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  • Citywalk | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 13,2014

    Orientation: Stunning architecture, nature scenery, marvelous hidden gems in the heart of London. (18 June 2013).

    Start: Edgware Road Station.

    End: Paddington Station.

    Duration time: 1 day walk.

    From Edgware Road station head southeast toward Old Marylebone Rd/Sussex Gardens. Turn left onto Old Marylebone Rd.Turn left onto Cabbell St. You see a nice display, full with character, of Cabbell Street Hyde Park Mansions on your right:

    Step back. Walk southeast on Cabbell St toward Old Marylebone Rd. Turn right onto Old Marylebone Rd. Keep on walking into Sussex Gardens Road. Turn right onto Norfolk Pl. Turn left toward London St. Turn right onto London St. The Norfolk Square Gardens are on your right. The square itself is surrounded by a number of fine buildings:

    Head northwest on London St toward Norfolk Square. Turn left toward Sheldon Square (you'll pass a few obstacles due to the massive construction built around the NEW Paddington Station !). The Crossrail station at Paddington (scheduled to open in 2017) will be constructed under Eastbourne Terrace and Departures Road, with subsurface links to both the concourse of Paddington mainline and underground lines. PaddingtonCentral The main entrance to the Hammersmith and City line station, is scheduled to be fully operational in 2013, delivering a new concourse entrance fronting onto the Paddington Basin canal (see later) and linking directly into the newly completed taxi drop-off.

    Another route: Head north along London St. Turn left to Praed Road, turn right to Spring St., take the first turn to the right (after passing the bustling reconstruction project of the Paddington St.) to the Bishoph's Bridge Road.

    Turn left toward Sheldon Square. You get a stunning view on one of the magical spots of the new architectural wave or trend passing over London - the  PaddingtonCentral. Like being in an amphitheatre with views across Paddington station and beyond. The space comprises of an amphitheatre designed with grass terraces. There are various pieces of public art throughout the space itself and along the nearby adjacent canal towpath.

    The Paddington Branch ( section of the Grand Union Canal) is to your right, north-east side of the square or PaddingtonCentral complex. Find the Paddington towpath along the canal and head forward passing under the Westway bridge. 

    Take one of the small bridges to pass to the right (north) bank of the canal (before or beyond the Westway Bridge). Keep walking along  You are, now, in the famous Little Venice. This is a nice little area just outside the hustle and bustle of London. Call in for a bit of relaxation. There is a coffee bar/boat there and there are also trips up the canal to Camden which are quite reasonably priced for the duration of the journey. In case you find yourself in Warwick Avenue - turn left to the Blomfield Road which continues north-west along the canal. Another alternative is to walk along Warwick Ave. until you arrive to the Rembrandt Gardens (Warwick Ave. x Howley Place). From there you can get a different perspective on Little Venice:

    Stroll along the side of the canal to watch the barges go past:

    You may cross the canal over the bridge leading to Formosa Road on our right. I recommend standing on the middle of this bridge and taking photos of the barges passing-by:

    We turn right to Formosa Road. Pay attention and don't miss the fourth alley to the left. A beautiful small road Elnathan Mews:

    A bit behind Elnathan Mews alley, along the Formosa Rd. you find the the Prince Alfred Pub (see Tip below). Have a look at the Victorian mansions around this restaurant:

    From Formosa Road, near the PA Pub, turn right back to Warwick Avenue. Take the road back (south-east). You may compete our daily itinerary by taking the tube from Warwick Avenue station. Continuing south-east, turn left to Howley Place. In the Junction of Howley Place with Park Place (left) and St. Mary Terrace (right) you find, again, a pretty collection of Victorian mansions (Park Place Villas):

    Turn right to St Mary's Terrace. Head southeast on St. Mary's Terrace toward Porteus Rd. Turn left onto St. Mary's Square (the third junction to the left). Continue straight onto Paddington Green and the City of Westminster College (Paddington Green Centre) is on your left. A stunning building opened in January 2011:

    Enter the college to appreciate its interiors. You are allowed to visit the wholesite and take photos only with a formal permission. Don't miss the plaque on red-brick building opposite the City of Westminster College - a previous children's hospital founded in 1883:

    Near the college and the old hospital, in Paddington Green, stands Sara Siddon's statue, theatre actor, 1735-1881:

    Pack your rest of your strength. You'll need another 30-40 minutes of walk - heading to Paddington Basin. Do not give up - it is a stunning site.

    From Paddington Green Road turn left onto Harrow Rd. Turn right onto Edgware Road. Turn right onto Praed St (near the Devonshire Pharmacy).  Turn right. again, turn right. Turn left and the Paddington Basin will be on the left. Paddington Basin has undergone a lot of improvements during recent years. I loved the regeneration project. It is admirable. Just hope it doesn't go so far as to destroy the character of the neighborhood or displace too many households. Make no mistake you get a great walk here. I recommend making a stroll around the basin. I was somewhat surprised at how many storefronts on the ground level were still vacant. The basin is now the centre of a major redevelopment as part of the wider Paddington Waterside scheme and is surrounded by modern buildings:

    Paddington Basin is the site of the Rolling Bridge, built in 2004:

    The Paddington Underground Station is 5 minutes walk from the basin.

  • Citywalk | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 13,2014

    The main attractions: The Nautical School, Bernie Spain Gardens, Oxo Tower, Blackfriars Bridge and Pub, Stationers Hall Court, Paternoster Square, 1 New Change Shopping Centre, The Guildhall.

    Start: Southwark Station.

    End: St. Paul Station.

    Weather: A full day (architecture, history, shopping, wonderful sights) in a cloudy or even rainy day.

    From Southwark station head north on Blackfriars Rd toward Scoresby St. Turn left at Scoresby St. Turn slightly right onto Joan St. Turn right onto Hatfields Rd. Turn left onto Stamford St and walk until numer 61. The Nautical School will be on the left (or: Hatfields Rd 17). Look at the porticos under the roof:

    Head northeast on Stamford St toward Broadwall. Turn left at Broadwall and turn right toward Upper Ground of Bernie Spain Gardens:

    Walk in the gardens and exit near the Thames river and walk eastward to the Oxo Tower (all in the South Bank !). On your right the old & new Blackfriars Bridges:

    Do not miss the the views from the Public Viewing Gallery on the 8th floor of Oxo Tower:

    You continue eastward to the Blackfriars Bridge. I recommend that you go, first, under the bridge to see the pretty tiled panels sponsered and donated by Thomas Doggett:

    Cross the Blackfriars Bridge on your way to the Northern Bank. In the end of the bridge, on your right, in Queen Victoria Street you see the marvelous exterior of the Blackfriars Pub:

    Head east on Queen Victoria St toward Black Friars Lane.  Turn left onto Black Friars Ln. Slight left onto Ludgate Broadway. Turn right onto Pilgrim St. Turn right onto Ludgate Hill. Opposite stand the St. Paul Cathedral:

    Turn left toward Ave Maria Ln. Turn right onto Ave Maria Ln. On the right stands the Worshipful Co building and yard Of Stationers & Newspaper Makers. Nowadays a posh ceremonies hall. Try to find the Chef (Awati or Paul born in Algier Town) to get a permission for entering this marvelous hall:

    Head north on Ave Maria Ln. Turn right, turn right again and turn left. You are now in the magnificient Paternoster Square:

    You can spend at least 2-3 hours visiting the St. Paul Cathedral. In case you prefer to avoid the hefty entrance price - I suggest you to skip the Cathedral and keep walking to the 1 New Change Shopping Centre. This stunning attraction does not fall short of the famous cathedral. This is the most fantastic free view of London and St. paul Cathedral. The shopping Centre itself is fabolous and you can adopt our tip to dine in the Nando's restaurant on the 2nd. floor. The One New Change Centre is a photographers' gem: the St. Paul reflection on every floor stop (with the glass elevator), the wonderful roof and the magnificient views over London and St. paul Cathedral. Let the pictures talk for themselves:

    Head northwest on New Change, slight right to stay on New Change. Turn right onto Cheapside Street. On your right stands St Mary-le-Bow church. This church, designed by Christopher Wren. It offers a nice sanctuary from the noise and chaos of the financial district it is located in:

    Head east on Cheapside toward Bow Ln. Turn left onto King St. Turn right onto Gresham St. The Guildhall will be on the left. You'll surprised at the beauty of this building. Opening hours are hazardous. You'll be excited to hear that it is open and you may be going inside the elegant building free of chargee.

    Guildhall is divided up into several different halls but the Great Hall is where the Court of Common Council meet to decide City of London policy and these meetings are open to the public. 

    The inside is equally nice with interesting statues, stain glass, and murals. There is much history and interesting sights that make this piece of London a valuable visit. Guildhall's many rooms are decorated with emblems of numerous City, as are the stained-glass windows together with details of hundreds of Lord Mayors of the City of London since 1189.There are plenty of memorial statutes on display and tributes to many of those who have made London great.

  • Citywalk | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 13,2014

    Lambeth Parks and Gardens - 2 hours walk:

    Can be combined with the itinerary of lambeth and the Archbishoph's Park route.

    Start & End: Waterloo TUBE Station.
    Distance: 3-4 km. Suitable for a rainy day.

    Origin: Get Walking - Keep Walking web. http://www.getwalking.org/walking-routes/london-walking-routes/parks-gardens-railway-arches/

    From the Waterloo TUBE station turn left on Waterloo Rd. Head up Waterloo Road, past the Old Vic and crossing The Cut. Go under the railway line, cross Exton Street and enter St John the Evangelist Church churchyard through the large metal gates to the right of the church. The church was designed by Francis Bedford and is one of several churches built in 1822-4 to commemorate Wellington’s victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The church was badly bombed in WW2 and in 1951 was restored. Walk around the gardens to the left and exit through a small metal gate into Secker Street. Turn left and then right. Turn left into Cornwall Road. Walk to the end of the road and turn right into Stamford Street. Cross the road via the controlled crossing and turn left into Coin Street. On the left is the Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre:

    Look out for the ITV building at the end of the street. Turn right, into Upper Ground, and follow this street, passing upper Ground Market Place on the left. Walk into the Spain Gardens on the right.

    This garden is named after local resident and campaigner Bernadette Spain. These gardens occupy the site of the former Eldorado Ice Cream Company premises.

    Walk to the left around the gardens. Where the path turns to the right, take the exit on the left and exit via a small metal gate. You are now in Stamford Street. Do not miss the impressive pillared building on your way (Stamford Street 57):

    Cross Stamford Street using the zebra crossing and enter Hatfields. In the days of rural Lambeth, there were fields here where beaver skins were prepared for hat manufacture. On the right, there are enclosed sports pitches and next to them a grassed area with trees, Hatfields Green. Beyond this a small enclosed garden, which is visible on the Peabody Estate. Turn left into Meymott Street, then left at Colombo Street and left again into Paris Garden (sadly, there is no actual garden here today) next to the Rose & Crown public house. Spain Gardens which are on the right. Turn right into Christchurch Gardens behind the Rose and Crown; to gain access, you have to walk through the pubs beer garden. Walk past the church so that it is on your right hand side. Turn right immediately after the end of the church and exit into Blackfriars Road immediately opposite some railway arches across the road. Turn right until you reach a controlled crossing. Use this crossing to cross Blackfriars Road and turn left and then right into Burrell Street, next to the railway arches. Walk under the railway arch and at the end of the road, you will see a Holiday Inn Express Hotel. Cross Southwark Street using the controlled crossing and turn left and then right into Hopton Street. A short distance down on the right-hand side of Hopton Street are Hopton’s Almshouses. The Almshouses were founded by fishmonger Charles Hopton. The 26 Almshouses for ‘poor decayed men’ of the parish were erected in 1746-9 and opened in 1752.  Re-trace your steps back to the Holiday Inn Express Hotel on the corner of Burrell Street. Walk past the hotel and turn left into Bear Lane. Walk down Bear Street until you reach the White Hart public house and turn right into Dolben Street. If Bear Street is still blocked, then turn right into Treveris Street. Walk under the railway arch and turn left until you reach Gambia Street and turn left. Walk under the railway arch and turn left into Gambia Street. Walk down Gambia Street under another railway arch until you reach Union Street (there is no evident road sign but you will be opposite the Lord Nelson Public House):

    Walk down beside the Pub, to reach Nelson Square. The gardens here were originally for the use of residents of the square, but in 1903, the owner Viscount Halifax gave the site to the London County Council. Enter the gardens through the grey gates immediately opposite. Walk around the garden to the right, passing a blue sports pitch. Enter the rose garden between two low walls and head for the exit in the far bottom left hand corner. Exit the square through a small path between a white painted building and a block of flats. You are now back in Blackfriars Road. Cross Blackfriars Road using the island crossing immediately on your right, watching out for traffic. (If necessary walk further down the road and use the controlled crossing). Turn left and immediately right into Ufford Street, which boasts some very attractive buildings:

    Walk up the street and cross Short Street. Shortly on your right will be the entrance to a recreation ground, Ufford Street Recreation Ground. Walk through the recreation ground and exit at the other side. You are now in Mitre Road. Turn left and walk to the end of the road and cross to the other side of Webber Street and turn right and then left at the Old Vic Theatre. The Old Vic was opened in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre and changed to the Victoria Theatre in 1833. In 2003, Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey was appointed artistic director. Re-trace your steps back in Waterloo Rd. to the Waterloo Tube Station.

  • Citywalk | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 13,2014

    Sunny Margate:

    Margate is not "high class" or poshy city. It relys upon its past glamour, nostalgia and seaside amusements. It is still called "Merry Margate". I visited the town at a sunny weekend day. The town was packed with day-trippers after long winter months and many years of decline...

    The opening of the Turner Contemporary gallery in 2011 gave Margate a big wake - followed by openings of many retro shops and small galleries. I found Margate fueld with new energy, atristic buzz, clean beaches and roads and big expectations.

    Weather: Come only in a sunny day.

    Duration: One day is enough...

    Start & End: Margate train station. 5 minutes walk to the beach. 7-8 minutes walk to the OLd Town. 12 minutes walk to the Turner Museum.

    Margate seafront:

    Margate's Marine Terrace is a shabby one with rough charm. The seafront is very picturesque from the hill opposite the train station (Buenos Aires Rd.), from the Harbour Arm evoking the city's 19th-century heyday. Walking from the train station to the Turner Gallery - the sea is on your left and the Old Town on your right. You pass the famous Flmingo bar, Margate's iconic Dreamland (a past theme park which is under refurbishment and reconstruction which will last for years). It is currently restored to be a site of seaside entertainment.

    On your left the golden Margate Sands beach: a family-friendly delight. Looks more as an amusement park.

    Behind the Turner Gallerry, along the beach starts a steep climb from the main town to a the suburb of Cliftonville with its famous historic Walpole Bay hotel, sandy Walpole Beach and bandstand (live music every Sunday) and Farmers Market (every last Sunday in month) - all during the summer. Far more remote are the Botany Bay and Minnis  Bays beaches.

    The Harbour Arm:

    Margate's stone pier stands opposite the Old Town and Turner Gallery. It is lined with small cafe's, bars, studios and galleries (past old coal stores). In its end stands the famous lighthouse and the bronze statue "Shell Lady" - a homage to Mrs. Booth Turner's lover and landlady.

    The Old Town:

    Margate reputation and beauty relies upon its compact old town as well: retro shops, small sunny squares, narrow alleys, studios, galleries, flowers, packed cafe's and good restaurants. The undisputed hub here is the small square - Market Place:

    Turner Contemporary Gallery:

    A white house on the east side of the harbour. It is a modern art gallery. No pictures of Turner !  Fantastic vies of the sea, pier and harbour from its enormous, light-flooded windows. Eclectic place with interesting changing exhibitions and relaxing atmosphere. Free admission. Do not miss !

    Views of the harbour from Turner Galley's windows:

    The Shell Grotto:

    A private attraction with a small gigt-shop run by the Newlove family sons. Reached by a short walk of 10 minutes from the Old Town. It is an extraordinary experience which lasts for no more than 5-15 minutes. Hallways and chambres walls covered with millions of shells.  Admission: 3 GBP. Daily 10.00 -16.00. Fabolous gift shop.

  • Citywalk | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 18,2014

    A very charming place to visit when in London. Lively neighborhood surrounded by great parks and fluent with restaurants, stalls, colors, vibrant activities and, above all, markets. Doing the whole route, allowing time for shopping, dining, talking with people around - will take the whole day. We offered two-three shortcuts. You can combine this itinerary with the Holland Park itinerary. On Saturdays Portobello Road may be unbelievably packed!

    Start: Notting Hill Gate tube station.

    End:   Holland Park tube station or Notting Hill Gate tube station or Kensington High Street tube station.

    Distance:  maximal: 10 km (or 7 km. or 8.5 km). Bit of a walk - but worth it.

    Note: Ladbroke Grove Station is on the route

    From Notting Hill Gate tube station head WEST on Notting Hill Gate toward Pembridge Gardens. Turn right onto Pembridge Rd. Go through 1 roundabout. Turn left onto Portobello Road:

    Number 20 is the Retro Woman shop (and also No. 32).

    Number 22 in Portobello Rd. has a blue plaque (2nd. floor) to George Orwell:

    No. 34 is the Retro Man shop. Retro Man boasts a full selection of retro (obviously) clothing from about 50's/60's to mid 80's:

    We start at the southerm most tip of Portobello Road. There are antiques & collectables at the southern end, fruit & vegetables in the centre and new & second-hand goods at the northern end. The Portobello Market began in the 1860/70s as a herb and horse-trading centre for local gypsies.

    Have a glance at the Denbigh Close picturesque alley:

    On the next turn to the right (Denbigh Terrace) -

    Portobello Market:

    Look on your LEFT at interesting sign posts: Portobello Gold (Hotel and Bar) No. 93-95 (the presidential Clinton family had dropped for a beer, here, in year 2000):

    Continuing more to the north along Portobello Road you cross Wetbourne Grove/Ladbroke Gardens.From here, the second turn to the right is Lonsdale Road. Turn right into Lonsdale and after crossing Denbigh Road, you'll see on your left the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising. The museum starts from the 1800s all the way up to the present date. If you enjoy looking at old artifacts and seeing the progression of brand names and labels you will love this. Admission: Adults: £6.50, Children (7 - 16): £2.25, Family: £15.00, Concessions: £4.00. Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 10,00 - 18.00, Sunday: 11.00 - 17.00, Monday: Closed, except bank holidays.

    Return to Denbigh Road and turn left to Colville Terrace - to return to Portobello Road. At Colville Terrace begins the daily vegetable and fruit market (09:00 – 18:00 Monday To Wednesday):

    A fruit and vegetable stall on Portobello Road

    On your left, Portobello No. 191, stands the Electric Cinema, from year 1910, said to be the oldest, operating cinema in Great Britain. It has survived two world wars, including a bombing.

    Turn right onto Colville Terrace. Walk 320 m. and turn left onto Powis Square. Continue onto Powis Terrace. Note on your right the Hedgegate Court:

    Both of Powis Terrace sides are with lovely terraced Georgian white-washed houses. On your left (formal address is Talbot Road) is the Tabernacle ( see our tip on food in Notting Hill):

    Return to Portobello Road, through Talbot Road. The northern part of Portobello Road is, actually, in Kensington. No need to walk until the north-most end of Portobelo Road. Walk until Portobello meets Golborne Road. At their junction and along Golborne Rd. you meet the Golborne Flea Market which is fully active on Fridays and Saturdays:

    Try to spot Wall Grafittis along Portobello Road, Golborne Road or adjacent roads in Notting Hill (or Kensington). They appear/disappear every month. Some of then may be found in Notting Hill Gate main road as well. As far as I understand these wonderful paintings are under the Portobello Road Arts Project control: https://www.facebook.com/PortobelloWall       http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/leisureandlibraries/culture/artsservices/portobelloroadartsproject.aspx

    Turn right in Golborne Road and enjoy its Spanish and Portuguese restaurants, cafes and Patisseries like the Plaza or Lisboa ones:

    From Golborne Road, turn right into Bevington Road, right along Blagrove Road and right again into Acklam Road  (on your left is the Bay Sixty6 Skate Park) to bring you back to Portobello Road:

    If you go right along Cambridge Gardens (continuation of Acklam Road after a short break), alongside Portobello Green - Stalls are set up under the awnings on some days. The Heart of Portobello Market, in Portobello Green, is a socially-responsible, people's market. The market operates Friday to Sunday. H.E.A.R.T= Handicraft, Entrepreneurs, Artists, Retro, and Talent. Friday - Antiques, Retro, Art Deco, Vintage
    Saturday - Fashion Market, Designer Clothes, Jewellery and Accessories
    Sunday - Bric-a-Brac, Clothes, Books, CDs and records etc.

    We are back in the Portobello Road. Turn left through to Tavistock Road. Alongside is a small park. On Tavistock, the second turn to the right is the  All Saints Road.  Walk in All Saints until its end. Turn right at Westbourne Park Road and than left, back  along Portobello Road.

    Walk back (southward) along Portobello Road until it meets Talbot Road (left) and Blenheim Crescent (right, west). Turn right to Blenheim Crescent to see on No. 4 (on your right) the famous Books for Cooks red restaurant-cafe': where recipes from the latest books are prepared and...sold. Cookbooks are put to the test in their café at the back of the shop, while cookery classes take place in the demonstration kitchen upstairs:

    A bit further, along Blenheim Crescent, on your right, was The Travel Bookshop, inspiration for the location of the famous 1999 film Notting Hill, in which Hugh Grant was the assistant and met Julia Roberts. At 13-15 Blenheim Crescent, the real Travel Bookshop traded for over 30 years but ceased trading in 2011. Another bookshop has opened in its place (the Notting Hill Bookshop)..

    Return back to the Portobello Road and turn RIGHT to walk again on Portobello Road (southward). Pass Elgin Crescent and Vernon Yard, on your right and at the 3rd turn RIGHT  at Westbourne Grove (it continues as Ladbroke Gardens). At Westbourne Grove No. 291, on your left, you'll see the  20th Century Cinema opened in 1866 as the Victoria Hall, later becoming the Bijou.  On June 1st 1999, the 20th Century Theatre entered a new era of its history as a venue for art and photography exhibitions, private receptions, product and book launches, fashion shows, fashion sample sales, fairs, and most importantly, a restored and liberated landmark. Once one of London's "ghost" theatres, it was saved from obscurity by the owner.The theatre is now a Grade II, listed, English Heritage building.

    Turn left along Kensington Park Road. We arrive to a building with of notable architectural quality - Saint Peter's Notting Hill Church, (Kensington Park Rd. opposite Stanley Gardens):

    The classical St Peter's church was designed by Thomas Allom in 1855 along with the surrounding housing in an Italianate style. Head northwest on Kensington Park Rd toward Stanley Gardens, turn left onto Stanley Gardens, turn left onto Stanley Crescent, turn right onto Kensington Park Gardens and turn right onto Ladbroke Grove. The houses are separated by attractive private gardens. Turn left onto Lansdowne Crescent and you'll see on your left the impressive St. John's Notting Hiil Church. St John’s Church is at the top of a hill, surrounded by the communal gardens and crescents of the Ladbroke Grove estate. The estate was laid out in the 1840s, and is therefore contemporary with the church at its centre:

    Continue along Lansdowne Crescent until its end and turn right onto Ladbroke Grove. Your direction in Ladbroke Grove is south-east. 

    If you are really exhausted walk until Ladbroke Grove's end. On your right, in Holland Park  is the Holland Park tube station and on your left, in Notting Hill Gate Rd is the Notting Hill Gate tube station.

    In case you are still fit to make a short detour - continue along Ladbroke Square Road until its end.On the left is Ladbroke Square. Ladbroke is the largest of London's private squares.

    File:Ladbroke Square Gardens lawn.jpg

    At the end go right along Kensington Park Road. To the right is the Kensington Temple. Today, Kensington Temple is an international congregation drawing over 110 nationalities together.

    Elim Pentecostal Churches Kensington Temple, London

    Kensington Park Rd continues (south) as Pembridge Road back to Notting Hill Gate. Turn left to see the Notting Hill Gate tube station.

    To continue the walk, cross to view, on you right,  the Gate Cinema then go to the right (west) along to the Coronet Cinema. Built in 1898 as a theatre this converted to a cinema 20 years later.

    Turn left to Hillgate Street alongside the Coronet then right along Uxbridge Street. Left at Farm Place then left along Hillgate Place.
    This area was developed in the 1850s but by 1861 most of the houses were in multiple occupation. At the end go right into Jameson Street and left at Kensington Place. If you are exhausted, at this point, turn LEFT to Kensington Church Street, walk until its end and turn left to Notting Hill Gate road to meet the Notting Hill Gate tube station.

    Otherwise, whilst in the area you may like to visit the KENSINGTON ROOF GARDEN: a series of themed gardens; Tudor, Spanish and English Woodland.turn right to Kensington Church Street, walk until its end, turn right to Kensington High Street and, immediately, LEFT to Derry Street.  The roof gardens are accessible from Derry Street, through a doorway marked "99 Kensington High Street". The gardens are not visible from Kensington High Street. The property can be identified by the Virgin flags flying from the top of the building. The gardens are open to the public unless pre-booked by a private party.

    Return from Derry Street (north) to Kensington High Street and turn left to meet the tube station.

  • Citywalk
    Updated at Jun 29,2014

    From Castel Sant'Angelo to Fontana di Trevi:

    Main attractions: Castel Sant'Angelo, Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo, Ponte Sant'Angelo, Palace of Justice, Ponte Vittorio Emmanuele II, Ponte Principe Amedeo, Basilica St. Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini, Via Giulia, Piazza Farnese, Palazzo Spada, PIazza Campo de Fiori, Palazzo Cancelleria, Palazzo Braschi, Piazza Navona, Church of Santa Maria dell'Anima, Church of Santa Maria della Pace, Basilica di Sant'Agostino, Piazza della Rotonda and the Pantheon, Fontana di Trevi.

    Duration: 1 day. Allow 2 hours in Castel Sant'Angelo. Allow, at least 1 hour to Via Giulia. Allow, at least 1 hour to Galleria Spada / Palazzo Cancelleria / Palazzo Braschi. Allow 1 hour to Piazza Navona and its buildings. Allow 1 hour to Pza. della Rotonda and the pantheon. Allow 1/2 hour to Fontan di Trevi. All in all - a busy day. We left the fountains and the refreshing squares to the end of this route.

    Castel Sant'Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel), is a cylindrical building/tower in Parco Adriano east to the Vatican, on the Tiber river bank. Castel Sant'Angelo was designed by the architect Demitriano and built between 123 and 129 A.D. according to the wishes of Emperor Hadrian, to serve as his mausoleum. The building was later used by the Popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum. Metro Line A: Lepanto station. Bus lines 80, 87, 280 and 492 will get you close to the Castle. From the center near the Piazza Farnese, it is a very nice walk down the Via Giulia and then, after a right turn at the Tiber, a walk over the Sant'Angelo Bridge.

    The tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian was erected between 130 AD and 139 AD.  Hadrian's ashes were placed here a year after his death in 138 AD, together with those of his wife Sabina, and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138 AD. The remains of succeeding emperors were also placed here, the last recorded deposition being Caracalla in 217 AD. Hadrian also built the Ponte Sant'Angelo (once the Aelian Bridge) facing straight onto the mausoleum. This bridge still provides a scenic approach from the center of Rome and the right bank of the Tiber, and is renowned for the Baroque additions of statues of angels. Much of the tomb contents and decorations have been lost since the building's conversion to a military fortress in 401 and its subsequent inclusion in the Aurelian Walls by Flavius Augustus Honorius. The Castle was sacked in 410 AD by the Vizigoths and, again, by the attacking Goths when they besieged Rome in 537 AD. Legend holds that the Archangel Michael appeared atop the mausoleum, sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the plague of 590, thus lending the castle its present name. The popes converted the structure into a castle, beginning in the 14th century; Pope Nicholas III connected the castle to St Peter's Basilica by a covered fortified corridor called the Passetto di Borgo. The fortress was the refuge of Pope Clement VII from the siege of Charles V's. Leo X built a chapel with a Madonna by Raffaello da Montelupo. In 1536 Montelupo also created a marble statue of Saint Michael holding his sword after the 590 plague. Montelupo's statue was replaced by a bronze statue of the same subject, executed by the Flemish sculptor Peter Anton von Verschaffelt, in 1753.

    Verschaffelt's is still in place and Montelupo's can be seen in an open court in the interior of the Castle.

    The Papal state also used Sant'Angelo as a prison; Giordano Bruno (his statue is in Campo di Fiori), for example, was imprisoned there for six years. Another prisoner was the sculptor and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini. Executions were performed in the small inner courtyard. As a prison, it was also the setting for the third act of Giacomo Puccini's Tosca; the heroine of the opera leaps to her death from the Castel's ramparts...

    This building also attracts less tourists than places like the Vatican or the Colosseum, so the atmosphere is fun and relaxing. There is not big queue but you can always book tickets online.

    Castle Sant'Angelo in the night:

    The castle is now a museum, the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo. Open Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 09.00 - 18.30. Closed Mondays. 10.50 euros each to enter the Castle. Those between 18 and 25 years of age get in for half price, and visiting is free for EU citizens under 18 and over 65. An audio guide for an additional 5 euros. No need to order tickets in advance. Credit Cards are not accepted. THEY DON'T HAVE CHANGE. Bring small money. Note: if you have difficulty with climbing steps, you probably should skip this site.

    The castle has great views on Rome and the Vatican and plenty of room to take pictures. The best part, though, is definitely the Terrace of the Angel at the top of the castle. It provides a panoramic view of Rome as well as Vatican City. Believe me ! one of the best places in Rome to take pictures.

    The view from Castel Sant'Angelo towards Vatican City:

    There are also neat works of art in the Papal apartments, which in general are interesting to explore. The Castle has five floors. The first has a winding ramp of Roman Construction, the second features the prison cells, the third is the military floor with big courtyards, the fourth is the floor of the popes, and contains the most magnificent art, and the fifth is a huge terrace with a fine view of the city. There is also a weapons room. The small yet precious picture gallery formed through the bequests of the Menotti and Contini Bonaccossi collections and was placed in the rooms of the historical apartments. The heterogeneity of the works is compensated by real value of the authors among which Crivelli, Lotto, Dossi Signorelli who stand out. There is a bit of a steep climb to get up to the first level of exhibits. Many stairs you must climb up.

    The Pauline Hall (Sala Paulina):

    Courtyard of Honour, once the castle ammunition store:

    http://worldalldetails.com/sightseeing/rome_architecture_italy_629521.jpg

    Hadrian bust:

    Cupid and Psyche at Castel Sant'Angelo:

    Drunken Satyr:

    Lorenzo Lotto - San Girolamo in Meditation (1509):

    The castle has a café and bar on site on first level. Note: fill your bottle of water from near the Castle's entrance. It is free and very cold. Clean restrooms inside.

    Books stalls along the Tiber river opposite the Castle:

    Books stalls along the Tiber river opposite the Castle - Marchelo Mastroiani and Sophia Lauren:

    Ponte Sant'Angelo, once the Aelian Bridge (Bridge of Hadrian) completed in 134 AD by Roman Emperor Hadrian, to span the Tiber, from the city center to his newly constructed mausoleum, now the towering Castel Sant'Angelo. In the past, pilgrims used this bridge to reach St Peter's Basilica. For centuries after the 16th century, the bridge was used to expose the bodies of the executed. In 1535, Pope Clement VII allocated the toll income of the bridge to erecting the statues of the apostles saint Peter and Saint Paul to which subsequently the four evangelists and the patriarchs were added to other representing statues Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. In 1669 Pope Clement IX commissioned replacements for the aging stucco angels by Raffaello da Montelupo, commissioned by Paul III.

    The bridge is now solely pedestrian, and provides a photogenic vista of the Castel Sant'Angelo. The bridge is overrun with hawkers spoiling the beauty of the place somewhat.

    The statues on the bridge (Ponte Sant'Angelo which leads to the Castel Sant'Angelo) are just beautiful. Note: all Angels statues look feminine... The ten statues of angels that adorn the bridge were designed in 1668 by the great sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini on the order of pope Clement IX and created by Bernini and his students. The angels all hold a symbol of the crucifixion of Jesus, such as a crown of thorns, a whip, and so on.

    Angel with superscription:

    Angel with sponge - Antonio Giorgetti:

    Angel with thorn crown on Sant Angelo Bridge:

    View of St. Peter Basilica from Ponte Sant'Angelo:

    Nice park (Parco Adriano) more east to the Sant'Angelo Castle  with a playground. Here, you can see part of the Aurelian Wall memorial inscription of Pope Pius V:

    In the east side of the Castle you'll see an impressive building - Corte Suprema di Casszione (the Supreme Court) (Palace of Justice). It fronts onto the Piazza dei Tribunali, the Via Triboniano, the Piazza Cavour, and the Via Ulpiano. The huge building is popularly called in Italian the Palazzaccio (the bad Palace). Designed by the Perugia architect Guglielmo Calderini and built between 1888 and 1910, the Palace of Justice is considered one of the grandest of the new buildings which followed the proclamation of Rome as the capital city of the Kingdom of Italy. The Court of Cassation also ensures the correct application of law in the inferior and appeal courts and resolves disputes as to which lower court (penal, civil, administrative, military) has jurisdiction to hear a given case:

    Above the façade looking towards the River Tiber it is surmounted by a great bronze quadriga, set there in 1926, the work of the sculptor Ettore Ximenes from Palermo:

    We head now to Ponte Vittorio Emmanuele II. It is the next bridge, to the west (with your face to Castle Sant'Angelo, to the LEFT) of Pont Sant'Angelo. Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II was designed in year 1886 by the architect Ennio De Rossi. Construction was delayed, and it was not inaugurated until 1911. The bridge across the Tiber connects the historic centre of Rome (Corso Vittorio Emanuele) and piazza Paoli with the Vatican City. The bridge commemorating Vittorio Emanuele II of Italy is carried in three arches spanning a distance of 108 metres. At the heads it is decorated with winged statues of the Goddess Victoria on pillars, while the allegorical sculpture groups on the bridge itself symbolize “The Unification of Italy”, “Freedom”, “Oppression Conquered” and “Loyalty to the State”. Although the Ponte Sant’Angelo existed already, this older bridge could no longer cope with the influx of people into the Prati district after Rome had become the capital of a unified Italy.

    Ponte Sant.Angelo as seen from the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II:

    We continue along the east bank of the Tiber river, leaving behind the Vittorio Emmanuele II bridge. The street along the Tiber (from the east side) is Lungotevere dei Fiorentini. We arrive now to Ponte Principe Amedeo:

    We turn LEFT (EAST) to Via Acciaioli, and take the first turn to the RIGHT, Piazza dell'Oro. Here we face, on our right the Basilica St. Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini (St John of the Florentines). Dedicated to St John the Baptist, the protector of Florence, the new church for the Florentine community in Rome was started in the 16th century and completed in early 18th and is the national church of Florence in Rome. Julius II’s successor, the Florentine Pope Leo X de Medici initiated the architectural competition for a new church in 1518 on the site of the old church of San Pantaleo. The main construction of the church was carried out between 1583-1602 under the architect Giacomo della Porta based on the Latin cross arrangement. Carlo Maderno took over from 1602-1620 and directed construction of the dome and the main body of the church completed. However, the main façade, based on a design by Alessandro Galilei was not finished until 1734.

    In 1634, the Roman Baroque painter and architect, Pietro da Cortona, was asked by the Florentine nobleman, Orazio Falconieri, to design the High Altar. Some twenty to thirty years later, Falconieri resurrected the choir project but gave the commission to the Baroque architect, Francesco Borromini who changed the design to allow for the burial of Orazio's brother Cardinal Lelio Falconieri. After Borromini died in 1667, the work was completed and partly modified by Cortona and on his death in 1669, by Ciro Ferri, Cortona’s pupil and associate:

    Scarlatti Chapel - St. Francis before the Sultan - Pomarancio, 1540-1550:

    The Basilica's main façade fronts onto the Via Giulia. This straight street was an urban initiative, carried out in 1508 by the architect Donato Bramante at the instigation of Pope Julius II Della Rovere. It was one of the first important urban planning projects in Renaissance Rome.
    Via Giulia was designed by Pope Julius II. It was planned as a new thoroughfare through the heart of Rome and the first European example since Antiquity of urban renewal. Via Giulia runs from the Ponte Sisto to the church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, following the tight curve of the Tiber. Meant to make access to the Vatican easier, the street quickly became lined with elegant churches and palaces. And though the pope's plans were only partially realized, it became an important thoroughfare, and a spot along the Via Giulia was long the prime choice of Roman aristocrats. Artists such as Raphael, Cellini, and Borromini made their homes along this expansive avenue and were joined by many others with equally impressive collections as the years passed by. Today the street is very quiet and lined with antique stores. Its modest structures provide one of Rome's elite shopping streets, noted for these antique shops. The street developed as a line of modest houses with gardens behind them, built for private owners or confraternities, sometimes on speculation, broken by more ambitious Palazzi. This is the urban context of the "houses of Raphael", with their ground floor street-front shops. Our course of walking along the straight Via Jiulia is from NORTH-WEST to SOUTH-EAST.

    The grand palazzi turned their backs to Via Giulia. In the 1540s Michelangelo had a plan for the constricted gardens of Palazzo Farnese to be connected by a bridge to the Farnese villa in Trastevere on the right bank, Villa Farnesina. The elegant arch still spanning Via Giulia belongs to this other grand unrealized scheme.

    At Via Giulia, 62, on our right is the I Sofa' Di Via Giulia Bar and Restaurant. On the opposite side of Via Giulia (on your LEFT), If we take a small detour to the left, parallel, to Via dei Banchi Vecchi, we can see a small sixteenth century decorative work of art on the façade of Casa Crivelli, called “the Puppet House” (Casa dei Pupazzi / Casa Crivelli / Palazzo dei Pupazzi) (Via dei Banchi Vecchi 22/24). This house near Palazzo Sforza Cesarini was built by a goldsmith from Milan Gian Pietro Crivelli for himself and his family, as an inscription says, in 1537-1539. It was decorated with the finest stucco works of high quality remembering decorations of not far Palazzo Capodiferro Spada (see below).

    Look at Via Giulia No. 66, Palazzo Saccetti from the XV century. One of the finest palaces in the street. It was built in the mid-1500s by the Sacchetti family with designs by Vasari. It is said that inside are some of the greatest state rooms in Rome. Outside, visitors can photograph its grand stone portal:

    Note also the house at No. 167. Here is located one of the most prestigious architecture offices of Rome (Exclusiva):

    At Via Giulia No. 187 is the Fontana del Mascheroni (Fountain of the mask), which was commissioned by the Farnese Family. The curious looking fountain was created at around 1626 and replaced an earlier fountain. Its renaissance design integrates an ancient Roman granite bathtub and an ancient mask; the latter gave the fountain its name:

    After passing Via in caterina, on your left, you'll see, on your right the Church of Santa Caterina da Siena, Palazzo Falconieri, presently the seat of the Hungarian Academy (Via Giulia, 1). It is a gorgeous white Palazzo belonging to the 16th-century Falconieri family with a sumptuous inner courtyard. Zsuzsa Ordasi - the Academy of Hungary is an aspired to goal for today's Hungarian artists and scholars. Remodeled in the 17th century by Borromini, it houses the Hungarian Academy. It is located between Via Giulia and Lugotevere, with entrances to both.

    The facade of Palazzo Falconieri (the Tiber river side):

    one of the falcon's heads of Palazzo Falconieri:

    Beyond it is  the macabre Church di S. Maria dell’Orazione e Morte. (St.Mary of Prayer and Death), only open on Sunday afternoons for the short time of a religious function

    You are now at the back of the most beautiful Renaissance building of Rome, Palazzo Farnese,the façade of which you will discover later on.

    A beautiful arch, the Arco dei Farnesi (Farnese Arch) spans the street. Allessandro Farnese, the later pope Paul III wanted to connect his Farnese Palace at the nearby Farnese Square with the Farnese Villa, located across the Tiber River. The arch across the Via Giulia, designed by Michelangelo, is the only section that was completed. Since the connection was never completed, the ivy covered arch serves no real purpose other than to embellish the street:

    At No. 185, on our left, we see the sheer BACK side of Palazzo Farnese. Its sheer size and splendor - are better seen from its front in the Farnese square (more to the north-east). Set in the middle of a small piazza, Palazzo Farnese is an impressive testament to the great artists of the Renaissance: Antonio da Sangallo, Michelangelo, Vignola, and Giacomo Della Porta. Considered one of the wonders of Rome, its sheer size has earned it the nickname “the die”. Ownership of the Palazzo Farnese changed repeatedly over the years. In the 18th century, the Palazzo became the property of the Bourbon Kings of Naples and was re-named “Palazzo Regio Farnese”. For a period in 1860, Francesco II of Naples lived there after losing his kingdom. In 1911 it was purchased by France and then sold to Italy, which in turn rented it back to the French under a 99-year lease for a nominal amount. Since 1874 it has been the headquarters of the French Embassy. You can see the French flag in Piazza Farnese. Turn LEFT at Via dei Farnesi - arriving to Piazza Farnese. Here, The Palazzo Farnese blends seamlessly with the splendid piazza around it. Piazza Farnese unfolds symmetrically to the viewer with the austere and massive facade of the Palazzo as a backdrop. There are two fountains, one on each side, made from two large basins originally from the Baths of Caracalla; a lily – the Farnese symbol – has been added to the centre of these. Both basins were originally located in front of the Basilica of San Marco (in the Piazza Venezia), and initially only one was placed in the centre of Piazza Farnese. Completing the piazza is the 18th- century church of Saint Brigida, a Swedish saint who founded a convent on the site in 1300. Facing the Palazzo Farnese is also the 18th- century Palazzo of Gallo di Roccagiovine, begun by Baldassarre Peruzzi; its massive structure and large doors conceal a splendid interior courtyard and monumental staircase. For many years the piazza was the central place for Rome's tournaments, bullfights, and festivals. In addition, the spectacular summer flooding events that later made Piazza Navona famous started here:

    Leave Piazza farnese from its nort-east side (near RistoranteCamponeschi). Turn left onto Vicolo dei Venti, 61 m and continue direct onto Via Capo di Ferro. On your left is the Piazza Capo di Ferro with a fountain

    and on your right the Spada Gallery. The Palazzo Spada is a palace located at Piazza Capo di Ferro, 13, very close to the Palazzo Farnese. It has a garden facing towards the River Tiber. The palace accommodates a large art collection, the Galleria Spada. The collection was originally assembled by Cardinal Bernardino Spada in the 17th century, by his brother Virgilio Spada and added to by his grandnephew Cardinal Fabrizio Spada. It was originally built in 1540. Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, from 08.30 to 19.30. Closed: Mondays, December 25th, January 1st. The Gallery only: Sundays and, in holidays from 09.00 to 13.00. Full price € 5,00, Reduced € 2,50: EU citizens between 18 and 25 years old and EU full-time public school teachers. All the reductions are only for European Union with providing document. Free admission:
    - EU citizens under 18 and over 65 years old
    - EU students and teachers of Arts, History of Arts or Architecture courses
    - ICOM members
    - EU schools with teachers by reservation.

    It is forbidden - to take photographs and videos.

    The Palazzo was purchased by Cardinal Spada in 1632. He commissioned the Baroque architect Francesco Borromini to modify it for him, and it was Borromini who created the masterpiece of forced perspective optical illusion in the arcaded courtyard, in which diminishing rows of columns and a rising floor create the visual illusion of a gallery 37 meters long (it is 8 meters) with a lifesize sculpture at the end of the vista, in daylight beyond: the sculpture is 60 cm high.

    The Gallery is located on the first floor of Palazzo Spada, in the wing that used to belong to Cardinal Girolamo Capodiferro. The Cardinal had built the museum over the historical remains of his family's former home that had been established in 1548. Room 1 - The room is called the Room of the Popes because of its fifty inscriptions describing the lives of select pontiffs, as commissioned by Cardinal Bernardino. It is also known as the Room with the Azure Ceiling because the ceiling is covered with a turquoise canvas divided into many little compartments marked "camerini da verno". The ceiling coffers' decorations date back to 1777. Room 2 - This room was created along with Room 3. The upper part of the walls were decorated with friezes in tempera on canvas by Perino del Vaga. The other parts of the walls that were originally painted with panelling are now missing. Room 3 - It is called the "Gallery of the Cardinal". It was designed by Paolo Maruscelli in 1636 and 1637 along with Room II to house the art collection of Bernardino Spada. The ceiling is beamed and french windows lead into galleries one of which has an iron railing overlooking the big garden. Room 4 - This final room was built over a wooden gallery overlooking the big garden. The Room houses paintings by Caravaggisti.

    Jan Brueghel the Elder: Landscape with windmills:

    Titian: Portrait of musician:

    Orazio Gentileschi: David holding the head of Goliath:

    Opposite Spada Gallery is the Church of Santa Maria della Quercia. It is located in front of the piazza to which it gives its name:

    With your back to the Palazzo Spada and your face to the Piazza Capo di Ferro - continue RIGHT (east) along Via Capo di Ferro and and turn LEFT (45 degrees LEFT) to Vicolo delle Grotto. Here, we recommend on the Restaurant "Da Sergio Alle Grotte" - Vicolo delle Grotte, 27. (see tip below).

    Return to Via Capo di Ferro and continue (east) until its end. Turn LEFT to Piazza della Trinità dei Pellegrini. Here you see the Parrocchia Trinità dei Pellegrini (Holy Trinity of Pilgrims):

    Head northwest on Piazza della Trinità dei Pellegrini toward and turn right onto Via dell'Arco del Monte. You arrive to a small and picturesque square - Piazza del Librari. Turn LEFT to Via dei Giubbonari. An absolute must is a visit to this road and its nearby historical streets, such as Via dei Baullari or Via dei Cappellari which are lined with an assortment of small shops still bearing the name of craftsmen who once worked there. Walk along this road (north-west) until its end and you arrive to PIazza Campo de Fiori. For centuries Camp dè Fiori was the stage for public executions. Here in 1600 the Dominican Friar, Philosopher, Mathematician and Astronomer Bruno Giordano was burnt alive. A domineering statue stands in the middle the piazza marking the exact spot of his death. 

    The lively, noisy atmosphere one breathes in this Piazza contrasts with the austere statue of Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake precisely here. The piazza, in the morning, is heaving with people bustling among the fruit and vegetable stands. At night it sees its restaurants and bars open for business. Come, here, early in the weekdays mornings. In the early morning this open air market is not overly crowded. There is a beautiful flower market that is a little expensive. Throughout are stalls selling fruits, vegetables, spices, many kinds (colored) of pasta, sausage and cheese. There are vendors selling glass wine stoppers and leather goods, and some selling t-shirts and aprons. It is a fun place to walk around early in the morning. The later you come the more garbage left on the marketplace.

    At night, the stalls disappear and it becomes a social event. Many restaurants line the Piazza, some of them quite good and more reasonably priced.You can see street musicians play in front of the restaurants, which creates a very "Italian" (or, better, "Brazilian") experience. You can sit at your table and listen to the music, and enjoy your drinks and food:

    Take the north-west end of the Piazza and exit onto Via Baullari to see the Palazzo Cancelleria. It is a Renaissance palace situated between the present Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and the Campo de' Fiori. It was built between 1489–1513[1] by an unknown architect as a palace for Cardinal Raffaele Riario, Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, and is regarded as the earliest Renaissance palace in Rome. The Palazzo houses the Papal Chancellery, is an extraterritorial property of the Holy See and as such is designated as a World Heritage Site.

    In front of the Palace - a special courtyard with the original columns from the Theatre of Pompey. This courtyard is very photogenic and impressive. The internal courtyard is surrounded by a 2-story loggias with arches. Above each of the columns was a small decorative stone rose, and a similar but much larger stone rose lay at the center of the courtyard. The double-loggia has been attributed to the famous architect Bramante. Open Hours: Monday-Saturday: 07.30  - 14.00 and 16.00 - 20.00. Closed: Sunday.

    Another reason to visit Palazzo della Cancelleria is to see the "Il Genio di Leonardo da Vinci" exhibit. The exhibition The Genius and His Inventions presents about fifty full scales machine designed by Da Vinci. They are fully operational and they can be touched and set in motion.

    Head north on Piazza della Cancelleria toward Corso Vittorio Emanuele II
    36 m. Turn right onto Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 23 m. Turn left onto Piazza di San Pantaleo. Here, you see the Chiesa (church) di San Pantaleo:

    The church was entirely rebuilt in 1680 by Giovanni Antonio De Rossi, but the façade was added in 1805 by Giuseppe Valadier at the expense of the Torlonia family; the interior has a fine ceiling by Filippo Gherardi:

    With the face to the white church, on the right side of the church is the Palazzo Braschi. It is located between the Piazza Navona, the Campo de' Fiori, the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and the Piazza di Pasquino. It presently houses the Museo di Roma, the "museum of Rome" covering the period from the Middle Ages through the nineteenth century.  Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 10.00 - 20.00. Tickets: Adults: € 8,50;
    Concessions: € 6,50; Roman Citizens only (by showing a valid ID):
    - Adults: € 7,50; - Concessions: € 5,50; Palazzo Braschi + Museo Barracco Combined Ticket : Adults: € 11,00; Concessions: € 9,00; Roman Citizens only (by showing a valid ID): - Adults: € 10,00;  Concessions: € 8,00.

    The main entrance is on Via San Pantaleo (between Piazza Navona and Corso Vittorio Emanuele). The oval hall inside the main entrance overlooks Via San Pantaleo, and leads to the monumental staircase with its eighteen red granite columns which came from the gallery built by the Emperor Caligula on the banks of the River Tiber. Decorating the staircase there are ancient sculptures and fine stuccoes by Luigi Acquisti inspired by the myth of Achilles.

    View to Piazza Navona from Palazzo Braschi:

    It is time for refreshing attractions. Our day is approaching a couple of the most "wet", famous, crowded and "refreshing" sites of Rome. The first is in front of us: Piazza Navona.  From the ancient, winding streets of the Centro Storico  you suddenly come upon the breathtaking magnificence of Piazza Navona. Still today a spectacular open air show; an architectural miracle in the heart of the Eternal City, filled with masterpieces in perfect harmony with each other. Of all Rome's Piazzas, this pedestrian square is one where the liveliness of Roman life is most tangible. It has long been a meeting place for the inhabitants of Rome. In past, in addition to the market, processions and spectacles where held here. This piazza, which displays the genius of Bernini and Borromini, is one of the finest Baroque Masterpiece in papal Rome. Its harmony and colors, combined with its elegance, give it a charm that is enhanced by the surprising contrast of architecturally sober houses alternating with a number of monumental Buildings. Today, it's still lively with painters and street performers that put on their shows for tourists and passersby, new spectators. This piazza, which displays the genius of Bernini and Borromini, is one of the finest Baroque Masterpiece in  Rome. Its harmony and colors, combined with its elegance, give it a charm that is enhanced by the surprising contrast of architecturally sober houses alternating with a number of monumental buildings.  

    in the center stands the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, topped by the Obelisk of Domitian, brought here in pieces from the Circus of Maxentius:

    At the southern end is the Fontana del Moro with a basin and four Tritons sculpted by Giacomo della Porta (1575) to which, in 1673, Bernini added a statue of a Moor, or African, wrestling with a dolphin:

    At the northern end is the Fountain of Neptune (1574) created by Giacomo della Porta. The statue of Neptune in the northern fountain, the work of Antonio Della Bitta, was added in 1878 to make that fountain more symmetrical with La Fontana del Moro in the south:

    At the southwest end of the piazza is the ancient 'speaking' statue of Pasquino. Erected in 1501, Romans could leave lampoons or derogatory social commentary attached to the statue:

    Palazzo Pamphilj, also spelled Palazzo Pamphili, is a palace facing onto the Piazza Navona in Rome. It was built between 1644 and 1650. Since 1920 the palace has housed the Brazilian Embassy in Italy, and in 1964 it became the property of the Federative Republic of Brazil:

    The church of Sant'Agnese in Agone by Francesco Borromini, Girolamo Rainaldi, Carlo Rainaldi and others is opposite the Fountain of the Four Rivers:

    Piazza Navona from North to South:

    Do not miss the Tre Scalini restaurant-Gelatteria. Tartufo is the big hit to get here. Order at the counter to go and eat it in the Plazza. Order with the cashier and then take your receipt to the guy behind the Gelato counter. The Tartufo is 10 Euros, but, sometimes, yo get it even half the stated price. This is a rich, chocolate ice-cream with whipped cream and 2 little cookies or cherries on top. Once-in-life experience:

    I can recommend the Gelateria Tre Fontane in the north end of Piazza Navona. Mini scone or plastic cup - 1 flavor - 2 euros, 2 flavors - 3 euros (see Tip below).

    We leave the Piazza Navona from its north-east side, near Cafe Nettuno, to Via dei Lorenesi. At the cross-road with Via di Santa Maria dell'Anima, on your left is the Church of Santa Maria dell'Anima (Via di Santa Maria dell'Anima, 64). Open weekdays 12.00 – 24.00. Santa Maria dell'Anima is one of the many medieval charity institutions built for pilgrims in Rome.

    Tomb of Pope Hadrian VI 1524-29 into the church:

    The Nave:

    The Ceiling:

    From Via dei Lorenesi you continue walking direct onto Vicolo della Pace. Then, you slight to the LEFT onto Via della Pace. On your right
    you see the Santa Maria della Pace Church (Via Arco della Pace, 5) with its colossal pillars:

    Return to Piazza Navona and find a bus to return to your hotel, guest house or apartment. If you have still a time to continue to TWO additional  attractions in Rome - it is 10-minutes, 600-850 m. walk to the Pantheon and Fontana di Trevi. EXit Piazza Navona from the most north-eastern road. Turn left onto Via Agonale, 46 m. Turn right onto Piazza delle Cinque Lune, 42 m. Slight left onto Via di Sant'Agostino, 39 m. Turn left onto Piazza di Sant'Agostino to see the Basilica di Sant'Agostino. It is one of the first Roman churches built during the Renaissance. The façade was built in 1483 by Giacomo di Pietrasanta, using travertine taken from the Colosseum. It is a fine, plain work of the early Renaissance style:

    The most famous work of art presently in the church is the Madonna di Loreto, an important Baroque painting by Caravaggio:

    From here it is 600 m. walk to the Pantheon. Head south on Piazza di Sant'Agostino toward Via di Sant'Agostino, 13 m. Turn left onto Via di Sant'Agostino, 60 m. Turn right onto Via della Scrofa, 48 m. Turn left onto Largo Giuseppe Toniolo, 52 m. Continue onto Via Del Pozzo Delle Cornacchie, 78 m. Turn right onto Via della Rosetta, 49 m. Continue onto Piazza della Rotonda, 52 m. Turn left to stay on Piazza della Rotonda and you face the Pantheon.

    The basin of the fountain, in the square, was designed in 1575 by Giacomo della Porta for Pope Gregory XIII. In 1711, during the pontificate of Pope Clement XI, Filippo Barigioni completed the fountain by adding the obelisk. It was dedicated to Pharaoh Ramesses II. A reminder of Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi is the snake you can see in the obelisk. The dolphins and the snake are a work by Vincenzo Felici.

    The Pantheon is the best-preserved ancient building in Rome. The Pantheon was initially erected in 27 BC by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, son-in-law of Emperor Augustus, when he was consul for the third time. It was completely rebuilt in AD 123 by Emperor Hadrian, who maintained the old inscription celebrating Agrippa; he was personally involved in the design of the temple. It was restored in 202 by Emperor Septimius Severus. The temple stood on a high podium, whereas today it is at a level which is lower than the rest of the square and this makes it less imposing. Its fine state of preservation is due to the building's conversion to a Christian church in 608, when it was presented to the Pope by the Byzantine Emperor Phocas. Open 08.30-19.30 Mon-Sat, 09.00 - 18.00 Sun, 09.00 -13.00 public holydays.

    Three columns on the left side fell and were replaced by Pope Urban VIII and Pope Alexander VII, with columns found near S. Luigi dei Francesi and which belonged to baths built by Emperor Alexander Severus. This explains their different colour (pink rather than grey) and capitals.

    The dome of the Pantheon is larger than that of St. Peter's or that of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, yet because it is not supported by a high drum it does not fully convey the sense of its dimension. The shape of the main hall is a cylinder covered by a half of a sphere; the height of the cylinder is equal to the radius of the sphere. The dome was covered with gilded bronze tiles; these were removed and shipped to Constantinople at the request of Byzantine Emperor Constans II. The diameter of the hemispherical dome is exactly equal to the height of the whole building; it could potentially accommodate a perfect sphere. At the exact centre of the dome is the oculus, a circular hole 9m in diameter, the only source of light and a symbolic link between the temple and the heavens.

    The interior underwent many changes meant to give it an appearance more appropriate for a church; in particular in 1747 the original decoration was replaced by stuccoes; part of it has been restored; many coloured marbles were used for it and in particular porphyry; the windows gave light to a corridor in the circular walls.

    The building is still officially a church, and contains the tombs of eminent Italians, including the artist Raphael. Above Raphael’s tomb is a sculpture of the Madonna del Sasso created by Raphael’s student Lorenzetto:

    The other important tombs are those of: Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy. The tomb consists of a large bronze plaque surmounted by a Roman eagle and the arms of the house of Savoy. The golden lamp above the tomb burns in honor of Victor Emmanuel III, who died in exile in 1947.

    Another tomb is of Umberto I, Victor Emmanuel’s successor:

    It is 700 m., 10 minutes walk to the Fontana di Trevi. Head east on Piazza della Rotonda and turn left to stay on Piazza della Rotonda, 54 m. Continue onto Via del Pantheon, 51 m. Turn right onto Via delle Colonnelle, 66 m. Continue straight onto Piazza Capranica, 36 m. Continue onto Via in Aquiro, 53 m. Turn right onto Via della Guglia,
    50 m. Turn left onto Via dei Pastini, 39 m. Via dei Pastini turns slightly right and becomes Piazza di Pietra, 59 m. Continue onto Via di Pietra,
    87 m. Continue onto Via delle Muratte, 200 m. Continue straight onto Piazza di Trevi and Fontana di Trevi:

  • Citywalk
    Updated at May 22,2014

    From The Pantheon to the Jewish Ghetto and Teatro di Marcello:

    Start: Rome is very small and all the sites are within walking distance of each other. There is no metro stop close to the Pantheon. If you get off at the Piazza Barberini stop it is about a 13-15 minute walk. If you get off at the Piazza Barberini you will come to the Trevi Fountain first and then you can continue onto the Pantheon.

    From Piazza Barberini head southwest toward Via delle Quattro Fontane, 38 m. Turn right to stay on Piazza Barberini, 9 m. Turn left onto Via del Tritone, 350 m. Turn left onto Via della Panetteria, 11 m. Continue onto Via della Stamperia, 190 m. Turn right onto Piazza di Trevi (WOW, you are facing the Fontana di Trevi !!!), 40 m. Continue onto Via delle Muratte, 200 m. Continue onto Via di Pietra, 53 m. Turn left onto Vicolo Dè Burrò, 65 m. Slight right onto Piazza di Sant Ignazio (we shall explore this square in our trip from Castelo Sant Angelo to the Pantheon), 36 m. Turn left to stay on Piazza di Sant Ignazio, 21 m. Turn right onto Via del Seminario, 200 m. Continue straight onto Piazza della Rotonda and you face the Pantheon.  From Piazza Barbarini to the Trevi Fountain is about a 7 minute walk. From there to the Pantheon is about a 10 minute walk. From there to Piazza Navona is less than a 5 minute walk.

    End: Teatro di Marcello or Piazza Venezia.

    Note: Text and pictures are from May 2014 (the dates on the photos are set, by mistake, to May 2013).

    Trip Itinerary:

    Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres. The building commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC - 14 AD) as a temple to all the gods of ancient Rome, and rebuilt by the emperor Hadrian about 126 AD. The building is circular with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment. It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings. It has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Roman Catholic church dedicated to "St. Mary and the Martyrs" but informally known as "Santa Maria Rotonda.

    The Pantheon is one of few sites in Rome with free entrance. It is always crowded and you have to queue up for entrance but it takes no more than a couple of minutes. Open: Mon-Sat 8.30-19.30 Sun 9.00-18.00.
    Closed Dec 25, Dec 31, May 1.

    On entering the door, the effect you feel is meant to be overwhelming. You suddenly find yourself in this huge empty space which causes vertigo and makes you feel small. The height of the dome is the same as its diameter creating perfect balance and unique harmony.

    The Pantheon’s greatness mainly comes from its mighty dome. The interior of the dome was possibly intended to symbolize the arched vault of the heavens. At the centre of the dome, there is a 9 meter diameter hole, the Oculus. The oculus (round big hole in the dome) at the dome's apex and the entry door are the only natural sources of light in the interior. Throughout the day, the light from the oculus moves around this space in a sort of reverse sundial effect. The oculus also serves as a cooling and ventilation method. During rain or torrents, a drainage system below the floor handles the rain that falls through the oculus.

    The dome features sunken panels (coffers), in five rings of 28. This evenly spaced layout was difficult to achieve and, it is presumed, had symbolic meaning, either numerical, geometric, or lunar. The checkerboard floor pattern contrasts with the concentric circles of square coffers in the dome. Each zone of the interior, from floor to ceiling, is subdivided according to a different scheme. As a result, the interior decorative zones do not line up.

    The Pantheon Interior - anti-clockwise direction (from right to left):

    Tomb of King Vittorio Emanuel II (first king of a unified Italy):

    Basilica St. Mary of Martyrs:

    The Main or High Altar of the church is opposite the entrance, and the original 7th-century icon of the Madonna and Child can be seen above it. This was previously dated to the 13th century, but the 7th-century original was recently recovered under layers of overpainting. It is a rare survival of an icon from a period when they were a common feature in Roman churches. The apse is decorated with a golden mosaic featuring crosses. The drawing is of Alesandro Specchi from early 18th century:

    Tomb of the famous painter Raphael (1483-1520):

    Madonna del Sasso - Raphael's pupil Lorenzetto (dated 1523-4):

    Tomb of King Umberto (Humbert) I (1844-1900) second king of a unified Italy and Margherita Savoia (1851-1926):

    The floor is of polychrome Egyptian marble.

    The square in front of the Pantheon is called Piazza della Rotonda. The square gets its name from the Pantheon's informal title as the church of Santa Maria Rotonda. In the center of the piazza is a fountain, the Fontana del Pantheon, surmounted by an Egyptian obelisk. The fountain was constructed by Giacomo Della Porta under Pope Gregory XIII in 1575, and the obelisk was added to it in 1711 under Pope Clement XI.

    Piazza della Rotonda seen from the north, showing the Pantheon and fountain with obelisk:

    "Gladiators" in Piazza della Rotonda:

    With your face to the Pantheon, turn left to Via della Minerva. Walk along Via della MInerva and you arrive to the Piazza della MInerva. Its name derives from the existence of a temple built on the site by Pompey dedicated to Minerva Calcidica. You can use (free, with permission) the WC in the Grand Hotel della Minerva.

    At the centre of the Piazza della Minerva, backing onto the Inquisition convent, is the 1667 Elephant and Obelisk by Bernini. The elephant was known as "il pulcin della Minerva", or "porcino", from the Roman people's story that - uninspired by elephants - Bernini in fact sculpted a pig.

    The Pulcino della Minerva, the famous elephant sculpture by Bernini and Ercole Ferrata, making the base of one of Rome's eleven Egyptian obelisks:

    In the square the main building is the Church (Chiesa) of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (1280-1370). The only church built in Rome in Gothic style. Built in the 8th century in a site where stood a temple to the Godess Minerva, rebuilt in the 13th century and restored in the 15th century. To the right of its facade are inscriptions built into the wall commemorating the flooding of the river Tiber between 1422 and 1598 - the area of the Piazza is the lowest in Rome, and so was always the first to suffer in flooding:

    Nave of Santa Maria sopra Minerva:

    Among several important works of art in the church are Michelangelo's statue Cristo della Minerva (1521) or Jesus de Redemeer. Finished in 1521, located to the left of the main altar:

    and the late 15th-century (1488–1493) cycle of frescos in the Carafa Chapel by Filippino Lippi:

    The famous early Renaissance painter Fra Angelico died in the adjoining convent and was buried in the church:

    Popes Urban VII, Paul IV and the Medici Popes Leo X and Clement VII were also buried in the church.

    Tombs of Popes Leo X and Clement VII:

    Before the construction of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini Church (see the  "From Castelo Sant Angelo to the Pantheon" trip), the Minerva was the church in Rome of the Florentines, and therefore it contains numerous tombs of nobles and citizens coming from that Tuscan city.

    To the left of the church is a Convent (or casa profess) of the Dominicans, (little has remained), which held the nearby church from the 13th century. From the 17th century, the convent became the base of the Roman Inquisition or Holy Office, and it housed the trial and recantation of Galileo Galilei. The Convent's cloister (the only relic) now holds the library of the Italian Senate, dedicated to Giovanni Spadolini.

    To the right of the church stands the 16th century Palazzo Fonseca, since 1832 the site of one of the historic hotels of Rome, known as the Grand Minerva, whose guests have included Stendhal and José de San Martín, remembered in plaques on the facade (see our note on WC in this square).

    From Piazza della Minerva we turn left to Via della Palombulla (the Pantheon on your right), cross Pza. S. Eustuchio and walk along Via degli Stadlrar when this building is on your right:

    Do not miss the S. Eustuchio Cafe (see tip sub-ordinate to this trip). The best coffee in Rome (Gran Cafe Speciale). Open: 08.30 - 01.00 at night.

    Turn right at the end of the road - arriving to Piazza (Pza.) Madama. On your right Palazzo Madama, seat of the Italian Senate. It was built atop the ruins of the ancient baths of Nero. The new building was begun at the end of the 15th century and completed in 1505, for the Medici family. It housed the Popes Leo X and Clement VII. The palace takes its name from Madama Margherita of Austria, illegitimate daughter of Emperor Charles V, who married another illegitimate son, Alessandro de' Medici and, after his death, Ottavio Farnese. Pope Benedict XIV  made it the seat of the Papal Government. In 1849 Pius IX moved here the Ministries of Finances and of the Public Debt, as well as the Papal Post Offices. In 1871, after the conquest of Rome by the newly formed Kingdom of Italy, the Palazzo became the seat of the Senato del Regno.

     

    With your back to Palazzo (Pzo.) Madama go direct (passing the bustling street) to Pza. Navona. Head west on Corsia Agonale toward Corsia Agonale (50 m.) and you face Piazza Navona. A charming, gigantic and lively square for pedestrians only. Contains 3 fountains and surrounded by Baroque palaces. Many think Piazza Navona is the most beautiful attraction in Rome. Often crowded but very spacious and well laid out. It's breathtaking: the fountains' sculptures tell a different story in every step and from every angle. It's packed with tour groups, sellers, artists, jugglers and sightseers resting their weary legs.

    I would recommend going in the mornings, as it is much quieter, and the sellers are not about in the mornings! Go into side streets to avoid the high prices. Don't miss an Italian ice cream sitting at the posh "3 Scalini" (3 steps) restaurant or, better, buy Tartufo in 9.5 euros (see Tip below). We shall pass through Piazza Navona in many of our trips in Rome.

    It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. The ancient Romans came there to watch the agones ("games"), and hence it was known as "Circus Agonalis" ("competition arena"). It is believed that over time the name changed to in avone to navone and eventually to Navona.

    In the Navona Square you find the following important sculptural and architectural creations:

    Fontana dei quattro fiumi (four rivers) or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, topped by the Obelisk of Domitian, brought here in pieces from the Circus of Maxentius. The middle fountain and the biggest in the square. The base of the fountain is a basin from the centre of which rocks rise to support four river gods and above them, an ancient Egyptian obelisk surmounted with the Pamphili family emblem of a dove with an olive twig. Collectively, they represent four major rivers of the four continents through which papal authority had spread: the Nile representing Africa, the Danube representing Europe, the Ganges representing Asia, and the Río de la Plata representing the Americas.

    Fontana del Moro (Moor Fountain): The Southern most fountain. It represents a Moor, or African (perhaps originally meant to be Neptune), standing in a conch shell, wrestling with a dolphin, surrounded by four Tritons. The fountain was originally designed by Giacomo della Porta in 1575 with the dolphin and four Tritons. In 1653, the statue of the Moor, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, was added. In 1874, during a restoration of the fountain, the original statues were moved to the Galleria Borghese and replaced with copies. In September 2011, the fountain was damaged after a vandal attacked it with a hammer. The vandal also damaged the Trevi Fountain that night:

    Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune): The Northern most fountain. The basin part of the Fontana del Nettuno, (without the sculptures) was designed in 1574 by Giacomo Della Porta, who also designed the Moor Fountain at the opposite side of the square. For the next 300 years, the fountain survived without statues. The fountain as it exists today was finally completed in 1878 by Antonio della Bitta, who added the imposing sculpture of "Neptune fighting with an octopus" and Gregorio Zappalà, who created the other sculptures, based on the mythological theme of the "Nereids with cupids and walruses". Statuary was added following a competition in 1873, in order to balance the statuary of the Moor Fountain on the south side of the piazza and of the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) at its centre.

    Sant Agnese in Agone Church (also called Sant'Agnese) is opposite the Fontana dei quattro fiumi (four rivers) in Piazza Navona. it is dedicated to St. Agnes born around 290. The young girl who according to tradition suffered as a martyr, was beheaded at age 12 by order of Emperor Diocletian. It is a 17th-century Baroque church. It stands on the site where the early Christian Saint Agnes was martyred in the ancient Stadium of Domitian. Construction began in 1652 under the architects Girolamo Rainaldi and his son Carlo Rainaldi. After numerous quarrels, the other main architect involved was Francesco Borromini who was a former student of Bernini and, later, a rival. The interior is breath taking and really worth seeing. Inside, there is a shrine with Saint Agnes' skull. Notice the side altars which are dedicated to martyrs and show how each one died.

    Palazzo Pamphilj, also spelled Palazzo Pamphili or Pamphili Palace, is a palace opposite the Fontana del Moro onto the Piazza Navona. It was built between 1644 and 1650. Since 1920 the palace has housed the Brazilian Embassy in Italy, and in 1964 it became the property of the Federative Republic of Brazil:

    We exit Piazza Navona from the northern  corner. Head north on Piazza Navona and continue onto Via Agonale, 46 m.  Turn right onto Piazza delle Cinque Lune, 8 m. Turn left onto Piazza di Sant'Apollinare, 70 m. Here, you face Palazzo Altemps which houses part of the Roman National Museum treasures: important collections of antiquities consisting of Greek and Roman sculptures that in the 16th and 17th centuries belonged to various families of the Roman nobility. There are many displays of everyday items as well as the frescoes and wall friezes, also included is the National Romano Egyptian collection. If you like sculpture, this museum is a must see. Open: Tue-Sun 09.00-19.45. Prices: adult/reduced €7/3.50.

    Slight left onto Via dei Gigli D'Oro, 58 m.  Turn left onto Vicolo dei Soldati -  a charming alley:

    You won't believe it BUT we return to the southern most edge of Piazza Navona - crossing this magical piazza AGAIN...  We exit the square from its south-east edge. Head south on Piazza Navona, 140 m. Turn right to stay on Piazza Navona, 17 m. Turn left onto Via della Cuccagna, 90 m. Turn right onto Piazza di San Pantaleo, 29 m. Turn left to stay on Piazza di San Pantaleo, 18 m:

    After crossing the Piazza Pantaleo, with our faces to the south, we cross Vittorio Emanuele II bustling street and we have two options to arrive to Campo de Fiori (100 m. forward): the left road (via de Baullari) or the right road (Piazza Cancelleria).We opt for the RIGHT (east) street and walk along Piazza Cancelleria. On its right side stands Palazzo della Cancelleria. The Palazzo della Cancelleria (Italian for "Palace of the Chancellery", meaning the Papal Chancellery) is a Renaissance palace  situated between the present Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and the Campo de' Fiori. It was built between 1489–1513 by an unknown architect as a palace for Cardinal Raffaele Riario, Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, and is regarded as the earliest Renaissance palace in Rome. The palace is not subject to Italian sovereignty and belongs to the Vatican. It is designated as a World Heritage Site as part of a group of buildings, the Properties of the Holy See. Do not skip it. You'll enjoy its facade and interior courtyard (free entrance to the courtyard). Built 1483-1513. The Leonardo da Vinci Machines Exhibition in Rome – The genius and his inventions takes palce in this aplace until April 2015. From time to time chances arise to enter the palazzo. You might be lucky enough to find tickets for the occasional chamber-music concerts held here; alternatively look out for exhibitions on religious themes mounted in the magnificently frescoed rooms.


     

    In the end of this piazza you arrive to Piazza Campo Dè Fiori (field of Flowers). The name was first given during the Middle Ages when the area was actually a meadow. A colorful market-square surrounded by ancient colored houses and cafe's/tratorias. The food and flowers market operates until the early afternoon hours (closed on Sundays) and is one of the most popular in Rome. The crowded (and dirty) square might be disappointing: a lot of noise, rubbish, high prices and everything is touristic. BUT, from time to time you'll see street-performances (Brazilians making Kapuera, Africans with vibrant dance and music) and a lot of interesting spices, cheeses, pasta packages and even... flowers.

    The monument to philosopher Giordano Bruno at the centre of the square. Do not miss the reliefs on the statue.

    On Rosh Hashanah, 9 September 1553, the Talmud and many other Jewish books were burnt in the Campo dei Fiori. Throughout the remainder of the sixteenth-century, a complete edition of the Talmud could not be found anywhere in Italy. A plaque, commemorating this event and period, had been placed in the square:

    Take the north-east corner of Campo dei Fiori and continue onto Via del Biscione, 25 m. You arrive to Piazza del Biscione - a pretty, tranquile  square:

    Here I met three smiling Norwegians:

    Note, here, the negozio (shop) for selling ice-cream with candies: "Mio Italian Sweety". Turn left to PIazza Pollarola, another charming small square. Turn left to Via Baullari (taste huge selection of ice-cream flavors in Blue Ice) and cross, again, the Campo dei Fiori from north to south - arriving to Piazza Farnese. Here, there are two identical decorative fountains located in the Piazza Farnese, in front of the Palazzo Farnese in Rome, Italy. They were placed in the Piazza in the 16th century. The granite stone basins of the fountains are believed to come from the ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla. The emblems on the upper part of the fountain are those of the Farnese family, and the builder of the Palazzo, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, later Pope Paul III. Palazzo Farnese is one of the most important High Renaissance palaces in Rome. Owned by the Italian state, it was given to the French Government in 1936 for a period of 99 years, and currently serves as the French embassy in Italy. First designed in 1517 for the Farnese family, the building expanded in size and conception when Alessandro Farnese became Pope Paul III in 1534, to designs by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. Its building history involved some of the most prominent Italian architects of the 16th century, including Michelangelo, Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola and Giacomo della Porta. The palace is closed to the public.

    With our face to the Pallzo Farnese - 30 m., on our left stands Palazzo Spada. It is explored, in-depth in our trip "From Castelo Sant Angelo to the Pantheon". We exit the Piazza Farnese from Ristorante Camponeschi - at the eastern side of the square. We head, now, to the Jewish Ghetto. THere are 2 options to arrive to Ponte Sisto (Sisto Bridge on the Tiber river:

    1. Passing Palazzo Spada:  Head southeast on Vicolo dei Venti toward Via dei Balestrari, 57 m. Continue onto Via Capo di Ferro, 100 m.  Turn right onto Via dei Pettinari, 170 m.  Continue onto Ponte Sisto.

    2. Arriving to POnte Sisto by the pretty, ancient, aristocratic Via Giulia or along the river. Head northwest on Vicolo dei Venti toward Via del Mascherone, 3 m. Turn left onto Via del Mascherone, 130 m. Turn left onto Via Giulia (explored, in-depth in our trip "From Castelo Sant Angelo to the Pantheon"), 110 m. It is a beautiful, atmospheric (a bit neglected) road. Many mansions/palaces with marvelous courtyards and gardens:

    Via Giulia - the Hungarian Academy - designed by Michelangelo:

    Continue onto Piazza di San Vincenzo Pallotti, 50 m.  Turn right onto Via dei Pettinari, 12 m. Continue until Ponte Sisto.

    Along the Tiber river near Ponte Sisto:

    Ponte Sisto:

     Ponte Sisto leads to the Trastevere quarter (see our trip to Trastevere) - BUT, we don't cross the river and we continue along the Tiber river, along  Lungotevere dei Vallati - until Ponte (bridge) Garibaldi:

    Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) from Ponte Garibaldi (the Tiber Island is explored in the "Trastevere Quarter" Trip):

    The street along the Tiber river changes its name to Lungotevere de Cenci. We arrive to Fabricius Bridge - Ponte Fabricio. The Fabricius Bridge leads to the Tiber Island (Isola Tiberina) and, from there, another bridge leads to the Trastevere Quarter. The Fabricius Bridge is populated by young Africans (mainly, from Senegal) selling handicrafts:

    Opposite the bridge, on the other side of the bustling Lungotevere dei Cenci - stands the impressive Jewish Sinagoga (no. 9 in the street). It was built in year 1901 and its grandiose dome dominates the whole surroundings. the Museo Ebraico, in the Synagogue premises displays the history of the Jewish community in Rome along 2000 years. Open: Mon-Thu 09.00-18.00, Fri - 09.00-14.00, Sun 09.00-12.30.

    The Jewish Ghetto extends from the Jewish Synagogue (south) to Piazza Mattei (north). It is a compact area but tyo explore its flavors, atmosphere, internals and secrets you'll have to devote, at least, 1.5-2 hours. I recommend that you'll visit the Jewish Ghetto, as we did, included in the "Trastevere Quarter" trip (doing the Ghetto in the morning and Trastevere - later). I guess that you'll arrive to this point late in the afternoon - so we head to the Teatro di Marcello. 

    With our back to the river we head northwest on Lungotevere Dè Cenci toward Via del Portico D'Ottavia, 7 m. Instead of turning left to the Ghetto along Portico D'Ottavia - we turn right onto Via del Portico D'Ottavia, 16 m and turn right onto Via di Monte Savello, 73 m - facing, on our right the spectacular Teatro di Marcello. It is an ancient marvelous open-air theatre, built in the closing years of the Roman Republic. At the theatre, locals and visitors alike were able to watch performances of drama and song. Today its ancient edifice, once again provides one of the city's most popular spectacles or tourist sites.It was named after Marcus Marcellus, Emperor Augustus's nephew, who died five years before its completion. Space for the theatre was cleared by Julius Caesar, who was murdered before it could be begun. It was completed in 13 BC and formally inaugurated in 12 BC by Augustus. It could originally hold between 11,000 and 20,000 spectators. FREE ENTRANCE.

    From the Marcello Theatre - it is only 100 m. climb to the most central area of Rome - Piazza Venezia with tens of buses and Metro station:

  • Citywalk | Spain
    Updated at Aug 12,2014

    Barcelona - Col·legi de les Teresianes, Park Guell, Sant Pau Hospital - Part I.

    Barcelona - La Segrada Familia, Plaça de Mossèn Jacint Verdaguer, Casa de les Punxes, Casa Comalat, Palau del Baro de Quadras, C/ del Rosselló # 248 and # 279, La Pedrera, Casa Batlló, Casa Amatller, Casa Lleó Morera, Passeig de Gracia Modernista houses, Palau Guell - Part II.

    Duartion: 1 day. 15-16 km.

    Weather: Never walk this itinerary in very hot or rainy days.

    Tips:

    1. Barclona hotels are expensive. Most of them are NOT a good value for your money.

    2. Barcelona is easily walkable. Avoid using any kind of transportation - as possible. See next two comments...

    3. Barcelona is concerned, sometimes, with steep hikes.

    4. Take water with you to Park Guell, as the hike is worth it but you will be thirsty during the summer months! Do not make long walk if the temperature exceeds 28-29 degrees.

    5. The admission fees to every kind of attraction ARE EXPENSIVE. Your daily budget for more than 3-4 sites can, easily, pass the 50 euros/person budget !

    6. Plan in advance. Most sights seeing is involved with long queues of waiting. Long lines for the toilets too. It won't take time to book your tickets on internet and it will save you 2 hours.

    Catalonia was marked by the so-called ‘Modernisme' (or Modernista) , a movement that extended from ca 1880 to the First World War, parallel to currents such as Naturalism, Arts and Crafts, and Art Nouveau. It was motivated by return to traditions as an expression of national identity, as well as by the introduction of modern techniques and materials as part of progress.
    It found expression in literature and music, as well as in painting, sculpture, decorative arts and architecture. The best known Modernisme architects include Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner.

    The Modernisme movement was centred in the city of Barcelona, though it reached far beyond, and is best known for its architectural expression, especially in the work of Antoni Gaudí, but was also significant in sculpture, poetry, theatre and painting. Although it was part of a general trend that emerged in Europe around the turn of the 20th century, in Catalonia the style acquired its own unique personality. Its distinct name comes from its special relationship, primarily with Catalonia and Barcelona, which were intensifying their local characteristics for socio-ideological reasons after the revival of Catalan culture and in the context of spectacular urban and industrial development. It is equivalent to a number of other fin de siècle art movements going by the names of Art Nouveau in France and Belgium, Jugendstil in Germany, Sezession in Austria, Liberty style in Italy and Modern or Glasgow Style in Scotland, and was active from roughly 1888 (the First Barcelona World Fair) to 1911.

    The earliest example of Modernista architecture is the café Castell dels tres Dragons designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner in the Parc de la Ciutadella for the 1888 Universal Exhibition. It is a search for a particular style for Catalonia drawing on Medieval and Arab styles. As well as combining a rich variety of historically-derived elements, it is characterized by the predominance of the curve over the straight line, by rich decoration and detail, by the frequent use of vegetal and other organic motifs, the taste for asymmetry, a refined aestheticism and dynamic shapes.

    Antoni Gaudí is the best-known architect of this movement. Other influential architects were Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch, and later Josep Maria Jujol and Enrique Nieto.

    There are about 30 Modernisme works spread around Barcelona. Only the main, the 10-11 most important are explored here. Mainly, due to their proximity and accessibility for a-pied walkers.

    Part I:

    Col·legi de les Teresianes - This isolated, elegant and sober building, which looks like an unassailable fortress, is the amazing convent school designed by Gaudí for a community of nuns from the Order of Saint Teresa of Jesus. This imposing building stands behind railings and among gardens, and has been used as a school ever since it opened.

    Park Güell - A garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of el Carmel in the Gràcia district, built in the years 1900 to 1914.

    Hospital de Sant Pau - A complex built between 1901 and 1930. It was a fully functioning hospital until June 2009, since when it has been undergoing restoration for use as a museum and cultural center. In 1913 it received an award for the best building of the year from the Barcelona City Council.

    Part II:

    Sagrada Família - An immense basilica that has been under construction since 1882 and will be under construction for the next 25 years. It is one of Barcelona's most popular tourist attractions and considered Gaudi's masterpiece.

    Casa de les Punxes - Casa de les Punxes (House of Spikes) or Casa Terrades is a building located on Avinguda Diagonal constructed in 1905, commissioned by the Terrades sisters. The house includes different ceramic panels illustrating patriotic motifs. The best known depicts Saint George and with the following legend: “Sant Patró de Catalunya, torneu-nos la llibertat” (“Holy Patron of Catalonia, give us back our freedom”).

    Casa Milà - Casa Milà or " La Pedrera" is a building located at Passeig de Gràcia Avenue, built during the years 1905–1910. It is probably Gaudi's second most popular building in Barcelona.

    Casa Batlló - A slender building originally built between 1875 and 1877 and remodelled in 1904-1906 by Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol.

    Casa Amatller - A building originally designed as a residence for chocolatier Antoni Amatller and constructed between 1898 and 1900.

    Casa Lleó Morera - A building originally constructed in 1864 but renovated in 1902. In 1906 it received an award for the best building of the year from the Barcelona City Council.

    Palau Güell - A mansion designed for the Catalan industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell and constructed between years 1885-1900.

    Excluded:

    Palau de la Música Catalana - A concert hall in Barcelona built between 1905 and 1908 for the choral society Orfeó Català. In 1909 it received an award for the best building of the year from the Barcelona City Council.

    Casa Bonaventura Ferrer, Passeig de Gràcia 103 - Build in 1906. Since 1979 it has been listed as an historical and artistic heritage of Barcelona. In 2010 the building was remodeled and converted into a luxury boutique hotel under the name of "El Palauet".

    I stayed only one night in Barcelona. I stayed in Portugal for 3 weeks and returned to my country through Barcelona. It was far cheaper to fly from Barcelona (with Vueling) and the flight from Porto (Portugal) to Barca costed me just 80 USD with Ryanair (efficient, punctual and spartan) (100 USD including my 18 kg. backpack).

    I'll start with my hotel choice. I booked a room in a last-minute process - one day before my arrival.. Hotels in Barcelona, especially in the centre - might be expensive. You can find good deals if reservation made several months before your booking date. Do not expect to find a double room with attached bath in a price less than 80 euros/night. In most of the hotels the noise, during the night, is inevitable. Staying out of tourist traps is highly recommended. The only hotel with a sound mind price was Hotel Catalonia Castellnou, C/ Castellnou 61, 08017 Barcelona. Reasonably priced. Good value for money. The hotel is clean, silent, respectable, very convenient and cozy. It is 3-5 min. walk from the Ferrocarrils Catalonia (FGC) stop (NOT METRO) Les Tres Torres. The ride to Placa Catalonia takes 15 minutes and costs 2.15 euros. There is a train every 10-15 minutes. The same price as the Metro. It is in an residential area. If you want to have nightlife around your hotel - it's not the right one. There are some bars and restaurants around (10-15 euros for dinner).  I booked a single room with a terrace (room 600) on the 5th + floor (45 euros). Double room will cost you 63 euros including breakfast. Breakfast was 9 (!) euros but worth every penny. It is a buffet style with a rich selection of pastries, fruits, juices and diary products. Taking a breakfast in a near bar, cafe or restaurant will cost you 6-7 euros at least. Internet connection, in the lobby, was working good. Good wifi. 12 - 13 minutes from supermarket on foot. A/C worked well. TV had English news channels (all in all 43 channels).

    The view from the terrace:


    Another important fact, from my experience: Barcelona is walkable. It is 45 minutes (3 km.) from my hotel to Park Guell. This the longest section in our daily route along the Modernista architectural sites. ALL OF THEM ARE NORTH TO Placa Catalonia.

    The shortest route is (extracted from Google Maps): Head southeast on Carrer de Castellnou toward Carrer del Rosari, 77 m. Turn left onto Carrer del Rosari, 290 m. Slight right onto Via Augusta, 80 m. Turn left onto Ronda del General Mitre/Ronda General Mitre, 1.3 km. Slight left onto Carrer de Ballester, 550 m. Turn left onto Av. de Vallcarca, 150 m. Turn right onto Baixada de la Glòria, 350 m (the most difficult, inevitable section). Turn left onto Av. del Coll del Portell, 250 m. Turn right, 6 m - Park Güell.

    I did a longer and a bit different way which should take about 60-70 minutes. The main point, in this route, is Jardins del Turó del Putget or Park Putget (Putxet). Every route chosen is involved with section of steep climb (especially, to Park Guell itself, via the Beixada de la Gloria stairs).  High above it all and nestled on Putget hill, these spacious and open gardens offer one of the most privileged viewing points of Barcelona. These gardens are much more accessible than they may initially seem, since there are more unobstructed paths than flights of stairs. Except for access to the highest part of the hill, the Park Putxet gardens can be crossed from one side to the other without stepping on a single stair.

    From Hotel Catalonia Castellnou I headed north-east to the Plaça de Joaquim Pena and Carrer del Milanesat. Turn right to C/ Vergos and continue eastward along Via Augusta (where the Les Tres Torres FGC subway station is located). Turn LEFT to Ronda del General Mitre (a bustling, but, still, elegant street) and take its left pavement. On the first cross-road turn left to the Col-legi de les Teresianes, Ganduxer, 85-105.  In 1887, a community of nuns from the Order of Saint Teresa of Jesus decided to build a school in Sant Gervasi de Cassoles, a village in the north of Barcelona. An unknown architect had already laid the foundation stone and established the floor plan of the building when Gaudí took over the project. He altered the actual structure of the building and left his own highly personal imprint on the ensemble. Unlike his other projects, Gaudí had to work with a limited budget and this explains the use of austere materials, such as brick and reconstituted stone, or the plaster walls inside.

    Return to Ronda General Mitre. Now walk on the right side (shaded) pavement and continue eastward. Here, starts our adventurous section. Turn left to  Carrer de Balmes. The Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (FGC) line runs under Carrer Balmes, where you'll find Plaça Molina, Padua and El Putxet FGC stations. Turn right and continue climbing on the LEFT LEG of Carrer de Bertran. Turn right (2nd turn) to Carrer del Pare Fidel Fita. Here you climb up approx. 100 stairs and turn left to Carrer Roca i Batlle (a steep climb uphill). Turn right to Carrer de Marmellà. On your right is the Centre Esportiu Municipal Putxet. We arrived to Jardins del Turó del Putget. El Putget - often written El Putxet - is a small peak between Vallcarca and Sant Gervasi, which was first documented as the site of a chapel in the 17th century but whose history only really dates back to around 1870 when, owing to the dreadful sanitary conditions in Ciutat Vella, bourgeois Barcelona families began to build summer homes there. At the time, El Putget was one of the three neighborhoods, along with La Bonanova and Lledó, that made up Sant Gervasi. With the arrival of the Sarrià railway in 1863, the metro in 1924 and the tram, the summer homes in El Putget gradually became permanent residences. Just like in Sarrià or La Salut above Gràcia, fine houses, many of them Modernista, were built around the hill and some can still be seen particularly along Carrer de Mulet or Carrer de Puigreig. Usually is a very quite park, with some cozy resting places, and it has a huge variety of plants. As it's located on a hill, some of its roads and stairs are quite stepped, but it's a lovely park with seating areas, smalls squares and even a playground.

    The views from this park are really wonderful. BUT, I think the best scenery is during the afternoon hours when the sun shines from the west with Park Guell to the east of this park. So, don't expect to have the best views, from this park, at the first half of the day... In case you decide to climb to the top of Putxet Hill, through the park's stairs - it will consume another 15-20 minutes of your time. The park contains taps, rest rooms and picnic benches.

    You leave the Jardins del Turó del Putget by following the signposts pointing to C/ Manacor. You exit the park, at one of its eastern exits, along Carrer de Manacor, You walk down along Carrer de Manacor and see, almost, immediately, the steep road leading to Park Guell. The road slopes down and changes its name to Carrer d'Agramunt. You cross three roads on your way down: Av. Argentina, C/ Bolivar and Av. Valcarca. At last you arrive to the famous stairs leading to Park Guell - Beixada de la Gloria. It is a series of escalators (and a bit of a manual climb in parts) that lead you to Guell Park. Although the buildings inside are pretty interesting to look at, it's worth the visit for the fantastic views across the city. You'll find benches around, to rest, before the ascent to Park Guell.

    Before the SECOND series of escalators, you have a very steep section of climbing on foot:

    When Park Güell began to be built in 1900, Barcelona was a modern and cosmopolitan metropolis whose economy was based on the strength of its industry and which had over half a million inhabitants. Its walls had been knocked down nearly half a century earlier and the new city, the Eixample planned by engineer Ildefons Cerdà, had grown spectacularly from 1860 onwards, in what was the largest 19th century city development project in Europe. From the 1860s, the construction of the Eixample gave Barcelona’s architects many professional openings for expression, endowing the city with one of the continent’s richest and fullest repertoires. The first attempts at Modernisme were brought into its wide spectrum of historicist and eclectic architecture at the end of the century. When art nouveau finally triumphed at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1900 - the most significant architects within Modernisme, such as Domènech i Montaner and Gaudí, went very much further in their original interpretation of art nouveau, based on the paradox of having to be modern without renouncing tradition. The association between entrepreneur Eusebi Güell and architect Antoni Gaudí began when Güell saw a window display that Gaudí had planned for glove retailer Esteve Comella at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1878. In 1886 Eusebi Güell entrusted Gaudí with building his new house, the Palau Güell in Nou de la Rambla street in the old quarter of the city. Later, in 1895 Gaudí built a winery in Garraf county in collaboration with Francesc Berenguer. In 1898 he planned the church for Colònia Güell, home to the workers at the large textile factory that the industrialist owned on the outskirts of Barcelona. And finally, in 1900, Gaudí was given the assignment of designing Park Güell. Güell understood better than any of his contemporaries the meaning of Gaudí’s architecture. The relationship between the two men was not simply that of an artist and his patron, but a real story of friendship. For many years the Güell family lived in the large family house (now a school) that stood on the land where the development was located, while Gaudí lived in one of the two houses that were built there. In the businessman’s own lifetime, the park was already considered to be one of Barcelona’s great tourist attractions, and the large square was often let for staging Catalan events, traditional Catalan Sardana dancing and other civic and social events. Gaudí planned and directed the construction of the park from 1900 to 1914 as infrastructure and facilities for an English-style garden suburb, planned to accommodate sixty single-family residences. The project was a financial failure and became city property in 1923. Although it was never fully completed, it is one of Gaudí's most colorful and playful works. Be sure to check every corner of this beautiful place for a multitude of architectural surprises. A highlight of Barcelona.

    While the entrance to the Park is free, there is an entrance fee to visit the monumental zone with the architectural sights, and a separate fee to visit Gaudi’s house, which contains the furniture he designed. Gaudí's house, "la Torre Rosa," — containing furniture that he designed — can be only visited for an another entrance fee. There is a reduced rate for those wishing to see both Gaudí's house and the Sagrada Família Church. Opening times: Autumn-Winter from 27 October to 23 March: from 08.30 to 18.00, Spring-Summer from 24 March to 30 April: from 08.00 to 20.00, from 1 May to 26 October: from 08.00 to 21.00. General ticket € 7 (on-line) or € 8 (ticket office on-site). In addition, consider that now a limit is set on visiting the park. Only 400 tickets go on sale every half an hour. When buying tickets online, you need to clearly state the date and the time of your visit, and most importantly, not to be late, because in this case the ticket will be canceled. Remember: A limit of 400 tickets per 30 minute increments has been set to control the crowds ! Slots are limited. Although this route is planned as a full-day one, from morning till evening - I recommend going to Parc Guell (the Catalan name) just before sunset so that you can watch the sky light up as the sun sets and begin to see the city lights twinkle. It is also often less crowded at this time so you don't have to deal with as many tourist crowds. Don't forget to take your camera! Park Güell is one of the best photo opportunities in Barcelona, and an absolute must see for those visiting the incredible city. Beautiful architecture and mosaics can be found hidden (and in plain sight) all throughout the park, creating a surreal and magical feeling, almost as if you have walked into a fairy tale world. I wandered through Park Guell for a few hours and felt like I could've stayed for a few more. I'd definitely recommend bringing a picnic and spending some time on one of the many beautiful mosaic benches and watching the world go by. Yes, it's a very touristy attraction, but also incredibly peaceful and relaxing. The views are simply unreal and the park is bustling with life.

    Two metro stations, Vallcarca and Lesseps, are situated within 20 minutes of walk from the park. Consider that in order to get to the park you have to surmount quite a steep ascent. You can take the underground metro to the station Lesseps along L3 and follow the signs towards Park Güell. better way is to take the bus, as it drops you right outside the park. Bus 24 goes from Plaça de Catalunya (it goes through Universitat area towards La Rambla), straight through Passeig de Gracia towards the park. You can see many of the attractions along the way, and experience Gracia quarter on the bus. A bus No. 116 goes from the metro station Lesseps directly to the park – stop L’Olot.

    The paths within the park wind round the hill, up towards the highest point where you can see a complete view of Barcelona and the bay in panorama. We come, first, to these two point, the Mirador Villarco and the Turó de les tres creus. These are two gathering points  that offer great views:

    El Mirador - view to the west:

    Las 3 cruces (Turó de les tres creus): This is the highest part of the park, from here you can see most of Barcelona. Currently there are three crosses on top of a hill of stone, named "Calvari". Two of them indicate the cardinal points (N-S-E-W), and the other pointing skyward.

    From these two highest points we slope gently into the park having wonderful overview of the whole park:

    We don't enter the park from its main entrance. The main entrance to Park Güell is on the south side, on Carrer d’Olot, from which visitors can enjoy the spectacular view of the stairway (see later).

    The navigation in the park is easy and, in every intersection - you see signposts directing you the various attractions. we shall refer to the main highlights in Park Guell.

    Gaudí's multicolored mosaic salamander, popularly known as "El Drac" (The Dragon), at the main entrance, as restored after the vandalism of February 2007. This is the famous lizard, which is normally Confused with a dragon. Probably one of the most photographed, easily identified Gaudi pieces:

    The Dragon Stairway: double flight of steps from front entrance up to the columns room. The stairs lead to a hall with 86 columns under an ornate ceiling. Besides supporting the huge terrace above, this area was intended to become the market of the complex. This is the most famous part of the park, has become a symbol of Barcelona as the "Sagrada familia", and other more modern constructions (Agbar Tower ...). Above the main entrance is a grand staircase leading to the Hipóstila room divided by a number of water sources:

    wall leading up the stairs:

    The Greek Theatre (or the Main Terrace): Right at the centre of the monumental zone of Park Güell is the large esplanade which the original plans called the Greek Theatre and which has more recently been rechristened as Plaça de la Natura (Nature Square). Following the stairs you go through a large porch that have eighty-six columns that supports a large square. The roof is covered with brittle and white uniform, but it is not plain, is sinking between column and column. In the middle there are fourteen brittle, spread unevenly. In spaces where there is no brittle medallions. The columns are also covered with white brittle at the bottom. Bird nests built by Gaudí in the terrace walls. The walls imitate the trees planted on them. A 100-meter-long unbroken bench, adorned with colorful mosaic, skirts the platform. Its shape resembles a twisting sea serpent that has got out of the deep in order to bask in the sun. Shady lanes and observation areas revealing the greater part of the Catalan Mediterranean seashore are situated throughout the park. Park Güell, which was intended as a commercial project, ended up being a real masterpiece of the landscape art.

    Another name to this attraction is Hall of Hundred Columns. In spite of its name, the hall has only 86 columns of Doric Order. Its important element is the vaulted roof, on which rosettes symbolizing seasons, solar and moon cycles are situated. Thanks to its unusual structure the hall has wonderful acoustics. Musical concerts and performances are often organized here:

    Hypostyle Room (columns room) - conceived as a covered space to be used as a market for the estate:

    stairs leading to the Main Terrace or Greek Theatre (Nature Theater):

    Serpentine bench the wraps around 3 sides of the esplanade:

    No lack of decoration – multi-colored tiles make the Main Terrace a vibrant place:

    The Main Terrace walls (with the "birds' nests"):

    The Austria Gardens: What we now know as the Austria Gardens was one of the zones to be used as plots in the estate. When the Park Güell was turned into a public park, however, the zone was used as a municipal plant nursery. This part of the precinct has a completely different look to the rest of the park, and it got its name through a donation of trees from Austria in 1977. Most of the viaducts (photos - see below) are located, formally, in the Austria gardens. These areas were originally meant to be divided into residential plots but was instead a plant nursery. It was officially made into a public garden in the 1960s designed by Lluis Ruidor:

    There are ceramics everywhere, even on the park's walls:

    The Roadways, Paths and Viaducts: Outside the monumental zone of the central part of the park, running east towards the Carretera del Carmel exit, is the Pont de Baix, bridge, the first of the viaducts of the network of paths that help overcome the topography and connect the various parts of the park. Gaudí planned three viaducts with a width of five metres, snaking their way up the mountain, to lead carriages from the main entrance on Carrer d’Olot up to the high part of the estate, the Turó de Tres Creus (Three Crosses Hill). They are known as the Pont de Baix, the Pont del Mig and the Pont de Dalt (lower, middle and high bridges), names that already appeared on the first postcards of the park. They are suspended on a structure of sloping columns and vaults made from unhewn stones taken from the site itself. On their upper parts, the balustrades are crowned by plots with vegetation.

    Mansion Salve:

    The Museum: The house, designed by Francesc Berenguer i Mestres (Reus, 1848 - Barcelona, 1914) was built between 1904 and 1906. In 1906, Antoni Gaudí bought the house and became his residence. A few months before he died the year 1926, Gaudí left his residence To Park Guell. The Museum is the only thing that not really worth it in the park. While it gives you a deeper introspective to his works, it was still very small and honestly not worth the admission. OPENING TIMES: October-March: from 10.00 to 18.00, April-May: from 10.00 - 20.00, June-September: from 09.00  to 20.00. ADMISSION PRICES: 5.50 euros, reduced - 4.50 euros.

    Same sculpture elements that adorns a portion of the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia:

    Gaudi often designed furniture to compliment his architectural work.

    The main entrance to Park Güell and the porter's lodge pavillions: it is formed by an iron gate, and two pavilions, a warehouse, a shelter for the carriages, and a main staircase. It covers an area of 400 sqm. Currently one of the pavilions and the warehouse is business tours, gift shop (Casa del Guardia) and bar. The main entrance is in C/ OLot.

    The two pavilions at the main entrance of the park:

    the interior of the porter's lodge:

    View from the main entrance in C/ Olot:

    There are many musical gathering points around Guell Park:

    You exit Park Guell from its eastern entrance in Carretera del Carmel. With your face out - turn RIGHT to a narrow road/path - C/cottolengo del padre alegre sloping down to the east. On your right a house for sick poor people (Cottolengo del Padre Alegre) and on your left a green wall. Along the asphalted path there are proverbs of Antoni Gaudi like: "Anything created by human beings is already in the great book of nature.", "Nothing is art if it does not come from nature". In the end of the descent - turn LEFT (on your right and left - tennis courts) - Riera de Can Toda. You descend in this road and cross Carrer de la Mare de Déu de la Salut. On your left a Chinese restaurant Ta - Tung. Turn left onto Carrer de la Mare de Déu de la Salut, 28 m. Turn right onto Carrer del Secretari Coloma, 54 m. Turn left onto Ronda del Guinardó, 200 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Sardenya. On your right is Sardenya Centre Esportiu Municipal and Holmes Place sport hall. Here, you can find (on your right) a simple, straight-forward bar/restaurant with filling lunch at 9-10 euros (Menu'-del-dia). DO NOT continue with Car. de Sardenya. Take the most left street - Ronda del Guinardo and walk along this road, on your left Parc de les Aigües (A green island that audibly and visually separates part of the homes of the Baix Guinardó district from the intense traffic from Alfons X el Savi square) and, later, crossing C/ de Padilla:

     

    Ronda del Guinardo # 49:

    Here starts a nice avenue of palm trees (on your left). You cross Carrer de los Castillejos. Continue walking 2-3 minutes and the Hospital de Sant Pau is on your right. The formal entrance is further east along the bustling street. I recommend turning right and finding a way to enter the hospital from its back. Hospital de Sant Pau is actually two distinct sites. This site can be accessed FREE without security controls if you come from the back of the hospital. Sant Pau is still a working hospital, but the original Modernista buildings at the front (west) have been converted into a museum, The more western complex of hospital buildings is already a tourist site with admission fees of 8-14 euros. The largest, and in many ways the most impressive, of the Modernist sites in Barcelona, indeed in all of Catalonia, is probably also one of the least known and visited. The appearance is stunning to see and the impressive architecture is very interesting. A visit to this hospital is a pleasant activity. Make a visit and be amazed.

    Sant Pau, is the world's largest Art Nouveau site. It is a complex built between 1901 and 1930, designed by the Catalan modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. In 1401, six hospitals in the city of Barcelona merged to form the Hospital de la Santa Creu, a fine example of civilian gothic architecture. With the growth of the city and the advances in medicine in the 19th century, the centre was unable to meet the demands of the time and construction of a new building was proposed. Thanks to the legacy of Pau Gil, a banker, the first stone of the new building was laid on January 15th, 1902. "Sant Pau" was added to the old name of "la Santa Creu" to honour the wishes of its benefactor. The architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner was commissioned with the project. Over the years, the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau became the most significant public building in Catalan modernista/Modernisme. The architectural complex of Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau is an unmistakable landmark in the culture and heritage of Barcelona city in particular and in Catalonia in general. Its architectural and patrimonial value extends beyond its urban location and the site has won European and international acclaim. In 1997, together with the Palau de la Música Catalana (one of the world's leading concert halls), the Hospital was declared World Heritage by UNESCO for its singular architectural and artistic beauty. It was a fully functioning hospital until June 2009, it is currently undergoing restoration for use as a museum and cultural center. As of July 2014 there are still tours of the hospital being given several times a day (in the western part of the complex). In 2003 a new hospital building was erected to the north of the Domènech i Montaner's Modernista pavilions.

    First, we take the FREE section of Sant Pau hospital and spend here 15-20 minutes taking photos of the fantastic buildings around:

    The west site of Sant Pau hospital cannot be accessed free of charge. Opening time: November – March: Monday to Saturday, 10.00 to 16.30. Sundays and holidays, 10.00 to 14.30, April – October: Monday to Saturday, 10.00 to 18.30, Sundays and holidays, 10.00 to 14.30. January 1st and 6th, December 25th and 26th, closed. Guided Visits: Monday to Saturday: Catalan, 11.30 and 12.30. Spanish: 10.30 and 13.30. English: 12.00, 13.00 and 16.00. French: 11.00.  Sundays and holidays: Catalan, 11.30 and 12.30. Spanish: 10.30a and 13.30. English: 10.00, 12.00 and 13.00. French: 11.00. Admission fees: Self-guided visit: 8€, Guided visit: 14€. Concession ticket: aged 16 to 29, over 65, disabled, Self-guided visit: 5.60€, Guided visit: 9.80€. A bit pricey considering that most of the buildings are not restored or, if restored, not open to visitors. 11 stunning building, 4 of which you can enter. Others are still under renovation. Allow a good hour and a half, two hours, as the details and the place are just amazing. The Sant pau is so much quieter than the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell and you can really take your time and appreciate the beauty of the hospital.

    This visit begins at the Administration Pavilion, in the exhibition space, where a video, an interactive touch table and other elements introduce you to the monumental and artistic heritage and its significance, the historical evolution of the institution and its contribution to medicine.  Undoubtedly, the entrance will be not indifferent to the visitor.

    Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau – Entrance Hall:

    Trencadís (broken tile shards) is a widely used technique in the Catalan Art Nouveau architecture, which can be found again and again in the old Sant Pau Hospital and particularly clearly in the Main Terrace in Park Güell. The tour continues with steps leading to a hallway with large windows and the Art Nouveau ceiling so beautiful and so worked, which confirm that the visit has been worthwhile:

    Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau – Chapel:

    In order to get to the other buildings you head down into the basement and then along part of the network of underground passageways that unite all the separate parts of the original hospital. You can’t explore all of these as the pavilions that are out in the garden are either used by different organisations or have yet to be restored. Nonetheless you do get an idea of what Domènech i Montaner was aiming for, keeping all the servicing of the hospital’s requirements underground and creating the ability to get to all the pavilions without having to pass through or disturb any of the others. Following the route indicated by this pavilion you will pass by different chambers, all with stunning Art Nouveau details. In some rooms there are monitors projecting information about the restoration of the old Hospital de Sant Pau and its transformation into the new Art Nouveau Site. Once traversed the halls of the Administration Pavilion that are truly amazing, if the official route is followed, you will go down stairs leading to the tunnels of the old hospital, through which workers moved and carried the stretchers. The route through the tunnel leads to the modernist courtyard of the site, from which you can visit the rest of the pavilions. Each of these pavilions had its particular function in the old hospital. The largest, the Administrative Pavilion, as said before, is also part of the tour. Its facade glows with mosaic murals telling the history of hospital care, and inside the building there are beautiful columns with floral capitals and a luxurious, dusty pink tiled ceiling:

    Walking on through this superb setting you come to the Sant Rafael Pavilion, whose lovingly restored interiors are once again as they were conceived at the start of the twentieth century. You can also visit the Main Hall of the Administration Pavilion, the Pau Gil Room and the Lluís Domènech i Montaner Room, one of the main spaces of the building. The recommended tour finishes in the Sant Jordi Pavilion, a completely refurbished space that hosts temporary exhibitions. At the moment only eight of the buildings have been fully renovated. The initial plan, for which a budget of €100 million has been allocated, takes in 12 buildings and they are those around the central building of the garden as well as the administration building itself:

    Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau – Main Stairwell:

    If Art Nouveau interiors of the Sant Pau Site are awesome, the facades of the different pavilions composing the old hospital are equally astonishing. The site is still under restoration (Summer 2014) and it is easy to find fencing surrounding the areas that are not visitable. There are toilets and running water in the visiting areas:

    Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau – Pau Gil i Serra:

    In Part II of this blog - we continue to La Sagrada Familia and other Modernista monuments - north of Placa de Catalonia.

  • Citywalk | Portugal
    Updated at Aug 17,2014

    Parque das Nações (Park of the Nations):

    Start & End: Oriente Metro station.

    Distance: 7-8 km.

    Weather: perfect destination for a cloudy, gloomy or, even, little rainy day. If the day is very hot - go early and spend the first half of the day in this area. Good chance for ocean breeze.

    Tips: No high heels and no sandals in this itinerary. Walking/stepping on wooden bridges and (on our way to the Oceanario) on slotted wooden plates - please use steady-state sneakers or sportive shoes. BRing umbrella if there is even a slight chance of rain. There will be no shelter in most of our route.

    Parque das Nações (Park of the Nations) is a leisure, commercial, and residential area since the 1998 World Exposition. It covers an extensive area in northeastern Lisbon next to the Tagus estuary, formerly used for mainly industrial purposes. The area underwent a tremendous transformation in the 1990s when it was chosen as the location for the World Exhibition. After the exhibition, the area got its current name (the Portuguese still refer to it as "Expo"), and more transformations occurred such as the new Vasco da Gama shopping mall, the Lisbon's International Fair complex, hotels and many new bars, restaurants, office and residential buildings. Many attractions built for the Expo '98 remained and keep drawing visitors, such as the Oceanarium, one of the world's biggest aquariums. In terms of culture, several facilities must be highlighted: the Pavilhão de Portugal (Portugal Pavilion), the Pavilhão Atlântico (Atlantic Pavilion), the Oceanário (Oceanarium), the Área Internacional (International Area), which became the Feira Internacional de Lisboa exhibition centre, and the Estação do Oriente train station. Taking advantage of its geographical position, Parque das Nações also have a brand new Marina, Marina Parque das Nações featuring 600 berths and modern infrastructures, a river pier for cruises or historical vessels. It is also a spot for bird watching as it is sited in the Tagus Estuary, one of the largest and diverse estuaries of Europe. Today, the Parque das Nações is a lively, dynamic and multipurpose space. It is the brand of contemporary Lisboa, a place where the city’s inhabitants have fun, enjoy shows, go for a walk, play sport, shop, work and live in quality and tranquility.

    Oriente Metro and Train station: One of the most stunning modern sights in Lisbon is Oriente Station. It was built by master architect Santiago Calatrava with a roof of glass and steel made to look like a row of trees. Upon arrival at the Parque das Nações, it is impossible not to notice the work of the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The Oriente station dominates the view, serving as an element of urban order, majestic, and includes a bus terminal, car park, underground station, train station and shopping gallery. The entrance to the metro platform has huge tile murals designed by some of the best local contemporary artists. The station will soon be expanded to become the main terminal of the high speed train service planned for Lisbon, and as the city's first stop for the train arriving from the future Lisbon Airport to be built across the river:

    Torre São Gabriel:

    subway art:

    Vasco da Gama shopping mall:

    Towers of offices named after two of Vasco da Gama's ships, São Gabriel and São Rafael:

    Pavilion of Knowledge - Ciência Viva. It is an interactive science and technology museum. Mainly games-based, its exhibitions and activities allow children to explore a variety of themes in an interactive and fun way. The “Pavilhão do Conhecimento – Ciência Viva” was designed by the architect João Luís Carrilho da Graça and awarded with the Grand Prize of the FAD Jury in 1999 and it is an emblematic building, representative of the architectural shift that took place with EXPO’98. With an average of 800 visitors a day the “Pavilhão do Conhecimento – Ciência Viva” is nowadays one of Portugal’s most visited museums.

    Pavilhão Atlântico - The great hall of Lisboa (Arena): The Pavilhão Atlântico is one of the biggest and most modern covered pavilions in Europe, capable of accommodating all kinds of events. With a 20,000-person capacity, the enclosure hosts nearly 100 events per year. With an architecture based on the old ships that played a central role in the Portuguese Age of Discovery, the Pavilhão Atlântico is now the stage for countless sporting events and welcomes the large scale shows that take place in the capital.

    The Atlantic Pavilion Concert Hall:

    The Portugal Pavilion is a striking building designed by Portugal's Pritzker Award-winning architect Alvaro Siza Vieira. Its remarkable sagging concrete roof weighing 1,400 tonnes and measuring 50 by 67 meters (167 by 223 ft) is an instant attention-grabber, undulating like a sailcloth, keeping the maritime theme of most of the district's architecture. The building is currently empty but there have been plans to turn it into an architecture museum:

    With the Feira Internacional de Lisboa on your right and the Arena on your left - turn left (WEST) and you arrive to a garden (Parque das Nações) with fountains and ground decks of wood - with tunnels of water and many pretty colored tiles. There are several volcano fountains in the park:

    From here we head NORTHWARD along the water on wood decks and bridges. On our right we pass near the Torre de Vasco de Gama, Myriad by SANA Hotels, Cais das Naus:

    On our left are housing complexes along the ocean:

    If we look back - we see the São Gabriel and São Rafael twin towers, and the Atlantic Pavilion. The Cable Car provides an air trip over the whole of the Park of Nations, along the river Tagus. The cable car runs parallel to the river along the full length of the site. Round-trip: €5.90, One-way: €3.95.

    Torre São Gabriel:

    We walk north - our destination is the Vasco da Gama Bridge. After passing the Parque de Tejo, we pass by the Passeo de Tejo. On our left is Parque Infantil with an interesting sculpture of Audrey Flack (1931) - Rainha (queen) D. Catarina do Bragance, Bronze, 1998:

    We start to walk on wooden deck bridge - leading to the giant Vasco de Gama (VDG) bridge. It is the longest bridge in Europe (including viaducts),[3] with a total length of 17.2 km, including 0.829 km for the main bridge, 11.5 km in viaducts, and 4.8 km in dedicated access roads. Its purpose is to alleviate the congestion on Lisbon's other bridge (25 de Abril Bridge), and to join previously unconnected motorways radiating from Lisbon. Construction began on February 1995; the bridge was opened to traffic on 29 March 1998, just in time for Expo 98, the World's Fair that celebrated the 500th anniversary of the discovery by Vasco da Gama of the sea route from Europe to India:

    In the small intersection, on the wooden deck, you can turn right to Estacada das Gaivotas - to get a closer view of the mighty bridge:

    This our final, northmost point. From there turn back (southward) to get far view of the Torre Vasco de Gama:

    We leave the seafront path/bridge. With low houses on our right, we turn RIGHT (west) to these houses and housing quarter. Cross the grass and find a path leading (zigzag) southward (south-west, in the beginning) to these nice residences. We head back to Torre Vasco de Gama. Head west on Caminho das Gaivotas toward Passeio dos Heróis do Mar, 130 m. Turn left onto Passeio dos Heróis do Mar, 10 m. Slight left to stay on Passeio dos Heróis do Mar, 800 m. Turn right onto Rua Comandante Cousteau. The parallel road more south is Rua do Cais das Naus - leading back to Torre de Vasco de Gama:

    Rua Comandante Cousteau:

    Rua do Cais das Naus:

    Again, Torre Vasco de Gama / Myriad Hotel:

    We continue southward (passing by the point where we started our walk along the sea) leaving the Oriente station (on our right, now) on our back. We step now on big plates of wood. Quite dangerous. You can walk here only with sneakers. No sandals and no high heels. We walk, now, along Passeio Neptuno and see the Oceanário on our right:

    WE can stop at the Oceanário de Lisboa or walk even further (south) to the Marina of Parque Das Nações. In the latter case - we can return to the Oceanário through Passeio Neptuno or return along Rua das Musas.

    Oceanário de Lisboa opened during the Expo’98, the Oceanário de Lisboa is one the largest public aquaria in Europe. It is the Oceanário’s mission to promote knowledge of the oceans, educating visitors and the public about the necessity of protecting natural resources, through changing their daily habits. Every year, one million visitors walk through the Oceanário’s exhibits, which rank first as the most visited attraction in Portugal. Students, teachers, families and organized groups may enjoy quite a few activities, including guided tours, theme workshops, seminars, concerts for babies, birthday parties and even spending a very special evening right next to the sharks. The Oceanário de Lisboa was the first European Public Aquarium to be awarded the 9001, 14001 and EMAS Quality Certificates. Other distinguished acknowledgements include the Valmor Architecture (1998) competition, the International Chiara Science Award and the EMAS Award 2005 (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme).
    It also plays a very active role in multiple research and conservation efforts, regularly collaborating with academic and zoological institutions on projects such as CORALZOO, SECORE, FAITAG, and even in situ environmental conservation efforts focusing on Lamprey-eels, from the Tagus estuary, and Sea-turtles in Cape Verde. Together with the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Oceanário created an Award which rewards excellence on scientific projects that encourage a sustainable use of the oceans. Designed by renowned architect Peter Chermayeff, the Oceanário de Lisboa includes two buildings, connected by a bridge. The exhibits are housed on the main building, which is surrounded by water, evoking a docked ship ready to cast off. The support building features a striking wall with 55 thousand tiles, depicting jumbo sized marine animals. The Oceanário is situated in the heart of the amazing Esplanada da D. Carlos I.

    Tickets can be purchased near the waterfall and the big fountain and NOT near the souvenirs shop.

    There is also an computerized/automated vending machine. Free - children 0-3, 11€ - children 4-12, 16€ - from 13 to 64, 11€ seniors 65+. Family - 42€. Opening hours: Summer 10.00 - 20.00 (last entry 19.00) , Winter 10.00 - 19.00 (last entry - 18.00):

    East to the Oceanário I had a dinner at Restaurante Chimarrão - Parque das Nações, Alameda dos Oceanos. See tip below.

    We head back to the Oriente station - passing by, again, the Pavilhao do Conhecimento, Cienca Viva:

    and the Parque das Nações:

    We turn left, here, near the Casino - to the Oriente Station:

  • Citywalk
    Updated at Oct 7,2014

    Guimarães - the historic centre + Monte da Penha (seperate blog):

    Main attracions: Palacio Vila Flor, Toural square, Largo da Misericordia, Largo do Oliveira, church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, Praça de Santiago, Rua de Santa Maria, Ordem Terceira de São Domingos, Plataforma das Artes, Jardim do Carmo, Convento de Santo Antonio dos Capuchos, Guimarães Castle, São Miguel do Castelo, Palace of the Dukes of Bragança, Largo Condessa da Mumadona, Teleférico de Guimarães, Monte da Penha.

    For the Monte da Penha description - see the Guimaraes - Monte da Penha itinerary.

    Duration: 1 day.

    Distance: 7-8 km (without Monte da Penha). 14-15 km. with Monte da Penha. The distance from Guimarães Castle and Palace of Dukes to Monte da Penha is about 5 km.

    Orientation: As the first capital of Portugal and birthplace of the nation's first king, Guimarães is one of the country's most historic cities, and its World Heritage medieval streets with well-preserved monuments make it one of the most attractive places to visit in Portugal. It is possible to visit the city on a day-trip from Porto or Braga. Walking around is no doubt the best option to explore Guimarães. Guimarães' historic centre is somewhat small (but beautifull!) and everything is within a short walking distance. Also, while strolling around you may take some time to admire the architecture, watch people and mingle with locals. Furthermore, there are no steep climbs or uneven pavements, so I’m sure you will feel quite comfortable walking around the city. The castle and Paço dos Duques, which are a bit off centre, are neverthless situated within walking distance, so it’s no use in moving around by car or bus. In the Centro Storico area there are many pedestrianised streets and pathways which are not accessible to cars or public transportation anyway.

    BUT, If you plan to visit a bit further than Guimarães' historic centre and monuments, such as Mosteiro de Santa Marinha on the slopes of Monte da Penha or make a visit in Penha Mountain ( A MUST !!!), or even a bit further such as Citânia de Briteiros or Mosteiro de Tibães, then walking is not enough and a bus, car or a bike would be very convenient. Using public transportation may be enough for visiting Monte da Penha. For visiting the Guimarães historic centre AND Monte da Penha - you'll need one long, busy day. We devoted a separate itinerary blog to Monte da Penha.

    Transportaion: Catch the Metro to Campanhã Station or São Bento Station in Porto and then get a train to Guimarães. Duration: 75 min. - 2 h. Price (aprox.): 5€.  From Porto, you have a train every hour. The train station of Guimaraes is located about 1 km south of the historic city centre.

    Guimarães (jointly with Maribor, Slovenia) was the European Capital of Culture in 2012. Guimarães is one of Portugal's most important historical cities. Its historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it one of the largest tourist centers in Portugal. Unesco declaration, in 2012, was a huge success, with more than 2,5 million people visiting the city in 2012. An exceptionally well-preserved and authentic example of the evolution of a medieval settlement into a modern town, its rich building typology exemplifies the specific development of Portuguese architecture from the 15th to 19th century through the consistent use of traditional building materials and techniques. The historic centre is formed by a large number of stone constructions (950-1498). The period from Renaissance to neoclassicism is characterized by noble houses and the development of civic facilities, city squares, etc.

    The city proper has a population of approx.  52,000 inhabitants. Guimarães is located in a valley and surrounded by hills and because there is some distance to the sea, the Winter is normally cold and rainy and the Summer is hot and lightly humid.

    The city is often referred to as the "birthplace of the Portuguese nationality" or "the cradle city" (Cidade Berço). The historic town of Guimarães is associated with the emergence of the Portuguese national identity in the 12th century. The administrative seat of the County of Portugal was established here by Henry of Burgundy. It  also had been the birthplace of Afonso I, the first Portuguese king. The city played crucial historical role in the Battle of São Mamede (24 June 1128), which had a tremendous importance in the formation of Portugal.

    Guimaraes was founded between year 950 to 957 (10th century) and had its origin around a monastery built by Countess Mumadona Dias, widow of Count Hermenegildo Mendes. To protect the monastery from Muslims, the Countess built also a military tower. In 13th century the city was all surrounded by a big perimeter of walls and divided into low city and high city.

    Your walk: From the Guimarães railway station you turn left along Avenida Dom João IV and walk until Hotel Fundador. Here you turn right and descend along Avenida Dom Afonso Henriques - a nice and shady tree-lined avenue. Immediately after the first turn to the right (Rua Paulo VI) you see the Palacio Vila Flor. The Vila Flor Palace was built by Thaddeus Luis Antonio Lopes de Carvalho Fonseca and Camões in the eighteenth century. Later, passed into the possession of the Jordan family, who completed the work begun by Luis Tadeu. In 1853 it received the Queen Mary II, by decree of June 23 of that year, when the village of Guimarães became a city. In 1884, it was the venue of the I Industrial Exhibition and Trade Guimarães. It was purchased by the city of Guimarães in 1976, served as a place to house the  Guimarães' University of Minho music academy, theater workshop and venue for training classes. It is a striking building in the unfolding history of Guimarães. The Vila Flor Cultural Centre is the result of the restoration of Vila Flor Palace and its gardens, and the construction of a new building for the showrooms. The restoration promoted by the Municipality of Guimarães was granted by tender to the firm of  Pythagoras Architects. The new building for the theater is combined with the nineteenth-century Baroque palace and its gardens. Opened on September 17, 2005 with the concert of the famous Madredeus group. The Vila Flor Cultural Centre has a large auditorium with a capacity of about 800 seats and a small auditorium with 200 seats. The new building also houses a restaurant, Café Concert and administrative services. The restored palace, with an exhibition area of about 1000 square meters, also houses the headquarters of the Assembly Municipal:

    The gardens of Vila Flor Cultural Centre received in 2006, Honorable Mention in the category Open Spaces of Public Use in Architecture and other national awards:

    You keep walking down the Avenida Dom Afonso Henriques street until you're face to face with the old tower's left of what was the old wall where PORTUGAL WAS BORN HERE, and arrive to Toural square. On your right is Jardim Público da Alameda - a space with cement floor beds and lawns, lots of trees and park benches, highlighted by a bronze statue and the bandstand.

    On your right (east), in one of the old towers of the city's old wall it is written "Aqui nasceu Portugal" (Portugal was born here):

    The Largo do Toural, known as the "living room", is considered together with the squares of Oliveira and Santiago - the city centers of Guimarães. There are various commercial spaces located where you can find several references of trade in Guimarães, from bakeries, restaurants, hotels, flagship stores, among others. Is it worth standing in one of the corners of the wide square and observe the architecture of the buildings' facades that flank the square, as well as the pace and city life. In some periods of the year, the night lighting of the square is operative and is very attractive.

    Note, in the square the lovely houses' facades and various traditional shops. There are still a few old shops around the Alameda and Toural square, some of which bring to mind the traditional and exquisite embroideries of Guimarães - like: Largo do Toural, house # 38, Casa Ferreiea da Cunha:

    Historical Centre of Guimarães is classified as World Heritage. It is a great idea to discover the old centre stone by stone, street by street walking along the city walls and getting lost in the tiny streets of this amazing medieval town. A heightened feeling of patriotism seems to fill the air around Toural square and national symbols can be seen everywhere, as well as those of Vitória de Guimarães, the local football club.

    With your face to the north - to the Jardim Público da Alameda - continue north, cross Rua Rainha Dona Maria II and you arrive to Largo da Misericordia. Good to take some nice pictures of the fountain and the square:

    Return to Rua Rainha Dona Maria II and walk EAST until its end - to meet another central hub of Guimarães (but far more quaint than Toural square) - The Oliveira square (Largo do Oliveira) - the historical center of Guimarães, with the Padrão do Salado on the left (picture below). Very well preserved medieval square located in the historic center, with several monuments nearby. So many photo opportunities and spotless . Very clean and all the buildings are so well maintained. Stroll lazily around the Square, visit the Church of Our Lady of the Oliveira ("Oliveira" means the olive tree), enjoy the traditional residences with their balconies and beautiful wooden doors and windows and make a few photos at the Gothic monument of "Padrão do Salado". All dating from the 17th Century!

    The Largo da Oliveira is dominated by the collegiate church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira. The church, originally founded by Afonso Henriques in the 12th C., in thanksgiving for his victory in the battle of Ourique, stands on the site of an earlier convent founded by Countess Mumadona in the 10th C. It was considerably enlarged in 1387-1400 by Joao I to commemorate the battle of Aljubarrota, when most of the original Romanesque cloister was demolished. The church as it appears today is largely 16th C.; the Manueline tower was added in 1505.
    Features of the interior of the church include a Gothic stone altar and the Romanesque baptismal font from the Capela de Sao Miguel do Castelo, where Afonso I Henriques is said to have been christened. The silver altar in the sacramental chapel is particularly valuable:

    Continue NORTH (your left coming from Rua Maria II) along the Rua de Santa Maria, one of the most ancient streets of medieval Guimarães. After the political actions of the Reconquista organized by the Kingdom of Galicia in the 9th century, the medieval foundations of the actual city have roots in the 10th century. At this point, the Countess Mumadona Dias, erected a monastery in her property of Vimaranes, which originated the fixation of people in the area known as "vila baixa" (downtown). At the same time, she ordered the construction of a castle on the hill area which became known as "vila alta" (uptown), to defend the settlement. To connect these to other areas, the Rua de Santa Maria was built:

    Rua de Santa Maria connects Largo da Oliveira and the Santiago Square.  Along its route, note the following monuments:

    The Convent of Santa Clara (currently the Guimarães City Hall - Praca de Municipio). The building of Camara Municipal or City Council is situated at Rua de Santa Maria not far from the Church Nossa Senhora de Oliveira. It is worth to spend there twenty minutes an take several nice pictures:

    The Gothic House of Valadares de Carvalho (# 9), the Casa do Arco (# 28),

    the House of Peixoto (# 39), the  the House of Aries, which today houses the Municipal Library Raul Brandão (# 58):

    and many others that give it its own identity and characteristic to this city. Thus, for many centuries Rua Santa Maria is the most important street of Guimarães and where he lived part of his elite.

    Rua de Santa Maria leads to the Square of Santiago (Praça de Santiago), surrounded by residential complex greatest artistic and environmental quality of 17 and 18 centuries is marked by the presence of the building of the former Town Hall, whose ground floor consists of a porch supported by Gothic arches, element singular articulation between Praça de Santiago and Largo da Oliveira. The story goes that the apostle James S. Guimarães brought an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and this was placed in a pagan temple that is off this square. Honoring this image caused renaming the area -  Plaza de Santiago. So, in this square then once existed a small chapel porch (from the XVII century) dedicated to Santiago which was demolished in the late century. XIX. The current square still retains the medieval traces, despite the changes done over time. The Chapel, despite its demolition in 1887, is still possible to be located in the square: since the design of cobblestone pavement - there is a granite sign which marks the location of the former chapel. The square of Santiago is now a friendly place at any time of the day. The square is one of the main meeting places and socializing with locals and visitors:

    Return south along Rua de Santa Maria. In its middle (our face is, now, to the SOUTH) - turn RIGHT (west) to Praça de São Tiago:

    Continue west along Rua Doutor António Mota Prego. Turn left and continue south along Largo da Misericórdia (already browsed before) and continue west (left) along Rua Rainha Dona Maria II also visited before. Turn left, then right, cross again Largo do Toural, right, left  and enter Rua Dom João I. Here, you see, on your right, the Ordem Terceira de São Domingos - a marvelous building, off the beaten touristic track. The Venerable Third Order of St. Dominic (VOTSD) is a Private Institution of Social Solidarity (IPSS), nonprofit, called "Order of St. Dominic". The building consists of 4 floors and is attached to this Chapel of the institution. It also has a garden and private parking:

    Return north-east to the beginning of Rua Dom João I and turn LEFT (north-west) to Rua Paio Galvão. On your left is the Plataforma das Artes. The Platform of Arts and Creativity is an infrastructural project to transform the Old Market of Guimarães to a multifunctional space dedicated to artistic, cultural, economic and social activity. This site will host a series of skills and arts dedicated to three major program areas spaces:
    1. The International Centre of Arts José de Guimarães, which hosts a permanent collection of José de Guimarães. 2. An area of ​​temporary exhibitions space 3. Complementary activities, presentations and small shows - plus a series of ancillary services and car parking. This space or part is geared to young artists who, in various areas of activity, wish to develop projects of a temporary nature, whilst propelling a creative dynamic environment that will infuse the entire platform. It is planned to install, in this complex, a restaurant / cafeteria and a bookstore.
    THe whole platform complex had been constructed for the Guimarães - Europe Centre of Culture - 2012. It seems that the project had been stuck and suffers from temporary stagnation. With this project, It is intended that the transformation of the marketplace into a multifunctional space dedicated to artistic, economic, cultural and social activities within the scope of European Capital of Culture 2012, will allow, hopefully, for the physical and functional reintegration of the past municipal market area into the urban fabric, to become a reality and so, to recover one key area of the city space:

    Shimmering brass walls surround this arts centre that Portuguese firm Pitagoras Architects has completed in year 2012:

    I recommend visiting the the studio of Barreira Painter with large-scale batiques wit the image of Frida Kahlo in its front. The young, talented painter creates most of his pictures as Improvisations to Solomon Joseph Solomon pictures. Solomon Joseph Solomon (16 September 1860 – 27 July 1927 , UK) was a British painter, a founding member of the New English Art Club and member of the Royal Academy. Solomon painted mainly,  dramatic, theatrical scenes from the Mythology and the Bible on large canvasses. These scenes include some of his more popular paintings. One of Solomon's most popular works was Samson (1887), depicting a scene from the Biblical story of Samson and Delilah. Samson is one of few Solomon paintings on regular display, at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Some other Solomon paintings that have received significant attention include Ajax and Cassandra (1886) and The Birth of Love (1896).

    Solomon Joseph Solomon - Ajax and Cassandra:

    Continue north-west along Rua Paio Galvão until itse nd and turn right onto Rua de Gil Vicente (the main commercial thoroughfare in the city). In the main circular square - continue north along Avenida General Humberto Delgado. Continue north along the avenue. In the first cross way turn right to Rua Agostinho Barbosa - to see the Jardim do Carmo. Framed by palaces and the Convento do Carmo, decorated by seventeenth-century source, is considered by many as the best leisure area of the city. Trapzoidal, distributed by several beds, around a monumental fountain, built in 1583 by master Gonçalo Lopes.

    Return (west) to Avenida General Humberto Delgado and turn right, continuing north along the avenue. In the next crossway - take the right (east) leg and climb along  Rua Doutor Joaquim de Meira. Walking along Rua Doutor Joaquim de Meira - you'll see, on your right the path leading to the Castle. But, keep walking along Rua Doutor Joaquim de Meira to hit Convento de Santo Antonio dos Capuchos. Situated in the middle of a holy hill, the church occupies space in the building built as the XVII century. Visitors are invited to walk the hallways, courtyards and cloisters of the imposing building and visit  its magnificent XVIII century sacristy. In the nineteenth century it underwent major reconstructions and was transformed into a hospital. The original building still retains the early church, the sacristy and cloister:

    Retrace your steps and reverse direction. Return south along Rua Doutor Joaquim de Meira. Turn left onto Caminho do Castelo - to face Guimarães Castelo - Guimarães Castle.The whole area is the Monte Latito within the Colina Sagrada (Sarcred Hill) of Guimarães. It includes the Guimarães Castle, small Romanesque church -  São Miguel do Castelo and the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança:

    The medieval Castle, built on the site of the first fort of the 10th century. The present construction was built from stone, begun at the time of Afonso I and continued with various modifications in the following centuries. The imposing medieval Guimaraes Castle with eight crenellated towers 28m high, was built in the 10th century to protect the population from attacks by the Moors and the Normans. It was then extended to its present size in the 12th century by Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, who was baptized in the small Romanesque chapel next to the castle. It was completely renovated from 1387 to 1413, with three naves and a wooden roof structure, according to the Portuguese Gothic model. The cloister was added in the 16th century and the present sanctuary to the church in the 17th.  Part of it was demolished in the 18th century and since then it has been subject to restorations. FREE ENTRY. Everyday 9.30 -18.00. This is a small castle and the walk takes you inside and around the central tower. It is a short visit since most sections are closed to the public. Signage is minimal. Access to the walls is barricaded:

    Close to the castle, there is a small Romanesque church, São Miguel do Castelo (Igreja de São Miguel do Castelo), ruined in the 19th century and restored in the 1920s. The church is emblematically linked to the foundation of the Portuguese Kingdom; legend suggests that it was the sight of the baptism of the young Afonso Henriques. At this humble chapel, D. Afonso Henriques, the founder and first King of Portugal, was baptized. The "original" baptismal fountain still can be seen inside the chapel. Legend or not, the Church of St. Michael of the Castle (the oficial name of the chapel) was built around the 13th Century, in the late romantic style, at the so called Sacred Hill ("Colina Sagrada"). It became ruins until the 20th Century, when restoration efforts brought it to the actual looks. The Chapel, together with the neighboring Castle of Guimarães and the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança (see below), form a complex of great historical and architectural importance:

    Nearby, south-west to the castle is the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança (Paço Dos Duques De Bragança). The most beautiful building at Guimaraes ! The palace is a wonderful restoration and worth seeing. A large medieval palace, with 39 unusual brick chimneys showing strong Northern European influence. Built from stone down the hill from the castle. The first construction dates from 1420-22, most probably under French influence. The building was conceived as a symbol of the pride of the Bragança family. The building underwent various vicissitudes, serving as a military headquarters in the late 19th century. During the Salazar dictatorship as an official residence for the president. Inside is an impressive banqueting hall with a splendid wooden ceiling, and an extensive collection of portraits, furniture, carpets, and porcelain dating mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries. The Palace was only inhabited permanently during the 15th Century and in the following centuries a progressive abandonment and consequent ruin settled. This condition was only altered when - in the 19th century - what was left of the Palace was reused so a military barracks could be installed in its premises and, in the 20th century, due to political motivations, it was fully rebuilt. Between 1937 and 1959 a complex reconstruction was carried out based on a project by the architect Rogério de Azevedo. At the same time, a Commission was created to gather a group of objects, dating mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries, in order to assemble the interiors. The Ducal Palace of the Bragança was classified as a National Monument in 1910 - even before its reconstruction - and is currently a dependency of the Direção Regional de Cultura do Norte. Inside there is a Museum (1st floor), a wing for the Presidency of the Republic (main facade, 2nd floor) and a vast area dedicated to several cultural initiatives (on the ground floor). The Ducal Palace of the Bragança is one of the most visited Museums in Portugal both by Portuguese as well as foreigners.

    Prices: Adult - 5 euros, senior - 2.50 euros. You can pay one more euro and get a second ticket to the Museo de Alberto Sampaio which doesn't seem well known but is 10 minutes walk down the hill and holds wealth of art and artifacts.

    Open: everyday: 09.30 - 18.15. Last admission: 17.45. Closed: January 1, Easter Sunday, May 1 and December 25. Free entrances: First Sunday of each month, Children up to 12 years old.

    Visitors are allowed to take non commercial photos without flash light and tripod.

    The Palace is located in the urban setting of the historic centre of Guimarães on the top of Monte Latito, encircled by a forested park and green-space, intersected by several pedestrian trails. In its proximity to the southeast, the Chapel of Santa Cruz, to the north the Church of São Miguel do Castelo and the Castle of Guimarães. In a space to the left of the main ramp/entranceway is a monument erected to Afonso Henriques:

    The following description is taken from the Wikipedia(=>)

    Structured around a central rectangular courtyard, the lateral buildings housing the official residences, while a chapel is located opposite the entrance. Its simple/basic form is one of the best examples of Portuguese late-medieval construction used by the nobility, comparable to the 14th century French palaces/buildings of the time. The plan developed around a rectangular building with four rectangular towers, around an interior courtyard dominated by the chapel on the southeast wing. The spaces are articulated and staggered horizontal floors, covered with different roof tiles, in addition to with six tall chimneys. Each façades is made of granite, masonry block and interspersed by rectangular windows of varying styles: cruciform, stained-glass, standard and oblique. A few of the first floor windows are covered in metal grating. The northwest façade has an arch doorway surmounted by corbels and is recessed from the two towers. The superior floor is a balcony that runs the length of the interior courtyard, supported by corbels, which unite the guard towers. The lateral (northeast and southwest) façades are of a lower height and covered by trim and corbels, that support the covered balcony, interspersed by openings at floor level. The southwest wing is broken by the body of the chapel, which extends away from the façade (identifiable by two large Flemish stained-glass windows), and is highlighted by a cantilever roof within the courtyard. The towers are all closed rectangular bodies, with watchtowers, interspersed by small windows. The interior patio, accessible from the main doorway, is a balcony that overlooks the courtyard: supported by Gothic arches on the main floor and columns on the second. At the roof-line, on all interior façades are balconies supported by granite corbels, while the chapel-side façade is highlighted by two isolated balconies (covered by tiled awnings) supported by similar corbels. The same façade is highlighted by a cantilever roof, supported by a rounded wooden arch and two supports decorated with columns. In the interior of this awning is a portal (consisting of four inset arches) preceded by a staircase, which gives access to the chapel. The gallery is covered by masonry stone on the main floor, and tiles on the second, with interior covering in wood.(>=)

    In 1937, restoration work was begun on the building and on 24 June 1959, exactly 831 years after the Battle of São Mamede, the palace was brought back to life in all its Norman-inspired Gothic glory. On the ground floor in the north wing is a small museum of contemporary art, which houses pieces given to the city of his birth by the painter José de Guimarães (the artist who created Portugal´s tourism symbol).

    The main entrance and ramp showing the two floors and entrance:

    The southeast corner of the Palace, showing a clear division between building styles:

    The west facade:

    The austere interior spaces include simple granite walls with ceilings and floors in wood. Spaces on the first floor are divided into several rooms, separated by narrow corridors that run perpendicular to the façades. In these spaces are the visitors reception area, storage, carpenters space, main hall and office of the director of the site. In the main wing is the unique staircase in the palace, consisting of four flights in granite. The intermediary floor, corresponds to the museum space, consisting of the towers and halls with rock fireplaces, including the Salão de Banquetes (Banquet Hall) and the Salão dos Paços Perdidos(Hall of Lost Town Hall), with roofs designed like the interior keel of a boat, in wood. The last floor, was dedicated for the use of the President of the Republic, and is characterized by a succession of bedrooms with private bathrooms, between two suites located within the towers (for the President and Prime Minister. This floor is immediately accessible via the small elevator on the ground floor and staircase from the second floor cloister. The last floor of the posterior wing is marked by a succession of rooms and the chapel.

    Nobles Hall:

    "Prastrana" tapestries depicting Portuguese wars in North Africa. There are four copies of the tapestries Prastrana:

    Helmets and spears from Portuguese wars in Africa:

    Dining Hall:

    Room of Donna Catherine:

    Antechambre:

    Scipio's Room:

    The courtyard and chapel entrance, showing the Romanesque era portico and exaggerated influences dating from the Estado Novo era:

    The chapel has a single nave, which is covered by a wooden ceiling presenting visible joists. A straight narrow wooden choir, allows access to balconies which extend to the front of the church and the exterior facade, as well as the corridors of the remaining wards. The richly carved wood benches in the nave precede the elevated presbytery, which is delimited by a wooden guardrail. The little chapel is so peaceful and the stained glass windows are beautiful:

    stained glass windows in the chapel:

    Room of St. Miguel:

    We head now to Monte da Penha. Our direction, at the moment, is south (and, later, north-east). We head, first, to Largo Condessa da Mumadona. With your back to the Dukes Palace we descend southward. We turn left (where the carriage with horses stand). You get to small park with stone seats (there are restrooms here !). Descend the stairs. On your left - a nice fountain:

    From the fountain - DO NOT DESCEND THE STAIRS. Take the path to the left. Ascend and descend the stairs - when the palace and the city walls on your left. IN the end of the stairs - cross the street (Rua Dona Constância de Noronha) and turn right (west). Walk west along Rua Dona Constância de Noronha (Tribunal da Comerca - on your right).

    You arrive to the Largo Condessa da Mumadona. Mumadona Dias, or Muniadomna Díaz, Countess of Portugal in the 10th century, who ruled the county jointly with her husband from about c. 920 and then on her own after her husband's death around 950 until her death in 968. Celebrated, rich and the most powerful woman in the Northwest of the Iberian peninsula, she has been commemorated by several Portuguese cities. Guimarães Castle was built by Mumadona.

    Statue of Mumadona Dias, in front of the city court:

    Note, west to the square, the ancient city walls. On your back - the Paço Dos Duques De Bragança lighted under the afternoon sun. With your face southward - pass Convento de Santa Clara and cross southward Rua Almirante Sousa Ventura. Head south on R. dos Combatentes da Grande Guerra toward R. Abade de Tagilde, 200 m. Turn left onto R. Dr. José Sampaio/N101-2, 60 m. Turn right onto R. do Rei Pegu, 300 m. Slight left and you arrive to the Teleférico de Guimarães, Rua Comendador Joaquim Sousa Oliveira 37. THe cable, here, brings you to Penha Mountain - Monte da Penha. Penha is the name of a mountain located right next to Guimarães old town. It offers amazing views over entire city. On the top of the mountain, you may visit the Sanctuary to which you will ride the cable car climbing 400 m over the ground providing passengers with unforgettable experience and most amazing views on Guimarães. Penha Mountain, is the only mountain in Guimarães, when you can have a wonderful view over the city. You can go there through an elevator, where you can taste a little more of the mountain spirit, and at the same time get different views of the city. It provides a journey of 1,700 m., Winning an altitude of 400m. in just 7-10 minutes. Penha Mountain has excellent access and parking for cars and buses, Cable turns a visit to Guimarães Penha mountain - unforgettable. Penha Mountain, beyond the Sanctuary,  offers a wide range of infrastructure, especially one Camping Mountain, a mini-golf, fitness circuits, walking areas and picnic in the shade of leafy trees, restaurants, bars and cafeterias. OPen: Months of November, December, January, February and March: 10.00 - 17.30. Months of April, May and October: 10.00 - 18.30. Months of June, July and September: 10.00 - 19.00 Monday to Friday and Saturdays, 10.00 - 20.00 Sundays and holidays. August: 10.00 - 20.00. Closed for maintenance the last Monday of each month. Last shipment: 15 minutes before closing. Adult - 4.5 euros.

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    for the Monte da Penha description - see the Guimaraes - Monte da Penha itinerary.

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