Paris - Madeleine, Palais Garnier - Opera, Grand Magasins:
Main Attractions: Place de la Madeleine, l’Egise Saint-Marie Madeleine, Galerie De La Madeleine, Paris Olympia, Hotel Scribe and Restaurante Lumière, Musée du Parfum, Garnier Opera House, Théâtre de l'Athénée, Place Édouard VII, Place Diaghilev, Galeries Lafayette, Printemps.
Start: Place de la Madeleine Metro station. You have the metro on lines 8, 12 or 14 and disembarking at the Madeleine stop, or buses numbers 24, 42, 52, 84 and 94 will also get you here. Place de la Madeleine (metro station at the Boulevard de la Madeleine, situated on the right hand side as you look at the Madeleine church). End: Havre - Caumartin Metro station (lines 3 and 9). Duration: 1/2 day. Distance: 5 km. Weather: any weather.
Introduction: The neighborhood around Opéra and Bourse is a elle époque paradise of grand boulevards, refined arcades, and mass-market art-nouveau entertainment. Here, modern day workers continue to take advantage of the legacy that nobility and finance left in the 19th century. Brightly-lit brasseries, theaters, and cinemas sit side by side with French bistros predominating in one area and Japanese restaurants in another. The area is most famous for the Palais Garnier opera house and glamorous department stores.
Our 1/2 day itinerary: Place de la Madeleine is located at the end of the Rue Royale and is named after the impressive structure called La Madeleine, which was eventually consecrated as a church almost one hundred years after this square in Paris was first established. We shall explore, first, the culinary gems of this district - before entering the mighty church of La Madeleine.
Place de la Madeleine is a Parisian district of luxury and prestige. One of the top places in Paris for shopping. Stylish restaurants and top-notch shops are gathered here, competing to show off the most beautiful window. In fact, the square now seems devoted to food. The square excels in its abundance of gourmet food stores. Famous specialized food brands such as Fauchon and Hédiard have shops here. The Madeleine Square neighborhood has always been capable of attracting well-to-do shoppers and visitors.
Patrick Roger, #3 place de la Madeleine, Chocolatiers & Shops - Beautiful, expensive and eclectic boutique chocolate shop with intriguing decoration:
The tiny Maille boutique, easily overlooked in the corner nook (# 6 Place de la Madeleine), stocks mustard. Only in Paris could you have an entire shop devoted to mustard. Maille, one of the oldest mustard brands in France, has its origins in Marseille when distiller Antoine Maille set up his first mustard tap in 1723. You can find here more than 60 different types of mustard flavored with everything from violets to champagne - including exotic flavors such as raspberry basil, Thai spices, Cassis, chestnut, cherry and almond, celery and truffle:
Next door two prestigious caviar houses rival for attention—Caviar Kaspia (no. 17). In #17 resides the shop that stocks one of the most prized foods in the world, caviar at Kaspia. Stocking the finest caviars since 1927, the shop has Beluga, Ossestra, and Baeri imported from Italy and Bulgaria. Smoked salmon, crab, Foie Gras, Vodka, and Iberian ham are also for sale. The elegant restaurant has an Art Nouveau décor:
Café-Restaurant Paris London, Place de la Madeleine #20:
At La Maison de la Truffe (#19), the rare and sought-after delicacy is well represented. Truffle varieties sold include: Burgundy, scallop carpaccio with Brumale truffles, White Alba, Black, and Summer. A restaurant and tasting room offers a selection of dishes prepared with truffles. There is also a shop for gourmet gifts including truffle-infused Armagnac:
Aristocratic grocer Hédiard (no. 21) is even older than Fauchon. Ferdinand Hédiard introduced Parisians to the joys of exotic fruits in the 1850s and Hédiard jams, marmalades, chocolates, biscuits, teas, confections, spices and pâtes de fruit are still bestsellers today, lined up with an enticing array of oils and spices and a fantastic wine cellar. Hediard is the ultimative upscale Parisian food shop. The bold black and red striped insignia is prominent on the boxes and tins of packaged foods. The fresh food counters offer premium quality fruits and vegetables, take out and prepared foods, pastries, cheeses, and Foie Gras. The boutique also has an extensive wine cellar and restaurant. The shop is CLOSED:
Founded in 1886 by Auguste Fauchon and revamped by designer Christian Biecher. Fauchon is one of the leading luxury gourmet shops in Paris (between # 26 and # 30 (between#26 and #30 Place de la Madeleine) and around the world. You cannot miss the gorgeous pink packaging that rivals the fashion boutiques of Avenue Montaigne. Two outlets adjacent to each other. One shop carries mostly packaged products with their signature colors of hot pink and black, including chocolates, biscuits, cookies, candies, tea, coffee, jellies, jams, and mustard. The other offers an extensive line of prepared and takeout foods, including cakes and pastries, appetizers, quiches, cheeses, caviar, hams, patés, and a bread bakery. There are tables to eat the prepared foods. A restaurant, café, and cocktail lounge complete this set of premises:
The Madeleine Church (its full title: l’Egise Saint-Marie Madeleine), the anchor of the square, is a neo-classical, Greco-Roman style temple and originally started as a shrine to the battles Napoleon had won. During the period known as the First Republic (1792-1804), following the French Revolution, the foundations of earlier sacred buildings were removed and discussions were had as to what to do with the space. As France had been de-Christianized during the Revolution a civic rather than a religious function for the building was decided upon; various suggestions were put forward including a new site for the Bank of France. Considerations were brought to a halt, however, when in 1804 Napoleon crowned himself Emperor. What followed was one of the most ambitious propaganda programs of the nineteenth century. As well as looting works from the world’s finest collections to display in the newly refurbished Louvre, renamed the Musée Napoleon, some of the greatest artists and sculptors of the age were recruited to exalt the new emperor. It was only fitting that Napoleon would turn to architects, too, to realize his vision of an imperial capital city. Three monuments of particular note were constructed with this end in view: the Arc de Triomphe, the Vendôme Column and the church at the Place de la Madeleine. To celebrate the Napoleonic army achievement, having defeated the Austrians in the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, a competition to select the best design for the Temple was established in 1806. The competition had to be judged by to a jury selected from the Imperial Academy. As it turned out, it was Napoleon who opted for the design of one Pierre-Alexandre Vignon (1763-1828). Vignon, who had trained under the great neoclassical architect Claude Ledoux, envisioned a peripteral temple (a temple surrounded by a single row of columns). Lacking Ledoux’s more visionary character, however, Vignon’s design for the exterior was basically a scaled up version of the Maison Carrée in Nîmes. But the project was abandoned after Napoleon was exiled. The Bourbon Restoration (1814-30) sought to revive the relationship between church and state. For this reason it was decided, as the temple was still incomplete, to return to the pre-Revolution purpose of the building project, namely to construct a church dedicated to Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene has very strong connections with France. According to tradition she was among the first Christian proselytizers: after the crucifixion she journeyed to Provence from the Holy Land converting the French to Christianity.
Open every day from 9.30 to 19.00. FREE. Admire the church’s architecture, listed as a historical monument in 1915. Its tall columns of 20 meters invite you to meet this neoclassical monster in Paris. Unlike the Maison Carrée though, the portico of La Madeleine has eight columns rather than six. These fluted Roman Corinthian columns – there are fifty-two of them in all – rise up to a staggering twenty meters and encompass the entire structure:
Note the pediment frieze, designed by Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire in 1829 (the Bourbon Restoration). The subject is The Last Judgment, a centuries-old motif found on relief sculptures above the doors of countless churches and cathedrals. While Lemaire largely follows iconographical convention, depicting Christ the Judge at the center of the composition and on His right the archangel Gabriel with his horn announcing the Day of Judgment and on His left the archangel Michael wielding the sword of justice, it is in the figure of Mary Magdalene kneeling at the foot of Christ that the underlying message of the sculpture is revealed:
The church's bronze doors bear reliefs representing the Ten Commandments. The bottom relief - Nathan the prophet Confronts David the king:
In contrast to the severity of its exterior - on entering the church, we are faced with a surprisingly opulent spectacle. Inside, the church has a single nave with three domes, lavishly gilded in a decor inspired by Renaissance artists. At the rear of the church, above the high altar, stands a statue by Charles Marochetti depicting St Mary Magdalene being carried up to heaven by two angels:
A History of Christianity, a painting by Jules-Claude Ziegler on one of the domes:
Above the entrance door is the famous pipe organ, built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, on which such composers as Camille Saint-Saëns and Gabriel Fauré played:
Baptism of Christ by François Rude:
From L'église de la Madeleine - head southwest on Place de la Madeleine. Turn right to stay on Place de la Madeleine, 90 m. Turn left to stay on Place de la Madeleine, 20 m. Turn right onto Galerie de la Madeleine, 65 m. Galerie De La Madeleine resides west to the church. It connects Rue Boissy d'Anglas and Place de la Madeleine. The French architect, Théodore Charpentier (1797 – 1867) specialized in designing theatres and restaurants. Amongst other things, he rebuilt the Opéra Comique after it was destroyed by fire in 1838, he designed the neo-Renaissance decor of the restaurant, “Trois Frères Provençaux”, in the Palais-Royal and he also built the Café Pierron. In 1842, he turned his attention to the Place de la Madeleine then, as now, an elegant and very expensive part of Paris. Charpentier was charged by the people who owned the Société du passage Jouffroy with designing and building a Galerie, a passage couvert, between the Place de la Madeleine and the rue Boissy d’Anglais, the Galerie de la Madeleine. Work began on the Galerie in 1840 and it was opened in 1846:
From Galerie De La Madeleine - head BACK southeast toward Place de la Madeleine, 65 m. Slight right onto Place de la Madeleine, 120 m. Continue onto Boulevard de la Madeleine for 210 m. and stop at the city’s largest wine store, Lavinia, at 3-5 Boulevard de la Madeleine:
Head east on Boulevard de la Madeleine toward Rue de Caumartin, 40 m. Turn left at Place Henri Salvador onto Rue de Caumartin, 25 m. Continue onto Rue de Sèze, 140 m. Turn right onto Rue Vignon. The street bears the name of Pierre-Alexandre Vignon ( 1763 - 1828 ), architect of the Church of the nearby Madeleine. 140 m. further note Helmut Newcake - Patisserie without Gluten - rue Vignon #28. A paradise for GF people:
At #32 rue Vignon - you find L'Atelier des Sens - Food & Drink Classes & Cooking Workshops - for the whole family: parents and children. English classes are available.
We had our lunch at Paris - Le Roi du Pot au Feu , 34 rue Vignon. Pot au Feu is a beef boiled with vegetables served with red wine (typical winter dish in France). Recommended. Simple, delicious food. Reasonable prices. Efficient service:
We retrace our steps and walk BACK along rue Vignon - heading to the Opera garnier. 34 Rue Vignon. Head south on Rue Vignon toward Rue de Sèze, 180 m. Turn left onto Rue de Sèze, 140 m. The road received its name in honor of Raymond de Sèze (1748-1828), one of the lawyers of Louis XVI. Continue onto Rue de Caumartin, 25 m. Turn left onto Boulevard des Capucines, 150 m. L'Olympia, Olympia Hall or Paris Olympia is located at 28 Boulevard des Capucines (on your left). Exactly like the Moulin Rouge - this mythical hall was co-founded in 1888, by Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler. It opened in 1889 as the Montagnes Russes but was renamed the Olympia in 1893. Olympia played host to the most famous musicians, circuses, ballets, and operettas. It declined during and after WW2. Bruno Coquatrix revived it as a music hall with a grand re-opening in February 1954. Édith Piaf achieved great acclaim at the Olympia giving several series of recitals from January 1955 until October 1962. Dalida is the biggest solo icon that has performed there. The Olympia was like her second home. Her first performance in Olympia was in early 1956 at auditions held by Eddie Barclay and Bruno Coquatrix. It was then when she was discovered and chosen to sign contract. Same year she would support Charles Aznavour for his concert. First own concert in Olympia she had was in 1959. After that she would perform in Olympia every 3-4 years, singing for 30 nights in row, all of sold out. The Beatles performed eighteen days (16 January – 4 February 1964) of concerts at the Olympia Theatre, playing two and sometimes three shows a day. Jacques Brel's 1961 and 1964 concerts at L'Olympia are legendary. Marlene Dietrich's performed in the Olympia in 1962.
Turn left onto Rue Scribe to see two iconic hotels in Paris. This street honours Eugène Scribe (1791-1861), who directed the Théâtre Comique Français from 1820-50. At n° 2, the Grand Hôtel (nowadays the Intercontinental), was built in 1862 for the 1867 World Exhibition on the initiative of the Pereire brothers:
At #1 and #2 reside Hotel Scribe and Restaurante Lumière. The hotel was built in 1861 as part of the creation of the Opera district. Many celebrities were residents in this hotel, including Josephine Baker who made it her Parisian residence until year 1968:
Le Lumière restaurant is adjacent to Hotel Scribe. The restaurant’s name is derived from the Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis, who presented here the first public projection of their new invention : the cinematography, the 28th of December 1895. The event still inhabits the premises thanks to the numerous period snapshots that adorn the room.
Head north on Rue Scribe toward Impasse Sandrie, 90 m. Make a U-turn at Impasse Sandrie and the Fragonard Perfume Museum, 9 Rue Scribe is on the right. The Musée du Parfum, also known as the Fragonard Perfume Museum, is a French private museum of perfume. The museum was created in 1983 by the Fragonard perfume company within a Napoleon III town-house (built 1860). Its rooms contain period furnishings and perfume exhibits, including antique perfume bottles, containers, toiletry sets, stills for steam distillation of perfume extracts, etc. Displays show how perfumes are made today, and present the history of perfume manufacturing and packaging. Of particular interest is an orgue à parfum (perfume organ) with tiers of ingredient bottles arranged around a balance used to mix fragrances. The museum is open daily; admission is free. Commercial:
But, the best sight from rue Scribe - is of the Paris Opera Garnier. Paris has two operas, the Garnier Opera House and the Opéra Bastille (bastille square). The Opera Garnier is also called "Opera de Paris". It was built under Napoleon III you can see the N of Napoleon on the façade. The visit of the interior of the Opera House is not free. If you find a seat it's better to go to a show to enjoy the beauty of the concert hall:
Palais Garnier - the National Opera of Paris is open: every day from 10.00 to 17.00. Closed the 1st of January and the 1st of May. It is closed also on: Monday 2 July 2018, Tuesday 11 September 2018, Wednesday 26 September 2018, Thursday 27 September 2018, Friday 28 September 2018 until 13.00, Sunday 30 September 2018, Monday 1er October 2018, Wednesday 3 October 2018, Saturday 6 October 2018, Sunday 7 Ocotber 2018, Friday 9 November 2018, Saturday 10 November 2018,
Wednesday 14 November 2018 until 12.00, Saturday 17 November 2018,
Saturday 15 December 2018, Tuesday 25 December 2018. Prices: 12 € Youngsters (12-25): 8 €. Book your tickets for the guided tour in advance. Online tickets: https://visites.operadeparis.fr/selection/event/seat?perfId=536976513&productId=517971834
To reach the Palais Garnier: Metro: Opéra station, lines 3,7,8. RER: Auber station, line A. Bus: routes 20, 21, 22, 27, 29, 42, 52, 53, 66, 68, 81, 95.
Garnier Opera House, located on Place de l'Opera is one of Paris' greatest landmarks. It was originally called the Salle des Capucines because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier in recognition of its opulence and its architect. It was designed by Charles Garnier in a Neo-Baroque style and it is an architectural masterpieces of its time. The Palais Garnier is "probably the most famous opera house in the world, a symbol of Paris". Built between 1865-1872, it was designed to impress from both outside and inside. This was the time of Napoleon III, when much of the Paris we know and love today was built. The whole area of the Opera Garnier was completely reconstructed by Baron Haussmann, appointed by Napoleon to modernize Paris but especially to open up this congested medieval city.
From the outside, a multi colored marble facade is topped by golden statues and the names of opera legends. The top of the main facade is adorned with golden statues representing harmony and Poetry. Looking over those two is Apollo. Below, the façade is adorned with the busts of great composers, the best-known are Mozart and Beethoven. The Palais Garnier also houses the Bibliothèque-Musée de l'Opéra de Paris (Paris Opera Library-Museum). Although the Library-Museum is no longer managed by the Opera and is part of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the museum is included in the guided tour of the Palais Garnier. The Opera building is gorgeous in its exterior and very ornate, sometimes breath-taking in its interiors. The decoration inside is amazing. Allow, at least, 1.5 hours for the guided tour:
The Entrance Hall:
Garnier did not waste much time and intended that visitors would go from one climax to another. For us, this means ascending to the Grand Staircase. The Grand Staircase is… huge. It’s actually quite a piece of engineering marvel. The staircase is housed a huge nave made of pink, green and white marble:
No doubt, the highlight of your visit to the Opera Garnier, is the Grand Foyer. This huge 18 meters high, 154 meters long and 13 meters wide hall, was intended as a place to take a break, mingle, and perhaps close a few deals. It is purposely located just outside the highest paying boxes. The Grand Foyer of the Palais Garnier, inspired by the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles:
The auditorium is not always accessible to visitors. You cannot actually go down to the stage level but can get a great view of this massive horseshoe shaped theatre. Palais Garnier auditorium and stage:
the main highlight is the famous Chagall ceiling and the 8-ton chandelier hanging down from it. Chagall’s masterpiece was actually painted only in 1965, replacing a few others before it. Chagall's Opéra Garnier Ceiling:
Just outside the Grand Hall, you can step out for some ‘fresh’ Paris air and enjoy fine views out on the balcony. You can imagine how the opera goers felt when sipping champagne up here, having the whole town watching them from down below. The Opera Terrace:
The Opera Square from the Palais Garnier Terrace:
Here, completing our visit in Palais Garnier. We have to options: heading east to the Grand Boulevards or to the west to the the grand stores (magasins) in the Boulevard Haussmann. We opted for the second option. But, before heading to Place Diahagilev - we make a small "loop" or detour to Édouard VII Square. From the Opera continue north-west along Rue Auber 75 m. Turn left onto Rue Boudreau, 50 m. On the first turn to the left, at 7 rue Boudreau, stands the Théâtre de l'Athénée. Renovated in 1996 and classified a historical monument, it is among the most beautiful buildings in Paris:
Turn left onto Square de l'Opéra-Louis Jouvet, 100 m. Turn right onto Place Édouard VII, 25 m. The main attraction, here, is the statue of Edward VII (1841-1910) king of England. Opposite - the Edouard VII - Sacha Guitry Theater. The English King Edward VII was known as "the most Parisian of English kings". Naturally, it was an English architect, William Sprague , who built a theater in the center of the square in 1913 . Sacha Guitry , is a French playwright , actor , director , director and screenwriter , born on February 21 , 1885 in St. Petersburg ( Russia ) and died on July 24 , 1957 in Paris. He played and directed many plays in this theatre. Noel Coward (UK) and Orson Wells (USA) also played and directed in this theatre. The history of famous performances and plays started at 1916 and, still, exists, for more than 100 years !!!
From square Édouard-VII we return northward. Head northwest on Édouard VII Square, 25 m. Turn left to stay on Édouard VII Square, 15 m. Turn left onto Rue Bruno Coquatrix, 65 m. Turn right onto Rue de Caumartin, 170 m. Turn right onto Rue Auber, 15 m. Turn left onto Rue des Mathurins, 190 m. Here, in the intersection with rue Scribe - you get a pretty sight of the Opera - Garnier:
Turn left onto Rue Scribe, 10 m. Enter Place Diaghilev, 40 m. This square owes its name to the creator of Ballets Russes, Serge Diaghilev (1872-1929). The proximity to the Opera influenced here in naming this square. The Ballets Russes was a ballet company based in Paris that performed between 1909 and 1929 throughout Europe and on tours to North and South America. The Ballets Russes is widely regarded as the most influential ballet company of the 20th century. The company's productions created a huge sensation, completely reinventing the art of performing dance, integrating many visual arts and disciplines. It also introduced European and American audiences to tales, music, and design motifs drawn from Russian folklore. The influence of the Ballets Russes lasts to the present day. Diaghilev Square is served by the Metro lines 3 and 9 at the Havre-Caumartin station and lines 7 and 9 at the Chaussée d'Antin - La Fayette station. Bus lines: 22, 42, 52, 53.
For well over a century, Paris’s three legendary monuments to shopping – Le Bon Marché, Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette – have beckoned travelers from near and far with the promise of untold, and accessible, treasure. Still functioning much as they did at the time of their inception in the mid- to late-19th century, these elegant "grandes dames" are important historic landmarks in their own right, with as much to say about the evolution of Paris as their more lofty touristic counterparts. These immense stores both signaled and facilitated the transition between old and new Paris. By the 1830s a new genre of store emerged that grouped a variety of goods in a single location. A few of these ‘magasins de nouveautés’ initiated a vigorous expansion that included organizing the store into distinct departments on several floors around a glass-covered courtyard. Although at least two of these newfangled department stores pre-dated Le Bon Marché, which was founded in 1852, none was as innovative or displayed the shrewd management, sales and display tactics – not to mention advertising strategies – that distinguished the newer store from the others and kept it at the forefront of retailing for decades. Le Bon Marché and Au Printemp’s sales and merchandising strategies had far-reaching effects on Paris society and France at large. Via their Paris flagship stores as well as through an ever-expanding catalogue and mail order business, these department stores not only promoted seasonal styles, creating the need to constantly update a wardrobe according to the trends, but they also disseminated bourgeois values to the whole of French society. Commodities once accessible only to the rich became items of mass consumption, thus blurring class lines and fortifying the rising middle class. The architecture of the grands magasins was also key in their mounting success. By the 1850s and 1860s, Baron Charles Haussmann’s massive redevelopment programme was quickly transforming old Paris, demolishing entire cramped and dingy blocks to make way for capacious boulevards and the uniformly pristine white-fronted buildings so familiar today. Ever-expanding stores hired young, ambitious architects – for example, Gustave Eiffel contributed to the expansion of Le Bon Marché in 1876. On the Right Bank, the neighbouring Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps continue to innovate with an eye to their glorious past. Galeries Lafayette with an emphasis on art and creation via its imaginative, fashion-forward windows and the new Galerie des Galeries exhibition space, inaugurated in 2013. Au Printemps, meanwhile, has undergone a luxury new makeover and in 2013 celebrated the opening of its spectacular new Louvre branch, its first in 32 years, just opposite the museum entrance in the Carousel du Louvre. Parisians are très chic and the department stores here carry all the latest in the fashion scene. The big stores stock most of the international brand names and there are some really nice designer stuff to be had in the shops.
Galeries Lafayette: In 1895, two cousins from Alsace, Théophile Bader and Alphonse Kahn, had set up a haberdasher’s shop just down the street, at the intersection of Rue de la Chassée d’Antin and Rue La Fayette. This canny location easily capitalized on its proximity to the Opéra Garnier, the Grands Boulevards and Gare Saint-Lazare, where crowds of Parisians and out-of-towners alighted each day. From there, the cousins expanded to occupy five adjacent buildings. But it wasn’t until 1912 that Galeries Lafayette came fully into its own, with the unveiling of its spectacular domed flagship, designed in the height of Art Nouveau splendour and including a sweeping ironwork staircase rising 43 metres to the store’s iconic neo-Byzantine stained glass dome, which remains its symbol. Boasting 96 departments, Galeries Lafayette, the only one of the three grands magasins that’s still family owned, quickly became the monument to fashion and luxury which it remains to this day. This grand Parisien department store is a must visit. Its history goes back 123 years (as for 2018...) and it’s the most famous and spectacular of Parisien department stores. Here you’ll find nine floors of brand names like Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, Thierry Mugler, Armani, Chanel, John Galliano, Prada, Sonia Rykiel, etc., and if you’re lucky, you might also see some just-as-famous shoppers in the store. Galaries Lafayette’s main Haussmann store is believed to be just as visited as the Eiffel Tower. With approximately 120 million visitors each year, it is considered to be the leading shopping centre of Europe. 50,000 visitors a day come to discover or buy clothes, fashion, decoration, delicatessen, jewelery or luxury products. Don't miss its fabulous Art Nouveau glass domes. Looking down at the layers and layers of luxury goods, you get a sense of being in fashion paradise. The main building (with the large dome) contains women's fashion (from casual to haute couture), jewelery, perfume. On the same side of the street, you will find the Lafayette Man. Finally on the other side of the street the Lafayette House offers linens and Lafayette Gourmet delicatessen. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday: 9.30 to 20.30 (until 20.45 on Thursdays and Saturdays), Sunday: 11.00 to 19.00.
La Terrasse Lafayette is an attraction in its own. La Terrasse des Galeries is a rooftop cafe with excellent views of the city. From there you can also see also the famous glass dome:
The Opera - Garnier from La Terrasse Lafayette:
From Galeries Lafayette, Haussmann 40 we walk 500 m. westward to arrive to the Printemps department store. Head northwest on Rue de la Chaussée d'Antin, 140 m. Turn left onto Rue de Provence, 350 m and arrive to Printemps Haussmann, 64 Boulevard Haussmann. In 1865, former Bon Marché employee Jules Jaluzot took advantage of an auspicious spot just around the corner from the bustling Gare Saint-Lazare train station, on the recently created Boulevard Haussmann, to open Au Printemps with funds from his wife, a substantially wealthy actress from the Comédie Française. Within two decades, Jaluzot, a ferocious innovator in his own right, had expanded Au Printemps to an entire city block – a soaring glass and wrought iron structure embellished with statues, sumptuous mosaics and elaborate gilding. Its lovely exterior is remarkably like Zola’s model for the fictional store Au Bonheur des Dames, but since the novel was published the same year that Au Printemps opened, this is difficult to confirm. Au Printemps was the first department store to install elevators and the first building in France to be lit by electricity, a mere three years after the introduction of Thomas Edison’s electric bulb. After a fire in 1920, Au Printemps’ interior was rebuilt to include a magnificent jewel-coloured cupola, which was entirely dismantled in 1939 to preserve it from air attacks, and restored to its modern-day magnificence in the 1970s. Le Printemps is yet another upmarket Parisien department store. You can shop till you drop here, but before you get to that stage, you can refuel at one of the store’s seven catering outlets which offer anything from a quick snack to more substantial fare. Deli-Cieux, a restaurant on the 9th floor offers light and original grilled and stir-fried dishes so you can dine and enjoy the great panoramic views. Classified as a Historical Monument, Le Printemps is spread over three buildings, 25 floors, one day of which is not enough to strip all the wonders. The store is organized in three units, each corresponding to a store: the Printemps de la Mode, developed on its seven floors (accessories, luxury, international designers, fashion and trend, shoes, etc ..) an auditorium; the Spring of Beauty and the House which includes 9 floors (lingerie, beauty, care and institutes, luxury and delicacies, kitchen and utensils, linens, children, luggage ...) and the Spring Man, five floors dedicated to gentlemen, from footwear to major brands and jeans. Apart from its million references and more than 300 brands sold exclusively, this temple of glamour and luxury presents a wonder on the top floor of the Fashion Spring, the restaurant, with its magnificent Art Deco dome, classified, which opens on the rooftops of Paris, as a tribute to the City of Lights. A must see. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday: from 9.35 to 20.00 (until 20.45 on Thursdays and Saturdays), Sunday: 11.00 to 19.00. Note: you can photo the glass roof only from floors 1-3:
Climb to the 7th floor - to see marvelous sights of Paris:
Printemps from Rue du Havre (which crosses Bolulevard Haussmann):
Havre - Caumartin Metro station is a few steps south to the Printemps department store.
Saint Malo - Day 2:
Main Attractions: Statue of Bertrand-François Mahé de la Bourdonnais, Bastion Saint Louis, Porte Saint Louis, la Grande Porte, Porte Saint Vincent, L'Etoile du Roy, Place Chateaubriand, Château de Saint-Malo, Cour la Houssaye, Saint-Malo Cathedral, Rue Porcon de la Barbinais, Grand Rue, Rue des Vieux Remparts, Porte de Dinan, Bastion Saint-Philippe, Creperie le Corps de Garde, Place Gasnier Duparc, Place de la Croix du Fief, Place de la Poissonnerie, Place du Pilori, Place aux Herbes, Passage Grande Hermine, La maison du Sarrasin.
Orientation: we dedicate the second day in Saint-Malo to a nice, picturesque and quaint day of strolls in old Saint-Mal, o INTO THE WALLS. Most of our itinerary, today, are the narrow roads of Saint-Malo intra-muros. We'll take a glimpse, here and there, of the ocean, as well...
Start & End: Statue of Bertrand-François Mahé de la Bourdonnais, Rond-Point de l'Île Maurice. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 11-12 km.
A short introduction: we found Saint -Malo to be one of the most picturesque and beautiful town in Europe. It retains its medieval character, it is quite quaint and pastoral. Even if flooded by herds of tourists - its vast area and variety of parts (inland, coastal or into the ocean), still, let it be explored leisurely, quietly, with no pressure of noise and dirt - and... almost free (with no admission fees or other "penalties"). Saint-Malo is NOT a tourist trap. It holds true - IF you have a sunny day in Saint-Malo. We think it is worthwhile to dedicate a second, ADDITIONAL, day to Saint-Malo under the condition that both your staying days - are SUNNY, not windy or rainy. Bonne Chance with your couple of days in Saint-Malo !
Our 2nd day Itinerary: We start at the most south-east corner of Saint Malo walls, at Rond-Point de l'Île Maurice - where stands the statue of Bertrand-François Mahé de la Bourdonnais. We, actually, start our daily route in the square where Espl. de la Bourse and Quai Saint-Louis intersect out of the walls (Rue de Chartres and Rue d'Orléans intersect into the town). We walk along Quai Saint-Louis from south to north along (out of) the walls on our left.
Beyond the walls you can see the bright roof of Bastion Saint Louis, 1 Rue d'Orléans (see our Tipter blog from 13 May 2017 - "Saint-Malo Day 1"). The bastion, named in honour of King Louis XIV began, was constructed in 1714, during the second expansion of the city and was completed in 1721 during the third increase of Saint-Malo. It defended the access to harbour. During the French Revolution, the ground floor housed the terrible guillotine. Bastion Saint-Louis occupies the south-east corner of the town wall and, along with Bastion Saint-Philippe to the south-west and the curtain walls that link it to the Porte de Dinan, forms the town’s second expansion (1714-1720). This whole neighbourhood was created by filling in the sea, based on plans drawn up by the engineer Siméon de Garengeau (Paris 1647 - Saint-Malo 1741):
130 m. further north from the statue - we see Porte Saint Louis on our left. This is one of the 8 gates to enter within the fortified walls. With their 1754 m, the city walls are a major attraction of the city. Some gates date back to the 15th century and are decorated by original sculptures:
210 m. further nort we arrive to la Grande Porte. This is the OLDEST gate of Saint-Malo walls. Built in the Middle Ages, during the 15th century, the Great Gate of the ramparts of Saint-Malo ensures the passage between the city and the Vauban basin. It was restored during the 16th century and during the following century, the belfry that surmounted it was destroyed. Every evening, a bell rang the closing of this entrance to the city. In the early nineteenth century, the gate's door was still the subject of development work. The Grande Porte or Grand'Porte is composed of two towers and an artillery platform, typical of the second half of the 15th century. There was a stone quay, which was located just outside this gate where goods from the South Seas, China and Arabia were off-loaded to be traded by the Saint-Malo ships' owners. The entrance takes you straight into the area where there are many restaurants:
We continue to walk additional 230 m. northward along Quai Saint-Vincent arriving to Porte Saint Vincent. The main and best way to walk into St Malo. This gate was built in 1708. The current gate is made of granite dates from 1733. Two Coats of Arms appear on the front gate: on the left (2nd photo below), the Coats of Arms of the City. On the right (3rd photo below), it symbolizes the Coat of Arms of the Duchy of Brittany:
Our next attraction is the... Tourist Information office and the adjacent L'Etoile du Roy or la frégate corsaire in Quai de Terre Neuve. It stands 250 m. east of the Saint-Vincent gate. You can't miss it with its blue-yellow colors. L'Etoile du Roy (the Royal Star) is a replica of a British corsair frigate ordered by Robert le Turc (long line of shipowners) and built in Saint-Malo in 1745 (the 18th century). Originally named Grand Turk , it was built in 1996 in Turkey (the British television series Hornblower) under the supervision of Michael Turk (heir to this long line of shipowners). This ship is 47 meters long, has 3 masts, 310 gross register tonnage, counted 240 sailors on board and was armed with 20 cannons. It is, actually, a floating museum. Open: everyday. Prices: adult - 6€, child - 3€, family - 15€.
Head west on Quai de Terre Neuve toward Espl. Saint-Vincent, 40 m. Turn right onto Espl. Saint-Vincent, 30 m. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Chaussée du Sillon, 60 m. and turn left, walking 80 to arrive to the beach - Plage de l'Éventail. This the idyllic, picturesque strip of beach opposite Fort National in the Petit Bé (small island), behind the entrance to the old town. During the low tide hours, it is also the point of entry to get to the island of Fort Vauban. Some snacks along the promenade and ramparts with a terrace of a refreshment bar. Access to this beach is via Chaussée du Sillon. No smoking is allowed on this beach. The sights of the fortifications on the Petit Bé - are wonderful. Nonetheless, the wooden pillars on the sea shore:
This is the best spot in Saint-Malo to see, so close, the Petit Bé island and its Vauban fort:
From the beach we renter the town and walk westward into the walls. From Plage de l'Éventail we, first, head east toward Chaussée du Sillon, 80 m. We turn right, 35 m. still along Chaussée du Sillon. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit, 130 m. Turn right onto Avenue Louis Martin, 40 m. Turn right onto Porte Saint-Thomas, 5 m. We turn left toward Place Chateaubriand for 25 m., turn further right toward Place Chateaubriand for 35 m. Now, we turn right, again, onto Place Chateaubriand, 50 m. and turn left to stay on Place Chateaubriand, 20 m. You can't miss the elegant building of Hotel Chateaubriand Saint-Malo. Built in the traditional neo-classical style of 19th-century French seaside resorts - but, inside, far beyond its past glory.
François-René Chateaubriand (4 September 1768 – 4 July 1848), was a French writer, politician, diplomat and historian. He was born in Saint-Malo in the house #3 rue Chateaubriand. Around the square are many hotels and restaurants including the famous Hotel White at # 2, where Chateaubriand lived from 3 to 8 years. The writer and his family were dislodged by a fire in 1776 and then returned to settle in the birthplace of François-René, the hotel de la Gicquelais located at number 3 rue Chateaubriand. Historical Monuments have since rebuilt identically the facade of the hotel White dating from the eighteenth century. On this square, Place Chateaubriand, are also the Château de Saint-Malo , Quic-en-Groigne Tower and the Museum of History of the city. The Château de Saint-Malo dates back to the 15th and 18th centuries. The construction of the castle was done in several stages. The construction of the great dungeon was ordered in 1424 by Duke Jean V of Brittany son-in-law of King Charles VI of France . In 1475 the General Tower which was built under the orders of Duke Francis II. From 1498 to 1501 the daughter of Duke Francis II, Anne of Brittany ordered to build the tower Quic-en-Groigne (in the north-west). Four other towers were raised a few years later, these are the Ladies' Tower (in the north-east), the Tour des Moulins (in the southeast), the Square Tower and the Petit Donjon. If you look closely at the shape of the castle, you will not fail to notice that it looks like a carriage, such was the wish of the Duchess. The History Museum of Saint-Malo has been located since 1927 in the Grand Donjon. The General Tower houses the Ethnography Museum. The Castle also hosts, nowadays, the Hôtel-de-Ville of Saint-Malo. The Museum of History of Saint-Malo traces the past of the corsair city through some famous people in Saint-Malo, like Jacques Cartier, Duguay-Trouin and François-René Chateaubriand. If you climb to the turrets of the Grand Donjon - you'll have a nice view of the northern Saint-Malo bay. Opening hours: APR-SEP: everyday 10.00 -12.30, 14.00 - 18.00; OCT-MAR: everyday except Mon 10.00 - 12.00, 14.00 - 18.00. Closed: 1 Jan, 1 May, 1 and 11 Nov, 25 Dec. Prices: adult - 6 € (child -8 years old 3 €), family - 15 €. Most of the explanations are in French.
From the Musée d'histoire de la ville in Place Chateaubriand you walk north on Place Chateaubriand, 20 m. Turn left to stay on Place Chateaubriand, 20 m. Place Chateaubriand turns slightly left and becomes Rue Chateaubriand, 90 m. Turn right onto Cour la Houssaye or Rue de la Corne de Cerf, 20 m. to see the pretty Cour la Houssaye (Courtyard La Houssaye). The house and garden of "La Houxaie" or Houssaye are mentioned in the oldest accounts of the city since the end of the 15th century. The architectural details of the turret house located at Rue de la Corne de Cerf No. 2 date back to this time and can be considered as the oldest house in the city. Tradition says that Anne de Bretagne would have stayed there when she came to inspect the work of the castle.
Rue de la Corne de Cerf meets Rue de Pelicot in its west end. In their intersection - you can see these interesting panel with carved medallions representing the profiles of Jacques Cartier (Saint-Malo, 1491 - Saint-Malo, 1557) and his wife, Catherine Granges, who lived on rue de Buhen (now rue Chateaubriand):
From Cour la Houssaye head southwest on Rue de la Corne de Cerf toward Rue du Pelicot. Continue to follow Rue de la Corne de Cerf, 15 m. Continue onto Escalier de la Grille, 20 m.
Turn left onto Rue Mahé de la Bourdonnais, 5 m. Continue onto Rue du Gras Mollet, 60 m. Continue onto Rue du Collège:
Head south on Rue du Collège toward Rue de la Blatrerie, 40 m. Slight right onto Rue de la Blatrerie, 40 m. Turn left onto Place Jean de Châtillon, 15 m.
Saint-Malo Cathedral from Place Jean de Châtillon. Dedicated to St. Vincent, martyr of the 4th century of Zaragoza (Spain), the Cathedral of St. Malo was enlarged from the 13th to the 18th century and surmounted by a high neo-Gothic spire which was destroyed on August 6, 1944 at the beginning of the fighting for the liberation of the city, in the WW2, in August 1944 (see below). The church is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, and constitutes a national monument of France. It was built in a mix of Roman and Gothic styles during the episcopacy of Jean de Châtillon (1146-1163) on the site of an ancient church founded in the 7th-century. The cathedral suffered damage during WW2 when several bombs fell onto the Sacred Heart Chapel. An organ which had been built in 1893 by Louis Debierre was destroyed. On 21 May 1972, after twenty-eight years of work, a ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of the restoration:
From Place Jean de Châtillon - head south toward Rue Guillaume le Gouverneur, 40 m. Turn left onto Rue Guillaume le Gouverneur, 85 m. Turn right onto Rue Porcon de la Barbinais. The story of Pierre Porcon from La Barbinais - is half-myth/legend, half-reality: In 1665, the Saint-Malo shipowners entrusted the command of a 36-gun frigate to Pierre Porcon de La Barbinais to protect their ships that were sailing in the Mediterranean against attacks by the Algerians. Pierre Porcon was at first happy in the execution of his expeditions. In October 1680, Barbary corsairs seized several French ships without declaration of war. On 18 October 1681, ruler of Algiers Baba Hassan officially declared war on France. The Algerians having assembled a large fleet against Pierre Porcon, and he became the prisoner of the Algierians. At the time of the preparation of an expedition of a squadron of the French monarch Louis XIV against the Algierians to put an end to their acts of piracy, the Algierians charged him to bring to Louis XIV proposals of peace, on the condition that he would come back and take his shoes if the negotiation failed. The life of 600 French prisoners, in the hands of the Algierians, depended on the respect of this last condition. The peace proposals of the Algierians having been judged unacceptable. Pierre Porcon returned to Algiers after going to Saint-Malo to put his affairs in order. The Algierians, unhappy with this refusal of the king cut off his head in 1681. Similarly named roads are in Rennes and Dinan. The Rue Porcon de la Barbinais is the most CULINARY road in Saint-Malo. The most delicious, smelling, colorful and appetizing road in Saint-Malo.
Kouign Amann, 6 rue Porcon de la Barbinais, a takeaway bakery stand which offers a range of savoury and sweet pastries along with fresh bread. Try the Far Breton which is a pastry case filled with a set slightly sour custard filling, sometimes with fruits inside. This bakery stall also offers the other local favourite – apple tarts which are well worth trying:
Head south on Rue Porcon de la Barbinais toward Grand Rue, 10 m. Turn left onto Grand Rue, 50 m. Be sure to take in the view down the Grand Rue towards the Cathedral St Vincent:
Sample Creperie des Lutins at 7 Grand Rue. A small creperie with gallettes, soups, ciders, mussels and other Bretagne takeaway portions:
Head WEST on Grand Rue toward Rue des Marins, 10 m. Turn LEFT (south) onto Rue des Marins, 45 m. Continue onto Rue Boursaint, 25 m. Continue onto Rue de la Herse, 110 m. Turn right onto Rue des Forgeurs, 60 m. Turn left onto Rue de la Fossé, 10 m. Note the house in #4 in Rue de la Fossé (from 1620). Head south on Rue de la Fossé toward Passage du Cap-Horn, 10 m. Turn right onto Rue des Vieux Remparts, 20 m. The houses, along this road, from years 1708-1744:
Slight left to stay on Rue des Vieux Remparts, 35 m. Head west on Rue des Vieux Remparts toward Rue Robert Surcouf, 45 m. Turn LEFT (south) onto Rue de Dinan, 80 m. Continue onto Porte de Dinan and get out, 40 m. from the walled town, out of the walls to the promenade opposite Porte de Dinan. This gate was built in 1714 as part of the second expansion of Saint-Malo. It replaced an old gate called the Poterne de Brevet, which was once the southern entrance/exit from the town.
It was also called the Porte de la Marine (Navy Gate) because the French Navy had its offices on the ground floor of the building to the south of the gate (1 Rue Saint-Philippe). The famous corsair Robert Surcouf (Saint-Malo 1773 - 1827) lived there following his marriage in 1801. The Porte de Dinan leads to the wharf of the same name. It was called this because boats very frequently used to sail down the Rance River from Dinan in order to supply Saint-Malo with fresh provisions. In 1838, it was extended as far as the Saint-Louis and Saint-Philippe bastions. As we said in the "Saint-Malo Day 1" blog - the Saint-Philippe bastion is connected to the Môle des Noires strip of beach. This breakwater is named after the rocks called the Roches Noires which it was built on. Construction of this mole began in 1837, it was extended to a length of 520 metres in 1933, and it was rebuilt after 1944. There are FREE toilets nearby:
We retrace our steps and change our direction (for a few minutes only), heading north. From Porte de Dinan head west on Porte de Dinan toward Rue Saint-Philippe, 40 m. Continue NORTHWARD onto Rue de Dinan. Note the figures hung upstairs on the houses' walls:
After sampling Rue de Dinan - we walk back heading southalong rue de Dinan, toward Rue des Vieux Remparts, 85 m. Climb right onto Rue Saint-Philippe, 130 m. Rue Saint-Philippe turns right and becomes Rue Guy Louvel and Bastion Saint-Philip is on the left. Bastion Saint-Philippe occupies the south-west corner of the town wall and was constructed during the second expansion (1714-1720). Saint-Malo’s ship owners, who made their fortunes from captured ships, seafaring along the Pacific coast of Latin America, and the Saint-Malo East Indies Company, formed a company with 24 shareholders in order to constitute the new fortifactions.
However, the houses’ construction proceeded quite slowly: only 13 houses were built in 1725, along with 15 other houses up until 1770. This neighbourhood was called “La Californie” because it was inhabited by rich, wealthy people such as gold diggers. In 1944 (WW2), most of the fine houses in this neighbourhood caught fire, but the famous row of façades termed “Corsaires” along the ramparts was rebuilt exactly the way it had been before. The building to the WEST of the entrance to the Rue de Dinan, which has a chimney stack decorated with a sundial (1 Rue Saint-Philippe), was the home of the famous Robert Surcouf, the French corsair, from his marriage in 1801 until his death in 1826. The building was also used for administrative offices by the French Navy. You can wonderful views of the western and southern shores of Saint-Malo - through holes in the western walls of the city. One of them is the light-house in the end of Phare Môle des Noires:
Continuing NORTH along the walls of Saint-Malo we arrive to the Statue de Jacques Cartier:
View southward from the western walls - near the Statue de Jacques Cartier:
View northward from the western walls near the Statue de Jacques Cartier. The road downstairs - Rampe des Moulins Colin:
View westward, to the Petit Bé, from the western walls near the Statue de Jacques Cartier:
We can continue walking northward along the walls for 230 m. or we can descend to the town roads (Rue de la Crosse) (via Porte Saint Pierre) - and we arrive to the famous (and permanently crowded) restaurant Creperie le Corps de Garde. This world reputed "dining institute" has several dining areas, some in the old, stone-fenced house, and some on a covered terrace overlooking the bay. The latter is probably for the tourists wanting the overview of the bay while dining, and indeed, the view is magnificent. The interior in this restaurant is not so interesting though, wooden benches and stone slab tables, surely good for wild touristic groups. It is a VERY popular and bustling place - even, in rainy days. If you can select, more precisely, your sitting time here - probably target the Creperie for the sunset hour with clear skies. BUT, make sure to order a table well in advance. Expect a lot of: people, sugar, cream, sauce and creams....:
The restaurant supplies straw hats for the diners sitting under the sun:
This is the famous terrace - where the whole fuss is about:
In case we are, still, on the walls - we descend down and continue walking, into the town, northward, along Rue Sainte-Anne. On our LEFT (north-west) and our right (east) is Rue de la Cloche. Turn RIGHT (east) to Rue de la Cloche and walk eastward (RIGHT) to Place Gasnier Duparc with its unique collection of sculptures. The square is named after Alphonse Henri Gasnier-Duparc, born on June 21 , 1879 and died in Saint-Malo on October 10 , 1945 and was a French politician, Mayor of Saint-Malo and Minister of the Navy:
Head east on Place Gasnier Duparc toward Place Jean de Châtillon, 25 m and turn left onto Place Jean de Châtillon, 30 m. to arrive to Place Jean Moulin and to see, again, Saint-Malo Cathedral. Head south on Place Jean Moulin toward Rue de la Blatrerie, 15 m. Turn left onto Rue de la Blatrerie, 30 m. Turn left onto Place Saint-Aaron, 55 m. On our left - Palais de Justice and on our right - Chapelle Saint-Aaron. Nothing special. We continue north along rue Maclaw. Turn RIGHT (east) to rue de la Victoire. We descend the stairs in Escaier de la Grille. We return to Cour la Houssaye. We continue descending down along the narrow Rue de la Corne de Cerf. At number 2 on rue de la Corne de Cerf, before 1944, a curious wooden house with 16th century painted carvings and stained glass windows was erected, in which the famous pirate Rene Duguay-Trouin was born (Saint-Malo , 1673 - Paris, 1736). His conquest/capture of Rio de Janeiro in Brasil, in 1711, and his memories made him famous. His remains were brought back from Paris to Saint-Malo in 1973 and deposited at the cathedral. On the 5th intersection of Rue de la Corne de Cerf to the left (east) - turn onto Place de la Croix du Fief. The Cross of the Fief once marked one of the limits of the "fief", that is to say the domain under the common seigniory of the bishop and the canons of the chapter of the cathedral. This square is adjacent to the Place de la Poissonnerie. The fish market was designed by the architect Henry Auffret (1954) and the sculptor François Pellerin (Cancale, 1915 - Rennes, 1998). The market hall is adorned at the entrance with a sculpture called L'Orbiche and represents a dogfish, shaped like a small shark. It was restored in 2006. The interior frame, evoking that of a Breton chapel, is also carved in the shape of a fish highlighted by black. Very typical Bretagne sight. We take the most southern end of Place de la Poissonnerie and continue SOUTH along the narrow (and a bit dark) Rue des Merciers. Continue south along rue des Marins. Turn RIGHT (west) to Rue du Puits aux Braies and we ascend to Place du Pilori. The Pilori Square recalls the place where the condemned people were exhibited publicly before being executed. It was also called Place du Martroy by deformation of the Latin name martyretum, meaning torture. The "pillory" consisted of a movable pillar furnished with metal shackles in which the arms and feet of the culprit were engaged, bound by chains. The neck was enclosed with a collar. The guilty man was turned around this pillar to make it visible to all, to allow him to be recognized and to raise complaints or vocal protests against him or her. In Saint-Malo, "to do the pilo" was the expression used to make an appointment to find the soul mate, in this central part of the Saint-Malo town.
Head west on Place du Pilori toward Rue Broussais, 20 m. Continue onto Rue Gouin de Beauchesne, 45 m. The name of the road refers to the Captain from Saint-Malo who rounded Cape Horn in 1700 after an exploratory voyage along the coasts of Chile and Peru. Turn left onto Place aux Herbes, 15 m. Place aux Herbes is a square that was laid out during the reconstruction of the historic town, which began in 1946 after WW2. Its name comes from the old Rue des Herbes. The east side of the square is flanked by an ensemble that was rebuilt according to drawings drafted by Louis Arretche, the architect who headed the reconstruction of Saint-Malo from 1947 onwards. The square’s west side is opened up by another passageway under a building; Rue Vincent de Gournay, where the Auberge de la Malice (Malice Inn) was once located, and featuring buildings at numbers 9, 11 and 13 which were rebuilt after the Anglo-Dutch bombardment in 1695. Head south on Place aux Herbes toward Rue Vincent de Gournay, 30 m. We walk through the small passage (see above) and turn left onto Rue de la Harpe, 35 m. Continue onto Passage Grande Hermine, 25 m. Turn right to stay on Passage Grande Hermine, 20 m. :
Note houses #3 and #5 in Passage Grande Hermine:
Here, we make a short detour to a special shop. Head east on Passage Grande Hermine toward Place du Marché aux Légumes, 15 m. Continue onto Rue de l'Orme, 30 m. to land upon "La maison du Sarrasin", 10 Rue de l'Orme. The whole shop is dedicated to buckwheat. A "temple" for people who are sensitive to Gluten.
We continue walking along (again, narrow and a bit dark) Rue de l'Orme from west until its east end. Turn RIGHT (south) to Rue de la Herse. Turn LEFT (east) to Rue de la Halle aux Blés. Turn RIGHT (south) to Rue des Cordiers. Head south on Rue des Cordiers toward Rue de l'Abbaye Saint-Jean, 10 m. Turn left onto Rue de l'Abbaye Saint-Jean, 30 m. Turn right onto Rue de Chartres, 110 m and turn left onto Porte Saint-Louis, 15 m.: At the moments we had arrived to Porte Saint Louis - Emmanuel Macron had been sworn as the president of France:
130 m. further south and we arrive to the statue of Bertrand-François Mahé de la Bourdonnais.
Our 1st day in Riga: from The Laima clock or Freedom Monument to The Three Brothers.
Main Attractions: The Laima Clock, The Freedom Monument, Bastion Park, Bastion Hill, Powder Tower, Latvian War Museum, Nouveau houses in Smilšu iela, Jacobs’ Barracks, Swedish Gate, Arsenāls museum, Riga Castle, The Three Brothers.
Distance: 4 km. Duration: 1/2 - 1 day. Weather: any weather.
Our Hotel (for 5 nights) was the Wellton Hotel and Spa, Vaļņu iela 49, Rīga. Although the hotel was fully-booked - it was very quiet. Good breakfast. The dining hall (floor -1) might be busy around 08.00 in the mornings (groups of tour companies). Rich variety of food. Coffee is average. Angela in the reception - was wonderful and very helpful. We LOVED the hotel. Location - optimal. The #22 bus to the airport is several steps from the hotel entrance (1.5 euro if you buy the ticket in advance in the Marvesen kiosks or 2 euros on board). The same holds for: the railway station (7 minutes walk), the central bus station (3 minutes walk), the central, famous market (5 minutes walk) and shopping malls (5 minutes walk. Supermarket (Idi) is also nearby. The room is comfortable. 2 or 3 foreign TV channels. AC is less than average.
Riga is a very pleasant city. Allow, at least, 3 days for exploring it. Most of the youngsters speak or understand English. Many people understand and communicate in Russian. There is a lot to see in this welcoming city. The roads, sidewalks, public transport and other services still suffer from the long effect of the Soviet era in Latvia. BUT, we were surprised to see how Latvia (which suffers from negative emigration - 3%-5% decrease in population every 5 years) develops very quickly and gives the tourist - a very comfortable, pleasant and valuable experience during his or her stay in Riga). Riga still owns the charm of the old world. The Art Nouveau buildings are magnificent. Every tourist, still has space and feels relaxed. No pressure. No noise. No place is packed with loads of visitors. No air pollution. The city is clean. We think the water is drinkable - but most of the people told us that is better to drink bottled water. Prices are reasonable. A bit more expensive than Lithuania and far less expensive than the Scandinavian countries. One of the highlights of staying in Riga is the experience of shopping in Supermarkets: a huge variety, quality of vegetables and fruits is high and prices are reasonable (not cheap...). Plenty of buses and trams. Public transport is efficient and cheap (1 euro or 1.5 euro with city lines 2-3 euros for short-distance railway rides). We didn't see smiling Latvians. But, they are polite, welcoming, honest and helpful. No problems in English with the young population. Riga offers many attractions. Plenty of museums, parks, magnificent buildings, canals and rivers and architectural highlights. From September to June you can enjoy the Ballet or Opera performances. During the summer months there are a few festivals and several organ concerts. Try to avoid stays in Riga when the temperature is above 30°.
How to arrive: we took the Lux bus from Vilnius. 4 hours ride. Reliable, comfortable and reasonably-priced service.
How to depart: take the #22 bus to the airport. Service every 15-20 minutes,starting at 05.30 and last bus at 23.15. It takes 25-30 minutes to arrive to the (small) airport of Riga. Taxis are 15-20 euros. Book your taxi from your hotel. Do not pick-up a cab from the city roads.
Meals: Your breakfast in an average hotel in Riga will suffice for most of the day. For lunch or dinner - our suggestion is one word - LIDO. Search the nearby Lido restaurant. There are 8-9 branches of Lido in Riga. You choose your portions. Every portion has its own price tag. Overall, it is a delicious food, budget prices, generous portions in busy dining-halls and in central locations. The food is always fresh, typical east-European, attractive-looking, filling and tasty.
From Wellton Riga Hotel & SPA, Vaļņu iela 49, Centra rajons, Rīga - we headed north on Vaļņu iela toward Audēju iela, 450 m. Turn right onto Kaļķu iela, 70 m. Cross Zigfrīda Annas Meierovica bulvāris and the Laima Clock is on your right at Aspazijas bulvāris 20. The Laima Clock was completed in 1924 and is named after the Laima Chocolate company advertisement it first carried in 1936. "Laima" is one of the most important chocolate producers in the Baltics (their chocolates are quite tasty). Its location between the Old Town and the Centre commercial district has made it a landmark of the city. This clock near the Freedom monument used to be the favourite romantic meeting point for couples. The brown clock in front of the Freedom Monument is used very often as a meeting point in the centre of Riga since it was erected in 1924, so people wouldn't have an excuse for being late to work. After the Second World War the clock during long period of time was used as political information stand. In 1999 the clock has gone through the total reconstruction, brining back the looks it had in 1930s. The famous clock was renovated at the end of 2017 and now also includes a digital countdown clock to Latvia's centenary on November 18, 2018. It also plays one of Latvian maestro Raimonds Pauls' sugary tunes every hour.
We continue wa;lking north-east along Kaļķu iela (actually, a bridge over the river) to arrive to the Freedom Monument. The Freedom Monument is honouring soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence (1918–1920). It is considered an important symbol of the freedom, independence, and sovereignty of Latvia. Unveiled in 1935, the 42-metre high monument of granite, travertine, and copper often serves as the focal point of public gatherings and official ceremonies in Riga. The sculptures and bas-reliefs of the monument, arranged in thirteen groups, depict Latvian culture and history. The core of the monument is composed of tetragonal shapes on top of each other, decreasing in size towards the top, completed by a 19-metre high travertine column bearing the copper figure of Liberty lifting three gilded stars. Designed by Kārlis Zāle, the friezes around the base of the sculpture depict Latvians singing, working and fighting for their freedom. The motto "For the Fatherland and Freedom" is inscribed upon the base. At the top a young woman holding three stars above her head - representing the three historical regions of the country: Kurzeme, Vidzeme and Latgale. The front of the monument features two travertine reliefs "Latvian Riflemen" and "Latvian People: the Singers"; the other groups depict the Latvian basic values — "Work", "Guards of the Fatherland", "Mother — Family Guard", and "Scholars". On the sides, the travertine panels bear reference to the Russian Revolution of 1905 and Latvian War of Independence. The middle block symbolises the nation's ideals and striving for freedom — "Latvia" is ready to defend the Motherland, "Chain Breakers" try to break free from their chains, "Lāčplēsis" (an epic Latvian folk hero) encourages to fight against evil powers, while "Vaidelotis" (a Baltic pagan priest) symbolises spiritual strength. Locals are always placing flowers at the base of the monument, an act for which people were deported to Siberia in Soviet times. A two-man honor guard stands at the base of the monument, symbolizing Latvia’s sovereignty. When the weather is favourable the honour guard changes every hour on the hour from 10.00 - 16.00. They also 'stretch their legs’ every half hour. The show lasts for 5 minutes only. We passed through the monument several times - The monument is stunning - at any time of day. The whole gorgeous surrounding, with its double-lined of trees avenue - reminds you of Paris:
Return and with your back to the monument (your face to the south-west) walk 60 m. along Kaļķu iela (crossing again the river over the bridge) and turn right (north) onto the the Bastion Park (Bastejkalna Park). A surprisingly pretty and well maintained park in the heart of Riga. This park right next to the Freedom Monument is named after the Bastion Hill. It is a peaceful park to visit and walk around. There are many lovely paths with small bridges, water cascades, fountains, colorful flowers, manicured flower beds, several sculptures, and benches to take a rest. It is your best bet in Riga summer hot days (shady, cool, quiet). In autumn, the colours of the trees are spectacular and a real treat to see. It is terrific to walk around even on a drizzly day. A very peaceful respite in the middle of the city - worth a stroll.
In the centre of the bastion Park - there is the Bridge of Love. Newly-weds place locks, most with their names and the date, on the metal rails of this bridge. The locks are the type that require two keys to open. Then the couple tosses one key into the canal. The idea is that just as the padlock cannot be unlocked, the couple cannot be separated. A guide said the city comes along every few years and cuts the locks off, to make room for more:
There is a canal going through the park, where you can see ducks and swans. At summertime, it is possible to take a river cruise from a dock located in the park. The canal boat tour which takes you down the City Canal and the Daugava River lasts 1 hour and costs 18€:
Sculpture of Alfrēds Bruno Jānis Kalniņš in the southern entrance of the park. Kalniņš was a Latvian composer, organist, pedagogue, music critic and conductor; the founder of national Latvian opera:
Your next destination would be the Bastion Hill at the western part of the bastion park. A steep hill in the middle of the park. It takes 5 minutes to walk up, but the view is not that great. We thought the park to be better than the hill. Starting to climb (first, you have several convenient stone steps) - you see this bronze horse on your right:
The highlight of this small hill - is the view over the park and the Freedom Monument (in the far south-east):
Bastion Hill was created from 1857 - 59. It is a pleasant hill with a small stream and waterfalls. But there is much more than a nice view to this park. on its top are memorial stones ("The Benches") to five people killed by Soviet bullets during the January 1991 disturbances, during the Latvian struggle for independence from the Soviet Union. Among the dead were two camera men documenting the events; they filmed their own deaths:
After visiting the Bastion Hill (which is, more or less, in the western part of the Bastion Park) - descend down and search, in the eastern part of the park (between the Pilsetas Canal and the Reina bulvaris) (cross the central stone bridge of the park) - a sculpture dedicated to Latvian playwright, poet, writer and journalist Rudolfs Blaumanisk. Designed by Teodors Zaļkalns (until 1930 Teodors Grīnbergs) , a Latvian sculptor. Blaumanis is sitting on a chair with a book in his lap:
A bit south (with your face to Blaumanis sclupture, on your right) - you see a sculpture of three dancing women:
We return to the western part of the Bastion Park and exit the park through one of two paths leading west or south-west to Smilšu iela. Immediately, after entering Smilšu iela - we see on our right a yellow, decorative wall "The centenary of the Latvian city and region" with coats of arms of the Latvian counties. From January 3, 2011, Latvia is divided into 110 counties and nine republican cities as a result of the administrative territorial reform. It was painted by internationally renowned Latvian artist Leonards Laganovskis. The coat of arms of the composition is crowned with the coat of arms of the state capital, Riga, and the internationally recognized emblem of Jelgava, the capital of the Duchy of Courland. In the next line are the republican city coats of arms, followed by the coat of arms of the provinces in alphabetical order:
Several steps more westward you can see, on your right the Powder Tower and part of Riga walls. The Powder Tower (Pulvertornis) is part of the War Museum and originally a part of the defensive system of the town. The first tower on this place for protection of Riga has been constructed in 13th century. In documents for the first time this place has been mentioned in 14th century by the name of Sand tower. The modern tower has been constructed on a boundary of 15th and 16th centuries. in the 17th century it was named the Powder Tower due to gunpowder stored there. Its present appearance was set in 1650. Sometimes the tower collapsed and was restored. The height of the tower is 25.6 metres, diameter - 14.3 metres and wall thickness - 3 metres. The Powder Tower was restructured in the years 1937 to 1940 when it was included to the structure of the Latvian War Museum. The powder tower is the only preserved up to the present day, the fragment of the defense system of Riga. There were 11 cannons placed in the tower, and also a "cannon ball "catcher". You can see cannon balls in the tower that were walled in to remember the Second Northern War. Later, there was a prison and torture chamber in the tower, and weapons were stored there until 1883. When the War Museum (see below) was opened in the tower, a museum’s wing was built where to display the exhibition. The tower is very impressive and your best bet for taking photos is during the morning or early evening hours:
The Latvian War Museum located in the Powder Tower in Old Riga is the biggest military history museum in Latvia with an extensive and impressive collection. In 1919 the War Museum was established into the Powder Tower. In 1937–1939, an annex building was added according to a project by an architect A. Galindoms. The museum’s collection has more than 25,400 items which are systematized in individual collections and chronological exhibitions, having a large number of documents, orders, weapons, photos, uniforms and other objects. FREE. Opening hours: MAY - SEP: 10.00 - 18.00 WED-SUN, OCT- APR: 10.00 - 17.00 WED-SUN. We did NOT visit the museum. Visitors had to be accompanied by a guide and the whole "Tour " lasts 2 hours. We did not have two hours to spare so we did not venture inside. Do NOT miss the outer (southern) wall of the museum with the soldiers' helmets:
With your face to the Powder Tower sharp left onto Torņa iela. The Old City Walls are visible on the left side
At this point of your route - you have the opportunity to sample several Art Nouveau houses in Smilšu iela. No less than 5 buildings, at numbers: 1,2,6,8 and 10. Note that we have a special blog (Day 3 in Riga) about Art Nouveau Riga. These houses are NOT covered in the Riga Art Nouveau blog. Smilšu iela # 1 was designed by an architect from St Petersburg. The building has several asymmetrical towers and a bay window and balconies. The corner façade is emphasized with a bay window and small tower. Under the bay window we see an allegorical representation of a woman bearing a shield decorated with the eight-point star of the morning. Sculptor Oswald Wassil produced the figure. The building is occupied by offices and a restaurant is on the first floor:
Smilšu Street 2 is made of red brick, plaster and colourful tiles. At the centre of the façade is a two-story bay window supported by figures of Atlas and an oak tree with a mighty system of roots. The structure under the bay window presents a beautiful image of a woman. At the centre of the bay window is the figure of a peacock. Above it is the winged head of a woman – a symbol of the sun. The corner pilasters of the bay window have reliefs showing an owl and a squirrel, along with the owner’s initials and the year of construction. The façade of the building has many ornamental Art Nouveau reliefs and sculptures, while the windows feature a stylized depiction of the sun:
Smilšu Street 6 is rather simplistic, non-brilliant example of Art Nouveau. It has decorations in the style of Neo-classicism, and the façade is decorated with gilded mosaics between the windows. The DnB Nord bank is now housed in the structure:
Smilšu Street 8 features a wealth of sculptures, by Sigismund Otto and Oswald Wassilon, its façades. Note the bay windows and balconies decorated with metal. Above the façade’s bay window, there are two female figures holding out a crown of flowers. They symbolize beauty and harmony. The entrance portals are decorated with female masks with closed eyes. There are shops on the first floor of the building today, along with a candies' shop and small café where visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee in a restored Art Nouveau interiors:
Smilšu Street 10 is a building from the period of late Art Nouveau and elements of Neo-classicism are seen in its decorations. The façade features decorative reliefs with medallions. The upper floor of the building includes Egyptian motifs:
If you turn left at Trokšņu iela and, again, left (east) along the walls (on your left) - you see some excavations done around
and the "Ghost" opposite the old walls:
Further west along Torna iela are Jacobs’ Barracks (Jēkaba kazarmas) on the right. Just opposite the Swedish Gate and the largest fragment of the old city walls you’ll see three long yellow buildings with orange tile roofs that are collectively known as James’ Barracks (or Jacob's Barracks). The barracks were built in the 18th century at the base of the city fortifications and since then they were restored several times. The Great Northern War saw Latvia moving from occupation by Sweden to occupation by Russia in 1710 and resulted in Riga’s fortifications and barracks being severely damaged. In 1739 the RigANS obtained permission from Russia to build a military barracks that would house one thousand men on this site along Torna Street. Four wooden barracks were soon constructed. By 1772 the wooden structures had been replaced by the stone structure of the present day Jacob’s Barracks. In addition to housing troops, over the years Jacob’s Barracks have been home to various government agencies, schools and stores and in the 1920/30s there were unfulfilled plans to convert them into a hotel and theatre. During the subsequent Soviet occupations of Latvia the Barracks housed the Nahimova War School and the Supreme Command Centre of the Soviet Army’s Construction Department for the Baltic States. They stretch for roughly 230m from the Powder Tower until Jēkaba iela. Now it's a long street full of atmospheric, posh restaurants and reasonably-priced souvenir shops but it's worth a stroll and appreciate the fact that Latvia is now a country very much at peace with its neighbours and with itself:
Walk left through the Swedish Gate, Atgriežu iela. The Swedish Gate (Zviedru vārti) was erected 1698 as a part of the Riga Wall to provide access to barracks outside the city wall. The Swedish Gate was also as one of the few entrances to the town, providing access to barracks outside the city wall and was built in 1698 after the Polish-Swedish War was over and Swedish Kingdom took over the city, starting a reign which was called as the Swedish Times (“Zviedru Laiki“) over 1629-1721. This gate has a legend too: "Back in the days in the place of the Swedish Gate, there was a house that belonged to a rich merchant. Like any other merchant at that time he had to pay a tax to bring goods into the town of Riga. As he was a clever merchant, he thought 'instead of paying, I’d rather get rid of the house and build a gate'. And so he did. And that’s how the Swedish Gate got erected…". Since the wall has been gradually falling apart, several restoration works took place over 1980s and 1990s. This is visible by the colour of the bricks that you can easily notice. However, the Swedish Gate is the only structure in the Old Town of Riga that preserved its original look. The Swedish Gate is one of the most popular places where tourists are going for a genuine experience of the old Europe and is, frequently, packed - making it difficult to take photos. We liked the atmosphere, music and energy around:
The Swedish Gate from Torna iela:
The Swedish Gate from Atgriežu iela:
Do not miss the souvenirs shop adjacent to the gate (with your back to the gate - on your left). In the shopping hours - note its magnificently decorated wooden doors:
Return to Torna iela. If you continue to walk more westward along this road, crossing Jēkaba iela on your right and left - you'll see the northern facade of the Izstāžu zāle "Arsenāls", Torņa iela 1 - exhibition hall of national art museum, featuring modern Latvian artwork & cultural events. There is no permanent display. there are regular exhibitions on the ground floor of works from the museum. The hall also hosts exhibitions of conceptual art, international projects and solo exhibitions by Latvian and foreign artists. The Arsenals museum is located in a customs warehouse or arsenal built at the beginning of the 19th century in the late Russian Classicism style. It was adapted for museum use in the second half of the 1980s. Opening hours: MON- closed, TUE-WED: 11.00-18.00, THU: 11.00-20.00, FRI: 11.00-18.00, SAT-SUN: 12.00-17.00. Prices: adult - 3 euros, stdents and seniors - 2 euros:
We walk along Torņa iela until its west end and turn left (south) to Pils laukums (Castle Square) (partial restricted usage road). The church with the light blue colour is the Our Lady of Sorrows. We arrived to Riga Castle. Today it houses the residence of the President of Latvia. The formal Latvian brochures and web sites state that there is always an armed guard standing out front. We saw nothing. Riga Castle still stands on the right bank of the River Daugava for more than 700 years. Through the centuries, it has seen severe destruction, numerous rulers, and wars. The foundation stone was laid in 1330. The castle was destroyed several times. The last major reconstruction took place in 1515. From 1330 to 1562, the castle served as the residence of Master of the Livonian Order. The Livonian War (1558–1583) was fought for control of Old Livonia (in the territory of present-day Estonia and Latvia), when the Tsar of Russia faced a varying coalition of Denmark–Norway, the Kingdom of Sweden, and the Union (later Commonwealth) of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland. The first Riga Order Castle, which once stood in the current territory of Convent Court in Riga Old City, was destroyed by citizens of Riga during the civil war against the Livonian Order. The city of Riga had to rebuild the caste under a peace treaty concluded after the Livonian civil war. The second Riga Order Castle was built in the 14th century on the bank of the River Daugava from where it was possible to control ship traffic in the river. In the 15th century, the second Riga Order Castle was completely ruined as a result infighting in the Livonian Confederation. The third Riga Order Castle was constructed on the old castle’s foundations at the beginning of the 16th century. The following centuries after dissolution of Livonian feudal states, Riga Castle was taken over by Polish, Swedish and Russian administrations and institutions. In 1922 it became the residence of the President of the Republic of Latvia; while during the Soviet Era the castle housed the Young Pioneer organisation and became known as Pioneer Castle. One of the largest medieval castles in Latvia with a long and exciting history. Riga Castle is a typical sample of late Classicism architecture. The building of the Riga Castle has been very plain from the very beginnings; this can be explained by the military nature of the castle and its frequent destructions/damages. Initially, Riga Castle featured regular planning and three small towers at the corners. In the 15th century, two round towers were added — the Tower of the Holy Ghost and the Lead Tower, which now hold the Flag of Latvia and the Standard of the President. The ground floor was used for household needs and the castle guard, the first floor accommodated apartments, and the second floor was the arms’ floor with narrow windows once used as cannon holes. The spacious basement features underground passageways. The last significant reconstruction took place in early 20th century under the direction of architect Eižens Laube. The entrance hall was updated, a spacious and splendid Festival Hall was built and the Three Star Tower was constructed. The President's apartments in the Riga Castle occupy most of the castle-front building constructed during the 16th century. The bay tower has been constructed in the Early Baroque style and several rooms in the castle have Art Deco style interiors. Today, the castle has six towers: the Holy Ghost Tower, the Lead Tower, the Piper Tower and the Northern Tower in the corners, as well as the Ecker Tower and the Tower of the Three Stars. The walls of the castle are approximately three meters thick. Underground passageways have been discovered leading in various directions from the castle. Artworks of the 1920s and 1930s, such as the painted ceiling of the Hall of the Ambassadors and the gate of the castle, are especially valuable features of Riga Castle. You may, probably, see the castle only from the outside as we did. Roof was damaged in a large fire in 2013 and the castle is closed to the public during repairs. We first saw part of the castle from its eastern side (the Castle Square or the old town side). Some sides of the castle look neglected. It is better seeing the 'castle' from the riverside. Go around to the side away from the river (through daugavas Gate) and, from there, you can appreciate the castle mighty appearance. The whole building is closed and there are no tourists around. its not worth spending to much time on it:
We continued south along Pils iela. The road turn to and continues south-east. On our right is the St. Saviour's Anglican Church. The neo-Gothic church was designed by Johann Felsko. The foundation stone was laid in 1857 and the church was dedicated on 26 July 1859. The church operates a soup kitchen for homeless people and supports a club for the elderly:
From Pils iela Turn left onto Mazā Miesnieku iela, 50 m. Turn right onto Mazā Pils iela, 10 m. and you arrive to the Three Brothers, Mazā Pils iela 17. The Three Brothers is a building complex consisting of three houses freely visible and open to the public. The houses together form the oldest complex of dwelling houses in Riga. The houses are situated at the addresses 17, 19 and 21 Maza Pils Street (Mazā Pils iela), and each represents various periods of development of dwelling house construction. The Three Brothers complex today houses the State Inspection for Heritage Protection and the Latvian Museum of Architecture. For visiting the Latvian Museum of Architecture, go to the backyard of the Three Brothers and the hall with a reconstructed model of a room from the 15th-18th century and a renovated fireplace with a chimney of the 15th-16th century. They have been called the Three Brothers for centuries stemming from a legend that they had been built by three men of one family. In the medieval times, Maza Pils Street was located in the outskirts of Riga and craftsmen lived there. FREE. Open 09:00-17:00, MON 09.00-18.00, FRI 09.00-16.00. Closed: SAT, SUN. Since, the main attraction are the houses' facades - you can visit this site every time of the day and year.
Oldest brother: The building in 17 Maza Pils Street is the oldest, dating from the late 15th century. This building was built around 1490 – the time when Riga established close links with Dutch merchants and the city’s architecture showed influences of Dutch Renaissance architecture. The exterior of the building is characterised by crow-stepped gables, Gothic decorations and a few early Renaissance details. The building is decorated with Gothic niches and a stepped pediment, while the portal made in 1746 has been moved to the middle brother during restoration. The house had one big room where the work, trade and everyday life took place, and it has retained its original appearance. The house was restored in 1955–57 by architect P. Saulitis:
Middle brother: The next house, in 19 Maza Pils Street, has an exterior dating from 1646, with a stone portal added in 1746. The style of the building shows influences from Dutch Mannerism. The middle brother is the richest one of the three.It is one of the most typical, but also most modern dwelling houses of the 17th century. There is an inscription "Soli deo gloria!" (“Glory to God alone!”) above the entrance. In contrast to the oldest building, this one had a spacious room with large windows above the ground-floor hall, and there were special residential premises in the yard side of the building:
The young brother: The last house of the three, located in 21 Maza Pils Street, is the narrowest and the smallest one of the three brothers. It is a Baroque building which was built in the second half of the 17th century and had small apartments on each floor. The youngest building has a very interesting facade element - a mask, which, according to the owners of the building, protected its inhabitants from evil spirits:
during the day - expect to find masses of tourists in front of the Three Brothers. If you are lucky, you'll enjoy a concert of amateur players looking for your donation:
Part 2: St. Anne's & Bernardine Churches, Užupis, Vilnius Cathedral Square.
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.
With our back to Vilnius University we walk back along Jono g. with our face to the east. Arriving to Pilies g. we turn RIGHT (south) and, immediately, LEFT (east) to literatų gatvė. This street was named “Literatai” only at the second half of 19th century in the honour of Adam Mickiewicz who lived here. The poet Adam Mickiewicz lived at the 4-floor house on the left/north side, at the beginning of this street. This house is equipped with three plaques on the building in the Lithuanian, Russian and Polish languages. The idea behind the literatų (literary) street is that the street should be devoted to literature. From 2008 a group of artists had an idea to revive the street and to decorate it with artworks related with literature. A wall was solemnly opened in the street where painters and other field artists created plates or small objects made of metal, wood, glass, etc. in the honour of Baltic writers:
Castor and Pollux Sintezija:
Zemaite - Daina Vanagaite Belzakiene:
We continue walking eastward along literatų gatvė crossing Rusų g. on our right:
In the end of the Literature Street - we see the Casimir Church, on our right:
on our right is Mykolo g. #11:
Walking along Mykolo g. from west to east will bring us out of Vilnius Old Town. We arrive to the Maironio g. - stretching from north to south. We cross it from west to east and face St. Anne's Church. It is a stunning picture of this mighty church. One of the most beautiful sites to visit in Vilnius. THREE buildings on ONE site means there is plenty to do here , and all FREE. Saint Anne’s Church is a masterpiece of red-brick flamboyant Gothic style. A novel approach to bricks as a construction material was employed in the church's construction. The exterior is beautiful and imposing. In the evenings the red brick facade is bathed in the setting sun. Stunning. The main facade, designed in the Gothic style, is its most striking feature. Traditional Gothic elements and shapes were used in unique ways; Gothic arches are framed by rectangular elements dominating a symmetrical and proportionate facade, creating an impression of dynamism. The church has one nave and two towers. It was built using 33 different kinds of clay bricks and painted in red. The interior is decorated in the Baroque style, as is its altar. Opening hours: May - September: Tuesday - Sunday 10.00 – 18.00; October - April: half an hour before masses (they take place at 17.30 on weekdays and on Sundays and holidays at 09.00 and 11.00 in the Lithuanian language). Closed – Mondays. No photos allowed inside. With the churches in the background Bernardine Monastery) you get a really cool picture. Disappointed that we couldn’t go inside as it was closed on Mondays:
St. Anne’s Church has a history that starts with the alleged construction in the 14th century of a wooden house of worship on this spot in honour of Ona, wife of Vytautas the Great. The first historical records of a church here date from 1394, but the current Gothic masterpiece is believed to have been built between 1495 and 1500 to a design by the Bohemian architect Benedikt Rejt (1453-1534), who is most famous for designing parts of Prague Castle. St. Anne's is among the sites of Vilnius Old Town that enabled the district to be included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. St. Anne's Church is part of an ensemble, comprising the much larger Gothic Church of St. Francis and Bernadine, as well as a monastery. St Anne’s Church, which has survived to the present day without changing for over 500 years, has become a symbol of Vilnius. At a closer look, one can see the letters A and M in the main facade of St Anne‘s. The letters A and M could stand for the Latin Ana Mater Maria or Ave Maria, i.e. „Saint Anne – Mother of Mary“ or „Hail Mary“:
Entrance to St. Anne's Church:
The St. Francis of Assisi (Bernardine) Roman Catholic Church, Maironio g. 10, is annexed to Saint Anne’s Church. Church of St. Francis and St. Bernard (also known as Bernardine Church (Bernardinu Baznycia) is considered one of the biggest churches in the Lithuanian capital. It was built in 1469. Easily confused with St. Anne’s, the Bernardine Church is the one behind. It is a bit further away from the road. On the outside it is not as spectacular as the St. Anne’s Church. Take a walk around and look at the beauty.
Inside is completely another story. Very beautiful and packed with history. The interior of the church is richly decorated and never fails to impress visitors. Dedicated to Saints Francis of Assisi and Bernardino of Siena. After their arrival in Vilnius, Bernardine monks built a wooden church in the second half of the 15th century, and at the end of the same century - a brick one. In the early 16th century it was reconstructed, apparently with the participation of a master from Gdansk (Danzig) Michael Enkinger. In the beginning of the 16th century the church was incorporated into the construction of Vilnius defensive wall, so there are shooting openings in its walls. Afterwards it was renewed many times, particularly after the 1655-61 war with Moscow, when the Cossacks ravaged the church killing the monks and citizens who had taken shelter there. In the times of the Soviet occupation it was closed down and handed over to the Art institute. Being much larger and more archaic than the St. Anne's Church, it forms an unique ensemble with the latter. Eight high pillars divide the church interior into 3 naves. There are many valuable 16th-century wall paintings in Bernardine church and the oldest known artistic Lithuanian crucifix sculpture from the 15th century. The walls of the naves are decorated with Gothic polychrome frescoes: paintings that date from the early 16th century and are considered unique in the world - their composition and type of presentation of the subject matter belongs to Renaissance, and the style is Gothic. This church has many carved wood figures which are quite appealing. They give the church a very warm feel. The woodwork inside is absolutely fantastic. Note an old apple tree in the churchyard:
The Bernardine Monastery north of the church, was built simultaneously with the church, was renovated and reconstructed several times. There are artists, craftsmen and organists among the monks. The monastery was closed in 1864, and the building housed soldiers' barracks. In 1919 it was given to the art faculty of the university – now, the Art Academy. Tourists are offered two routes – the long and the short ones. The short route starts in the church and leads to the Chapel of St Florian (The Three Kings), along the corridor of the cloister, which is decorated with the newly uncovered frescoes, one gets into the Gothic courtyard, then the route runs to the presbytery – the monks’ choir, the underground crypt, the Gothic bell tower. And back to the church. The long route continues the short one – from the Gothic bell tower, along the spiral staircase you climb to the loft of the church from where a spectacular panorama of Vilnius opens. Then the route passes through the balcony of the church and leads back to the church.
With our back to St. Anne's Church and the Bernardine Church and Monastery - we turn LEFT (south) and walk 160 metres, along Maironio g., to see (on our left) the Adam Mickiewicz Monument. The sculptor is Henryk Kuna. The monument depicts Adam Mickiewicz leaning against a broken column. The entire composition measure 4.5 meters in height. Around the monument the first patriotic meeting that gave rise to the Independence Movement took place in 1987. Adam Mickiewicz is Polish. He studied at Vilnius university, worked in Kaunas as a teacher for some time. The Belorussians also think Adam Mickiewicz to be “their” poet. For Lithuanians it bears one more significance: at this monument first larger gathering of people in 1987 marked the beginning of independence movement. On August 23, 1987 the Lithuanian Freedom League held a rally in a square near the church and the monument of Adam Mickiewicz to protest the ongoing Soviet occupation:
With our back to Adam Mickiewicz Monument we turn LEFT and continue walking SOUTH along Maironio g. Turn LEFT (east) onto Malūnų g. and cross the Vilnia river:
Malūnų g. slights right and continues southward. It meets Užupio g. before it becomes Paupio g. Here, we took our lunch at Restoranas HEALTH. A neat, polite, budget and healthy portions accompanied by charming and helpful, young staff members. We liked our meal: 8 euros/person for Salmon + Salad + Black Rise + jar of water and dessert. Nearby there are several bigger and more famous restaurants (nearby are: Prie Angelo restaurant known for its potato pancakes and Sweet Root restaurant in Užupio g 22-1 with extravagant culinary reputation) - but, the HEALTH restaurant was recommended by the locals. Recommended by us as well. In the intersection of Malūnų g., Užupio g. and Paupio g. stands the Užupis Angel. A sculpture of an angel was placed in the central square of Užupis in 2002. The bronze angel, also created by sculptor Romas Vilčiauskas, has become the symbol of Užupis. Užupis, aside from being one of the most attractive Vilnius city regions is also an independent republic. Just like that. They even have a president and an extraordinary constitution which is followed by every citizen of the republic. Although it isn’t firmed by strict regime or any type of bureaucracy. The republic lives on because of the solidarity of the artsy, cheerful, free thinking people living there. Every republic needs a symbol of some sort. So a decade ago in the central square of Užupis a 9 meter high statue was born and, still, stands today:
This is the centre of the Republic of Uzupis with its own president and constitution. Artistic quirky area - bordered by a river on 3 sides. It is a nice statue surrounded by lovely buildings and restaurants. The whole small republic area is an 'hippy' enclave which we found interesting to wander around. Wandering around uzupis is great - many discoveries and arty things in many places.
A short detour in Užupis to see Vilnius panoramic view (350 m. walk from Angel of Užupis, Malūnų g.): one of the finest viewpoints across the Old Town and its countless spires can also be found in Užupis – and surprisingly few people know about it. From the Angel of Užupis statue, head up the hill and bear left where the road forks. Pass the excellent Šturmų švyturys fish restaurant and continue for another 200 metres. Venture behind the school on the left, passing a few garages, and climb the steps and grassy slope at the back to find the viewpoint at the top.
We continue walking along Paupio g. with our face to the south-east. On our right we see the Constitution of the Republic of Užupis (Užupio Respublikos konstitucija). A long wall on the right side of the Paupio Lane was chosen to host the world-famed constitution of the small republic. First plaques were Lithuanian and English, than – French, than (in 2002) translations into the Vilnius languages – Russian, Polish, Byelorussian (Georgian board also fall in the middle:)) and Yiddish, and from the 2009 plagues are unveiled yearly.
The constitution of in tens of languages:
We keep walking south-east along Paupio g. Several houses along this road are deserted. There is a famous, well-praised restaurant Paupio 12 (at Paupio g. #12), but it was closed during our day of visit (Monday):
We cross the Vilnia river again (our face to S-E):
In the end of the bridge over the Vilnia river - we turn RIGHT (west) along Aukštaičių g. - where the Vilnia river is on our right (hidden beyond the bush) and Kūdrų parkas and Tymo Market are on our left. This park (under reconstruction and maintenance) is one of the main gathering places of the Uzopian residents. Better, come here during the cool morning hours. During our visit, in the afternoon hours - there was nothing to see. All the market stalls were empty:
We turn RIGHT and return to Maironio g. walking back to th Old Town with our face to the north and Vilnia river on our right. Heading northward - we cross Išganytojo g., pass Rusų g. on our left. Before passing Šv. Mykolo g., on our left, we see the Church Heritage Museum (Bažnytinio paveldo muziejus) and Vilniaus Šv. arkangelo Mykolo bažnyčia on our left:
On the east side, on your right, is the Entrance to Užupis and a bridge over Vilnia river:
A couple is hanging over the Vilnia river:
A sculpture into the river, symbolizing a break-up:
We returned to the marvelous ensemble of St. Anne's Church and the Bernardine Church and Monastery accompanied by Adam Mickiewicz Monument - on our right:
Keep on walking northward along Maironio g. until its end and you see the Bernardine Park on your right. Combine the visit to the ensemble of Churches and Uzupis together with the view of the Bernardine Gardens or Park. The Bernadine Gardens (former Sereikiškės Park) are between the Bernardine Monastery (south) and the river (north) are also well worth a visit. Free admission. Open daily 7.00 – 22.00. Bernardine Gardens are situated between Gediminas Hill, the Vilnelė River and the Bernardine monastery. The restored park has regained its historic name, which was used from the end of the 15th century up until World War II, as well as its authentic appearance, which was designed by Vladislovas Štrausas in the 19th century. The park contains botanical and monastic expositions as well as authentic restored park elements, such as an alpinarium, a pond, Belvedere Hill, a central square, and paths along the Vilnelė River. Fountains have been rebuilt in their historical locations. There are also a rose garden, children’s playgrounds and a musical fountain. The botanical exposition includes plants sorted by groups and classes. There is a view of the Hill of Three Crosses. The oldest oak tree in Vilnius, at about 300 years, can be seen near the entrance on Šv. Brunono Street. The central square features a musical fountain which plays rhythms from popular classical and modern pieces. The Vilnia river, after which Vilnius was named, meanders around the edges. The park dates back to 1469, when Lithuanian Grand Duke Kazimieras invited the Bernardine monks to Vilnius. They established themselves at the south-eastern part of Gediminas Hill and built their monastery and gardens where the park is today. In the 18th century, the Vilnius University Botanical Garden was planted, and later, in 1870, three separate city gardens – the Botanical, Bernardine and Cathedral gardens – were linked into one park. It is a magnificent place. The Bernardine Park is very well maintained. The walk on the NORTHERN side of the gardens, along the Vilnia river (and, later, it surrounds the park from its east and south sides as well) - is fabulous. The gardens are fluent with fountains and sculptures - but, the main highlight is the river surrounding the park beds. From many spots of the Bernardine Gardens / Park and, especially, from its south-west corner - you can see the Three Crosses (Trys kryžiai) on the Hill of Three Crosses, originally known as the Bald Hill (Plikasis kalnas), in Kalnai Park:
Allow 1/2 hour of strolling in the depths of the Bernardine Park:
Exit the Brnardine Park in its south-west entrance, in the northern end of Maironio g. With your back to the south and face to the north - you see a small park on your left. Cross it DIAGONALLY (from south-east to north-west) - to arrive, straight-forward to the Cathedral Square in Vilnius ( Katedros aikštė). This is the main square of the Vilnius Old Town, right in front of the neo-classical Vilnius Cathedral. It is a key location in city's public life, situated as it is at the crossing of the city's main streets and reflecting the city's diversity. Regularly held at this site are fairs and gatherings of townspeople, military parades, religious and official public events, attractions and large concerts, New Year’s salutes and exhibitions. It is not merely the most lively and important location in the city, but is also one of the most significant and widely known symbols of Lithuania. But, after crossing the park - the first, white-washed building you see is the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania (Nacionalinis muziejus Lietuvos Didžiosios Kunigaikštystės valdovų rūmai). The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and the National Museum are near the Cathedral. The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania is by far the best museum in Vilnius. The National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania was founded in 2009 to collect, preserve, conserve, restore, research, interpret, and display in the restored historical residence of Vilnius Lower Castle the history and cultural heritage of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and its rulers, especially the rich and important collections of archaeological artifacts and European decorative and fine arts. It is so huge that it is divided into four trails. Each trail costs 2 Euros and if you have more than two hours for your visit, you can get a combined ticket for 6 Euros. The admission for pensioners was only 1.50 euros. Trail 1 features the ruins of the medieval castle and the history of Lithuania. Trail 2 features elegantly decorated period rooms and a special exhibit on two electors of Hanover who were also Grand Dukes of Lithuania. Trail 3 features armor and other aspects of medieval life. Trail 4, opened just recently, and features a special exhibit of 14th-17th century art from Florence to celebrate the links between Florence and Lithuania (note the huge posters in front of the Palace/Museum presenting this exhibition). You can spend over three hours here enjoying all of the exhibits. Great views from the top of the museum. There is currently (summer 2018) an exhibition of the Saxon dukes of Lithuania most of the exhibits coming from Dresden, superb collection. Lots of interesting things to see, can easily pass a whole day there. Allow at least 2-3 hours. Be prepared for tons of written information. Opening hours: SUN-WED: 10.00 - 18.00, THU-SAT: 10.00 - 20.00. Note: the 3rd floor might be under reconstruction and NOT accessible. Very loaded site with a huge (over-killing) amount of information and artifacts. We recommend tours 2 and 4:
Some history: Lithuania was first mentioned in a German manuscript, The Quedlinburg Chronicle, in AD 1009. The Grand Dukes of Lithuania had their residences at both the Lower and Upper Castles in the capital city of Vilnius. Until the turn of the sixteenth century, the primary residence of the grand dukes was in the Upper Castle, where even today the ruins of this Gothic Palace can still be found. The Vilnius castle was meant to stress Lithuania’s status as a medieval state that stretched from the Baltic to the Black Seas. In fact, Grand Duke Vytautas (1392–1430) had planned his royal coronation at Vilnius’s Upper Castle. Toward the end of the fifteenth century, it is believed that the Grand Duke Alexander Jagiellon (1492–1506) moved his residence from the Upper to the Lower Castle. Renaissance reconstruction of the palace was finished before the fire of 1530 during the reign of Sigismund the Old (1506–1548). Afterwards, Sigismund’s wife, Bona Sforza undoubtedly had a tremendous influence on the building’s further development. She succeeded in changing the palace into a modern European residence. It is believed that both the Italian architect, Bartolomeo Berrecci da Pontassieve, and the Polish architect, Benedykt Sandomierzanin, could have designed projects for the reconstruction of the palace. However, it is well known that the Italian artist, Bernardino Zanobi de Gianotis, worked on the palace. As the last of the Lithuanian Jagiellon dynasty, Sigismund Augustus (1548–1572) began to exercise control of Lithuania in 1544. During this time, he began new initiatives to expand the palace. A “New Palace” was attached to the earlier residence. Giovanni Cini, an Italian architect and sculptor from Siena, Giovanni Maria Mosca Padovano, Filippo Bartolomeo da Fiesole, as well as other well-known masters from Central European lands assisted with the new construction. The rulers of Lithuania and Poland during the Swedish Vasa dynasty were very concerned with the appearance of the Vilnius residence as they attempted to compete with the growing powers of Sweden and Moscow. After a fire in 1610, the palace was rebuilt in Northern Mannerist style. Peter Nonhart and William Pohl saw to the repairs. In the 1620s, the building acquired an early Italian Baroque features. At that same time, Saint Casimir’s Chapel was built next to the Cathedral. Efforts were led by the Italian architect, Constate Tencalla. He had worked before with the famous architect Carlo Maderno. The sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries can be referred to as a “golden period” for the palace. Emissaries from across Europe and even the Near East were received at the palace. Many historic events took place at the palace: Vassals of the duchies of Prussia and Courland would swear allegiance to the grand duke, policies of grand dukes were executed here, privileges were granted and treaties signed, Council of Nobles and Parliament convened, Lithuanian statutes were amended, Lithuanian Metrica and treasury were under guard, money was minted. By the time of Sigismund Augustus, the palace already could boast a large library, impressive tapestries, weapons, armor, paintings, as well as hunting trophies. The papal legate, Bernardino Buongiovanni, is even noted to have observed the palace’s treasure and jewels. The palace’s golden age came to an end in 1655, when the Russian army occupied Lithuania’s capital. For six whole years the army took residence in the palace, devestating and looting its premises. The palace again suffered in 1661, when efforts were made to rid the palace of its troops. As a result of the treasury’s mournful state, reconstruction of the palace was impossible afterwards. After the final partion of the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania in 1795, the Russian Empire enforced a policy to destroy all signs of the Lithuanian state. From 1799 to 1801, the Russian administration initiated the demolition of the remaining walls of the palace. In 1831, when Lithuanians rebelled against the Russian government, Tsarist officials took additional steps to destroy the ruins of the palace and even attempted to demolish the foundation of the palace. Authorities agreed to establish on the hill, where the castle was situated, a fort and to dig a trench around it. Full-scale archeological research of the palace grounds started only in 1987. Since this time they have excavated over 300,000 different types of objects. In 2000-2001, the Lithuanian Parliament and the National Government agreed that the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania would be restored. The restoration also commemorated Vilnius as the European Capital of Culture in 2009. The reconstructed Palace of the Grand Dukes became a symbol of national pride and be a powerful reminder of Lithuania’s strong traditions as a state. The palace also became an educational center meant to promote a greater understanding of the country’s history while providing a venue for presenting cultural heritage:
The Monument to Grand Duke Gediminas (Paminklas LDK didžiajam kunigaikščiui Gediminui) is opposite (south to) the Palace of the Grand Dukes. The monument was created by the Lithuanian American Vytautas Kašuba and Mindaugas Šnipas, 1996. Besides being the founder of Vilnius and Trakai, Gediminas was also one of the most famous rulers of Lithuania. His fame can only be compared to the fame of his grandson Vytautas the Great. Gediminas lived between 1275 and 1341 and ruled the Grand Duchy of Lithuania for 25 years. He moved the capital of Lithuania from Trakai to Vilnius. According to the legend, he founded Vilnius at this place under the influence of his dream in which he saw an iron wolf howling on top of what is now known as the Gediminas hill. He was better known as a diplomat who attracted the attention of Europe to Lithuania than as a military chief. It was in the letters of Gediminas to Western Europe that the name of Vilnius was mentioned for the first time in 1323. This year is considered to be the year of the founding of Vilnius. Gediminas succeeded in expanding the state borders and the domain of influence of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania far to the east and south. Under the rule of Gediminas, Vitebsk and Volyn were annexed while the lands of Kievan Rus fell into a vassal dependence of the Lithuanian Duchy. On their trip west, the army of Gediminas even approached Berlin. The area of the Lithuanian state doubled during the times of Gediminas. The bronze used for the monument was donated by Lithuanian border guards who confiscated it on the border. The marble sockle was a gift of the government of Ukraine, while the sculpture itself was cast free of charge in Tallinn:
Nearby is a magical place, a small stone (Stebuklinga plytelė Magical brick) marking the place where, according to a local urban legend, the human chain of Baltic Way was started linking Vilnius with Riga and Tallinn, an event that marked the beginning of national liberation of the Baltic States. It is said that if a person steps on this stone and turns around three times, his or her wish will be granted:
Vilnius Cathedral (Arkikatedra Bazilika) is 170 m. west to the museum. The cathedral itself is beautiful, but its treasure is its crypt. Take the tour and see the Royal Mausoleum, see what the archaeologists have discovered, and see the original floor of the church. Absolutely stunning Cathedral on the outside (6 pillars) and beautiful inside. On the roof of the cathedral, the three statues of St. Stanislaus, St. Helena and St. Casimir respectively embody Poland, Russia and Lithuania. They are copies dating back to 1997, the 18th century originals having been destroyed by the Soviets in 1950. The cathedral was the sacred building of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. The main facade is adorned with the sculptures of the four Evangelists, sculpted by the Italian Tommaso Righi:
The most impressive part of Vilnius Cathedral interiors - is the Chapel of St. Casimir (on the far right hand). The Chapel of Saint Casimir is a chapel dedicated to Saint Casimir in Vilnius Cathedral. The chapel was built in 1623–36 after Prince Casimir (1458–1484) was canonized as saint. It was built and decorated in the Baroque style by Italian sculptors and architects commissioned by Sigismund III Vasa, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. The centerpiece of the chapel is a marble altar which holds the silver sarcophagus with Casimir's remains and the painting 'Three-Handed St. Casimir':
The detached bell tower or Belfry is unusual. The height of the Bell Tower is 52 m, with the cross – 57 meters. In May-September, the Bell Tower will be open to visitors from 10.00 to 19.00 on weekdays and on Saturdays. In cold season – one hour shorter. Sundays - closed. Toilets which are free, can be found in the basement. In the 13th century the tower was part of the defensive wall. Almost all ground floor of the old tower has survived to the present day. In the 16th century the defensive tower became the Belfry of the Cathedral; it acquired its present appearance in the beginning of the 19th century.
The price for climbing the Bell Tower is 4.5 euros (for students and pensioners: 2.5 euros). The main problem is that the climbing up (on foot) is NOT easy. You have to climb on high, steep, wooden stairs. If you have the slightest chance of Vertigo - avoid visiting the Belfry ! There is a wooden railing in most sections of your climb - BUT NOT in every spot. Not for people with a fear of heights or those with mobility issues. We don't think the climb fits elderly people. The wonderful views are spoiled and cannot be photographed properly from the top because of metal netting over the windows. If you visit the Belfry at 17.00 - you'll climb the quirky wooden stairs with VERY LOUD ringings of the bells (might be very deafening). Not for everyone..... We think the views from St. John Church in Vilnius University are better:
Madrid - from Puerta del Sol to Palacio Real de Madrid:
Part 1 Main Attractions: Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Mercado San Miguel, Calle Mayor, Plaza de la Villa, Catedral de la Almudena, Plaza de Oriente, Sabatini Gardens, Plaza de Isabel II, Calle de Arenal, Iglesia de San Ginés de Arlés, Chocolatería San Ginés, Perez the Mouse Museum, Puerta del Sol.
Part 2 Main Attractions: Puerta del Sol, Restaurante El Callejón, Plaza del Callao, Gran Vía, Grassy Edifice is in Gran Via #1, Edifico Metropolis, Plaza de Cibeles, Plaza De España, Palacio Real, Opera Metro station.
Start: Sol Metro Station. End: Opera Metro Station. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 9 km. Weather: Bright or quiet day.
Our Itinrary: We start at the Puerta del Sol square and the adjacent Metro station. Puerta del Sol ("The Gate of the Sun") square is one of the best known and busiest places in Madrid. Originally it was the site of one of the city's gates, which faced the east and was adorned with an image of the sun, hence the square's name. This is the centre (Km 0) of the radial network of Spanish roads, located in the very heart of the city, not far from Plaza Mayor. Outside the Casa de Correos is a stone slab on the pavement marking Kilometer Zero - the official starting point for Spain's 6 National Roads. The square is actually almost semi-circular in shape and owes its current form to the major renovation work carried out between 1854 and 1860. This is a vibrant part of the city - full of bars, restaurants and shops. Leading off the Puerta del Sol are several streets, amongst which we can name Arenal Street, Calle de Alcalá, Calle Mayor, and Calle Preciados, this last one a pedestrianised street on which large department stores such as El Corte Inglés and FNAC are located, together with international clothes shops such as Zara, H & M, Bershka and many more. Many old and historic shops selling traditional goods may be found close to this historic square.
The square is dominated by the monument to King Carlos III
and the famous bronze sculpture of "the bear and the strawberry tree" ("El Oso y El Madroño"). on 25th September 2009, this statue was returned to its original location at the East side of the square, below the famous "Tío Pepe" advert. This was the statue's location when it was placed here in 1967, so it has simply returned home. The Oso & Madroño is the official symbol of the city although with an unclear origin - it seems that there used to be many bears in the fields around Madrid although the original symbol was supposed to be a female bear (osa). And the strawberry tree seems to be have actually been a hackberry tree (almez), which was once in abundance around Madrid:
If you look to the "flat" south side of the semi circle you will see a clock tower, part of a building known as the "Real Casa de Correos". This clock tower with its bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes at a new year celebration that's been broadcast live on the Spanish national TV since 1962.
We exit the Puerta del Sol from its southern edge. Continue onto Calle Mayor, 230 m. Turn left onto Calle de Felipe III, 35 m. Plaza Mayor, originally known as "Plaza del Arrabal", was built during the Habsburg rule period and is a central square of Madrid, located only a few blocks away from Puerta del Sol. Rectangular in shape, the square measures 129 by 94 meters, and is surrounded by three-story residential buildings with a total of 237 balconies facing the Plaza, nine entryways and a ring of old and traditional shops and cafes under their porticoes. Casa de la Panadería, a municipal building, dominates Plaza Mayor. In the course of history, the square has hosted many different things, including markets, bullfights, soccer games, and even public executions of condemned heretics back in the days of the Spanish Inquisition. The square was redesigned with gardens, but those were removed in 1936. At the center of the square is a bronze statue of King Philips III, constructed in 1616 by Juan Cristóbal González, Jean Boulogne and Pietro Tacca. Plaza Mayor as we know it today is the work of the architect Juan de Villanueva who was entrusted with its reconstruction in 1790 after a spate of big fires. The statue of Philip III dates to 1616, but it was not placed in the centre of the square until 1848. This place is excellent to hang out or start an interesting tour. The Plaza Mayor, a grand arcaded square in the center of Madrid is very popular with tourists and locals alike. The symmetrical rectangular square features a uniform architecture. The Plaza Mayor has been the scene of multitudinous events: markets (Christmas Market), bullfights, soccer games, public executions, etc. The Plaza Mayor also has a ring of old and traditional shops and cafes under its porticoes. Celebrations for San Isidro (patron saint of Madrid) are also held here. The Plaza Mayor is now a major tourist attraction, visited by thousands of tourists a year:
The Casa de la Panadería: It is a municipal and cultural building on the north side of the Plaza Mayor. It is four stories high, the ground floor comprising porticos and the top floor in the form of an attic, with its sides crowned by angular towers. At the top center of La Casa de la Panadería, there is a Spanish Coat of Arms. They are the royal Spanish arms from the reign of Carlos II.
From Plaza Mayor exit and walk north toward Calle Mayor, 35 m. Turn left onto Calle Mayor, 160 m. Turn left to stay on Calle Mayor, 40 m. Turn right onto Plaza de San Miguel and the Mercado de San Miguel is on your left, 25 m. further. No holiday in Madrid is complete without a visit to the Mercado de San Miguel in the heart of the Old Madrid. Established in 1916, Mercado de San Miguel is one of the oldest and most alluring markets in Madrid. With its stunning 20th-century glass walls, it could easily be considered among the finest examples of iron and glass architecture in the Spanish capital, alongside the city’s Crystal Palace in Parque del Buen Retiro. It really is a must for gourmets and gourmands alike. The market is housed in a glass fronted 20th century Art-Deco (Beaux Arts) building and is known as the Cultural Culinary Centre of Madrid. There are over 50 individual stalls, each run by a specialist in his chosen field, e.g. fresh fruit, vegetables, fish or meat. You can browse through the stands of locally grown fruit and vegetables where the odor of herbs and spices fill the air; nothing here has seen the inside of a freezer, none of the produce is ready-packed in plastic and the layout of the goods is an art in itself. The fish stalls display a vast range of rather ugly-looking seafood, fresh from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. Most of the produce on sale is Spanish, but you will also find charcuterie from France, Viennese Patisseries and a selection of fine European cheeses. The market also contains several cafes, restaurants and shops selling books on Spanish cuisine and kitchen utensils. The only thing a bit off-putting about this really great market is the number of signs forbidding potential clients from touching the produce, so you won’t be able to pick and choose your purchases. Mercado de San Miguel is not only the most popular market in town, but a genuine “culinary cultural center”. In 2000, it was declared Bien de Interés Cultural (Property of Cultural Interest), and nowadays, after a major restoration project, it has become a gastronomic temple with a vibrant, high-quality food scene:
From Mercado de San Miguel - head west on Plaza de San Miguel, 30 m. Turn right to stay on Plaza de San Miguel, 45 m. Turn left onto Calle Mayor and walk 50 m. to see, on your right the building at #66:
Calle Mayor, the name of which reflects its importance, runs from the Puerta del Sol to the Royal Palace. Back in the Middle Ages this was the main street of Madrid housing shops of silversmiths, coopers and fletchers who used to sell their wares to the rich merchants passing by to the city center. Today, Calle Mayor is renowned for its boutiques, cafes and restaurants, much as for excellent street musicians and a number of peculiar buildings associated with historic personalities and events. At N° 48 you will find the Cervantes House Museum, a place where Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, #1 Spanish writer was born. N° 61 is the narrowest house in Madrid, measuring only 5 meters across. Pedro Calderón de la Barca lived in this narrow house at no 61, next to the Queen Mother's former pharmacy.
Continue west on Calle Mayor toward Plaza de la Villa, 30 m. and turn left onto Plaza de la Villa (opposite Calle Mayor #72), 35 m. If you would like a bit of quiet in the heart of busy Madrid, the best place to go is Plaza de la Villa, not far from Plaza Major. This small, medieval square is surrounded by lovely buildings, each with its own story. Among them is Madrid’s old Town Hall (Casa Villa), built in 1696 and renowned for its graceful stained glass windows and frescoes by Antonio Palomino. Remarkably enough, at some point this building was used as a prison. Adjoining the town hall by an archway is Casa de Cisneros (see later, below), an early Spanish Renaissance castle built in 1537. It boasts a Plateresque façade, quite rare in Madrid, and an outstanding collection of fine tapestries. The nearby Casa and Torre de Los Lujanes are supposedly the oldest buildings in the city; the tower dating back as far as the early 15th century. According to a legend, King Charles 1st imprisoned King Francis 1st of France here after the battle of Pavia in 1525. The reason for that the French King's refusal to show respect to and bow his head to the captor, upon which King Charles ordered the tower door to be lowered, so that Francis would have to bow when entering and leaving the building. That gave people an impression that the French monarch was indeed bowing to their king. In the center of the square stands a statue of Alvaro de Bazen, the Spanish admiral who planned the Armada and, remarkably, never lost a battle in his entire 50-year-long career. The statue was sculpted in 1888 by Benlliure and was set in the plaza in 1980:
THe building in N° 88 went down in history in 1906 when the anarchist Mateo Moral attempted to kill King Alfonso XIII along with his bride on their wedding day by throwing a bomb from this house's top balcony. The royal couple was unhurt, but there were many innocent victims in memory of which a monument has been erected opposite the house:
From Calle Mayor, 88 - head west on Calle Mayor toward Calle de Bailén, 30 m. Turn right onto Calle de Bailén, 60 m and the mighty Catedral de la Almudena, Calle de Bailén, 10 is on your left. It stands opposite opposite the Royal Palace. A Baroque-style cathedral which is less than twenty years old. This lovely church was designed by the Marquis Francisco de Cubas. Construction of the church began in 1879 on the site of a medieval mosque. The original plans gave the church a Gothic Revival style with a Neo-Classical cupola. One unusual feature about the church is its orientation – North-South, instead of the traditional East-West. Construction of the church limped along for over 50 years and it was abandoned entirely during the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939. Work started again in 1950 under the direction of Fernando Chueca Goitia who adapted the original plans and gave the church its present day Baroque style:
The cathedral was completed in 1993 and was consecrated by Pope Jean Paul II, a statue of whom is to be found in front of the building. Don’t miss the bronze doors by Sanguino which bear the legend of the discovery of the image of the Virgin in the 15th century.
The interior of the cathedral is modern Neo-Gothic, with many small chapels and statues of contemporary artists in diverse styles. The crypt is Neo-Romanesque with a 16th century image of the Virgin de la Almudena. In 2004 new paintings by Kiko Arguello were hung in the apse.
Capela del Confession:
Almudena Cathedral - Capella Santimisma:
Madrid - Almudena Cathedral - La cruz de Lampedusa:
The Virgin of Almudena (Virgen de la Almudena) is a medieval icon of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. It serves as a patroness of Madrid. One story is that in 712, prior to the capture of the town by the advancing Muslim forces, the inhabitants of the town secreted the image of the virgin, for its own protection, inside the walls surrounding the town. In the 11th century, when Madrid was reconquered by the King Alfonso VI of Castile, the Christian soldiers endeavored to find the statue. After days of prayer, the spot on the wall hiding the icon crumbled, revealing the statue. Another legend is that as Christian soldiers approached the town, they had a vision of Mary imploring them to allow her to lead them into the city. Again the miraculous crumbling of the wall occurred, with the icon showing an entry route through the walls. The original Virgin of Almudena statue is on display at Almudena Cathedral. The Cathedral of Madrid is dedicated to this advocation of the Virgin and her feast day, 9 November, is a major holiday in Madrid. La Virgen de la Almudena.
The original Virgin of Almudena statue is on display at Almudena Cathedral:
From Catedral de la Almudena we head north on Calle de Bailén and slight left onto Calle Requena for 190 m. Turn left toward Plaza de Oriente, 65 m. Turn right toward Plaza de Oriente for 35 m. further. Turn left toward Plaza de Oriente, again, for 35 m. and you see the Palacio Real on your left. Come closer for 120 m. to watch the guards:
Plaza de Oriente is a very beautiful plaza with many beautiful gardens. It resides between the Royal Palace (west) and the Royal Theater (east) in the heart of Madrid. The plaza is glowing with its brilliant white color all around. Nice place to have a stroll but it is very crowded during weekends or nice afternoons. Area is nice with statues, open spaces, cafe etc and of the course the amazing view of the royal palace in all its glory.
During our visit in Madrid in Spring 2018 - the main characters of Las Meninas, Diego Velázquez’s masterpiece that hangs in the Prado Museum, have wandered off the canvas and stepped forward into central Madrid sites. Las Meninas is a 1656 painting by Diego Velázquez, one of the Spanish Golden Age’s leading artists, who worked in the court of Philip IV. The painting, which is one of the star attractions of Madrid’s Prado Museum, depicts the young princess Margarita Teresa surrounded by several members of the court, including her ladies in waiting, dwarves and, in the background, Velázquez himself. 80 sculptures of Las Meninas (‘the ladies in waiting’) placed in iconic spots around the Spanish capital, from the bustling Puerta del Sol to the Plaza Mayor, its grand central square. The artwork is the brainchild of Spanish sculptor Antonio Azzato, who designed the sculpture and recruited a group of artists, fashion designers and singers to help decorate the Meninas. Each artist applied his/her own technique, so each Menina is a unique, one-off artwork. The sculptures remained on the streets of Madrid until July 2018, were made from fibreglass and were 1.8 metres tall and weighed 30 kilograms:
Plaza de Oriente - Statue of Reinando Isabel Segunda de Borbon, behind it is the Royal Palace:
If you walk from Plaza de Orient a bit to the north and cross Calle de Bailén from east to west - you enter the Sabatini Gardens. These Classical-style gardens were built in the 1930s on the site of the former stables. Located in front of the north façade of the Royal Palace, the gardens, whose construction began during the Second Republic, were completed after the Civil War. Their architectural and ornamental styling as an extension of the Royal Palace were enhanced on account of the exhibition of several sculptures that were originally planned to decorate the cornice of the palace. Their geometric design and fortunate location make them some of the most beautiful gardens in Madrid. Although they look spectacular at any time of the day, at dusk they are truly magnificent, as it is one of the best sites in Madrid from which to watch the sunset. From the large rectangular pond in the centre of the garden, surrounded by fountains, trees, and white marble sculptures, your can contemplate how the yellow and red tones alter the colouring of the gray stones of the Palace, and watch the sunset from the perspective of the Casa de Campo:
We leave the Sabatini Gardens from the south-east edge and head, again, eastward. We cross Calle de Bailén from west to east and continue eastward along Calle de San Quintín for 140 m. Calle de San Quintín turns slightly right and becomes Calle de Arrieta, 170 m. Continue straight onto Plaza de Isabel II, 40 m. Opposite you see the Teatro Real. This squre is commonly called also the Opera Square. The square occupies part of the site where between 1738 and 1817 was the old Theater of Los Caños del Peral - due to the fountain with 7 piles and their corresponding pipes that were once used to drink and wash clothes, as well as an ornamental element. Under the surface of the square, entering through the entrance of the metro, you can access the Museum of the Caños del Peral where remains of the old fountain are preserved. On the surface a new fountain has been installed in memory of the old Fuente de los Caños del Peral , but with smaller dimensions. Between 2008 and 2011, the square underwent a new urbanization.
Teatro Real in Plaza Isabel II:
Head south on Plaza de Isabel II toward Calle de Vergara, 30 m. Turn left to stay on Plaza de Isabel II, 55 m.
Continue onto Calle del Arenal, 220 m. The name of Calle de Arenal t is derived from the word "arena", meaning "sand", and refers to the sandy banks of a small stream which flowed along this route in medieval times. During the time when the Moors ruled this part of Spain, from the 8th to the 12th centuries, this was the district where the Christians lived, and it later because an area for wealthy residents. A pedestrian and traffic-free zone (zona peatonal) for most of its length, the Calle del Arenal is one of the 10 streets emanating from the Puerta del Sol Square. It is one of Madrid's busiest thoroughfares, with a variety of shops, including gifts and souvenirs. However, because it joins the Puerta del Sol with Plaza Isabel II, Plaza de Opera and the Palacio Real (Royal Palace), you are still likely to encounter some traffic. This is one of the most centrally placed areas of Madrid:
Walking eastward along Calle de Arenal - we cross Calle de San Martin. On our right - we see the Iglesia de San Ginés de Arlés. One of the oldest churches in Madrid. The church was one of the churches of the medieval Madrid, of Mozarab origin, from between the 12th and 13th centuries, and its name comes from the fact that it was dedicated to the patron saint of notaries and secretaries, Saint Genesius of Arles (San Ginés de Arlés):
We turn right (south) to a narrow alley, Pasadizo de San Ginés - to watch the Chocolatería San Ginés, Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5. A chocolate and history. Excellent churros with chocolate. Rich and generous portions. A classic of Madrid. This classic place exists from 1894. After you order your generous portion - you can choose to sit outside, in the ground floor or at the lower floor. The hot chocolate is served in Spanish style - thick, dark and strong - and the churros - deep fried batter, similar to a light, crispy, linear doughnut, cut to length by the staff - are served hot and freshly cooked, ready for dunking. The interior is decorated with mirrors and green wood panels, with green velvet seats and marble tables. In 2010, a San Ginés's branch was opened in Shibuya, Tokyo (Japan). It closed one year later, in 2011...:
Near the entrance to the Chocolatería - note the frescoes of Delicias de San Gines:
In Spain the Tooth Fairy is a Tooth Mouse – called Little Perez – who slips into children’s bedrooms at night to take the fallen tooth the child has put under his pillow and to leave a small gift or coin in its place. According to a legend, Perez the Mouse once lived at N° 8 Calle de Arenal in a sweet shop. There is a plaque at N°8 attesting to that and the children all over Madrid send cards and letters to this address. The building now houses a small shopping mall on the ground floor and the Perez the Mouse Museum on the first floor, featuring theme mugs, notebooks and other souvenirs. Next door, at N°9, is the Palacio de Graviria, which is a cocktail bar during a day and a cabaret/dance floor/night club at night. You can see this mouse opposite C. de Arenal # 11:
We continue to walk along C. de Arenal - until we arrive, again, to the Puerta del Sol. Skip to Tip 2 below.
Seville - Day 2 - From (Prado San Sebastian) Catedral de Sevilla to Hotel Alfonso XIII (Puerta de Jerez and Prado San Sebastian):
Tip 1 Main Attractions: Jardines de Murillo, Santa Cruz quarter / Zona Monumental, The Giralda, Catedral de Sevilla.
Tip 2 Main Attractions: Real Alcázar de Sevilla.
Tip 3 Main Attractions: Archivo de las Indias, Puerta de Jerez, Hotel Alfonso XIII.
Start: & End: Prado San Sebastian - circular route. Distance: 7-8 km. Weather: The beginning and end of our itinerary are in open spaces. 2/3 of the day is devoted to the Cathedral and the Alcázar. Keep in mind you should queue-in for these two site (at least, 1/2-1 hour/each). Indoor Times: allow 1 hour (min.) for the Cathedral and 2-3 hours for the Alcázar. Allow minimum 1-1.5 hours for queuing-up.
Day 2 Itinerrary: We took the #28 bus from our IBIS hotel in Seville (5 stops) to Santa Justa (one of Seville main bus stations). From there we continued with the EA bus to Prado San Sebastian (5 stops). North to the bus station of Prado San Sebastian extends Avenida Carlos V. We walk along Avenida Carlos V from east to west. On our right is the Placio de Justica (Sevilla Courts). We cross Mendez Pelayo (crosslights) and continue westward. On our right: the Jardines de Murillo which are the result of a 1911 gift from the Huerta del Retiro del Alcázar. Quite extensive gardens. Its final design is the work of architect Juan Talavera y Heredia. The gardens present a composition based on grid paths formed by hedges and sidewalks which create octagonal roundabouts where they meet, with fountains in the centres and benches covered with tiles. The flowerbeds are filled with dense masses of vegetation, giving the park an intimate atmosphere. The gardens end at the Plaza de Refinadores, presided over by a statue dedicated to Don Juan Tenorio. Recommended gardens. Nicely maintained, lots of orange trees and little fountains. Home of the Christopher Columbus monument. Haven for some quiet time when touring the city. Amazing trees with over century history. In the Medieval times was one of the biggest Jewish cemeteries in Seville. The gardens border the Alcázar:
A bit north to Columbus monuents (with our face to the north) we turn LEFT (north-west) and walk along Calle Antonio el Balarin. On our left the Muslim Walls from the 12th-14th centuries:
It is 10 minutes walking to the Santa Cruz quarter or Zona Monumental. Continue onto Plaza Alfaro, take the stairs, 256 m. Slight left onto Calle Lope de Rueda and continue 90 m. further. All around - marvelous antique doors and houses:
The Hotel Murillo Sevilla Center, Calle Lope de Rueda, 7 is on your left:
We turn left and right to arrive to Calle Jamerdana. Head northwest on Calle Jamerdana toward Calle Ximénez de Enciso, 35 m. Turn left onto Pje. de Vila, 10 m. Continue onto Pje. Andreu, 35 m and turn left onto Callejón Consuelo, 15 m. Head northwest on Callejón Consuelo toward Pje. Andreu, 15 m. Slight left onto Pje. Andreu, 10 m. Turn right onto Calle Rodrigo Caro, 50 m. We shall approach the Catedral de Sevilla from Santa Cruz quarter.
Turn left onto Calle Mateos Gago, 130 m.
Turn left onto Pl. del Triunfo, 10 m. The Giralda is the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral. It was originally built as the minaret for the Great Mosque of Seville in al-Andalus, Moorish Spain, during the reign of the Almohad dynasty, with a Renaissance-style top subsequently added by the Catholics after the expulsion of the Muslims from the area. The Giralda was registered in 1987 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, along with the Alcázar and the General Archive of the Indies. The tower is 104 m in height and remains one of the most important symbols of the city, as it has been since the Middle Ages. We queue up quite a long time until we enter the Cathedral through the Moorish entrance, which is defined by its ornate fountain, where worshippers could wash their hands and feet before their daily prayers. Preserved pieces of various religions contribute to the overall magnificence of this sight.
Seville’s main mosque was constructed between the years 1184-1198, though its conversion to a Cathedral in 1248 would later lead to major reconstruction. These changes gave the Cathedral a dramatic, Gothic appearance that was largely characterized by its massive size. Despite mass reconstruction, two parts of the original mosque were preserved: the Moorish entrance and the Giralda Bell Tower.
Bear in mind there is a long and exhausting queue for the cathedral. We spent 1/2 hour in the sun. Sometimes - not easy. Tickets available to buy online in advance to avoid the queue. Enter at the "door of the prince", take the left side with pre-booked tickets. You can purchase a combi ticket at Church of El Salvador, Seville’s second largest church which is about 5 mins walk from the Cathedral, for the same price (€9). With that same ticket, just walk right through the entrance to the gate near the ticketing counter to enter the cathedral. Do note that the entrance for Group and Individual tourist is different. Even after you entered the cathedral - it is busy. You cannot avoid the herds of visitors even in top of the Giralda tower. So many selfies and fuss around. We would recommend getting there early.
southwestern side of the Cathedral - Door of the Prince:
Door of the Baptism:
You cant visit Seville without taking a look at Seville Cathedral, one of the most famous Roman Catholic Cathedrals which is spectacular inside as well as outside. Take time to visit the many side chapels of this UNESCO World Heritage site and you will breathless with the incredible ceilings and art work. Many people state that this is the biggest Gothic cathedral in the world ! It is the third-largest when compared to the Neoclassical Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City and Saint Paul's Cathedral in London. Allow 2 hours to visit the cathedral - including the Giralda tower.
A symbol of the Christian Reconquest over the Moors, the cathedral was constructed between 1402 and 1506 on the site of the town's 12th-century Great Mosque. The cathedral has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reflecting its cultural and historic importance. The splendour of the Cathedral is furthered by the influence of the Renaissance, where work in the Royal Chapel, the Main Sacristy, and the Chapter House was carried out. Massive building with many very ornate features and rich catholic icons. The cathedral is beautiful and contains stunning art and religious objects. A magnificent building with superb architecture.
The interior extends 117 meters in length, 76 meters in width, and soars to 40 meters in height. The five-aisled interior is laid out on a rectangular floor plan, and the space is notable for its beautiful lines and overall sense of harmony:
The choir loft, which fills the central portion of the nave:
Sacrisitia Mayor (the treasures and the gallery): The treasures of the temple can also be remarked, as a large number of paintings by Murillo, like the portraits of San Isidoro and San Leandro; pictures like Santa Teresa, of Zurbarán, and the sculpted head of San Juan Bautista.
Great sacristy ceiling:
The Cathedral keys:
Internal court of the the Main Sacristy:
Capilla del Pilar:
Altar de Plata - The so-called Silver Altar is an ephemeral monument that was mounted to celebrate the liturgical celebrations and for the greater glory of the Sacrament. Formerly it was erected before the High Altar during the octaves of the Corpus and the Immaculate.
Central area, with the large demonstrator shaped like the sun, under which the image of the Virgin of Granada is placed, with San Isidoro and San Leandro on either side:
Capilla de San Francisco - when we arrive before the Chapel of San Francisco we see, in the frontal wall, a showcase in whose interior is a bust of an Ecce Homo, anonymous Sevillian of the XVII century:
Ecce Homo . Anonymous Sevillian of the seventeenth century:
The tomb of Christopher Columbus is magnificent. The tomb houses some of his relics, and the font in the baptistery Chapel of Saint Anthony which contains the painting of The Vision of Saint Anthony (1656) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Incredible gold altar wall befitting the resting place of a world explorer. This monument created by Arturo Mélida in 1892 was originally built for the Cathedral of Havana in Cuba, but was brought to Seville after the loss of Cuba in the Spanish-American War of 1898:
The side chapels of the Seville Cathedral contain an abundance of art treasures, opulent tombs, and stunning altarpieces. Notable works include the Guardian Angel by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, displayed to the right of the Puerta Mayor. The baptistery Chapel of Saint Anthony (in the second chapel in the North Aisle) contains another painting of The Vision of St. Anthony (1656) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. In November 1874, it was discovered that thieves had cut out the portion depicting Saint Anthony. The Saint Antonio Chapel also displays the Baptism of Christ and The Infant Christ appearing to Saint Anthony of Padua. Among the finest sarcophagi found in the side chapels are the Gothic monument of Juan de Cervantes in the Capilla de San Hermenegildo and the Plateresque-style tomb of Archbishop Mendoza in the Capilla de la Antigua:
Capilla de los Dolores:
Capilla de San Pablo:
Inside the cathedral is a spectacular golden altarpiece. This altarpiece and the Tomb of Columbus are the two main highlights of the cathedral. The most spectacular part of the interior is undoubtedly the golden Retablo Mayor (main altarpiece) in the main chapel of the Seville Cathedral. This magnificent masterpiece was designed by the Flemish craftsman Pierre Dancart who worked for forty-four years on the reliefs, starting in 1482. The altarpiece was finally finished in 1564 with help from other artists. Large iron grilles, forged between 1518 and 1532, separate visitors from the altarpiece. The Retablo Mayor, the largest altarpiece in the world, consists of thirty-six gilded relief panels depicting scenes from the old testament and the lives of saints. At the altar in front of the wall of gold sits a statue of Santa Maria de la Sede, the patron saint of the Cathedral:
Natural light in the cathedral is scarce, because the windows are small and bear beautiful stained glasses. Illuminating the interior are 75 stained-glass windows dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The oldest windows are the work of Cristóbal Alemán and Arnao de Flandes. A decorative 16th-century reja (grille) encloses the choir, which boats ornately carved Gothic stalls created from 1475 to 1479:
The tower (included in entrance price) provides spectacular views. Great view from top but it’s a long climb up. The top accessed by 34 ramps and one set of steps. The bells are quite loud if you happen to be up top when they strike! A warning though: there are a number of steep spiral stairways to navigate, so probably not suitable for those with mobility issues. This iconic Moorish tower is the most emblematic landmark in Seville. Formerly an Islamic Minaret, the Giralda Tower is one of the few remaining elements of the original Great Mosque that was replaced by the cathedral. The tower was built in the 12th century by Islamic rulers of the Almohad dynasty, who hailed from the Atlas Mountains of North Africa. Architect Alí de Gómara designed the brick section of the tower, which exemplifies Moorish design with its decorative arched niches and geometric patterns typical of buildings in Andalusia. The nearly 100-meter-high tower is now the cathedral's Bell Tower. At the top is the 16th-century El Giraldillo weather vane, an enormous bronze statue of a female figure bearing a cross to symbolize Faith. Tourists may climb to the top of the Tower for sensational views over the city. Admission to the tower is separate from the cathedral and opening times are also slightly different:
Bells of the Giralda tower:
The Organ of The Catedral de Sevilla:
Puerta del Lagarto (near the Patio de los Naranjos:
The Patio de los Naranjos large courtyard contained within the cathedral precinct is a beautiful way to leave the cathedral underneath the orange trees. This patio was the ablutions courtyard of the mosque and is entered through a fancifully decorated Moorish gate, the Puerta del Perdón, that was the main entrance to the mosque. In the center of the patio is an octagonal fountain, a relic of the Islamic midha used for ritual washing before entering the mosque, a custom in the Muslim faith. As the name suggests, the patio is planted with orange trees. During springtime when the flowers are in bloom, a heavenly fragrance of sweet citrus blossoms permeates the courtyard:
The Cathedral from Puerta del Perda:
The Giralda from the Door of Prince:
Opening hours: MON: from 11.00 to 15:.30, TUE to SAT: from 11.00 to 17.00, SUN: from 14.30 to 18.00. July and August (except July 17 and 25): MON from 10.30 to 16.00, TUE to SAT from 10.30 to 18.00, SUN from 14.00. to 19.00. Closed: January 1, January 6, December 25. Reduced hours (11.00 to 13.00): January 5, December 24 and 31. Prices: The entrance includes a visit to the Gothic Cathedral, the sacristies and the Renaissance chapter house, the treasury, the Giralda, the patio of the orange trees and the Church of El Salvador located in the Plaza del Salvador (600 meters from the Cathedral). Prices: General admission: € 9 (does NOT include audio guide, the price of which is € 3 if requested), reduced ticket : 4 € Pensioners / Students up to 25 years old (DOES NOT include audioguide, the price of which is € 3 if requested), FREE admission: children up to 14 years of age accompanied by an adult, handicapped, FREE - Mondays from 16.30 to 18.00.
The Cathedral from Pl. del Trio(u)nfo during the afternoon hours:
From Pl. del Triunf we continue (200 m. walk) to the Puerta del Leon: the main entrance of the Real Alcázar de Sevilla. Skip to Tip 2 below.
Tip 2: Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame, Pont de la Tournelle, Île Saint-Louis.
It was built in the 13th century, upon the order of King Saint-Louis, to house Christ’s Crown of Thorns, now held at Notre-Dame. The upper chapel of the monument is covered in 600 m² of truly exceptional collection of stained-glass windows, of which two thirds are authentic. It is adorned with a unique collection of fifteen glass panels and a large rose window. It’s one of the most complete and remarkable sets of stained glass of this era. The stained-glass windows are breath-taking. All of the walls of this chapel from floor to ceiling are almost completely covered in stain glass windows; it's a magnificent site to see. The Sainte-Chapelle chapel is a jewel of Gothic art. The stained glass windows depict scenes from the old testament and new testament. The size and beauty of the stained glass are overwhelming. The fire in Notre-Dame made this chapel even more outstanding and crowded. Expect long queues (for security control and entrance) to enter. To appreciate the brilliant colors of the windows come in a sunny day - during the early hours of the mornings or the late hours of the afternoons. The visual effect of those colors from the windows are overwhelmingly powerful. So much to soak in - the stained glass, bible stories, the carvings, the view around outside and... the crowds inside. If you really want to see the details you'll need binoculars or use your camera's zoom.They provide laminated guides to the windows for visitors to use to learn more about the windows. You can take audio tour that comes with the ticket for an extra 3 Euro and is worth it. Take a couple of hours to see this beautiful building.
Sainte-Chapelle floor 1:
Be prepared to climb some stairs to get to the main attraction. Do make sure you climb to the upper floor which is where the majority of the gorgeous windows are. Access to the second level is via a winding staircase of stone. Having a disability will limit your access. Those in wheel chairs or with canes can see the upper chapel via an elevator. In the past, the upstairs, the more opulent part was reserved for the important people, while the peasants were dictated to the bottom for services.
Sainte-Chapelle - floor 2:
On our way outside from the Sainte-Chapelle we pass through the front of Palais de Justice de Paris:
We continue from Sainte-Chapelle to what was remained from Notre Dame. We shall take the shortest way from the south. Head southwest on Boulevard du Palais toward Rue de Lutèce, 150 m. Turn left (EAST) onto Quai du Marché Neuf, 180 m. From here the entrance is prohibited or restricted. The Notre Dame is on the left. A major fire has engulfed the medieval cathedral of Notre-Dame in April 2019, one of France's most famous landmarks. The 850-year-old Gothic building's spire and roof have collapsed but the main structure, including the two bell towers, has been saved:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------In case you are hungry and looking for a good,budget restaurant - take our recommendation for Saveurs de l'Asie in rue Lagrange. This is a chain of Asiatic food restaurants in Paris. This one is 600 m. from our point of standing. Head southeast on Quai du Marché Neuf toward Rue de la Cité, 140 m. Turn right onto Petit Pont - Cardinal Lustiger, 60 m. Turn left onto Quai de Montebello, 130 m, turn right onto Rue Lagrange, 85 m. turn left to stay on Rue Lagrange, 160 m. Continue straight onto Rue Frédéric Sauton/Place Maubert, 20 m. Saveurs d'Asie is part of series of restaurants with the same facade. Saveurs d'Asie is in 29 Place Maubert. Fantastic food. A plate of chicken with ginger and rice - 12.50 euros, Vietnamese Salad - 9 euros, 3 plates for a couple with water - 35 euros. to continue to our next destination Pont de la Tournelle: Head southeast on Rue Frédéric Sauton/Place Maubert toward Boulevard Saint-Germain, 40 m. Slight left onto Boulevard Saint-Germain, 400 m. Turn left onto Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, 70 m. Pont de la Tournelle is on your left.
Head southeast on Quai du Marché Neuf toward Rue de la Cité, 140 m. Turn right onto Petit Pont - Cardinal Lustiger, 60 m. Turn left onto Quai de Montebello, 300 m. On your way you pass (on your left) two bridges: Pont au Double and Quai de l'Archevêché:
Continue onto Quai de la Tournelle, 350 m. Pont de la Tournelle is on your left. from here you get a nice view of the Notre Dame. Pont de la Tournelle connects the left bank to the Ile de Saint Louis and traverses the island to enter the right bank as Pont Marie. On the left bank side there is a single pylon about 40 feet high topped by a statue of St. Genevieve (patron Saint of Paris). Superb views of Ile St. Louis and Note Dame from this bridge that carries a lot of motor traffic as well as foot traffic.
From the southern end of Pont de la Tournelle we head northeast on Pont de la Tournelle toward Quai de Béthune, 90 m. You entered Île Saint-Louis. Continue onto Rue des Deux Ponts, 90 m. You face Rue Saint-Louis en l'Île. One third of the main artery of Île Saint-Louis is on your left. Two thirds of this main road of the island are on your right. Traffic is restricted so it is easy to walk down the center of this picturesque street in Île Saint-Louis - one of Paris' most historic areas. We opted to wander to the east end of the island where the crowds disappear and the very old atmosphere comes alive. Anyway, you'll return back to the west and see the remaining est third of this road - which is much more crowded. This main road became the land of ice cream with one ice cream stand after another. Try the Berthillon ice cream (sorry, there quite several shops with this name...) or the Amorino - and tell us which one was the better...:
Pylones shop - Rue Saint-Louis en l'Île x rue de Deux Ponts:
Bertillon, rue Saint-Louis en l'Île #51:
Rue Saint-Louis en l'Île:
In the intersection of rue Saint-Louis en l'Île and rue de Deux Ponts - head north along rue de Deux Ponts. Continue north, cross the Seine over Pont Marie.
Turn left (north-west) to Quai de l'Hôtel de ville to face the Pont Marie Metro station.
On the way we took a turn through a tunnel called Limska Draga fjord. It didn't look like a fjord and after seeing the fjord formed by the Krka River we were disappointed. Poreč is located, like Rovinj, on a tongue of land inside a bay, but it’s less picturesque than Rovinj. We strolled in the narrow streets of the old city, and bought a handmade copper plate for a souvenier.
"Yesterday we celebrated five months of traveling. The festivities lasted from dawn to dusk and it was a fun and enjoyable day. The opening ceremony was conducted in Townsville’s post office, where we received five letters and a huge package filled with all sorts of treats. Mom sent us plenty of candy and dried fruits, homemade cookies, instant coffee, soups, “child-day” t-shirts and of course the latest news from the sport’s section in the kibbutz pamphlet. We were sad to discover that the peanuts she had roasted were taken by the Australian customs, which forbids things like that from entering the country. Later, we went our separate ways with only a few pennies in our pockets – a sacred sum devoted to buying each other surprise presents, a difficult task that ended with an ice cream cone.”
"…Canberra is well planned and gracefully designed. The administrative center is a huge square with the Capitol Hill in the center. The roads are paved around it in expanding concentric circles. On the other side of the lake, you’ll find the business center and the shops, with another square in the middle, named “the city square,” also surrounded by expanding concentric circles. The streets are wide and about half of the city territory is devoted to parks and public gardens. It’s easy to find your way around with a car or on foot. Near every museum, public site, or important building, you’ll find free parking! Most of the museums offer free admission as well. For us, it was a big change from north QLD, which is crowded, touristic and expansive. Canberra is where we spent the longest continuous period of the trip, which says something about the place…"