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  • History | France > Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg
    Updated at May 22,2013

    Haut-Kœnigsbourg dates back at least to the 12th century, and originally belonged to the Hohenstaufen family. It was attacked and burned in 1462, and was rebuilt 17 years later, and in the 16th century became the property of Maximilian the first, The Holy Roman Emperor. It was burnt again during the Thirty Years' War, and was left unused until the end of the 19th century, when it was given to the German emperor Wilhelm the second by the city of Sélestat . It was restored in the beginning of the 20th century, and was inaugurated in 1908 in the presence of the Emperor. In 1993 it was declared as a national historic site by France.

  • History | Peru > Pachacamac
    Updated at Jul 3,2013

    The Incas were the last highly advanced culture in a series of ancient Peruvian civilizations. They arose in the 13th century in the Cusco region, and for the following 200 years their expansion was limited and slow.

    The central coast of Peru and the area of Lima was incorporated into the Empire between 1460 and 1470. While the Incas usually repressed conquered tribes erasing their culture and tradition, in the Lima region it seems they partly diverged from their norm. They imposed a political and administrative reorganization, but allowed most "old" rulers to retain their political and administrative powers.

  • History | Peru > Vilcashuamán
    Updated at Jul 3,2013

    The Incas established Vilcashuamán as an administrative center after they conquered the Chancas and the Pocras. Vilcashuamán was home to 40,000 people, and city was located around a large plaza where ceremonies involving sacrifices were performed. Around the plaza were the city's two most important buildings - the Sun Temple (Templo del Sol) and the Ushnu, which remain to this day.

    It is believed that the city had the shape of a falcon, the Ushnu was  located in the head. "Vilcashuamán" in Quechua is "Sacred Hawk".

  • History | Greece > Chania
    Updated at May 22,2013

    The Venetians, during the 13th century, bought Crete from the Marquis of Montferrat, Who led the Fourth Crusade, which ended with the fall of Constantinople. But after a short time the army of Genoa, with the help of local Cretans, conquered Chania and took control of the city. It took the Venetians 20 years to get the city back, and after that episode they ruled the city with a tighter feast. The Venetian harbor was built between 1320 and 1356, and was used for commerce and to secure the control of the Sea.

  • History | Germany > Lubeck > Altstadt > St. Katherine Church - Katharinekirche
    Updated at May 22,2013

    Modern statues (Ernst Barlach amongt others) stand in front of the 14th century facade of this church-museum. A famous paint of Tintoretto stands immediately on your right in the main entrance. This famous statue of the Knight on the Dragon stands in front of the museum:

  • History | Germany > Lubeck > Altstadt > Breite Straße > Schifferge​ssellschaf​t - the Sailors Guilde house in the Breite str.
    Updated at May 22,2013

    A facade with Renaissance gables. The interior houses a picturesque restaurant  with wooden tables, model ships and metal lamps.

  • History | Mexico > Palenque, Mexico
    Updated at Aug 15,2013

    The next day we woke up, drank some coffee, ate some good pancakes at Dom Mucho, and went to visit the Palenque archaeological site. The arrival is by a shuttle from the El Panchan crossroad and should cost 10 pesos (if you arrive from Palenque it should be 20; we also paid 20 but it shouldn't be that way).

    Entrance fee is 27 pesos for getting to the reservation and another 57 pesos for the ticket into the sight. 

    This place is amazing. We did Chichen Itza a week before and were very disappointed, mainly because of the guides. So here we didn't take any guides. The ruins in the entrance are very impressive and you can climb them (unlike in Chichen Itza). But the peak of the day was the tour inside the jungle. You get into the jungle and see the Mayan remains in the nature, amazing rivers, wild landscape, and the whole time you hear the sounds of the monkeys. A bit stressful in the beginning but it's crazy!

    To sum it up - don't miss this sight. 

  • History | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 13,2014

    Main attraction: Hampton Court Gardens and Palace, The Thames, Kingston-on-Thames, Bushy Park, Diana Fountain. Circular route.

    From: Hampton Court train station.

    Back: Hampton Court train station.

    Walking Distance: Approx. 12 km.

    Getting to Hampton Court:

    Train:
    Catch a train from Waterloo to Hampton Court (zone 6). It takes about half an hour from Waterloo. Buy a return ticket.

    River Boat:
    For a picturesque trip go by river. Take a boat for three and a half hours from Westminster, but you can cut down on that by taking the tube to Richmond and catching the boat there. Your Travelcard will give you a 33% discount on the river trip.

    Lunch: The visit in Hampton Court will consume half a day. There is a restaurant in Hampton Court. It is quite pricey and the portions are not so generous. I recommend delaying your main meal until you arrive to Kingston.

    Opening times of Hampton Court Gardens & Palace: Summer: 10.00-17.00, winter: 10.00- 16.30.

    Adult Ticket £16.00. You can purchase a ticket for the Gardens only. Remember: Hampton Court is included in the 2 for 1 attraction scheme for the Travelcard holders. For touring the gardens - the site's map (included with your ticket) is very helpful.

    Duration and orientation: Allow 4-5 hours for the Hampton Court Gardens and Palace. You exit from the Hampton Court gardens to the Thames river from a side gate (100 metres from the main entrance). No need for detailed instructions until you arrive to Kingston. You just follow the tarmac path along the river from Hampton Court to Kingston. From there I'll supply detailed road-map... The main attraction is Hampton Court. The Bushy Park is very athmospheric and looks more African than European... Do not expect a lot of visitors there. The Diana Fountain is impressive and grandiose.

    Main entrance to Hampton Court:

    20th Century Gardens:

    "The Wilderness":

    Carriage rides (in the summer):

    Exit to the Thames from (closed) gates of the Knot Gardens:

    The Knot Garden:

    "The Great Vine":

    The Privy Garden:

    The Lower Orangery Garden:

    The Pond Gardens:

    Hampton Court Palace - the Clock Court:

    Wiliam III Apartments:

    Queen Caroline's Bedchamber:

    The Library:

    Dining Room:

    Henry VIII:

    The Great Hall:

    Henry Viii, Jane Seymour (his 3rd wife) and their son Edward VI:

    Queen's Public Room:

    Queen's Bathroom:

    Queen caroline Oratory Room:

    Great Fountain and Gardens from the Palace:

    Ann Boleyn's Gateway:

    The walk from Hampton Court Bridge (or, better, exit gate of the Palace park) to Kingston Bridge lasts for 2 hours, approx 6 km.). This delightful stretch of river offers the perfect opportunity for a relaxing walk as the gentle path meanders alongside the Thames with no bypasses. You will pass on your way: Ditton and Surbitton (on the opposite bank).

    Hampton Court Walseley Gate - from the Thames Path:

    The Thames - not far from Hampton Court Bridge:

    Houses on the Thames bank - between hampton Court and Ditton:

    Near Surbiton:

    Kingston-upon-Thames Pier:

    Kingston-upon-Thames Bridge:

    Just before the Kingston Bridge you get off from the Thames Path and turn left.  Crossing the bustling road and passing through Kingston High Street  - head to the main road in this area of Kingston: Hampton Wick. Walk along bustling Hampton Wick road for 1.5 km and note on your left some interesting houses dating from the 19th century:

    Follow the Hampton Wick road to the left and turn left to Vicrage Rd. (signposting to Teddington). The road bears left and, immediately on your right, there is a black metal gate to enter Bushy Park.

    Please have a look at the local map on your right - immediately in the entrance gate. You take the Cobbler Walk. Walk along this tarmac path (approx. 2 km.) until you arrive to an asphalted road - the Chestnut Avenue.

    Bushy Park - Cobbler Walk:

    Bushy Park - Chestnut Avenue leading to Hampton Court. A grand approach, designed by Wren, to the planned northern facade of Hampton Court. Its main attraction is the imposing Diana Fountain:

    Arriving to Hampton Court grounds make your way again to the main entrance. The afternoon sun lights the Palace, the Gardens and the Thames in a charming colour:

  • History | United Kingdom > London, United Kingdom > Greenwich
    Updated at Mar 16,2014

    A pleasant oasis of historical sites, markets, books and antiques shops and splendid waterfront.

    Directions: There are several ways to arrive to Greenwich (from Central London) - most of them are amazing.

    1. Cruise - Join a boat of Thames Clippers (departure from London Eye or Westminster Bridge). A must ! The boat stops at North Greenwich (near the O2) or at Greenwich Pier - a few metres from all Greenwich attractions. There is a special Blog on this journey in Tipter unter this trip.

    2. Take the Emirates Air line (Thames Cable Car) from Royal Victoria Dock DLR station to the North Greenwich station. Marvelous ! Your camera won't stop taking pictures. A budget service with excellent service. Wait until the tourists load in decreasing and try to enter your own, private cabin...


    Cash        single fare    Oyster or Travelcard user "Frequent flyer"
    Adult       £4.30             £3.20                                     £16.00
    Child       £2.20             £1.60 

    3. Come with the DLR (Cutty Sark, Greenwich). % minutes walk to Greenwich main attractions.

    4. Come with the Natioal Rail train to Greenwich station. 15 minutes pleasant walk to the Cutty Sark and the other attractions through St. Alfege church and Greenwich High Street.

    5. I recommend you a fifth way: From wherever you are, travel to Deptford Bridge DLR station (Bank - Lewisham DLR line). After descending Deptford Bridge DLR stn. steps - turn left and take a 53 bus heading to Blackheath Hill. The 53 bus runs every few minutes.You get off at Greenwich Park (one stop after Charlton Way). 5 minutes walk and you enter the park by the main entrance. Walk through the gates, famous as the scene of the start of the London Marathon, and walk straight ahead to the Rose Garden and other flowers beds.

    This Tip sticks with the Direction 5... Greenwich Park is lovely (still recovering from the Olympic egames) with a wonderful view of Greenwich's historic waterside buildings and a panorama of London north of the river. Historically, it was the grounds of the royal palace and still a Royal Park. It is better to start with the park, on top of the hill and then, walk down the hill for the main attractions.

    After passing te Golden Gates of the Greenwich Park, the Ranger House, the Rose garden and flower beds - you are now standing and gazing at one of the world's most beautiful views: fantastic view of Canary Wharf and the O2 from the famous hill of the park. Downstairs , that's Greenwich, the Thames and London. On a fine day most of London can be seen from here.

    On top of the same hill with the wonderful panarama of London and the Thames is a statue of General James Wolfe, (1727-59) looking out towards the river. General Wolfe led the British forces at Quebec against the French and won a great victory, at the cost of his life. He was a resident of Greenwich and is buried in the parish church, St Alfege's.

    View of Greenwich, London and the Thames from the steps of the statue -

    The Greenwich Royal Observatory was founded by order of King Charles II to study astronomy. The oldest in the group of buildings comprising the observatory is Flamsteed House. It was built in 1675. The time ball on the roof was first erected in 1833, providing the first public time signal. Opening hours: 10.00-18.00. Entrance to the Astronomy Centre: free, To the Flamstead Bldg. and the the Meridian Courtyard: 7 GBP.

    Other buildings include the Meridian Building, which is really three, built between 1749 and 1855, and the Great Equatorial Building with its onion-shaped dome. This was built in 1857, with a dome installed in 1893. The dome was severely damaged during the second World War, and the existing dome was erected in 1975. The meridian that divides the Earth's eastern and western hemispheres passes through here. Tourists aree photographed here standing with a foot on ether side of it.

    In year 1884, Greenwich Mean Time became the basis of time measurements around the globe.

    Next to the Observatory buildings is the new (opend in 2007) Peter Harrison planetarium which employs the latest space exploration technology. This is a state-of-art Planetarium - the only one in Londn.

    Now you walk downhill, through an impressive avenue of ancient trees - heading to the Maritime Museum. It is the world's largest maritime museum. Free admission. It includes a vast collection of everyting associated with the sea. Plenty of exhibition. Bright and airy museum with 3 floors of exhibits. 

    Opening hours: 10.00–18.00.  In the enclosed photo: Prince Frederick's Barge (1732).


    On permanent display, in front of the Maritime Museum is the Yinka Shonibare's "Ship in a Bottle". It has been moved from Trafalgar Square in April 2013.

    Greenwich Queen's House has less broad appeal than other Greenwich big hitters.  The Queens House has an interesting collection of paintings including one awesome Turner, famous portaraits of Elizabeth the First, Henry VIII, a couple of Van Dykes etc'., Do not miss the beautiful Tulip Stairs, and the lavishly painted Queen's bedroom and the geometric patterns in the cubical Queen's salon. Opening hourse: 10.00-17.00. Free.

    Queen's House - The Entrance

    Queen's House - The spiral Tulip Stairs:

    Now you approach King William Court with two buildings on both sides of the court: The Royal Naval College and the Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul. For both of them - admission is free. Open daily 08.00 - 18.00

    The Royal Naval College is an once-in-life experience: stunning architecture and breath-taking painted hall. The painted hall designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1698, originally intended as an eating place for naval veterans. The interior was painted by James Thornhill. It took him 19 years to complete this masterpiece. In 1806, after the Battle of Trafalgar, the body of Horatio Nelson was brought to lie in state in the Painted Hall. A plaque marks the spot where his coffin was placed before it was taken for burial in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral.

    The Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul was constructed by Thomas Ripley to the designs of Sir Christopher Wren. Originally, it was a major part of the Royal Hospital for Seamen to be built. Following a disastrous fire in 1779, it was redecorated by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart in the Greek revival style. Today it is a wonderful example of a complete neoclassical interior. The Chapel is often used for concerts thanks to its excellent acoustics of its glorious curved ceiling. 

    University of Greenwich from Greenwich Pier:

    ...and from Nando's restaurant near the Cutty Sark:

    The Cutty Sark - The clipper built in 1869 gained its fame on the China tea trade. Later, it plied in the wool trade with Australia. It has been brought to Greenwich in 1954. The name "Cutty Sark" means "Short Shirt" derived from Robert Burn's poem. en: 11.00-17.00.

    Greenwich Market: 

    Practical Information: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 to 17:30.

    Well known for its designer makers and customers can found items that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. It is regarded as one of London's best markets.

    St. Alfege Church: Distinctively designed by Nicholas Hawksmoore with gigantic columns and urns. Completed in 1714. Open: Sat. 11.30-16.00, Sun. 12.00-16.00 only.

  • History | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 13,2014

    Dover Castle:

    There are, mainly, two top attraction in Dover: The Castle and the Cliffs. Every one of them deserves a FULL one day. Allow time for Dover downtown only for having a lunch or for shopping (cheaper than many other places in the UK !). The Dover Castle is the first line of defense for the UK for centuries. The extensive site includes: a mighty fortress (the greatest in the UK), medieval royal palace, the Secret Wartime Tunnels dug deep under / into the white cliffs and present, astonishingly the "Miracle of Dunkirk Retreat" (operation Dynamo) in year 1940.

    Opening Times: Daily 09.30/10.00 - 18.00.

    Price: 17 GBP. Concessions: 15.30 GBP.

    I climbed the whole way to the castle on foot. I was among very few who arrived to the castle on foot. You are told, on your way up the castle hill to "go to the tickets office and pay your entrance fee". It is up to you whether you pay or just continue walking into the huge site and explore it for hours without being checked even once. You are not asked to show your ticket even when you take part in the various attractions (like visiting the underground tunnels etc'). Coming with a car you must pay for your entrance tickets before being allowed to enter the site with your car. A great part of the visitors enter the Castle site with a member card - so, practically, they pay nothing for every visit...

    Special Events:

    It would be a good advice to plan your visit ahead and target it in sync with one of the numerous special events' days during the year: Roman Festival, Clash of the Knights days, Knights Tournaments, Falconry days, WWW II weekends, St. George Festival day, Children Festival.

    Walk to the Castle: You will see the brown signposts of Dover Castle from the moment you leave the Priory Dover Railway Station. It is 40-45 minutes walk to the Castle hill, passing the town centre with its attractive fountain:

     

    The last section of climbing the steep Castle hill is quite demanding. You are rewarded by having nice views to the sea and Dover Harbour.

    Allow, at least, 5-6 hours for the whole visit of the Castle hill and its attractions. Come no later than 09.30-10.00 !!!

    Even without the special events there was plenty to see and do. Spectacular castle, amazing views and friendly staff. Even if the morning is misty or windy it contributes to the eerie atmosphere. With bright weather you'll have beautiful panoramic views:

    Dover Cliffs from the Castle Hill (Admirality Lookout):

    Dover Castle walls:

    Roman Lighthouse Pharos and St. Mary-in-Castro Church:

    St. Mary-in-Castro Church interior:

    Palace Gate:

    The Great Tower:

    Views from the Tower top terrace are magnificient:

    Do not miss visiting the main Castle / Palace Henry II galleries and rooms including also the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment Museum:

    There is also a permanent exhibition of UK battles and wars during the centuries in Dover Castle (here the Imperial India room:

    King's gate:

    Medieval tunnels used also in the Napoleonic wars + Battlements Cannons (18th - 19th centuries):

    A walk around the perimeter is stunning. There are amazing views of the town of Dover and the English Channel:

    The WWW II Secret Tunnels themselves justify the hefty entrance price. Advice : go to the tunnels first as they have a long queue later in the day of more than an hour. They are 26 metres beneath the castle. There were the heart and the brain of Operation Dynamo - the evacuation of allied troops from the beaches of France in Dunkirk. Visitors witness the place where this operation took place: round-the-clock planning to assemble a huge fleet of ships to evacuate 338,000 British and French troops from Dunkirk: