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  • Citywalk | France
    Updated at Mar 9,2016

    Main Attractions: Jardins Biovès, Palais de l'Europe, Prom. du Soleil, Musée Jean Cocteau - Collection Severin Wunderman, Menton Old Market, Quai Napoléon III, the Bastion Museum, Quai Gordon Bennett, Quai Bonaparte, Basilique Saint-Michel, Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs, Cimetière du vieux Château, Menton Hotel de Ville, Hotel L'Orient.


    Introduction: Menton, the little-known last stop on France's famous coast before you cross into Italy. First of all, its extraordinary setting between mountains and sea. Second, the beaches – a mix of stony and sandy, public and private – are packed in high summer, but, almost deserted - out of season. Third, its micro-climate – said to be warmer than the rest of France. Fourth, its wealth of citrus trees  and exotic gardens. Menton is proud of its lemons everywhere. Shops are crammed with lemon products. Menton may not have Saint-Tropez's party people, Cannes' film stars or Monte Carlo's high rollers, but that's what makes the town so appealing. It has buckets of old-fashioned charm.

    Short history: The first primitive habitation was grouped around a chateau on the hill of Pépin, west of the current town. In the 13th century the family of Puypin (Podium Pinum) bought the domain from the Genoise family of Vento and built a chateau – that gave birth to the town of Menton. Menton was acquired in 1346 by Grimaldi of Monaco, and remained in their possession until 1848, when it proclaimed itself a Ville Libre and was put under the protection of the King of Sardinia. In 1860, the town voted to become part of France.

    Festivals and Events: FEB - MAR - FETE DU CITRON - Lemons Festival, parades, fireworks, fantastic experience in the middle of the winter. MAY (Each SAT) - May Musical Concerts - "Jeunes Artistes Musiciens". AUG - Festival International de Musique de Menton - Chambre Music. DEC - New Year Festival. Brocante - Flea Market: Every FRI, every second SUN - Mail du Bastion. Market days: Daily: Marché du Carei, Promenade du Maréchal Leclerc. SAT: Marché du Bastion, Quai Napoléon III.

    Duration: There's enough to see and do in Menton, even for casual touring during non-festival time, that you should plan a couple of days or more. With easy access to several picturesque mountain villages, as well as the easy train connections along the coast, this would be an excellent base for a long stay. We spent, there, ONLY half a day. Our best bet - spend a SPLENDID full day in this charming town.

    Orientation: in case you opt spending just half-a-day in Menton - try to choose the second half of the day. It is cooler and the sights (to the east) from the Basilica and Old Castle Cemetery to the sea are gorgeous - when the sun is on your back (west).

    Start and End: Gare de Menton

    Transportaion: Half-hourly trains connect the whole Riviera from Menton’s two stations; ideal for excursions to Monaco or Nice or for lunch in San-Remo, Italy. Buses run frequently between the Nice airport and Monaco and Menton. Separate bus routes connect Menton with these nearby interior towns and villages: Gorbio; Saint Agnes; Les Cabrolles; Castillon - Sospel; Castellar; Roquebrune-Cap-Martin - Beausoleil - Monaco. The Tourist / Petit Train de Menton has a 30 minute, 7 km tour of the town. Price: 6 euros; kids 3 euros.

    The trains from Nice and Monaco bring us to the Gare de Menton, Avenue de la Gare opposite  rue Albert 1 er. Head northeast along Avenue de la Gare, 65 m. Continue onto Avenue de la Gare
    120 m, turn right onto Avenue de Verdun for 350 m and you face the Jardins Biovès, 7 Avenue de Verdun. It is a a pretty park in the middle of Avenue Boyer with a variety of flowers, shrubs, statues, and shaded benches. Located in the heart of the city opposite the Tourist Office of Menton. These gardens are named after Emile Biovès, mayor of Menton in the late nineteenth century. The night illuminations here is quite magnificent and definitely deserves a visit.

    DO NOT MISS THE LEMONS FESTIVAL, every year in February. At Christmas and during the Lemon Festival , the gardens have a special decoration - wherein figurines and decorations are all constructed out of tonnes of lemons. Every year the festival is centered around another theme. In 2016 the main theme was China, Budhaa and the Far East cultures. No use coming to see these gardens between Christmas and mid February. They're all boarded up and full of workmen preparing for the Lemons Festival. The entrance, then, is under admission fee of several euros (around 10 euros !):

    Palais de l'Europe, 8 Avenue Boyer  is in the opposite (northern bank of the Boyer Avenue. Here resides the Office de Tourisme de Menton. A magnificent building dating back to the beginning of the century, houses an art gallery on the ground floor which is home to the best of contemporary art in this town. Open all year: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday (10.00 - 12.00, 14.00 - 18.00). Prices:
    Free admission.

    We continue walking south-east until the end of Avenue Boyer with our face to the Casino Barrière Menton. Cross the Prom. du Soleil and approach the seashore - turning LEFT (north-east) along the Promenade du Soleil. One can wander for hours without tiring, always along this wonderful avenue decorated with sumptuous flower beds.

    Walking along the promenade - this building is on your left (north):

    280 m. north-east from the Casino, still on your left, is Le Royal Westminster Hotel, 28-30 Avenue Félix Faure. It is an old-fashioned hotel, but, with moderate prices and fantastic views of the sea (and sunrises or sunsets):

    Here and there - Moorish-style houses along the promenade:

    We walk 350 m. further north-east along the promenade du Soleil (and it changes its name to Quai de Monleon) and we see on our left the Musée Jean Cocteau - Collection Severin Wunderman, 2 Quai de Monleon. THERE ARE TWO MUSEUMS OF JEAN COCTEAU in Menton. This is the newer one (the second and the older is the Bastion Museum - see below). A terrific building. Beautiful building with extraordinary architecture. Writer (Les Enfants Terribles,1929), artist, poet, painter, designer,producer, actor, publicist and film director (drew inspiration from filmmaker René Clair) Jean Cocteau was one of the most influential creative figures in the Parisian avant-garde between the two World Wars. Jean Cocteau was born on July 5, 1889, in Maisons-Laffitte, France. He spent most of his life in Paris, where he became part of the artistic avant-garde and was known for his variety of accomplishments. Over a 50-year career, he wrote poetry, novels and plays; created illustrations, paintings and other art objects; and directed influential films, including: Le Sang d'un Poète (The Blood of a Poet),  The Beauty and the Beast, Les Parents Terribles and Orpheus. He died on October 11, 1963. THe museum collection illustrates the many varied, and often extraordinary, facets of Jean Cocteau and how he used his range of artistic talents to create and design over his lifetime. OPen everyday (except of Tuesdays) 10.00 - 18.00. The ticket price of 8 euros covers entry to both museums (also entrance to the nearby older museum/branch of Cocteau):

    A few steps further east along Quai de Monleon (behind the Jean Cocteau - Collection Severin Wunderman courtyard) - you find the
    Menton Old Market (Marche'). A covered (disused) market. A stunning complex. A gloriously dilapidated Belle Epoque structure built in 1898 by famed local architect Adrien Rey.

    We return to Jean Cocteau - Collection Severin Wunderman and continue walking eastward along Quai de Monleon. Its continuation is the Quai Napoléon III. Here is, actually, the Old Port of Menton. From the Quai Napoléon III - you can see the harbour of Menton, with the Basilica of Saint-Michel beyond:

    Quai de Monleon meets Quai Napoléon III in a square  and, here, stands the Bastion Museum - the second (and the older) branch of Cocteau Museum. Open everyday (except Tuesdays) 10.00 - 12.00, 14.00 - 18.00. PRice: 3 euros. The Bastion, a small 17th-c for was converted by Jean Cocteau into an exhibition place for his work, including drawings, paintings and tapestries. The building of the museum is a part of Menton walls and faces the Old Port (Bastion du Vieux Port). The Bastion is illuminated at night. The Bastion was built in the 17th century by Honoré II, Prince of Monaco. Jean Cocteau restored the bastion himself, decorating the alcoves, reception hall and outer walls with mosaics made from pebbles. The Bastion Museum opened in 1966, three years after Cocteau's death. A new exhibition of Cocteau's work is installed in the Bastion every year.

    We change our direction of walking and turn northward along Quai Gordon Bennett (which continues further north as Promenade de la Mer). Both of these routes start at the Bastion Square (south) and end at the Victoria Square (north) (between the beaches of Sablettes and the Bastion). Both of these ways are under construction (summer 2015) and it is a new traffic scheme. The views to your right (east and north-east) are stunning: marvelous port/marina and the Maritime-Alps mountains in the background:

    We turn left to the Menton Old Town in Quai Bonaparte, pass a small park on our left and we head westward along the elongated Place du Cap. On our right and left small shops and splendid shopping (pedestrian only) centre. Try to taste the ice-cream in Le Cafe du Vieux Port:

    Turn and climb RIGHT (north) to Rue de Logettes. On your left a beautiful pottery and flowers shop:

    Follow the signs of "Basilique St. Michel". On our way we pass the Place des Logettes:

    Turn right and walk under the ancient arch to Rampe St.Michel - very narrow and quaint street. Here, you start a scenic ascending staircase:

    From here you get a nice view to the port (Menton Vieux Port) and the Garavan beach. You can see, even, far across to Italy:

    Further up (now very close to the Cathedral) - a stunning view of the shore strip with the old, persimmon and orange-colored houses in this ancient part of the town:

    The ascent through the series of flights of stairs to the “Basilique Saint-Michel” is a wonderful experience. A rare jewel of Baroque art. It's a landmark on the Menton skyline and it is illuminated every night. More than 100,000 tourists come to see the site every year. Even before you see and enter the magnificent Basilica - the extensive courtyard ("parvis") which is in front of it is a unique sight. The more you ascend and approach the church - the more grandiose are the sights. There is also (on your left) a welcome fountain with drinkable water just outside the church, which you will need before continuing the climb up to the old monastery and cemetery (see below):

    The "Festival de Musique de Menton" existing since 66 years, is one of the major cultural events in South of France and it takes palce on the square in front of St. Michel's Basilica. During two weeks, every August,  the square becomes the main stage of the musical festival. The illumination of the church, which you can see all year, is fantastic. The view on the sea is stunning. In case of bad weather the concerts take place in the church interiors. Additionally, St Michel, Menton's own saint,  is celebrated on the last Sunday of September every year:

    The construction of the Basilica begun in 1640 under the reign of Honoré II, but took several centuries to be completed. The first stone was, even,  laid on May 27, 1619. But because of financial difficulties it wasn't completed until year 1653. The façade was then renovated in the 19th Century adding typical decor of the period such as smooth columns with ionic and Corinthian capitals.

    The church interior is beautiful in a rustic way. Inside the decoration is impressive with a vaulted painted ceiling. The numerous side chapels are also worth examination. Brochures in a variety of languages explain some about the Basilica's treasures. Absolutely amazing with special religious, serene spirit inside. Note: there is no signage giving days or times of when the church is open. You can be sure that on Sundays' mornings it is open...:

    A little further on in the Place de la Conception, La Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs (White Penitents Chapel), from the 17th century,  is even more extraordinary and offers a more ornate façade : pinnacles, friezes, garlands of flowers. It was built between 1680 and 1687 in the neighborhood of the "Capitol" on land outside the walls of the medieval city and offered by the Prince Louis the 1st and the local family Monléon. It was completely renovated and transformed in year 1987:

    With our face to the two churches - we turn right (without stairs) in a steep climb to the Montee du Souvenir.  During our climb - turn your head backward to see the tops of our two churches (just visited):

    After climbing 300 m. we see, on our right, the entrance to the Cimetière du vieux Château.  The Cemetery of the old castle is just above the Basilica Saint Michel and its impressive square. There are spectacular views of Menton, the Roqueburne range of mountains, the Italian seashore and the sea from this cemetery. Opening hours: 7.00 - 20.00 MAY-SEP, 7.00 - 18.00 OCT-APR. Until the 19th century - the deads were buried in the Saint Michel Basilica and its adjacent church (or in a special site west to the Basilica square). from 1807 the land around a neglected castle on top of the hill, overlooking Menton, was acquired for the burial place of the town citizens.

     

    From the cemetery - we take the western path/road of Traverse Montee du Souvenir:

    We connect with the Rue de la Conception and descend down through several flights of stairs (passing the La Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs on our left):

    We continue in the same direction (west) along Rue de la République and on our left we see the Menton Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) (Mairie):


    In the end of Rue de la Republique - Hotel L'Orient (or Grand Hotel d'Orient). If you have the chance to enter these premises - you'll see unbelievable sights of a spectacular site and complex of the Belle Epoque:



    Head west on Rue de la République toward Rue Max Barel, 200 m. Slight right onto Rue Partouneaux, 280 m. Turn right onto Avenue de Verdun,
    150 m. Slight left to stay on Avenue de Verdun, 25 m. Turn left onto Avenue de la Gare, 120 m. Slight right, 70 m. and we end our short visit in Menton in the GARE DE MENTON.

  • Citywalk | France
    Updated at Feb 7,2016

    Nice Castle Park (Parc du Chateau) (Colline du Chateau):

    Access: take the 213 steps (‘escalier Lesage’) or the FREE elevator (Ascenseur du Chateau) in the most eastern edge of Rue de Ponchettes near Quai des États-Unis (behind the Hotel Suisse). Access on foot also from Place Garibaldi in OId Nice.

    If there is a long queue waiting for the elevator - you may wait 10-20 minutes in a quite stuffy, underground hall. Steps up not too hard (10-12 minutes hike along winding path of approx. 210-220 steps. A bit out of breath). Wear proper shoes. Do not opt for hiking on foot in very hot hours. The hiking is preferable due to unbelievable sights (during the morning hours !). You can ride the little tourist train up the hill and back down. You can pick up the train from the Promenade des Anglais. Our suggestion is to go up through the old town (shorter path and less steps) and go down on the beach side.

    The Tourist Train: 10 minute stop at the castle. Duration: roughly 45 minutes. Commentary: (Individual commentary) French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian and Japanese. Capacity: 55 passengers. Prices: 10 € adults, 5 € children 4 to 12 years. Times: Daily. one departure every 30 minutes (several tourist trains). 10.00 to 17.00 in January, February and March. 10.00 to 18.00 in April, May and September. 10.00 to 19.00 in June, July and August. 10.00 to 17.00 in October, November, and December.

    The main reason to visit the Castle Hill is for the stunning views. Great views of Nice Port (afternoon hours - when the sun shines from the west), city and beach (Baie des Anges) (morning or midday hours). Sunset is especially terrific for lovely sights of Port Lympia, east and down to the Castle Hill. Don't just look at the view in one direction. We recommend visiting the Castle Hill twice and getting views from BOTH of its sides. Climb up the Castle Hill during the morning hours for getting wonderful views of Nice city and its l-o-n-g beaches (the red rooftops of Nice old town jointed by the glistening turquoise ocean) and sunrise overlooking the port. Looking west you can see beyond the airport towards Cannes and St Tropez. Visit, again, during the late (sunny !) afternoon hours to get admirable sights of the ports in the east and sunset over the city and its beaches.

    Westerly viewpoints which have an absolutely superb picture postcard panorama overlooking the Promenade des Anglais, Old Nice and the Baie des Anges, with further in the distance the Cap d’Antibes, the Esterel mountains, the airport and the Southern Alps: this view is best enjoyed in the morning in order to avoid the sun directly facing you in the afternoon:

    View from the Castle Hill east over Port Lympia and looking south-east towards the Cape of Nice (separating Nice from Cap Ferrat):

    Opening hours: 01 OCT - 31 MAR: 08.30 - 18:00, 01 APR - 30 SEP: 08.30 - 20.00. Cost: Its a free of charge attraction.

    Duration: Allow a few hours to see this area.

    Practical hints:

    • Hardly one restroom on top of the hill (near the elevator station). Be prepared !
    • Plenty of good places to have a picnic under the trees on top of the hill. Many shady places for rest and play (for kids).

    • Little cafe and souvenir shop at the top.
    • This route is NOT  wheelchair friendly. No pushchairs through as well.

    The history of the park goes all the way back to the beginning of the 19th century, when the city of Nice was facing the challenge to turn the site of the former castle into a pleasant leisure and tourist area. Thus, at present, the Castle Park is not just just a mere archeological site. in 1706, King Louis XIV asked it to be destroyed. The castle had until then defended the city of Nice against many attacks. Indeed, Nice, at the time, was not yet in France. This fortress was then an obstacle for the French attacks against the Savoie County. Fortunately for Nice, this destruction had a positive effect since the city was forced to open and expand outside its ancient walls. Then the tourist resort was born which allowed the city to develop. In 1828, King Charles-Felix of Savoy, at the time King of Sardinia, originally intialized the project of the Castle Hill Park. He wanted to create a walk for the rich tourists on holiday in Nice. Then the Royal Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture and many famous botanists (Risso, Bottière, Milo) began to build a park for the city of Nice:

    What is on top of the Castle Hill ?

    There are also walkways paved with colourful modern day mosaics. These are, actually, references to ancient Greece, notably on the eastern side of the plateau on top of the hill, with a fountain dedicated to the god Pan and mosaics representing scenes from the Odyssey. Remember: the Greeks founded Nice in around 350 BC and named it Nikaia after the Greek goddess of victory:

    Cascade Dijon (which is an artificial waterfall) also counts as one of the chief highlight of the park. The waterfall is worth seeing from above and below. The waterfall was built in 1885 in order to decorate the Castle Hill, but also in order to play the role of on-verses basins of the first modern water supply of Nice. Even today, the waterfall is fed by the waters of the Vésubie valley. The Cascade:

    Despite different destructions, the castle park retains traces of its monuments of the past. Many ruins have been found and revealed (cathedral, citadel). Archaeological digs are still active today in an attempt to reveal traces of the fortress (from the medieval to the Baroque period). There are Roman relics well exposed at the archeological site. There are some ruins but not really a chateau to speak of:

    In the one remaining tower, the 16th century Tour Bellanda (Bellanda Tower), is the Musée Naval. Bellanda Tower was built in 1844 in typical romantic style. It was built in place of the old tower of St. Elmo, which was part of the ancient castle:

    In the north-west part of the hill - there is the Jewish cemetery (Cimetière Israélite, Allée François Aragon). As well as visiting the remains and gazing at the views, while on Castle Hill, visit the beautiful monumental cemetery. It has three sections Catholic, Protestant and Jewish. Many of the monuments are very elaborate and beautiful. Worth a look just to fill you in on Nice's recent history. Garibaldi is buried in this cemetery.

  • Citywalk
    Updated at Aug 26,2016

    Part 1: From Broad Street to Radcliffe Square.

    Main Attractions: Blackwell's Bookshop, Sheldonian Theatre, Bodleian Library, The Clarendon Building, Weston Library, The Bodleian Treasures Exhibition, Bridge of Sighs, Radcliffe Square, The Brasenose College, Radcliffe Camera, The University Church of St Mary the Virgin, All Souls College, High Street.

    Part 2: Along High Street - from St. Mary Church to the Botanic Garden.

    Start: Carfax Tower. End: Radcliffe Square (part 1), the Botanic Garden (Part 2). Duration: Part 1 - 1/2 - 3/4 day. Part 2 - 1/4 - 1/2 day.

    From Carfax Tower, Queen Street we head northeast on Queen St toward Cornmarket St, 25 m. We turn left onto Cornmarket St, 250 m. Turn right onto Broad St, 120 m. After 120 m. walk along Broad (with our face to the east) - we see the Blackwell's Bookshop, 48-51 Broad St. on our left. It is rare that a bookstore becomes a tourist attraction. Blackwell UK, or the Blackwell Group, is a British academic book retailer  founded in 1879 by Benjamin Henry Blackwell, after whom the chain is named. Founded in Oxford on Broad Street, the firm now has a chain of 45 shops, as well as library supply service, employing around 1000 staff members across all the UK. Both the Oxford and London flagship shops have won Bookseller of the Year at the British Book Awards. It includes as part of its basement the Norrington Room, which gained a place in the Guinness Books of Records with the largest single display of books for sale in the world. The huge Norrington Room - actually extends under neighboring Trinity College Gardens. It contains endless shelves of books - when the lion's share of them are underground. The main store at 48-51 Broad Street is NOT the only store in Oxford. It is the largest, holding 250,000 volumes, but there are also specialized stores for Art, Music, rare books, paperbacks, maps and travel, medicine, children's books, and a University bookstore. The main store in Broad Street also has a large used books section as well (on the top floor). Blackwell's catered exclusively to the academic market, and gradually opened new stores in university towns around the UK.

    Exactly opposite the bookstore is the Sheldonian Theatre. Located in Oxford’s medieval city centre, the Sheldonian Theatre is a unique, world-renowned and world-class architectural jewel of Oxford.

    It's is surrounded by a stone wall railings with the heads of Roman Emperors circling the theatre courtyard. Christopher Wren commissioned 14 stone heads from William Byrd who was a mason and stonecutter working in nearby Holywell. The heads were made of good quality freestone, and were completed in 1669. Each is a head-and-shoulders sculpture of a male with a beard, placed on a tall square pillar. They have been variously called the Apostles or the Philosophers, but most commonly they are called the Emperors. Each head has a different beard and it has also been suggested they represent a history of beards. In the early 1700s, one of the heads had to be removed to make way for the Clarendon Building (see below). The remaining 13 lasted 200 years until they were replaced in 1868. Unfortunately, the replacements were made of poor quality stone and gradually eroded until they were called ‘the faceless Caesars’ and were taken down in 1970. The third and current set of heads is made of more durable stone and each head weighs one ton. They were commissioned from Oxford sculptor Michael Black. It took two years to complete the commission, and they were erected in October 1972:

    Designed by Sir Christopher Wren between 1664 and 1669. It is said to be one of the first bulidings designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It is the University’s ceremonial hall. Price: £3.50, Concessions: £2.50. I would recommend attend a musical performance in this theatre instead of paying special fee for just visiting this charming site. Bear in mind that the more convenient and expensive chairs cost £40-£60/person. The fee includes excellent guide with lots of great information. Occasional Guided tours: £8.00 adult, £6.00 concessions. Open: 10.00 - 16.00. Occasionally affected by ceremonial and other events. The Sheldonian does not have its own box office but tickets can be bought for concerts via the Oxford playhouse (Tel: 01865 305305) or from concert promoters.

    Have a look around the main hall and do not miss its amazing ceiling. Gaze up at the magnificent ceiling fresco painted by Robert Streater, the court painter of King Charles II. The majestic hall hosts many musical performances (bring cushion - seats are not modern ones with hard boards and too  thin cushions) with excellent acoustics, with superb clarity of the sound, for small and larger musical groups. This building is also used by the Oxford University for their graduation ceremonies (able to seat 1500 people). Experience the atmosphere of this historical theatre space with its gilded organ and wooden interior.

    Then walk up the shattering stairs (about 100 steps) to the top where there is a small exhibition of the theatre history.

    Marian Cook photo: Aung San Suu Kyi, 2011:

    The last few wooden steps are a bit challenging (more because of the circular nature and uneven floor) and lead to the coupola - where the 360 degree panoramic views of Oxford were worth it and are one of the best of this magnificent town. The views of Oxford from the top of the theatre are worth the entry fee alone.

    South-West Oxford from the Sheldonian Theatre Rooftop:

    West Oxford from the Sheldonian Theatre Rooftop:

    North-West Oxford from the Sheldonian Theatre Rooftop:

    East Oxford from the Sheldonian Theatre Rooftop:

    South-East Oxford from the Sheldonian Theatre Rooftop:

    Behind (south) to the Shelodonian Theatre stands the Bodleian Library. Founded in 1602 and regarded as a masterpiece of English Gothic architecture, the Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. It is holding the second most number of books in the UK. it receives and holds a copy of every book and periodical ever written and published in the UK. There are many sensational facts about the Bodleian Libraries and many rare books are hosted here.You don't get to see all these, but just smelling and viewing from distance the historic portions is enough to understand how important this magical site is. Open: MON-FRI: 9.00 - 17.00, SAT: 9.00 - 16.30, SUN: 11.00 - 17.00.

    You can visit the libraries only through (45 - 60 min.) guided tours in fixed times. You have to register (and pay) in advance. Children under 11 yrs are not admitted. NO photos are allowed in most parts of the library - especially, in the upper floor with its medieval library. The tour guide gives you earphones to listen to his/her quiet whisper - while visiting the upper floor.

    Mini guided-tour: The mini tour allows you to view the most beautiful parts of the Bodleian Library in just 30 minutes. Included: 15th-century Divinity School and Duke Humfrey's medieval library. Length: 30 minutes. Price: £6.

    Standard guided-tour: This tour shows you the interior of the buildings that form the historic heart of the University. Included: 15th-century Divinity School, Convocation House, Chancellor's Court and Duke Humfrey's medieval library. Length: 60 minutes. Price: £8.

    Extended tour - Upstairs, downstairs. This tour offers the opportunity to visit both the Bodleian Library's wonderful historic rooms and the modern underground reading room. Included: 15th-century Divinity School, Convocation House, Chancellor's Court, Duke Humfrey's medieval library, Radcliffe Camera and Gladstone Link. Length: 90 minutes
    Price: £14. Times: Wednesday and Saturday: 9.15 only.

    Extended tour - Explore the reading rooms. This tour adds exploration of the Bodleian Library's wonderful reading rooms where scholars have studied for centuries. Included: 15th-century Divinity School, Convocation House, Chancellor's Court, Duke Humfrey's medieval library, Upper Reading Room and Radcliffe Camera. Length: 90 minutes. Price: £14
    Times: Sunday: 11.15, 13.15 only. The general public cannot enter the reading rooms; that right is reserved for members.

    Radcliffe Camera Lower Reading Room:

    The Bodleian is so much more than a library; it is a piece of history. Oxford's Bodleian Library opened in 1602 with a collection of 2,000 books assembled by Thomas Bodley of Merton College. The new library replaced one that had been donated to the Divinity School by Duke Humphrey of Gloucester (brother of Henry V of England), but had dispersed in the 16th century. It was originally "Bodley's Library" and has been known informally to centuries of Oxford scholars as "the Bod". In 1610, Bodley made an agreement with the Stationers' Company in London to put a copy of every book registered with them in the library. The Bodleian collection grew so fast that the first expansion of the building was required in 1610–1612, and another in 1634–1637. When John Selden died in 1654, he left the Bodleian his large collection of books and manuscripts. In 1911 the United Kingdom Copyright Act continued the Stationers' Company agreement by making the Bodleian one of the five "copyright libraries" in the United Kingdom, where a copy of each book copyrighted in the country must be deposited. The New Bodleian building, was built in the 1930s. Each year, the collection grows by more than 100,000 books and nearly 200,000 periodicals; these volumes expand the shelving requirements by about 2 miles (3.3km) annually. A tunnel under Broad Street connects the Old and New Bodleians (mainly, Weston Building - see below), and contains a pedestrian walkway, a mechanical book conveyor and a pneumatic tube system for book orders. The Oxford Digital Library (ODL) provides online access to the paper collections. The Oxford Digital Library started operationally in July 2001 and has a rich collection of digital archives. In 2004, Oxford made an agreement allowing Google to digitize 1 million books owned by the Bodleian Library. The Bodleian is unique in that it is not a lending library - no books can be borrowed, only read on the premises. The Bodleian takes this restriction seriously; in two famous cases, King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell was refused permission to borrow a book... A strict policy of the libraries was that no fire may be brought into the library buildings. For this reason, the library was completely unheated until 1845, when Victorian engineers installed channels in the floor to carry hot water into the building after being heated in boilers outside. The library also lacked artificial lighting until 1929. Reliance on the sun for light and heat kept the library’s hours of operation quite short—as little as five hours per day during the winter.

    The Bodleian Library exterior:

    The Old Schools Quadrangle:

    The main "Old Bodleian" building contains upper and lower reading rooms, the gift shop, and the Divinity School. As we said before, visitors are not allowed into the reading rooms except gazing from the distance on guided tours only, which usually occur daily, every hour. To be granted access to the Bodleian Library, one must submit a formal application. Visitors are asked to leave all bags, including ladies handbags, in secure lockers for the duration of all Bodleian Library tours.

    The guided visit starts with the Divinity School at the 1st floor. The building is physically attached to the Bodleian Library (with Duke Humfrey's Library on the first floor above it in the Bodleian Library). The Divinity School Hall has beautiful Gothic windows. The ceiling consists of very elaborate vaulting. This splendid medieval room is the oldest teaching hall and earliest examination hall of the University. You can pay just £1 and see this hall for 10 minutes. Open: MON-SAT: 09. 00 - 17.00, SUN: 11.00 - 17.00. Purchase entry ticket on the day at the Great Gate ticket office.

    Convocation House was built in years 1634–7. The Convocation House is the lower floor of the westward addition to the Bodleian Library and Divinity School. It adjoins the Divinity School, which pre-dates it by just over two hundred years, and the Sheldonian Theatre, to its immediate north:

    Chancellor's Court sentencing students. Oxford University is the only university with Court. Oscar Wilde was sentenced here. It was formerly a meeting chamber for the House of Commons during the English Civil War and later in the 1660s and 1680s:

    Second Floor: Duke Humfrey's Library is the oldest reading room in the Bodleian. It is composed of three major portions: the original medieval section (completed 1487, rededicated 1602), the Arts End (1612) to the east, and Selden End (1637) to the west. Until 2015, it functioned primarily as a reading room for maps, music, and pre-1641 rare books; following the opening of the new Weston Library, it is now an additional reading room for all users of the Bodleian, as the Weston Library operates reading room for special collections. It consists of the original medieval section (1487), the Arts End (1612), and the Selden End (1637). It houses collections of maps, music, Western manuscripts, and theology and ancient arts documents. The library is on the second floor and is attached at two corners to the Old Schools Quadrangle. The medieval section is above the Divinity School and Selden End (named after John Selden a benefactor of the library) is above the Convocation House. The books in the oldest part are accommodated in oak bookcases which are at right angles to the walls on either side with integral readers' desks. The ceiling consists of panels painted with the arms of the university:

    Duke Humfrey's Library is named after Humphrey of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Gloucester, a younger son of Henry IV of England. He was a connoisseur of literature and commissioned translations of classical works from Greek into Latin. When he died in 1447, he donated his collection of 281 manuscripts to the University of Oxford. Oxford built Duke Humfrey's Library as a second story to the Divinity School in order to house his collection in 1450-80. Today, only three of Humfrey's original books remain in the library. In 1550 the King's Commissioners despoiled it of books and in 1556 the furniture was removed by the university. It was refitted and restored from 1598 by Sir Thomas Bodley and in 1610-12 added the east wing (now Arts End). The west wing (now Selden End) followed 20 years later. The medieval library is familiar to Harry Potter fans. You won't disappoint. The beautiful painted ceiling, wonderful wood paneling and ancient books are, all, once-in-life experience. The books and the interior of the library is breathtaking beautiful. You can gaze at the ancient books, which is cool and inspiring - but you are not allowed to touch or wander inside or around. Our guide, David, was very knowledgeable and inviting:

    Today, the Bodleian includes several off-site storage areas as well as nine other libraries in Oxford, including the Bodleian Japanese Library, the Bodleian Law Library, and the Radcliffe Science Library. Altogether, the sites now contain 9 million items on 176 km of shelving, and have seats for 2,500 readers. The Bodleian Library's religious interest lies in its impressive collection of biblical and religious manuscripts. Unfortunately, these are generally not accessible to visitors.

    The Clarendon Building ,Broad Street, is NORTH to the Sheldonian Library and the Bodleian Library. It is an early 18th-century neoclassical building of the University of Oxford. It was built between 1711 and 1715 and is now a Grade I listed building:

    Cross Broad Street from south to north to face the Weston Library (the whole complex is, actually, on the corner of Broad Street and Parks Road). Weston Library is the main home for the Bodleian Libraries' Special Collections. It was renamed the Weston Library in honour of a £25m donation given in March 2008 by the Garfield Weston Foundation. The facade facing Broad Street is with a low podium wall and a row of small ground floor windows. The interiors are entirely modern - except a 15th-century portal from the Ascot Park estate used as an entrance to the readers’ admissions room. FREE. Open: Blackwell Hall - MON-FRI: 8.30 - 17.00, SAT: 9.00 - 17.00, SUN: 11.00 - 17.00. Exhibition galleries: MON-FRI: 10.00 - 17.00, SAT:  10.00 - 17.00, SUN: 11:00-17:00. Bodleian Café - MON-FRI: 8.30 - 17.00, SAT: 9.00 - 17.00, SUN: 11.00 - 17.00. The Zvi Meitar Bodleian Libraries Shop - MON-FRI: 10.00 - 17.30 , SAT: 10.00 - 17.00, SUN: 11.00 - 17.00. The Weston Library began its life as the New Bodleian Library, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and constructed in the 1930s. In 1925, Sir Arthur Ernest Cowley (then Bodley's Librarian) informed the University that the Library would run out of space in ten years' time. In 1926, the Rockefeller Foundation agreed to provide three-fifths of the cost of a new library. The building was planned to be connected to the Old Bodleian building via an underground conveyor belt and a pneumatic tube system. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was appointed as architect in June 1934, and building work commenced in December 1936. The building was finished by 1940, but, its formal opening was delayed - since it was used for military projects during WW2. During the war it hosted valuable collections from the Old Library and special collections store, the Old Ashmolean, the Sheldonian, Duke Humfrey and the University Archives. The New Library also hosted priceless collections from libraries and institutions around the UK, including the King's Library (British Museum) and the herbarium collection of the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew. Treasures from fifteen Oxford colleges were also received – from Christ Church pictures to Merton's manuscripts. The building was finally opened by King George VI on 24 October, 1946. Since that time the only major alteration to the building has been the addition of the Indian Institute as a south-facing roof extension in 1966-69 by architect Robert Potter. The New Bodleian remained relatively unchanged:

    The entrance collonade:

    First, you enter the Blackwell Hall public space on the ground floor. It is lit with natural light from new skylights, or from the building’s original long slit-windows:



    There is, also, brand new roof-level reading room with views of the Oxford city's famed spires:

    The Shakespeare's Dead Exhibition (the left entrance from the main Blackwell Hall) in the Weston Library (22 April 2016 — 18 September 2016) celebrates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. The interesting exhibition displays and confronts the theme of death in Shakespeare's works. It shows how Shakespeare used the anticipation of death, the moment of death and mourning the dead in context to bring characters to life. The word "Death" repeatedly reflects times when death had a deeply religious context. The exhibition will feature tragic characters from Shakespeare's works including Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet and, even, Falstaff. Death is eternal in Shakespeare: from Desdemona’s deathbed to a tomb of books. The main historical event is the Bubonic Plague 1591-1603. Shakespeare's Dead also looks at last words spoken, funerals and mourning as well as life after death, including ghosts and characters who come back to life. These themes are explored using key items from the Bodleian's famous literary collections that include Shakespeare's First Folio and the first Shakespeare playbook (Romeo & Juliet), a number of early editions and an extensive collection of plays and poetry by Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

    A page from A dialogue against the fever pestilence, a book by English physician and cleric William Bullein (published 1564):

    First copy of Venus & Adonis of  Shakespeare, 1593:

    Knight fights the Death - Dance of Death Panel:

    Merchant of Venice, 1600:

    The title page of a 1612 edition of Richard III with annotations by Edmond Malone (circa 1741-1812):

    First Folio - the collection of 36 plays written by Shakespeare in 1623, including Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra – emerged in the library of Mount Stuart, a 19th century Scottish mansion:

    We turn to the Bodleian Treasures Exhibition (the right entrance from the main Blackwell Hall) in the Weston Library. It displays RARE DOCUMENTS in pairs: famous document vs. less familiar one:

    The Magna Carta, 1217. The Charter’s clauses on freedom and the rule of law are enshrined in English law and the American Constitution. This is the original of the 1217 issue of the Great Charter, sent by King John and his son, Henry III to Oxford. Henry III, who was ten years old and too young to put his own seal to it, reissued the 1215 charter of his father King John:

    Biblica Latina, 1455. The ‘Gutenberg Bible’ reflects the great advances made in printing technology in the 15th century. It is the first substantial book to be printed from individual pieces of metal type. The book was the work of Johann Gutenberg (c. 1398-1468), a goldsmith from Mainz. Printing probably began in 1454, and was completed by March 1455. Fewer than fifty copies survive today, and the Bodleian’s copy is one of only seven complete examples in the UK:

    Peter Apian - Astronomicum Caesareum, 1540:

    Codex Mendoza, c. 1541, an Aztec artist. This manuscript was commissioned by Antonio de Mendoza, first Viceroy of Mexico 1535-1550, for presentation to the Emperor Charles V of Spain.
    It contains:
    a copy of a lost chronicle of the Aztec lords of Tenochtitlan; secondly,
    a copy of the ancient Tribute Roll, listing 400 towns paying annual dues to the last (murdered by the Spaniards) Aztec Emperor, Moctezuma II,
    an account of Aztec daily life.
    The drawings were annotated in Spanish by a Nahuatl-speaking Spanish priest who questioned native speakers as to their meaning. The photo below is a depiction of an Aztec wedding:

    London Red Poppey, 1777, William Curtis. One of the finest illustrations of British plants ever published:

    Shaikh Zain-ud-Din, Sarus Crane, 1780 (see our blog "The Ashmolean Museum - Part 2"):

    Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) - Through the Looking Glass, London 1872:

    Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis, 1912. it was the author’s wish that all his documents and manuscripts be burned. His friend, Max Brod saved this document. Thanks to Kafka’s friend Max Brod that the existing manuscripts survive at all. Kafka’s Metamorphosis opens with a man waking to find himself turned into a monstrous insect. This is the original manuscript of one of the few works that appeared in print in Kafka’s lifetime (first edition, 1915). The majority of the author’s manuscripts are now in the Bodleian Library:

    Paint of Kenneth Graham - author of The Wind in the Willows, 1912:

    Two concepts of liberty: Isaiah Berlin introduced his famous distinction between negative and positive liberty at this inaugural Oxford lecture as Professor of Social and Political Theory. After fleeing from Riga and witnessing the Russian Revolution in St. Petersburg, he and his Jewish family had sought refuge in England in 1921. He studied and taught at several Oxford colleges:

    Tolkien - Bilbo comes to the huts of the raft-elves, 1937. Water-color paint he made for the American edition of the "Hobbit". Tolkien imagined his fantasy world in words and pictures, producing numerous illustrations of the landscapes and creatures:

    Tolkien fans, scholars and members of the public will have a unique opportunity to view a recently-discovered map of Middle-earth as the Bodleian Libraries puts this rare piece of Tolkien Narnia on display on 23 June 2016:

    Marian Cook - Aung San Suu Kyi, 2011:

    We leave the Weston Library and walk (left) eastward along Broad street. Turn RIGHT (south) to Catte Street. In the junction of Catte St and New College Lane - stands the Bridge of Sighs or Hertford Bridge. It is a skyway joining two parts of Hertford College over New College Lane and Its distinctive design makes it a city landmark. Just iconic gem or photo-stop of Oxford, nothing special architecturally.  The bridge is often referred to as the Bridge of Sighs because of its supposed similarity to the famous Bridge of Sighs in Venice. However, Hertford Bridge is more similar to the Rialto Bridge in Venice. The bridge links together north and south parts of Hertford College. It was designed by Sir Thomas Jackson. It was completed in 1914, despite its construction being opposed by New College. The building on the southern side of the bridge houses the College's administrative offices, whereas the northern building is mostly student accommodation. The bridge is always open to members of the Hertford College:

    Unfortunately the Hertford college is CLOSED to public visitors. We continue southward along Catte Street and arrive to the striking Radcliffe Square. The stunning square is surrounded, on the four sides, by the facades of the famous: Bodleian Library, Brasenose College, All Souls College and the University (St. Mary) Church. The square is pedestrians- only and laid with cobble stones. Radcliffe Square is widely regarded as the most beautiful in Oxford. It is a quiet oasis in the centre of the city, completely surrounded by ancient University and college buildings, yet just a few paces away from the bustling High Street. The square is named after John Radcliffe, a student of University College and doctor to the King, who in 1714 bequeathed £40,000 to build a science library known today as the Radcliffe Camera:

    The Brasenose College is in the western side of Radcliffe Square. Open (Guided tours ONLY): MON - FRI: 10.00 - 11.30, 14.00 - 16.30 (17.00 - during the summer), SAT - SUN: 09.30 - 10.30 (term time), 10.00 - 11.30 (non-term time). Entrance fee: £2.00. Brasenose College was founded in 1509 by Sir Richard Sutton, a Lawyer and William Smyth, Bishop of Lincoln. Both were from the north west and the College has retained strong links with Cheshire and Lancashire throughout its history. A Royal Charter, dated 1512, established the College to be called 'The King's Hall and College of Brasenose'. The College library and current chapel added in the mid-seventeenth century. The College's New Quadrangle was completed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with additional residence areas completed in the 1960s and 1970s. Brasenose is famed as one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world, Brasenose College Boat Club. The College's unusual name refers to a twelfth century 'brazen' (brass or bronze) door knocker in the shape of a nose. Noses have been used as symbols for Brasenose College throughout its history. Brasenose College enjoys the best location of any Oxford University College with the entrance to the Old Quad on Radcliffe Square next to the Bodleian Library:

    The Old Quadrangle:

    The sundial on the north side of Old Quad is dated to 1719:

    The New Quadrangle dated from late 19th century:

    The College's hall is situated on the south side of the Old Quadrangle, which was constructed in the 16th century:

    The Radcliffe Camera building in the centre of the square - is AMAZING. It stands between Brasenose College to the west and All Souls College to the east. Camera, here, meaning "room" in Latin. Tourists are not allowed to go inside - except visitors who join the most expensive tour of the Bodleian Library (14 GBP). Then, you can visit the top terrace and a few reading rooms and/or the library there. Just walk around this marvelous structure and admire its exteriors from its various sides. The round structure is surrounded by a fence dotted with paper notes with popular sayings. The building hosts one of the Oxford University libraries and is architecturally very impressive. I found the Radcliffe square and Camera - to be one of the most beautiful sights in the UK. It was built in 1739 to 1749 and designed by James Gibbs (who also designed St. Martin's in the Field Church at Trafalgar Square in London). The building is open to students only. The Radcliffe Camera has an underground tunnel which leads to the Old and New Bodleian Libraries. This allows students to take books into the Radcliffe without technically leaving the building. Originally the library in the Radcliffe Camera held both scientific and general books, but those collections were gradually moved to other University libraries, so that today the Camera functions as the main reading room of the Bodleian Library. The finished building holds some 600,000 books in underground rooms beneath Radcliffe Square. This spectacular piece of architecture is referred, by locals, as "Rad Cam":

    Next, we go up to St. Mary's Church to have the best view, from its entrance gates, over the magnificent Radcliffe Square and Radcliffe Camera building. Entrances are on High Street and Radcliffe Square.

    The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is in the southern end of the square and is the largest of Oxford's parish churches and the centre from which the University of Oxford grew. Its front facade is facing High Street. Radcliffe Square lies to the north and to the east is Catte Street, It is surrounded by university and college buildings.

    St. Mary Church from High Street:

    The Tower: St Mary's has one of the most beautiful spires in England and an eccentric Baroque porch, designed by Nicholas Stone. The tower commands some of the finest views of Oxford's famous skyline - especially Radcliffe Square, the Radcliffe Camera, Brasenose College and All Souls College. The 13th century (around 1270) tower is open to the public for a fee. It is worth the climb of 124 steps (the stairs are a bit narrow but well worth the effort) to make it to the top to enjoy fine uninterrupted views in all directions across Oxford and the surrounding countryside. On a clear day you can see all of Oxfordshire. The Church Guide Book indicates the major buildings to be seen. Note: a bit of a tight squeeze towards the roof-top and not too many passing/standing places on the round terrace. When you're at the top the path is narrow around the tower so there will be lots of squeezing around other people if there are several people up there at the same time. Price: adults £4, children (under 16) £3, Family ticket (2 adults and up to 2 children), £11. Open daily : 9.00 - 17.00 (6.00 - 18.00 in July & August). Sundays the Tower opens at 12.15 OCT - MAY, 11.15 JUN - SEP. Access to the church is free. You will probably have to queue up at busy times. The cafe in the east side of the entrance court is very good. Delicious food among the vaults. You can sit in the church garden on a sunny day.

    All Souls College from St. Mary Church roof-top:

    Carved stone figure on the tower:

    While altered by the Victorians, the interior of St. Mary’s church retains many of its original elements. The interior space has six-bay arcades with shafted piers.

    There are remnants of 15th century stained glass in the tracery lights of the east window, and 17th century shields in the de Brome Chapel. The east window and second from east in the south aisle were designed by Augustus Pugin. The west window in the nave is from 1891 and was designed by C.E. Kempe, the memorial window to John Keble is by Clayton and Bell in 1866:

    The church has a classical, amazing pipe organ built by the Swiss firm of Metzler Orgelbau in 1986, one of only two by this esteemed maker in Great Britain.

    In the eastern side of Radcliffe Sqaure - we see the extensive premises of All Souls College. The entrance to this college is ,however, from the north side of High Street. With our face to the Sty. Mary Church and our back to the Radcliffe Camera - the street BEHIND the St. Mary Church (south to the church) is the High Street. We walk southward and turn LEFT (east). Immewdiately, on our left is the entrance to the All Souls College. The college is located on the north side of the High Street adjoining Radcliffe Square to the west. More to the east is The Queen's College with Hertford College to the North. All Souls is one of the wealthiest colleges in Oxford. The College was founded by King Henry VI of England in 1438. Today the College is primarily a graduate research institution and has no undergraduate students.

    All Souls College Walls and Spires from Radcliffe Camera:

    All Souls College Entrance in High Street:

    Much of the college facade dates from the 1440s and, unlike at other older colleges, the smaller Front Quad is largely unchanged in five centuries. All Souls College Inner Court:

    All Souls College from the tower of St Mary's Church:

    Christopher Codrington sculpture inside the famous Codrington Library of All Souls College:

    All Souls College chapel:

    With our back to the Radcliffe Camera and our face to the St. Mary Church we continue straight on, to the south to the High Street. Here you can find various cafe's and restaurants - mainly, for light meals. Better options are restaurants along St. Clement Street - further east along the High Street. I recommend eating at the Angel & Greyhound, 30 Saint Clement's Street 800 m. east to the St. Mary Church or at Nando's,
    80 Cowley Road - 1 km. east to the St. Mary. Both roads are direct continuation of (diverge from ) High Street to the east. Part 2 of this blog continues exactly where we stop here: the spot where we face the St. Mary Church in High Street.

  • Citywalk | United Kingdom
    Updated at Aug 17,2016

    North Oxford: Oxford Canal, Jericho, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter:

    Main Attractions: Worcester College, The Blavatnik School of Government, Radcliffe Observatory building (now, Green Templeton College), The Mathematical Institute, Somerville College, The Radcliffe Humanities Building, The Jericho Health Centre, Freud Cafe', Jericho Tavern, Rutherway, Oxford Canal (the section between Walton Well Rd. and Aristotle Ln.), The Anchor pub.

    Duration: 2-3 hours. Distance: 4 km. Weather: any weather.

    Start: Carfax Tower. End: Jericho.


    From Carfax Tower, Queen Street - we head west on Queen St toward New Inn Hall St, 120 m. We turn right onto New Inn Hall St., 250 m. Turn right onto George St, 30 m. Turn left onto Gloucester St., 70 m. Slight left onto Gloucester Green, 150 m. Turn right onto Worcester St. walk 45 m. and Worcester College will be on your left. Worcester College is one of the most charming of Oxford colleges, with a blend of ancient and modern: from medieval cottages to modern students' accommodation completed in the last decade. Worcester College premises include award-winning gardens, wooded grounds, a lake and sports fields. Worcester College is, actually, in the centre of Oxford on the junction of Worcester Street, Walton Street and Beaumont.  It is just across the road from the main bus station, and is a 15 minute walk from the railway station and 5-7 minute walk from the main shopping areas of Oxford Centre. Open: every day from 14.00 - 17.00 (except some public holidays and during the College's Christmas closure period). Free of charge. All visitors are asked to report to the Porters' Lodge, on the right just inside the main entrance. Occasionally the College may be closed for private functions. The college was founded in 1714 (young - compared to other Oxford colleges) by the benefaction of Sir Thomas Cookes, a Worcestershire baronet, with the college gaining its name from the county of Worcestershire. Its predecessor, Gloucester College, had been an institution of learning, college for Benedictine monks, founded in 1283 that had been dissolved (dissolution of the British monasteries) in 1539 by King Henry VIII. The buildings served as palace and then entered 150 years of decline. An endowment came to their rescue in 1714. Sir Thomas Cookes, a Worcestershire baronet, left the money for the founding of a college.

    Looking down into the main quadrangle from the entrance through the main building, to the right is an imposing eighteenth century building in the neo-classical style:

    To the left a row of medieval buildings known as "the cottages", which are among the oldest residential buildings in Oxford. These cottages are the most substantial surviving part of the former Gloucester College:

    Presently, Worcester College is near the centre of Oxford. But, it was on the edge of the city in the eighteenth century. This has proved a benefit in the long run, since it has allowed the college to retain very extensive gardens and sport/playing fields (including a lake). The gardens have won numerous awards, including the Oxford in Bloom college award every time they have been entered for the competition. Worcester College has more applicants per place than any other Oxford college !

    A walking path out the back takes you along a waterway and there is a lake. The extensive gardens are open to the public - all free:

    The 18th century main building. Above the arcade is the Old Library; behind the arcade are the main entrance to the College (centre) and the entrances to the Chapel (left) and the Hall (right):

    The Worcester College chapel holds regular services during term, many of which are sung by the home chapel choirs. Do not miss the dome and the mosaic floor of this fabulous chapel. Try to  attended a stirring Evensong program there one late afternoon on weekdays:

    We leave the college and head north, to the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter. Exit the college  on Worcester St toward Beaumont St. Continue onto Walton St and walk northward for 500 m. The Blavatnik School of Government and the (former) Radcliffe Observatory are on your right.
    The Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) is in central north Oxford and lies between the Woodstock Road and Walton Street, with Somerville College to the south and Green Templeton College (formerly, the Radcliffe Observatory) to the north.There is an ambitious long-run plan of Oxford University to regenerate and re-plan the whole site. The ROQ project and the new university area is named after the grade I listed Radcliffe Observatory to the north east of the site, now the centrepiece of Green Templeton College, which is intended to form the visual centrepiece of the project (see below). Five buildings comprise the new quarter: 1. The (former) Radcliffe Observatory and (now) the Templeton College, 2. The Somerville College, 3. The Oxford University Humanities Building, 4. The Oxford University Mathematical Institute and 5. Jericho Health Centre.

    The Blavatnik School of Government in the south west corner of North Oxford, is standing opposite the slightly alarmingly Soviet-alike of the 1830 complex of Oxford University Press. It was opened in November 2015. Although the Blavatnik School of Government building is located in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) on Woodstock Road, however its main entrance is on Walton Street. The building has been designed by internationally renowned Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. These architects were responsible for the conversion of the Bankside power plant to Tate Modern in London (year 2000). The Blavatnik School of Government is part of Oxford University’ - an academic institute of public policy and government around the world. The building is taller than Carfax Tower in the centre of Oxford, thus it had sparked disputes and caused opposition to the scheme by local residents in the Jericho district and all around Oxford. But, near its completion, in 2015, the building was described as "the latest striking building nearing completion in Oxford". In June 2016, the building received a national Award of the British Association of Architecture (RIBA). In July 2016, the building was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize for excellence in architecture.

    The interior recalls the spiral staircase of New York’s Guggenheim Museum. The interior, grandiose space bright, airy with a lot of glass all around. With vast sheets of glass plates - you feel being into the street, with no frame between you and the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter:

    Opposite the Blavatnik School of Government (to the north-east) is the Radcliffe Observatory building - recently acquired by Green Templeton College. In 1772 building began on the Radcliffe Observatory, which was the astronomical observatory of the University of Oxford from 1773 to 1934, and is now in the grounds of Green Templeton College. Because of the viewing conditions, weather, urban development and light pollution at Oxford, the observatory moved to South Africa in 1939. It seems that this building is an ever intriguing source of inspiration to artists and continues to provide a truly unique host for the development of both academic and artistic projects in the Jericho and ROQ quarters. Beneath the Tower itself are rooms at each of three levels: the ground floor is now the College dining room, the first floor, originally the library, is now used as the Common Room, and on the top floor is the magnificent octagonal observing room. On the first floor there are also the Fellows' Room and the William Gibson Room, a small private dining room for up to 14 people.

    Statue of Atlas on top of the observatory:

    Nowadays, Green Templeton is formally Oxford’s newest College, founded in 2008. This college (graduates-only) is, actually, a merger of Green College (specializing in medicine, health and the social sciences) and Templeton College (in business and management):

    The Andrew Wiles Mathematical Institute building was formally opened on 3rd October 2013 and is located, immediately, south to the Green Templeton College. A striking building. Architectural masterpiece. One of the leading mathematics departments in the world:

    Several steps further south is the Somerville College, Woodstock Road. It was created, in year 1879, for women when universities refused them entry (the college has admitted men since 1994,), and for people of diverse beliefs when the establishment religion was widely demanded - two policies previously unknown in Oxford colleges. Today, around 50% of students are male. The college was named after the eminent scientist and mathematician Mary Somerville (1780–1872). Presently, Somerville is home to around 400 undergraduates and 100 graduate students. The college and its main entrance, the Porters' Lodge, are located on Woodstock Road. The front of the college runs between St Aloysius Church and the Faculty of Philosophy. Somerville has buildings of various architectural styles, many of which bear the names of former principals of the college. The first buildings, in the ROQ regeneration project, to be completed were new student accommodation blocks for Somerville College which opened in September 2011. Past PM, Margaret Thatcher was a famous alumni member of this college:

    Mary Somerville, 1780 – 1872, after whom the College is named:

    The College Library:

    Darbishire quad:

    You continue walking further south, along Woodstock Road and on your right is the Radcliffe Humanities Building. The Radcliffe Humanities Building was formerly the Radcliffe Infirmary, which was Oxford's first hospital and was open from 1770 to 2007. The refurbished building opened in 2012 and is part of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) redevelopment, a major new inititiatve for the humanities. it is occupied by the University’s Humanities divisional office, the Faculty of Philosophy and both the Philosophy and Theology libraries:

    From the Humanities Office - head north on St Giles toward Woodstock Road, 75 m. Turn left onto Little Clarendon St, 220 m. Turn right onto Walton St. for 300 m. and the Jericho Health Centre is on your right. The Jericho Health Centre relocated to Radcliffe Observatory Quarter on Walton Street in July 2012. This building provides the local community with modern, flexible space for three GP surgeries and their associated health care facilities. The offices above the Health Centre are used by Oxford University Press and the University’s Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. The building is owned by Oxford University and the ground floor is leased to the National Hospitals Service (NHS).

    Opposite, to the north of the health centre is the  Freud café (opposite the junction of Great Clarendon Street and Walton Street, north to the Blavatnik School of Government). It is housed in the former St Paul's Church, a majestic building designed in 1836 by Henry Jones Underwood. The church construction was triggered by an outbreak of cholera in the area in 1831. The building has an imposing portico with Ionic columns. The architect Edward George Bruton added the apse in 1853 and Frederick Charles Eden remodeled the interior in 1908. In the 20th century, the building became a redundant church and was closed in the late 1960s. The building was bought by the Oxford Area Arts Council and used as a theatre and arts centre venue for more than 20 years. A café/bar was opened in 1988 by David Freud, who has an interest in buildings and their interaction with people. From time to time there are performances of live music such as jazz or blues. David Freud was one of the bitter opponents to the new building for the Blavatnik School of Government of Oxford University on the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter in 2015. The interior setting is very unusual, strange and quirky with the huge pillars, high ceiling and  the holy drawings of the stained-glass windows.  Its main pro is the great expanse of the old, former church. A bit dark inside. Another plus might be the bohemian, respectful clientele. A different experience !

    A bit further north is another pub the Jericho Tavern, 56 Walton Street.  Good and delicious food. Pleasant setting and seating. Good atmosphere and service. Spacious garden and patio. Above all - budget prices. Tasty chicken. Fresh Yorkshire Pudding on Sundays. Opening hours: 11.00 - 23.00 SUN - THU,  11.00 - 12.00  FRI - SAT. Recommended !

    From The Jericho Tavern we head northwest on Walton St toward Cranham St, 220 m. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Walton Well Rd, 230 m. Slight right onto Rutherway, 150 m. The road slights northwest. In its beginning, on your LEFT (south) - raise your head and you'll see WONDERFUL porticoes and friezes on top of one of the long block houses. It is almost on the banks of Oxford Canal (RutherWay).

    Noah and the Pigeon from the Old Testaments:

    Jacob's Dream from the Old Testaments:

    From Rutherway we find the stairs leading down to the Oxford Canal. In this route - we only SAMPLE the canal and walk along a small section of it from south to north: from Walton Well Rd to Aristotle Lane - short (15 minutes walk), beautiful, quaint and inspiring. We devote a special blog to the Oxford Canal.  We stress the point that you can walk ONLY along the western bank of the canal - in this section.  it is a beautiful part of oxford away from all the historical building and worth either a boat ride or a walk by the river. Very relaxing. On your left (west) is the Aristotle Recreation Ground and on your right: houses, gardens, mooring boats, wild flowers, water meadows and wildlife.  Breath, look, listen, smell and admire the nature in its beauty.  Walking along the western towpath - be careful of cyclists. You can carry your trolly luggage while walking along this section. It is whole asphalted and very convenient for canal-side walking. Very pleasant in the right weather !

    You can finish the canal-side walk in Aristotle Lane (there are stairs leading to this pretty lane). After climbing the stairs - turn RIGHT (east) to Aristotle Lane and enter The Anchor pub in the junction with Hayfield Road. Excellently prepared, presented and served food. Very reasonable prices although the menu is quite limited. Two dining halls. The first is a standard bar and the other one is more elegant and demanding to impress. They have a seating outside for fine days. Staff is polite, efficient and friendly. Might be very busy (even noisy) in the weekends. Open: MON - FRI: 9.00 - 23.00, SAT - SUN: 10.00 - 23.00:

    From here - it is a 20-25 min. walk back to the city centre, or - take bus no. 6 back from Woodstock Road to the centre.  Another option: continue walking east along Aristotle Lane and catch bus S3/S2 to George Street/Carfax Tower in the city centre.

  • Citywalk | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 14,2017

    Cheltenham:

    Main Attractions: The Promenade, Imperial Gardens, Montpellier Gardens, Montpellier Walk, Suffolk Parade, Montpellier, High Street, Bath Road, Sanford Park, Pittville Pump Rooms.

    Start & End: Cheltenham Royal Well Bus Station, Royal Well Road.  Duration: 1 day. Distance: 12 km. Weather: Any weather.

    Introduction: Cheltenham isn’t the most obvious UK city break destination - but, I do, heartily, recommend you to target this splendid town for one of your weekends. Full with white-washed mansions and houses, with its gorgeous Georgian architecture and great places to eat, drink and shop. Cheltenham is, particularly, a big festival city – with annual jazz (May), science (June), music (July) and literature (October) festivals.

    From Royal Well Bus Station, Royal Well Road head southwest toward Royal Well Pl, 80 m. Turn right onto Royal Well Pl, 5 m. Turn left onto and continue to follow St George's, 80 m. Continue onto the Promenade for further 160 m.

    Carry on down the Promenade, Cheltenham’s main shopping street lined with elegant Georgian buildings. Cheltenham's famous Promenade dates back to 1818 when the avenue of elms and horse chestnut trees were first planted. If you’re in the mood for shopping, you can find the usual high-end, high-street shops on the Promenade. the Promenade offers a pleasant place for a stroll and ranks amongst England's most beautiful thoroughfares:

    This impressive building of the Municipal Offices is on the western side of the Promenade in Cheltenham was built in the 1820s. In total it is sixty-three bays long:

    On your left Cavendish House department store on the Promenade:

    The Long Gardens are home to Cheltenham's war memorial: another statue (opposite the Cheltenham Borough Council) is the The Boer war memorial:

    The nearby statue of 1906 commemorates Edward Wilson, born in Cheltenham and lost on Scott's ill-fated Antarctic expedition of 1910-12:

    The Promenade is very much central to life in Cheltenham and this famous local landmark lies in the heart of the town centre, stretching from (north to south) Pittville Park past the Imperial Gardens and towards Montpellier Gardens. During the summer months, the Promenade is at its best, when it is adorned with colourful hanging baskets, overflowing with seasonal floral displays.

    Further south along the promenade, on your LEFT is the Town Hall.  Cheltenham Town Hall is unusual in that it operates solely as a venue for public events, and NOT as office space - be found in the town's neighbouring Municipal Offices:

    The Imperial Gardens, which can be found at the front of the Town Hall (still on your left) (east), were originally planted out for the exclusive use of the customers of the Sherborne Spa. The spa was constructed in 1818 on the site now occupied by the Queens Hotel (see below). Along the years, the gardens have undergone many changes, with the formal style you now see being laid out just after the second world war. The Promenade's colourful Imperial Gardens are laid out with an ever-changing display of ornamental bedding plants. Each year, approximately 25,000 bedding plants are used to produce the magnificent floral displays enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year. During the summer months, the Imperial Gardens becomes host to many outdoor events and festivals including the Literature, Jazz, Science and Music Festivals:

    Neptune fountain, at the end of the gardens was designed by Joseph Hall and was sculpted in 1893 by local firm RL Boulton and Sons. It is considered to have been styled on the Trevi Fountain in Rome. It was restored in 1989. The building behind the fountain used to be the ABC cinema:

    The Queens Hotel behind the Imperial Gardens:

    Continue further south-west along the Promenade and you see the Montpellier Gardens on your left. This parks is used as festival venues, with marquees, shops, cafés and lots of free events. But even if you’re not there for a festival, you can take a walk around the gardens. A full size bronze statue of Gustav Holst (1874-1934) is the centrepiece of the Imperial Gardens with a fountain and surrounded by octagonal plinth depicting the planets. The renowned composer of works such as 'The Planets' was a native of Cheltenham and the Holst Birthplace Museum can be visited in Clarence Road. This commemorative statue, by Anthony Stones, was unveiled in 2008 and shows Holst with conducting baton in hand:

    Every summer you can see a free exhibition of local artists: "Art in the Park". On Montpellier Walk, on our right, you will find a line of Caryatids (modelled on The Acropolis in Athens) at the side of every shop alongside a feast of cafes with alfresco dining, a deliciously continental feel to the area. The earliest two were made from terracotta by the London sculptor Rossi and date back to 1840, while the remainder were created by a local man from Tivoli Street, with an additional pair added in the 1970s. Developed in the 1830s and 1840s, the Montpellier area of Cheltenham takes its name from the fashionable French town, which was renown at the time for being a pleasant place to live:

    The Montpellier quarter is set at the end of the Promenade just after Montpellier Gardens. At the southern end of the Montpellier Gardens we turn LEFT (south-east) to Montpellier Terrace.  Later, we turn RIGHT (south) to Suffolk Parade. Shopping here is in individually styled shops and boutiques with everything from clothes to homeware, and a dance shop sit side by side in Regency buildings with restaurants and a wine bar to give this quarter of the town a real village feeling to the Cheltenham shopping experience:

    The Suffolks have become popular for antiques, homewares or individual specialist shops. Home to a restaurant in a church and one which used to be an art deco cinema (see immediately below), this quarter has an artistic appeal all of its own. Along the Suffolk Parade - do not miss (on your right) the Daffodil for dinner. The restaurant serves modern British food in a converted art deco cinema, full of gorgeous original 1920s design features. Head upstairs for a drink in the Circle Bar first, with a great cocktail list and half-price Champagne and sparkling wine on Friday nights from 18.00 to 20.00. Then walk down the sweeping stairs to the restaurant – where the cinema screen used to be you can now watch the chefs in action in the open kitchen.

    In the intersection of Suffolk Parade and Upper Bath Street (the 7th to the left) we'll see interesting church:

    Suffolk Parade continues as Great Norwood Street and ends at the the Norwood Triangle. Here we take the Gratton Road leg and we turn RIGHT (west) to the Grafton Road. In the corner of Gratton and Grafton roads stands the St Philip and St James, Leckhampton church (popularly called: Pip & Jim). The church is in the Victorian Gothic style, with a fine carved stone reredos in the chancel:

    We continue westward along The Park:

    We turn RIGHT (north) and walk 320 m. along the Tivoli Road until we turn left to the Andover Road. On our left is the Tivoli Stores Area. We cross the road (cautiously) and turn right to the Lansdown Parade. On our left is the Lansdown Pub:

    The Lansdown Parade ends in a roundabout. We shall continue northward along Montpellier Street - BUT, before we take the Parabola Road leg from the rounabout. On the third turn to the right stands the  majestic white building of Malmaison Cheltenham hotel, in the heart of Montpellier – Cheltenham’s most stylish district, with plenty of bars, restaurants and boutiques. Set in a white Regency villa, the hotel is classically grand from the outside but inside it’s modern and stylish, with lots of contemporary furniture and artworks, and Hi-Tech and smart technology features inside. There’s lots of space to relax, with a cosy lounge-come-library and a Victorian conservatory as well as a smart bar, restaurant and spa. After the sterling slump - you can book a double room starting from 105 GBP a night !:

    Retrace your steps and walk back in Parabola Road  - to start walking northward along the Montpellier Street leg. On our left is the Courtyard Specialty Shopping centre. We continue walking north-east along Montpellier Street, crossing the Fauconberg Road. On our left is the Cheltenham Ladies College: an independent boarding and day school for girls aged 11 to 18. The college gets high UK rankings during the last 10 years:

    Continuing walking along Montpellier Street brings us onto Royal Well Rd. Continue to follow Royal Well for 320 m. and turn right onto Clarence St. Turn left to the High Street. In the intersection of Royal Well and Clarence Street - you hit the Well Walk Tea Room for afternoon tea. It’s one of Cheltenham’s oldest shops and inside is packed with quirky antiques and crafts. Don’t miss a slice of one of their cakes:

    With our back to The Promenade (to the north-east) we turn RIGHT (south-east) to the High Street, and, immediately, RIGHT (south-west) to Regent Street to see, on our left the Everyman Theatre. The Everyman  Gloucestershire's theatre - is running shows from year 1891. The interior auditorium is an architectural masterpiece designed by Frank Matcham (it was originally called "The Opera House") and has inspired generations of performers. You visit the Everyman to see ballet, opera, drama, dance, comedy, music events or traditional pantomime. There are two stages in the building - the 694 seat main stage and the 60 seat Studio Theatre, originally named The Richardson after Ralph Richardson.

    Further, along Regent Street, still, on your left is the Kibou Sushi, 18 Regent St. A bit higher prices (compared with regular Sushis) - BUT, wonderful food in a small, beautiful restaurant. A few metres further south-west we see the Regent Arcade shopping centre. Clean, bright  with lots of shops to pop into. Good WC facilities:

    Again, retrace your steps and RETURN the whole Regent Street BACK and turn right onto High Street. Cheltenham’s High Street has been voted the most popular High Street in England. High Street is mainly pedestrianized. On our left (north) is the Beechwood Shopping Centre. Here and there you see buildings, still displaying evidence of the town's regency architecture.

    On the 4th road to the right, we turn RIGHT (south-west) to Bath Road. Forming a quarter of the town, for the local community and visitor alike, shopping in Bath Road has something for everyone from ironmongery, shoes and health food to clothes and gift shops. Added to which are banks, a supermarket, pubs, cafes and restaurants for that all-round local shopping experience if you want to try a different experience to town centre shopping in Cheltenham. I recommend having lunch or dinner at the Wetherspoon / Moon under Water, 16-28 Bath Road. 8 oz. steak, rice plate, basket potatoe, peas, mushrooms and lemonade - £11. Cheap meal. Modern decor and very clean. Polite and efficient service.

    On your LEFT (east) is the Sanford Park. The recreational side of the park, across College Road and adjacent to Sandford lido, is popular for picnics and games, and also has a large play area and toilets. The ornamental side of the park is divided into three sections: The main part houses a fountain with seating, landscaped beds, and stunning flower displays in the summer months. The Annecy Gardens, named after one of Cheltenham's twin towns, are to the north side of the park, and the Italian Gardens (see photo below), complete with sunken pool and fountains, lie to the west. A meandering path leads to the restful cascade pools and the River Chelt. The Cheltenham Lido is an heated pool (BIG one for adults and a small one for children), which means you can be confident of being able to enter the pool in any summer weather:

    Then burn your meal off with a walk to the Pittville Park and Pittville Pump Room, about 30-40 minutes north of the town centre and 1 mile (1.6 km.) walk from Sanford Parks. Built in the 1820s, this was Cheltenham’s largest spa building, surrounded by manicured lawns and ornamental lakes. You can still taste the medicinal spa waters from the pump (open 10.00 – 16.00, unless closed for an event.  From the Sandford Park Alehouse, 20 High St. - head BACK northwest on High St., 160 m. Slight right onto High St, 320 m. Turn right onto Pittville St, 110 m. Continue onto Portland St., 320 m. Continue onto Evesham Rd. , 650 m. and the entrance to Pittville Park will be on the left. Lovely place to go for a walk or a run or just to sit in the sunshine. Stunning park, nicely maintained with a huge brand new playground. Generous investment in new park equipment. A brilliant palce in a sunny day !!!

    The two lakes straddle the main road, however, the lake with the new playground adjacent also has large menageries with various birds and small animals and two cafes, one by the playground and one nearer Cheltenham Town Centre. The lakes are exquisite and include an island nature refuge. There are many flower beds which look superb in early Spring and Summer:

    The park is beautifully landscaped and on the rise is Pittville Pump Rooms, 800 m. walk along a special path. It is standing at the northern end of Pittville Park, and here you can take the spa waters that made Cheltenham's popularity more than a century ago. The Pump Room was built by the architect John Forbes between 1825 and 1830. The Pittville Pump Room was the last and largest of the spa buildings to be built in Cheltenham. The Pump Rooms building is overlooking the lawns and lakes of Pittville Park. The striking Main Hall with its ornate domed ceiling and crystal chandeliers, accommodating up to 400 seated guests. It is used for concerts, exhibitions, parties and dinners. The original marble spa water pump stands proudly in the apse, which can accommodate smaller meetings. Upstairs the bright and sunny Oval and West Rooms. The benefits of Cheltenham's mineral waters had been recognized since 1716, but not until after the arrival of Henry Skillicorne in 1738 did serious exploitation of their potential as an attraction begin. After the visit to Cheltenham in 1788 of King George III, the town became increasingly fashionable, and wells were opened up at several points round the town. Pittville, the vision of Joseph Pitt, was a planned 'new town' development of the 1820s, in which the centre-piece was (and remains) a pump-room where the waters of one of the more northerly wells could be taken. When not in use, you can wander into the Main Auditorium to see its fine interior and sample the fountain’s historically medicinal Spa Waters for free. Open: WED - SUN: 10.00 - 16.00:


    From Pittville Park we head south on Evesham Rd, 75 m. Turn right, 45 m.
    Turn left, 480 m. Sharp left onto Hudson St, 3110 m. Continue onto Hanover St. Head south on Hanover St toward Dunalley Parade. Turn left onto Dunalley Parade, 320 m. Turn right onto Marle Hill Parade, 70 m. Continue onto Dunalley St, 160 m. Continue onto Henrietta St., 160 m.
    Turn left onto High St, 320 m. Turn right onto Clarence St., turn left onto Imperial Circus and turn right onto The Promenade.

  • Citywalk
    Updated at Jul 7,2017

    Stratford-upon-Avon:

    Tip 1: (see Tip 2 below for Shakespeare Childhood House and Henley Road).

              (see Tip 3 below for a short walk along the river Avon).

              (see Tip 4 below for 1/2 day walk to Shottery, Ann 

               Hathway's Cottage).

    Tip 1 Main Attractions: Bancroft Gardens, Tramway Footbridge, Stratford Butterfly Farm, Clopton Bridge, Sheep Street, Chapel Street, The Guild Chapel, King Edward VI School, Hall's Croft, Holy Trinity Church, The Swan Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company Tower, Bancroft Gardens.

    Start & End: Bancroft Gardens. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 7 km. Weather: ONLY bright days. Lodging: Morris Ohata, Moonraker House Guest House, 40 Alcester Road, T: 01789-268774, 500 m. from the mainline station (but, opposite direction from the city centre): convenient room, superb meals, fantastic dining room. Transportation: You can travel directly to Stratford-upon-Avon train station from Birmingham (Snow Hill or Moor Street stations). Last train back to Birmingham, Monday - Friday at 23.30. Trains from London travel from Marylebone station via Banbury, Leamington Spa and Warwick. The last train back to London, Monday – Friday, is at 23.15.

    Introduction: Stratford-upon-Avon lies, formally, in Warwickshire. It rests, magnificently, on the River Avon, 163 km north west of London, 35 km south east of Birmingham, and 13 km south west of Warwick. The estimated population is approx. 29,000 BUT visited every year by millions of visitors. I know, Stratford had been criticized as a 'big tourist trap' and as a 'dump town'. The town is a popular tourist destination owing to its status as birthplace of English playwright and poet William Shakespeare, and receives approximately 2.5 million visitors a year. The Royal Shakespeare Company resides in Stratford's Royal Shakespeare Theatre. BUT, I found this city, during my 3-4 sunny days of visit - charming, colorful, fluent with attractions and routes for walking. So, my conclusion is that with bright days - DO NOT MISS this lovely town - mainly, due to its water-ways, bridges and natural surroundings. The historical aspects are the minor point in this story. Note: Stratford is densely packed in weekends and, ESPECIALLY, during local, annual festivals. You can't find a table in its restaurants during these massive events or times. Another danger (and influx is the water: Stratford's location next to the River Avon means it is susceptible to flooding, including flash floods...

    Stratford was originally inhabited by Anglo-Saxons. In 1196 Stratford was granted a charter from King Richard I to hold a weekly market in the town, giving it its status as a market town. As a result, Stratford experienced an increase in trade and commerce as well as urban expansion. During Stratford's early expansion into a town, the only access across the River Avon into and out of the town was over a wooden bridge. In 1480, a new masonry arch bridge was built to replace it called Clopton Bridge, named after Hugh Clopton who paid for its construction. The new bridge made it easier for people to trade within Stratford and for passing travellers to stay in the town. The Cotswolds, located close to Stratford, was a major sheep producing area up until the latter part of the 19th century, with Stratford one of its main centres for the processing, marketing, and distribution of sheep and wool. Stratford is a major English tourist town due to it being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, whom many consider the greatest playwright of all time. In 1769, the actor David Garrick staged a major Shakespeare Jubilee over three days which saw the construction of a large rotunda and the influx of many visitors. This started the process of making Stratford a tourist destination.

    Orientation: I spent 3-4 lovely days in Stratford. Two days will suffice. The first for the town itself. The second for the Avon river walk and historical sites around Stratford. Many of the town's earliest and most important buildings are located along what is known as Stratford's Historic Spine, which was once the main route from the town centre to the parish church. The route of the Historic Spine begins at Shakespeare's Birthplace in Henley Street. It continues through Henley Street to the top end of Bridge Street and into High Street where many Elizabethan buildings are located, including Harvard House. The route carries on through Chapel Street where Nash's House and New Place are sited. The Historic Spine continues along Church Street where Guild buildings are located dating back to the 15th century, as well as 18th and 19th century properties. The route then finishes in Old Town, which includes Hall's Croft and the Holy Trinity Church.

    Itinerary of 1st day in Stratford-upon-Avon City Centre: We start at the Bancroft Gardens which are situated on the River Avon adjacent to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. This is one of the most visited places in Stratford. The gardens are right in the heart of the town. It is a great place to people watch. There many many attraction spread along these extensive gardens (Avon river, 2 canal basins, 2 bridges, Gower Memorial (Shakespeare with Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, Falstaff and Prince Hal) , many statues, fantastic fountain, flower beds. But, we stay here, just to get a glance and initial impression - before heading, from the gardens, to the Butterfly Farm. It is a very pleasant place with a lot of space, very busy during weekends and holidays. It the perfect place to get views of the town, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) Theatre and the Avon river.

    The RSC from the Gardens:

    You can get a boat trip from here, along the Avon to the south and back, which is very enjoyable too. The canal basin is in the focal point of the gardens. You can take a stroll along the riversides. Many tourists from all over the world visit or sample these gardens.

    The Bancroft Gardens space was originally an area of land where the townspeople grazed their animals, and the Canal Basin formed the terminus of the Stratford to Birmingham canal, completed in 1816. The Gardens also occupy the site of former canal wharves, warehouses, and a second canal basin, which was built in 1826 and refilled in 1902

    We cross the Avon over the Tramway Pedestrian Footbridge, a nice walkway parallel to the Clopton motor bridge You can walk along this footbridge (packed very frequently) and gaze at the swans and mallards down in the river. It gets you from one side of the river to the other and to the Butterfly Farm. Tramway Bridge, which was built in 1823, got its name from being part of a 28 km. long horse-drawn tramway which ran between Moreton-in-Marsh (with a branch to Shipston-on-Stour) and the canal basin at Stratford-upon-Avon:

    We head to the Stratford Butterfly Farm. When we complete crossing the footbridge - we turn right (south-west) (turning left is to the Charlecote Park) we connect with Swans Nest and continue along this path until we see the farm's entrance on our left. In the end of the footbridge there are clear signs that will take you from the foot bridge to our farm's entrance.

    Opening hours: Winter: 10.00 - 17.00, Summer: 10.00 - 18.00. Prices: Adults £7.25, Seniors and Students £6.75, Children 3-16 Years (under 3's free) £6.25, Family (2 adults & 2 children) £22.50. Disabled accessible.  Toilets available. A MAGICAL SITE. Wonderful place to see butterflies in many colours and varieties and the way they develop in their natural eco-system. Allow, at least,1.5-2 hours. Stratford Butterfly Farm was opened  in 1985. The key area in the farm is the tropical rain forest with  approximately 1500 free-flying, spectacular and colourful butterflies flying all around. The  tropical greenhouse is the largest tropical butterfly display in the UK. The following paragraph is quoted from the farm's web site:"Some of the butterflies breed within the Butterfly Farm, the rest are imported from the tropics. All of the places we buy butterflies from are either Conservation projects or Village projects. Butterfly breeding is the main source of income for most of the villagers. These breeding operations have been set up to enable communities to earn a living without causing any damage to the environment and wildlife around them. Not only this good from a conservation point of view, it also allows families all over the tropics to earn a sustainable income and helps to preserve the rain forest whilst educating our visitors".

    Other zones in the farm are devoted to: insects (in glass containers), spiders, reptiles including snakes and iguanas, caterpillars and wildflowers garden:

    VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: it is very hot and humid inside the butterflies' zone of the farm. Prepare a T-shirt for the tropical, rain forest zone. After spending, at least, one our in this area (probably, taking tens/hundreds of photos) - you'll be dripping with sweat, but, fell very happy... The paths, inside, are incredibly narrow so they become, easily, crowded.

    From July 2016 had been installed in the farm of around 30 replica Maya & Mesoamerican sculptures which originate from the ancient rain forest civilization in Belize, Central America. Many of the beautiful butterflies on display at the Butterfly Farm are supplied by Fallen Stones, butterflies Farm in Southern Belize, particularly the stunning Blue Morpho:

    We return to Bancroft Gardens to explore, more thoroughly, its treasures and to take part with its mass events and festivals. We return back along the Avon Footbridge - heavily packed with locals and tourists, and, down in the river with rowers. Enjoy sunny days in the wide grass lawns and gardens with the backdrop of the river. Features include a human sundial celebrating the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, a new performance area and two fully accessible bridges over the canal basin and the lock:

    During our stay the River Festival took place in the Recreation Ground. On the other side of the river to the Bancroft Gardens and the theatres is the Recreation Ground (or ‘The Rec’). Occupying a large area running right the way along the river from Tramway Bridge (a pedestrian-only bridge adjacent to Clopton Bridge) to beyond Holy Trinity Church, this is one of the best areas for picnics with plenty of space to play and run around. There’s a large playground here, too. The above Tramway Foot Bridge connects the Recreation Ground with the Bancroft Gardens:

    The adjacent motor Clopton Bridge is very busy and not recommended for walkers. Built at the end of the 15th century (from year 1490 !), this wooden bridge over the River Avon was an important section of the road to London during medieval times. it is the only bridge to bring two major roads into and out of the town centre (to/from Banbury, Shipston and Tiddington). Sir Hugh Clopton was a rich merchant and Lord Mayor who paid for the construction of a stone bridge over the Avon:

    Take half an hour to explore the various attraction around the Bancroft Gardens. The Country Artists Fountain was made for the 800th anniversary celebration of the granting of the Charter for Market Rights by King Richard I (the Lionheart) in 1196. The fountain was sculpted by Christine Lee and is made of stainless steel and brass. It was unveiled by the Queen in 1996:

    In case you are hungry - take the WEST end of Bancroft Gardens and head straight westward to Sheep Street. With The Town Hall at the top of Sheep Street, this road takes you up from the Waterside (east) to the Town Hall (in the west end) past an array of independent shops and restaurants.  There is a wide variety of shops in this street including gifts, fashion and footwear. You will see several pretty timbered houses along Sheep Street - more in the western end near the Town Hall:

    The junction of Sheep Street (or, better its continuation Ely Street)  x High Street and Chapel Street is a good spot to start exploring several timbered houses close around. With your face to the Town Hall (coming from Sheep Street) - turn LEFT (south-west) to Chapel Street to see on your left the Mercure Shakespeare Hotel: another stylized timbered house:

    Nash's House, Chapel Street is next door to the Mercure Hotel. It was built on the ruins and gardens of William Shakespeare's final residence - New Place. It has been converted into a museum.
    The house was built around 1600 and belonged to Thomas Nash. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust acquired New Place and Nash's House in 1876. The museum traces the history of Stratford-upon-Avon from the earliest settlers in the Avon Valley to Shakespeare's time. NOT recommended for paying a special fee for this museum:

    Opposite Nash House, still in Chapel Street is the Falcon Hotel / The Oak Bar:

    Walk further south-west along Chapel Street until it meets Church Street and Chapel Lane. In the end of Chapel street stands the The Guild Chapel dating from 1269 and a fascinating part of the history of Stratford-upon-Avon. It is one of Stratford-upon-Avon’s best-known and most important historic buildings. The Chapel houses some of the finest medieval wall paintings in Europe (note: hardly visible), covered up on orders given to Shakespeare’s father in the 16th century following the Reformation, when he was the then Chamberlain of the Corporation of Stratford. They were discovered hundreds of years later and are recognized as some of the very finest surviving. These extraordinary wall paintings, had to be painted over during the time of reformation apparently and were discovered during the chapel's restoration process. The Guild Chapel is open daily between 10.30-16.30. It is free:

    The modern stained glass east window features notable Stratford characters including John Shakespeare and Sir Hugh Clopton:

    In 17 Church Street you see the Old Grammer School or King Edward VI School an elongated timbered house. It is almost certain that William Shakespeare attended this school, leading to the school describing itself as "Shakespeare's School":

    We walk further south along Church Street and turn LEFT (South-east) to Old Town road. On our left is the Hall's Croft - the beautifully furnished Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband, Dr John Hall. It is really a beautiful Tudor mansion, with stunning gardens. The interiors are less outstanding: it shows a variety of medical instruments and examples of furniture. But, the garden, outside is beautifully laid out but non-manicured. The cafe in Hall's Croft, is superb. I would recommend the Hall's Croft ONLY if you have the collective Shakespeare's houses pass:

    Old Town road ends, in the east, in Holy Trinity Church grounds. Amateur theatre groups stage Shakespeare's plays' performances most afternoons in a park that is adjacent to the church:

    Holy Trinity Church grounds - view of the Avon river:

    The Holy Trinity Church is often known also as Shakespeare's Church. William Shakespeare is buried and was baptised in Holy Trinity church, and visitors can view not only his grave, but the parish registers that recorded his birth and his death. It is one of England's most visited churches. More than 200,000 tourists visit the church each year. Summer opening hours (April - September): MON-SAT: 8.30 – 18.00, SUN: 12.30 – 17.00. Winter opening hours (November - February): MON-SAT: 9.00 – 16.00, SUN: 12.30 – 17.00. The  building is built on the site of a Saxon monastery. It is Stratford's oldest building, and is situated superbly on the banks of the River Avon.  In the fourteenth century, John de Stratford founded a chantry, which was rebuilt between 1465 and 1491 by Dean Thomas Balshall, Dean of the Church, who is also buried at the Church. The building is believed to have originally had a wooden spire, which was replaced by William Hiorne in 1763. The Holy Trinity Church and its grounds are brilliant place on its own:

    DO NOT MISS taking a pleasant stroll along a tarmac path around the church with fascinating views of the Avon River and its by-side park. If you take a walk to the back of the Church there are some lovely views:

    William Shakespeare was baptised in Holy Trinity on 26 April 1564 and was buried there on 25 April 1616. Shakespear's tomb is located at the rear of the church. The church still possesses the original Elizabethan register giving details of his baptism and burial, though it is kept by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust for safekeeping. He is buried in the beautiful 15th-century chancel built by Thomas Balsall. To see the Shakespeare's tomb - you must pay a special fee of £3. it says donation but the narrow entrance is deliberately manned and you feel obliged to pay. Shakespeare funeral and burial being held at Holy Trinity on 25 April 1616. His wife Anne Hathaway is buried next to him along with his eldest daughter Susanna. Good information boards about Shakespeare's birth, baptism, marriage and funeral, and they also explain the significance of these events within Christianity:

    Holy Trinity's stained-glass windows. Several large stained glass windows featuring major English and Biblical saints are at the church's east and west ends:

    Holy Trinity's east window from the exterior, depicting St Andrew:

    Holy Trinity Church Interiors:

    Holy Trinity contains many interesting features, including a special ornate chapel is named after Sir High Clopton (1440-1496), a native of Stratford who rose to become Lord Mayor of London (1491-2). Clopton never forgot his roots, and provided funds to pay for Clopton Bridge, which still bears traffic over the Avon in the centre of Stratford. He also built New Place, which later became William Shakespeare's retirement home (see above). Clopton had an ornate tomb built for himself in the Lady Chapel of Holy Trinity, but he was actually buried in London. This did not stop his descendants from claiming the Lady Chapel as their own chantry chapel, and it has since been referred to as The Clopton Chapel:

    Here you will find one of the most ornate and expansive (and no doubt expensive) memorials in any parish church in Britain. This is the memorial to Sir John Carew (d.1628), and his wife, Joan Clopton:

    Another interesting feature in the Holy Trinity Church are the 26 misericords in the choir stalls. These misericords, or 'mercy seats' are fancifully decorated with carvings of mermaids and mermen, unicorns, and scenes of daily life:

    Note, also, the 14th century sanctuary knocker in the church's porch (built c. 1500):


    Note also the pre-reformation stone altar slab that was found hidden beneath the floor in Victorian times and has now been re-instated as the High Altar:

    We leave the Holy Trinity Church grounds from their north-east edge.First, we notice this moving wall painting into the Avon Park around the church:

    We find a path that leads to the western bank of the Avon river and continues northward along the river bank, boats basin and the riverside Avon Park. The park ends in its north edge in the Ferry - where you can hire boat or pay for guided boat. These small chain link ferries complete a short circular walk taking in the canal basin and theatre or just cross the ruver from side to side. It cost 50p which is super value: always lots to see on both sides of the river so the ferry saves your legs. Otherwise it is a long walk round... 50p for a short ride and £6 for 45 minutes boat ride. The only remaining chain ferry in the U.K ! :

    This green area you pass on your way to the city centre and Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is comprised of, actually, TWO gardens from south to north:  Avonbank and RSC gardens, two connected gardens that run between the northern bank of the river and Southern Lane. The Avonbank Garden, also owned by the RSC, is quieter still, except on days when open-air productions are performed. Sitting between the RSC Garden and the Holy Trinity Church, it is leafier than any of the other open spaces. The ‘pilgrimage’ footpath from Shakespeare’s Church to the theatres also runs through these two gardens. Nearer to the town centre, the RSC Garden looks over the Swan Theatre and is where the RSC puts on occasional events. Despite its proximity to the Bancroft Gardens – only the theatre stands between the two – it is considerably quieter and holds a different atmosphere.

    We walk from south to north along the Avon river or along the Southern Lane approx. 800 m. until we see, on our left (west) the Swan Theatre and the RSC - the Royal Shakespeare Company complex. This is  a riverside walk which stretches from the Bancroft Gardens, past the theatre, towards Holy Trinity Church. The Swan Theatre is a theatre belonging to the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. It is built on to the side of the larger Royal Shakespeare Theatre, occupying the Victorian Gothic structure that formerly housed the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre that preceded the RSC but was destroyed by fire in 1926. It Is a wonderfully atmospheric galleried playhouse. As we said, the original Victorian building fell victim to a fire in 1926. The new building was built in 1932 and the inside has been designed to reflect an actual Elizabethan style theatre. The theatre was launched on 8 May 1986 and has subsequently been used for many other types of drama including the works of Chekhov, Ibsen and Tennessee Williams.

    Right: The Swan Theatre. Left: Royal Shakespeare Company:

    We approach the adjacent RSC building from the south, bordering the Bancroft Gardens to its west side. The Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres are on the western bank of the River Avon, with the adjacent Bancroft Gardens providing a scenic riverside setting. The Rooftop Restaurant and Bar overlooks both the river and the Bancroft Gardens. The complex includes two theatre spaces with rehearsal room, front of house and backstage facilities, exhibition areas, restaurant, cafes, shop and viewing tower. The two theatre auditoriums are placed back-to-back with the fly tower of the principal auditorium at the centre. Designed by a number of architects, principally Dodgshun and Unsworth, 1877-9 and 1881; Elisabeth Scott, 1928-32; Michael Reardon and Associates, 1984-6; Bennetts Associates, 2005-11. The Rooftop Restaurant is situated on the third floor of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

    As you approach the main entrance to the building, go inside and turn left and take the lift to the third floor. The Riverside Cafe is on the ground floor of the main RSC building. The Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres were re-opened in November 2010 after undergoing a major renovation known as the Transformation Project. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre was officially opened on 4 March 2011 by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who were given a performance of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.

    RSC from the EAST side of the Avon river:

    You can take an one hour guided tour that departs from the cloakroom and ,mainly, explores the RSC tower. Make sure you get a space by booking in advance - online or by calling our Box Office on 01789 403493. Note: significant amount of climbing involved. You get a bit (...) closer to the world of theatre on this tour and enjoy spectacular views from the RSC Tower. Tower opening times: Winter (until 27 March), SUN to FRI 10.00 - 16.30. RSC Matinees: 10.00 - 12.15, 14.00, 16.30. SAT: 10.00, 12.15. Summer (from 28 March): SUN - FRI 10.00 - 18.15, RSC Matinees Including SAT: 10.00 - 12.15, 14.00 - 18.15.

    Much Ado About Nothing:

    Garments from Henry IV play:

    Midsummer Night Dream Gregory Doran production in 2005 - super modern costumes:

    Hamlet - David Warner in Peter Hall 1965 production:

    David Tennant as Richard II in Gregory Doran 2013 production:

    Julian Glover as Henry IV) in 1991:

    Titus Andronicus - Vivien Leigh as Lavinia and Laurence Olivier as Titus in 1955 production of Peter Brooks:

    Picture of William Shakespeare:

    View of Bancroft Gardens from the 3rd floor (rooftop):

    View of Palmer Court in Stratford from the 3rd floor (rooftop):

    The more you climb up higher in the tower - The more beautiful views of the city and the Gardens you get:

    Bancroft Gardens:

    The Tramway footbridge and Clopton motor bridge:

    The Avon flow to the north:

    We exit the RSC building and continue walking north along the river or along Southern Ln until arriving, again, to Bancroft Gardens. Here, we hit,first, the the 800th Anniversary Fountain Basin and a sculpture behind:

    Nearby, is, the statue of Shakespeare - the work of Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower, It was presented to the town in 1888:

    The smaller figures of Shakespearean characters are of:

    Hamlet,

    Lady Macbeth,

    Falstaff, 

    and Prince Hal;

    symbolizing philosophy, tragedy, comedy and history.

    In case you have spare time - try to enjoy the Avon river. The alternative to your own muscle power is to take a sightseeing cruise. Two companies are licensed to take passengers. Avon Boating run half-hour cruises leaving from the Bancroft Gardens in a fleet of vintage boats while Bancroft Cruisers take 45-minute trips from outside the Holiday Inn on the northeast side of Clopton Bridge.

    We skip to Tip 2 - continuing our walk along Shakespeare heritage sites. We shall walk 500 m. from Bancroft Gardens to Henley Road (Shakespeare's House).

  • Citywalk
    Updated at Feb 20,2014

    From Burlington Arcade to Trafalgar Square - Picadilly, St. James, Waterloo Place and Haymarket.

    Start: Picadilly Circus or Green Park tube station. or: Buses: 8, 9, 14, 19, 22, 38.

    End: Charing Cross tube station.

    Duration: 1 day.

    Weather: Very good itinerary for a gloomy or even rainy day. Many shelters along the first half of the day.

    From Picadilly Circus - take the Picadilly street to the west. From Green Park - take the Picadilly to the east. It takes 5-10 minutes ( 500 m.) to arrive from Picadilly Circus to the Burlington Arcade or 3-4 min. (300 m.) to arrive from Green Park station.

    Opening times:

    MON: 09.00 - 20.00, TUE: 09.00 - 20.00, WED: 09.00 - 20.00, THU: 09.00 - 20.00, FRI: 09.00 - 20.00, SAT: 09.00 - 20.00, SUN: 11.00 - 18.00.

    Not to be missed. A wonderful enclosed walkway. This is the best known of London's grand shopping arcades. The Burlington Arcade is not not for me and for you...  You cannot afford it!!!   All things here, on sale, are of luxury style. Fabulously expensive array of shops and goods. Uniformed concierge at both entrances of the arcade/passage.  Priceless jewelry and top brand watches. Wood paneled shops. All you can do is just walk up and down the Arcade and marvel at the variety of the luxuries and smell the perfume of the old world - in this special arcade.

    Cross the whole arcade and exit at the far end (starting at Picadilly). Head north toward Burlington Gardens. Turn right onto Burlington Gardens and after 50 m. you face the Royal Academy of Arts. Opening times: 10.00 - 18.00 Saturday-Thursday (last admission to galleries 5.30pm), 10.00 - 22.00 Friday (last admission to galleries 21.30).  Admission: Adult: £14, Senior (aged 60+): £13. Student ID - entitles for discount. Quite expensive. The Academy was founded by George III in 1768. The Academy, today, continues to present a broad range of visual arts to the widest possible audience. The Academy is an independent institution. It is a privately funded institution led by artists and architects. Past Royal academicians include: John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough, JMW Turner, while current Members include Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, David Hockney, Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor. The enjoyment of a visit depends on the current exhibition(s). The RA collection is impressive and the summer exhibits - exceptional. An annual feature of the RA is its summer show.It is a monster exhibition of over 2,000 items and more than a thousand artists housed in a number of large rooms - most of them for sale. Most of them submitted by the public and unknown artists. The Royal Academy is housed in magnificent old buildings (exterior and interior).

    We return to Picadilly to see the Fortnum and Mason shop. Head northeast and walk 40 m. on Burlington Gardens toward Savile Row.  Continue onto Vigo St. After 60 m. turn right onto Sackville St. Walk 200 m. and turn right onto Piccadilly. Fortnum and Mason will be on the left. Fortnum’s began in 1707, when William Fortnum set up shop in St James’s with his landlord, Hugh Mason. One of London most famous, upscale department stores. Fortnum and Mason is a part of the British tradition and a London icon. It is a delight for all senses. A special feeling of luxury. Elegant and classic. F&M can take you hours to browse. Spend at least one hour in the store. You are unable to cover every floor and the whole store:


     

    If all these luxury shopping stores and galleries are not enough for you - head to another arcade in Picadilly. The Princes Arcade is located at 192/196 Piccadilly & 36/40 Jermyn Street. Continue with the Picadilly for further 60 m. and the arcade will be on your right. Open: Sunday: 10.00-17.00, weekdays: 08.00-19.00. Princes Arcade forms part of Princes House which was originally built to house the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1883. The Arcade itself was opened in 1933:

    Picadilly Arcade, Jermyn St. 23:

    Continue walking along the Picadilly (north-eastward) until number 198. Here you find the Picadilly Market (opposite the St. James Church). Most of the week the market is about handicrafts, clothes, pictures, pub signs etc, but on Monday a food market is held and on Tuesday an antiques market. On Sunday there is no market. Not a "must see" in London, but a nice stopping place. Mainly for tourists:

    St. James Church was designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren. The church was consecrated on July 1684 by the Bishop of London. The church was severely damaged in 1940, during the Second World War. Restored in 1954. A London contemporary art gallery  is running outdoor sculpture exhibitions in Southwood Garden in the grounds of the church.  St James Piccadilly often holds FREE lunchtime concerts performed by talented students. Acoustics and general ambience are great. There are lots of monuments to look at within the church. The interior is peaceful - quite a contrast to the noisy traffic in Piccadilly:

    Parallel to the {icadilly (southward) stretches Jermyn Street (you could enter this road by passing the Picadilly Arcade). Leaving St. James Church and exiting to Jermyn Street - you meet the statue of George Bryan "Beau" Brummell (7 June 1778 – 30 March 1840). The statue was created by Irena Sedlecka (2002). His most famous saying:  "To be truly elegant one should be noticed" - says it all. He established the mode of dress for men. His mode was based on dark coats and full-length trousers. His style of dress is often referred to as Dandyism:

    In Jermyn Street, with your face to the north (to the Picadilly),  turn left onto Duke of York St (southward), walk 110 m. and enter the roundabout to face the the only square in the exclusive St James's district - St. James's Square. St James's Square was built after the restoration of Charles II (in 1660). It has neo-Georgian architecture and a PRIVATE garden in the centre (no access). It is now home to the London Library (access only to members. You are unable to use their toilets). The buildings round St James Square are now occupied by clubs and the HQs of large corporations but it remains what it has always been: London's grandest square - isolated green area with a ring road around it. In the square stands the statue of William III:

    There are two intersections of the ring road St. James Square and the Pall Mall road. In one of them stands this nice red-bricked house:

    Turn left (westward) onto the Pall Mall. Walk until its end and you see the St. James Street on your right. Here stands the St. James Palace. it is often in use for official functions and is not open to the public. St James's Palace is one of the five buildings in London where guards from the Household Division can be seen (the other four are Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, The Tower of London and Horse Guards). Main entrance of St James's Palace in Pall Mall survives from Henry VIII's palace. The nearby Queen's Chapel (the opposite side of Marlborough road) , built by Inigo Jones, adjoins St James's Palace. While the Queen's Chapel is open to the public at selected times, the Chapel Royal in the palace is not accessible to the public:

    St. James Palace - The Friars Yard:

    St. James Palace - Queen Alexandra Memorial opposite St. James's Palace outside Marlborough House:

    The Queen's Chapel (Marlborough House):

    Now take the Pall Mall from west to east. The name of the street is derived from "pall-mall", a ball game that was played there during the 17th century. The street starts at St.James Palace (West) and ends at the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square (East). Pall Mall is best known for being the home of various gentlemen clubs built in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These include the Athenaeum. This club at Pall Mall 107, was home to several famous authors including Thackeray, Dickens and Anthony Trollope. It was also home to Kipling, Conrad and Charles Darwin. It started up at Somerset House, but moved to its Pall Mall premises in 1828:

    Admittance to these clubs is strictly by invitation only – so don’t try and blag your way in. Other members clubs are: the Army and Navy Club,  the Reform Club, the Oxford and Cambridge Club (No. 71), the Royal Automobile Club and the Travellers Club (No. 106). The Reform Club at 104–5, opened by the Liberals in 1841. It was here that the fictional Phileas Fogg made a bet that he could travel around the world in 80 days:

    From Pall Mall turn RIGHT to Waterloo Place road (a purposefully wide endpoint of Regent Street). Walk until it meets the Carlton Terrace. On your left is the Carlton House - the Royal Society's home since year 1967:

    On Your right are the Waterloo Gardens or the Carlton House Terrace Gardens:

    On your right (intersection of Waterloo Place avenue and the Carlton House Terrace roads stands the Duke of York Monument or Column. The Duke of York Column or monument - memorial to Prince Frederick, Duke of York, the second eldest son of King George III. The designer was Benjamin Dean Wyatt. In its southernmost side - Regent Street meets The Mall. The three very wide flights of steps down to The Mall adjoining are known as the Duke of York Steps:

    Return (northward) along the Waterloo Place (avenue)  to the Pall Mall. You face the Crimean War Memorial monument. It is located, actually, at the junction of Regent Street and Pall Mall. It commemorates the Allied victory in the Crimean War of 1853-56:

    Don't miss the Balcon Hotel, adjacent (more to the east) to the Crimean War monument. Great internal decor:

    Here, you can continue along the Pall Mall until Trafalgar Square (see next paragraph) or go down through the flights of steps to the Mall and continue until the Admiralty Arch. Until year 2012 the building housed government offices. In 2012 the government sold the building to a property developer for redevelopment into a luxury hotel. Admiralty Arch plays an important role on ceremonial occasions: royal weddings, funerals, coronations and other public processions.  At the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games the final processions, at the end of the games, passed under the Admiralty Arch:

    Second option: take the Pall Mall until you arrive to the Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery (on your left). It is, supposedly, the afternoon or evening hours of the day. Climb on the National Gallery steps to catch a view of the Trafalgar Square lit by the afternoon sun:

  • Citywalk | France
    Updated at Jun 5,2017

    Tip 2: From Pont de l'Alma to Pont de Bir-Hakeim:

    Tip 2 Main Attractions: Palais de Tokyo, Jardins du Trocadéro, Pont d'Iéna, Pont de Bir-Hakeim.

    From Pont de l'Alma we head westward along the Seine river (Avenue de New York).  This avenue was formerly named Quai Debilly and later Avenue de Tokio (from 1918 to 1945). The name Palais de Tokyo derives from the name of this street. 300 m. further, from the bridge, we see the Palais de Tokyo on our right. The Palais de Tokyo (Palace of Tokyo), 13 avenue du Président-Wilson (near the Trocadéro) is a centre dedicated to modern and contemporary art. With your face to the complex (and your back to the river Seine) - the right (eastern) wing of the building hosts the Musée d'Art Moderne (Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris). The left (western) wing hosts the Palais de Tokyo / Site de création contemporaine, the largest museum in France dedicated to temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. Closest Metro station: Alma / Marceau. OPen: 12.00 - 24.00 (!) everyday except Tuesdays. Price: 12€, Concessions: 9€. Under 18, it's free. It is a mind-blowing site for lovers of modern art. Before you arrive to the Palace of Tokyo - get updated about the current exihibitions running in this centre. In our visit - there were NO significant exhibitions. The exhibition of Abraham Poincheval, had ended at 08.05.2017. if there is a good temporary art expo inside, most chances it as it is a good art. Many people state that it is the most trendy museum in Paris:

    From the terrace of the palace and from both of  the buildings, of the Palais de Tokyo and the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, You have a beautiful view on the Eiffel Tower. More or less, the same view - you see from the Port Debilly which extends along the Seine - when we walk further south-west along the right (north) bank of the Seine:

    Port Debilly and Tour Eiffel:

    700 m. from the Palais de Tokyo (now, our direction is south-west) we arrive to the Jardins du Trocadéro.  The Gardens of the Trocadero are  bounded to the northwest by the Palais de Chaillot and to the southeast by the Seine and the Pont d'Iéna, with the Eiffel Tower on the opposite (left) bank of the Seine. The gardens are situated in the hill of the Trocadéro which is the hill of Chaillot, a former village. Today the square is officially named Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre or Place de Varsevie (Warsaw Square), although it is usually simply called the Place du Trocadéro. It was created for the International Exposition dedicated to Art and Technology in Modern Life which was held from 25 May to 25 November 1937 in Paris. The building on the north end is called Chaillot Palace (Palais de Chaillot). Closest Metro stations: Trocadero (lines 6 and 9).

    The hill of Chaillot was first prepared for the 1867 World's Fair. For the 1878 World's Fair, the Palais du Trocadéro was built here  - where meetings of international organizations could be held during the fair. The palace's consisted of two wings and two towers. Below the palace building in the space left by former underground quarries, a large aquarium was built to contain fish of French rivers. It was renovated in 1937 but closed again for renovation from 1985 until May 22, 2006.

    The space between the palais and the Seine is set with gardens, amusement parks, several snacks stalls and an array of fountains:

    The main attraction, here, is the Fountain of Warsaw (Fontaine de Varsovie), a long water mirror, with twelve fountain creating columns of water, twenty four smaller fountains and ten arches of water. At one end, facing the Seine, are twenty powerful water cannons, able to project a jet of water fifty metres. In 2011, the fountain's waterworks were completely renovated and a modern pumping system was installed. It is a remarkable water display, especially on summer evenings when the illuminations around the fountains add to the attraction. Note: fountains are NOT always on. Beautiful trees, quiet walkways and bridges over small streams make it a romantic place to take a stroll. Climb the hill and take a seat on the steps, especially at night when the Tower is lit up. Don't miss the experience in the evening or the dark. Stunning !!! Open 24/7:

    LA Joie de vivre, by Léon-Ernest Drivier:


     

    Like in the Palais de Tokyo - the view from the terrace of Palais de Chaillot - is wonderful. It is one of the best spots for taking the unmissable photo of the Eiffel tower:

    The Trocadero Gardens are facing (in the south) another bridge on the Seine: Pont d'Iéna. Pont d'Iéna ("Jena Bridge") links the Eiffel Tower on the Left Bank to the district of Trocadéro on the Right Bank. In 1807, Napoleon I ordered, by an imperial decree issued in Warsaw, the construction of a bridge overlooking the Military School, and named the bridge after his victory in 1806 at the Battle of Jena. The construction of the bridge spanned six years from 1808 to 1814.Closest Métro station: Iéna. The bridge is VERY busy with traffic - but, still, provides inspiring views of Tour Eiffel. Note: because of the increased security to protect  the Eiffel Tower this has pushed sellers and seedy elements, who populate every meter of the bridge:

    Two sculptures are sitting on the bridge by the right bank: a Gallic warrior by Antoine-Augustin Préault and a Roman warrior by Louis-Joseph Daumas:

    Further walking south to Pont d'Iéna, still along Port Debilly,  provides magnificent views of Tour Eiffel:

    The way from Pont d'Iéna to Pont de Bir-Hakeim is a bit dangerous. There might be construction works along Avenue de New York. The constructors forgot about the pedestrians in this area. Crossing the avenue, in several sections, is VERY dangerous (no cross-lights). You are supposedd to raise your hand, halt the noisy and bustling transportation YOURSELF - and cross the avenue from one side to the opposite side, slowly and cautiously. Do not give up and skip Pont de Bir-Hakeim. It provides wonderful sights of Tour Eiffel and of the Seine river from every spot along its pedestrianized spaces. Linking the 15th and 16th arrondissements and crossing the artificial island, the Île aux Cygnes in the middle of la Seine, the Pont de Bir-Hakeim crosses the river just downstream from the Tour Eiffel. Pont de Bir-Hakeim was constructed between 1903 and 1905, replacing an earlier bridge that had been erected in 1878. It was designed by the architect Jean-Camille Formigé, who also designed the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur. The green-painted bridge has two levels: one for motor vehicles and pedestrians, and a viaduct (the "viaduc de Passy") above, through which passes Line 6 of the Paris Métro. The railway viaduct is supported by grey-painted metal colonnades, except where it passes over the île aux Cygnes, where it rests on a masonry arch:

    The monumental stone arch across the tip of the Île aux Cygnes:

    the central arch of the viaduct, at the level of the island, is decorated with four monumental stone statues in high-relief: figures of Science and Labor by Jules-Felix Coutan, and Electricity and Commerce by Jean Antoine Injalbert:

    Looking from Pont de Bir-Hakeim, from the upstream tip of the Île aux Cygnes, towards Parc de Passy:


  • Citywalk | Spain
    Updated at Sep 7,2017

    Tip 3: Eurostars Gran Valencia:

    Overall, a great stay ! Great location. Easy connections with all parts of Valencia through Metro and buses. The hotel overlooks a grandiose square and located near a  wonderful tree-lined avenue. Several quality restaurants around (5-10 minutes walk).  Fantastic 360 degrees views from the high floors' rooms. Generous, big rooms with very comfy beds. Good breakfasts. Polite and helpful staff members.

  • Citywalk | Spain
    Updated at Sep 14,2017

    The Old City of Valencia- Ciutat Vella.

    Tip 1: From Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim to Plaça del Mercat.

    Main Attractions: Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim, Puerta del Mar, Iglesia del Patriarca, Palau del Marqués de Dosaigües (Ceramics Museum), Iglesia de SantoTomás Apostol y San Felipe Neri, Iglesia San Juan del Hospital, Plaça de la Reina, Valencia Cathedral, Santa Catalina Church, Place Redonda, Plaça del Mercat.

    Tip 2: From Plaça del Mercat to Plaça de l'Almoina (see tip 2 below).

    Start of the day: Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim, End of the day: Plaça de l'Almoina.

    We start at Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim. This beautiful square is, also known as El Parterre. It is located at the border between the quarters of San Francisco and Xerea , in the Ciutat Vella district. To the north it borders with the gardens of the Glorieta and the street of Carrer de la Pau (La Paz) ; to the south is Carrer del Pintor Sorrolla. The square is dominated by, a statue of Jaume el Conqueridor (James the Conqueror) , sculpted by Agapit Vallmitjana which stands in the middle of the square.

    Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim in the afternoon:Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim in the morning: 

    From Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim we shall walk eastward along Carrer del Palau de Justícia when the Tribunal Superior de Justicia Sala Civil y Penal is on our right (south) and La Glorieta garden is on our left. La Glorieta garden is home to monuments dedicated to famous Valencian personalities. The most important sculpture of the garden is the Triton, work inspired by a similar one of Bernini:

    The square of Alfonso the Magnanimous and the Palace of Justice are the southern border of the Ciutat Vella of Valencia. We advance along Carrer del Palau de Justícia to the Plaza del Marand Porta de la Mar which are the most eastern edge of the Ciutat Vella. The Plaça de la Porta de la Mar connect with SIX main streets in Valencia - all are outside the Ciutat Vella.

    The current Puerta del Mar, which is actually the Monument to the Fallen during the Spanish Civil War, is a reproduction of the old Puerta del Real, which rose a short distance, opening the way to the now defunct Royal Palace. It was designed by the Valencian architect Javier Goerlich Lleó,  who in 1931 was appointed major architect of the city of Valencia, as a monument to the fallen. It still retains the cross in its main arch, but the plaque in tribute to Generalismo Francisco Franco has been covered.

    It has three bays. The central one is higher and culminates in an arc of half point, whereas the lateral ones, of smaller height, are lined. On these there are four reliefs of the sculptor Vicente Navarro Romero , who represent "The value", "The Abnegation", "The Peace" and "The Glory" ("Valor", "La Abnegación", "La Paz" and "La Gloria").

    The original door had been opened on the wall in 1356. Reformed several times, the last in neoclassical style in 1843, and finally demolished with the rest of the wall. This door is the one that can be seen in the engravings of Alfred Guesdon .

    We change direction and return westward. We'll try to return to the Plaça del Collegio del Patriarca - just to take part in the morning service or, even, in the guided (or free) tour (see our blog on the City of Arts and Sciences - Tip 2). Head northwest on Plaça de la Porta de la Mar toward Carrer del General Palanca. Cross the Glorita Garden and Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim from east to west. Turn left onto Carrer del Verger, 65 m.
    Turn right onto Carrer de Bonaire, 15 m. Turn left onto Carrer de la Tertúlia, 40 m. Turn left onto Carrer del Vestuari, 75 m. Turn right onto Carrer de la Nau, 100 m to enter the Iglesia del  Patriarca on your right.

    From the Iglesia Del Patriarca we head north on Carrer de la Creu Nova toward Carrer de les Dames, 110 m. We turn left onto Carrer de la Pau
    100 m. Turn left onto Carrer del Marquès de Dos Aigües and the Palau del Marqués de Dosaigües is on your right after 30 m. The Palau del Marqués de Dosaigües is one of the most significant buildings in the Baroque and Rococo city ​​of the city of Valencia and home of the Ceramics Museum . The space in which it is located is believed that was probably originally the field intended to a Roman necropolis of the 1st and 3rd centuries, due to the findings in one of its courtyards. The palace dates also far back as 15th century, although it has been fully re-shaped since then. Home to a Valencian noble family - the Marquis de Dos Aguas, it was originally a Gothic building. In 1740 it was re-shaped to Baroque by Hipolito Rovira, and it is then that the famous entrance was added. The last modification took place in 1850s-60s, when the entire facade was redesigned to a hybrid of newer elements. In 1949 the palace was bought by the Ministry of Education to house the collection of ceramics donated by Dr. Gonzalez Marti.This mansion that was of the Marqueses of Dos Aguas, is currently owned by the Spanish State, where is installed the González Martí National Museum of Ceramics and Decorative Arts. The palace combines neo-classical, rococco and oriental elements. The unbelievable Baroque entrance to the building never fails to impress the visitors. The rich ornament of the building is enough incentive to come here. The exterior of this palace is an extraordinary. Price: 3 euros.

    Inside, however, more marvel awaits you - the fully furbished interior of the palace and the best of ceramics that Valencia had to offer through the centuries. Two upper floors are devoted to ceramics. Valencia claims to have been a centre for the production of pottery and earthenware in the middle ages and beyond. The focus starts with Roman artifacts. It moves to the Moorish period and early Christian. Then, century by century from 15th through 20th. The first floor is a palace, fully furnished. Several rooms are stunning. Some public rooms and bedrooms are beautifully preserved. Phenomenal ceilings. Luxurious floor and wall coverings. Beautiful period furniture all bear witness to the immense wealth of the family. There is also an interesting reproduction of a 19th century, below-stairs kitchen. A really beautiful place. The staff are very relaxed and there is some information in English. Well worth a visit. Allow about 60-90 minutes.
     

    Old Carriages in the Ceramics Museum:

    Dormitorio del Marques in the Ceramics Museum:

    Floor 1 - Sala Roja:

    Ceiling of Sala Roja:

    Floor 1 - Sala Pompeyana:

    Floor 1 - Salon de Barli:

    Floor 1 - Ceiling of Salon de Barli:

    Ceramics Panels in the Palace Balcon:

    Floor 1 - Fumoir:

    Floor 1 - A picture in Sala Gotica:

    Floor 2 - Ceramica Panels:

    Floor 2 - Ceramics:

    Head north on Carrer del Marquès de Dos Aigües toward Carrer de la Pau, 30 m. Turn right onto Carrer de la Pau, 40 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Ruiz de Lihory, 45 m. In the corner of C. del Mar and C. de Lihory resides an interesting store of textile - Indumentaria Dos Aguas:

    From the intersection of C. del Mar and C. de Lihory - continue east on Carrer del Mar toward Carrer de Sant Cristòfol, 95 m. At Plaça de Sant Vicent Ferrer, take the 2nd exit onto Carrer del Comte de Montornés, 95 m. to face the Iglesia de Santo Tomás Apostol y San Felipe Neri. This church is also known as "The Congregation". It was built in 1725 and it stands out for the simplicity of its design. The church's architectural model corresponds to and resembles the "Il Gesú" church in Rome. It consists of a central nave divided into three parts and various side chapels. It really is an interesting church to visit, though you may do so only during masses services: MON-SAT: 09.00, 10.30, 19.30 20.30, SUN:  09.00, 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 19.00.

    From Plaça de Sant Vicent Ferrer we walk northward along Calle Trinquete de Caballero and at #5 we se, on our left the Iglesia San Juan del Hospital. San Juan del Hospital Church is one of the oldest churches in Valencia. It was built in the 13th century on land donated by Jaime I to the Military Order of the Knights: the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem (now Order of Malta). The king also built a hospital, a convent and a cemetery. It is a building that mainly combines Romanesque, Valencian and Baroque Gothic style. The church, built around 1261, as a Baroque-style building, has a single nave covered with a pointed barrel vault.

    North Door:


    Inside, you may contemplate the magnificent chapel of Santa Barbara, where are the remains of Constanza Augusta, Empress of Greece, and other chapels with painted murals from the Gothic period, discovered recently:

     

    350 m. walk further west will bring us to Placa de la Reina. Head south on Carrer del Trinquet de Cavallers toward Plaça de Sant Vicent Ferrer, 55 m. At Plaça de Sant Vicent Ferrer, take the 1st exit onto Carrer del Mar
    260 m. Turn right onto Plaça de la Reina. Plaza de la Reina is one of the oldest and busiest plazas in Valencia and the city’s epic centre and beating heart. It is situated in the heart of the Ciutat Vella. and marks the Kilometer 0. It is NOT the usual picturesque Spanish square you’re probably expecting to see, but is an excellent base for exploring the city.

    It is bounded by the Cathedral and its bell tower (the Miquelet) in the north,

    and Plaza Santa Catalina with its charming Iglesia de Santa Catalina and its impressive towerin the south west:

    The center of the PLaca de la Reina plays host to a small patch filled with flowers and benches, where visitors can take a break and watch the world go by:

    The busy plaza is filled with restaurants and bars. Good area to walk around or stop for a bite to eat or drink. Taxis and buses hog the road. A small park has market stalls with tourist fare. A lot of hassle and bustle. Noting in the square itself is impressive. The square is lined with an excellent selection of cafes, terraces, and restaurants, including one of the oldest (200 years old) and most renowned cafeterias in Valencia (Horchateria de Santa Catalina).

    Valencia Cathedral (Valencian: Església Catedral-Basílica Metropolitana de l'Assumpció de la Nostra Senyora de València) was consecrated in 1238. It was built over the site of the former Visigothic cathedral, which under the Moors had been turned into a mosque. The Valencian Gothic is the predominant architectural style of the cathedral, although it also contains Romanesque, French Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-Classical elements. Variety of architectural styles, from the Romanesque to the Baroque, can be reflected inn the three main doors of the cathedral. The main door, or Puerta de los Hierros ("Door of the Irons"), is Baroque:

    The Puerta de los Apóstoles is Gothic:

    The Puerta del Palau is Romanesque:

    The Miguelete belfry was built in the 13th and 14th centuries and was designed by Andrés Juliá Torre; it is octagonal, 50.85m high and built in a markedly Baroque style, next to the main entrance.

    Bell Tower, "Micalet" or "Miquelet":

    There is a spiral stairway inside (207 stairs) that leads to the terrace, where there are views of the city, the countryside and the sea:

    Opening hours: NOV-MAR: MON - SAT: 10.00 - 17.30 pm. Sundays - closewd. APR - OCT: MON - SAT: 10.00 - 18.30, SUN: 14.00 - 18.30. During April, May and September closing time is 17.30 on weekends due to the 18.00 Mass at the Main Altar. Prices: €7- adult, €4 - groups members, €5.50 - pensioners, disabled people and children up to 12 years old. Try to come after closing time and the Cathedral is often still open and FREE. Come on Sundays when it is open and FREE. DO NOT walk around during Mass times !

    Inside, the cathedral contains numerous 15th-century paintings, some by local artists (such as Jacomart), others by artists from Rome engaged by the Valencian Pope Alexander VI who, when still a cardinal, made the request to upgrade the Valencian See to the rank of metropolitan see, a category granted by Pope Innocent VIII in 1492. The Santo Cáliz Chapel, the old Sala Capitular y de Estudios (1356) was originally a Chapter House and study and was separate from the cathedral. The Holy Chalice that according to tradition was used by Christ during the last Supper is kept inside. The "Obra Nova" or "Balconets de Cabildo" were built over three floors next to the cathedral dome and they dominate the Plaza de la Virgen. It was a renaissance work of a triple serlienne arcade.

    Dome of the Cathedral of Valencia:

    The Nave:

    The chapel of the Holy Grail (Chalice) is almost in the end of the guided tour (no. 16 ?). The Chapel of the Holy Chalice is in the south-east corner of the cathedral. It was built by Bishop Vidal de Blanes in the 14th century to serve as a chapter house and burial place for bishops and monks.It was also intended to hold theology classes. It is three metres square and 16 metres high. Note the magnificent cross ribs in the shape of a star on its ceiling:

    The Holy Grail (Santo Caliz) is believed to had been left in the house where the Last Supper took place - a house belonging to the family of St Mark the Evangelists, who later took it to Rome when he went to serve as an interpreter for St Peter. Passed on within the church and used as Papal Chalice, the relic was shipped out of Rome in 3rd century by St Lawrence, in anticipation of a persecution. It was taken out of Rome in the hands of a Spanish soldier to Huesca, Spain. During the Muslim occupation of the Iberic peninsula, the Grail went into hiding and later re-emerged in various Spanish monasteries and cathedrals. The Kings of Spain looked after it, on occasions taking it into their treasuries or palaces, until it was finally presented to the Valencia Cathedral in XV century, where it remained ever since. It briefly left the Cathedral only twice, both times during the 1930s Civil War, for fears of plunder. The Holy Grail (Chalice) of Valencia arouses feelings of admiration and skepticism at the same time. The visitor feels captivated by the beauty of the Grail, its perfect and exceptional shape, the details in gold, the pearls and the precious gems. The observer comes with the mind full of legends, films, even warned by the novels and pseudo-scientific literature. It was the official papal chalice for many popes, and has been used by many others, most recently by Pope Benedict XVI, on July 9, 2006. Most Christian historians all over the world declare that all their evidence points to this Valencian grail/chalice as the most likely candidate for being the authentic cup used at the Last Supper. But, is this grail of medieval appearance the grail of the Last Supper ? The Holy Chalice of the Gospels got mixed up with medieval pursuits of a “Holy Grail” around the time of 13th century Arthurian legends. The “grail” was considered, in different tales, as either a bowl or dish, a platter, or sometimes even just a stone. It was said to have mystical powers of spiritual or material abundance, grace, or eternal youth, and stories of the grail were eventually grafted onto the goblet of the Bible. The Holy Chalice became the Holy Grail, and vice versa. One fact is doubtless: it is difficult to see and take photos of the Holy Grail itself, its details and to step close to this sensational artifact: it is guarded behind glass and, frequently, attracts crowds of visitors around:

    Main Chapel, Valencia Cathedral, Valencia:

    The Valencia Cathedral is situated in the north side of Placa de la Reina. We shall cross the square from north to south.

    The Cathedral Bell Tower (Micalet) - a view from the centre of the square:

    The south side of Placa de la Reina is dominated by the Santa Catalina Church which is one of the oldest in Valencia. The church dates from the Middle Ages (13th century, probably from year 1239), and is built on the site of a former mosque. It is the only Gothic church in the city with a retrochoir in the transept, the same as you will find in the Cathedral. A large part of the building was rebuilt in the 16th century after being destroyed by a fire. The eighteenth century Baroque tower housing the belfry is possibly the most notable element, standing out from the rest of the building. The bell tower, for its part, is in Baroque style. It dates from the 17th century and is the monument's most outstanding feature. It is hexagonal, with five levels, and is topped by a niche and a small dome. The two bell towers: THe Cathedral's Micalet and the Santa Catalina one are, according to popular legend, husband and wife. Open: daily 11.00 - 13.00. FREE:

    The church is composed of three naves with side chapels, crosspiece domes and the apse which includes a chapel. Part of its Baroque decor had lost during the Civilians War:

    Inside, we have, basically, genuine Old Gothic space with coloured windows:

    Santa Catalina Tower marks the entrance to the well-known Mercat neighbourhood:

    The square west to Santa Catalina church is Plaza de Santa Catalina (Plaça de Santa Caterina). Here resides Horchateria Santa Catalina: lovely Valencian cafe, not what you would expect from the modest outside. A great place to try local specialities - horchata with fartons (a sweet, Valencian drink made from pressed chufas (type of nuts), into which you dip finger-shaped buns called fartóns). The price is approximztely €3. 

    From the Plaça de Santa Caterina head west toward Carrer dels Jofrens
    45 m. Continue onto Carrer de la Sombrerería, 40 m. Turn left onto Plaça de Lopez de la Vega, 20 m. Head southeast on Plaça de Lopez de la Vega toward Carrer del Trench, 20 m. Turn left to stay on Plaça de Lope de Vega, 5 m. You arrived to  Plaça Redona (Plaza Redonda) (The Round Square). Place Redonda (Round Square). One of Valencia’s most unique tourist attractions and most enchanting spots due to its peculiar design. Constructed by Salvador Escrig Melchor in 1840. Restored in year 2012. Surrounded by traditional craft shops and tapas bars at street level. A CHARMING SQUARE !! Many stalls that sell lace, silk, embroidery, fabrics and Valencian souvenirs (fantastic, colorful fans !), among other things. Four streets converge together into this round square to form colorful and welcoming site. You can see, from the fountain in the square's centre, a beautiful view of the bell tower of Santa Catalina Church. It stands high over the five stories of the round tower. It was built in 1840 by Salvador Escrig and was the place for local families to come and buy their fish and meat. One of the inlets to the square is called ‘Street of fish’. It is traditionally known as ‘el clot’ which means ‘the hole’. A recent revamp includes a circular covering, creating a cool environment for shoppers to come and enjoy the shade, the history and the ancient fountain at its centre – a perfect spot for sitting in the sun:

    Head southwest on Plaza Redonda, 25 m. Turn left to stay on Plaza Redonda, 16 m. Turn right onto Carrer dels Drets, 110 m. Turn left onto Carrer d'Ercilla, 65 m. Turn right onto Plaça del Mercat (Plaza Mercado), 50 m. A beautiful square where you find the Mercado Central (Mercat Central), the central market hall in modernista style, and outdoor market, La Lonja de la Seda (presented in its own section) and beautiful buildings painted in splendid colours, some in art nouvau style. Mercado Central, built in 1914 is one of the oldest European markets still running. It was designed by the modernista architects Francesc Guàrdia i Vial and Alexandre Soler. About 400 merchants have their stalls (over 1000 according to some sources). it is very impressive and beautiful. The market is open 07.30 - 14.30. Sundays closed. At the square you also find the Gothic church Iglesia de los Santos Juanes, also known as San Juan del Mercado (St John's of the Market). The original gothic interior from the 14th century was destroyed in a terrible fire in 1552 (unfortunately it wasn't open during our visit).

    inside you can find almost whatever in the more than 1000 selling posts: fresh fish, vegetables, meat, fruit... You must go inside to feel the atmosphere of the market, and being surrounded by the smells and colours of this place. Try to visit in the morning, as early as possible...:

    This place like this makes one realize how bland the food shopping experience has become back hom:

    We ate our lunch at Galle de Oro restaurant opposite the main entrance to the market hall. Busy, quality, generous and delicious food. We found it a value for money. But, remember it is very busy: