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  • History | China > Xi'an > Lintong
    Updated at May 22,2013

    The mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang - the first Emperor of China -is located in Lintong District, 30 Km east of Xi'an. The mausoleum was built between 246BC and 208BC. It is an Imperial Palace above a subterranean city.

    The pit of the Terracotta soldiers was discovered in 1974 by local peasants, about 1.5 km from the exterior eastern wall of the mausoleum's inner room. Pit 1 contained an army of 1,087 warriors, infantry and cavalry in battle formation with archers protecting the flanks. Today it is estimated that there are a potential 6,000 statues of warriors and horses in that one pit alone. Two other pits were discovered just north of Pit 1 and were found to contain similar items - 1,500 warriors, carts and horses in Pit 2, and 68 officers and dignitaries and a cart with four horses in Pit 3.

    Because of their exceptional technical and artistic qualities, the terracotta warriors and horses and the funerary carts in bronze are major works in the history of Chinese sculpture prior to the reign of the Han dynasty. The army of statues also bears unique testimony to the military organization in China at the time of the Warring Kingdoms (475-221 BC) and that of the short-lived Empire of a Thousand Generations (221-210 BC).

  • History | Japan > Tokyo > Meiji Shrine
    Updated at May 22,2013

    Outside the train station, located in the middle of a forest, you will find the Meiji Shrine. The shrine is dedicated to the Great Emperor Meiji. Every Sunday morning traditional Shinto weddings can be seen taking place there.

  • History | France > Paris > Rue de Fleurus
    Updated at May 28,2013

    Another place Hemingway spent a great dill of time was the house of Gertrude Stein home at 27 Rue de Fleurus. The Stein Salon was a gathering point for many of the “Lost Generation”, a phrase Stein herself coined and Hemingway popularized when he used it as an epigraph in “The Sun also Rises”. Stein referred to the young man who served in WWI, but the term came to denote mainly the American exiles roaming in Paris in the 1920’s, such as Hemingway himself, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos and T.S. Elliot. Stein’s Salon was considered one of the centers for the Parisian modernist movement, and other frequent visitors included Picasso, Henry Matisse, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Sinclair Lewis.

  • History | Peru > Lima
    Updated at Jul 2,2013

    In the pre-Columbian era, the area  where Lima is today was part of the Inca Empire. The city was founded by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535, after defeating the Inca ruler Atahualpa and taking over the Empire. Originally named "Ciudad de los Reyes", the city was besieged in 1536 by rebel Inca troops led by Manco Inca,  who were defeated by the Spaniards and their native allies. Lima became the capital of the Republic of Peru after the Peruvian War of Independence.

    Magdalena district, Lima. Photo by Miguel Vera León

  • History | Germany > Lubeck > Altstadt > Saint Mary's Church - Marienkirche
    Updated at May 22,2013

    The interior has grandiose proportions.

    Wheel of fortunes inside Marienkirche:

    The exterior is annexed with a very modern complex. What  a view !  A 13-14th century building with an intersting ancient chapel and two huge bells. Don't miss !

  • History
    Updated at Mar 2,2014

    Tower of London:

    Start and End: Underground: Tower Hill station. Circle/District lines to Tower Hill. The nearest station with full access to street level is London Bridge. (Northern & Jubilee lines and national rail services). Train: Fenchurch Street or London Bridge stations. Both stations are fully accessible to street level. Docklands Light Railway (DLR): Tower Gateway Station is located adjacent to Tower Hill station. This station is fully accessible to street level.

    Buses: 15, x15, 25, 42, 78, 100, RV1.

    Duration: allow one full day to scour the place top to bottom.

    Open: MAR-OCT: Tue-Sat: 9.00-18.00, Sun-Mon:10.00-18.00.

                 NOV-FEB:  Tue-Sat: 9.00-17.00, Sun-Mon:10.00-17.00.

    Ceremony of the Keys: daily 21.30 (book ahead). Tel. 0844-4827799.

    Admission:

             Individual rate                group rate (+15 visitors)            online rate

    Adult         £22.00                                   £18.00                                £20.90     Children must be accompanied by an adult.  Under 5s are free of charge.   

    Child (-16) £11.00                                      £9.00                               £10.45
    Concessions
    Full-time student, disabled visitors, over 60 with ID

                     £18.70                                     £15.30                               £17.60

    Family Up to 2 adults and 3 children

                     £59.00                                                                               £55.55

    Food and Drink: Apostrophe riverside café:  pastries, sandwiches, savoury bites, tea, coffee. No admission to the Tower necessary. Open:
    Winter/Summer: Monday to Friday 08.00-17.00/18.00, Saturday and Sunday 09:00-17.00/18.00.  Raven's kiosk:  café with table umbrellas. Tea, coffee, homemade cakes and savoury bites. Open: Weekends and school holidays only, 10.30-16.00/17.00. New Armouries restaurant: full meals and snacks. Open: Saturday to Monday 10.30-16.00/17.00, Tuesday to Saturday 9.30-16.00/17.00. There are plenty of places to perch at the Tower and make a picnic.

    Toilets: Inside the Tower: There are toilets available at the rear of the Jewel House. Access to these is over a cobbled surface. There are also toilets (no wheelchair access) located in the following areas: To the rear of the Jewel House. At the side of the Cradle Tower. There are disabled toilets in all educational areas and within the New Armouries Restaurant Café.

    Tips: Bring food with you. Do not spend time and money on dining in a formal eatery. Start your visit with the guided tour of the Yeoman (Beefeater). Leave the crown jewels for the end of your visit. It is neat to be able to get so close to the crown jewels, you stand on a moving belt and it slowly takes you by. The long queue dwindles towards the afternoon. If you are a photographer, pick a nice clear blue sky kind of day. No photography in the Jewels House and St. Martin Tower Jewels exhibition.

    The Tower of London is an object of horror, tyranny, plots, torture and executions for most of its 900 years of history. The majority of its inhabitants did not get out alive, met violent deaths and were tortured before their death.

    First, meet up (you and quite a large group of visitors around) with a Beefeater for a personal tour with great insight stories. Before the group is organized - spare 5-10 minutes for having photos of the Tower surroundings (Trinity Square, London City). The Tower is separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill and the Old Moat. Admire contrast of old and new (with the Gerkin behind and the Shard in front - with your face southward to the Thames):

    Beefeaters (or the tower guards) give free tours starting at the entrance and are worthwhile as they are funny and informative. The warder does the tour in a very humorous way so that you will be informed and will have a lot of fun in the tower. This tour is included in your entry charge and lasts around 30 minutes. Afterwards, you are free to walk around the buildings of the tower on your own. Yeoman Warders at the tower are selected for their meritorious service in the Armed Forces. To qualify they must have completed 22 years service in the Forces, the Warders live on site at the Tower.

        

    along the narrow, long court between the main entrance and the Middle Tower. Just beyond the entrance to the Outer Tower is the Middle Tower, built in the reign of Edward I (1307) and restored in the 19th century:

    You turn left and enter the Inner Ward through the Byward Tower gates:

    Climbing the steps toward the Inner Ward, the Byward and the Bloody Towers on your back:

    The Bloody Tower acquired its name in the 16th century, as it was believed to be the site of the murder of the Princes in the Tower between 1339 and 1341:

    In this room of the Bloody Tower was imprisoned Thomas Riley:

    History of the World - written bt Thomas Riley:

    The main entrance - a view from the Bloody Tower:

    Have a look at the Tower map to get a general orientation:

    We just left the Byward Tower on our back and the Tower Green on our right:

    We turn left and enter the central courtyard (the Inner Ward) facing the Jewels House. Actually these are the Waterloo Barracks on the site - housing the Crown Jewels.

    View of the Tower Bridge from the Inner Ward:

    With your face to the Jewels House - turn left to see the St Peter ad Vincula  - a Norman chapel which had previously stood outside the Tower and was incorporated into the castle. Visitor Information: The Chapel is accessed through joining a Yeoman Warder (Beefeater) tour which take place throughout the day (for details check daily programme upon arrival). It is also open to visitors to those not on a Yeoman Warder tour during the last hour of normal opening hours. Originally a parish church, the Chapel was incorporated into the walls of the castle during Henry III’s expansion. It has been rebuilt at least twice, once in the reign of Edward I, and then again in its present form in Henry VIII’s reign. It was rebuilt by Edward I and again by Henry VIII in 1519. Three queens of England Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Jane Grey, and two saints of the Catholic Church, Sir Thomas More and John Fischer, are buried here. Their headless bodies were buried under the nave or chancel without memorial until the 19th century when remains found in the nave were re-interred in the crypt. The chapel also has many monuments which commemorate officers and residents of the Tower who worshipped here. It remains a place of worship for the Tower’s residents' community. Henry VIII decorated the chapel by adding glazed windows, and stalls for himself and his queen. The chapel was refurbished again in the 19th century:

    Ann Boleyn's remains are directly beneath this seal on the altar floor:

    Jane Grey memorial:

    On the left (the black house - is the Doctors House:

    Facing the St. Peter Chapel - the Queen's House is on your back. The Queen's House was built around 1530, in a very different "Tudor" style than is found in the rest of the Tower of London. The Queen's House is one of the few such buildings to survive the Great Fire of London of 1666, and was spared because of its protected spot inside the Tower's stone walls. Built in the reign of Henry VIII, the Queen's House is currently the home of the Resident Governor of the Tower of London. Originally, the Lieutenant of the Tower lived here and was the custodian of several famous prisoners: Lady Jane Grey, Guy Fawlkes and the last prisoner held in the Tower: Rudolf Hess in 1941. Anne Boleyn is said to have stayed here before her execution as well (although the current buildings date from after her time as Queen):

    Between the St. Peter Chapel (north) and the Queen's House (south) lies the Tower Green and the Scaffold Site or execution yard. Tower Green is a space within the Tower of London where two English Queens consort and five other British nobles were executed by beheading. The Tower Green is located on a space south of the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula and north to the Queen's House.

    Beheading in the privacy of the Tower Green was considered a privilege of rank; the executed were spared insults from jeering crowds, and the monarch was spared bad publicity. In the middle of the Green is a small square plot paved with a modern granite (made by Brian Catling), which shows the site on which stood the scaffold on which private executions took place. The granite paving was specially created by order of Queen Victoria.

    Here were executed: Lord Hastings (1483), Ann Boleyn (1531), Margareth Foyle (1541), Queen Catherine Hayward (1542), Jane Boleyn (1542), Jane Grey (1554) and the Duke of Essex (1601):

    The Jewel House occupies the whole of the ground floor of the Waterloo  Barracks. The western half contains a ‘Hall of Monarchs’ in the style of St George’s Chapel in Windsor, and three video theatres showing parts of the 1953 Coronation and high definition pictures of the regalia. The videos last 2-3 minutes each and there is no commentary to the videos, although background music is played during them. The eastern half is the Treasury, containing the Crown Jewels. Not many people know that there is a back entrance to the Waterloo Barracks complex with animals sculptures standing on the walls around:

    The Waterloo Barracks were built in 1845 on the site of the Grand Storehouse, a huge store and museum for arms and equipment that burned down in 1841 and was intended to house nearly one thousand  men.  The foundation stone, laid by the Duke of Wellington in 1845, can be seen at the north-east end of the building. The name refers to Battle of Waterloo and the defeat of Napoleon in 1815. The cannons in front of the building were captured from the French at Waterloo:

    The Jewel House is in the Waterloo Barracks in the Inner Ward. The Jewels Block is now used to house the Tower guard and, since 1967, the Jewel House. For over six hundred years kings and queens of England have stored crowns, robes, jewels and other valuable items at the Tower of London. Since the 17th century, the coronation regalia themselves have been kept at the Tower and this collection, known as the 'Crown Jewels', has been shown to visitors to the Tower.  Once you enter the Jewel House you pass through a series of introductory areas which illustrate the use and history of the jewels, and include footage of the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, before reaching the Treasury where the Crown Jewels are held. The Crown Jewels have been on public display at the Tower of London since the 17th century in a number of locations including the Martin Tower and the Wakefield Tower. Today they are housed in the Waterloo Barracks. The exhibition contains the spectacular Crown Jewels, including the platinum crown of the late Queen Mother, set with the 105-carat Koh-i-Noor (Mountain of Light) diamond and the Imperial State Crown, worn by the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament. You are standing on a moving belt to ensure tourists don't hang about. Slow-moving belts shunt wide-eyed visitors past the collection. The Crown Jewel collection contains 23,578 gems. The Imperial Crown alone contains 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 5 rubies:

    St. Edward’s Crown: This coronation crown is the one placed by the archbishop upon the head of each new monarch on coronation day in Westminster Abbey. It’s worn for 20 minutes, then locked away until the next coronation.

    The Imperial State Crown (1937) is worn by the Queen at each State Opening of Parliament. One of the youngest crowns in the collection, it holds a number of much older gems. The crown was remade in 1937 after the previous frame weakened under the weight of the gemstones (picture from Wikipedia):

    Image from http://www.hrp.org.uk/:

    There is an extensive audiovisual exhibition surrounding the Jewels:

    Three ladies from Harrogate - visiting the Crown Jewels:

    In case you exited the Jewels House from the rear (back) exit - you'll see the interesting animals figures on the walls - just adjacent to St. Martin Tower:

    The Martin Tower used to be known as the Jewel Tower as the Crown Jewels were displayed here for 200 years. Today, it houses the 'Crowns and Diamonds' exhibition based on the making of the Crown Jewels. The Crowns and Diamonds exhibition tells the story of the English royal crowns and some of their most famous stones. The Jewel House Shop is on the ground floor.

    The Crown of King George I from year 1715 and was used by all kings until Queen Victoria:

    Martin Tower - tortures instruments:

    The Eastern Walls from Martin Tower:

    View of the White Tower from Martin Tower:

    With the face to the Waterloo Barracks / Jewels House the Fusiliers Museum or the Regimental Museum stands on your right (eastward).

    The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers was founded in 1685 by James II to protect the royal guns kept within the Tower. The building housing the regiment's museum and headquarters was constructed in the mid-19th century as the Officers' Mess, which is used  for formal dinners and ceremonial occasions. After being based at the Tower (except when away fighting abroad or garrisoned in British locations) for nearly 200 years, the Royal Fusiliers moved to Hounslow in 1881, leaving only part of their number at the Tower. The regiment returned in 1949 for an 11 year stay. Single soldiers were barracked in the Waterloo Block. Married men and their families lived in houses within the Tower. After this, the Tower became the home of a Royal Fusilier T A Regiment and continued to be the Regimental Headquarters. Today garrison duties are undertaken by the Yeoman Warders and by three London District regiments at a time on a rotational basis:

    David Ben Gurion, 1st PM of Israel in the Fusiiers Museum:

    Along the Eastern Wall, more south to the Martin Tower - stands the Broad Arrow Tower. A guard tower from which soldiers fired arrows to protect the Tower of London an its inhabitants from attack. The Broad Arrow Tower was built by King Henry III between 1238 - 1272. The Chief Architect and Master Builder of the Broad Arrow Tower was Henry de Reyns together with John of Gloucester and Robert of Beverley. The Architecture / Style of the Medieval Broad Arrow Tower is described as Norman (Romanesque). The purpose of the Broad Arrow Tower was to house part of the garrison. The name of the Tower is believed to reflect the weapons of the armed men who were garrisoned there:

    View from the Broad Arrow Tower:

    The most striking building is indeed the central White Tower, with its solid Norman architecture and four turrets.  The White Tower gets it's name because the walls of the tower were painted with whitewash a low cost paint made from slaked lime (calcium carbonate) & chalk. Possibly the most famous castle keep in the world and easily recognised from it's, designated above, 4 iconic roofed turrets, 3 square ones and 1 round one, at the corners raising above the battlements. The Tower was built to subdue the idea of revolt by the recently conquered Londoners & English by the Normans:

    In front of the White Tower lie several cannons which were used by the Knights of Malta and transferred to England at 1800. The cannons installed in front of the White Tower from year 1962:

    Traditional players opposite the White House:

    Nowadays, on the entrance floor it houses a collection from the Royal Armouries, including Henry VIII's commodious suit of armour. On the 1st floor is St John's Chapel, dating from 1080 and therefore the oldest church in London:

    Henry VIII (1500-1547) armour:

    Charles I (1625-1649) armour:

    Charles II (1660-1685) armour:

    Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry (current royal family) armour:

    Line of Kings. Heads of Kings of England - exihibited in the Tower during the years: 1688-1825.

    Horses, flags and armors of Kings of England. From William the Conqueror (1066-1087) until William III (1689-1702):

    The smallest armour (The Dwarf) prepared for King Charles I when he was a child (95 cm height) and the biggest armour, THe Giant, of the Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt (1340-1399) with 205 cm. height):

    Armour given as a gift to Queen Victoria by King Menelek II from Ethiopia:

    Artillery Room of the White Tower:

    Royal of Arms:

    A dragon adorned with weapons in the White Tower:

    Ad about import of exotic beasts to the Tower:

    The original beheading axe and execution stone - in the White Tower:

    St. John Chapel in Norman style from year 1120. St. John's is on the second floor of the White Tower, which was built in 1077–97 as a keep or citadel, the oldest part of William the Conqueror's powerful fortress. The chapel has survived complete from the early Norman period:

    Do not miss the views of London City from floors 2 and 3 of the White Tower:

    Tower Bridge from the White Tower:

    Mayor of London offices from the White Tower:

    Waterloo Barracks from the 3rd floor of the White Tower:

    The White Tower rear from the Tower Green:

    The St. Thomas Tower is located close to the Bloody Tower. Here, prisoners were brought into the fortress by boat through the Traitor's gate. I recommend that you leave this tower to the afternoon hours - when the sun is not in the south - opposite your camera lens while taking photos of the Thames from this tower:

    This recreation of King Edward I’s (1239-1307) bed is displayed in St. Thomas's Tower, which forms a part of the Medieval Palace at the Tower of London. The King’s bedchamber is shown as it might have looked when Edward stayed at the Tower for a week in the winter of 1294, while preparing for war with France:

    Many prisoners of the Tudors entered the Tower of London through the Traitors' Gate (the Bell Tower). The gate was built by Edward I, to provide a water gate entrance to the Tower, part of St. Thomas's Tower, which was designed to provide additional accommodation for the royal family. The name Traitors' Gate has been used since the early seventeenth century. Prisoners were brought by barge along the Thames, passing under London Bridge, where the heads of recently executed prisoners were displayed on pikes. Queen Anne Boleyn and Sir Thomas More entered the Tower by Traitors' Gate:

    The Salt Tower stands in the most south-eastern corner of the Tower Inner Ward. The Salt Tower was built by King Henry III between 1238 - 1272. The Chief Architect and Master Builder of the Salt Tower was Henry de Reyns together with John of Gloucester and Robert of Beverley. The Architecture / Style of the Medieval Salt Tower is described as Norman (Romanesque) / Edwardian / Gothic. The purpose of the Salt Tower was initially residential. The Salt Tower was once referred to as Baliol's Tower having once imprisoned John Baliol the King of Scotland in 1297 - 1299. Another prisoner was a man named Hugh Draper of Bristol who was imprisoned in the Salt Tower in 1561 under suspicion of Sorcery. Whilst he was imprisoned in the Salt Tower he carved a huge, incredibly intricate, astronomical clock which can still be seen. The inscription records that "Hew Draper of Brystow made this sphere the 30 daye of Maye anno 1561".

    Jesuits were also imprisoned here and their carvings depicting religious scenes can also be seen on the walls:

    View from Salt Tower to the Traitors' Gate:

    The Southern wall from the Salt Tower:

    The tower on the outer wall in the right side of the picture is Cradle Tower. It was used in the 1300s as a water entrance for the king to enter his accommodations in and about Lanthorn Tower visible here to the left of Cradle Tower. The top of the tower was removed in the 18th century after a fire:

    By 1665 the royal buildings along the southern wall were also being converted into storerooms and offices for ordnance matters, at no small cost:

    The Tower Bridge from the East-Southern corner of the Tower:

    View to the Tower Bridge from the Southern Wall:

    Views from the Southern Wall:

    View from the Southern Wall to the White Tower:

    The City from the Southern Wall:

    View to the Southern Bank from the South wall:

    The Wakefield Tower stands in the middle of the southern wall. The Wakefield Tower is where Henry VI (founded Eton and Cambridge University) was brutally murdered. In 1471, during the time of the 'Wars of the Roses' - England's medieval civil war, he was stabbed to death while praying.

    The Chapel where King Henry VI is traditionally said to have been murdered:

    The Wakefield Tower housed the Crown Jewels from 1879-1967 but it is now almost empty tower. You can see the spartan Throne Room of Henry III (1216-1272) (father of Edward I) from year 1220:

    The ravens of the Tower of London are a group of captive Common Ravens which live in the Tower of London. The presence of the ravens is traditionally believed to protect the Crown and the Tower; a common saying holds that "If the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it.

    The Tower exterior walls. The best time to take photos is during the late afternoon or sunset hours. For the southern walls - the morning hours:

  • History | United Kingdom
    Updated at Apr 13,2014

    Westminster Abbey:

    Words cannot even describe the grandeur, solemnity, beauty, peace, and historic value of this church. It is a must-see for any London visitor. A marvel of history and architecture not to be missed.

    Opening times: Summer/Winter.

    Weekdays:

    Westminster Abbey 9:30 - 15:30,

    Chapter House 10:00 - 16:00,

    Pyx Chamber 10:00 - 16:00,

    Cloister 9:00 - 18:00,

    Westminster Abbey Museum 10:30 - 16:00,

    Westminster Abbey Shop 9:15 - 18:30/17:00,

    St Margaret's Church 9:30 am - 15:30.

    Saturday:

    Westminster Abbey 9:30 am - 15:30/13.30.

    Chapter House 10:00 am - 16:00.

    Pyx Chamber 10:00 am - 16:00.

    Cloister 9:00 am - 18:00.

    Westminster Abbey Museum 10:30  - 16:00.

    College Garden: Open only Tuesday - Thursday 10:00 - 16:00.

    Westminster Abbey Shop 9:15  - 17:30/16:30.

    St Margaret's Church 9:30 am - 13:30.

    Sunday:

    All close except: Westminster Abbey Shop - 12:00/11:00 - 18:00/17:00, St Margaret's Church - 14:00  - 16:45.

    Admission Fees: (free entrance to the Cloisters, Abbey Garden and St. Margaret Church. The Abbey never charges people who wish to worship. Evensong is the most beautiful of services where the Abbey choir sings and FREE. Evensong is at 17:00 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, plus at 15:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. Look for the service schedule either on their website or on the info boards in front of the entrances. The choral is amazing and it is hard for not crying when you listen for the very first time.

    Free entry to Westminster Abbey with a London Pass.

    Adults: 18 GBP, Concessions: 15 GBP (Over 18 students and 60+), Schoolchildren: (11 - 18 years) 8 GBP. Pay and feel great that you are part of preserving this beautiful piece of history...

    ANNUAL PASS: Pay once, visit all through a 12-month period from the date of purchase: Adults:  40 GBP, Concessions 34 GBP.

    Photography: allowed ONLY in the Cloisters and the Abbey Gardens. The use of mobile phones is permitted in the Cloisters and College Garden. Keep mobile phones switched off within the Abbey church.

    Many people state that Westminster Abbey provides the best self-guided audio tour (included in admission price) they have ever encountered. Definitely need to get the audio-guide to get the full appreciation.

    Duration: At least 3 hours with the audio guide.

    Tips and Warnings: Expect long queues and crowds, even when you are inside. NOTE: Be sure the Abbey is open. It might be closed to private events.

    General: Westminster Abbey was founded in 960 AD as a Benedictine monastery. Following the Reformation in the 16th century the Church of England was formed. Many traditions remain in the Abbey but services are conducted in English, and not Latin. The Abbey was practically built built from year 1065. Westminster, means Church in the West (west of St. Paul’s Cathedral). For the next 250 years, the Abbey was remodeled to become essentially the church you see today. An extensive 19th-century remodel preserved the original Gothic style. Westminster Abbey is the nation's Coronation Church and also the burial and memorial place for historical figures from the last thousand years of British history. Within this church you will find the last resting place of kings and queens, lords and ladies, great poets, scientists, generals, clergy.

    Nearest Underground Stations: St James's Park (6 minute walk), Westminster (7 minute walk).

    Interior: The ground floor is occupied by offices, dining rooms and bars; the first floor (known as the principal floor) houses the main rooms of the Palace, including the debating chambers, the lobbies and the libraries. The top-two floors are used as committee rooms and offices.

    Westminster Cathedral Nave: The Abbey’s nave is the tallest in England.

    The Sanctuary:

    Altar in Sanctuary:

    Tomb of Edward the Confessor - The Chapel containing the shrine of St. Edward the Confessor, lies east of the Sanctuary at the heart of the Abbey, on raised area behind the Altar, but, off limits to the public. You can see only the sheer top of his gold-green tomb. The shrine of Edward the Confessor is accessible only to the members of the verger tour (costs £3 more than standard entry and for that you get a 90 minute guided tour):

    Edward's shrine in Westminster Abbey, a tall pillared box surrounded by candles

    The Coronation Chair (or King Edward's / St. Edward's Chair) is the throne on which the British monarch sits for the coronation. It was commissioned in 1296 by King Edward I to contain the coronation stone of Scotland, known as the Stone of Scone (now, in Scotland) - which he had captured from the Scots. The chair was named after Edward the Confessor, and was kept in his shrine of St Edward's Chapel (near the main exit):

    File:SanktEdvardsstol westminster.jpg

    Southern Ambulatory:

    Henry VII Chapel, banners of Bath Order of Knights: Probably, the most sensational hall in the Abbey. The stained-glass windows, the colorful flags and banners, and the masterpiece work in wood, and stone give this room the air of a medieval royalty:

    Tomb of King Henry III (reigned 1216 to 1272, and was crowned king of England at the age of nine):

    File:Westminster.abbey.tombofhenry.london.arp.jpg

    Tomb of King Henry VII:

    Tomb of Queen Elizabeth I. There are actually two queens buried beneath it, both daughters of Henry VIII (Elizabeth I and Mary I). The two half-sisters hated each other in life. Mary even had Elizabeth imprisoned in the Tower of London for a short time. Now they lie side by side for eternity:File:20131018QueenBessGraveL.JPG

    Other Chapels:

    The Quire (nestled in the Nave of the North Transept): Edward Blore created the present Choir in Victorian Gothic style. It is here that the choir, of twenty-two boys and twelve men of the choir, sings the daily Services. The north choir aisle is known as Musicians’ Aisle where several musicians are buried (Purcell) or have memorial stones (Elgar, Benjamin Britten). THe Quire is distinguished by the black and white marble floor. You can seat and listen to the Evening Service on first-come-first-enter bassi. Come 30 minutes before service time. In holidays (like Christmas) come plenty of time before:

    Quire looking west

    (taken from Westminster Abbey web site):

    The Choir of Westminster Abbey

    Organ case and console

    Poet's Corner has tombs and memorials for such well-known writers as Geoffrey Chaucer, Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy, D H Lawrence, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Some of the most famous poets lie here: Robert Browning, Tennyson and John Masefield. in the south transept, though the first occupant, Geoffrey Chaucer, was in fact buried here not because he was a poet, but because he lived nearby. By the eighteenth century this zone had become an artistic pantheon, and since then, the transept has been filled with tributes to all shades of talent:

    South Rose Window: (taken from Westminster Abbey web site):

    South rose window

    Churchill Grave:

    Sir Winston Churchill, born 30 November 1874, died 24 January 1965, is not buried in Westminster Abbey but just inside the west entrance, near the grave of the Unknown Warrior, is a green marble memorial stone. It was unveiled by The Queen on 19 September 1965 and the inscription was cut by the sculptor Reynolds Stone. This reads:

    History

    The Grave of the Unknown Warrior is a fascinating story of an unidentified British soldier killed on a European battlefield during the First World War. Body brought back from France after the First World War, along with 100 barrels of French soil to bury him. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, London on 11 November 1920, simultaneously with a similar interment of a French unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. 

    BENEATH THIS STONE RESTS THE BODY
    OF A BRITISH WARRIOR
    UNKNOWN BY NAME OR RANK
    BROUGHT FROM FRANCE TO LIE AMONG
    THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS OF THE LAND
    AND BURIED HERE ON ARMISTICE DAY
    11 NOV: 1920, IN THE PRESENCE OF
    HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE V
    HIS MINISTERS OF STATE
    THE CHIEFS OF HIS FORCES
    AND A VAST CONCOURSE OF THE NATION

    THUS ARE COMMEMORATED THE MANY
    MULTITUDES WHO DURING THE GREAT
    WAR OF 1914 – 1918 GAVE THE MOST THAT
    MAN CAN GIVE LIFE ITSELF
    FOR GOD
    FOR KING AND COUNTRY
    FOR LOVED ONES HOME AND EMPIRE
    FOR THE SACRED CAUSE OF JUSTICE AND
    THE FREEDOM OF THE WORLD

    THEY BURIED HIM AMONG THE KINGS BECAUSE HE
    HAD DONE GOOD TOWARD GOD AND TOWARD
    HIS HOUSE.

    Chapter House: A chapter house is an hall or room that is part of a cathedral, monastery or collegiate church - in which meetings are held. In the East Cloister of Westminster Abbey there is an octagonal (exceptional architecturally), grand room - the Chapter House, dating from 1245. The chapter house was built (concurrently with the east parts of the abbey) under Henry III, between about 1245 and 1253. The room is lavishly adorned with sculpture, and wall paintings of the Apocalypse, with the Last Judgement painted on the east wall. It contains one of the finest medieval tile pavements in England. The stained-glass windows incorporate Victorian and new post-war designs. 

    File:Westminster Abbey Chapter House 1.JPG

    College Garden is thought to be oldest garden in England at nearly 1,000 years old. Pick up a leaflet at the garden entrance to learn about the planting. College Garden is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

    Westminster Abbey Cloisters: The cloisters are open from 8:00  - 18:00, but you can only enter for free after 16:30 on weekdays and 14:30 on weekends. At all other times you must enter via the main entrance. Children can dress as a monk and have their photo taken in the Cloisters. Go to the Abbey Museum and ask to borrow a costume!

    The Eastern Cloister leading to the Chapter House:

    St. Margaret Church:

    The Jewels Tower:

    The Northern facade of Westminster Abbey:

    The Dean's Yard: to the south-west of the Westminster Abbey. To the west of Westminster School and the the College Gardens. Closed to traffic but open to the public. A fascinating place.

    Westminster School in the Dean's Yard:

    Westminster Abbey Western Facade from the Dean's Yard:

    Westminster Abbey Eastern Facade:

    Westminster Abbey from south-west:

    Westminster Abbey, London

    Westminster Abbey from Abingdon Street:

    Westminster Abbey from Victoria Gardens with August Rodin sculpture  The Burghers of Calais (photo from 2010):

    .

  • History | Spain > Madrid
    Updated at May 22,2013

    (1) Nothing important here.

  • History | Myanmar > Mandalay > Inwa, Mandalay Region, Burma
    Updated at May 22,2013

    Our first destination in Inwa was the Bagaya monastery, built completely out of teak-wood

    It stretches to a height of almost 18 meters, with a refined design and beautiful carvings that runs through the wood. It function as an active school and like any other monasteries in Burma you are required to remove your shoes upon entry.Usually it's not a problem, but in this case the sun tends to heat the wood, and every step can scorch your feet. So moving between different parts of the monastery was a bit tricky and required some jumping and runnind... It is defiantly worth it though: Bagaya Kyaung Monestray was probably built in the 18th century and is still an amazing building.

    We continued with our bicycles on the roads of Inwa. Passing rice farms and coriander fields, it was still very hot and the sun burned our skin. From time to time we saw some horse carts crossing next to us, and the admiring glances of older tourists gave us some motivation to continue paddling.

  • History | Canada > Quebec, Canada > Quebec
    Updated at May 22,2013

    The Museum of Civilization (Musée de la civilization) downtown is a wonderful destination for all the family. We enjoyed the exhibitions and the artifacts on display. In the arched basement you can try on clothes from the Colonial period.