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  • Citywalk | Latvia
    Updated at Aug 28,2018

    Riga - Day 2 - From The Central Market (Centraltirgus) to The Dom square:

    Part 1: the south part of Old Riga (1/2 day) - Tip 1 below.

    Part 2: the central part of Old Riga (1/2 day) - Tip 2 below.

    Part 1 Main Attractions: The Central market, The Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum, The Latvian Academy of Sciences, Riga Orthodox Church of Annunciation of St. Virgin, Riga Railway Station, Forum Cinemas.

    Part 2 Main Attractions: Mentzendorff House, House of the Blackheads, Town Hall Square, Latvian Riflemen Monument, Riga Cathedral, Dome Square, Līvu Square, Mikhail Chekhov's Russian Theatre, Cat House, Saint John Church, St Peter's Church, Bremen Town Musicians statue.

    Duration: 1 day. Distance (two parts): 7 km. Weather: any weather. Start & End: The Central Bus Station / Wellton Hotel and Spa.

    Introduction: our route, today, starts in the southern part of Riga Old Town and move northward to more central sites in Vecrīga. The southern part is called Spīķeri (from German Spéicher), which have now been turned into a hip arts & entertainment quarter.

    Our hotel: Wellton Hotel and Spa. It resides opposite (north to) the Central Bus Station. You have to pass an underway (3 minutes walk) which connects both of them. The Central Bus Station is adjacent (west and south to) to the Central Market of Riga:

    We start our daily route in the Central market (Centraltirgus) that will attract you for hours. A great walking tour. Five hangars and outdoor stalls sell a variety of Latvian and international produce, from seafood to cheeses, to meats, to fruits and vegetables. The Central Market is an intriguing combination of sights and smells and is great for people-watching, too. There is no item on earth - not represented in this HUGE market. We saw tens of markets around the world. The RIGA market is one of the best two or three around the globe.  No other attraction like this in Europe ! It is one of the most visited in the world, as 90,000-100,000 people shop here per day on the average. The market is busiest on Saturdays and Sundays. In 1998, the vast territory of Riga Central Market was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

    Here you can pick up a last-minute snack or souvenir to remind you of your brief stay in the Latvian capital city. Every hangar is equipped with automatic doors and you can move among 4 of them without exiting outside. You can visit the market hangars in any weather conditions. These architecturally-imposing food pavilions, built in the 1920s, are Riga Central Market’s calling card. It was planned from 1922 and built from 1924 to 1930. Originally used as military airship hangars, they were later transformed into market venues. The market's pavilions are five of nine Zeppelin hangars remaining in the world.

    Everything is very inexpensive. It's a great market to check out and get a taste of the locals, and, above all, a fun stop in Riga.

    Still, half of the market stall stand outside in the open air. Many of them are rows with souvenirs:

    Amber items:

    Onto the hangars - there are special territories for: fish, meat, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, flowers etc':

    Salmon fish products including eggs:

    Medus = Sweet:

    The open-air stalls are, mainly, clothes and second-hand items stalls and stalls for local small holders with at this time of year: cherries, raspberries, red and black currants and strawberries. Around there are many farmers that sell fruits for little prices (and they are very good too !):

    You can also buy a local drink called Kvass from barrels. It is made by bread with very very low alcohol. It tastes a bit sweet. 0.3 Litre - 1 euro, 0.5 L - 1.4 euro, 1 L  - 1.4 euro:

    Pharmacy - alternative medicine:

    Tin caps:

    The market is very vibrant, rich, intriguing - but, NOT noisy and NOT vulgar. Very suitable also for children. Part of the stall are open during the night. You can find stalls opened 'around the clock'.

    Be careful from pickpockets. On the same time the market's administration has determined to take tough measures on sellers that are deceiving customers. There are future plans to join nearby train and bus station into a single complex as well as increase selling of Latvian produce.

    From the most southern parts of the Central Market - we head to Spīķeri (the area of the past Riga Jewish Ghetto). You can easily arrive to the Ghetto even with our general hints. Search for the most south-east outskirts of the market and start walking in this directions. Ask the locals about the Ghetto or Spīķeri and follow several poor signposts. You will see the mighty, high-rising Latvian Academy of Sciences or the Observation deck on your left (west) all the time:

    The Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum are, formally, at Maskavas iela 14A, Latgales priekšpilsēta. The more you strive for the south and approach Spīķeri - the more desolated, poky and neglected are the surroundings. Avoid this area in rainy or hot days. There is no shelter around. You will hear (during the weekdays) noises of reconstructions and build-up. This  warehouses area or barn district on the banks of Daugava between present Gogoļa Street, Central Market, Krasta and Turgenev Street was, for hundreds of years a centre of wooden warehouses and, later, during the 19th century, of stone warehouses (the Red Warehouse district). All warehouses, except the warehouse stretching along Turgeņeva Street at Maskavas Street 14A, are massive two-storey or three-storey brick buildings. The warehouse at Maskavas Street 14A (now, the holocaust Museum) is a one-storey building. Warehouses have arched basements and wooden coverings between floors. Warehouses form a spatially not completed, but monolithic ensemble of buildings. According to special building regulations elaborated for the warehouse district, all warehouses have matching facades, i.e. facades that have similar and harmoniously attuned design. They are designed in the so-called „brick style” – one of formal varieties of the 19th century eclectic style that prevailed in the architecture of industrial structures, warehouses and other commercial buildings. We don't think that you'll have the opportunity to appreciate the qualities of this interesting district. It is under the project  of “Revitalization of the degraded territory between Maskavas, Krasta and Turgeņeva streets” . The ambitious project turns the streets warehouses and blocks into a publicly accessible, cultural and educational quarter, of interest to both locals and tourists. The territory is attractive for both locals and tourists as the warehouse block is located in the historical centre, which is included on the Unesco World Cultural Heritage list. It will take years to complete this plan. Within the framework of the project, the entire block of buildings and the Daugava embankment were revitalised and the underground pedestrian tunnel reconstructed, through which one can go from city centre to the riverside promenade and take advantage of the beautiful views of the city seem from scenic river banks. The area is now characterized by cobbled passages, benches, flower pots, trees, playgrounds, a skate park, a place for performances and events, a wide promenade near the Daugava, viewing areas and a quayside – all instead of the desolation that was:

    The entrance to the Jewish Ghetto Museum is from Krasta Iela. The Retro Tram #7 arrives nearby:

    The museum is FREE (donation is happily accepted). Closed on Saturdays. Open: 10.00 – 18.00. The museum is VERY moving with both of its parts: the Jewish and the Armenian. Not for the faint-hearted, but great lesson to us all. You won't forget this exposition for a long time. A lot of provocative material, leaves you plenty to think of. This museum is mostly outdoors and has lots of information about the ghetto and the holocaust. There's also guided tour in area, but you can also just go and walk on your own. Very moving wall of memorial:

    There is an exhibit about the Jews sent from Theresienstadt to Riga called "3000 Fates":

    Do not miss the inspiring court with the 'Weeping Willow' (like the one in Budapest Jewish Museum) and the Hebrew letters:

    You can go inside a ghetto house and see models of Latvian synagogues on the first floor and a typical ghetto apartment on the second floor.

    There are several striking documents and photos concerned with the Jewish Holocaust and revival history - like the photo of David Ben-Gurion (1st Israel PM and the main figure of its independence) as a delegate in the Zionist Congress in Riga:

    or the picture of Sara Aaaronson - member of 'Nili' underground group fighting against the Ottoman mandate, assisting the British army conquering Israel (Palestine) during WW1:

    The exhibits on the Armenian genocide are mesmerizing. The exhibition consists of video-installation, rare photos and books,and textual information that increases the knowledge on the first genocide of the 20th century, the extermination of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks from 1915 onwards:

    A small but AMAZING museum.  The Ghetto is a very bold reminder of the evil that people can carry out or cooperate with. In this sense - Riga has a very shameful history.

    Our next destination is the Latvian Academy of Sciences (Stalin's Cake), the highest building in Riga. Your direction is north-east. Find the intersection of  Maskavas iela and Turgeņeva iela. Turn left (north-east) onto Turgeņeva iela, 160 m. Turn right onto Elijas iela, 50 m. Turn, again, left for 30 m. and the Latvian Academy of Sciences Observation deck,  Akademijas laukums 1 will be on your left. The Latvian Academy of Sciences is a striking building, dating from the Soviet era (known in other countries as 'Stalin's Wedding Cake'), but it offers amazing views of Riga. "Panorama Riga" is a circular terrace - observation deck of the Latvian Academy of Sciences, offering breathtaking 360° panoramic views of Riga. Beautiful Stalinist style building. You can find buildings like this in Moscow and Warsaw. Open: daily 10.00 - 22.00. Entry fee to the viewing platform 5€. Children - FREE. Come with the 5€ notes ready in your pocket. Sometimes, the ladies there refuse to give change. Route to the platform via elevator and two staircases. There is an elevator that takes you to the 15th floor, the platform is on the 17th. Stunning 360° view from the top. You can see most of the Riga old town here. You get excellent views on all four sides on the very top of the building. You can see the Old Town, the Daugava River, and other major landmarks of the city from this deck without obstruction and the photographs taken here are terrific. The terrace is wide enough, so groups of tourists or companies of friends can feel free on the "Panorama Riga" observation deck. As you walk round the observation deck information signs help give some background to key buildings that you can see. You can watch the most beautiful sunset or have a romantic date in the height of 65 meters (17th floor of the building). There is an elevator almost to the top, you have to climb only two floors up. The views from atop the deck are better than the ones from the Radisson Blu hotel or from St. Peter's Church. Much cheaper than going to the viewing platform of the St Peter church in the old Town. You also get a flavour of the Soviet architecture and decor in the ground floor/entrance area. Early mornings are not busy and are favored for the sun position. Another favored hour is the sunset one. There is toilet in the tower:

    Further north-east we arrive to the intersection of Turgeneva iela and Gogola iela. In this intersection - you see a beautiful Russian Orthodox church. The Riga Orthodox Church of Annunciation of St. Virgin or Rīgas Dievmātes Pasludināšanas baznīca, Gogola iela 9. The original church that once stood here was destroyed when the entire area was razed in 1812 to deprive Napoleon’s army of shelter. The army took a different route. Fortunately, some of the historic icons were saved and now adorn the walls of the current yellow wooden church that was built in 1818. Although it looks like it’s falling apart on the outside its simple interior is still worth a quick peek. Very colorful and nicely decorated church. No photos allowed inside:

    It is a 550 m. walk to the central Railway Station in Riga. There were 3 reasons we decided to visit the station. First of all, it main hall is magnificent. It is a very cool commercial center, well organized, air-conditioned, not overloaded and includes many amenities - including the Lido restaurant (where we had a good lunch, see below). Head northwest from the Russian Orthodox Church in Gogla iela 9  toward Turgeņeva iela
    200 m. Slight right to stay on Gogoļa iela, 280 m. Turn right at Satekles iela to face the central Railway Station (Stacijas laukums). This was the place to buy our tickets for our day trip to Jūrmala (well, no need to buy in advance). It is a terminus for five railway lines: Riga–Skulte, Riga–Lugaži, Riga–Daugavpils (Zilupe), Riga–Jelgava (Liepāja), Riga–Tukums (including Jūrmala) as well as international trains to Russia, Lithuania, Germany and Belarus. Most public city transport stops are situated in the nearby streets — Marijas iela, Merķeļa iela, Satekles iela and 13. janvāra iela:

    In the Central station building on the first floor there is Rimi supermarket. Nearby Iin the Origo complex) there is a brilliant Stockmann supermarket.

    The Station facade with reflection of Marijas iela and Satekles iela:

    A bit north to the Train Station - you find the Origo shopping centre. We had our lunch in Lido Origo restaurant. Air conditioned. Pleasantly decorated. Always busy - but, you have your own space. 9 euros per person for beetroot soup (pink, not red, tasty, filling, full with beetroot pieces, onion, garlic, parsley, hard eggs etc' - a meal of its own), main course (meat or chicken or fish with two add-ons). Superb meal in a budget price. A huge selection to choose from. You choose your portions and pay for every piece of your selection. Rock-bottom prices with top quality. Very big, clean and spacious seating area. There approx. 9 branches of Lido in Riga. We stuck with Lido during our 5 days of stay in Riga:

    Outdoor exposition of Latvian Hi-Tech achievements and innovations in the Railway Station Square (Crawler 'Step by Step'):

    Wood S4P Board - 'GG SUP Race 12.6':

    Leaving the train complexes behind and heading north-west to the Old Town of Riga - you find Marijas iela on your right (north-east) and Satekles iela on your left (south-west). Turn left to the busy Satekles iela to find Forum Cinemas or  Kino Daile (Cinema Beauty) on your left. Generally spoken - a good experience. Average prices. Clean and comfy halls. Not packed with many spectators:

    From the Forum Cinema centre we move to Tip 2, Part 2 our our 2nd day in Riga: several famous attractions like: The Dom Square, The Town Hall Square, The Blackheads building, St. John and St. Peter Churches and more. Move to Tip 2 below.

  • Citywalk | Sweden
    Updated at Oct 26,2018

    Stockholm - Day 1 -  Circular route from Drottninggatan ("Queen street") to Gamla Stan (Stockholm Old Town):

    Part 1 Main Attractions:  Hötorgshallen Food Market, Sergels torg, Park Kungsträdgården, Norrmalmstorg, Biblioteksgatan, Gustav Adolfs Torg, Jakobs Torg, Norrbro, Daily Parade of the Royal Guards.

    Tip 2 Main Attractions - The Royal Palace interiors, Gamla Stan: Stockholm Cathedral (Storkyrkan), Nobel Museum, Stortorget, Köpmangatan, Österlånggatan, Järntorget, Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, Västerlånggatan.

    Duration: 1 day. Distance: 10 km. Start: Olof Palmes gata x Vasagatan (Norra Bantorget Park). End: Gamla Stan and walk back to Norra Bantorget Park.

    Our Hotel: we stayed 7 nights in Scandic Norra Bantorget Hotel, 15 Wallingatan, Stockholm. We were very satisfied except of the weather. Summer 2018 in Sweden was HORRIBLE. The temperatures rarely dropped under 32° from May-SEP. Even if there is an eternal breeze in Stockholm - the city suffered from unbearable wave of heat. The grass never seemed to be so yellow. Most of the hotels, restaurants, cafes, museums and public transportation are not equpped with AC. The only site which was really COOL was the Vasa Museum. BUT, the evenings and the nights were far cooler - and you could refuel your batteries for another day of long walk. The hotel is 1-minute walk from Drottninggatan - one of the main shopping streets of Stockholm. Most of it - pedestrian-only. Many eateries and elegant fashion and other high-class merchandise items. It is 12-minutes walk to the Railway Station. It is 25-minutes walk to Stockholm Town Hall. Don't bother - Stockholm is walkable. You can arrive on foot to almost every site on one of Stockholm islands. The Scandic Norra Bantorget is good. A quiet place. Almost in the centre of the city. Good breakfast (although it does not change during the week). Comfortable and modern rooms. The hotel consists of TWO BLOCKS. In case you are based in the back block - expect 3-5 minutes walking to arrive to the dining (breakfast) hall (using 1 or 2 elevators). The onsite restaurant is good but with very limited menu. Staff members are young and helpful. A price-worthy hotel considered exaggerated prices in Stockholm.

    View from hotel room (5th floor):

    From Norra Bantorget  we turn RIGHT (north-east) (with our back to the hotel' entrance). We walk until the end of  Wallingatan and and turn RIGHT (south) to Drottninggatan. After passing through Barnhusgatan, on our left, we see (along Drottninggatan) the The Central Badet (Great swimming and spa complex) on our left. Opposite this spa, on our right - note a nice courtyard with fountain:

    We cross olof Palmes gata on our right and left and arrive to the intersection of Drottninggatan x Apelbergsgatan wit the three stoned lions sculptures:

    The next intersection down (south-east) along Drottningggatan is with Kungsgatan:

    On our left is Hötorget underground station (Hötorget T-bana) (beautiful station !!):

    and Hötorgshallen Food Market. This market is located on the Hötorget Square. The square itself is filled with fruit and flower vendors - Mondays through Saturdays. The indoor market has quite a discrete entrance at the back (east side) of the square and it takes up two floors, the smaller ground floor and the larger basement level. This market is very popular with Stockholmers. Hötorgshallen (Haymarket) is only open during the daytime so no dinner options (the market is also closed on Sundays and bank holidays). You can find here fruits & vegetables, bread & pastries, delicacies, coffee, tea, sweets, meat, fish, cheese, sausages and much more. Only few of the vendors are Sweds. Most of them are North-Africans, Asian, Turkish, Italian and Eastern European shops.

    The outdoor market - mostly, kinds of berries, flowers and mushrooms:

    One of the most iconic buildings of Stockholm resides in Haymarket Square: the Concert Hall (Konserhuset). The Konserthuset is main place for Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. Each year on December 10, the Nobel Prizes ceremony is held in the main hall. Opening hours: MON-FRI:  11.00 - 18.00, SAT-SUN: closed. On Saturdays and Sunday - you might meet a flea market here. During summer months free concerts of students of the Academy of Music are held in the entrance. In front of Konserthuset standsd the Orpheus Fountain built by Carl Milles, a famous Swedish sculptor.

    The real deal is the indoors food market. Downstairs, inside, you have everything from meat, cheese, fish, to tea, and dried goods. There also were ethnic food stalls from Mexican, through Asian to Mid-Eastern products like Falafel. This place is not so big to become overwhelming. All the stalls are neatly displayed. Since the prices are high - the real sport, here, is taking photos:

    Old Movie Camera in the Basement level:

    Instead of returning to Drottinggatan we continue south-east along Sergelgatan. Before we arrive to Segel Torg (Square) we see Sergelminnet sculpture by Göran Strååt along Sergelgatan street, 1990:

    Sergelgatan stretches from Hötorget in the north to Sergels Torg in the south. The street is named after sculptor Johan Tobias Sergel (1740-1814), who had his studio at number 1. In his former form, Sergelgatan went south to Mäster Samuelsgatan , but passed over Sergel's old studio to Sergels Torg. The street level was then lowered by about four meters and Mäster Samuelsgatan was carried by a viaduct across the street. Sergelsgtan ends, in the south in Sergels torg. Sergels torg ("Sergel's Square") is the most central public square in Stockholm. It is the most popular space in Stockholm for meeting friends, for political demonstrations, for a wide range of events, and for drug-dealers. It is a bit similar to the public space in front of Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. The main attraction in thi square could be the fountain, in which people celebrate every major victory by a Swedish sports team. BUT, we found it totally dry. The square is partly overbuilt by a roundabout centered on 37.5-meter tall glass obelisk and by the concrete decks of three major streets. A contest for the central monument in 1962 was won by Edvin Öhrström, with the 37 metre tall glass obelisk which was named Kristall - vertikal accent i glas och stål ("Crystal - vertical accent in glass and steel"). The sculpture, finally completed in 1974 and since haunted by technical problems. Large areas of the place are closed for renovation (the whole square is plagued by significant noise) of the 50 years old concrete structures. There also preparation for the installation of tram tracks from Hamngatan to Klarabergsgatan. During the nights the square looks far better. The pole (Totem) in the middle is illuminated in beautiful blue light- amazing sight:

    In the southern part of the square - you can find the Stockholm Tourist Office. With our feet at the southern part of Sergels Square and our face to the south - turn left and slope down to Hamngatan (Port Street).

    Hamngatan - NK (Nordiska Kompaniet) Department Store building:

    In the middle of Hamngatan, in its right (south) side - resides Park Kungsträdgården (Kings Park). What you can see from Hamngatan is ONLY the northern part of Kungsträdgården and it is far less impressive than its more southern parts. The northern part is, mostly, the "Fountain of Wolodarski". The park's central location makes it one of the most popular hangouts and meeting places in Stockholm. It also hosts open-air concerts and events in summer, while offering an ice rink during winters. In the summer it offers beautiful fountains, flourishing trees as well as a number of cafes, art galleries and restaurants. It also hosts open-air concerts and events. In the spring you can catch the Japanese Cherry (Sakura trees) blossoms in full bloom. A total number of 63 Sakura trees is an spring season experience of beauty and scent in the park. Additionally, city architect Alexander Wolodarski commissioned artist Sivert Lindblom to design the large bronze urns now lined up along the new rectangular fountain/pool:

    Standing in Hamngatan and looking south to the Kungsträdgården Park - you see, on your left (east) the Palmeska huset by Helgo Zettervall, 1884–86, today the headquarters of  Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB). Further south, on your left (east) is the Kungsträdgården Stockholm metro station (magnificent station !!!):

    The park's most notable features reside in the southern parts: the two squares with statues of kings Charles XII and Charles XIII and the Molin's Fountain depicting motifs from Norse mythology- all these will be explored during our later blogs in Stockholm. We continue east on Hamngatan, passing Norrlandsgatan on our left (north). The next square on our left is Norrmalmstorg. Norrmalmstorg square is very famous for the Stockholm Syndrome case. The square connects the posh shopping streets of Hamngatan and Biblioteksgatan and is the starting point for legendary tram Djurgården (blue) line (route number 7N with 10 stations). It is an heritage tram line and operated on a non-profit basis by young members of the Swedish Tramway Society. The vintage of the tram cars varies from early 20th century to late 1950s. On weekends a modified trailer named "Rolling Café" is coupled to one of the motorcars on the line, where one can have a cup of coffee or tea along with some pastries whilst enjoying the scenery. We used this tram on our trip to Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde. Note the Norrmalmstorg Chicken sculpture near the Vaudville Restaurant. It’s a creation of Ebba Hedquist. The sculpture was installed there in 1971 (before the bank robbery!). The hen with flopping wings, running away from the traffic, it was an embodiment of pedestrians who felt increasingly unsafe in the 60s, as Stockholm was becoming busier. Matters got even worse when the authorities decided to implement a changeover to right-hand driving in 1967...:

    Attention: We continue NORTHWARD from Norrmalmstorg through Biblioteksgatan - BUT we shall RETURN soon SOUTHWARD back to Hamngatan. From the Norrmalmstorg square we continue walking along Biblioteksgatan until it ends (in the north) in Stureplan /  Birger Jarlsgatan. Biblioteksgatan ("Library Street") is a well-known shopping street with many luxurious brand stores (international luxury brands like: Prada, Gucci and Marc Jacobs alongside Swedish fashion labels like: Acne, Hope and Whyred) and some of the highest rent levels for retail in Stockholm. It starts out as a pedestrian street at Norrmalmstorg until it passes Stureplan, where after it continues towards Humlegården and the Royal Library:

    Biblioteksgatan x Stureplan:

    Cloe from Barcelona, ​​Bronze, 2017 of Jaume Plensa, Stureplan:

    Sorry for the U-turn. We shall walk 1 km. back to the south, to a couple of famous Stockholm squares. We thought that the short detour of Biblioteksgatan was worthwhile just for the experience of window shopping. From Stureplan we head southeast along Biblioteksgatan, 250 m. Turn right onto Norrmalmstorg/Smålandsgatan, 35 m. Turn left onto Norrmalmstorg, 75 m. Turn BACK right onto Hamngatan, 35 m. Slight left to stay on Hamngatan, 140 m. Turn left onto Västra Trädgårdsgatan, 240 m. Continue onto Jakobs torg, 50 m. We shall start with the Gustav Adolfs torg, Gustav Adolf Square. Turn right onto Gustav Adolfs torg, 75 m. A square named after King Gustav II Adolf. In the middle of the square there is a statue of Gustav II Adolf, which was erected in 1796 by the French sculptor Pierre l'Archevêque. South to this square, beyond the water (via Norrbro bridge) are the Riksplan (Parliament) and the Medieval Museum (Stockholms Medeltidsmuseum). The Royal Palace is a bit further south in Gamla Stan.  The square is home to the Royal Opera, Arvfurstens palats (housing the Ministry for Foreign Affairs) and the Ministry of Defence: 

    The Royal Swedish Opera (Kungliga Operan) is in the eastern part of Gustav Adolfs torg. The opera company was founded by King Gustav III and its first performance, Thetis and Phelée was given on January 18, 1773:

    Walk 75 m. north-east to continue to the adjacent Jakobs torg. Jakobs Torg is a triangular square framed by the Royal Opera , St. Jacob's Church and Denmark's house . The west west side extends to Västra Trädgårdsgatan and in the east the square borders Kungsträdgården. In the square outside the church and facing the Opera, a bronze bust of Jussi Björling , sculpted by the Dutchman Pieter de Monchy in 1961, was set in the square first 1994.

    St. Jacobs Kyrka:

    We return to Gustav Adolf Torg and head SOUTH (south-east) to the Royal Palace through Norrbro  ("North Bridge"). This bridge which starts, in the north,  is an arch bridge over Norrström in Gustav Adolfs torg , passes over Helgeandsholmen in front of the Riksdag building and ends opposite the northern front of the Royal Palace. Norrbro was designed by the city architect Erik Palmstedt (1741–1803). Norrbro was one of the first bridges of Stockholm to be built in stone. It was completed in 1797 (the northern part) and 1806 (the southern part).  Norrbro replaced two old wooden bridges, Slaktarehusbron and Vedgårdsbron, both demolished on its completion. it is surprising that in the latter half of the 18th century still only 2 out of 17 bridges connecting the city were made, at least partially, of stone. Wooden bridges, that were in majority in Stockholm, were vulnerable to natural forces and fire. Consequently, they were often damaged and the maintenance costs were too high.

    Gustav Adolf Torg from Norrbro bridge:

    The "Solsångaren" (Sunsinger) sculpture of Carl Milles (east to the Norrbro bridge, on the green,small island under the bridge) - view from
    Norrbro (northern bridge):

    We hurried up to climb the stairs leading to the Royal Palace (Kunliga Slottet) terrace to watch the daily parade of the Royal Guards. The Royal Guards ceremony at the Royal Palace of Stockholm lasts about 40 minutes and includes a marching band. It starts at 12.15in the palace outer courtyard on weekdays, and at 13.15 on Sundays. It happens EVERYDAY from April 23 to August 31. From September 1, the parade is generally held on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, departing from the Army Museum at 11.45 (WED,SAT), and at 12.:45 on Sundays and public holidays. From November 1, the parade is generally held on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, departing from Mynttorget at 12.10 (on Sundays and public holidays: 13.10) . If there is no musical accompaniment, the Royal Guards march from the Obelisk at 12.15 (WED,SAT) or 13.15 (SUN). The whole ceremony is no more than splendid. You won't be blown away - but, it is a nice way to spend an hour:

    This is the south-east entrance to the Royal Palace after the march of the Royal Guards:

    But, it is not the last word of the parade. Hurry up to the south-west front of the palace,the outer courtyard,  where the Change of Royal Palace Guards takes place. Get there early as it gets VERY BUSY ! The royal guard has been stationed at the royal palace in Stockholm since 1523. About 30,000 guards from the Swedish Armed Forces take their turns standing watch. The guards are responsible for safeguarding the royal palace and are also part of the defense of Stockholm. They are an important part of the security force for the capital's citizens. The royal guard takes part in royal ceremonial occasions, official state visits, the official opening of the Swedish Parliament, and other national events. When the trumpets start sounding you see rows of blue-uniformed guards coming in with the marching band. The procession is announced in Swedish before being announced in English. 

    Here you can see how the Royal Palace outer courtyard is looking AFTER the Royal Guards Change:

    We skip to Tip 2 - where we start our visit inside the Royal Palace.

  • Citywalk | France
    Updated at Jan 6,2019

    Tip 2: From Place Saint-Sulpice to La cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.

    Tip 2 Main Attractions: Place Saint-Sulpice, Church of Saint-Sulpice, Luxembourg Gardens, Place du Panthéon, The Panthéon, Place Sainte-Geneviève, Eglise Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, La Sorbonne, Promenade Maurice Carême, Cathedral of Notre Dame, Île de la Cité.

    Walking south from Église de Saint Germain des Prés - we arrived to Place Saint-Sulpice. The large public space at the Place Saint Sulpice is dominated on its eastern side by the church of Saint-Sulpice. The square was built in 1754 as a tranquil garden in the Latin Quarter of the 6th arrondissement of Paris. During a sunny day - this square is one of the most beautiful places in Paris. In addition to the church, the square includes the Fountain Saint-Sulpice (Fontaine Saint-Sulpice) or Fountain of the Four Bishops (Fontaine des Quatre Evêques). The fountain was built in the center of the square between 1844 and 1848 and was designed by the architect Joachim Visconti. This monumental fountain is called also the fontaine des quatre points cardinaux (the "Fountain of the Four Cardinal Points"). The square includes also the Café de la Mairie (Cafe of the City Hall), a rendezvous for writers and students. The café was featured in the 1990 film, La Discrète ("The Discreet"), directed by Christian Vincent, starring Fabrice Luchini and Judith Henry.

    This neighbourhood was for many years the religious epic centre of Paris. The present Hôtel des Impôts was formerly the celebrated St Sulpice seminary. Religion is now confined to the Church of Saint-Sulpice itself (among the largest and most beautiful in Paris). The artwork inside this church is just as beautiful but not as well preserved. The building is impressive, and with a length of 119 meters and a width of 57 meters. It is the second largest church in Paris after the Notre-Dame. The imposing front facade was built after a 1732 Baroque design by Giovanni Servandoni. It is defined by two large colonnades with Doric and Ionic columns. The colonnades are flanked by two asymmetrical towers, possibly a result of the long construction period. The south tower, which was never completed, is five meters shorter than the north tower and has a slightly different design. Servandoni's plan also included a large ornamented pediment and tower cupolas, but these were never implemented. Construction started in 1646 at the site of a thirteenth century church. Twenty years later a lack of funds halted construction work. It would last until the early eighteenth century before construction resumed and finally in 1780 the church was mostly completed. Definitely worth a visit ! 

    The Saint-Sulpice church has one of the world's largest organs, built between 1776 and 1781 after a design by Jean Chalgrin, who is best known as the architect of the Arc de Triomphe. The gilded pulpit of the Saint-Sulpice was designed in 1788 by Charles de Wailly. Another highlight can be found in the Chapelle des Anges (Angel Chapel), where Eugène Delacroix created impressive wall paintings, entitled 'Jacob Wrestling with the Angel' and 'Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple'.

    Murals of Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863). Jacob wrestling with the Angel:

    Heliodorus driven from the Temple:

    Another impressive feature are the giant chestnut trees populating the square. Among the guilty pleasures to be enjoyed in the neighbourhood on a Sunday morning are the hot-from-the-oven croissants at the Mulot bakery on the corner of Seine-Lobineau. Public transportation: Métro stations: Mabillon and Saint-Sulpice (lines: 4 and 10).

    From Église Saint-Sulpice, 2 Rue Palatine we head east on Rue Palatine toward Rue Garancière, 50 m. We turn right onto Rue Garancière, 170 m. We turn left onto Rue de Vaugirard, 100 m.

    and enter Luxembourg Gardens. The large park of Luxemburg Gardens can get pretty crowded when the sun comes out. Students come here to rehearse their courses, neighbors come here for a stroll and like with all great places in Paris, there are always plenty of tourists. This is also one of the parks where you can simply get hold of one of the many chairs and take it to the exact spot where you want to sit. The park is also popular with chess players and jeu de boules players. But despite its popularity, the Jardin du Luxembourg is plenty enjoyable and a welcome relief from the crowded Parisian streets. There's also a tennis court, a music pavilion and an orangery in the park. Right behind the orangery is the Musée du Luxembourg, a museum that is only open for temporary exhibitions.

    In the middle of the park is a large octagonal pond, known as the Grand Bassin. Here, children can rent small boats. The Jardin du Luxembourg boasts many other attractions for children such as a puppet theater, pony rides, a merry-go-round and a large playground.

    Around the pond are nice lawns, paths, and some of Paris's most beautiful flower beds, all laid out in a geometrical pattern and enclosed by a balustrade. Numerous statues adorn the park. 

    The Palace: The palace was built for Marie de' Medici, who was nostalgic about her youth at the Pitti Palace in Florence, so she asked the architect, Salomon de Brosse, to look at the Pitti Palace for inspiration, hence the Florentine style of the palace. The widowed queen did not get the time to enjoy her new palace and gardens for long as she was banished by Richelieu in 1625, before the palace was completed. In 1794, during the French Revolution, the palace served as a prison. It also served as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. The building currently houses the French Senate.

    The Jardin du Luxembourg features several noteworthy fountains. The most famous one is the Fontaine Médicis, a romantic Baroque fountain designed in the early seventeenth century. It is located at the end of a small pond at the northeast side of the park. A central sculpture group shows the Greek mythological figure of Polyphemus who observes the lovers Acis and Galatea. It is flanked by allegorical figures depicting the rivers Seine and Rhône. With our face to central museum building - Medici Fountain is on our right, in the most lower level of the gardens:

    Very few people realize that there's another fountain, the Fontaine de Léda, at the back of the Fontaine Médicis. This fountain was created in 1806. A relief shows a mythical scene with Leda and Zeus disguised as a swan.

    There's a third fountain on the other, west side of the palace. It honors the French painter Eugène Delacroix and consists of a rectangular basin with six jets. At the center is a tall pedestal with a bust of the painter. Sensual allegorical statues of Time, Glory and Genius stretch from a plinth towards the bust.

    At the southern end of the park, in an extension known as the Jardins de l'Observatoire, is yet another fountain, the. The monumental fountain was created in 1873 by Davioud, Carpaux and Frémiet. The centerpiece of the fountain shows a globe supported by four women, each representing a continent:

    There are almost seventy statues and monuments scattered around the park. Among them are twenty statues of French Queens, including Marie de' Medici. The patroness of Paris, Sainte-Geneviève, is another woman whose effigy you can find here. Many of the statues in the Jardin du Luxembourg honor famous (mostly French) people, from politicians and scientists over sculptors and painters to poets and composers like Chopin and Beethoven. Other statues depict animals or are inspired by mythology, such as the Dancing Faun (in the northern entrance of the gardens).

    Many visitors will be surprised to see La Liberté, a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty created by Auguste-Bartholdi himself.

    And there's also a bit of Rome in the Jardin du Luxembourg thanks to the Bocca della Verità monument, which depicts a woman who puts her hand in the Mouth of Truth.

    From Luxembourg Gardens we head east toward Boulevard Saint-Michel and turn right onto Boulevard Saint-Michel, 15 m (Place Rostand):

    Take the crosswalk, 75 m. At Place Edmond Rostand, take the 1st exit onto Rue Soufflot, 150 m. At 16 Rue Soufflot we find Cafe Soufflot:

    Head east on Rue Soufflot toward Rue Paillet, 140 m. Slight right onto Place du Panthéon, 75 m. Turn left to stay on Place du Panthéon, 55 m.Place du Panthéon. With the Pantheon, architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot met Louis XV’s wish to glorify the monarchy in the form of a church dedicated to Saint Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. The edifice was deconsecrated during the Revolution in 1791 and renamed the Panthéon. It is secular monument to the greatest of post-Revolution citizens of France. During the turbulent years of the 19th century, as regimes changed, it alternated in its role as a religious and patriotic monument. Since 1885, the year of Victor Hugo’s death and burial in the Pantheon, it has been the last resting place for the great writers, scientists, generals, churchmen and politicians who have made the history of France. The crypt houses the tombs of more than 70 historical and heroic figures including Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile Zola, Alexandre Dumas, Pierre and Marie Curie, Louis Braille etc. Opening hours: 1st April to 30th September: from 10.00 to 18.30, 1st October to 31st March: from 10.00 to 18.00. Last admission 45 minutes before closing time. Closed: 1st January, 1st May and 25th December. Prices: Adults : 8,5€,  concessions (18 to 25) : 5,50 €. FREE admission: minors under 18:

     

    The Pantheon is lovely with paintings,murals,statues and fantastic architecture both interior and exterior. Inside (almost no queue) there are free paper guides when you walk in and large monitors where you can read all about different parts of the pantheon. The crypt is a little circular maze like and you have to use the directory to identify the various busts.  The pendulum in the middle is very interesting. The infinite swing of the pendulum that is suspended from the dome center is mesmerizing. Allow 1 hour to stroll around with the herds of tourists around. There is a really beautiful and interesting pendulum clock in the centre of the floor. 

    Go on the top floor and see the beautiful panorama. You can see the Eiffel tower from up there. Great views of the city from another perspective:

    From Place du Panthéon we head east toward Rue d'Ulm, 60 m.  We turn left toward Rue Clotilde, 55 m. Turn left onto Rue Clotilde, 110 m. Turn right onto Rue Clovis, 60 m. to enter Place Sainte-Geneviève. It takes its name from the former Sainte-Geneviève abbey of Paris hosting the relics of Sainte-Geneviève and integrated into the Lycée Henri-IV. The first houses were built around 1355, but its real realization and the beginning of the alignment date back to 1770 . It then takes the name of "Sainte-Geneviève square".


    In the northern side of the square stands Eglise Saint-Étienne-du-Mont. It contains the shrine of St. Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. Visitors come to admire this church dating back to the end of the 15th century, with a history dating back to the 6th century. Be sure not to miss the rood screen (1545), the last existing one in Paris, the Saint-Geneviève shrine, and the huge balcony organ. The church is listed as a historical monument. The church also contains the tombs of Blaise Pascal and Jean Racine. Jean-Paul Marat is buried in the church's cemetery. The sculpted tympanum, The Stoning of Saint Stephen, is the work of French sculptor Gabriel-Jules Thomas. Renowned organist, composer, and improviser Maurice Duruflé held the post of Titular Organist at Saint-Étienne-du-Mont from 1929 until his death in 1986. Opening hours: dURING TERMS: Tuesday-Friday: 8.00m-19.45; Saturday: 8.45-12.00 and 14.00-197.45; Sunday: 8.45-12.15 and 14.00-19.45. During school holidays: Tuesday-Sunday: 10.0-12.00 and 16.00-19.45m. FREE:

    Inside, the rood screen (tribune that separates the nave from the choir), completed in 1545, is the last visible in Paris:

    Since 1803, the church contains the shrine of Sainte-Genevieve. The original one, which was in the old church of Sainte-Geneviève (now the Pantheon), was covered with gold, silver, diamonds and precious stones. In 1793, the decoration were melted by the revolutionists, and the remains of the saint burnt on the Place de Greve. The sarcophagus where she had rested until the 9th century and various relics are now enclosed in the reliquary that you can see in a lateral chapel:

    From Saint-Étienne-du-Mont - head west on Rue Saint-Etienne du Mont toward Rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève, 30 m. Turn right onto Rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève, 75 m. Turn left onto Rue de l'École Polytechnique, 130 m. Continue onto Rue de Lanneau, 80 m. Turn right onto Impasse Chartière/Rue Jean de Beauvais, 65 m. Turn left onto Rue des Écoles, 140 m to arrive to the Sorbonne. La Sorbonne was named for its founder, Robert de Sorbon, chaplain and confessor of Louis IX. The history of the institution has always been closely linked with that of the University of Paris, one of the most important medieval universities of the French capital. Throughout the centuries, la Sorbonne became and remained a prestigious symbol of the university, training and teaching many of the great philosophers and masters of theology and history. The University of Paris opened its doors in the 13th century. It was formed from a conglomeration of all of the colleges of the city's left bank. It was here that training occurred for all of Paris' clergy, administrators of royal institutions (courts of audit, courts, parliament, the council of state), as well as agents of ecclesiastical institutions ((bishops, abbots, education and hospital agents). Young students of the Four Nations at the time (French, Normandy, Picardy and English) came there to study law, medicine, theology and the arts. Thus, the University enjoyed unmatched prestige and international renown. In 1253, Robert de Sorbon opened his school on the Parisian Mountain, Sainte-Geneviève. The institution was primarily meant to train the poorest students (like many other colleges on the hill), but soon the Collège de Sorbon acquired a reputation, gradually becoming the famous theological faculty La Sorbonne. The 17th century brought change. In an effort to bring new life to the old buildings, Cardinal Duc de Richelieu appointed architect Jacques Lemercier to undertake updates to the Sorbonne's structures. Cardinal Richelieu was very involved in the life of the Sorbonne and would go on to become headmaster in 1622. The turmoil of the French Revolution would force the doors of the Sorbonne to close for a time. Starting in 1801 the Sorbonne housed simple artist workshops. During the Restoration, Louis XVIII decided to restore the buildings of the Sorbonne to their original purpose: education. In 1821, the Paris Academy and the École des Chartes (which trained students in archival conservation and preserving written heritage) took possession of the Sorbonne. The building you can admire today dates back to 1901 and was built at the request of Jules Ferry, former Minister of Education. The building's architect, Henri-Paul Nénot, wanted to give the university a complex and eclectic façade. Although the building combines the architectural styles of the neo-renaissance with antique and classical styles, the overall look of the building is harmonious and well regarded. The Sorbonne is also decorated with different plaques on which are engraved the names of all the academies of France and the coats of arms of the cities that the original colleges called home. The Sorbonne has enjoyed an excellent international reputation since its construction in the 13th century and is still considered to be in the upper echelons of learning institutions dedicated to culture, science and art. In spite of its democratic beginnings, the Sorbonne's reputation is now that of a prestigious and somewhat elitist school. The Sorbonne is synonymous with excellence, and eight centuries after its founding, the university has held its place within international academia, as an example of the rigour of French education and the sharp intellect of French minds. The University now hosts the headquarters of the Academy Rector and Chancellor of the Universities of Paris, as well as research laboratories and higher education institutions with international standing. What was once the headquarters of the French protest movement of May 1968, is currently composed of four autonomous universities: Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris III Sorbonne-Nouvelle, as well as Paris IV Paris-Sorbonne and Paris V René Descartes:

    Head north on Rue Saint-Jacques toward Rue du Sommerard, 300 m. Continue onto Rue du Petit Pont, 70 m. Continue onto Place du Petit Pont, 35 m. Continue onto Petit Pont - Cardinal Lustiger, 50 m. Turn right onto Prom. Maurice Carême and take the stairs, 85 m. We've arrived to Promenade  Maurice Carême. A beautiful pedestrian public way near Notre-Dame Cathedral. Named after Maurice Carême (1899 - 1978), a  French poet and novelist: 

    The Cathedral of Notre Dame is probably best known for its relation to the story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, made famous by the numerous cartoons and movies inspired by it. But it is the French Gothic Architecture that remains the biggest draw for visitors from around the world, an unrivaled, perfect example to this day. The Notre Dame Cathedral is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world.. The name Notre Dame means “Our Lady” in French, and is frequently used in the names of Catholic church buildings in Francophone countries.The Notre Dame Cathedral is the actual cathedral of the Catholic archdiocese of Paris: which is to say, it is the church which contains the official chair (“cathedra”) of the Archbishop of Paris. Building work began on the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris way back in the 12th century, it was not until some 300 years later construction finally came to an end. It is now one of the most prominent cathedrals in France and one of the oldest ones too. The length of time it took to build is evident through the various styles of architecture that run through the building. Although it is predominantly French Gothic ,there are areas that demonstrate the Renaissance and the Naturalism era of construction. These varying styles add to the outstanding yet quirky beauty of the building. The Notre Dame Cathedral with its sculptures and stained glass windows show the heavy influence of naturalism, unlike that of earlier Romanesque architecture. It was one of the very first Gothic cathedrals, and its construction took place throughout the Gothic period. The Notre Dame Cathedral Paris didn’t originally have flying buttresses included in its design. But after the construction of the cathedral began, the thinner walls (popularized in the Gothic style) grew ever higher and stress fractures began to occur as the walls pushed outward. The cathedral’s architects, in an effort to fix the problem, built supports around the outside walls, and later additions continued the pattern. The was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress (arched exterior supports). Over its vast history the Cathedral has suffered considerable damage, not least during the French Revolution in 1786. Fortunately it was sympathetically restored and continued to attract attention from around the world. The Cathedral has played host to many religious ceremonies and historical events and despite their own religious beliefs people of all different faiths and nationalities still marvel at it’s unique grandeur. Notre-Dame lies at the eastern end of the Île de la Cité and was built on the ruins of two earlier churches, which were themselves predated by a Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter. The cathedral was initiated by Maurice de Sully, bishop of Paris, who about 1160 conceived the idea of converting into a single building, on a larger scale, the ruins of the two earlier basilicas. The foundation stone was laid by Pope Alexander III in 1163, and the high altar was consecrated in 1189. The choir, the western facade, and the nave were completed by 1250, and porches, chapels, and other embellishments were added over the next 100 years. Notre-Dame Cathedral suffered damage and deterioration through the centuries, and after the French Revolution it was rescued from possible destruction by Napoleon, who crowned himself emperor of the French in the cathedral in 1804. Notre-Dame underwent major restorations by the French architect E.-E. Viollet-le-Duc in the mid-19th century. The cathedral is the setting for Victor Hugo’s historical novel Notre-Dame de Paris (1831). In 1909 Joan of Arc (Jean d'Arc) was famously beatified in the Notre Dame Cathedral by Pope Pius X. The brave young girl who told all she had experienced visions from God, went on to assist the French in conflicts with English soldiers. The French trusted her word and ultimately won many battles against England. As a big fan of the royals she also played a part in the crowning of Charles Vll. However not everyone was convinced by her religious visions and beliefs and she was later killed by Burundians’ who accused her of heresy and burned her at the stake. It was not until 1456 that her name was cleared and she became known as an innocent martyr.

    Notre-Dame Cathedral consists of a choir and apse, a short transept, and a nave flanked by double aisles and square chapels. Its central spire was added during restoration in the 19th century. The interior of the cathedral is 427 by 157 feet (130 by 48 metres) in plan, and the roof is 115 feet (35 metres) high. Two massive early Gothic towers (1210–50) crown the western facade, which is divided into three stories and has its doors adorned with fine early Gothic carvings and surmounted by a row of figures of Old Testament kings. The two towers are 223 feet (68 metres) high; the spires with which they were to be crowned were never added. At the cathedral’s east end, the apse has large clerestory windows (added 1235–70) and is supported by single-arch flying buttresses of the more daring Rayonnant Gothic style, especially notable for their boldness and grace. The cathedral’s three great rose windows alone retain their 13th-century glass.

    Notre-Dame Cathedral - west facade:

    North-West facade:

    Notre-Dame Cathedral - west side gardens:

    Notre-Dame Cathedral - South facade:

    With the sculpture of Pope Paul II:

    Notre-Dame Gardens in the East side:

    Jean d'Arc sculpture:

    Notre-Dame Interiors:

    Opening hours: The cathedral is open 365 days a year from 8.00 to 18.45 (19.15 on Saturdays and Sundays). You can visit the cathedral's treasury everyday from 9.30m to 18.00 (these times may change during special occasions). FREE. A long queue. Allow 15 minutes to enter and allow 1 hour for the visit inside:

    Acrobats near the Cathedral:

    Before we return to the Metro station - we take two photos of Paris - Île Saint-Louis:

    The closest Metro station is Cité in Île de la Cité. From Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, 6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II - head north, 15 m. Turn left toward Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 95 m. Turn left toward Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 20 m. further. Turn right toward Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 15 m. Slight left onto Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 30 m. Turn right onto Rue de la Cité, 200 m. Turn left toward Allée Célestin Hennion, 50 m. Turn left onto Allée Célestin Hennion, 40 m. We arrived to the Cité Metro station. The metro entrance located next to it is the work of Hector Guimard and a beautiful example of the Art Nouveau. The Metro station Cité on line 4 is for sure one of the most surprising metro stations in Paris. It has taken its name from the Ile de la Cité and is the only metro station on the island. The railway tunnel goes under the Seine and the platforms are located under the river: for that reason the station is very deep, more than 20 meters underground ! The depth of the station, its metallic structure, its never-ending stairs and its lighting with elegant globes give it a very special atmosphere one cannot find in any other metro station in Paris.

  • Citywalk | Spain
    Updated at Feb 12,2019

    Part 2 Main Attractions: Puerta del Sol, Restaurante El Callejón, Plaza del Callao, Gran Vía, Grassy Edifice is in Gran Via #1, Edifico Metropolis, Plaza de Cibeles, Plaza De España, Palacio Real, Opera Metro station.

    We leave Puerta del Sol and continue NORTH along Calle de Preciados, crossing Calle de Tetuán. After walking north for 450 m. we turn left to Calle de la Ternera. Restaurante El Callejón. (Calle de la Ternera, 6) is an eatery, once located in an out-of-the-way alley in the Austrias part of town, fed Hemingway and his wife Mary during their visits in the 1950s. Hemingway wrote in one of his articles for Life magazine that El Callejón had "the best food in town.". Do not miss the sculpture and old, nostalgic pictures of Hemingway in Madrid adorning the restaurant walls:

    From the restaurant in Calle de la Ternera, 6 - head north on Calle de la Ternera toward Calle de Preciados, 20 m. Turn right onto Calle de Preciados, 95 m. Turn left onto Plaza del Callao, 35 m. Plaza del Callao is  one of the busiest squares in Madrid. Lots of street performers, but most of all tourists. So, it's fun to spend a few minutes if you're passing by. It is very close to the grand, famous shopping stores of Gran Via. Do not miss the views from the top floor of Le Corte Ingles (see below). Big screens are added to the surrounding buildings. The building at #5 was one of the highest buildings in Madrid (FNAC). Its name derived from the May 1866 battle of Callao between the Spanish naval forces under the command of Casto Méndez Núñez and the Peruvian army:

    Make you way to the 9th floor of the . Madrid’s number one department store, El Corte Inglés, decided to give itself a much needed facelift and revamp the 9th floor of its location in Callao, turning it into ‘Gourmet Experience’; and it truly is an experience. With an outdoor rooftop and dozens of food stalls, serving Mexican, Italian, Spanish and Japanese food, as well as cocktails, ice-cream and much more. You will have amazing views of Gran Via. The open terrace and the interior offer you the opportunity to enjoy a gastronomic space, high quality and atmosphere. The food can be enjoyed in the restaurants or in the central tables, also on the heated terrace. No need for booking, just wait for a table to be free (it’s usually crowded!). You can try dining in one of the restaurants located in gourmet area: La Máquina: Spanish traditional food, Harina: Bakery and good coffee, Mister Lee: Asian food, Central Mexicana:Mexican food, Hamburguesa Nostra: Hamburgers, Pizza al Cuadrado: Pizzas, Amorino: Ice-creams and chocolates, Street XO: Innovative, Juanillo Club: Cocktails and oysters, Imanol: Pintxos and raciones:

    We left Plaza Callau and turned right (east) to Gran Via. Walking east along the Gran Via, you hit Calle de Chinchilla on the 3rd intersection on your right:

    The mighty building of Telefonica is in the Gran Via #22:

    Gran Via #26:

    There is nothing like an afternoon’s shopping and for that, there is nothing like the Gran Via, the most popular and up-market street in Madrid. It also has a variety of interesting buildings. The Via runs from Calle de Alcala to the Plaza de Espana and is lined with theaters, hotels and, of course shops. You will find everything you could wish for here, from leather handbags and shoes to souvenirs with prices to match. Further east along the Gran Via, we cross Calle Clavel on our right and left.

    Grassy Edifice is in Gran Via #1. Just next to the Metropolis Building (see below) is the Grassy Edifice (Edificio Grassy), a massive structure named after the jewelery shop it used to host on the first floor. It was built in a modernists art déco style with an original column-like cupola at the top. It is one of the most striking buildings of Gran via and it also contains a museum that exhibits rare watches that have belonged to royalties all over Europe. The Edificio Grassy was built between 1916 and 1917. It was constructed on a triangular piece of land, in the same way as the Edificio Metrópolis next to it. Moreover, its architect Eladio Laredo aimed to achieve an architectural similarity between both of them. This trend was respected to a certain extent along Gran Vía. It comprises two independent buildings, which are joined together by the hall and the patio. Eclectic in its architecture, it boasts a rotunda topped by two superimposed belvederes of Renaissance influence. In 1981, the Edificio Grassy was immortalized by painter Antonio López in his hyperrealist masterpiece "La Gran Vía". A plaque placed at the entrance of the building facing to Calle del Caballero de Gracia informs that in spring 1840 Théophile Gautier lived in this area.

    The Via is not without its own splendid tall buildings: the Edifico Metropolis, which was built in the early 20th century and has a winged statue of Victoria on its dome. Metropolis - Gran Via #1:

    The Gran Vía meets the Calle de Alcalá in the Banco de España Metro station:

    The huge central squre in front is the Plaza de Cibeles. Plaza de Cibeles is a square with a neo-classical complex of marble sculptures with fountains that has become an iconic symbol for the city of Madrid. The fountain of Cibeles is found in the part of Madrid commonly called the Paseo de Recoletos. It depicts the goddess Cibeles (Cybele), the Phrygian goddess of fertility, sitting on a chariot pulled by two lions. The fountain was built in the reign of Charles III and designed by Ventura Rodríguez between 1777 and 1782. Up until the 19th century both the fountain of Neptune and Cibeles looked directly at each other, until the city council decided to turn them round to face towards the center of the city. The fountain of Cibeles has been adopted by the football team Real Madrid as the place to celebrate its triumphs in major competitions such as the Champions League, La Liga or Spanish Copa del Rey:

    From Plaza de Cibeles we took bus #74 destination: Pintor Rosales and dropped off at Plaza De España. This large Plaza is located in the city centre, at the intersection of Gran Vía and Princesa streets:

    Here you will find the Cervantes Monument, one of the most popular tourist spots. The Monument was made by Rafael Martínez Zapatero and Lorenzo Cullaut Valera and was inaugurated in 1915. Most of the monument was built between 1925 and 1930. The tower portion of the monument includes a stone sculpture of Cervantes, which overlooks bronze sculptures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Around the monument, created a series of landscaped areas for relaxation and enjoyment of pedestrians:

    The square has a fountain with a pond, and seasonally landscaped and wooded areas. Flanking the square we find two emblematic buildings of the city: Torre Madrid and Edificio España, which constitute one of the most interesting architectural areas of the capital.

    Torre Madrid is in the northern side of the square and is one of the tallest buildings in Madrid. It is 465 feet high and was built in 1957 by the brothers Julián and José María Otamendi Machimbarrena. They had been hired by the Compañía Inmobiliaria Metropolitana, for whom they had already built the Edificio España:

    Edificio España is one of Madrid’s most representative skyscrapers and stands in the north-east corner of the square. The Otamendi brothers built it in 1953 in Neo-Baroque style. It has a staggered silhouette of four heights, and enjoys considerable protection from the City Council itself. Standing at 117 metres tall and with 25 floors, it is the eighth tallest building of the Spanish capital, including the Cuatro Torres Business Area skyscrapers:

    We return to the Royal Palace - hoping to enter the magnificent palace avoiding the long queues during the morning and midday hours. From Plaza de España head southwest, 45 m. At the roundabout, continue straight onto Cuesta de San Vicente, 100 m. Turn left, take the stairs, 40 m. Turn left, take the stairs, 20 m. Turn right, 30 m. Turn left, take again the stairs, 100 m. Turn right to face, again, the Sabatini Gardens, Calle de Bailén, 2 with far better lighting of the afternoon hours:

    Returning to the Royal Palace - you'll find a long queue even in these late afternoon hours. But, now, during the coller hours it is more tolerable. Note the statue of St. Peter (Petrus) in the eastern side of the palace giant courtyard opposite the entrance:

    You can observe the Almudena Cathedral in the south side of the courtyard (queuing up to the palace, with your face to the palace, on your back or, later, your left):

    The Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid), also known as the Palacio de Oriente (The East Palace), is the official residence of the King of Spain in the city of Madrid, and it is only used for State Ceremonies. However, King Juan Carlos and the Royal Family did not reside in it, choosing instead the more modest Palacio de la Zarzuela on the outskirts of Madrid. The palace is owned by the Spanish State and administered by the Patrimonio Nacional, a public agency of the Ministry of the Presidency. The royal Palace of Madrid is the largest palace building in Western Europe. It is located on Bailén Street, in the Western part of downtown Madrid, East of the Manzanares River, and is accessible from the Ópera metro station. The palace is partially open to public, except when it is being used for official business. Opening hours: Winter hours (October to March). All days: 10.00 - 18.00. Summer hours (April to September). All days: 10.00 - 20.00. Dates closed: 1 January: closed entire day, 6 January: closed entire day, 1 May: closed entire day, 12 October: closed until 17:30 (12 October: open from 17:30 to 21:00), 24 December: closed from 15:00, 25 December: closed entire day, 31 December: closed from 15:00. In addition to the planned closings, there may be additional closings motivated by the holding of official acts. You can consult the list of closures for official acts. Prices: Adult Admission 11 € ( until March 3, 2019 exhibition included). Adult Admission 10 € (from March 4, 2019). Reduced Admission 6 € (until March 3, 2019 exhibition included) or Reduced Admission 5 € (from March 4, 2019): Individual members of large families, Citizens between 5 and 16 years of age, persons over 65 years of age of the member States of the European Union or Latin American countries, students up to 25 years of age with updated national or international student’s card. Only exhibition 5 € (until March 3, 2019). FREE: Children under 5 years of age, 18 May, International Museum Day, Professors in individual visit with teaching staff card, persons with disability with accreditation, From Monday to Thursday from 16.00 to 18.00. (October to March) and 18.00 to 20.00 (April to September) - free admission for citizens of the European Union, residents and holders of work permit in that territory and Latin American citizens. The free offer is limited to the tour without guide. Note: photography NOT allowed.

     

    Palacio Real - Main staircase in entrance to the palace:

    Giaquinto's fresco above the staircase:

    Salon de Arbardores:

    Salon de Columnes - here, King Juan Carlos signed on his resignation:

    Salon Gasparini:

    Patrimonio Nacional - Gala Dining Room:

    The Porcelain Room:

    Salon of Carlos III:

    Antechamber of Queen Maria Christina with 5 violins including one Stradivardius:

    The Royal Armoury:

    The Royal Throne - Salón del Trono:

    Royal Crown - Sala de la Corona:

    Bernini and Caravaggio Exhibition Room:

    The Royal Chapel:

    The Internal grand Court:

    Sala de Fumar de Alfonso XIII:

    When we exited the Royal palce - we just caught the Royal Guard parade:

    We finish this day itinerary with returning to the closest Metro station - the Opera station. From Royal Palace of Madrid - head east, 50 m. Turn right toward Plaza de Oriente, 95 m. Turn right onto Plaza de Oriente, 65 m. Turn right onto Calle Carlos III, 80. m. Turn left onto Calle de Vergara, 70 m. Continue straight onto Plaza de Isabel II, 35 m. Turn left to stay on Plaza de Isabel II, take the stairs, 15 m.  You face the Opera station.

     

  • Citywalk | France
    Updated at Dec 15,2019

    From Église Saint-Eustache we walk 750 m. south to the Pont Neuf Metro station - crossing the wonderful the Forum des Halles gardens. Head northeast on Impasse Saint-Eustache toward Rue Montmartre, 45 m. Turn right onto Rue Montmartre, 75 m. From here you walk SOUTHWARD across the Forum des Halles gardens.

    Forum des Halles:

    Forum des Halles gardens were opened for pedestrians on 19 May 2019.  Fantastic reconstruction. In the heart of them - is the Jardin Nelson Mandela with playgrounds for children. The (RENOVATED with huge investment and managed by Westfield) Forum des Halles shopping centre is surrounded by a park filled with benches, fountains, street entertainers, statues and a wonderful area to relax, people watch and enjoy the day. That’s before you even step inside to delight in everything the mall has to offer, which is more than you can imagine or have the time to visit every store inside. Marvelous green gem in Paris. Located in the very heart of Paris, the Les Halles area owes its name to the large iron pavilions that once covered what was a bustling and popular fresh food market — most famously depicted in Emile Zola’s 19th century novel “The Belly of Paris.” In 1971 the markets were dismantled and relocated to Rungis, in the capital’s southern suburbs. The Forum des Halles shopping center opened in 1979, the adjoining gardens in 1986. The refurbished shopping center (completed at 2018) attracted 40 million visitors per year from 2018. The 40 million shoppers it currently attracts makes it the second busiest shopping center in Europe, after the 4 Temps mall in La Défense which welcomes over 46 million visitors each year 

    Turn right onto Allée André Breton, 200 m. You exit the Des Halles gardens. Turn left onto Rue Berger, 5 m. Turn right onto Place Maurice Quentin, 35 m. Slight left onto Rue du Pont Neuf, 350 m. Turn right onto Quai du Louvre to face the Pont Neuf Metro station.

    Forum des Halles gardens near Église Saint-Eustach:

    The gardens from rue Pont Neuf:

    Église Saint-Eustache from Pont Neuf: