pass security detection. Most of the photos of the Cathedral exterior and interior are in the blog designated above. In the old times, the Moscow’ s oldest convent named Alexeyevsky was located here. In its memory the Catherdal’ s lower Church of Transfiguration was consecrated. It was already in December 1812 that the emperor Alexander I issued a decree by which he took oath to erect “ a church in the name of Christ the Savior” in Moscow as a tribute to the memory of the Napoleonic war heroes. The place for the construction was chosen up on Sparrow Hills. By force of circumstances, the erection of the cathedral started only in 1839 under the reign of a new monarch, Nicolas I, in a new location at Volkhonka Street. The construction works spread over fifty years, during which services were still ministered here. In December 1931, the Cathedral was leveled to the ground by an explosion leaving the space vacant for the construction of a monstrous 420-meter Palace of Soviets with a gigantic figure of Lenin on top. This project was never implemented, and in 1960 an open-air Moskva swimming pool was opened in the place of the demolished cathedral. Incidentally, the pool was a great attraction for Muscovites. The cathedral was re-erected in the 1990s. The first solemn liturgy was ministered here in 2000 on the Christmas night of January, 6 – 7. The cathedral can accommodate the congregation of up to 10,000 people. The cathedral complex incorporates the museum of the history of the cathedral. An elevated observation platform was installed under the cathedral’ s dome.
The southern facade:
The Eastern facade:
The Cathedral interiors:
Note: at Soymonovsky street, below the Cathedral of Christ the Savior complex - you'll find a restroom.
As you walk around the cathedral, you’ d find yourselves entering a pedestrian bridge across the Moskva River. It was officially called Patriarshy (Patriarch’ s) Bridge soon after Most Holy Patriarch Alexius II passed away.
The view of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior from the bridge is stunning:
The view of the city center and the Kremlin walls from the bridge is splendid:
The view, to your right, of the Fallen Monument Park (Sculptures Park), Peter the Great Statue and Strelka cafe'-bar - from the bridge is also splendid:
Looking, from the bridge, to the right/back (on the western bank of Moskva river) across Simonovsky Street (where it meets Prechistenskaya street - Пречистенская наб) you can notice a “ fairy-tale” house with a saddle-back roof, “ terem”-like (V-roofed) balconies and tiled faзade panels depicting the magic Sirin Bird, peacocks and Jarilo the Sun (a Proto-Slavic deity of fertility and vegetation) (1, Simonovsky). The house was built in 1907 for a Russian engineer P. Pertzov in accordance with the drafts of the artist S. Maliutin – the creator of the Russian matryoshka doll. From 1908 till 1912 the basement of the house was used as premises of the “ Bat” artistic cabaret, whose stage witnessed performances of the Moscow Art Theatre actors:
The Patriarshy (Patriarch’ s) Bridge - from the south - in the Moskva river:
Opposite, on the eastern bank of Moskva river (north to Strelka cafe'-bar) - you can see the golden towers and dark green roofs of Church of St. Nikolas in Bersenevka in the foreground glittering behind the trees:
The Chambers (Palaty) of Averky Kirillov are nearby. The chambers of Duma’s Clerk Averky Kirillov built in 1656-1657 make one of the most well-known dwellings of the 17th century. The rooms’ layout, an entrance system with a magnificent porch, and brick decoration with glazed tiles remind the main motive of the Teremnoy Palace. Framed windows and doors made the main decorative element of the dwelling architecture of the 17th century. They used to be the main accents of the décor of such buildings. The chambers have different projections and depressions that follow the room’s layout. Picturesque dynamics of asymmetrical composition was especially appreciated in that time period - In the 18th century:
To the right is Krasny Oktyabr (Red October) past factory, Bersenevsky Lane, 2, the former chocolate and confectionary factory that has extended its workshops along the embankment. After more than a century of producing chocolates and other sweets, the famed Krasny Oktyabr factory, opposite the Church of Christ the Saviour, was finally forced to close. The odour of chocolate has always been here in the air. The “ sweet” production was recently shifted to a new location, and the factory shops were rebuilt. The closure happened as part of an effort to remove industry from the historic centre of the capital. Its area, which boasts the best views of the Kremlin, is being converted into high-rent real estate. Nowadays, the whole area is fenced and is an entry-prohibited space. By the way, the past factory garages and other outbuildings have already been taken over by artists for gallery and studio space of the Strelka cafe'-bar. A small museum will remain open to document the history of the complex and the company. Today, the factory comprises a whole range of galleries, hostels, restaurants, bars and night clubs frequented by young people. The whole of the area is being referred to as the “ Art-spit”:
The most prominent arts & education establishment on Red October is the Strelka cafe', bar (pricey !), museum, amphi-theatre - already detailed in another blog Moscow - Zamoskvorechye 1 - The State Tretyakov Gallery, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Sculptures Park, Gorky Central Park" - tip 3:
Head on over to the Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography (www.russianmuseums.info/M3061) to see the most interesting retrospectives of international and Russian from the modern days all the way back to the early 20th centuries. The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography is a platform, which is designed for working with professional photographers, photographic collections, photo exhibitions and photo galleries. The Center plans to hold exhibitions, prepared by its own curators, as well as to provide facilities to other interesting projects in this area. In recent years The Lumiere Brothers Center has greatly widened its repertoire and now also hosts regular master classes from leading Russian photographers, workshops and other educational evenings, stages concerts of some great indie bands from Russia and the West, has indie movie and documentary screenings and boasts a very well-stocked store, where photography connoisseurs can find virtually anything to suit their needs:
Further north, on the EASTERN bank of Moskva river (the Strelka side) is the colossal House on the Embankment. It was designed by Boris Iofan. It took four years to build it. It was erected in the place of a former salt and liquor warehouse where from the so called “ monopoly vodka” was delivered to Moscow saloons. For a long time the house had been the biggest block of flats in Europe. The House on the Embankment is a block-wide apartment house in downtown Moscow. It faces Bersenevskaya Embankment on one side and Serafimovicha Street on the other side. It was completed in 1931 as the Government Building, a residence for the Soviet elite. In different periods of time its tenants had been six Politbureau members, sixteen Marshalls and Admirals, more than sixty Peoples’ Commissars (ministers) and their deputies as well as prominent workers of art. The flats were mainly inhabited by the Communist Party leaders. They offered spacious rooms with a height of five metres; all flats featured telephone lines, gas ovens and central heating. The building also housed various communal facilities like a gymnasium, tennis court, nursery, library and laundry. During the Stalinist horror era, many tenants were arrested and disappeared. This era was famously described by Russian author Yury Trifonov, who lived in the House during his childhood, in his novel ‘House on the Embankment’ (1976). The building currently has 505 apartments (some used as offices), a theater, a movie theater, restaurants, and retail stores. The faзade of the house is faced with numerous memorial plaques. Before the war, the courtyards of the House used to accommodate fountains, a kindergarten, a preschool institution, a laundry and a club (the present-day Variety Theatre) – everything for private use of tenants. There is a museum of the House on the Embankment housed in the premises of the former commandants office (in the court next to the Variety Theatre). Take a walk through the courtyards of the house towards Serafimovicha Street named after the Soviet writer Serafimovich in 1933, who once lived here. Cross the street by a pedestrian underpass towards a five-storey apartment house (5/16 Serafimovicha Street). This house was mentioned in a poem by a popular children’ s author Agnia Barto: “ There was a house in this place, but it disappeared with all of its tenants overnight…” In fact the house did not disappear at all, however, in 1937 it was moved 74 meters aside to vacate the construction area of new big stone bridge (that we'll soon use):
The Udarnik cinema, which was also a part of the complex, was originally meant to have a sliding roof that could be opened. This plan was never materialized. It was the largest in Europe for the time as well as the apartment house:
In case you arrived to the eastern bank of the Moskava river - you have to walk 800 m. to arrive to our next destination (Pashkov House). It is quite a difficult task to cross the very wide, bustling Borovitskaya pl. street and to arrive to the western bank of the river:
Head north along Bersenevskaya nab., 70 m (along the river in the eastern bank). Turn right (down) onto ul. Serafimovicha, 30 m. You have to find the ascent-point (steps) to the Bolshoy Kamennyy bridge (most) over the river. Turn left toward Borovitskaya pl., 75 m. Turn left onto Borovitskaya pl., 500 m. Turn right at ulitsa Volkhonka, 50 m and you face, on your left (up on the Vagankovsky hill) - the Pashkov House (Пашков дом), 1 Vozdvizhenka Street, 3/5.
In case you are, still, on the western bank - head north along Prechistenskaya street (Пречистенская наб). The minute you see the Kremlin walls in front of you - try to find a way (IT IS VERY BUSY, COMPLEX and DANGEROUS INTERSECTION. USE ONLY SUBWAY, CROSS-LIGHTS OR BRIDGE - to pave your way to Pashkov House over the hill) to turn left to Borovitskaya pl (no mercy for pedestrians in this "transport hell"...).
Pashkov House is a famous Neoclassical mansion that stands on a hill overlooking the western wall of the Moscow Kremlin and the mighty, busy intersection of thoroughfares below. Its design has been attributed to Vasily Bazhenov. Throughout the 20th century Bazhenov’s authorship was disputed, since no written evidence has survived the ages, and the only thing that serves as a proof is oral tradition and similarities to Bazhenov’s other buildings. It used to be home to the Rumyantsev Museum (Moscow’s first public museum) in the 19th century. The palace’s current owner is the Russian State Library. The Pashkov House was erected in 1784-1786 by a Muscovite nobleman, Pyotr Pashkov. He was a retired Captain Lieutenant of the Guards Semenovsky Regiment and the son of Peter the Great’s batman. As soon as it was completed, the Pashkov House became a landmark of Moscow. For many years a splendid palace of white stone standing on the Vagankovsky Hill has amazed people and is considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the Russian capital. It is one of the key locations described by Mikhail Bulgakov in his novel The Master and Margarita. The impressive view of the building is partly due to the site where it is built. The Pashkov House stands on a high Vagankovo hill, as though continuing the line of its ascent, on an open corner of two descending streets. The front facade faces the sunny side. The mansion was erected a bit skewed and not along the straight line of the street relative to the street and to the entrance from the Starovagankovsky Lane. Because of this, the Pashkov House is better perceived from sideways, allowing further angle viewpoints. Location of the building also has a symbolical importance: the Pashkov House towers a hill opposite the Borovitsky hill topped by the Kremlin. It was the first secular building in Moscow, from the windows of which one could see the towers and building of the Kremlin not bottom upwards, and could observe Ivanovskaya Square and the famous Cathedral Square into the Kremlin premises. The building has a varied and interesting silhouette, being formed by three compact cubages: main building and two flanking service wings. The mansion, being at the same time a town manor, has a flat-topped lay-out with a court of honor opened towards the entrance. The solution is unorthodox, since the entrance is from the side street and not from the main facade, and the traditional lay-out is inverted. There was a garden in front of the mansion before the 1930s. The facade looking on to the Mokhovaya Street is characterized by linear expansion. Two one-storey tunnels run to the right and to the left of the central cube ending in two-storied Service wings. The main building has colonnaded porticos on both sides. The building is topped with a cylindrical belvedere. These devices are common for Palladianism. In contrast to rusticated ground floor, the porticoes use great order linking two floors. Thanks to a not-too-high but full-width base, such linking of the two floors by a colonnade increases immensity of the building:
In case you prefer to walk along the Alexander Gardens under the Kremlin walls - see our "Moscow - The Kremlin Route" blog). In this route we take the less scenic itinerary along the western section of Kremlin walls. We shall try to walk around the Kremlin walls from three sides:
We turn right to Mokhovaya street. On our back/right side are the Borovitskaya and Armoury towers of the Kremlin (see our "The Kremlin Route" blog):
Finalizing climb-up the Mokhovaya street -
you see, on your left, the the National State Library with the sculpture of Dostoevsky: (see Tipter "Old Arbat" route).
Behind the Russian National State Library - if you turn LEFT (WEST) to Vozdvizhenka Street - you start our Itinerary of Old Arbat street (see our "Moscow - Old Arbat (Stary Arbat) - worth stopping in for a stroll on a nice evening" blog). We continue northward along Mokhovaya street. On our right is the Manege Exhibition center:
Behind it is the wonderful Manege Square with its flowers beds, fountains, Four Seasons Hotel, Okhotny Ryad shopping mall's roof, souvenirs sellers and benches:
A bit further north, on your left is the Moscow State University Institute of Asia and Africa:
You continue along Mokhovaya street until it changes to Okhotnyy Ryad street and the Four Seasons Hotel is on your right. You turn right. Cross the Manege Square from west to east (the Four Seasons Hotel is on your left, now and most of the elliptic Manege Square on your right).
You arrive to the Marshal Georgy Zhukov Monument and the Historical State Museum in front of you. They are, both, formally, still in the Manezhnaya Ploshchad (Manege Square):
Enter the Red Square through the Red Square's Resurrection Gate and Iberian Chapel:
Cross the Red Square from north-west to south-east along the Kremlin walls and end your walk (see Tipter route "Moscow - from Pushkinskaya Square to Red Square" (Tip 5) in the St. Basil Cathedral.
The Spaskaya (Savior's) Tower in the north-east corner of the Kremlin walls - as seen from the Red Square:
From the wonderful St. Basil Cathedral we head southward onto pl. Vasilyevskiy Spusk:
View from the Vasilievsky Spusk (St. Basil's Descent) to the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge:
WE DON'T CROSS THE MOSKVA RIVER. THERE ARE WONDERFUL SIGHTS OF THE KREMLIN AND ITS WALLS FROM THE Bolshoy Moskvoretsky BRIDGE:
We turn right (quite complex to find the walking route !!!) to Quai Sainte-Sophie/Sofiyskaya nab., 350 m. On your right is the Moskvoretskaya Tower. The Beklemishevskaya Tower is one of the few towers in the Kremlin whose appearance has remained unchanged throughout the ages, and which has not undergone any serious reconstruction. Sometimes referred to as the Moskvoretskaya (Moskva River) Tower due to its proximity to the Moskvoretsky Bridge, it supposedly took its name from the Boyar Beklemishev, whose manor lay nearby. The tower was always the first to come under enemy attack, as it was situated at the junction of the Moskva River and the moat:
Moskvoretskaya Tower or Beklemishevskaya Tower from Moskvoretsky Bridge:
Vasilievsky Spusk (St. Basil's Descent), Moskvoretskaya Tower or Beklemishevskaya Tower, Nameless1 Tower from Moskvoretsky Bridge:
We stick to the St. Sophia promenade or Kremlevskaya naberezhnaya (Кремлевская наб.) (APPROX. 1 km.) under the Kremlin southern walls. The promenade starts at Bolshoy Moskvoretskiy most/bridge in the east and ends at Bolshoy Kamennyy most/bridge in the west - along the Moskva river. Most of the development works of this promenade had been carried out during the 19th century (starting at 1836). Due to these works and its height - the promenade provides magnificent views of the Kremlin and the city of Moscow. Try do the walk along the wall, if only at river-height. A nice walk with the sun starting to come or in a bright day:
The Peter Tower (right, east), Second Nameless Tower and the First Nameless Tower (left, west):
The Peter Tower (right, east), Second Nameless Tower (second right, east), the First Nameless Tower (second left), the Secret Tower (left, west):
Nameless 2 Tower at the southern walls of the Kremlin:
The Secret (Tainitskaya) Tower:
The section between the Secret (Tainiitskaya) Tower (unseen in the photo, right, east) and the Annunciation Tower (left, west). The white building in the centre - is the the Grand Kremlin Palace:
The "almost last" section of the wall between the water-supplying Tower (right) and the Annunciation Tower (left). The tower in the background is the Borovitskaya Tower - above the southern part of Alexander Gardens:
In its west end Kremlevskaya nab. turn right toward Borovitskaya pl.,
230 m. You take the ramp to Mokhovaya (МОХОВАЯ улица/ТВЕРСКАЯ улица), 36 m. It merges onto Borovitskaya pl., 65 m and you continue onto Mokhovaya St. 95 m - finalizing your extended circuit around the Kremlin.
Tip 2: From Mikhailovsky Garden to the Arts Square:
We leave the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood - heading northward as close as possible to the northern facade of the church. If we look northward, along the Griboyedov Canal - we see the Russian Museum (as seen from the Griboyedov Canal near the Spilled Blood Cathdedral):
Mikhailovsky Garden resides east to the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood. With your face to the cathedral - the garden is on your right. The Garden is located behind the NORTHERN facade of the Mikhailovsky Palace (nowadays, the Russian Museum) (the museum is south to the church and the garden), and separated from the Mikhailovsky Castle with Sadovaya Street's carriageway in the east. Most people arrive to the garden along Griboyedov Canal from Nevsky Prospekt through bustling flow of people and cars. THe garden resides exactly between two historical spots: the place where Tsar Paul I was strangled is on one side and the spot, where a blast killed Alexander II is on the other. But Mikhailovsky Garden is an oasis of calmness and relaxation. The garden is very well maintained and very pleasant to stroll among its paths and allies. Free entrance.
The Mikhailovsky (Michael) Garden derives its name from the Mikhailovsky (Michael) Palace (the main building of the Russian Museum) which it adjoins. In 1716-1717, the architect J.B. Leblond, commissioned by Peter the Great, made a general plan of the three Summer Gardens. The first and the second were situated on the territory of the modern Summer Garden. The third was the one that housed the palace of Catherine I. The territory of the modern Mikhailovsky Garden belonged earlier to that third Summer Garden and was called "the Swedish garden". It has been a formal French garden, a hunting reserve and nursery. In 1741 the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna suggested that Rastrelli makes a project of a new Summer Garden that would include the former Palace of Catherine I and the surrounding garden. During the reign of the Tsarina Elizabeth (1741-1762) it housed labyrinths and fountains. Under the Tsar Paul I (1796-1801) the garden was used for horseback riding. The construction of the Mikhailovsky Castle and after that the Mikhailovsky Palace, during the 19th century, both of which border the garden, fixed the Mikhailovsky Garden in its present boundaries. In 1823, the Emperor Alexander I approved the re-design of this garden by Carl Rossi. Carl Rossi created an exemplary English garden in the middle parts. After the revolution of 1917 the garden was turned into a park for the city-dwellers. In 1822-1825 decoration of the park was made by such masters as architect Menelas, artist Ivanov and the gardener Schumann. In 1898 the Mikhailovsky Palace went to the supervision of Museum of Emperor Alexander III (the Russian museum) and the Garden became public. In 1999 the Mikhailovsky Garden was handed over to the Russian Museum. From 2002 the garden has been reconstructed by the museum; the purpose is to recreate the integrity of the garden’s composition, to the utmost retaining the original outlines by Carl Rossi.
Before we enter the garden, do not miss the view of Mikhailovsky Garden's wrought iron fence - already seen when we are standing facing the eastern facade of the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood:
The Mikhailovsky Garden was closed after the summer season in 2002 for restoration, and opened again for St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary in 2003. Today it is once again a favorite place for PSB citizens to walk, or simply to relax. The garden combines two landscape styles: French-style garden around the periphery, and English-style landscape in the center. Classical music concerts are often held here in late spring and summer:
The Spilled Blood Cathdedral, as seen from the entrance to the Mikhailovsky Garden:
Russian Museum, as seen from Mikhailovsky Garden:
In the north-east corner of the Garden, on the banks of the Moika River, is a small pavilion built in Empire Style by Carlo Rossi in 1825; a century earlier, this site had been occupied by a wooden palace belonging to Peter the Great's wife, Catherine. Next to the pavilion is a symbolic composition called the Tree of Freedom, made out of old oak by the sculptor Anatoly Solovyov.
There are two exits from the Mikhailovsky Garden. One is in the eastern side (quite frequently - closed) and the second, and better one, is through the entrance - in the west side. So, we return to the Griboyedov Canal Embankment, continue walking northward along the canal and turn right, EAST (crossing the Moyka river on a small bridge) onto a path along the Moyka river, along the northern benches of Mikhailovsky Garden, 150 m. parallel to nab. Reki Moyki (реки Мойки). The bridge we crosssed, over the Moyka river (where it meets the Fontanka river) is the First Engineer Bridge. Designed by P. Bazen, the engineer responsible for many of St. Petersburg's most famous wrought iron bridges, the First Engineer Bridge was opened in 1826. Fully restored in 1999, the bridge is famous for its intricate railings featuring a repeated head of Medusa, the design of which was copied for the railings of the Summer Garden. The sights from this small road along the Moyka towards Mikhailovsky Garden and the Spilled Blood church - are gorgeous. The extensive green area, on your left, beyond Reki Moyki road is part of the Summer Garden.
Before arriving to the meeting-point of the Moyka and Fontanka rivers - we, already, see the Mikhailovsky Castle (part of the Russian Museum) on our right. After 150-200 m. walk along the Moyka - we arrive to the rivers' meeting-point and to the Panteleymonovsky Bridge (Пантелеймо́новский мост). The bridge was erected in 1823 and was named after Panteleymonovskaya Street (now Pestelya Street, further east, continuing the bridge), which in turn was named after the nearby Church of St. Panteleimon. From 1915 until 1923 it was known as "Gangutskiy Bridge". In 1923 it was renamed as "Pestel Bridge" after Decembrist Pavel Pestel. In 1991 the original name was reinstated. It is 43 meters long and 23.7 meters wide. A wooden bridge stood in this location as early as 1725. In 1748 a Baroque-style bridge was built in its place designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli. This last structure was damaged in the flood of 1777 and was demolished. In 1823 a narrow suspension bridge ("chain bridge") was built by von Tretter and Khristianovich. In the beginning of the 20th century, it was widened and converted into an arch bridge by Lev Ilyin. Today, the bridge still preserves Ilyin's design:
Step on the bridge to catch nice views (especially, in the morning hours) of the Summer Garden and Mars Field:
In the picture below we see the First Engineer Bridge (left) and Pantelmon Bridge (right):
We shall continue along the western bank of the Fontanka (nab. Reki Fontanki) (NOT crossing Pantelmon Bridge):
On the other, eastern bank of the Fontanka river, several steps from Pamtelmon Bridge - resides the famous Demidov (Demidoff) restaurant with authentic Russian food (There is live music and Gypsy music and dancers from 20.00). More than average prices but luxury service and romantic atmosphere. Further south, along nab. Reki Fontanki (before passing Zamokovaya rd. on your right), still on your right - stands Mikhailovsky (Michael) Castle (zamok) (Миха́йловский за́мок), 2, Sadovaya Ulitsa. St. Michael's Castle was built as a residence for Emperor Paul I by architects Vincenzo Brenna and Vasili Bazhenov in 1797-1801. Catherine The Great made a coup d'etat against her husband Peter III to gain access to the Russian Imperial throne and then ruled the country until her death in 1796. Her son, Paul I succeeded her, but, neither the nobility nor the royal guards liked or respected Paul and he lived his life in constant fear of assassination. In order to relieve his fears he ordered a fortified castle (a palace surrounded by deep ditches) to be built for him. Tsar Paul I disliked the Winter Palace where he never felt safe. The new royal residence was built like a castle around a small octagonal courtyard. The building with rounded corners was surrounded by the waters of the Moika River, the Fontanka River and two specially dug canals (the Church Canal and the Sunday Canal), transforming the castle area into an artificial island which could only be reached by bridges. Ironically, Paul I was assassinated only 40 nights after he moved into his newly built Mikhailovsky Castle. He was murdered on 12 March 1801, in his own bedroom, by a group of officers headed by his son, Alexander I. After Paul's death, the Tsar family returned to the Winter Palace. St. Michael's Castle was abandoned and in 1823 was given to the army's Main Engineering School. From then on, the building was known as the Engineers' Castle. In the early 1990s, St. Michael's Castle became a branch of the Russian Museum and now houses its Portrait Gallery, featuring official portraits of the Russian Emperors and Empresses and various dignitaries and celebrities from the late 17th to the early 20th century. Today the building hosts a branch of the Russian Museum. Opening hours: MON, WED, FRI - SUN - 10.00 - 18.00. THU - 13.00 - 21.00. Ticket offices close 30 minutes earlier. The Museum is closed on Tuesdays. Price for general ticket for visiting the Mikhailovsky Palace, Marble Palace, Stroganov Palace and St Michael's Castle - For adult visitors: 300 rubles, for students 150 rubles. Photography allowed - but, at the temporary exhibition photography and video shooting are forbidden.
From nab. Reki Fontanki - you can see part of Mikhailovsky Castle eastern facade:
The castle looks different from each side, as the architects used motifs of various architectural styles such as French Classicism, Italian Renaissance and Gothic. We turn on the first turn to the right - Zamokovaya ul. (Замковая ул.) and, immediately, to the left to the Kenovaya ul. (Кленовая ул.). From this nice avenue we can have a glance of the southern side of the castle and, even of its internal court. The Southern facade is particularly expressive and monumental. Standing at Kenovaya ul. with your face to the castle, to the north - enter its inner courtyard through the stone gate:
The northern facade looks onto the Summer Garden. Flanked by bronze statues of Hercules and Flora, it is reminiscent of an Italian Renaissance villa:
Return from Mikhailovsky Castle to Kenovaya road - now, your back to the castle (north) and face southward. In the middle of the tree-lined Kenovaya avenue stands the bronze Monument to Peter the Great (памятник Петру I). In 1716, emperor Peter the Great commissioned the Italian sculptor Carlo Bartolomeo Rastrelli to design an equestrian statue in commemoration of the Russian victories over Sweden in the Great Northern War. Rastrelli worked for eight years with a model of the monument before it was approved by the emperor in 1724. But as the emperor died the following year, work halted and the sculpture's casting was only completed after the sculptor's death, by 1747. Catherine the Great ALSO had ordered ANOTHER monument in memory of her predecessor Peter the Great - the Bronze Horseman, the most famous statue of Peter the Great in St Petersburg near the Admirality and the Neva river. Only in 1800, during the reign of Tsar Paul I, was the Monument to Peter I finally erected. It was placed on a pedestal faced with green, red and white-shaded Finnish marble that is decorated with bas-reliefs depicting scenes of two Russian victories over Sweden. Peter the Great led his troops to both victories: the Battle of Poltava and the Battle of Hangö. During World War II, the equestrian statue of Peter I was removed from its pedestal and sheltered from the 900-day German siege of the city. In 1945, the statue was restored and returned to its pedestal. It stands, more than 70 years - opposite the Mikhailovsky Castle:
From the middle of Kenovaya ul. turn LEFT (east) to Inzhenernaya ul.
After walking 130 m. you arrive to Ploschad (Square) Belinskogo- and on your left (nortside of the square) resides St. Petersburg Circus or Circus on Fontanka (Bolshoy Sankt-Peterburgskiy gosudarstvennyy tsirk),nab. Reki Fontanki, 3. The circus is under a massive restoration and closed to the public until JAN 2016. This is Russia’s first stone building specifically designed for the circus. It opened its doors in 1877. Several local and tourist were enthusiastic about the circus interiors (Dome) and its past performances. For online tickets and more information on shows in the restored circus - see: http://www.circus.spb.ru/en#_=_
Return to Kenovaya ul. and continue southward (your back to the Mikhailovsky Castle) - until you arrive to the Manezhnaya Ploschad (Manège Square) (Манежная площадь). Manège in French is Riding School. The shape of Manezhnaya Square resembles a right-angled triangle. Its southern side is a continuation of Italyanskaya Street. Its eastern side is Karavannaya street, which ends (in the south) in Nevsky Prospekt.
This is a nice and refreshing square with a big fountain. Around te fountain stand sculptures of four arcitects who took part in te design of this square and SPB, in general, all of them of Italian origin (almost half of the great buildings of central St. Petersburg were designed by Italians) : Francesco Bartholomeo Rastrelii. Carlo Rossi, Antonio Rinaldi and Giacomo Quarenghi:
We change our direction and head, now, to the west. From Manezhnaya Square we continue westward along Italyanskaya Street (which is parallel, north to Nevsky Prospekt). Immediately, on our right (north) is the 3 m. tall Statue of Ivan Turgenev. The statue, full with grandeur, was made by the sculptors Yan Neiman and Valentin Sveshnikov, who used Turgenev's death mask when sculpting the writer's face. Although he died in France, Turgenev was buried in the city, as he had requested.
Continue west along Italyanskaya street and turn LEFT (south) to Malaya Sadovaya Street (Малая Садовая Улица). This is a splendid, short (only 175 m. - the shortest in SPB) pedestrian street of cafes, terraces, and fountains. It runs between Italyanskaya Street and Nevsky Prospect. The pedestrian road is, frequently, decorated with outdoor exhibitions, posters or sculptures:
We do not continue towards Nevsky Prospekt. We return from Malaya Sadovaya Street to Italyanskaya Street (our face to the north). We turn LEFT (WEST) onto Italyanskaya, walk 400 m. westward and turn right onto Mikhaylovskaya ul. (ул. Михайловская) and the Arts Square or Ploshchad Iskusstv. The white, impressive building opposite - is the Russian Museum, Inzhenernaya Street, 4. Arts Square derives its name from the cluster of museums, theaters and concert halls that surround it. The square was only named Arts Square in 1940. From 1918-1940 it bore the name of the German socialist Ferdinand Lassalle. All the buildings lining the square are similar in design and form a harmonious, grandiose architectural ensemble. The square's plan and all its buildings were drawn up by the ... Italian architect Carlo Rossi:
In front, on the north side is the Russian Museum (State Museum of Russian Art). The past Mikhailovsky Palace, now, the Russian Museum, is the greatest single collection of Russian art in the world. The first building to the right (with the face to the Russian Museum), is the Mikhailovsky Theatre of Opera and Ballet. More to the right (east) - is the Ethnographic Museum (part of the Russain Museum, representing all the ethnic cultures of the former USSR). On your left (west side of the square) are the Brodsky Museum, the Mikhaylovsky Theatre (formerely, the Maly Opera and Ballet Theater), with old-fashioned lanterns adorning its doorways - still a well-respected and centrally located theater. On the south-east side of the square, is the Operettas and Musical Comedy Theatre (Санкт-Петербургский государственный театр музыкальной комедии), Italyanskaya ul., 13. Out of the square, on the east side of Mikhaylovskaya ul., leading to the square, is the former Nobles' Club, now the Shostakovich Philharmonia, home to the St. Petersburg Philharmonic or St. Petersburg Philharmonia, Mikhaylovskaya ul., 2 - the city's prime classical music venue. Its white-column hall has superb acoustics.
The Russian Museum, Mikhailovsky Palace: Open daily: 10.00 to 18.00. THU: 13.00 -21.00. Closed: Tuesdays. The museum’s central building is the yellow, white-columned Mikhailovsky Palace, built between 1819 and 1825 for Grand Duke Mikhail, the brother of Alexander I and Nicholas I. The building was bought by the government during the late 19th century and turned into the "Russian Museum of the Emperor Alexander III" in the beginning of the 1890s by the Tsar Alexander III. His son, Nicholas II, decided to open a museum in his father's honour and, in 1895, bought the Mikhailovskiy Palace to house the collection. Originally called the Alexandrovskiy Museum, it was opened to the public in 1898. Coordinated by architect Vasiliy Svinin, considerable changes were made to the interiors of the Mikhailovsky Palace. In place of its eastern wings, Svinin constructed the Ethnographic Museum. A new wing, the Benois Building, was added to the museum at the start of this century to help house the museum’s growing collections:
Today, the Russian Museum hosts several of the most important Russian art collections. The museum's collection includes over 400,000 artworks covering the complete history of Russian art, from 11th century icons to work by contemporary video artists. The Russian Museum in Mikhailovsky Palace excels in it's collection of 19th century works, which are housed on the second floor of the building. It is not until the works of the "Wanderers", a group of 14 students at the Imperial Academy of Art, who in 1863 set out to create a populist art for the whole of Russia. Among them are Ivan Shishkin, whose his realistic forest scenes are some of the most often copied images in Russia, and Nicholas Ge, whose his religious and historic works brought another kind of realism to their subjects.
Ivan Shishkin: Mast-tree grove. 1898:
The Last Supper, 1863, Nikolai Ge (1831-94):
Ilya Repin, one of the second generation of the Wanderers, and widely considered to be Russia's greatest realist painter, is very well represented in the Russian Museum, and his portrait of Leo Tolstoy in peasant dress and the gigantic Ceremonial Meeting of the State Council, 7 May 1901 are particularly impressive.
Barge Haulers on the Volga, Ilya Repin:
The last great painters of the 19th century like Vasily Surikov and Viktor Vasnetsov specialized in colourful, often violent, historical scenes - but, combined elements of mysticism and symbolism in their works:
Vasily Surikov, Taking a Snow Town (1891):
Victor Vasnetsov, Knight at the Crossroads (1882):
The Russian Museum of Ethnography (Российский этнографический музей) occupies the place of the eastern service wing, the stables and the laundry of the Mikhailovsk Palace. It houses a collection of about 500,000 items relating to the ethnography, or cultural anthropology, of peoples of the former Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. The museum was set up in 1902 as the ethnographic department of the Russian Museum. It is housed in a purpose-built Neoclassical building erected between 1902 and 1913 to Vasily Svinyin's design. The museum's first exhibits were the gifts received by the Russian Tsars from peoples of Imperial Russia. These were supplemented by regular expeditions to various parts of the Russian Empire which began in 1901. Further exhibits were purchased by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and other members of his royal family. The collection was not officially opened to the general public until 1923 and was not detached from the Russian Museum until 1934. When the Museum of the Peoples of the USSR in Moscow was shut down in 1948, its collections were transferred to the Ethnographic Museum in past Leningrad, now, St. Petersburg. Nice collection of costumes ,photographs, hand made accessories, precious metals, weaponry and ornaments. The museum exhibitions - are very interesting and colorful. The Jewish section was very moving and a great addition to the museum. Opening hours: MON - closed. TUE - SUN: 10.00 - 18.00. Prices: For adult visitors - 250 rubles, for students and children of school age under 18 - free of charge. Very reasonable prices for the quality souvenirs at the museum's gift shop:
On the north end of Mikhaylovskaya ul., opposite the southern facade of the Russian Museum stands the Monument to Alexander Pushkin. The monument was created by sculptor Mikhail Anikushin and erected in 1957 to mark the 250th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg (the city was, of course, founded in 1703 but the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 delayed celebrations by a full four years). The statue stands with his back to the Russian Museum and looking over a small green area:
Mikhailovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre resides in the west side of the Arts Square. A beautiful building and wonderful interior. It is beginning to rival even the world-famed Mariinsky Theatre with its repertoire of classic ballet and opera. The majority of its repertoire consisting of classic ballet and opera of the 19th century. Built 1831-1833 by Alexander Brullov, In order not to draw attention away from the palace, Brullov created a plain and simple neoclassical exterior for the building, saving his efforts and imagination for the theatre's richly decorated and ornate interiors: silver, velvet, mirrors, and crystal chandeliers - as well as a unique ceiling mural by the Italian artist Giovanni Busato depicting "The victory of the powers of enlightenment and science over the dark powers of ignorance" which dates from 1859:
From the Mikhailovsky Theater - we walk 550 m. to a nice, budget but busy restaurant in SPB - the Market Place at Nevsky Prospekt 24: head west on Inzhenernaya st. (ул. Инженерная) toward Griboyedov Canal Embankment (наб. канала Грибоедова), 85 m. Turn left onto Griboyedov Canal Embankment (наб. канала Грибоедова), 350 m, turn right onto Nevsky Prospekt (пр. Невский), 150 m and Marketplace (ресторан-маркет) is at
Nevsky Prospect, 24. See Tip 3.
Vasilievsky and Petrogradskaya Storona Islands - including St. Peter and St. Paul Fortress:
Main Attractions: University Embankment, sphinxes of Pharaoh Amenhotep III,the Imperial Academy of Arts, Menshikov Palace, Twelve Collegia, Monument to Mikhail Lomonosov, Kunstkamera, the Zoological Museum, the stock exchange, Rostral Columns, Strelka, the Exchange (Birzhevaya) Bridge, Flying Dutchman (Letuchy Gollandets) ship, St. Peter and St. Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost), The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Alexander Park, Gorkovskaya (Горьковская) Metro station.
Tip 1: Vasilievsky Island.
Tip 2: Petrogradskaya Island.
Tip 3: Austeria restaurant.
Start: Truda Square (Ploschad Truda) (Площадь Труда). Catch bus line 27 which rides along Nevsky Prospekt (8 stops from ploshchad' Vosstaniya Square) and stops also in Truda Square. Vasilyevsky Island is served by Vasileostrovskaya and Primorskaya stations of St. Petersburg Metro (Line 3 , the Green line). There are also tramway lines.
End: Gorkovskaya (Горьковская) Metro station in Petrogradskaya island.
From Truda Square (see "From Grand Choral Synagogue to the Palace Square" blog) it is 650 m. walk to the Vasilievsky Island via Blagoveshchensky Bridge. Just keep waking northward from the square (to the Neva river direction). Cross the river over the Blagoveshchensky Bridge - having wonderful views of the southern bank of Vasilievsky Island:
Blagoveshchensky Bridge (Благовещенский мост), (formerly, Nikolaev bridge and Lieutenant Schmidt Bridge) was the first bridge across the Neva River. in St. Petersburg. It connects Vasilievsky district (Vasilievsky Island) with the central part of the city. The bridge touches Vasilievsky Island at the Trezini Square slightly beyond the University embankment on the southern bank.
The sight of the bridge during the night hours is marvelous. Blagoveshchensky Bridge as most of Neva river bridges is a bascule bridge and is opened at night during the navigational season for large vessels to pass through. Watching the raising of the bridge, better from SPB mainland side, along one of the the embankments - is one of the great St. Petersburg experiences during the White Nights of June and July:
As we land upon Vasilievsky Island, after crossing the Blagoveshchensky Bridge, we see on our right (east) the University Embankment (Universitetskaya emb) (Университетская набережная). It is 1.2 km. long and it spans between Blagoveshchensky Bridge in the wets to the Palace Bridge in the east. The embankment or promenade (still open for vehicles) is lines with an ensemble of imperial Baroque buildings of the early 18th century, including (from west to east): the Academy of Arts, Menshikov Palace, the Twelve Colleges, the Kunstkamera (Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography), Zoological Museum.
The first building, after crossing the bridge is the Academy of Arts. A pier or quay in front of the Academy of Arts building, adorned with two authentic sphinxes of Pharaoh Amenhotep III brought in 1832 from Thebes, Egypt, was designed by Konstantin Thon and built in 1832-1834. The Sphinxes are about 3500 years old. Their faces are portraits of Amenhotep III and the shape of their crowns indicates that Pharaoh Amenhotep III was the ruler of two kingdoms—the Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. The sphinxes weigh about 23 tons each:
One of the Sphinxes and St. Issac's Cathedral in the background:
The Imperial Academy of Arts , 17, Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya, was established at 1757, by Ivan Shuvalov, to train Russian artists in the leading styles and techniques of West-Europe countries and sent its promising students to European capitals for further study. The main architect for the project was Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe, whom Shuvalov invited from France to become the first professor of architecture at the Academy. De la Mothe was helped by Yury Felten and Alexander Kokorinov, who would become the first Russian professor to teach at the Academy. Training at the academy was virtually required for artists to make successful careers. The academy was abolished in 1918 after the Russian Revolution and was renamed several times. It established free tuition and was financed by the government; students from across the country competed fiercely for its few places annually. In 1947 the national institution was moved to Moscow, and much of its art collection was moved to the Hermitage. The building in St. Petersburg (formerly, Leningrad) had been transformed to the Ilya Repin Leningrad Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (Институт имени Репина), named in honor of one of Russia's foremost realist artists. Since 1991 it has been called the St. Petersburg Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. Open WED - SUN 11.00 - 18.00. Limited entry to the various halls and museums. Much depends on the person in the main entrance:
The Academy main facade (left: figure of Hercules, right: Flora):
Menshikov Palace, 15, Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya (Меншиковский дворец) is the next attraction to the east of the Academy of Arts and along the University Embankment from west to east. It is called also as Palace of Peter II. The building is painted in ocre-yellow and decorated with beautifully-carved pillars. The palace is one of the first stone buildings erected in SPB. It is also the only private city structure to have survived from the beginning of the 18th century. Today, the palace is a public museum, a branch of the Hermitage Museum. The palace was founded in 1710 as a residence of Saint Petersburg Governor General Alexander Menshikov and built by Italian architects Giovanni Maria Fontana, and, later, German architect Gottfried Johann Schädel. Menshikov was the chief advisor of Peter-the Great and gained a significant wealth during Peter's reign period. On the death of Peter, in 1725, Catherine I was raised to the throne. The placing of her on the throne meant security for Menshikov and his ill-gotten fortune. During Catherine's short reign (February 1725 – May 1727), Menshikov was practically the absolute ruler of Russia. He was the De- facto ruler of Russia for two years. Pushkin in one of his poems alluded to Menshikov as "half-Tsar". The old nobility united to overthrow him, and he was deprived of all his dignities and offices and expelled from the capital. In 1727, Menshikov with his family was exiled to Siberia and his property was confiscated. As part of the State Hermitage, the palace is now used to display some of the museum's vast collection of European and Russian applied art from the early 18th century, as well as contemporaneous sculptures and paintings, all of which blend harmoniously with the beautifully restored interiors. The interiors have preserved to this day the design traditions of that era. The walls of the rich interiors are liberally dressed with marble, and the floors are covered with expensive glued-laminated parquet. Several rooms entirely covered with Dutch (Delft) tiles. The exhibits on display in the museum today are devoted to the history of Russian culture at the beginning of the 18th century. The collection includes rare works of art of the 17th and 18th centuries - including Menshikov's own belongings. Opening hours: daily 10.30 - 18.00. WED - 10.30 - 21.00. Closed: Mondays. Prices: Adults: RUB 300, Students/children: free. Free admission to all visitors on the first Thursday of each month:
The next complex, on your left, along the University Embankment is the Twelve Collegia, or Twelve Colleges (Двeнaдцaть Коллегий). It is the alarge edifice from the Petrine era designed by Domenico Trezzini and Theodor Schwertfeger and built from 1722 to 1744. It is, actually, a Baroque three-storey, red-brick complex of 12 buildings is 400–440 meters long - its facade is along Mendeleevskaya liniyaa. Trezzini's idea was to underline the relative independence of each of the twelve collegia on other one hand, and their close interconnection in the system of state administration, on the other hand. The original design separated the 12 individual buildings. In subsequent restructuring, they would be connected to form the modern complex. The building is built of red bricks topped by stucco decorations in red and white.The buildings were designed to host 12 ministries of Peter-the-Great regime - with its joint facade symbolizing the unity of his reign. The building was planned to have uninterrupted view of Sterelka - and that is the reason it is vertical to the University Embankment. In 1891 the complex was purchased by the State University of St. Petersburg (Lenin studied here !):
Out of the Twelve Collegia stands the charming bronze Monument to Mikhail Lomonosov overlooking the Neva river. This three-meter bronze statue stands also on Mendeleevskaya Liniya between the Twelve Colleges (the main building of St. Petersburg State University) and the Academy of Sciences. Unveiled in 1986 to mark the 275th anniversary of the great scientist, poet, mathematician and father of Russian science. Lomonosov was a member of the Academy for over 20 years and, from 1758 until his death, rector of the Academic University:
250 m. further east - we meet, on our left, the Kunstkamera. It is a Baroque green-blueish building with a top, delicate tower (under restoration in summer 2015). It was built, during the years 1718-1734 by Georg Mattarnoviy. The Museum of Ethnology and Anthropology or the Kunstkamera is the city’s first museum which was founded in 1714 by Peter the Great. Peter the Great ordered Dr. Robert Areskin to move his personal collections and library from Moscow to the new capital and begin creating the first state public museum – the Kunstkamera. The collections, consisting of “fish, reptiles and insects in bottles”, mathematical, physics and chemistry instruments, and also books from the Tsar’s library, were put in Peter’s Summer Palace. For Peter the Great, it was extremely important to create an image of a changing Russia. The emperor had the habit of receiving ambassadors in his museum, and a tour of the museum was part of the visit programme for all important guests. The first public exhibition of the Kunstkamera was opened in 1719 in the “Kikin chambers” – the confiscated home of the disgraced boyar A. Kikin. At this time, it was also decided to build a special building. Peter chose the location for the Kunstkamera himself in the centre of the new capital. This fascinating place is an essential S. Petersburg sight, although not one for the faint-hearted. Think twice about bringing young children here. Yet, the famous babies in bottles make up just a small part of the enormous collection that also encompasses some wonderfully kitsch dioramas exhibiting rare objects and cultural practices from all over the world, and you can easily spend an hour or two picking through these. Ground level - Museums shop, checkroom. Floor 1 - North America, Amazonia, Exhibition "The world of an Object" Japan, Africa. Floor 2 - Middle East and Central Asia,
China, Mongolia, Korea, Indochina, India. Indonesia, First Natural Science Collections of the Kunstkamera. Floor 3 - Mikhail Lomonosov and the Academy of Sciences in the 18th century with a recreation of his study-laboratory, Temporary Exhibition. Floor 4 - First Astronomical observatory of the Academy of Sciences. Floor 5 - Great Gottorp globe, a rotating globe and planetarium all in one. Note: this museum is not wheelchair accessible. Photos and Video - allowed. Opening hours: daily from 11.00 - 19.00, Last admission is at 18.00. Closed: Mondays and the last Tuesday of each month. Price: RUB 250.00. Students/children: RUB 50.00. Admission is free on the third Friday of each month. Many visitors hail this museum as an immensely interesting, fascinating and "don't miss" one. But, others think that the many odd items collected are "non-appetizing and even disgusting" which will turn your stomach, "a museum which needs updating" and "not for delicate people".:
Hold your breath:
The next block along the University Embankment is the Zoological Museum,1-3, Universitetskaya Nabereshnaya. In 1832 the zoological collections were split from the Kunstkamera and in 1896 moved nearby to its present location in the former southern warehouse of the Saint Petersburg Bourse (constructed in 1826-1832). In 1931 the Zoological Institute was established within the Academy of Sciences, which included the museum. The collection was started over 250 years ago, but has only been open to visitors since 1901. Much of the collection consists of stuffed and mounted animals. It was, of course, the custom in 17th and 18th century zoology to simply kill everything and bring it back from foreign places. Its collection has been increased dramatically in recent years due to numerous expeditions throughout Russia, to the Arctic circle, to Antarctica and to the tropics. Opening hours: SAT - THU: 11.00 - 18.00 (winter - 17.00). Closed: Fridays. Prices: Adult: RUB 200, Students/children: RUB 70. Free admission last Thursday of each month (excluding periods of high school holidays). Not suitable for wheelchairs:
The first hall, marine mammals:
The second hall, fishes:
The main attraction, in the main hall, is the enormous skeleton of a blue whale:
The third Hall - a Mammoth skeleton:
This is the world’s only stuffed and mounted adult mammoth:
In the entrance - the monument of Karl Ernst von Baer:
Next eastward we arrive to Birzhevaya Ploschad. On your left an impressive building - the Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange (also Bourse) and on your right - the red Rostral Columns. Both, are significant examples of Greek Revival architecture. Designed by French (or Swiss) architect Thomas de Thomon, and inspired by the Greek Temple of Hera at Paestum. The stock exchange, Birzhevaya Ploschad 4, now holds the Naval Museum, was constructed between 1805 and 1810. The Old Stock Exchange was sited to fill the majestic sweep of the Spit (in Russian: Strelka) of Vasilievsky Island, just opposite the Winter Palace on SPB mainland. A monumental sculptural group similar in form to a quadriga featuring Neptune, and symbolizing maritime commerce, is mounted above the portico. Both inside and outside the Bourse, a motif of the semicircle is recurrent. The interior is closed and the whole building is waiting for its new restoration:
The Rostral Columns: on your right, opposite the Stock Exchange (Bourse) building on the Neva, were completed in 1811. The name of the Rostral Columns is derived from the Latin word for a ship's beak, Rostrum. De Thomon, the architect, designed a semicircular overlook with circular ramps descending to a jetty projecting into the river and SPB city mainland. This formal approach, is framed by two rostral columns centered opposite the portico of the Stock Exchange. The Doric columns sit on a granite plinth and are constructed of brick coated with a deep terra cotta red stucco and decorated with bronze anchors and four pairs of bronze ship prows (rostra). At the foot of each column are pairs of imposing marbles sculptures, allegorical figures of mythical gods representing four major rivers in Russia: the Neva, Dnieper, Volga and Volkhov. The Rostral Columns were originally intended to serve as oil-fired navigation beacons in the 1800s , and, originally, were topped by a light in the form of a Greek brazier and lit by oil (on some public holidays gas torches are still lit on them). Originally, the pillars had been put up as memorials of Russia’s victory over Sweden in the Northern War:
The sculpture standing at the foot of one of the Rostral Columns personifies the Neva:
Rostral Columns - Dnieper River god:
Strelka (Strelka Vasilyevskogo ostrova) (Tongue of the Land) is the name of the eastern tip of Vasilievsky island. In 1733 the port of St. Petersburg was set up here. The port grew quickly as trade with Western Europe increased. The columns were built as beacons to guide the constantly growing number of ships during St. Petersburg's long dark nights. In 1885 the port moved to the Gulf of Finland to accommodate larger vessels and increased traffic and the beacons were decommissioned. As we said before - the lamps are still lit on public holidays and during ceremonies. The Strelka also boasts one of the best views in the city: you look left to the Peter and Paul Fortress and right to the Hermitage, the Admiralty and St Isaac's Cathedral. It is highly Popular Place with locals. A lot of new-married couples visit this place and break a bottle of Vodka or Champagne for happiness and good luck. On many evenings there is music being played and people are dancing, especially in the weekends. A great spot for pictures. Try the Strelka also at night for great photos as many buildings in SPB are lit up. The best time for the pictures is the afternoon: In the morning, you have to take them against the sun:
View of the Winter Palace from the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island (Strelka):
View of the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral (see Tip 2 below) from the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island (Strelka):
We shall walk around the Sterelka and choose between two options:
staying in Vasilievsky island and continue along nab Makarova westward. It is quite long walk (approx. 900 m.) from Birzhevoy bridge (most) to Tuchkov most (bridge) along the Makarova street. On our left, on Makarova, the Institute of Russian Literature or Pushkin House ((Пушкинский дом, Pushkinsky Dom). It is an institute affiliated with the Russian Academy of Sciences (under restoration in summer 2015):
In case you are hungry: turn left in Sredny prospekt (the 5th turn to the left on Makarova) and take the 2nd turn to the right (per. Tuchkov). On your left you finf the Ristorante Villagio: pleasant, comfort chairs, nice decoration, quality food, very polite service, good AC, clean services and medium prices:
We return to the Makarova street (from Tuchkov road - turn right to Sredny prospekt and left to Makarova) and head westward to Tuchkov bridge: the second and west bridge linking Vasilievsky island and Petrogradskaya island. We cross the Neva river over Tuchkov bridge when, on our left, is the Petrovsky Stadium:
It is quite complicated here to find a way eastward. Find the Sportivnaya Metro station walk along the subway (underground pass) and exit at the most eastern tunnel of the station. Head eastward along Dobrolyubova avenue. On your right is the Hospitality Business Centre and a nice fountain. Further east - on your left a church and on your right - Alibra school. The Dobrolyubova avenue is lined (especially, on your left / north) several Art Nouveau buildings:
The Dobrolyubova avenue ends with the quay where the Flying Dutchman warship is standing. Here, we skip to Tip 2.
Main Attractions: Hotel Hermitage, Boulingrins Gardens, Place de Casino, Casino de Monte-Carlo, Cafe de Paris, Hotel de Paris, Casino Gardens and Promenade, Opéra de Monte-Carlo, the “Hexa Grace”, Grimaldi Forum, the Japanese Garden, Larvotto Promenade, Av. Princesse Grace, Boulevard du Larvotto, Villa Sauber, (Prince's Palace of Monaco - from here: skip to Monaco - part 2).
Part 1: Monte-Carlo.
Part 2: Monaco-Ville.
Part 3: Jardin Exotique de Monaco.
Duaration: One VERY BUSY, LONG and WONDERFUL day. PLEASE, start as early as possible (especially, in case you are coming from and returning to Nice).
Weather: avoid HOT and wet days. A lot of climbing. long walks in very changing terrains. The exotic garden, in the end, of the route is quite demanding on its own. We use public buses along this route.
Walking Distance: approx. 15 km.
Start & End: Monte Carlo Railway station.
Introduction: We devote the first half of the day to Monte Carlo, the principal residential and resort area with the Monte Carlo Casino in the east and northeast. THe second half is centered in Monaco-Ville, the old city on a rocky promontory extending into the Mediterranean, known as the Rock of Monaco, or simply "The Rock". The La Condamine district is NOT included in this itinerary.
The best transportation ways to go from Nice to Monaco:
Nice to Monaco By Bus:
The bus is a convenient and cheap. view all the way to Monaco.
From Nice downtown to Monaco and Menton – Line 100: only €1.50 per person (1 way) (summer 2015) and takes about 40-45 minutes. The bus stops in Nice at: Le port and Avenue Gustavin. It leaves every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 20 minutes on Sundays and French holidays. The 45-minute drive to Monaco is absolutely stunning, so sit on the right side of the bus if you can. Don’t be tempted to take the Monaco Express 100X, as you will save only 10 minutes driving time but will miss all the gorgeous scenery.
From Nice Airport to Monaco - Line 110: The Bus starts from the Nice Cote d’azur airport (NCE) to Monaco and beyond. The trip will cost you €20 and takes about 45 minutes. Timetable and detailed pricing.
Nice to Monaco By Train: The train runs faster and offers some magnificent French Riviera views all along the way. It takes about 22 minutes to go from Nice Ville station to Monaco Monte-Carlo station for an average price of €3.60.
Typical weekdays' timetable from Nice Ville to Monaco:
05.25, 05.56, 06.25, 06.40, 06.56, 07.10, 07.25, 07.40, 07.55, 08.10, 08.25, 08.40, 09.00, 09.10, 09.25, 09.40, 09.55, 10.26, 10.55, 11.25.
Transportaion in Monaco: Monaco isn’t a very large place but getting around on foot can be quite tiring after a while due to the very uneven terrain and the heat in the summer. Fortunately buses are frequent and very cheap, with a very extensive network: a single ticket is just 2 € anywhere in Monaco and an even better deal is the one-day unlimited pass which costs just 5 €. We shall use the public transportation, along this route, at least a couple of times.
We took the train from Nice Ville. Busy, but not crowded. Convenient. Reasonable prices. Might be some delays in arrival. Take the cheap TER trains. The TGV trains are expensive and reservation is mandatory.
From Monte-Carlo railway station head southeast on Avenue d'Alsace toward Pont Sainte-Dévote, 30 m. Turn left onto Pont Sainte-Dévote
25 m. Turn right onto Boulevard de Suisse, 400 m.
In front of us Square Beaumarchais and Hotel Hermitage.The building exterior is stunning. An oasis of luxury - 5 minutes from the railway station and from the Casino. We tried to enter the hotel and climb to its highest floor - for a stunning view over the port - but, we were denied:
Turn LEFT onto Avenue de la Costa. On our left are high-rise buildings:
200-250 m. further (north-east) along Avenue de la Costa - and you see, on your right, the Jardins du Casino (Casino Gardens) or Boulingrins Gardens and Montecarlo Pavillions. The mix of the futuristic pavilions in the Boulingrins Gardens (bulbous structures clad in diagonal-shaped aluminum panels) and the iconic Belle Époque buildings of the Casino Square is stunning. The pavilions have been built in a pedestrian-only zone, and access to the Place du Casino can be gained through a path snaking, north to south, between the five pavilions and surrounding foliage. People with limited mobility are also able to use the path. The pebble-shaped pavilions structures have been surrounded with exotic species like palms.
The Casino Monte-Carlo with the ornate gardens of Casino Square in FRONT of it:
Jardins du Casino (Casino Gardens) or Boulingrins Gardens. Stretched uphill in front of (north-west) the casino, bordered, from both sides by the Alees des Boulingrins, the French style garden of lawns and magnificent fountains sits alongside the “Little Africa” garden, with its exuberant species:
Our next destination is the Place de Casino with the world famous, legendary Casino. The Place du Casino lie between the Boulingrins Gardens (upper level) and the Casino itself (lower level). The Casino square of Monte Carlo (Place de casino) is beautifully decorated. Nice square but, frequently, very crowded. The fountain and flowers make it look spectacular on the view of the Casino in front. Next to it there is the Parking lot where expensive old and new model cars like the Rolls Royce, the American Cadillac are packed. Many sightseers are looking into the casino and taking "selfies" alongside the extravagant cars parked near the casino:
A bit lower in the slope, stands the Mecca of table games, legendary for its Belle Epoque style - the Casino de Monte-Carlo is also world-renowned among gaming circles. Nowhere else in Europe do you get the feeling of such fancy, concentrated wealth. It’s utterly absorbing. The most celebrated gambling spot in the world is so exotic of reputation that it has to be seen. Gaining entrance is a doddle. First ensure that you’re over 18. Then leap up the steps, show your passport or other id., hand over 10.10 euros and that’s it. For the last 150 years, it has offered exceptional table games in a unique style. Open every day starting 14.00. Admission charges : 10 €, for people over 18 with ID card or passport. VISITS OF THE GAMING ROOMS AT CASINO DE MONTE-CARLO WHEN GAMES ARE NOT OPERATING (before 14.00): Salle Renaissance / Salle Europe / Salle des Amériques / Salle Blanche / Salons Touzet / Salle Médecin (Private). Opening Times : everyday from 9.00 until 12.00. Prices: - Individual : €10 per person - Group: €7 per person (minimum 10 people – Free access for the guide or tour group leader). Desk located in the Salle Amérique. Payment in cash (credit cards will soon be accepted – no cheques). From 14.00 - regarding the new organization, groups, guides and tour leaders will no longer be able to enter the gaming rooms in the Casino of Monte-Carlo when the games are open i.e. from 14.00. Instead groups, guides and tour leadersare now very welcome in the morning from 9.00 until 12.00 to visit the prestigious Casino de Monte-Carlo when the games are closed. Tourist groups wishing to visit the Casino de Monte-Carlo during gaming hours (starting from 14.00) must enter as individual clients and meet requirements (e.g. dress code) (correct attire mandatory. No uniforms. Jacket recommended after 20.00 in the Salons Privés. Casino facilities: Salons Touzet : European Roulette, English Roulette, Trente et Quarante, Punto Banco, Poker Texas Hold’Em Ultimate, Black Jack. Opening of the Salons Touzet : every day from 14.00. Terrasse Salle Blanche : European Roulette / Black Jack / Punto Banco
Opening of the terrace Salle Blanche: 14.00. every day (depending on the climate, closed in winter, open only in the summer evenings when the weather is warm. Opening hours of private gaming areas:
European Roulette, Baccarat Chemin de Fer, Black Jack and Punto Banco: open Thursday through Sunday and holidays starting at 16.00. Trente et Quarante: starting from 22.00. You are not able to go inside with hand carries or a stroller, Everything have to be checked in (and very expensive). The best idea is to take turn and the one will tour while the other one watch the kids and/or stuffs. The Casino de Monte-Carlo is owned and operated by the Société des bains de mer de Monaco, a public company in which the Monaco government and the ruling family have a majority interest. The company also owns the principal hotels, sports clubs, food service establishments, and nightclubs throughout Monaco:
Another spot in the Place de Casino is the Cafe de Paris or Brasserie du Cafe de Paris - for people and cars watching, expensive food and elegant premises and posh waiters. With your back to the Casino - it is on your right. Inside, a warm decor featuring Belle Epoque style windows, recalling the old Parisian bistros, creates a bright and friendly atmosphere. Always busy and relaxed. The best time to go is for a late breakfast or lunch. Be prepared to wait for a outside table as they are always in demand in sunny days. Expensive. Slow and polite service. Food and drinks - not exceptional...:
Also included in Place du Casino is Hotel de Paris (opposite the Cafe. With the back to the Casino - on your left) - the spot to stay if you've just broken the bank in Monte Carlo. Built in 1864 using the very best materials of the period. The hotel has featured in numerous films, including Confessions of a Cheat (1936), The Red Shoes (1948), Iron Man 2 (2010), Monte Carlo (2011), and two James Bond films; Never Say Never Again (1983) and Golden Eye (1995). It was also portrayed in the 2012 animated film Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted:
We continue to the Casino Gardens and Promenade behind the Casino complex.Then nip to the sea-front. The Monte Carlo Casino’s main façade faces inland. It’s worth popping around the back, to the sea-side of the building. With our face to the Casino - we take its left wings (Gucci shops) and we walk around the Casino complex to its back side.The immediate back side of the Casino is blocked (no access):
So we take the stairs east and behind the Casino leading to the Casino Gardens and Promenade. On our left is Cafe Horizon:
There are extensive construction works around - and you are also blocked entering the space in front of the Opera building (see below). We slight left, surrounding the back of the Bar du Soleil. Here we enter an amazing terrace with stunning views to the Port. Do not miss the huge cruising ships resting, lazily, in the deep blue waters of the Port:
Now, turn back with your face to the city, Casino hill and the mountains and your back to the Port. On your right - you see the Opera (a bit from the distance). The Opéra de Monte-Carlo is situated behind the casino, at the south-east side of the square (the hilly side direction). It is, formally, included in the Casino complex.The opera house is part of the Monte Carlo Casino. The architect Charles Garnier designed this opera building (Salle Garnier) and also designed the Paris opera house now known as the Palais Garnier. The Salle Garnier is much smaller, 524v seatings, compared to about 2,000 for the Palais Garnier, and unlike the Paris theatre, which was started in 1861 and only completed in 1875, the Salle Garnier was constructed in only eight and a half months. Nevertheless, its ornate style was heavily influenced by that of the Palais Garnier, and many of the same artists worked on both theatres. Although the Monte Carlo theatre was not originally intended for opera, it was soon used frequently for that purpose and was remodeled in 1898–99 by Henri Schmit, primarily in the stage area, to make it more suitable for opera. The hall was inaugurated on 25 January 1879 with a performance by Sarah Bernhardt dressed as a nymph. The first opera performed there was Robert Planquette's Le Chevalier Gaston on 8 February 1879, followed by three additional operas in the first season. The annual season starts at mid-November. Baroque opulent building is spectacle on its own with VERY NICE architecture. Overlooking the sea. You can walk around the exterior with some views of the water. No touristic guided visits like in Paris. If you can get tickets during the short opera season - try to go. World class opera in a beautiful ornate and intimate space at reasonable prices:
The whole area around is itself pretty impressive. It also gives onto a huge terrace which doubles as roof of the Rainier III Auditorium which in turn stretches out over the sea on piles. This whole sea-frontage is a monumental puzzle of great 20th-century buildings pushing out to sea, whose roofs are the floors of something else. Or gardens. Or sites for contemporary art. It’s an insight into just how cleverly Monaco has maximized the use of very limited space. So sophisticated is it that one is surprised to see something as elemental as the sea lapping away underneath. Spend time exploring the Casino Gardens and Terraces with their magnificent flowerbeds and diverse species of plants. Overlooking the sea the terraces bathed in sun invite you to stroll along them:
A Ballerina statue of Marco Lodola (1996) in the Casino Gardens and the Opera in the background:
A sculpture of Reina Marianna (Manolo Valdes, 2004) in the Casino Gardens and the Opera in the background:
A sculpture of Adam and Eve - F. Butero, 1981:
View of the Casino and the Opera from the Casino gardens and promenade:
View of the Opera from the Casino gardens and promenade:
View of apartments hotel from the Casino gardens and promenade:
Downhill, the “Hexa Grace” by Victor Vasarely (Hexagrace - Le Ciel, la Mer, la Terre : the Sky, the Sea, the Earth), a hexagon-shaped Mosaic Pool designed by Victor Vasarely in 1979 ) located on the rooftop of Monaco's Center of Congress building terrace overlooking the sea, are the masterpieces which are worth the visit:
East to the Casino and the Opera (in the most eastern edge of the Casino Gardens) - you can see the Budhaa Bar. Upscale trendy restaurant. Excellent Asian Cuisine with a contemporary design, flare and decoration. The vibe is very lively in the restaurant. This restaurant is worth a visit as a nice change of pace from traditional french cuisine. Of course prices aren't exactly cheap, as in the rest of the principality:
From the Casino Garden and Promenade there are clear signs leading your way to our next destination - the Japanese garden (the path goes when the Saranapale Building is on your right and you pass through Cafe Twiga on your right and FORUM GRIMALDI on your left as well). The walk through the path is very rewarding with marvelous scenery !!!:
Forum Grimaldi on your left:
... and the sea on your right:
The Grimaldi Forum (quartier, Larvotto) is a conference and congress centre located on the seafront between the Monte Carlo Casino (west) and the Japanese Garden (east) on Monaco's eastern beach . Les Ballets de Monte Carlo and the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra regularly perform there. This is also the venue of the EVER Monaco exhibition held March annually. During the renovation of Salle Garnier in the Opéra de Monte-Carlo in 2004–05, operas were presented at the Salle des Princes in the Grimaldi Forum. Grimaldi Forum also hosts the draw for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, including the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award award. It also plays host to the draw for the Group Stage of the UEFA Europa League:
Otherwise, if you want to return to the Casino Square: head northeast on Avenue des Spélugues toward Avenue de la Madone, 260 m. Avenue des Spélugues turns slightly left and becomes Avenue Princesse Grâce, 120 m. Slight right to stay on Avenue Princesse Grâce, 40 m. At the roundabout, take the 4th exit onto Av. Princesse Grace, 160 m and you arrive to the Japanese Garden.
Avenue Princesse Grâce and Houston Palace skyscraper:
The Japanese Garden (FREE admission, 9.00 – sunset) (note: there is WC in the garden) is a magnificent garden, designed by the landscape architect Yasuo Beppu. An authentic work of art, it blends stone, water and plants in marvelous harmony. This park at the foot of the city is blessed with a special atmosphere. Peaceful, stunning, authentic with a waterfall, tea house, covered terrace, large pond with koi fish, lots of stepping stones, stream, red bridge and authentic pines and plants. accentuated by the use of water sprays on the bushes of azalea, rhododendrons and camellias. Some good views of the coast from around the area. It is a small garden and it takes no more than 20-30 minutes to stroll around its paths. DO NOT MISS THIS GARDEN - A SUPERB DELIGHT:
Exiting the japanese Garden - we continue walking eastward along the seafront Larvotto Promenade - now, lined with sculptures along its left (north side). It is 700 m. walk until the end of this fantastic promenade:
La Petite Sirene - Suhlgard, 2000:
Princesse Grace, 2007. On our right is the restaurant "La Rose des Vents":
Le Pecheur (The Fisherman) - Gustave Dussart:
We are, almost, in the most eastern edge of Larvotto Promenade (Plage du Larvotto and Miami Plage):
At last we arrive to a dead end of Larvotto Promenade - here we find a marvelous fountain:
We turn to the left and ascend the stairs leading to Av. Princesse Grace. On our right is Hotel Le Meridien Beach Plaza. Opposite the hotel - another high-rise building:
Continue 250 m. further (north-east) along Avenue Princesse Grace and we arrive to the Hotel Monte-Carlo Bay on our right - another stunning hotel, partially, hidden behind its elegant walls:
Opposite the Monte Carlo Bay hotel stretches the Formula 1 racing street (Avenue Princesse Grace):
Beyond Monte Carlo Bay hotel the Avenue Princesse Grace continues eastward along Roduebrune-cap-Martin beach (the northern side of Monte-Carlo bay):
From the northern side of Avenue Princesse Grace, opposite side of Monte Carlo Bay hotel - we used an ELEVATOR to ascend to Boulevard du Larvotto, an elevated road. We are in Monaco's Larvotto District and we'll take the rare opportunity to walk, on foot, back, with our face to the south-west - along one of the most luxurious areas in Monaco. The Boulevard du Larvotto was built in 1956 to replace the railway line (the railway arrived in Monaco on 12 October 1868.) The name of this road, "Larvotto," derives from the word "Revoto," which was found on a map dating from 1602. It was also known as "Ruovoto," meaning "the hollow." In the 18th century it was referred to as "Prevotto," then "Larevotto," finally becoming "Larvotto," the current name of this district, an area that is very popular with tourists in summer.
On our right - Le Florestan is a breath-taking 13-story high-rise building:
200-250 m. further south-west in Boulevard du Larvotto is the Floridian Palace (No. 523):
We continue to walk along posh and elegant high-rise buildings in Boulevard du Larvotto until we hit a small exotic small garden in on our left. Here, we take the stairs and descend to Av. Princesse Grace:
In Av. Princesse Grace - on our left is Forum Grimaldi and on our right is Villa Sauber - one (of two) part of the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, 17 av. Princesse-Grace. The Museum’s two (recently opened) venues are located at: Villa Paloma, 56 boulevard du Jardin Exotique and Villa Sauber in 17 Avenue Princesse Grace. We face, now, the second one. With a focus on modern, contemporary works of art, these newly re-designed venues present two expositions annually per venue and spotlight the cultural, historic and artistic virtues of Principality. The museum villa is one of the last Belle Époque villas in Monaco. Opening Hours: Open every day from 8.00 until 18.00. From June 1st until September 30th from 11.00 till 19.00. Closed on January 1st, May 1st, 4 days of the Grand Prix, November 19th and December 25th. Prices: Full price NMNM ticket (Villa Paloma + Villa Sauber) 6€, Groups 4€ (min. 15 people). Combined ticket NMNM / Exotic Garden / Anthropological Museum: 10€. Free entrance every Sunday. Free for anyone under 26 years old, scholar groups and groups of children, Monaco citizens:
Av. Princesse Grace changes, a bit, its direction and slights southward. 350 m. further we arrive to a huge round-about. On the east side of this round-about (Rond-Point du Portier) you can see sales agencies of the most grandiose cars' brands:
From here it is more than 1 km. climb to the Casino hill. Opposite the building, in the photo below,
you can catch bus No. 6 and get off ONE STOP AFTER the CASINO. Then, catch bus No. 2 to the Royal Palace and drop off near PLace de la Visitation and rue Emile de Loth. Another option is to take bus No. 2 to the Place D'Armes (see below) and climb on foot in a very scenic path or (stairway to the Prince's Palace of Monaco.
From here - skip to the "Monaco - Part 2 - Monaco Ville" for the second half of the day in Monaco-Ville.