Days 3-4 - Art Nouveau and other Cultural Attractions in Riga:
Part 1 Main Attractions: Audēju iela 7, Kalēju iela 23, Šķūņu iela 4, Šķūņu Street 10/12, Tirgoņu iela 4, Latvian National Opera, Blaumaņa iela 28, Elizabetes iela 22, Bergs Bazaar (Berga bazārs), Hotel Bergs, Latvian Puppet Theatre, Radisson Blu Hotel, Esplanāde Park, Riga Nativity of Christ Cathedral, Latvian National Museum of Art.
Part 2 Main Attractions: Elizabetes iela 39-41, Elizabetes street 33, Elizabetes iela 10 A, Elizabetes iela 19, Riga Ferry Terminal, Strēlnieku iela 4A, Alberta iela 13, Alberta iela 11, Alberta iela 12 (Art Nouveau Museum), Alberta iela 8, Alberta iela 4, Alberta iela 2, Alberta iela 2A, Alberta iela 1, The Flying Frog cafe' and restaurant, Kronvalda Park, City Canal (Pilsētas Kanāls), Latvian National Theatre.
Duration: 1 day - 2 days. Distance (two parts): 7 km. Weather: any weather. Start & End: The Central Bus Station / Wellton Hotel and Spa.
Introduction: First, we shall explore several individual buildings in central Old Riga (Vecrīga). Later, we'll walk along Elizabetes iela (from south to north). We'll finish our route with the stunning Alberta iela and walk back southward to Old Riga. The majority of the Art Nouveau buildings are individual houses. Very few of them are museums. Our route goes from south to north.
Art Nouveau architecture is one of Riga’s claims to fame. Over a third of all buildings in Riga are examples of this unique school of design. When Art Nouveau was at the height of its popularity, Riga just experienced an unprecedented financial boom. This incredible wealth also coincided with an earlier lifting of a ban against erecting masonry buildings outside the city walls. In medieval times, all of the wooden buildings outside the ramparts would be razed to prevent an invading army from using them for shelter.
One of the city’s most prolific Art Nouveau architects was Mikhail Eisenstein (1867 - 1921), father of the legendary Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein who gave the world such cinematic treasures as Battleship Potemkin and Ivan the Terrible. He is best known for his collection of buildings on Alberta iela that is famous for its unusual sculpture, coloured bricks and tiles, geometric ornaments and uniquely shaped windows.
Other Latvians would also leave their mark on Riga and Konstantīns Pēkšēns (1859 - 1928) designed no less than 250 buildings including the iconic edifice at Alberta 12, which the architect once called home and that now houses the Riga Art Nouveau Museum. A founder of the Riga Architects Union and a Riga councilman, he embraced all of the styles of the times and moved on from the eclecticism so popular in mid to late-1800s Riga to Art Nouveau and its later offshoot, national romanticism. The latter was an attempt by Latvian architects to incorporate elements of ethnic mythology and folklore into their designs.
Art Nouveau should NOT be confused, as it often is, with 1930s Art Deco. The ‘new art’ or ‘new style’ , also referred to as Jugendstil, is a slightly older form of expression that gained popularity at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. If something looks sleek, angular and shiny - it’s probably Art Deco. If you’re faced with elaborate, flamboyant naked maidens, floral motifs and funky gargoyles, it’s most likely Art Nouveau.
But Art Nouveau wasn’t only relegated to the façades of Riga buildings. The flowery style became a part of everyday life and was present in well-to-do homes in furniture, flatware and fashion and was commercially used in graphic design, most famously in advertisement posters. For a fascinating look at an Art Nouveau apartment where even the bathroom and kitchen are adorned with Jugendstil elements do not miss the Riga Art Nouveau Museum where you'll have the opportunity to be dressed in period costume.
Part 1 from Riga Bus Station to the Latvian National Museum of Art:
Days 3-4 Part 1 Itinerary: From Wellton Hotel and Spa we head SOUTH, 30 m. Turn right onto Vecpilsētas iela, 190 m. Turn right to stay on Vecpilsētas iela, 55 m. Turn right onto Audēju iela and look to your right at the house at Audēju iela 7. One of the first Art Nouveau buildings in Rīga. The building has an asymmetrical façade with stylised plants – irises, dandelions etc. On the Audēju Street façade, there is a relief presenting a stylised apple tree – the symbol of creative power. There are apples in the branches of the tree, and they symbolise wealth, productivity and welfare. There’s also a small bay window with surprised faces on either side. The building now houses a design institute:
Head east on Audēju iela toward Kalēju iela, 55 m. Turn left and walk 90 m. onto Kalēju iela to see the house at Kalēju iela 23. One of Riga’s most beautiful buildings was the brainchild of Pauls Mandelštams, who is also considered to be the city’s first Jewish architect. You can’t miss its grand entrance way embellished with daisies and a hanging lamp made to look like a flower. The central element in the building is the bay window encircled with chestnut leaves and flowers. At the centre of the bay window – a gilded representation of the sun, something that can be seen in various versions in the façades of many Art Nouveau buildings in Rīga. The building now is home to offices and a café:
Head northwest on Kalēju iela toward Teātra iela, 200 m. Turn left onto Kaļķu iela, 70 m. Turn right onto Šķūņu iela and walk 35 m. to find the house at Šķūņu iela 4. The same architect as in Kalēju iela 23 - Pauls Mandelštams. The house is very simplistic and hardly worth our attention. Figures of children are seen on the entrance portal. Such figures usually represented intermediaries between the spiritual and the material world. Art Nouveau stained glass is seen in the windows of the stairwell. The building is now full of offices and looks quite neglected:
Walk further north-west to arrive to Šķūņu Street 10/12. Completely different story. This striking art nouveau building completed in 1902 was designed by the Baltic German duo of Friedrich Scheffel and Heinrich Scheel. Unfortunately, most people don’t even notice it because the street is so narrow. Its beautiful features including the watchdog at the top of the façade are best appreciated from Amatu iela. The façade of the building is decorated with stylized plants – reeds, poppies, narcissus and chestnut leaves. Elements of flora are also seen in the balcony railings and the metalwork on the roof. The main accent of the building is the ornate and massive two-story bay window, decorated richly with motifs of the poppy. The dog above the bay window is guarding the building. The initials of the original owner (businessman called Detmann) can also be seen in the façade. The architect is Heinrihs Šēls:
The same owner, Detmann, owned in the past the building at Tirgoņu iela 4 (adjacent to the Lido restaurant in our blog of Riga Day 2. The symmetrical façade is accented with a bay window that has balconies on either side. The entrance portal is accented with sculptures. The pilasters at the corner of the building turn into expressive sculptures of a female and a male figure. Art Nouveau metal carvings decorate the windows of the two lower floors. Our opinion is that you may skip also this building and turn to the Riga Opera House:
We change direction and look forward to explore the eastern parts of Old Riga (Vecrīga) from south to north. We head, first, to the Opera House surrounded by charming gardens and water. From Tirgoņu iela 4 to the Latvian National Opera: Head north on Tirgoņu iela toward Šķūņu iela, 35 m. Turn right onto Šķūņu iela, 30 m. Turn left onto Amatu iela, 120 m. Turn right toward Riharda Vāgnera iela, 80 m. Continue onto Riharda Vāgnera iela, 170 m. Turn left onto Teātra iela, 70 m. Turn left to stay on Teātra iela, 60 m. The Latvian National Opera, Aspazijas bulvāris 3 is on your right. From Šķūņu Street 10/12 to the Opera building: head southeast on Šķūņu iela toward Mazā Monētu iela, 80 m. Turn left onto Kaļķu iela, 120 m. Turn right onto Riharda Vāgnera iela, 170 m. Turn left onto Teātra iela, 70 m. Turn left to stay on Teātra iela, 60 m. Turn left and the Latvian National Opera, Aspazijas bulvāris 3 is on the right. The Latvian National Opera is the home of Latvian opera, choir, orchestra and national ballet. This stunning building stands between Old Riga and the City Canal. The opera and ballet of Latvia have established themselves well on the international stage. The Latvian National Opera is housed in a white-washed building constructed in year 1863, designed by architect Ludwig Bohnstedt. It was destroyed by a gas leak in 1882. It was reopened in 1887 and included the city’s very first electric power station, whose tall smoke stack is still visible today. It was fully renovated during 1990-1995 to provide best conditions for both performers and audience. A new annex, combining 19th century and today's architectural elements, was added to the building in 2001. in 1912, Pāvuls Jurjāns opened the Latvian Opera House. Unfortunately, the outbreak of WW1 led to the departure of Latvia's first opera singers to Russia. In 1918, Jāzeps Vītols revived the house and kept it running until the Soviet takeover of 1940, after which it was renamed the Latvian S.S.R. State Opera and Ballet Theatre and its repertoire was significantly affected by the Soviet ideology. In 1991, along with Latvia’s independence, the theatre regained its original name and artistic freedom. There are over 200 performances annually. The tickets are reasonably priced. The most expensive tickets are around 40 euros and the cheapest ones less than 10 euros. The Opera is closed from June to End of August. In other months - DO NOT MISS any available performance. When it is sold out, you can ask about standing tickets. Go to the Box Office at 18.00 on the day and there might be available places in the 'standing section'. Riga has an annual opera festival period in mid-June which definitely might include opera/ballet special events in this spectacular building. The park opposite the Opera, the fountain and the building façade – are, all, WONDERFUL in a sunny day. Do not miss the fountain and the small bronze sculpture in front of the building:
A sculpture of Māris Rūdolfs Liepa (27 July 1936, Riga – 26 March 1989, Moscow) a Soviet Latvian ballet dancer (male) :
If you walk several metres north from the Ballet dancer statue - you see another charming sculpture of the Mayor and his Wife and Dog (George Armitstead 4th Mayor of Riga). George Armitstead was the mayor of Riga from 1901 to 1912. His wife was Cecile Pychlau:
We shall walk, now, approx. 1 km to move to the eastern part of Vecrīga. Before entering the l-o-n-g Elizabets street - we shall visit another impressive building in narrow Blaumana iela 28. Go back to the southern side of the Opera building. Head southeast on Aspazijas bulvāris toward Teātra iela, 70 m. Turn left toward Krišjāņa Barona iela, 35 m. Slight right toward Krišjāņa Barona iela, 40 m. Turn left toward Krišjāņa Barona iela, 30 m. Turn right toward Krišjāņa Barona iela, 10 m. Turn left onto Krišjāņa Barona iela, 750 m (!). Turn right onto Blaumaņa iela for 40 m. and the Art Noveau house at Blaumaņa iela 28 is on the right. The house is packed into a narrow space where Blaumaņa and Pērses streets meet at Barona street. This Art Nouveau building was designed by Karl Johann Felsko in 1903. It is covered in dragons, wolves and a variety of other macabre animals:
Now, we return to Elizabetes iela - starting at the house in £22. From Blaumaņa iela 28 head southeast toward Marijas iela, 190 m. Turn right onto busy Marijas iela, 350 m. Turn right onto Elizabetes iela, 50 m. and Elizabetes iela 22 is on the right. In its own time was the largest residential building in Riga. it occupies a part of a district between Elizabetes, Marijas and Alfreda Kalnina streets.
A bit more northward to Elizabetes 22 there is a samll alley to your right (east) pointing to The Bergs Bazaar (Berga bazārs). An historical pedestrian village-like enclave originally constructed between 1887–1900. It has been turned into a small, stylish and trendy shopping and dining attraction. Simply stroll about stopping to rest on one of the many benches:
A bit further north, along Elizabetes iels, on your right - a marvelous blooming oasis in front of Hotel Bergs. A complex of a five-star, small, luxury hotel, contemporary offices space and private rental apartments:
Further north, in the intersection of Elizabetes iela and Krišjāņa Barona iela - we see, on our right, the Latvian Puppet Theater (Latvijas Leļļu teātris) (http://www.lelluteatris.lv/en/192-kase). The Latvian Puppet Theatre offers performances in either Latvian or Russian every day, but shows often sell out, so buy tickets at its box office as soon as possible. Tickets office is open: 10:00-18:00, SAT, SUN 10:00-17:00. There are more than 30 plays in Russian and in Latvian for children from 2 years at the repertoire of the theatre. Performances take place at the Great Hall, Small Hall and the small Puppet Museum, which is located in the same building (K.Barona 16-18):
We continue walking northward along Elizabetes iela. Now, crossing Krišjāņa Barona iela (on our left and right) - we see the Vērmanes Park on our left. Meanwhile, we skip this nice park and insist walking along Elizabetes iela. 500 m. north to this intersection - we see the high-rising Radisson Blu Hotel with its 25th floor Sky Bar restaurant. This restaurant allows the BEST, panoramic view of Riga. BUT, you must order food in this bar for having this view. This restaurant is CLOSED in the morning hours. So, we took the elevator (FREE...) to the 24th floor and took magnificent photos of this wonderful city - through the glass windows of the highest floors in the Radisson Blu hotel. Note: these windows allow only 270° panoramic view. You have to be prompt, polite and assertive with your presence in this property. Come with a reasonable code of dress and nobody will say a word !
Before you cross the Elizabetes street and enter the park - continue walking several steps. see the building at Elizabetes iela 67 near restaurant Lido Vērmanītis:
Walk 90 m. further nort and DO NOT miss the Splendid Palace on your right. Old cinema building. The external facade, although hidden from the street, is lovely. There is a very good bistro/restaurant inside with friendly staff. In the evenings - it is a cinema/theatre. Movies are screened in their original language but with perfect atmosphere and quality:
Opposite the Radisson BLu Hotel ,west to the Rhotel, is the Riga Nativity of Christ Cathedral (Russian Orthodox Church) and the Esplanāde Park. We descend from the hotel high floors, cross Elizabetes iela and have a LONG detour in the Esplanāde Park.
Our main points of interest into this park are: the Latvian National Museum of Art graces on one (north) side, while the cupolas of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral majestically rise in the other (south). There are no real attraction drawing you to the park on its own. We skipped the Latvian Art Academy, residing adjacent to the museum. The park used to be teeming with Soviet-era sculpture. The Esplanāde Park was once an unruly and unkempt hill known as Senais or Kubes kalns. It was mentioned as early as the 12th century as a staging point for enemies to attack the area, which is why it was finally levelled by military decree in 1784. The flattened land later served as a parade ground for the local garrison. It was converted into a park during Riga’s 700th anniversary celebrations in year 1901. The present greenery was created in 1950 as a community park. The park includes statues of Prince and General Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly (born 27 December 1761, died 24 September 1818), a Russian Field Marshal and Minister of War during Napoleon's invasion in 1812,
Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly, Russia postage stamp, 2011:
a renowned writer Rainis and the
The Riga Nativity of Christ Cathedral (Kristus Piedzimšanas pareizticīgo katedrāle) is situated a bit south-west from the statue of Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly. The golden domes of the cathedral are quite visible from many parts of Riga and the church is a very nice landmark. The gleaming gold domes that sparkle in the sun are an unforgettable sight. Really nice stonework on the outside and very well decorated on the inside. Lots of gold and beautiful icons inside. It is known that photography is NOT allowed inside Russian/Orthdox churches. BUT, we had seen several visitors taking photos - and we did the same. Women need to cover heads, so take a head scarf. It was built between 1876 and 1883, with decorations made by the firm of August Volz, during the period when the country was part of the Russian Empire. It is the largest Orthodox cathedral in the Baltic provinces built with the blessing of the Russian Tsar Alexander II. During the end of the 19th century the neo-Byzantine style building was the most expensive edifice of that time in Riga, its interior was uniquely rich and of high artistic value. The cathedral was renowned for its outstanding collection of ancient and valuable icons. Three iconostasis painted by the brightest lecturers of St Petersburg Academy of Art and the famous Russian painter Vasily Vereshchagin. During the First World War German troops occupied Riga and turned its largest Russian Orthodox cathedral into a Lutheran church. In independent Latvia, it became, again, an Orthodox cathedral in 1921. Soviet authorities closed down the cathedral and converted its building into a planetarium. The cathedral has been restored since Latvia regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
The Latvian National Museum of Art, Jaņa Rozentāla laukums 1 (closed on Mondays) is the greatest surprise of your day 3 in Riga or during this itinerary. It is situated next to the Academy of Art. You see Magen David (Jewish Stars) in the front facade of the Academy - since, part of the funds for construction of the academy - were raised by Latvian Jews. OPening hours: TUE:10.00 – 18.00, WED: 10.00 – 18.00, THU: 10.00 – 18.00, FRI: 10.00 – 20.00, SAT: 10.00 – 17.00, SUN: 10.00 – 17.00. Prices: 3 euros, concessions: 1.50 euros:
Academy of Art:
Reconstruction of the Latvian National Museum of Art lasted several years and was finished on 1 December 2015. The building was designed by the German architect Wilhelm Neumann and built in 1905.
Rear side (into the Esplanāde Park) of Latvian National Museum of Art:
The main entrance from 11 Krišjāņa Valdemāra iela:
Latvian National Museum of Art - the lovely Kafenica. Beautifully designed:
Take the elevator and start your visit at the stunning floor 5 (wooden attic) or CUPOLA. More contemporary art (during AUG 2018: hand-knitted rugs, Transfiguration by Egils Rozenbers). Fantastic design of wooden cupola with giant white wood beams and a transparent GLASS FLOOR. Unbelievable design. A great, unique experience of design and exhibition space ! DO NOT MISS floor 5 !!:
From the cupola you can go out onto two roof terraces with views over the City. Fantastic view from the balcony in floor 5 to the south:
Radisson Blu Hotel from southern terrace in Floor 5:
Riga Nativity of Christ Cathedral (Kristus Piedzimšanas pareizticīgo katedrāle) from Attic at floor 5 - breathtaking sight:
View to the north, Krišjāņa Valdemāra iela:
We descended to floor 4 (with glass floor)
to see a temporary exhibition of the Latvian painter Niklavs Strunke (1894–1966). One of the most outstanding representatives of the 20th century Latvian Avant-garde. He was a painter, graphic artist, book decorator, designer and theatrical artist. During summer 2018 the museum displayed his paintings of Italy.
Niklavs Strunke, capri, 1924:
Niklavs Strunke, Florentine in Winter, 1929:
Strunke made the cover to the book "1000 & One Nights":
Floor 3 includes several unheard Latvian Artists.
Karlis Padegs, 1952:
Floor 3 - Latvian Art - Janis Tidemanis, 1930s:
Floor 3 - Latvian Art - Leo Svemps, 1937:
Floor 3 - Latvian Art - Niklavs Strunke, 1937:
Floor 3 - Latvian Art - Jekabe Kazalke (1895-1920), Circus:
Jekabe Kazalke, Ladies at the Seaside, 1920:
Floor 3 - Latvian Art - Alexandra Belcova, Tennis Player, 1927:
Teodoris Zalkains, 1928, Portrait of Mussorgsky:
Arturs Baumanis (1847-1904), 1887, Horse of Destiny:
Janis Rozentalis, 1894, Coming from the Church:
Do not miss the empty Central Hall in Floor 3:
From Floor 3 we recommend using the pretty stairway. A A good photo-op of the interiors of this beautiful building and gem:
Floor 2 - The Soviet era, Janis Osis, Rowing Race, 1958:
Floor 2 - The Soviet era, Leonids Maurins, 1972, Silvery Night Fishing:
Floor 2 - The Soviet era, Meija Tabaka, 1974, Wedding at Rundale Palace:
Floor 2 - Central Hall:
We exit the museum from its north entrance in 11 Krišjāņa Valdemāra iela and walk east to the intersection of Elizabetes iela and Krišjāņa Valdemāra iela. Then, we turn left and walk northward along Elizabetes iela. Skip to tip 2 below.
Lithuania - Day 1 in Vilnius:
Part 1: Vilnius Old Town.
Part 2: St. Anne's & Bernardine Churches, Užupis, Vilnius Cathedral Square.
Duration: 1 day. Distance: 10-12 km. Weather: no rain. Start : Comfort Hotel LT - Rock 'N' Roll or Vilnius Railway Station / Vilnius Bus Station. End: Vilnius Cathedral.
Part 1 Main Attractions: Gates of Dawn, Amber Sculpture Museum, Holy Church of Trinity, Church of St. Casimir, Town Hall Square (Vilniaus rotušė), Zemach Shabad Monument, Kazys Varnelis House–Museum, Constantine Sirvydo Square, Vilnius University, Literra bookstore.
Part 2 Main Attractions: literatų gatvė, Saint Anne’s Church, Bernardine Church, Bernardine Monastery, Adam Mickiewicz Monument, Užupis Angel, Constitution of the Republic of Užupis, Entrance to Užupis, Bernardine Gardens, Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, Monument to Grand Duke Gediminas, Vilnius Cathedral.
Our hotel in Vilnius: Comfort Hotel LT - Rock 'N' Roll, Kauno g. 14, Naujamiestis, Vilnius. It is presented in Booking.com as a 2-star hotel. A joke. It is a SUPERB hotel. it deserves 4 stars. VERY ATTRACTIVE hotel. Full with colors. Young and vibrant atmosphere. Modern, clean, comfortable, quiet, attentive and helpful. All the staff members are young. Take high-floor room. Better, a room on the back (you'll have a nice view of Vilnius Old Town houses' roofs). Rooms are spacious. There only two cons: the hotel is A BIT more distant than other popular hotels (it takes 15 minutes to walk to the Old Town). There are very few restaurants around. One of them is the Ararat - Armenian restaurant (5 minutes walk from the hotel). Second disadvantage is that the Hotel (not everyday) is very busy and fully-occupied due to tourist groups. THe dining-room might be busy from 08.00 to 09.00. Beyond these hours - the breakfast is very good. A huge selection of food with many fresh options. Another daunting fact is the loud music during the breakfast (the 80s and 90s oldies) which, sometimes, is unbearable with heavy loads of diners. VERY RECOMMENDED HOTEL. It is 10 minutes pleasant walk to the railway and bus stations. Bus stop to/from the airport is 3 minutes walk. The bus to/from the airport costs 1 euro. The hotel-ordered taxi from/to the airport is a 8 euro fixed rate. The hotel is equipped with an elaborate gym. The hotel has an interesting, modern decor. It looks brand new. Good Wi-Fi connection. A big plus is that the hotel resides opposite to an HUGE supermarket with unbelievable selection and budget prices. The hotel provides you with gluten-free bread. Self-service laundry is available, n the 4th floor, for 10 euros and includes the washing powder.
Day-1 itinerary Part 1:
We start our tour in Vilnius Old Town at the Gates of Dawn. From Comfort Hotel LT - Rock 'N' Roll, Kauno g. 14 (Kauno g. x Mindaugo g. intersection) we head east 170 m. and continue onto V. Šopeno g., 170 m. The Bus Station is on your right (after climbing 2 minutes to the right). Note: in this area several street are not signposted clearly. Continue straight and turn left later onto Sodų g., 310 m. The Railway Station is on the right (top of the hill). Turn right onto Pylimo g., 30 m. Slight left onto Bazilijonų g. 280 m. Turn left onto Aušros Vartų g., 15 m. You arrived to the Gates of Dawn, Aušros Vartų g. 14. This is the only surviving gate of the first original five (some say ten) gates in the city wall. It was built between 1503 and 1522 as a part of defensive fortifications for the city of Vilnius, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Of ten city gates, only the Gate of Dawn remains, while the others were destroyed by the order of the government at the end of the 18th century. The gates were first mentioned in 1514. At first the Gates of Dawn were called the Medininkai Gate, as it is on the road to Medininkai. In Polish this gate is called Ostra Brama, the “Sharp Gate” because it was in the southern end of the city, which was called the Sharp. In the 16th century city gates often contained religious artifacts intended to guard the city from attacks and to bless travelers.
The Chapel in the Gate of Dawn contains an icon of The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy, said to have miraculous powers. This little church is situated above the gate/arch. You first see a few frames full of medallions as offerings of thanks from prayers. These frames are again in the main room. The Madonna herself is inspirational. Very powerful imagery and one can understand why she commands such devotion from the crowds. The painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, in the Chapel of the Gates of Dawn is known all over the world. It is believed to have miraculous powers. The Blessed Virgin Mary of Ausros Vartai (Lithuanian for Gate of Dawn) is considered the guardian of Lithuania. Many churches in other countries have copies of this painting. The icon is artistically beautiful. The picture, which is also called “Vilnius Madonna”, was painted in 17th century. It is painted in the Renaissance style, in tempera on oak boards, later repainted in oil. Since the middle of the 17th century it has been said to have miracle-working powers. One of Lithuania’s most celebrated pilgrimage sites. More than half a million people visit the shrine each year to see the portrait of the Blessed Virgin Mary that lies within its walls. Note: if services are held in the church (from the street looking up, you get a clear view if there are no worshipers standing in the balcony) - there is no access to the church. This location attracts many devout worshipers and can be busy - especially in the morning and evening hours. With your back to the old town (north) and face to the gate (south) take the left side stairs to climb to the church:
As we continue walking north on Aušros Vartų g. - we see, on our right, a section of the walls of Old Vilnius:
200 m. further north-west we arrive (on our left) to the Gintaro skulpturu ir inkliuzu muziejus, Amber (Amber Sculpture Museum "Amber"), Aušros Vartų g. 9. Open: SUN-THU 10.00 – 19.00, FRI-SAT 10.00 – 17.00. FREE. When we visited this olace - it looked like a typical tourist/souvenirs shop. Two rooms only.
Several steps further north, on your right, is the Holy Church of Trinity. The church/monastery compound contains a fortified entrance gate, a university, an hotel complex for visitors and monastic cells. The church is surrounded by adjoining four towers at each corner:
30 m. further north - the German restaurant Bunte Gans is very recommended and reasonably priced. Big portions. Again, 30 m. further, Gusto Blynine, Aushros Vartu 6 is a Pancakes restaurant with GF offers as well. Recommended. Head further northwest on Aušros Vartų g. toward Pasažo skg., 95 m. Continue onto Didžioji g., 90 m. On your left is the Radisson Blu Hotel.
Opposite, on your right (when your face to the north) is the Church of St. Casimir (Šv. Kazimiero bažnyčia). It is the first and the oldest Baroque church in Vilnius. It is as beautiful from outside as inside. Absolutely worth a visit. The construction of the church began in 1604 in memory of the holy prince Saint Casimir. It was built by the Jesuits with funding by the Great Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Lew Sapieha. The construction was finished in 1616, and the interior design completed in 1618. Its composition and facade were designed along in line with the famous Il Gesù church in Rome. It remimdes also the churches in Kraków and Lublin, Poland. The design was of Jan Frankiewicz, a pupil of architect Giovanni Maria Bernardoni:
Continue onto Didžioji g. for 170 m. to arrive to the Town Hall Square (Vilniaus rotušė). The town Hall in Vilnius was mentioned for the first time in 1432. In 1387, Lithuania became a Christian state and Vilnius was granted Magdeburg rights. Thus, there appeared a need for headquarters for the city authorities. As the main square of the city was located here, it was decided to build the Town Hall in the same place. The building housed the magistrate (in other words, the city councilors) as well as court rooms, the treasury, archives, an arms and ammunition warehouse, and rooms for preserving standards of measurement. A prison was established in the basement. Initially it was a Gothic style building and has since been reconstructed many times. The current Vilnius Town Hall was rebuilt in neoclassical style according to the design by Laurynas Gucevičius in 1799. It has remained unchanged since then. The Town Hall's Gothic cellars have been preserved and may be visited. In the 20th century, an art museum was housed in the Town Hall. Today Vilnius Town Hall is a representative building. Many different events are organised at the Town Hall during a year: concerts, literary evenings, presentations of books, exhibitions and festivals. The building is impressive, with its six large pillars, and classical style with a low sloping roof. A flight of steps lead to the main entrance, which says, 'Vilniaus Rotuse'. The pediment of the Town Hall is adorned with the coat-of-arms of the city of Vilnius – St Christopher carrying baby Jesus on his shoulders. There is Tourist Information Office in the building (left hand side of the facade with your face to it).
The Town Hall Square (Rotušės aikštė) at the southern end of the Pilies Street is a traditional centre of trade and events in Vilnius and is lined with attractive buildings and colour. Major annual fairs, such as Kaziukas Fair (Saint Casimir Fair on the beginning of March), are held in this square, the main Christmas tree is decorated here, various concerts and other attractions are organised as well as celebrations of the important dates of the state. During summer months expect open concerts during the evenings. During the nights the buildings are all lit up.
Before continuing down north along Didžiji g. and the Town Hall Square - we turn LEFT (west) at the north-west corner of the Town Hall building (the south-west corner of the square) to Vokiečių g. Here, resides The Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) (Šiuolaikinio meno centras ), 2 Vokiečių street. Note the black statue at the middle of this busy street or avenue:
On the first turn to the LEFT (south-west) we turn to
and, opposite, is Zemach Shabad Monument in MesiniU Street close to the intersection with Dysnos g. It is a tribute to the Jewish heritage of the city. The monument shows bearded man with a child. He was one of the most famous members of the Jewish community of his times, and was a Doctor and social activist. The monument reflects his concern for children: he is shown with a little girl and her kitten (in her lap). The doctor was prominent in making children remove their fear of medical procedures, and this lovely monument reflects this:
We return to the Town Hall on the same way - passing several cultural establishments (like the CAC) and more exclusive shops like this souvenirs, tabac and liquors shop:
We continue walking north along Didžioji g. and the houses' numbers are decreasing. Further north, the Kazys Varnelis House–Museum, Didžioji g. 26 is housed in one of the oldest buildings on the Rotuses square. Open: by advance booking MON-FRI 10.00 – 17.00, SAT 10.00 – 15.00. Visits are possible by guided tour only. They will arrange a guided tour also for just two people which is a real treat. Entrance fee is EUR 2.50 per person. The house-museum (33 halls) of the famous Lithuanian artist, a master of stained-glass and modern art (minimalism, optic art) houses various collections of great value: old graphics, painting, sculpture, furniture of Renaissance and later periods, and a collection of oriental art, maps and abstractions by Kazys Varnelis himself. 37 halls, impressive exhibition and amazing passionate guides. Tour last about 1.5-2 hrs. Appointment (by phone or email) necessary. Highly recommended:
Further north Didžioji g. 11:
On our right, at Didžioji g. 12, note the Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas.
Further north at Didžioji g. 4 is Lithuanian Art Museum (Lietuvos dailės muziejus) with 18-19 centuries paintings. We did NOT enter this museum and it looked quite deserted. We continue northward to Constantine Sirvydo Square (Konstantino Sirvydo skveras) known as "Frenchpark" or Park of Konstantin Sirvydas. The Konstantino Sirvydo skveras is north-west park adjacent to the museum. Constantine Syrvida is (lived around 1580-1631) - theologian, philosopher, writer, linguist, preacher, author of the first Lithuanian dictionary. The whole area around - beautiful palaces, interesting streets ! In the east side of the square is the Souvenir Market. Several artist exhibit their paintings. You can several impressive pictures:
Didžioji g continues north as Pilies g. With the first turn to the left from Pilies g. we arrive to Vilnius University campus. Head northeast on Šv. Jono g., 95 m and arrive to Vilnius University (Vilniaus universitetas). You pay for admission (2 euros, € 1,50 for students or seniors) to the university grounds; a nominal fee gets you a brochure of the architecture. Stroll around this beautiful Renaissance campus and don't miss the book store (open only on weekdays) with a ceiling that will remind you of the Sistine Chapel. You can pay separately to climb to the top of the Church Bell Tower for a great view of the old town and its surroundings. The cafeteria is a great place for lunch, but they close by 14.00.
Vilnius University is the oldest and the largest university in Lithuania established in 1579. As for a long time it was the only one university in Lithuania, it influenced Lithuanian society a lot. Nowadays it includes 19 academic subdivisions, almost 3000 employees and more than 23700 (!) students in total. The Vilnius University is one of the most important educational institutions in Lithuania which has operated for more than 400 years already. As a part of Lithuanian history, it also distinguishes in owning some objects of heritage of historic architecture. The Old ensemble of Vilnius university occupies an entire quarter of the Vilnius Old Town. It is located near the Presidential palace. 4 old streets (University st. , Castle st. , street of St. John and Kapas st.) surround the complex. This complex of buildings was finally formed in the end of the 18th century and, surprisingly, has not changed until nowadays. As an architectural masterpiece, the Old ensemble includes 12 buildings of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and classicism styles, the Church of St. John and a Bell tower. All these buildings perfectly reflect a history of the university as they were built not all at the same time, but one after another.
Vilnius University is the oldest university in the Baltic states and one of the oldest in Northern Europe. It is the largest university in Lithuania. The university was founded in 1579 as the Jesuit Academy (College) of Vilnius by Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland, Stephen Báthory. The wide-ranging Vilnius University buildings represent all major architectural styles that predominated in Lithuania: Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism. Note The Grand Courtyard of Vilnius University and Church of St. Johns and the main Library with its bronze doors. Inside the library: P. Smuglevičius hall in the Vilnius University Library. Note also Petras Repšys’ fresco "The Seasons of the Year" (painted in 1976-1984) with motives from Baltic mythology at the Centre of Lithuanian Studies.
The most impressive yard is the Great yard. The Great yard has always been the most important in the whole structure of the Old Ensemble of Vilnius university. It unites sacred, academic and representative functions of the university. There are the main buildings of Renaissance style located, an authentic marble board made in 1580 hangs announcing an opening of the university: “Academia et Universitas Societatis Jesu Erecta anno 1580”. There are also other boards memorializing various emeritus people and of course, the marvelous Baroque church of St. John and the Bell tower here stand.
yards of Simonas Daukantas and Motiejus Sarbievijus, and the Observatory yard. The oldest one is the Observatory yard. It was formed in the end of 16th century. In the 17-18th centuries a pharmacy here operated and various herbs were grown. The most impressive building there is an observatory of classicism style which is decorated with zodiac signs and Latin sentences like “Hinc itur ad astra” (Such is the way to the stars).
The yard of Library is surrounded mostly by library sections. For 200 years this yard was used for household purposes, but later right after several reconstructions it started serving as a representative yard. The library includes several halls worth visiting because of their exclusive historic décor.
Biblioteka Hall Smuglevicius:
The yard of Motiejus Sarbievijus nowadays is the main yard of philologists of Vilnius university as M. Sarbievijus was the most famous poet in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. This inside yard is surrounded by buildings of various shapes and styles including spectacular counterforts, arches and frescoes.
Right from the yard of M. Sarbievijus there is a passage to the other inside yard of Simonas Daukantas who was a famous Lithuanian historic and a student of Vilnius university. The most valuable architectural composition there is a fragment of an authentic Renaissance attic. As this complex also belongs to philologists (DOMUS PHILOLOGIAE), the inside lobbies here are decorated with creations by talented Lithuanian artists like a scratchwork “Muses” and a mosaic “Lithuanian Mythology”:
The St. John Catholic church has an impressive and ornate Baroque interior:
Another real highlight was the church bell tower, which, for 2 euros, can be ascended with the use of a combination of stairs and an elevator. Of the numerous observation towers in the old town, this one might be the best, because from here one can actually view the Vilnius Castle Hill (difficult from the hilltop) and the many red-tiled rooftops of Vilnius Old Town district. BUT, your views are hindered by an ugly metal net stretched over the wide viewing windows.
Entrance to St. John Bell Tower and Church:
Your most outstanding experience in the university would be, no doubt, the AMAZING Literra bookstore you should not miss, with its amazing painted ceilings. This is a campus bookstore with popular literature in Lithuanian, scientific books, books authored by university faculty, and university souvenirs. The bookstore has beautiful murals on its walls and ceiling. With its dark wood interior, low lighting and painted, vaulted ceiling, the bookstore looks and feels like an intimate library of a luxury European estate and not a campus bookstore. Although the vaulted ceilings are not themselves very large, the frescoes that fill them expand the room outward, upward, and into the past. The ceiling is low and fully decorated so your eyes cannot help but be drawn to the frescoes of caricatures of professors and students painted by Antanas Kmieliauskas in 1978. Lithuanian artist Antanas Kmieliauskas created Littera’s sprawling frescoes in 1978 for the 400th anniversary of the founding of Vilnius University. His work was part of a larger project intended to use the university’s interior spaces – which were no longer in their original form – to reflect the university’s history. The paintings on the ceiling are reportedly based on real students and their sins. Kmieliauskas created a series of scenes representing the university’s historic areas of study, which include astronomy, medicine, botany, music, and art. Each scene includes symbols of the discipline depicted, an allegorical figure, and what seem to be stylized representations of actual professors and students – all of which appear to be slowly drifting toward the top of the vaulted ceiling. Double check if the bookstore is not CLOSED during weekends or holidays. With your face to the St. John Church, in the middle of the courtyard, turn LEFT, descend the stairs (there is a window with the "1988" title). You arrive to another courtyard. On your left - a fountain, and, on your right (deep in the corner) - the Littera bookstore:
The frescoes Antanas Kmieliauskas created for Littera are just one of works created by various artists to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Vilnius University. Just next door and up the stairs, Aisciai Hall features “The Seasons” by Petras Repšys. (Although these are also frescoes, they are very different in style.) There are also two halls with frescoes included in the university library tour (advance registration required). Other areas with frescoes are not open to the public.
We leave the university and head to Part 2 - Užupis --> skip to Tip 2.
Stockholm - day 5 - Södermalm.
Main Attractions: Centralbron Bridge, Stallbron Bridge, Café Schweizer, Södermalm, Pustegränd, Mariahissen, Monteliusvagen, Söder Mälarstrand, Långholmen, Pålsundsbron, Västerbron, Riddarfjärden, Rålambshovsparken, Boulebar Rålambshov, Norr Mälarstrand, Stockholm City Hall,
Duration: 1 day. Distance: 7 km. Weather: Sunny Day only. The walk is along open spaces with maritime landscapes. Most of the route is without a shelter.
5th day route: First, we shall repeat viewing several scenic spots in the centre of Stockholm - favored by a clear, sunny morning in this wonderful city. From our hotel, Scandic Norra Bantorget, Wallingatan 15, we headed southwest on Wallingatan toward Upplandsgatan, 100 m. We turned left onto Upplandsgatan, 110 m. We continued onto Vasagatan, 400 m. We slighted right to stay on Vasagatan, 450 m. Turned right toward Klara Mälarstrand, 15 m. We turned left toward Klara Mälarstrand, 40 m. Turned right onto Klara Mälarstrand, 120 m. We turned left onto Norra Järnvägsbron, 290 m (or via Centralbron Bridge). The Norstedt Building in Arkivgatan is opposite us:
From Norstedt Building we head southeast on Arkivgatan toward Tryckerigatan, 130 m. Turn left onto Riddarholmsbron/Riddarhusbron, 60 m. We enter the Gamla Stan.
View of Ryddarholmen Kyrkan:
Slight right onto Riddarhustorget, 120 m. Continue onto Myntgatan, 90 m. Turn left onto Mynttorget/Stallbron Bridge , 15 m. We enter the Helgeandsholmen small island with the Parliament complex:
You can see the City Hall on your left (west):
There is a couple of bridges further east (from west to east): Riksbron (Norbrro):
While on Stallbron - we see the Royal Palace in front of us:
From the Stallbron Bridge we cross the Gamla stan from north to south. We continue walking southeast toward Slottskajen. Continue to follow Mynttorget, 35 m. Continue onto Västerlånggatan, 55 m. and on your left is Café Schweizer, Västerlånggatan 9. A quaint, cozy , lively, little and delicious cafe in the middle of the busy, cobbled streets of the old city of Stockholm. During the morning hours - these roads are very packed with tourists along with lorry trucks full with food and furniture - striving their way in the narrow allies of Gamla Stan. Very atmospheric cafe !:
While walking along Gamla Stan roads - you can observe, here and there, the Bilbi (Gilgi), the famous Swedish girl/doll:
We continue southward on Västerlånggatan toward Klockgjutargränd, 200 m. Turn right onto Skräddargränd, 50 m. Turn left onto Stora Nygatan, 25 m. Turn right onto Schönfeldts gränd, 210 m. Turn left onto Södra Järnvägsbron. Take the stairs, 200 m. We entered Södermalm. Södermalm is connected to its surrounding areas by a number of bridges. It connects to Gamla stan to the north by the Slussen (bus, ferries) station. Slight right to stay on Södra Järnvägsbron. Take the stairs, 120 m and turn left onto Pustegränd (the Puff Alley). The alley is approximately 130 meters long. The last bit up to the Hornsgatan consists of stairs. You see a sculpture in the end of the flight of stairs:
We continue climbing WEST along Bastugatan (the Baths Street). The street is about 600 meters long. The whole area had, hardly, changed during the last 350 years. From 1877-1944, Södermalm's laundry and bathing facilities at Bastugatan 4 lay in a house that has now been torn. Continue with more right leg of Pryssgrand (not continuing with Bastugatan). The whole district is very pictorial, pastoral and and with a great deal of "retro" feeling:
When you cross the Bellmansgatan road on your left, you see the huge brown building of Mariahissen on your right. The building is blue-graded by the Stadsmuseet in Stockholm , which means that the building has "very high cultural historical values" corresponding to the requirements for buildings. Mariahissen at the foot of the Mariaberg was built in 1885-1887, after drawings by architect Gustaf Dahl. The site at Söder Mälarstrand was partly blown into the rock of Mariaberget. A total of 22 500 m³ of mountains were erupted before construction work with the house could begin. Gustaf Dahl gave the building a neo-Gothic style with arcade windows, toes and towers. The arcades of the ground floor are carried by iron columns with decoratively designed capitals:
You make half-circle walk along Pryssgrand and continue southward to connect with Bastugatan again. Turn right and continue along Bastugatan westward. On your right you connect with the the observation terrace of Monteliusvagen. A WONDERFUL SCENIC PATH !!! Walking along this path from south-east to north-west you have perfect views on Gamla Stan, Riddarholmen, Stockholms stadshus (Townhall) etc'. Perched high up on the cliffs of Sodermalm, this vantage point overlooks Stockholm. Try to pick a day where the sun is out and enjoy this beautiful view of Old Town Stockholm. A 500-meter long (quarter mile) walking path with a magnificent view of Lake Mälaren, City Hall, and Riddarholmen, especially at sunrise and sunset. Bring your food and drinks and enjoy the sunset. Alternatively, come in the morning with your coffee and you will have great start for your day. The path is lined with charming houses on one side and a beautiful view on the other. There is, of course, a safety rail on the path, but be careful in the wintertime when parts of the path might be a bit slippery. There are a few benches for visitors to take a rest and enjoy the view. The view is especially beautiful at sunrise or sunset. Sunset pictures are spectacular. Breathtaking and stunning scenery if you go during sunset. Warning: be careful if you go in winter, since the pathway is frozen and you can easily fall:
Walk along the path of Monteliusvagen until its end. Only the eastern part is very scenic. The rest goes among the trees with no views. The path goes westward, then its changes direction and descends southward.
In the end of the path we face Kattgränd (but continue westward with Batsugatan). Batsugatan continues westward and slights southward. Here we turn right and connect with Torkel Knutssonsgatan. We turn RIGHT and continue NORTHWARD (with our face to the water) along Torkel Knutssonsgatan. It is difficult to find the hidden path connecting to the promenade of Söder Mälarstrand. Ask the locals (they speak English) how to find the stairs leading to Söder Mälarstrand. Arriving to Söder Mälarstrand we head WESTWARD and continue walking along Söder Mälarstrand with our face to the west. The largest building complex is at Söder Mälarstrand 29 is the Munich Brewery . The wholesale trade company CC Brusell & Co. began in 1857 to manufacture and sell beer under the name of Munich Brewery Company. He named his brewery after the Bavarian brewery of Munich . Here beer was produced for over a hundred years, the last bottle was filled as late as 1971. The construction company ABV bought the brewery's main building in 1979 by the municipality and was completed in 1985 with a total renovation of the approximately 50,000 m². Today, the Munich Brewery is a trade fair and conference center. Söder Mälarstrand is a coastal street with a quay on Södermalm. It extends along Riddarfjärden from Centralbron in the east to Pålsundet in the west and is approximately 2,200 meters long. We shall walk approx. 1700 m. along Söder Mälarstrand - until we'll arrive to Långholmen island (see below). The views of Riddarfjärden, on your right (north) are pleasant and pretty:
Riddarfjärden from Heleneborgsgatan (further to the west...):
Our next destination is the island - Långholmen. The views along Söder Mälarstrand as we approach Långholmen - are still attractive:
Långholmen is an idyllic island and a popular spot for picnics, swimming, and recreation for Stockholmers and visitors alike, but this wasn’t always the case. From the eighteenth century up until 1975, Långholmen was a dreaded prison island. Since 1989 Långholmen Prison has been a 112-room hotel and hostel, renovated in 2007/2008. In the former prison hospital there is now a restaurant and pub. The small beaches, located right outside the former prison, are usually crowded in summer. There are more beaches, open-air stages, charming buildings and a nice allotment garden area on Långholmen. The island is also home to Mälarvarvet (The Mälaren Yard), one of Stockholm’s oldest shipyards, and a small Bellman museum with a café. There is a wonderful view from the east side of the island over Riddarfjärden and Gamla Stan.
There are 3 bridges connecting Södermalm and Långholmen. We chose crossing the water over the most eastern one: the Pålsundsbron. Pålsundsbron ( "The Pole Sound/Strait Bridge") is a bridge stretching over the small water course Pålsundet. The name Pålsundet, refers to the poles blocking the canal from ships trying to reach central Stockholm without paying the required duty. Also, an iron chain served the same purpose of forcing the ships pay a visit to the custom house (Winter Tullen) demolished during the 1930s. The bridge was known as Mälarvarvsbron ("The Mälaren Shipyard Bridge") or more locally Varvsbron until 1948 when it received its present name. The sights all around the small bridge are charming:
After crossing the Pålsundsbron bridge and stepping on Långholmen island we turn left (west) we see a black fence and red house and we skip them (from their left side) and continue to north, crossing the park from south to north: Head north on Pålsundsbron toward Skutskepparvägen, 50 m. Turn left onto Skutskepparvägen, 50 m. Turn right, 210 m. Turn right, take the stairs and continue 350 m. northward to the Västerbron, West Bridge. Västerbron is an 600 m. (340 m of which stretches over water) and it is one of the major bridges in Stockholm, offering one of the most panoramic views of the central part of the city centering on Gamla stan, the old town. Its inauguration on 20 November 1935 made it the second stationary connection between the southern and northern parts of the city, saving the citizens the effort of a ferry ride, which had previously been required. We walk along the Västerbron, along the section which extends over the Riddarfjärden, the eastern-most bay of Lake Mälaren. It is a very popular spot for watching the New Year's Eve fireworks. It is a splendid walk with distant, wonderful views of the northern parts of Stockholm (but with with bustling, noisy transport along the giant bridge). First, from the southern part of Västerbro bridge we have wonderful sights of Långholmen beaches, forests and rocks:
The more we advance along the bridge - we see mighty panorama of the Riddarfjärden:
The last, most northern parts of the Västerbron bridge meet the Rålambshovsparken on Kungsholmen. Rålambshovsparken is a popular park for activities during the summer. The park is located between two popular residential areas, with a great view over Riddarfjärden, the City Hall and Gamla Stan (the latter two - from its eastern parts). Rålambshovs has a great skate facility. It has a multitude of play areas and splash ponds, as well as mud-pie kitchens, spooky forest and indoor facilities. People come here to play soccer, boules, beach volleyball or brännboll or take part in an aerobics sessions, but also to swim and sunbath or meet with friends. Young people prefer Rålambshovsparken, while families with children prefer the nearby Smedsuddsbadet. The park is also a popular event location for events including the Parkteatern outdoor theater. “Rålis,” as the park is nicknamed, also has restaurants and cafés (see below). Nice walking routes to the park are along Norr Mälarstrand or over the Västerbron bridge from Södermalm (from where we made our way):
We continued walking EASTWARD along the park - where the water (Riddarfjärden) is on our right (south). We had a fantastic lunch at the Boulebar Rålambshov. For 250 SKR we had (for two persons): Steak, Salad, Pommes Frites, Truffle, Cafe and free water. Very friendly service and superb quality food in the open air:
Rålambshovsparken, in its east end, ends with a path which stretches parallel to Rålambshovsleden, and further east, parallel to Norr Mälarstrand. Norr Mälarstrand ("Northern Shore of Mälaren") is a street on Kungsholmen. Bordering Riddarfjärden. Norr Mälarstrand is a southbound boulevard stretching 1,4 km west from the southern end of Baltzar von Platens gata in the west to the City Hall in the east. It is a walk of 1.7 km:
The most notable structures along the street are the series of functionalist residential buildings lined-up along its western part On your left - with your face to the east):
As we approach the City Hall from the east (with a sunny, bright afternoon hours) - we get, again, marvelous sights of the Stockholm City Hall from the west:
The Cathedral (Storkykrkan) from the City Hall:
It is our second time in the City Hall. BUT, it is the first time we stay here during the afternoon hours. In a sunny day - it is an exceptional experience with breathtaking sights of the water, Riddarholmen island and Gamla stan (Stockholm Old City). DO NOT MISS the CITY HALL - during the afternoon hours:
Since we arrived to the City Hall during a typical Friday evening (and during the dry summer months) - we could take part in a chain of public wedding ceremonies. Most of them were same-sex marriages:
From the City Hall we returned to our hotel in Norrmalm (Scandit Norra Bantorget). From the City Hall we headed east, took the stairs, 210 m. We turned right onto Hantverkargatan, 15 m. We continued onto Stadshusbron, 95 m. We turned left at Klarastrandsleden, 30 m:
Turn right at Klarastrandsleden, 30 m. The view from Klarastrandsleden to T-Centeralen in Norrmalm:
We turned left onto Blekholmsgatan, 40 m. We turned right onto Centralbron, took the stairs, 90 m. We took the exit on the left toward Centralplan, 100 m. Turned left onto Centralplan, took, again, the stairs, 95 m. We turn left onto Vasagatan, 650 m. Continue donto Upplandsgatan, 110 m. and turned right onto Wallingatan, 110 m to arrive to the Scandic Norra Bantorget Hotel.
Part 2 Main Attractions: Place des Vosges, Place de Thorigny, Archives Nationales - Hôtel de Rohan, Centre Georges Pompidou, Quartier de l'Horloge, Église Saint-Eustache.
Place des Vosges was originally called place Royale. What was new about the Place Royale in 1612 was that the house fronts were all built to the same design, probably by Jean Baptiste Androuet du Cerceau, of red brick with strips of stone quoins over vaulted arcades that stand on square pillars. The steeply-pitched blue slate roofs are pierced with discreet small-paned dormers above the pedimented dormers that stand upon the cornices. Only the north range was built with the vaulted ceilings that the "galleries" were meant to have. Two pavilions that rise higher than the unified roofline of the square center the north and south faces and offer access to the square through triple arches.The square was renamed after the French Revolution in tribute to the north-east region of Vosges, bordering Germany and Luxembourg, which was the first to pay taxes imposed by the new republican government. Place des Vosges is the "Cherry in the Cream Cake" of the Marais. The Place des Vosges is one of the oldest squares in Paris, and also one of the most beautiful. The composition of the Place des Vosges epitomizes the classic French style and is a unique example of seventeenth century architecture. Originally the terrace was covered with sand to allow aristocrats to indulge in equestrian exercises. A statue of Louis XIII was erected in the square, then destroyed in 1792 after the fall of the monarchy ; it was replaced by an octagonal fountain. It took until the early nineteenth century for the royal equestrian statues as well as that of Louis XIII, destroyed during the Revolution, to once again be rebuilt. The square was often the place for the nobility to chat, and served as a meeting place for them. This was so until the Revolution. As you walk along and admire the brick arches bordering the square, you will discover fabulous gourmet places to eat such as Carette or La Place Royale. Many art galleries line the Place des Vosges. Their large windows are open invitations to enter and discover their treasures and artists.
Arcades of the East part - you can see the Queen Pavilion:
East and southern parts - you can see the King Pavilion:
Corot Fountain from 1825:
Cafe Carrette - Place des Vosges:
Art Symbol - Place des Vosges:
Statue of Louis XIII:
Place des Vosges is structured around two pavilions, that of the Queen at the north part of the square, and that of the King at the south part. They are not open to the public ; however, you can still visit the house of Victor Hugo, author of "Les Misérables", which is now a municipal museum. It is free and open daily from 9.00 to 18.00 every day except Mondays.
In the most south-west edge of the Place des Vosges - you can see the Hotel de Sully Garden, 5 Place des Vosges. A small private door, open during the day, will give you access to the garden of this fabulous Hotel de Sully, which is, actually, the headquarters of the Center for National Monuments. The Center is home to an excellent library on the history of Paris which offers occasional photographic exhibitions on architecture and the arts. Don't forget to have a look at its Renaissance- style ceiling:
From the north-west end of Place des Vosges we walk west to connect and turn RIGHT (north) onto Rue de Tourenne. On the first turn to the left - we turn LEFT (west) to Rue du Parc Royal. Note the houses in numbers: 4, 8, 10 - they are 200 years old. On the second turn to the left is Rue Payenne. The Swedish Institute at #11 is under construction - but, you can find a splendid garden opposite this aristocratic building. We return to Rue du Parc Royal and continue walking westward until it ends in Place de Thorigny. This crossroads is so named because of the proximity of the neighboring street of the same name, which bears the name of Jean-Baptiste Claude Lambert of Thorigny who was president of the second chamber of petitions of the Parliament of Paris from 1713 to 1727. No. 1 is home to the hotel Libéral Bruant , a time transformed into a museum of locksmithing and, today, a center of exhibitions of modern art. Just a stone's throw away is the entrance to the Picasso Museum and the Musée Cognacq-Jay. Musée Picasso is immediately in Rue Thorigny. We ignore the Picasso Museum, at the moment, and turn north-west onto Rue de la Perle. On the first turn - we turn LEFT (South-west) to Rue Vieille-du-Temple. on our right, at #87 we see the Archives Nationales - Hôtel de Rohan. The Hotel de Rohan , built by the architect Pierre - Alexis Delamair , is from 1705 for the Rohan family . It now houses, with the adjacent hotel de Soubise , part of the National Archives . This monument has been classified as a historical monument since November 27 , 1924. In Hotel de Subise - Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre spent the night of 27-28 July 1794:
We continue walking south-west along Rue Vieille-du-Temple and, on the 2nd intersection with Rue des Francs Bourgeois (we already walked via this road...) - we see this house:
Rue des Francs Bourgeois continues north-west as Rue Rambuteau. Named after the Count de Rambuteau who started the widening of the road prior to Haussmann's renovation of Paris. Philosopher Henri Lefebvre lived on the street and observed from his window the rhythms of everyday life at the intersection located behind the Centre Georges Pompidou. Rue Rambuteau is a street in central Paris that connects the neighborhood of Les Halles, in the 1st arrondissement, to the Marais district in the 4th arrondissement. It fronts the Forum of Les Halles and the north side of Centre Georges Pompidou, and marks the boundary between the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. When Rue Rambuteau crosses Rue du Temple - we see, on our right, the Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme. We are in the heart of the Marais.
At # 18 we see HURE - createur de Plaisir:
Approximately, 280-300 m. from the intersection with Rue du Temple, along Rue Rambuteau - we arrive to Centre Georges Pompidou, 31 Rue Beaubourg. The Centre Pompidou, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, is a 20th-century architectural marvel, immediately recognizable by its exterior escalators and enormous coloured tubing. It is home to the National Museum of Modern Art and is internationally renowned for its 20th and 21st century art collections. The works of iconic artists are displayed chronologically over two sections: the modern period, from 1905 to 1960 (Matisse, Picasso, Dubuffet, etc.), and the contemporary period, from 1960 to the present day (Andy Warhol, Niki de Saint Phalle, Anish Kapoor, etc.). In addition to its permanent collections, internationally renowned exhibitions are organized every year on the top floor, where visitors can enjoy a breathtaking view of Paris and its rooftops. Everything you might need to spend a pleasant half-day, or indeed a day in the museum is available: eat at Le Georges, learn more at the public information library, and take a break browsing the shelves of the museum gift shop. At the foot of the Centre, the Atelier Brancusi presents a unique collection of works by this artist who played a major role in the history of modern sculpture. Rivals Musee d'Orsay. Exceptional museum. Note: the National Museum of Modern Art is at the 5th level. The views of Paris from the top of the Centre are fantastic. Allow at least 3 hours to see everything inside. Plan a entire day if you are a true modern art appreciator. Amazing rooftop restaurant. Expensive. Public Transport: Metro: Rambuteau (line 11), Hôtel de Ville (lines 1 and 11), Châtelet (lines 1, 4, 7, 11 and 14), RER: Châtelet-les Halles (lines A, B and D), Buses: 29, 38, 47, 75. Opening hours: Everyday from 11.00. to 22.00 (exhibition areas close at 21.00.) except Tuesdays and 1st of May. Thursdays until 23.00. (only exhibitions on level 6). Ticket offices shut one hour before closing time. Brancusi's Studio: Every day from 14.00-18.00 except Tuesdays and 1st of May. Prices: “Museum and exhibitions” ticket: adult - €14 , concessions:€11. View of Paris” ticket (does not give admission to the museum or exhibitions): €5. “Show and concert” ticket: adult - c10 - €18, concessions: €5 - €9 (price according to show). Paris Museum Pass: Pass valid for 60 museums and monuments in Paris and the Ile-de-France area, including the Museum of the Centre Pompidou. 2 days: €48, 4 days: €62, 6 days: €74. FREE for the 1st Sunday of every month:
Not less interesting is the Quartier de l'Horloge or the Clock district which is a group of buildings in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris located next to the Georges-Pompidou Center, between Saint-Martin (west), Rambuteau (south), Grenier-Saint-Lazare (north) and Beaubourg (east) streets. It was built by architect Jean-Claude Bernard in the 1970s. The district takes its name from an animated clock inaugurated on one of the facades of the district in 1979: The Defender of Time , created by the sculptor Jacques Monestier. The ensemble is built on the site of the unhealthy islet No. 1 of which only the facades of the rue Saint-Martin and four buildings of the rue Beaubourg dating from the beginning of the twentieth century have been preserved. It was inaugurated in November 1979:
At the intersection of Rue Rambuteau and Rue Brantôme is a work by Max Ernst , The Grand Assistant:
From Pompidou Centre return and turn right onto Rue Rambuteau, 600 m. Turn right onto Allée André Breton, 40 m. Turn left onto Rue Montmartre, 75 m, turn left onto Impasse Saint-Eustache, 40 m. to arrive to Église Saint-Eustache, 2 Impasse Saint-Eustache. The present building was built between 1532 and 1632. It resides near the site of Paris' medieval marketplace (Les Halles) and rue Montorgueil. The origins of Saint Eustache date back to the 13th century. A far smallert chapel was built in 1213, dedicated to Sainte-Agnès, a Roman martyr. The small chapel was funded by Jean Alais, a merchant at Les Halles who collected a tax on the sale of fish baskets as repayment of a loan to King Philippe-Auguste. The church became the parish church of the Les Halles area in 1223 and was renamed Saint-Eustache in 1303. The name of the church refers to Saint Eustace, a Roman general of the second century AD who was burned, along with his family, for converting to Christianity. The church was renamed for Saint Eustache after receiving relics related to the Roman martyr as donations from the Abbey of Saint Denis. Construction of the current church began in 1532 and continued until 1632, and in 1637. Some of the architects associated with the church's construction include Pierre Lemercier, his son Nicolas Lemercier, and Nicolas' son-in-law Charles David. The addition of two chapels in 1655 severely compromised the structural integrity of the church, necessitating the demolition of the facade, which was rebuilt in 1754 under the direction of the architect Jean Mansart de Jouy. During the French Revolution, the church was, like most churches in Paris, desecrated and looted. It was closed to Catholic worship in 1793 and used for a time as a barn; it was re-opened in 1795 with significant damage to the building and its furniture. The building was further damaged by a fire in 1844. Architect Victor Baltard directed a complete restoration of the building from 1846-1854, including the construction of the organ case, pulpit, and high altar and the repair of the church's paintings. The church was set afire during the rule of the Paris Commune in 1871, necessitating repairs to the attic, buttresses, and south facade. The facade was revised from 1928-1929. Les Halles became a shopping center and hub for regional transportation, and the Church of St. Eustache remains a landmark of the area and a functioning church. The church is an example of a Gothic structure clothed in Renaissance and classical detail. At the main façade, the left tower has been completed in Renaissance style, while the right tower remains a stump. The front and rear aspects provide a remarkable contrast between the comparatively sober classical front and the exuberant rear, which integrates Gothic forms and organization with Classical details. The whole area around is very vibrant during the evenings and quite quiet and relaxed during the mornings and the afternoons. One of the liveliest neighborhoods in Paris.
Esplanade St. Eustache and cafe' La-Pointe with wall paintings:
We found the Saint Eustache Church interiors to be majestic and very tranquile. Not many tourists visit this charming church. Every Sunday at 5:30, there's a free organ recital (30 minutes). Impressive stained glass windows, paintings and memorials. Very memorable church and visit:
Pope Alexander II:
The Chapel of the Virgin:
As a special added attraction the sculpture "L'ecoute" ( The listener by Henri de Miller) is in the plaza next to the church:
From Église Saint-Eustache we catch the Metro. Head northeast on Impasse Saint-Eustache toward Rue Montmartre, 40 m. Turn right onto Rue Montmartre, 70 m. Turn right onto Allée André Breton, 130 m. Turn right, 60 m. and you've arrived to Les Halles Metro station.
Seville - Day 1:
Main Attractions: Parque de María Luisa, Plaza de España,
Start: Prado de San Sebastian. End: Prado de San Sebastian. Distance: Circular Itinerary of 10 km. Weather: Sunny day only. Public Transport: in Prado San Sebastian we bought a plastic card of 24 rides in Seville for €16.90.
Day 1 Itinerary: we leave the main bus station of Seville in Prado San Sebastian and walk south, crossing Parque de María Luisa. The park is full with shade of its trees and provide you with its fountains for your feet. Here you can even swim, if you are not confused by such a reservoir. Pleasant rest for those who are tired and want to replenish the balance of power. The Parque de María Luisa is the most famous park in the city and one of its green lungs . It opened as a public park on April 18, 1914 with the name of Infanta María Luisa Fernanda Urban Park. These spaces, which in principle were part of the private gardens of the Palace of San Telmo , was donated in 1893 by the Infanta María Luisa Fernanda de Bourbon , Duchess of Montpensier , city. The park was built with the Plaza of Spain and America on the occasion of the Ibero-American Exposition in Seville in 1929, constituting one of its main attractions. Beautiful plants and trees with giant roots. There are fountains and statues. Also several banks to sit. It will be nice to be in the shade in the summer:
The park from Plaza America:
On the southern side of the park - is the consulate of Portugal on Av. Portugal. If you walk along Av. Portugal (southern side of the Cosulate of Portugal) and continue eastward along Avenida Portugal, and, then, cross Av. Portugal from north to south - you arrive to the marvelous Plaza de España. You see a Building with the writing "Puerta de Aragon". Walking through the gate of this building - will bring you to the wonderful square of Plaza de España:
Enter this gate to see the marvelous ceramics inside (you'll see hundreds of them in Plaza de España - see below):
The Plaza de España ("Spain Square") is a plaza built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It is a landmark example of the Renaissance Revival style in Spanish architecture. In 1929, Seville hosted the Ibero-American Exposition World's Fair, located in the celebrated Maria Luisa Park (Parque de María Luisa). It was designed by Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier. The entire southern end of the city was redeveloped into an expanse of gardens and grand boulevards. The centre of it is Parque de María Luisa, a 'Moorish paradisical style' with a half mile of: tiled fountains, pavilions, walls, ponds, benches, and exhedras; lush plantings of palms, orange trees, Mediterranean pines, and stylized flower beds; and with vine hidden bowers. Numerous buildings were constructed in it for the exhibition (along with many of the pavilions you can see in and around the Parque Maria Luisa). The Plaza de España, designed by Aníbal González, was a principal complex built on the Maria Luisa Park's edge to showcase Spain's industry and technology exhibits. González combined a mix of 1920s Art Deco and 'mock Mudejar', and Neo-Mudéjar styles. The Plaza de España complex is a huge half-circle with buildings continually running around the edge accessible over the moat by numerous bridges representing the four ancient kingdoms of Spain. In the centre is the Vicente Traver fountain. By the walls of the Plaza are many tiled alcoves, each representing a different province of Spain:
Plaza de España is a semi-circular brick building, with a tower at either end (tall enough to be visible around the city, these towers - north and south - are major landmarks). In front of the building, following the curve of its façade, is a 500-metre canal crossed by four bridges, and in the centre of it all is the Plaza itself. You can rent small boats to row in the canal - the Plaza is known as "the Venice of Seville". A major tourist attraction, it is the finishing point of horse-and-carriage rides. You can also rent boats to travel around the semicircle of water:
Plaza de Espana will take your breath away. This site will blow your mind and senses. It encapsulates whole of Spain and its glory. It is an heavenly place. We don't remember where we shot hundreds of photos - like in this majestic square. Plaza de Espana of Seville is a place you won't forget for years. We spent here more than 6 hours ! Sitting in an alcove on a sunny spring day was a real treat and an ideal way to rest our feet and watch people go by. Many people state that this is the most beautiful square in Europe (rivaling the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca). What a beautiful place to walk around and admire the amazing architecture. You can spend hours there to relax and soak in the wonderful atmosphere!!!
Measuring 50,000 square metres, the Plaza is the size of five football pitches. The building has a ground level portico and first-floor balustrade with balconies stretching along its length. For taking photos, the balconies are a prime spot, reached by staircases, as you can get the whole sweep of the building. The magnificent central balcony is especially impressive.
All along the wall by the canal are 48 alcoves with benches, one for each province of Spain, each with a relevant tableau and map, all designed on colourful Azulejos (painted ceramic tiles). Spanish tourists have photographs taken of themselves with family and friends on their home province's bench.
In a further regional reference, the four bridges represent the four ancient kingdoms of Spain: Castille, Aragon, Navarre and Leon.
Today the Plaza de España mainly consists of Government buildings. The Seville Town Hall, with sensitive adaptive redesign, is located within it. The Plaza's tiled 'Alcoves of the Provinces' are backdrops for visitors portrait photographs, taken in their own home province's alcove. Towards the end of the park, the grandest mansions from the fair have been adapted as museums. The farthest contains the city's archaeology collections. The main exhibits are Roman mosaics and artifacts from nearby Italica:
The Plaza de España has been used as a filming location, including scenes for the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. The building was used as a location in the Star Wars movie series — Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) — in which it featured in exterior shots of the City of Theed on the Planet Naboo. It also featured in the 2012 film The Dictator.
Basically I'll give only an outline on what to see in each city, places to say and costs. The method of this trip is to go where your feet take you... You'll reach where you need to.
Generally speaking, the cities are divided into the old city surrounded by a wall (the 'state') and the city outside the wall. Most of the action occurs inside the the walled city.
In every Riad we visited, we received a very user-friendly map with all the sightseeing in the city.
Day 6 – Spending the night at Adrian and Lucia’s
We had breakfast on the balcony with the view and left at 8:00 to Dubrovnik. It was early so we managed to find a parking space in the lower level of the city. The moment we got out of the car we absorbed the ambiance of the place. There was a man playing an instrument, another man performing his mime act, and lots of tourists everywhere. Later in the evening we learned actor, Roger Moore was in town, so maybe that was the reason for the public gathering. We were enchanted by the walls of the city.
After lunch we skipped with the car to a parking lot closer to the old city and conquered it within 2 hours of walking. Carrera pedestrian mall, the market, the promenade, we loved it all. From there we continued in the direction of Poreč. On our way out from the city we got a bit lost after receiving the wrong directions.
Cusco was the most important city in the Empire, and the place of residence of the elite. The city was organized around a central plaza where the roads lead to the four provincial governments.
Important architecture in Cusco includes palaces and schools that were built for the elite, temples such as Coricancha, or temple of the Sun, and a very important network of roads.
"…As soon as we landed in Sydney, we fell in love with the city.
“Our” Sydney is the charming botanical gardens, the beach, the opera house, Circular Quay, The Rocks, Taronga Zoo, The Harbor Bridge, strolling around in the shops before Christmas, the NSW gallery, Sydney Tower, Paddington’s market, cheap backpackers, and Kings Cross".