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  • Citywalk | Australia > Wellington
    Updated at Jun 9,2013

    "We were on our way to Wellington. Huge trucks tried to push us off the strange side of the road, but we stood strong and arrived, slowly and safely, to the local town with not much to offer besides crazy people and caves.

    The Crazy – The bottle house, watches, balls rolling all over the place, weather vanes and an animal farm with kangaroos, emus, some sort of a combination between a wallaby and a kangaroo, and all kinds of parrots (which are better viewed in a cage than run over).
    The Wellington Caves -- disappointing".

  • Citywalk
    Updated at Mar 6,2014

    From Little Venice to Camden Town:

    Duration: 3-4 hours. Distance: 4-5 km.

    Start: Warwick Avenue tube station.

    End:   Camden Town Tube Station. Keep in mind, the station is on Sundays only open for exit - you have to walk to the next station (Mornington Crescent) for about ten minutes. The entrance to the Underground is now closed on a Sunday from 13:00 to 17:30 to avoid congestion in the station.

    This short route runs along the Regent’s Canal, near Regent’s Park and through a variety of residential areas. It ends in several wonderful sites in Camden Town. It ends in the exciting atmosphere of the famed Camden Lock Market and the other five (!) surrounding markets. Half day or even a whole day to spend here and get lost in these amazing markets!!!  Shop, eat, take nice pictures, do whatever you want, but don't miss Camden Markets in during your London visit! On your way to Camden you pass  along marvelous canal landscapes and many urban developments (both residential and commercial).

    From Warwick Avenue station head southeast on Warwick Ave. The first turn to the right should be Warwick Place. In case you took the wrong direction and the first turn to the left is Clifton Villas, take the Clifton Villas road until its end and turn left to Blomfield Road. Turn right onto Warwick Pl. Turn left onto Blomfield Rd. Turn right onto Westbourne Terrace Rd and sharp left at Warwick Crescent. Little Venice is on your left. A huge community of houseboats form their own colorful village in the midst of some of London’s most desirable property:

    This stretch of canal is where the Grand Union and Regent’s Canals meet. There are, here, waterside cafes, pubs and eateries. From here you can take a boat trip or follow the tow path on foot and see how the winding waterway snakes its way through the heart of the city. You can head eastward (downstream) past the posh regency streets of Madia Vale and on to Regent’s Park and Camden beyond, or follow this peaceful canal westward (upstream) and enjoy the tranquility of the waterways until you arrive to the centre of Paddington complexes.

    Head west in Westbourne Terrace Rd. Turn right (back) onto Blomfield Rd. Walk along Blomfield Rd approx. 650 m. On your right is the Regent Canal. First, you pass (on your right ) the Puppet Theatre Barge:  a theatre in a boat which travels down the Thames putting on shows. You'll usually find the theatre moored at either Little Venice or Richmond. exciting marionette plays: Saturdays and Sundays afternoons. 8.50-12 GBP/ticket.

    Later, more distant, still on your right) the Rembrandt Gardens. The Gardens were first laid out in the early 1950's and the original name was Warwick Avenue Gardens. In 1975 the name was changed when the City of Westminster was linked with the City of Amsterdam in Holland. The garden has Rose beds, twice yearly bedding, shrubs, toilet facilities for both able and disabled users. Along with the views over 'Brownings Pool' this garden makes a great place to go and while away a few hours during a hectic day and is used extensively by workers from the new office blocks located in the Paddington Basin Development:

    The urban surrouding on your right is Maida Vale. The peaceful boulevards of Maida Vale seem to belong in a different, less crowded city than the rest of London. Most of the Edwardian houses have  been  transformed into flats. The most famous of Maida Vale streets is Abbey Road, where the Beatles recorded their later albums, and took the photo for one of the iconic album covers of the twentieth century (20 minutes walk, from here, to the north). The southern end of Maida Vale is marked by Regent’s Canal and the area known as Little Venice. 

    In the spot where Blomfield Rd. meets the bustling Edgware Road stands Cafe Laville (453 Edgware Rd). From here you get fantastic view of Little Venice.

    You continue north-east along the Regent Canal. Your first turn to the RIGHT is Lysons Place. Pass it and continue walking until yo arrive to the second turn to the RIGHT - Lisson Grove. Here you get more splendid photos of the canal:

    Continue along the Regent Canal path when the canal is to your left. On the nidway, near the railway course, you cross a bridge and moves to the other (north) bank of the canal. Splendid views until you arrive (with the canal) to Regent Park. As you keep walking down, you are actually diagonal to Regent's Park and would be a nice detour to visit the area as well:

    Walking along the canal, into the Regent Park premises - you enjoy the beautiful mansions along the right (east) bank of the canal:

    Here and there you'll see colorful boats and barges - flowing over the canal waters. The admission of the  canal boat that runs along Regent's Canal in your walking direction (which heads into Camden Market) is covered if you have the London Pass. You'll notice joggers and people with dogs heading down your foot path along the water. The pavement isn't that wide so mind the cyclists - especially on Sundays !

    A nice spot, along the canal, just near the park - is the Red Anchorage:

    Keep walking along the canal until you'll see (and hear) London Zoo on your right:

    The noisy road on your left (and up) is Prince Albert road. Immediately, when the London Zoo starts (on your right)  - you'll see signposts pointing (LEFT) to Primrose Hill. You need to cross the Prince Albert road in order to arrive (climb) to Primrose Hill. Don't miss it. The view from the top of Primrose Hill is one of London’s best, affording a fantastic panorama across the city. There are playgrounds, sports facilities and public toilets with disabled access. The view from the top of the hill through dusk and in to evening is especially stunning. From here you get, maybe, the best panoramic view of London:

    We head to Camden Town. Head east on Regent's Park Rd. Pass Albert Terrace and Albert Terrace Mews - on your right. Turn left onto Princess Rd. Turn right onto Gloucester Ave. From here walk along the Regent Canal - crossing Gloucester Ave. and Ovel Rd - until you arrive to Camden High St. Turn left toward Camden High St (the street changes its name to Chalk Farm). Take the stairs and turn left onto Camden High St or Chalk Farm Rd.

    Walk 200 m. in Chalk Farm rd and the Camden Stables Market is, mainly, on your left. Open: Mon - Fri 10:30 to 18:00, Sat & Sun 10:00 to 18:00. There are, actually, 4 entrances into the Stables Market. Look out for the entrance just after the Morrisons petrol station, which takes you straight into our Vintage and Antique area. The Stables Market currently has hundreds of retail, food and leisure shops. Just awesome. From the amazing buildings to the wild bronze horse sculptures to the vast assortment of incredible food and merchandise  on offer. The Stables is now a huge maze of clothing, gifts, antiques, food, smells and souvenirs. Great layout but with twists and turns making you feel you're discovering something new. Just be prepared for an overwhelming walk through lots and lots of cool looking things to buy. When you add in the food available throughout this place, you really can give all your senses a workout:

    Walk back in Chalk Farm Rd. (east-southward) again to the Regent Canal. You arrive to Camden Lock. Camden Lock Market started in the early 1970s and is the original Camden market. It was once only a craft market but now has loads of markets stalls and shops selling clothes, jewelry and unusual gifts. There are indoor and outdoor areas and great food stalls next to the canal. Camden Lock is one of London’s most vibrant shopping and entertainment areas. A global kitchen on offer and lots of different kinds of stalls to suit everyone. Very busy section of London with thousands of youngsters sitting on the canal's banks. it's packed with the most crazy assortment of people from all backgrounds and walks of life. You can take the canal boat trip down the Regent's Canal to Little Venice.

    From Camden Lock cross the canal again and walk southward from Chalk Farm Rd. to its bottom part  Camden High Street (where we came from Regent Park/Primrose Hill...). You are now inside the busiest market of Camden Town - the Camden Market in Camden High Street. A Kaleidoscope of clothes, furniture, jewellery household goods and electronics ever to be collected in one area. Very Busy on the weekends. Loads of people shouting to offer you a free taste or shouting they're deals around. There is a lot of really good food that is exceptionally reasonable.

    After crossing the canal, along Camden High Street - the Inverness Street Market is the second turn to the right from Camden High Street (when the canal is on your back). Inverness Street Market started around 1900 and used to be just a fruit and vegetable market serving the local community but you can now find bargain clothing and souvenirs as well. OPen: seven days a week. 08.30 – 17.00. There are bars and restaurants along this street making it a good place to stop. The Good Mixer pub at the far end has a reputation for being a popular drinking hole for local bands:

    From Inverness Street - return back to Camden High Street and turn right. You'll see, immediately, the Camden Town tube station. On Sundays afternoons this station is for exit only and you'll have to continue to Mornington Crescent tube station - 10 minutes walk further along the Camden High Street.

  • Citywalk | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 13,2014

    General: Historic gems in your rambles around London's former dockyards. Good mix of old and new. Fabulous views. 1/2 day - 3/4 day. Off the beaten path places.

    Start: East India DLR Station.

    End:   East India DLR Station.

    Distance: 3-4 km.

    Duration: Half a day.

    From the bottom floor of East India DLR Station

    you may go for 5-10 minutes eastward to Saffron Avenue for having a look at the Canary Wharf and new housing projects built around old refinery:

    Return to the East India DLR station and go southward toward Budgens Supermarket (ethnic food). In the corner turn left to the small Newport Avenue and walk the whole road until you arrive to the Thames river and its promenade (facing the O2 in the opposite bank):

    If you look to the right (west) you see the East India Pier and the grandiose Canary Wharf:

    You are now standing on the Virginia Quay. The promenade, the park around and the new Admore housing project - all provide spectacular views of the Thames (south) and Greenwich in the distance, Canary Wharf (west) and East India Dock (east).

    Looking across to the Greenwich Peninsula, with the iconic Millennium Dome dominating the scene:

    On the Thames bank stands the Virginia Settlers Statue memorizing the first emmigrants to America leaving the UK and settling in Virginia, USA:

    Walk along the Thames eastward passing (on your right) other newly built housing projects and the Giant Beacon statue:

    Go straight through the Salome Gates gate into East India Dock Basin (opening times – daylight hours).  East India Dock Basin is the last remaining section of the once grand East India Docks, famous for transporting spices from the Far East in the 1880s. It is used as a bird sanctuary, and has an information board that lists all the species that you might see.

    The Salome Gates were designed by Anthony Caro and designed to reflect the area’s history.

    The sign for Trinity Buoy Wharf is directly ahead at the end of Orchard Place. Enter through the main gate, Trinity Buoy Wharf is open to the public and it is free.  Trinity Buoy Wharf stands at the meeting of the River Lea and the River Thames. From 1803 to 1988 Trinity Buoy Wharf was used for manufacturing buoys and docking lightships:

    Here stands the only plate glass factory in S.E England - "The Thames Plate Glass Company":

    The site has been, and continues to be, developed as a centre of experimental arts and cultural activities. Take a stroll of 10-20 minutes and appreciate the variety of galleries, businesses and bars opened in this picturesque site. Much of the new accommodation on the site has been fashioned from old shipping containers. A free booklet describing the history of the site is available at the Visitor Centre which is open at weekends, 10am-4pm, and periodically during the week:

    The Trinity Buoy Wharf has the only lighthouse in London (now defunct) which was used for experiments and for training lighthouse keepers. It is closed from year 1988, but reopened in 1996 as a centre for experimental and creative arts. A permanent exhibition or display is the Longplayer - 1000 years long musical composition - playing continuosly from the first moment of year 2000. Designed to play without repetition/interruption until the end of year 2999. The composer is Jem Finer. http//longplayer.org

    Climb up the steps to the top of the Lighthouse. Stunning views. Do not miss !!!

    Walk towards the river and see the Thames Clipper Pier and the twin white humps of the David Beckham Football Academy opposite:

    Leave Trinity Buoy Wharf through the main entrance and walk back along Orchard Place, following the bend to the right to the Salome Gate. Opposite the gate, cross the road to pass under the road bridge ahead to marvel at the “living wall” on the building. Retrace your steps and walk back under the bridge, cross back across the road and turn right up the slope. Continue along the pavement when you join the main road. There are good views of East India Dock Basin on the left.  Walk under the DLR bridge and turn left at the large roundabout following signs to East India DLR station. Cross the road just before mini roundabout, walking underneath the elevated section of the DLR. Follow line of railway to the station. On your way to East India DLR station appreciate the new built buildings/towers along Blackwell Way and Newport Avenue:

    Before returning to East India DLR station - I recommend staying more 5-10 minutes on the bridge adjacent to the DLR station (glass fences) and looking down or to the east of the Tower Hamlets area (Blackwell Way):

  • Citywalk | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 13,2014

    1/2 day walk in Camden Canals and Markets:

    Can be combined with the "From Little Venice to Camden Town" itinerary.

    Orientation: Hive of activity, great vibe, Funky London, stalls galore, atmosphere, for all ages.

    Start: Kentish Town Tube Station. 

    End:   Camden Town Tube Station.

    Kentish Town is Camden Town’s not-so-famous, quieter and suburban older brother – it attracts a lot of the same crowd, but none of the tourists. And it’s got just as much going on.

    From Kentish Town Station turn right (north) towards Leighton Rd. In the junction of these two roads stands a beautiful, historical pub - the Assmbly House. A place whose sales might be more wet than dry:

    Return to Kentish Town Rd. heading south. Kentish Town has always been noted for its pubs and bars. On your right - do not miss this wall painting on the top part of one of the houses. Originally a large, partly wooden house known as the Bull. It was rebuilt twice, firstly in 1852 and then again in 1898.

    Walk further down Kentish Town Rd. Pass the Camden Gardens on your left. After 10 minutes walk you arrive to the Regent canal and the Grand Union Towpath. The canal view on your left:

    On your right - Camden Lock. Camden Lock is one of London’s most vibrant shopping and entertainment areas with live music, café’s and bars, small shops and market stalls selling everything from vintage fashion, handmade jewellery and beautiful homewares sourced from around the world:

     

    View from the North Lock in Camden Lock:

    This area is adjacent to a canal basin and holds Camden Lock Market, one of the group of markets often called collectively Camden Market. It is a busy market popular with visitors, with music venues, cafes and canal towpath walks. There is a large cut-steel sculpture by English artist Edward Dutkiewicz in the square beside the lock. The market offers a canalside haven in the midst of its hectic surroundings. Unique stalls and shops offering a huge array of goods sit alongside fresh and vibrant multicultural street food purveyors and cafes. Once the sun goes down its venues offer music and comedy right through until the early hours:

    Walking a bit along the canal further to the west - you arrive to Camden Town High Street with its wealth of markets. Camden Lock is primarily a social venue and a meeting place, but once people are here they find it very hard not to shop. The main road all the markets come off is Camden High Street. Camden High Street (north from Camden Tube station) is lined with shops, pubs, markets, and restaurants. Under the railway bridge, you'll find more of the same along Chalk Farm Road, which leads to Chalk Farm tube station:

    Camden Market is actually divided up into smaller markets, each with a different style.

    1. Camden Lock Market:
    Camden Lock Market started in the early 1970s and is the original Camden market. It was once only a craft market but now has loads of markets stalls and shops selling clothes, jewelry and unusual gifts. There are indoor and outdoor areas and great food stalls next to the canal. Open: Seven days a week. 10.00 -  18.00.

    2. Camden Stables Market:
    Camden Stables market has over 450 shops and stalls including good vintage clothes shops, making this the largest Camden market. Expect to find plenty of clothing and accessories. Some of the stables market is housed in converted warehouses and these are linked by cobbled walkways. The catacombs are currently closed for redevelopment but were housed in Victorian brick arches (1854) once running under the railway sidings of the old North Western Railway Co. Nearest tube station: Chalk Farm. Open: Seven days a week. Mon – Fri: 10.30 – 18.00, Sat & Sun: 10.00 - 18.00.

    3. Camden Canal Market:

    Camden Canal Market is just after the canal bridge, on the right. It's one of the smaller markets and sells fashion, accessories, and gifts. (Friday to Sunday only). The three-story market that stood here burned down in 2008. It has reopened since, but the area just contains a number of small stalls. 

    4. Electric Ballroom
    The Electric Ballroom market is held on weekends only in the Electric Ballroom music venue. It is very close to Camden Town tube station, on Camden High Street. Saturdays are film or music fairs on alternate Saturdays. A small admission charge applies. 

    5. Inverness Street Market:
    Inverness Street market started around 1900 and used to be just a fruit and vegetable market serving the local community but you can now find bargain clothing and souvenirs as well.

    There are bars and restaurants along this street making it a good place to stop. The Good Mixer pub at the far end has a reputation for being a popular drinking hole for local bands. Open: Seven days a week. 8.30 - 17.00.

    6. Buck Street Market:

    This is the part people think is the main Camden market as it's the first large market you come to from Camden Town tube station, and it has a large 'Camden Market' sign but carry on further down Camden High Street for the Camden Stables Market and Camden Lock Market which are much better. Open: Seven days a week. 09.30 - 18.00.

  • Citywalk | United Kingdom
    Updated at Apr 9,2014

    Note: Covent Garden is "covered" also in another daily trip of: Hoxton, Shoreditch and...Covent Garden.

    Start: Charing Cross tube station.

    End  : Covent Garden tube station.

    Distance: 7-8 km.

    Best time: bright / sunny AFTERNOON.

    Duration: 3/4 day - 1 day.

    Covent Garden is bounded by High Holborn and New Oxford Street to the north, by Kingsway Street to the east, by The Strand to the south and by Charing Cross Road (where we start) to the west. Unformally, Covent Garden can also be extended down to The Embankment along the Thames between Northumberland Avenue and Hungerford Bridge and even to The Temple Inns of Court.

    You are surprised but the Charing Cross tube station is not more distant to Covent Garden than Leicester or Covent Garden tube stations.

    From Charing Cross tube station head north toward Northumberland Ave. Exit the roundabout onto Trafalgar Square.

    Before turning right to Duncannon - Go around the front of St Martin-in-the-fields Church. St Martin-in-the-Fields is a church at the north-east corner of Trafalgar Square. It is dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours. There has been a church on the site since the medieval period. The present building was constructed in a Neoclassical design by James Gibbs in 1721–1726. Look what concerts are on from Vivaldi to modern music by candlelight. The music is usually sublime and the acoustics are perfect. Underneath, in the crypt there is a solid restaurant (food not bad, moderate prices, full with tourists) and shop. The church runs a soup kitchen and always provides a Christmas lunch for homeless people so is a good place to support:

    File:St martin in the fields exterior.jpg

    Turn right onto Duncannon.  Turn left onto Adelaide St. There is a drinking fountain on the corner and a sculpture A Conversation with Oscar Wilde (1998) by Maggi Hambling. Oscar Wilde was an Irish author, playwright and poet, most famous for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) and play The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). He became a popular and notorious figure in nineteenth century London society:

    File:A Conversation With Oscar Wilde - London - 240404.jpg

    Head west on William IV St toward St. Martin's Lane. Turn right onto St. Martin's Ln and the the London Coliseum, home of English National Opera - ENO will be on the right.  Opening Times: Monday - Saturday: 10.00 to 20.00 (on performance nights), 10.00 to 18.00 (on non-performance nights). With 2,359 seats it is the largest theatre in London. It is one of the two principal opera companies in London, along with The Royal Opera, also in Covent Garden. ENO's productions are sung in English. It underwent extensive renovations between 2000 and 2004 when an original staircase planned by Frank Matcham was finally put in to his specifications. The theatre changed its name from the London Coliseum to the Coliseum Theatre between 1931 and 1968. During the Second World War, the Coliseum served as a canteen for Air Raid Patrol workers, and Winston Churchill gave a speech from the stage. After 1945 it was mainly used for American musicals before becoming in 1961 a cinema for seven years. In 1968 it reopened as The London Coliseum, home of Sadler’s Wells Opera. In 1974 Sadler’s Wells became English National Opera. The theatre underwent a complete and detailed restoration from 2000. The auditorium and other public areas were returned to their original Edwardian decoration and new public spaces were created. The theatre was re-opened in 2004. Today ENO is known for producing groundbreaking stagings of new and core repertoire and for its exceptionally high musical standards. In recent years ENO has had particular success in attracting new audiences to opera, forging creative partherships with opera companies around the world and in developing the careers of young British opera singers:

    File:London-coliseum.jpg

    File:London Coliseum auditorium 003.jpg

    Walk 1 minute further north along St. Martin Ln to find the Duke of York's Theatre, 104 St Martin's Ln. The theatre opened on 10 September 1892 as the Trafalgar Square Theatre. The theatre became known as the Trafalgar Theatre in 1894 and the following year became the Duke of York's to honor the future King George V.

    Duke of Yorks Theatre London

    File:Duke of Yorks Theatre.jpg

    Further north along St. Martin's Ln (on the left) is the ornate Salisbury Pub of 1898 with original fittings, 90 St Martins Lane. It was the third Marquis of Salisbury and Queen Victoria's favorite Prime Minister, from whom the site of the tavern was originally leased in 1892:

    Salisbury

    Salisbury

    Immediately behind it, still on the left side is the Noel Coward Theatre. It opened on 12 March 1903 as the New Theatre and was built by Sir Charles Wyndham behind Wyndham's Theatre which was completed in 1899. The building was designed with an exterior in the classical style and an interior in the Rococo style. In 1973 it was renamed the Albery Theatre in tribute to Sir Bronson Albery who had presided as its manager for many years. Since September 2005, the theatre has been owned by Delfont-Mackintosh Ltd. It underwent major refurbishment in 2006, and was renamed the Noël Coward Theatre. Noël Coward, one of Britain's greatest playwrights and actors, appeared in his own play, I'll Leave It To You, at the then New Theatre in 1920, the first West End production of one of his plays:

    Noel Coward Theatre

    Noel Coward Theatre

    Walk further north along St. Martin's Ln until Cranbourn Street is on your left. At the junction go RIGHT into Garrick Street. Continue walking eastward until the Garrick Club of 1864 is on your right:

    File:Garrick Club.jpg

    Go left into Rose Street. On the right is the Lamb & Flag pub. A Covent Garden institution, dating back to 1623, this is often crowded with drinkers spilling out to the street. Once called the Bucket of Blood, because of the bare-knuckle fights staged in its courtyard, it was frequented by Charles Dickens. Famed for its whiskies and English food:

    Rose Street continues as Floral Street.Cross, through the building blocks, northward to the Long Acre Street. I recommend to turn LEFT (we'll immediately return to this point) along Long Acre and not miss the Stanford's noted map shop, 12-14 Long Acre.

    Return to the point in Long Acre (where you came from Floral Street) and  turn left onto Mercer St. GAP store is on your right. There are Edwardian flats along Mercer Street. I liked this narrow, old-atmosphere road. Turn LEFT (west) to and along Shelton Street. The Ching Court development by Terry Farrell is situated on the right. This Courtyard is so small it does not appear on many maps. It is found between Shelton Street and Monmouth Street (each of which has an entrance), and Mercer Street. Although the courtyard is surrounded by apartments, it is open to the public between 8am-6pm. There are a few benches, which means you can sit and eat a snack. What I really like about this courtyard is that it is quiet and peaceful - you won't believe you are in the heart of the city. A charming spot.

    Walk in Shelton Street until its (west) end and cross Monmouth Street/Upper St Martin's Lane into West Street. On the right is the St. Martin's Theatre. Here you find the longest running show, of any kind, in the world: the Mousetrap by Agatha Christie. Prices from 17.50 to 45.00 GBP. The Mousetrap is celebrating the 62nd year of a record breaking run during which over 25,000 performances have been given. It is quite simply a great piece of theatrical history - written by the greatest crime writer of all time.

    File:St Martin's Theatre, Covent Garden, London-2April2010.jpg

    Situated next door is the New Ambassadors Theatre. It is one of the smallest of the West End theatres, seating a maximum of 195 people. Go along Tower Court between the theatres (St. Martin's Theatre to your right and the New Ambassadors Theatre to your left). Turn left onto  Tower Street and bear right into Earlham Street - heading to the Seven Dials square. Earlham is the site of a street market. Go right (north-east) along this street until the Seven Dials square. Seven Dials is a small but well-known road junction where seven streets converge: Monmouth (upper and lower), Shorts Garden, Earlham (upper and lower), Mercer (upper and Lower). At the centre of the circular space is a pillar bearing six (not seven) sundials, a result of the pillar being commissioned before a late stage alteration of the plans from an original six roads:

    Seven Dials was laid out by Thomas Neale in 1694-1714. As the area became less fashionable houses were converted into shops, lodgings and factories, many with immigrant workers. The column was removed in 1773 and the replica replacement was put up in 1989. From Seven Dials go north along (upper) Monmouth Street. The former French Hospital building is on the left. Monmouth Coffee Company, 27 Monmouth Street - some say this is the best coffee in London and it’s certainly in the best one. This is a coffee lover’s paradise with a ‘wine’ list of different producers. Smell the coffee, nibble a pastries or buy some handmade chocolate truffles to take away.

    Go through Neal's Yard (adjacent to number 31) bearing right to exit. Neal's Yard is a small alley between Shorts Gardens and Monmouth Street which opens into a courtyard. It is named after the 17th century developer, Thomas Neale. DO NOT MISS this yard.  It now contains several health food cafes and New Age retailers such as Neal's Yard Remedies, Neal's Yard Dairy (smelling far away) and World Food Cafe. The whole site is very colorful:

    There is a Tim Hunkin clock on the Holland & Barrett shop in Shorts Garden:

    After exiting Neal's Yard from the east side cross Shorts Garden and go through the Neal's shopping centre into Earlham Street:


    The Donmar Warehouse non-for-profit Theatre is in 41 Earlham Street. Take the Neal Street until its north end (you turn from Shorts Garden LEFT to Neal Street).  At the end go RIGHT (north) into Shaftesbury Avenue ("covered" in our Soho trip) and RIGHT into Endell Street.  On the right is the former St Giles' National Schools building designed by E M Barry in 1860 for 1500 children. The next photo was taken from the Victorian Web site:

    http://www.victorianweb.org/art/architecture/barryem/10.jpg

    Further along are the former glassworks of Lavers and Barraud (1859) (junction with Betterton Street):

    File:Premises of Lavers and Barraud in London.jpg

    With your face southward in Endell Street, turn LEFT onto Betterton Street (opposite this pub Cross Keys). The street named in honour of the seventeenth-century Shakespearean actor Thomas Betterton who lived and died in nearby Russell Street. Brownlow House a fine eighteenth-century building is in this street.

    Uncovering Betterton Street

    At the end of Betterton Street turn LEFT in Drury Lane and, immediately, RIGHT onto Macklin Street (a narrow and clean road...). We shall return to Drury Lane a bit later. At the end of Macklin Street go right into Newton Street and second right along Great Queen Street. Now our direction, along Great Queen Street is south-west.  The left hand side is dominated by the Freemasons' Hall, the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England and a meeting place for the Masonic Lodges in the London area. Opened in 1933 and called the Masonic Peace Memorial in tribute to 3,225 masons who died in WWI, the name was changed to Freemasons' Hall at the outbreak of WWII. The Masonic Order offers free tours of this magnificent Art Deco building to help dispel some of the mystery that has long surrounded it:

    File:Freemasons' Hall, London.JPG

    The hall was built in 1927-33 as a memorial to Freemasons killed in WWI. Go left into Wild Street. Watch the nice Peabody Estate of 1880. Turn RIGHT onto Kemble Street and, immediately, LEFT to Kean Street. It is a half-circular road. At the end is the Aldwych Theatre (opposite, left). Its seating capacity is 1,200 seats on three levels and it has fairly large auditorium:

    File:Aldwych Theatre 2.jpg

    Turn RIGHT along Drury Lane. We walk along Drury Lane in the north-west direction. There are four theatres in this street, the earliest of which dates back to 1663, making it the oldest theatre site in London. For its first two centuries, Drury Lane could "reasonably have claimed to be London's leading theatre" For most of that time, it was one of a handful of patent theatres, granted monopoly rights to the production of "legitimate" (meaning spoken plays, rather than opera, dance, concerts, or plays with music) drama in London. We pass Kean Street on our right and Tavistock Street on our left.  On the right is St Clement Danes School of 1907 and on the corner of Kemble Street is the Sarastro restaurant a distinctive restaurant with oriental, sensual atmosphere and Ottoman interior. As imaginative and remarkable as a scene from The Arabian Nights, the interior of Sarastro is ablaze with swirling colour and visual excitement. A vulgar restaurant with amazing decor throughout. Opinions on the food and service are ....mixed.

    Exterior made me want to enter!

    Return to the junction and go along Russell Street. On the left is the Theatre Royal, rebuilt for the fourth time in 1810-2. The columns and lamps date from 1831. The building faces Catherine Street and backs onto Drury Lane. Built four times on the same site. The first building, 1663-1672. It was destroyed by fire on 25th January 1672; The second building, 1674-1791. Re-built by Sir Christopher Wren and opening on 26th March 1674 in the presence of King Charles II. It was demolished in 1791 because it was too small and out of date; The third building, 1794-1809. Designed by Henry Holland. Opened on 12th March 1794. This building burned down for the second time on 24th February 1809; The fourth and present building, designed by Benjamin Wyatt. Opened on 10th October 1812 with a performance of "Hamlet". The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is currently owned by The Really Useful Group:

    Theatre Royal Drury Lane - Noel Coward Statue Inside The Box Office At Theatre Royal

    In the middle of Russell Street Go right into Crown Court.
    The Fortune Theatre of 1922-4 has a small foyer and only 440 seats. The Fortune Theatre was opened in 1924 and stands on the site of the old Albion Tavern. In 2005 The Fortune Theatre London hosted the long running play The Woman in Black, which was adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from the book of the same name by Susan Hill.

    File:FortuneTheatre.jpg

    It adjoins the Crown Court Church of Scotland built in 1909:

    File:CrownCourtChFront.JPG

    Continue along Crown Ct and cross Martlett Court and turn left into Broad Court. There is a statue Young Dancer by Enzo Plazzotta and several K2 telphone boxes. The Young Dancer Enzo Plazzotta’s bronze sits opposite the Royal Opera House, home of the Royal Ballet. Plazzotta also sculpted a male dancer, Jeté. He first came to live in London after WWII, when he was active in the Resistance in his native Italy, and only started serious sculpture when he was already in his 40s:

    Go left into Bow Street. The Magistrate's Court and police station were built in 1879-80. These replaced an earlier building on the west side. The court closed its doors for the last time on 14 July 2006. The conversion of the Bow Street Court into a hotel never materialized and it was sold to Austrian developers in 2008 who intends to retain the prison cells and establish a police museum. In Bow Street the Royal Opera is on your right. It is open ONLY Mon - Sat 10.00 - 15.30. Go into the main entrance
    The present (third) building was designed by E M Barry in 1857-8. The building was extended and remodelled in 1997-9. The Royal Opera, under the direction of Antonio Pappano, is one of the world’s leading opera companies. The Backstage Tours include an introduction to the colourful history of the theatre, an insight into the re-development of the Royal Opera House and a look at aspects of current productions. As the Royal Opera House is a fully working theatre, each tour is a unique experience, and may include opportunities to see The Royal Ballet in class, or the magnificent backstage technology in operation. The current building is the third theatre on the site following disastrous fires in 1808 and 1857. The façade, foyer, and auditorium date from 1858, but almost every other element of the present complex dates from an extensive reconstruction in the 1990s. The Royal Opera House seats 2,256 people and consists of four tiers of boxes and balconies and the amphi-theatre gallery.

    File:ROH auditorium 003.jpg

    File:ROH auditorium 001.jpg

    There are level entrances to the Royal Opera House from : The New Arcade in the corner of Covent Garden Piazza. Bow Street immediately to the left of the Paul Hamlyn Hall (close to the Box Office and Information Desk). There is lift access to all levels of the main auditorium except the Orchestra Stalls, which is reached by a single flight of stairs.

    There are some display cases in this area. It is sometimes possible to go up to the Crush Room via the Grand Staircase. Access the Vilar Floral Hall (built 1858-60) from the new stairs if this is not available.

    File:Royal Opera House - Floral Hall - Bow Street - London - 240404.jpg

    Royal Opera House - Champagne Bar 1 - Credit Lia Vittone

    Royal Opera House - Champagne Bar 11 - Credit Lia Vittone

    Take the escalator up to the Amphitheatre Bar. To the right are exhibition areas. Straight ahead through the glass doors gives access to the terrace with stunning views of the costume making department and over Covent Garden. Return down the escalator and stairs and exit via the box office and exit into the Piazza:

    File:Royal Opera House Covent Garden.jpg

    From the Opera House head southeast on Bow St toward Martlett Ct. Turn right onto Russell St. Tuttons restaurant , 11/12 Russell Street - was formerly Turkish Baths.

    Tuttons Image from LondonTown.com

    Turn left and the London Transport Museum  will be on the left. The London Transport Museum occupies former Flower Market premises of 1872. Open: Monday-Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 10.00 - 18.00 (Last admission 17.15), Friday 11.00 - 18.00 (Last admission 17.15). Adults 15.00 GBP, Concessions 11.50 GBP.

    File:Gb-ltmd-overview4.jpg

    From the London Transport Museum head southeast toward Tavistock St. Turn RIGHT onto Tavistock St. Walk along Tavistock Street westward and turn left into Southampton Street and, immediately, right into Maiden Lane which runs behind the Strand. On the left is Corpus Christi Church -  founded in 1873 and consecrated on the 18th of October, 1956.

    Note the Rules restaurant, 35 Maiden Lane. The brass plates outside ‘London’s Oldest Restaurant’ have been polished for so many years they are almost illegible – which is the point. Hearty game, oysters, solid puddings, friendly service and its atmosphere make Rules as popular now as it was when it was founded in 1798:

    Turn right into Bedford Street. Walk along Bedford Street. Pass Henrietta Street on your right. First laid out in 1631, and rebuilt through the centuries, moving more and more up-market in the process, Henrietta street now typifies late Georgian/early Victorian style. Jane Austen's brother Henry (a banker) lived at No.10 and she stayed here in 1813 and 1814 when visiting her London publishers. A few steps later on Bedford Street and you arrive to Inigo Place, to your right. This leads to St Paul's Church (not to be mixed with St. Paul Cathedral) designed by Inigo Jones in 1631-5. It is known as the actors' church because of its theatrical connections and there are several memorials within the church. Note: there is no entrance to the church from the Covent Garden Piazza as this is the east (altar) end. The church of St Paul's was the first building, and was begun in July 1631 on the western side of the square. In year 1974 the Covent Garden market moved to a new site in south-west London. The square languished until its central building re-opened as a shopping centre in 1980. The central building re-opened as a shopping centre in 1980, with cafes, pubs, small shops and a craft market called the Apple Market. The Piazza, at the heart of Covent Garden, hosts a variety of talents, performances and family events. Shows run throughout the day and are about 30 minutes in length.

    Street performers among St. Paul Church pillars:

    The western side of the PIazza - opposite St. Paul Church:

    View from St. Paul Church to the Piazza and the Apple Market:

    We are now in the Covent Garden Piazza - spending there at least one hour of bright afternoon sun. The central square in Covent Garden is simply called "Covent Garden", very often marketed as "Covent Garden Piazza".

    Antiques Market, on Mondays, in Covent Garden Market:

    Please note that the courtyard (in Apple Market) space is dedicated to classical music only:

    James Street - off Covent Garden Piazza:

    Our final point, in Covent Garden is the St. Martines Court. With your back to St. Paul church and your face to the Apple Market signpost - turn left (north-west). Turn right at King St. Turn left onto Floral St. Turn right onto Slingsby Pl (partial restricted usage road) and the St. Martines Court will be on the left.  It is a luxurious shopping centre just opened during year 2012-2013:

    From here it is 5 minutes walk to the Covent Garden tube station. Head southeast on Slingsby Pl toward Long Acre. Turn left onto Long Acre. Turn right and the tube station will be on your right.

  • Citywalk
    Updated at Jan 14,2014

    East London and Covent Garden (including a Mama Mia show in the Novello Theater in Covent Garden):

    Start: Liverpool Street Station.

    End: Covent Garden Tube Station.

    Highlights: Liverpool Street Station, Exchange Square, Curtian Rd., Hoxton Square, Street and Market, Geffrye Museum, Shoreditch High Street, Aldwych, Covent Garden Piazza, St. Martines Court.

    Go to the north side of the Liverpool Street Station. It borders with the Exchange Square. A modern and mainly-pedestrianised development. The largest office development in London until the emergence of Canary Wharf in the early 1990s.  It contains the 165 metres Broadgate Tower, the 4th-tallest building in the City after the Heron Tower, Tower 42 and the 30 St Mary Axe. The tower was completed in 2008 and stands over the railway tracks out of Liverpool Street station:

    In this complex you'll find also the Broadgate circle is host to London's only turn up and skate arena:

    Head west on Broadgate Circle. Turn right onto Sun St. Sun St turns slightly left and becomes Appold St. Turn left onto Worship St.  Turn right onto Curtain Rd. Now, you are in Shoreditch. On your right - do not miss the The Horse & Groom pub:

    I highly recommend not missing a series of wall paintings:

    One - in Hewett Rd. (the first turn to the right from Curtain Rd.):

    Another couple impressive wall painting are found in Curtain Rd. itself:

    Continue along Curtian Rd. crossing 6 roads on your right (including Hewett Rd.). The sixth road on your right and left is the impressive Rivington Street. This street goes along the "border" between Shoreditch and Hackney. Rivington Street was the Shoreditch electricity generating station, by the London County Council to serve the LCC tramway system. A secret bar, the Jubjub Bar - in 65 Rivington Street:

    Continue until the end of Curtain Rd. Turn right onto Old St. Turn left onto Hoxton St. Turn left onto Hoxton Square. You are, now, in Hoxton. The geographical distinction between Hoxton and Shoreditch is often confused. Hoxton is a district immediately north of the financial district of the City of London. The area of Hoxton is bordered by Regent's Canal on the north side, Wharf and City Roads to the west, Old Street to the south (we just passed it...) , and Kingsland Road to the east. You'll appreciate a few interesting houses in this square:

    Head east on Hoxton Square toward Hoxton St and turn left onto Hoxton St. Go along this street - not missing the nice garden in Hoxton street:

    Hoxton Street Market is the focal point of this end of the district. The market sells a wide range of household goods during the week and specializes in independent fashion, art and design products on Saturdays:

    Turn right onto Falkirk St.  Turn left (north) onto Kingsland Rd and the Geffrye Museum will be on the right. It is a museum specializing in the history of the English domestic interior. Opening times: Tuesday - Sunday 10.00 - 17.00, Bank Holiday Mondays 10.00 - 17.00. Closed Mondays. The restaurant is open until 16.45. The shop is open during museum hours:

    Your direction in the Kingsland Rd was northward. Now, walk back (SOUTHWARD !) in the Kingsland Rd., cross again the Falkirk/Cremer streets. Cross the Waterson street on your left. On the next junction (on your left) with Hackney Rd (the Kingsland Rd. becomes Shoreditch High Street) - note the Shoreditch Cathedral (St. Leonard church):

    This part of the road is wholly within the London Borough of Hackney. In the past, Shoreditch High Street boasted of both a prestigious theatre (numbers 2-4 in the street) and a music hall. By the late 19th century the Shoreditch Theatre  was one of the largest theatres in London.  In 1926 it was converted into a cinema called the New Olympia Picture Drome. The building was destroyed in year 1940. There are many striptease pubs along the road:

    Continuing along Shoreditch High Street to the Liverpool street Station - you'll see spectacular views of the City high buildings including the Gherkin:

    From Liverpool Street Station we headed to a Matinee' show of Mama Mia in Novello Theater in Aldwych (nearby tube stations are: Temple and Covent Garden). You are not allowed to take photos during the show. So, the pictures, hereby, are from the theater hall and the ads in the lobby:

    After the (so-so) Mama Mia show we headed to the Covent Garden PIazza - spending there another couple of bright afternoon hours. The central square in Covent Garden is simply called "Covent Garden", very often marketed as "Covent Garden Piazza"

    Head south on Aldwych. Turn right onto Catherine St. Turn left onto Exeter St. Turn right onto Burleigh St. Turn left onto Tavistock St. The Transport Museum should be on your right. Turn right toward Henrietta St. You should face the Apple Market and the St. Paul Covent Garden Church on your front and back. The church of St Paul's was the first building, and was begun in July 1631 on the western side of the square. In year 1974 the Covent Garden market moved to a new site in south-west London. The square languished until its central building re-opened as a shopping centre in 1980. The central building re-opened as a shopping centre in 1980, with cafes, pubs, small shops and a craft market called the Apple Market. The Piazza, at the heart of Covent Garden, hosts a variety of talents, performances and family events. Shows run throughout the day and are about 30 minutes in length. Please note that the courtyard (in Apple Market) space is dedicated to classical music only.

    Our final point, in Covent Garden (see more detailed blog on CG - in a seperate report) is the St. Martines Court. With your back to St. Pau church and your face to the Apple Market signpost - turn left (north-west). Turn right at King St.  Turn left onto Floral St. Turn right onto Slingsby Pl (partial restricted usage road) and the St. Martines Court will be on the left.  It isw a luxurious shopping centre just opened during year 2012-2013:

    From here it is 5 minutes walk to the Covent Garden tube station. Head southeast on Slingsby Pl toward Long Acre. Turn left onto Long Acre. Turn right and the tube station will be on your right.

  • Citywalk | Italy
    Updated at May 26,2014

    From the Jewish Ghetto to Trastevere.

    Start: Largo di Torre Argentina. Bus no. 492 (Cipro-Tiburina) (which passes through most of Rome highlights) stops opposite Largo di Torre Argentina.

    End: Villa Farnesina or Lungotevere della Farnesina (on the Tiber river) or Ponte Palatino (Trastevere or Forum Boarium).

    Duration: 1 busy day.

    Distance: About 10-12 km (depending on your final location).

    Orientation:  A VERY busy day. Trastevere is a charming, vibrant, colorful area and, you'll explore, through this itinerary, MANY pretty and atmospheric spots. Your time is very TIGHT. We've packed a lot of places, attractions, experiences and sights into one-day-trip !!! You can combine the Gianicolo Park/Hill in this day - but it looks to me TOO tight, complicated and strenuous. We shall devote another trip to Gianicolo Hill combined with Forum Boarium (Aventino) and another central part of Trastevere. If you complete the whole itinerary - it is almost a round tour.

    Weather: Sunny or cloudy days. Avoid this itinerary in rainy or very hot days.

    Largo di Torre Argentina square hosts four Republican Roman temples, and the remains of Pompey's Theatre. It is located in the ancient Campus Martius. The name of the square comes from the Torre Argentina, which takes its name from the city of Strasbourg, whose Latin name was Argentoratum. In 1503, the Papal Master of Ceremonies Johannes Burckardt, who came from Strasbourg and was known as "Argentinus", built in via del Sudario a palace (now at number 44), called Casa del Burcardo, to which the tower is annexed. The other tower in the square is not the one giving the name to the place, but the Medieval Torre del Papito ("Little Pope's Tower"), attributed by tradition to Antipope Anacletus II Pierleoni, allegedly not a tall person:

    Largo di Torre Argentina, Temple A (to Juturna) in the distance, Temple B in the center, Temple C to the left. In the distant left, the Teatro Argentina:


    Temple A or Temple of Juturna:

    Temple B, devoted to Fortunae Huiusce Diei:

    Wide view showing conservation work in progress:

    Another 220 m., 5 minutes walk to the Turtle Fountain. Head east on Largo di Torre Argentina toward Via San Nicola Dè Cesarini, 36 m. Turn right onto Via San Nicola Dè Cesarini, 110 m. Continue onto Via Paganica, 71 m. You face the Turtle Fountain in Piazza Mattei. One of the most beautiful squares of Rome. The beauty of the Fontana delle Tartarughe is principally the fact that you can observe this beautiful late Renaissance masterpiece without wrestling with huge crowds of tourists as it is located in a relatively little-known, yet central neighborhood, the Jewish Ghetto. Around the edge of a circular vasque stand four bronze ephebes (young men), each with one foot on the head of a bronze dolphin. Bronze turtles are placed around the upper basin and were added at a later stage, during restoration. It was built between 1581 and 1588 by the architect Giacomo della Porta and the sculptor Taddeo Landini. The bronze turtles around the upper basin, usually attributed either to Gian Lorenzo Bernini or Andrea Sacchi, were added in either 1658 and 1659, when the fountain was restored:

    The Fontana delle Tartarughe is only a few steps from the ruins of the Portico d'Ottavia, a romantic archaeological gem, perfect for a stroll at sunset in the heart of the atmospheric Jewish Ghetto. Head south on Via di Sant'Ambrogio toward Via del Portico D'Ottavia, 87 m. Turn left onto Via del Portico D'Ottavia, 57 m. Here starts (north) the Jewish Ghetto. The term "Ghetto" is used to indicate the quarter lying between Piazza Mattei and the Tiber, between Monte dei Cenci and Teatro di Marcello. It as founded by Pope Paul IV Carafa in 1555 and abolished only in 1870, with the end of the Vatican Church State and the Unification of Italy. Yhe Ghetto was surrounded by a wall in which there were 3 gates , opened in the morning and closed at dusk. During the 17th century, around 9000-10000 inhabitants lived there in horrible sanitary conditions. Today, the hetto is one of Rome zones which, more than any other, has kept the atmosphere and flavors of Rome old city: authentic Roman-Jewish cooking:  coda alla vaccinara (braised oxtail "butcher" style), carciofi alla guidia (crisp-fried whole artichokes) etc'.

    Make sure you stop at one of the pie shops for a sugar boost or plan to have breakfast/dinner in one of the typical Roman-Jewish trattorias for a mouthwatering array of fried artichokes, cod and pasta dishes.

    The Forno Boccione, Via del Portico d'Ottavia 1 is a very popular bakery and shop for pastries, cakes and breads baked in the best Roman-Jewish tradition (permanent queue). If you get there early enough in the morning, you will find freshly fried donuts:

    Opposite the Bocccione (what a terrific smell in the air !) is the Piazza delle Cinque Scole:

    Wonderful wall friezes in the Via del Portico d'Ottavia in the Jewish Ghetto - immediately after the Boccione bakery:

    Ba'Ghetto (pricey, not recommended):

    Scuole Ebraiche di Roma "Renzo Levi":

    In the beginning of Portico d'Ottavia road, at Piazza Costagui stands this sculpture in (a rather neglected) cage - "Decor Carmeli e Saron":

    Another recommended Hostaria is the Giggeto, Via del Portico D'Ottavia 21/a-22:

    The Ghetto borders, in the south, the Lungotevere Cenci road (ring road along the Tiber river, which, changes its name, every hundreds of metres). Here stands the monumental building of the Sinagoga (Synagogue) built in 1904. Today, it is also the seat of the Museo Ebraiche of the Jewish community of Rome. The present Synagogue was constructed shortly after the unification of Italy in 1870, when the Kingdom of Italy captured Rome and the Vatican Papal State ceased to exist. The Roman Ghetto was demolished and the Jews were granted citizenship. The building which had previously housed the Ghetto synagogue (a complicated structure housing five schools in a single building - see, before, the Piazza delle Cinque Scholes) was demolished, and the Jewish community began making plans for a new and impressive building. Opening Hours: Shacharit: Weekday 07.45, Saturdays-Holidays 08.30. Mincha-Maariv: on time.

    The Jewish Museum of Rome, located in the monumental building of the Great Synagogue, was opened in 1960 to display the collections of the Jewish Community of Rome: Roman silverware from the 17th and 18th century, precious textiles from all over Europe. Open: From September 16 to June 15: Sunday – Thursday: from 10.00 to 16.15 (exit at 17.00), Friday: from 9.,00 to 13.15 (exit at 14,00). From June 16 to September 15: Sunday – Thursday: from 10.00 to 18.15 (exit at 19,00), Friday: from 10.00 to 15.15(exit at 16.00).

    we end our visit in the Ghetto at the end of Via Portico d'Ottavia - in Piazze Gersalemme.  Cross Lungotevere Cenci (through the cross-lights !) and cross the Tiber river by the bridge opposite: Ponte Fabricio (Fabricius Bridge). It is the oldest Roman bridge in Rome, Italy, still existing in its original state. Built in 62 BC, it spans half of the Tiber River, from the Campus Martius on the east side (we came from) to Tiber Island (Isola Tiberina) in the middle (the Ponte Cestius is west of the island).

    Most of the day's hours the bridge is packed with African sellers of colorful bags (made in Senegal). Personally, I think the bags are beautiful, practical and... cheap. From my and others experience - do not pay more than for 8 euros for a bag. A bargain.

    Ponte Cestius (the western side of the whole bridge) is populated by young musicians:

    Both of the bridges connect the Jewish ghetto with the Isola Tiberina island and the island with the Trastevere quarter. Guarded by two marble pillars with two-faced Janus heads, the bridge is a symbol of transitions and beginnings, a place from where you can see the future and the past. The bridges are quite romantic in sunset hours.

    Crossing the bridge and you come to the small island on the Tiber river - the Isola Tiberina.  The island has always been traditionally associated through the centuries with the healing of the sick. In fact, it is often also called the Stone Ship, an indirect reference to this very association. In 291 B.C., a terrible plague swept through the city of Rome, wiping out much of its population. The priests, after having consulted the Sybilline books, dispatched a delegation on a ship to Epidaurus, a small city in ancient Greece and site of a sanctuary to Aesculapius, to bring back a statue of this God of Medicine and Healing. The ambassadors returned bringing with them a serpent, an animal closely associated and dear to the God. On approaching the Tiber Island, according to the Roman Poet Ovid in his Metamorphoses, the serpent jumped ship and swam to the islet. Believing this was an incarnation of the God himself, a temple to Aesculapius was erected just where the serpent landed and the island was carved into the shape of a ship as a tribute to the occasion. Today the Aesculapius temple lies under the Church of San Bartelomeo (see below), a new basilica constructed by the Emperor Otto III in 998. In 1582, the Spanish monks of the Order of St. John Calibytis founded a hospital which is still fully operational today (west side of the island) . The island is boat-shaped, approximately 270 m long and 67 m wide, and has been connected with bridges to both sides of the river since antiquity:

    After crossing Ponte Fabricio we turn left to Piazza San Bartolomeo all'isola

    The Tiber river from Piazza San Bartolomeo all'isola:

    The Tiber river and Ponte Cestius from Piazza San Bartolomeo all'isola:

    You face the Façade of San Bartolomeo all'Isola Basilica on the Tiber Island. It was founded at the end of the 10th century by Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor. It contains the relics of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, on the site of the former temple of Aesculapius, which had cleansed the island of its former ill-repute among the Romans and established its reputation as a hospital, continued under Christian auspices today. The church was badly damaged by a flood in 1557 and was reconstructed, with its present Baroque façade, in 1624, to designs of Orazio Torriani. In 2000, the basilica was dedicated by Pope John Paul II to the memory of the new martyrs of the 20th and 21st century.

    In the center of the piazzetta before the church is a four-sided guglia with saints in niches by the sculptor Ignazio Jacometti, erected here in 1869.

    From this moment we start our visit at the Trastevere area. Its name comes from the Latin trans Tiberim, meaning literally "beyond the Tiber". The correct pronunciation is with the accent on the second syllable. Its logo is a golden head of a lion on a red background, the meaning of which is uncertain. 

    Nowadays, Trastevere maintains its character thanks to its narrow cobbled streets lined by medieval houses. At night, natives and tourists alike flock to its many pubs and restaurants, but much of the original character of Trastevere remains. The unique character of this neighborhood has attracted artists, foreign expats, and many famous people. In the sixties and seventies,

    Cross Lungotevere degli Alberteschi and turn right along this street and, immediately, left onto Via della Gensola. See here how stylistically are the Italians are restoring or renovating facades of antique buildings:


    RETURN (retrace your steps !) along Via della Gensola (now, your face to the east), slight with this road to the right (SOUTH) and walk until its end - arriving to the Lungaretta.  We start strolling at the picturesque alleys of Trastevere. Turn right in Via della Lungaretta and LEFT (south) to Via della Luce. On your right you pass church of Santa Maria della Luce.
    Turn left to Via dei salumi. Cross Via Anicia and and turn RIGHT to the narrow Vicolo dell'Atleta:

    Turn LEFT to Via dei Genovesi and, immediately, RIGHT to Via de Santa Cecilia.  A few steps and you face Piazza de Mercanti, Piazza Santa Cecilia  and Chiesa Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. A must-see when visiting Trastevere. The courtyard and church are beautifully maintained and the frescoes and statues inside-amazing! The first church on this site was founded probably in the 3rd century, by Pope Urban I; it was devoted to the Roman martyr Cecilia, martyred it is said under Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander, by the late fifth century. Tradition holds that the church was built over the house of the saint. Pope Paschal I rebuilt the church in 822, and moved here the relics of St Cecilia from the catacombs of St Calixtus. More restorations followed in the 18th century. You'll appreciate the elegant, refreshing courtyard and the impressive friezes on the entrance of the church: serene garden with rose bushes and large Roman urn fountain.

    Frieze of Santa Cecilia:

    Among the artifacts remaining from the 13th century edifice are a mural painting depicting the Final judgment (1289-93) by Pietro Cavallini in the choir of the monks, and the ciborium (1293) in the presbytery by Arnolfo di Cambio. The Gothic ciborium is surrounded by four marble columns white and black, decorated with statuettes of angels, saints, prophets, and evangelists. The apse has remains of 9th century mosaics depicting the Redeemer with Saints Paul, Cecilia, Paschal I, Peter, Valerian, and Agatha. The absolutely spectacular mosaics in the apse take your breath away. Truly beautiful depictions of Jesus and saints, with gold halos, flowing robes, and calm faces. Beneath the human figures are a procession of lambs. The entire apse sparkles with these beautiful mosaics.

    The church contains two altarpieces by Guido Reni: Saints Valerian and Cecilia and a Decapitation of Saint Cecilia (1603):

    The ceiling of Cappella dei Ponziani was decorated God the Father with evangelists (1470) by Antonio del Massaro (Antonio da Viterbo or il Pastura).

    The Cappella delle Reliquie (dark) was frescoed and provided with an altarpiece by Luigi Vanvitelli. The nave is frescoed with the Apotheosis of Santa Cecilia (1727) by Sebastiano Conca.

    Among the most remarkable works is the graphic altar sculpture of St. Cecilia (1600) by the late-Renaissance sculptor Stefano Maderno - one of the most famous examples of Baroque sculpture:

    Everyday, including Sundays, you can listen to a vocal concert of the church's nuns (13.05). A different and moving experience. The whole visit in the church - is exceptional !

    Go out to Piazza de Mercanti and soak the quiet, noble atmosphere around with its ancient, pretty buildings:

    Head south (right) to Via di San Michele. Turn right to the Via della Madonna dell'Orto

    Chiesa di santa Maria dell'Orto:

    and then, left to Via Anicia. In its end - Piazza de San Francisco d'Assisi. On your left - Chiesa di San Francisco a Ripa with the tomb of Giorgio de Chirico - famous Italian painter:

    Continue northward in Via San Francisco a Ripa, cross the main road (Viale di Trastevere). Along the Via S.F.a.R you'll find many eateries. For a special restaurant I recommend walking until the end of this road, Via San Francisco a Ripa, arriving to Piazza di Santa Maria, continue a bit more northward and find the Osteria Der Belli, Piazza di Sant'Apollonia, 11 Open: 12.00 – 15.00, 19.00 – 23.00,near Hotel Santa Maria di Paolo Vetere.  (Note: we shall arrive very close to this restaurant, later, when we'll explore Piazza San Calisto and Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere). In case you opted for this restaurant NOW - return southward to Via San Francisco a Ripa and continue south until you meet (on your right) the Via Natale del Grande. If you didn't dine in Osteria der Belli - turn from Via San Francisco a Ripa left (WEST) to Via Natale del Grande. Walk until the end of this road (westward) until you arrive to Piazza San Cosimato - full with restaurants and bars. During the weekdays (Mon-Sat) - this square is busy with food market (very popular in Rome), a traditional Roman open-air market.  Around are picturesque buildings in terracotta and orange tones, ancient churches, ever-new restaurants, and workaday stores. The cobblestone streets add to the charm, and the overhanging laundry lines impart a sort-of mystical (south-Italian) feeling to passersby:

    With your face northward, in the Piazza San Cosimato - there are two road heading to the north. Take the RIGHT one. It has no name, in its beginning, but you'll reveal its name after a couple of minutes walk - Via San Cosimato... - ending in Piazza San Callisto.  A wonderful square !

    Piazza San Callisto is named for the church that is located there, at the spot where Pope Callisto I, who was martyred during persecutions by the Emperor Alexander Severus, used to live. To the right of the church is the Palazzo San Callisto, (actually in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere) a huge complex, commissioned by Pope Pius XI and designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1936. The building was meant to have become the seat of the Congregazioni della Santa Sede, but this was moved to the Vatican itself in 1959. The complex consists of 4 buildings around a courtyard. In the courtyard is a statue of Pius himself. Across the road from the church (on no. 9) stands the Palazzo del Pozzo, which was built in the first half of the 16th century and in 1749 became property of the Conservatorio della Beata Vergine Maria, a “home for virginal and honest girls who wish to serve God and want to escape from the cruelty of their parents and husbands or have other reasons to fear for their own lives”.

    San Callisto Church:

    A bit more to the north - Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere.  The square in front of the basilica is one of the centres of Rome and Trastevere nightlife. The Fountain in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere is a believed to be the oldest fountain in Rome, dating back, according to some sources, to the 8th century. The present fountain is the work of Donato Bramante, with later additions by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Carlo Fontana. The fountain was reconstructed between 1499 and 1500. Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere is a picturesque and lively square, so typical of Trastevere. Plenty of bars/restaurants and live music. It's homey square, charming, cozy, romantic, adventurous...:

    The Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches of Rome, perhaps the first in which Mass was openly celebrated. Opening hours: 07.30-21.00.The basic floor plan and wall structure of the church date back to the 340s. The first sanctuary was built in 221 and 227 by Pope Callixtus I and later completed by Pope Julius I. Among those buried in the church are the relics of Pope Callixtus I, Pope Innocent II, Antipope Anacletus II.

    The Romanesque campanile is from the 12th century. Near the top, a niche protects a mosaic of the Madonna and Child. The mosaics on the facade are believed to be from the 12th century. They depict the Madonna enthroned and suckling the Child, flanked by ten women holding lamps. This image on the facade showing Mary nursing Jesus is an early example of a popular late medieval and renaissance type of image of the Virgin.

    The present nave preserves its original (pre-12th century) basilica plan and stands on the earlier foundations. The 22 granite columns with Ionic and Corinthian capitals that separate the nave from the aisles came from the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla.

    Inside the church are a number of late 13th-century mosaics by Pietro Cavallini on the subject of the Life of the Virgin (1291) centering on a "Coronation of the Virgin" in the apse. Domenichino's octagonal ceiling painting, Assumption of the Virgin (1617) fits in the coffered ceiling setting that he designed.

    In the dome, there is an opening or Oculus from which four putti emerge to carry a central tempietto, all of which frames a light-filled chamber above, illuminated by windows not visible from below.

    The fifth chapel to the left is the Avila Chapel designed by Antonio Gherardi. This, and his Chapel of S. Cecilia in San Carlo ai Catinari are two of the most architecturally inventive chapels of the late seventeenth century in Rome.

    With your back to the Basilica and your face to the north - leave the Piazza Santa Maria from the north-western exit. Turn LEFT twice to Via della Paglia:

    Walking in Via della Paglia turn on the second road to the RIGHT to Piazza Sant Egidio. Piazza S. Egidio is one of the magic places you can find in Trastevere. During the day (weekdays only) it is a really quiet place without cars. You can just hear people talking and eating. During the nights or on Sundays it is lovely and very vibrant with artistic touch !

    From Piazza Sant Egidio walk north to the Via della Scala which is full with cafe's and restaurants. Note the first house in this road to your left.

    At the end of Via della Scala - you see Porta Settimiana. Porta Settimiana is one of the gates of the Aurelian walls in Rome built by Emperor Aurelian in the 3rd century, traced in the area of Trastevere and climbing the Gianicolo Hill out of the Tiber. Porta Settimiana marks the start of Via della Lungara, the 16th-century road that connects Trastevere with the Borgo quarter. It was built in 1498 by Pope Alexander VI over a small passageway in the Aurelian Wall and later altered by Pope Pius VI in 1798.

    We turn right to Via di Santa Dorotea  which leads to Piazza Trilussa, a popular evening hang-out, and Ponte Sisto, which connects with Rome historical centre.

    On your left Chiesa San Dorotea:

    We trace our steps and return whole Via Santa Dorotea length back to Via della scala. We pass through Porta Settimiana to Via della Lungara. We pass John Cabot University - Guarini Campus on our right and turn LEFT to Via Corsini. Immediately, on your right - Corsini Gallery (Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica in Palazzo Corsini), Via della Lungara, 10. 

    Open times: Tuesday: closed. from Wednesday to Monday: from 08.30 to 19.30. Closed the 1st of January, 25th of December. Access up to half hour before the closing time Admission: 5 euros. Ticket valid for Barberini Palace and Corsini Gallery: full price € 9, reduced € 4,50 (valid for 3 days long). 18th-century mansion of former Pope Clemente XII filled with European Old Masters paintings. The Palazzo Corsini is a late-baroque palace  erected for the Corsini family between 1730-1740 as an elaboration of the prior building on the site, a 15th-century villa of the Riario family, based on designs of Ferdinando Fuga. During 1659-1689, the former Riario palace had hosted the eccentric Christina, Queen of Sweden, who abdicated, converted, and moved to Rome (statue of her stands in the Basilica St. Peter in the Vatican). Under her patronage, this was the site for the first meetings of the Roman "Academy of Arcadia" or "Academy of the Arcadians". It was an Italian literary academy founded in Rome in 1690. The full Italian official name was Pontificia Accademia degli Arcadi. Today, the palace hosts some offices of the National Academy of Science (Accademia dei Lincei) and the Galleria Corsini. The gardens, which rise up the Janiculum hill, are part of the Orto Botanico dell'Università di Roma "La Sapienza", a botanical garden. The majority of the major works in the Corsini Gallery collection were donated by the Corsini family, and initially were gathered by the avid 17th century collector, the cardinal Neri Maria Corsini, and added to by other members and from collections of Pope Clement XII and his nephew. In 1883, this palace and its contents were sold to the state, and the collection is displayed in its original location. The collection encompasses the breadth of mainly Italian art from early-Renaissance to late-18th century. It has both religious and historical works, as well as landscapes and genre paintings. It is unique in the sense that it is still intact today.

    Nativity - Jacopo Bassano:

    Madonna of the Straw - Van Dyck:

    St Sebastian cared for by the angels (1602-03) - Rubens:

    The Orto Botanico dell'Università di Roma "La Sapienza" also known as the Orto Botanico di Roma, is a botanical garden operated by the Sapienza University of Rome. It is open Tuesday through Saturday, but closed entirely in August; an admission fee of 8 euros is charged. The garden was established on this site in 1883, although it is the successor to the Papal Botanical Gardens going back to the Renaissance. It is sited on the slopes of the Gianicolo Hill overlooking the 17th-century Palazzo Corsini. Today the garden contains more than 3,000 species, with a Japanese garden, bamboo groves, and a Giardino dei Semplici (over 300 species of medicinal plants).

    Return to Via della Lungara and continue a bit to enter, on your right the Villa Farnesina, Via della Lungara, 230. Many Romans claim that this gallery rivals Villa Borghese with the crowds typifying the last. It is a spectacular attraction. There is a whole suite of frescoed rooms, and a magnificent marble staircase. Do not expect crowds. You will be the only one or among very few other visitors here... You can feel fully immersed in the culture of the great Renaissance humanism and painting here. Villa Farnesina is one of the best and hidden gems of Rome. The villa was built for Agostino Chigi, a rich banker from Siena and the treasurer of Pope Julius II between 1506–1510. The novelty of this suburban villa design can be discerned from its differences from that of a typical urban palazzo (palace). Renaissance palaces typically faced onto a street and were decorated versions of defensive castles. This villa, intended to be an airy summer pavilion, presented a side towards the street and was given a U shaped plan. Open from Monday to Saturday from 09.00 to 14.00, closed on Sunday and holiday. Note: Special openings on the second Sunday of every month from 09.00 – 17.00 with guided tours.

    Chigi also commissioned the fresco decoration of the villa by artists such as Raphael, Sebastiano del Piombo, Giulio Romano, and Il Sodoma. Best known are Raphael's frescoes on the ground floor; in the loggia depicting the classical and secular myths of Cupid and Psyche,

    and The Triumph of Galatea. This, one of his few purely secular paintings, shows the near-naked nymph on a shell-shaped chariot amid frolicking attendants and is reminiscent of Botticelli's The Birth of Venus:

    In the adjoining bedroom of Agostino Chigi which is situated at the end of the building (It is known as the Room of the Marriage of Alexander the Great and Roxanna) and was decorated by Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, known as Il Sodoma. Il Sodoma (Giovanni Antonio Bazzi) painted scenes (1516 - 1517) from the life of Alexander the Great, the marriage of Alexander and Roxana, and Alexander receives the family of Darius:

    Detail of frescoes in the "Perspectives' Hall" by Baldassarre Peruzzi (who designed and erected the Villa):

    Fresco "Polifemo" - Sebastiano Luciani called "Del Piombo":

    Continue along the Via della Lungara to catch more sights of ancient houses and gardens. We had the opportunity to enter an Open House (10-11 May 2014) in one of this street's houses:

    Turn right to Salita del Buon Pastore and again RIGHT to Lungotevere della Farnesina. Catch a bus (no Metro here) or walk back EASTWARD along the Tiber river to connect with Rome into the walls.  You pass Ponte Sisto, Ponte Garibaldi and, again (we've been here in the morning), Ponte Fabricio:

    From Ponte Fabricio - you can return to the Jewish Ghetto (remember ? a round itinerary !). Further to the east is The Pons Aemilius (Italian: Ponte Emilio), today called Ponte Rotto, is the oldest Roman stone bridge in Rome. Preceded by a wooden version, it was rebuilt in stone in the 2nd century BC. It once spanned the Tiber, connecting the Forum Boarium with Trastevere. A single arch in mid-river is all that remains today, lending the bridge its name Ponte Rotto ("Broken bridge"):

    Continue to Ponte Palatino and cross it to enter historical Rome. The districts on both sides of the Palatino Bridge (Trastevere - outside the walls and Aventino and Forum Boarium into the walls are covered in our trip "From Forum Boarium, via Trastevere and Gianicolo Hill".

  • Citywalk | Italy
    Updated at Jul 10,2014

    1/2 day or 1 day - From Piazza Venezia to Piazza de Campidoglio. Evening in Eataly.

    Start: Piazza Venezia. Subway Line B: Colosseo. Buses: H, 30, 40, 60, 62, 63, 64, 70, 81, 85, 87, 95, 119, 160, 170, 175, 186, 271, 492, 571, 628, 630, 716, 810, 850.

    End   : Piazza Venezia.

    Orientation: A circular route. Our focal point, today, is one of the most impressive squares and viewpoints in the world. You can combine this itinerary with: The Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill, the Colesseum (only ONE of them), the Imperial Forums and Markets tour or with the Eataly mall (see Tip below). In case you decide to visit the Capitoline Museums and/or make in-depth visit in the Vittorio Emanuele Monument and the Santa Maria in Aracoeli Basilica - this itinerary will extend into one full, impressive day. Again, exploring the area in detail can take an entire day (or more) but if you are pressed for time, admiring the area and its structures can be a visually fulfilling as well. Just don't do it in a very hot day in summer, the Roman heat can be very punishing.

    We start in Piazza d'Aracoeli:  a square near Piazza Venezia, placed at the base of the Capitoline Hill. It is in the south-west corner of Piazza Venezia. The fountain, in this square, built in 1589 by Andrea Brasca, Pietreo Gucci and Pace Naldini on a design by Giacomo Della Porta, one time rose on two steps repeating the lines of the lower basin and was surrounded by a logline receiving the water. In 1800 the steps were removed and replaced by little columns. The fountain has two basins with different shapes; the smaller one sustains a group of putti pouring water from a vase.

    On the WEST side of the square stands Palazzo Muti-Bussi. The palace - in possession of the family Muti-Bussi, was built by Giacomo della Porta about in 1585. It has six façades. The big front door of the main entrance is decorated with a scroll bearing the saltire mauls of the Mutis coat of arms and lion heads. At the first floor, over the entrance door, is a balcony with a beautiful view over Piazza d'Aracoeli and the majestic staircase and relevant façade of the church with the same name (see below). Recent archeological investigations located ancient Roman walls in the cellars of the palace.

    Nearby, also west to Piazza d'Aracoeli stands Basilica San Marco (48 Piazza San Marco). Built in year AD 336, rebuilt several times until 1744. Architect(s): Leon Battista Alberti, Giuliano da Maiano, Carlo Maderno. Artists: Isaia da Pisa, Antonio Canova, Pietro da Cortona. The side entrance is through the Palazzo Venezia. The early 4th-century Basilica di San Marco stands over the house where St Mark the Evangelist is said to have stayed while in Rome. Its main attraction is the golden 9th-century apse mosaic. The Basilica was probably founded by Pope St Mark in 336 in honor of his own patron, st Mark the Evangelist, and if so it is one of Rome's oldest churches. The brick bell-tower was added to the right hand corner of the nave just inside the entrance in 1154, and can be seen peeping over the façade. It has three storeys above the nave roof, separated by dentillate brick cornices and with an arcade of three arches separated by white marble columns on each face. Also, the fabric is decorated with roundels of dark green serpentine.

    Madama Lucrezia is one of the "talking statues" of Rome, and is located next to the basilica entrance. It was once the bust of a statue of the goddess Isis, to whom a temple was dedicated in Rome not far from its current location:

    The inside of the church is clearly Baroque. The apse mosaics, dating to Pope Gregory IV, show the Pope, with the squared halo of a living person, offering a model of the church to Christ, in the presence of Mark the Evangelist, Pope Saint Mark and other saints. The wooden ceiling, with the emblem of Pope Paul II, is one of only two original 15th century wooden ceilings in Rome, together with the one at Santa Maria Maggiore.
    The tomb of Leonardo Pesaro (1796) by Antonio Canova.

    In the portico are several early Christian grave stones, as well as the gravestone of Vannozza dei Cattanei, the mistress of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia.

    In front of the Basilica San Marco you see Fontanella della Pigna. This little fountain was planned in 1927 by Pietro Lombardi as decoration for the Pigna quarter. That is why it was originally named after the colossal vertex now housed in the Vatican. The monument is characterized by a stylised base. The water is collected in small basins protected by four small columns:

    THe Basilica San Marco is, actually, incorporated into the mass of the Palazzo Venezia (Via del Plebiscito, 118) complex. The Palazzo faces Piazza Venezia

    and Via del Plebiscito.

    It currently houses the Basilica and the the National Museum of the Palazzo Venezia. The Palazzo di Venezia (formerly Palace of St. Mark). The original structure of this great architectural complex consisted of a modest medieval house intended as the residence of the cardinals appointed to the church of San Marco. In 1469 it became a residential papal palace, having undergone a massive extension, and in 1564, Pope Pius IV, to win the sympathies of the Republic of Venice, gave the mansion to the ambassadors of La Serenissima on condition that a part of the building should be kept as a residence for the cardinals—the Apartment Cibo—and that the Venetian Republic should provide for the building's maintenance and future restoration. The Museo di Palazzo Venezia, housed in the building, contains galleries of art, predominantly pottery, tapestry, statuary from the early Christian era up to early Renaissance. Opening Times: Tuesday/Sunday 08.30 - 19.30, Closed on Monday. Ticket office close at 18.30. Tel. 0039 06 678013. Tickets: Full price € 5,00, Reduced € 2,50 (- EU citizens between 18 and 25 years old, - EU full-time public school teachers). Free admission: - EU citizens under 18 and over 65 years old, - EU students and teachers of Arts, History of Arts or Architecture courses, - ICOM members, - EU schools with teachers by reservation. From 1 June 2014 - photos allowed.

    Benito Mussolini had his office in the Palazzo Venezia in the Sala del Mappamondo, and used its balcony overlooking the Piazza Venezia to deliver many of his most notable speeches, such as the declaration of the Italian Empire, 9 May 1936, to crowds gathered in the Piazza Venezia below. In late 2010 Mussolini's unfinished "most secret" bunker was discovered beneath the building. In 1910, due to the erection of the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, the Italian Government enlarged the Piazza Venezia and built a replica of the Palazzo Venezia in yellow brick on the opposite side of the square. This building hosts now the offices of the Assiscurazioni Generali di Venezia.

    Just one sentence about this museum:  Worth a visit ONLY if you like collections of small bronze figures as well as porcelain and ceramics. In other words: NOT INTERESTING. No one particular exhibit stands out.

    From the National Museum of the Palazzo Venezia head north-east on Via del Plebiscito toward Vicolo Doria, 90 m. Turn right onto Piazza Venezia
    130 m. Turn left onto Piazza della Madonna di Loreto, 53 m. Please obey the cross-light and be careful in crossing these bustling roads around Piazza venezia. Turn left to stay on Piazza della Madonna di Loreto.
    Vittorio Emanuele Monument / The Vittoriano will be on the left. Also known as Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland). Opening hours  MON-SUN 09.30 - 16.30 (last entrance hour 16.00):

    Statue of Victor Emmanuel II (on the right - One of the Quadrigae):

    A marble monument around the corner on Piazza Venezia. The Vittoriano, a huge white monument is built of pure white marble from Botticino, Italy, and was erected in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of unified Italy. It was inaugurated in 1911 and then completed in 1935. The construction was a bit controversial, as a large area of Capitoline Hill was destroyed along with some historic areas. The interior of the monument has been closed to the public for many years. This monument has very small reviews in most guidebooks but is actually really beautiful and amazing to visit. The sheer size of the monument dedicated to the first King of Italy is amazing. You can go in for FREE and the views from the balconies stretch quite far. To date, the Vittoriano is the largest monument in white marble Botticino (Brescia) ever created, and features stairways, Corinthian columns, fountains, an equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel and two statues of the goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas:

    View to Piazza Venezia:

    View to Cathedral of Gesu:

    View to Palazzo Venezia:

    You can then pay 7 Euros to travel in a lift to the very top and from here you can see the whole of the Rome from the Vatican to the Colosseum. The (guided) visit to the roof lasts about 90 minutes and costs 7 euros. A glass elevator will bring you to the top of the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument.This superb view is in front of you at the moment of arrival. It's really breathtaking panorama. Colosseum is on the right. The ticket office is next to the elevator after the bar just behind the Memorial site. 

    The entrance to the elevator up to the top roof:

    View from the Vittoriano on the Colosseum:

    At the foot of the Statue of Victor Emmanuel II is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, inaugurated in 1921. Guards of honor, alternatingly selected from the marine, infantry and air divisions, stand on guard here day and night.

    inside the bombastic building you can't avoid the Monumento neo-imperial grandiosity. So enjoy the patiently-collected (but, rather dry) Institute of the History of the Risorgimento contents. It contains a vast documentation about Italy's struggle for independence from the 18th century to the WWI:

    Columns of the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele ll in Rome:

    Completing our visit in the front court / sqaure of the monument (facing Piazza Venezia), the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Museum - we trace back to the extensive back balcony with its wonderful views on the south and south-west of the Citta Storico (Palazzo Vanezia, Gianicolo Hill, Teatro de Marchelo, Capitol Hill, the Roman Forum, The Trajan Column and Basilica Ulpia. the Monument itself):

    The top of the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument is also connected to the Capitoline Square, saving you another climb of the Capitoline Hill.

    Note: if you come from Piazza Venezia - this your itinerary heading to the Capitoline Hill. It is 7 minutes, 450 m. to Piazza del Campidoglio. Head south on Piazza della Madonna di Loreto toward Via dei Fori Imperiali,,8 m.  Turn LEFT onto Via dei Fori Imperiali, 110 m. Turn RIGHT onto Via di San Pietro in Carcere, 65 m. Slight right to stay on Via di San Pietro in Carcere, 220 m. Turn right onto Piazza del Campidoglio, 50 m. Now, Now, the Capitoline Hill can be reached from the foot of the hill by ascending the majestic Cordonata stairs. The views from the top of the stairs are stunning, but its a lot of stairs to walk:

    One can also ascend the far-less steep steps of the Capitoline just to the right of the church:

    The Capitoline Hill is one of the seven hills of Rome. Capitoline Hill is the smallest but highest of the Seven Hills of Rome. Legend claims that Rome was founded on Capitoline Hill by Romulus in 753 B.C. Romulus and his brother, Remus, were children of the god Mars and Silvia, the princess of Alba Longa who had been forced to be a vestal (young virgin girls who were guardians of the Vesta's temple). The king of Alba Longa, uncle of Romulus and Remus, attempted to kill them, but Silvia left them to fend for themselves, in the hopes that they would survive. According to the legend, they were "adopted" by a she-wolf, who nurtured them. Years later, Romulus brought together outlaws to attack the Sabine and kidnap their women and by doing so founded Rome. During ancient times, the Capitoline hill was covered with temples facing toward the Roman Rorum. From 500 to 1540, the hill was in ruins and all that remained was a pasture for goats and other animals. The Capitoline contains few ancient ground-level ruins, as they are almost entirely covered up by Medieval and Renaissance palaces (now housing the Capitoline Museums) that surround a piazza, a significant urban plan designed by Michelangelo. Ancient seat of the most important temple of the state cult and symbol of Rome “caput mundi”, the Campidoglio has always maintained its importance in the life of the city as centre of the City Government since the 12th century and with the presence of the Capitoline Museums, the most ancient in the world.

     Santa Maria in Aracoeli Basilica (St Mary of the altar in the sky) is accessed from the Campidoglio or from the Vittorio Emmanuele Monument. The Basilica of St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven  is a titular basilica in Rome, located on the highest summit of the Campidoglio. Note: The church is located right next to Vittorio Emanule Monument and can be easily accessed from the Monument. This church is tucked behind the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The church is not big, but very old and full of beautiful decorations and details. One can also ascend the far-less steep steps of the Capitoline just to the right of the church.

    Note: You can attend services at Santa Maria in Aracoeli Monday to Saturdays at 8am; Sundays at 8am and noon. The Choir is out if this World.

    The entrance to the Basilica:

    The compartmented ceiling was gilded and painted (finished 1575), to thank the Blessed Virgin for the victory. This coffered wooden ceiling sustains comparison with those of the great Basilicas of Rome like Santa Maria Maggiore and San Paolo fuori le Mura. The ceiling was a gift of Marcantonio Colonna who fought against the Turks at the victorious battle of Lepante in 1571:

    The church is built as a Nave and two aisles that are divided by Roman columns, all different, taken from diverse antique monuments:

    Main Altar of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli:

    Near the main the Altar:

    Memorial Window with two angels symbolizing Popes PIus II and Gregory XIII:

    Among its numerous treasures are Pinturicchio's 15th-century frescoes depicting the life of Saint Bernardino of Siena in the Bufalini Chapel, the first chapel on the right. Other features are the wooden ceiling, the inlaid cosmatesque floor, a Transfiguration painted on wood by Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta, the tombstone of Giovanni Crivelli by Donatello, the tomb of Cecchino dei Bracci, designed by his friend Michelangelo, and works by other artists like Pietro Cavallini (of his frescoes only one survives), Benozzo Gozzoli and Giulio Romano. It houses also a Madonna and a sepulchral monument by Arnolfo di Cambio in the transept.

    Central fresco by Pinturicchio in the S. Bernardino Chapel (1486):

    Another fresco of Pinturicchio in the Bufalini Chapel:

    In the lunette above the side entrance of Santa Maria in Aracoeli Jacopo Torriti has left us a beautiful Madonna and Child:

    Statue of Pope Gregory XIII:

    Another picture in the church:

    Chapel of Saint Helena:

    Look for the stained glass window with Barberini bees and other elements:

    The church was also famous in Rome for the wooden statue of the infant Jesus (Santo Bambino), carved in the 15th century of olive wood coming from the Gethsemane garden and covered with valuable ex-votos. Many people of Rome believed in the power of this statue. The statue was stolen in February 1994, and never recovered.[citation needed] Nowadays, a copy is present in the church. It is housed in its own chapel by the sacristy. At midnight Mass on Christmas Eve the image is brought out to a throne before the high altar and unveiled at the Gloria. Until Epiphany the jewel-encrusted image resides in the Nativity crib in the left nave.

    Statue of Leo X in the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli:

    Statue of Paul III in the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli:

    Exiting the Basilica - enjoy, again the marvelous views from the top of the stairs, leading to the church, and from the shining marble balcony connecting it with the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument:

    There is easy access (without using the stairs up and down) from Vittorio Emanuele II Monument (the back side), the Santa Maria in Aracoeli Basilica and the Campidoglio. But, here, we recommend using the TWO systems of stairs (down the steep one and up the graceful, more comfortable one) for soaking more spectacular views and sights of Rome and the Capitoline Hill.

    We prefer to go down through the steep 153 stairs down. The ceremonial ramp and staircase designed by Michelangelo, passing a monument (on the left) to Cola di Rienzo, the 14th century tribune of the people, and statues of the Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux), the Emperor Constantine and his son Constantine II. Enjoy the spectacular sights all around:

    and we start climbing the more convenient stairway (back to the top) of the Capitoline Square. Again, enjoy the convenient walk up and the vibrant atmosphere along the stairs and the changing views of the Capitoline Hill - the closer we approach the top of the hill:

    The Piazza Campidoglio square, considered one of the most elegant in Europe. In 1536, Pope Paul III decided to restore the entire city to receive the Emperor Charles Quint, whose army devastated Rome in 1527. The square was designed by Michelangelo in 1540 who created the splendid access ramp, new facades for the preexisting buildings (Palazzo Senatorio at the centre and the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the right), and added the Palazzo Nuovo on the left, giving it the trapezoidal shape that never fails to communicate a sense of harmony and equilibrium to visitors. Together, Palazzo Nuovo and Palazzo dei Conservatori house the Capitoline Museums, while Palazzo Senatorio is home to Rome's city council. The orientation of the square helps us understand the evolution of the city that at Michelangelo’s time had already turned its back to the remains of ancient Rome, the place of the past, of a historical phase that was concluded, to face the new centre of power and rule of the day, the Vatican. The original of the bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius, whose copy is placed at the centre of the square is preserved in the Museum and escaped destruction in later times only because the personage on horseback was identified with Constantine, the first Christian emperor.

    We are in Piaza Campidoglio (the Capitoline Square). On the left: Palazzo Nuevo (housing one of the Capitoline Museums). Palazzo Nuovo was built in the XVII century under the guidance of Girolamo Rainaldi and his son Carlo. The smaller building of Capitoline Museums was opened to the public in 1734 by Pope Clement XII. This Palace contains mostly fine selections of Greek and Roman sculptures as Discobolus. Portrait busts of Greek politicians, scientists and poets can be seen in Hall of the Philosophers:

    on the left: Palazzo Nuevo. In the centre stands the Marcus Aurelius equestrian statue (replica). The statue, which had been badly damaged by air pollution, was restored in 1990 and protected against further decay, and is exhibited at the Museo Capitolino. This work, one of the largest achievements of antique sculpture, symbolizes strength and peace. The Emperor has his right hand raised in a gesture of peace, and under the raised right hoof of each horse was originally the figure of a defeated king with bound hands:

    Palazzo Senatorio (Senatorial Palace) at the centre. The Palazzo dei Senatori, situated at the far end of the Piazza del Campidoglio, above the Forum, was built in the 16th century on the remains of the Tabularium, the record office of ancient Rome, and is now the seat of the Mayor and Municipal Council of the city. The double staircase leading up to the entrance was designed by Michelangelo, who also set up here two ancient statues of the river gods of the Nile and Tiber. In the center is a fountain with an ancient statue of Minerva, which was revered as an image of Rome. The facade is the work of Giacomo della Porta and Girolamo Rainaldi; the handsome bell-tower, modeled on a medieval campanile, was added by Martino Longhi between 1578 and 1582:

    The Minerva fountain decorated with the sculptures of two river gods: Tiber and Nile - in front of Palazzo Senatorio. (right/1st - The Nile, left/2nd - the Tiber):

    The Palazzo dei Conservatori, built by Giacomo della Porta in 1564-75 to the design of Michelangelo, contains reception rooms used by the municipality of Rome on ceremonial occasions, and also houses part of the Capitoline Museum. Notable exhibits in the museum include fragments of a colossal statue of the Emperor Constantine, 12m/40ft high, and two statues of captive Barbarian princes (in the courtyard); the Capitoline She-Wolf, an Etruscan work of the sixth century (the hindquarters were damaged by lightning in 65 B.C.; the figures of Romulus and Remus were added at the Renaissance); parts of the Fasti Consulares et Triumphales, a list of consuls and their victories; and the "Boy with a Thorn", a Hellenistic copy in bronze of a 5th century original. One room in the palace, the Sala delle Oche, is named after the geese whose cackling was said to have saved Rome from capture by the Gauls in 385 B.C. The palace also contains the Capitoline Picture Gallery (Pinacoteca Capitolina), eight rooms with paintings by Titian ("Baptism of Christ"), Tintoretto ("The Passion"), Caravaggio ("John the Baptist"), Rubens ("Romulus and Remus"), Veronese ("Rape of Europa"), Lorenzo Lotto ("Portrait of a Bowman") and Velázquez ("Portrait of a Man"). On the top floor of the Capitoline is one of the most popular restaurants in Rome. Not because of the food (which is typical museum food) but because of the great views.

    The Capitoline Museum in Rome, founded by Pope Sixtus IV in 1471, is the oldest public art collection in Europe and has a rich stock of classical sculpture. In the Palazzo Nuova of the Capitoline Museum, built about 1650 on the model of the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the opposite side of the square, the following pieces of sculpture are outstanding: the "Dying Gaul", a Roman copy of the figure of a dying warrior from the victory monument erected by King Attalus of Pergamon in the third century B.C. after he had defeated the Galatians; the "Wounded Amazon", a copy of a work by Cresilas (fifth century B.C.); the "Capitoline Venus", a Roman copy of the Cnidian Aphrodite of Praxiteles; and two Hellenistic works, "Amor and Psyche" and the "Drunken Old Woman". Also of the greatest interest are the collections of 64 portrait heads of Roman Emperors and members of their families and 79 busts of Greek and Roman philosophers and scholars. The recently restored equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius stands behind glass in the courtyard of the Capitoline Museum. 

    Capitoline Museums consist of two palaces, the entrance ticket is valid for both. Museum + Exhibitions (1564-2014 MICHELANGELO - A Universal Artist 27 May - 14 September 2014): Combined Ticket: - Adults: € 13,00; - Concessions: € 11,00. Roman Citizens only (by showing a vaild ID):
    - Adults: € 11,00; - Concessions: € 9,00. The entry fee is not cheap. You can use the Roma Pass on too.

    Beautiful building with a great collection of Roman statues, busts, art , tablets and other artifacts. Two of the best are the statue of the She-Wolf (Lupa Capitolina) (room 4) with Romulus and Remus. Capitoline Wolf, (Lupa Capitolina) on display at the Capitoline Museums. The sculpture is somewhat larger than life-size, standing 75 cm high and 114 cm long. The wolf is depicted in a tense, watchful pose, with alert ears and glaring eyes watching for danger. By contrast, the human twins - executed in a completely different style - are oblivious to their surroundings, absorbed by their suckling:

    and the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius:

    Bust of Augustus (Source: Wikipedia):

    A Roman copy of the Cnidian Aphrodite of Praxiteles:

    Head of emperor Constantine at the Capitoline Museum in Rome. Found in 1486 with the other eight fragments of the body visible in the courtyard (one hand, two feet, parts of the arms) in the small apse on the west side of the Basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forum (Palazzo dei Conservatori, courtyard):

    Bronze Statue of Innocent X  1645-50 by Alessandro Algardi (Hall of Horatii and Curiatii, Palazzo dei Conservatori):

    Victory of Alexander the Great over Darius" 1635 by Pietro da Cortona (Room of the Triumphs, Palazzo dei Conservatori):

    Statua di Amore e Psiche:

    Pinacoteca Capitolina - Gallery of Pictures:

    Veronese - Rape of Europe (room 3):

    "St. John the Baptist", 1595, a masterpiece by Caravaggio (room of Saint Petronillia):

    The museum collections are presented really well. There are many great works to see. The building itself is beautiful with amazing ceilings and decoration. There is a spectacular viewing terrace accessed via the cafe and will allow you to see right across Rome to the Vatican.

    From the underground tunnel there is another viewing area overlooking the Forum.

    From the Campidoglio, looking south-east - you see Via di San Pietro in Carcere and get a great birds eye view down onto the Roman Forum and Via dei Fori Imperiali. With your face to Palazzo Senatorio and Minerva Fountain, turn left and after a few steps you reach the terrace looking out over the valley of the Roman Forum:

    Your way down to the Forum is past a public drinking fountain with some of the sweetest water in Rome and the She-Wolf statue:

    and you'll find a stair that winds down along the Forum wall, passing close by the upper half of the Arch of Septimius Severus (great for close-up perusal of its reliefs), and then out around to the Forum's main entrance.

    From here you can easily continue to the Imperial Forums and Markets, the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill, the Colosseum, - or head back to Piazza Venezia.

  • Citywalk
    Updated at Nov 22,2014

    1/2 or 1 day itinerary from the Hofburg to the Wiener Staatsoper in Albertina Platz:

    Main attractions: MichaelerTor, Hofburg Innenhof,  Hofburg Schweizerhof, Hofburg Burgkapelle, Josefsplatz, Hofburg Prunksaal, Augustinerkirche, Redoutensäle, Stallburg, Hofburg Imperial Apartments, Hofburg Sisi Museum, Hofburg Imperial Silver Collection, Hofburg Schatzkammer or Treasury, Heldenplatz, Neue Burg, Burggarten, Palmenhaus, Albertina Museum, Albertina Platz, Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera).

    Orientation: We ended our "From Maria-Theresien-Platz to Michaelerplatz" itinerary in the north-east entrance to the Hofburg - in Michaelerplatz. The MichaelerTor (the eastern, ancient gate to the Hofburg), is, exactly, where we start this itinerary:

    Start: Herrengasse U3 (U-Bahn) station.

    End: Karlsplatz U1, U2, U4 (U-Bahn) station.

    Distance: 4 km.

    *** Hofburg - the Imperial Place:

    The Hofburg in Vienna is the former imperial residence. From 1438 to 1583 and from 1612 to 1806, it was the seat of the kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, thereafter the seat of the Emperor of Austria until 1918. Today it is the official seat of the Austrian Federal President. Today the Hofburg consists of three museums which afford authentic insight into the traditions and everyday life of the Habsburg imperial court. It is the best place to visit, in Vienna, particularly on a rainy day.

    a) The Imperial Apartments with their original furnishings and decoration.

    b) The Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sisi) Museum with its presentation of the empress' life.

    c) The Imperial Silver Collection which contains a comprehensive range of tableware used at the imperial court.

    Transportaion to the Hofburg: Underground: U3 (orange), stop at Herrengasse, From the Meidling train station - take the U6 (brown) underground line and alight Westbahnhof and change to the eastbound U3 (orange) underground line and stopt at Herrengasse.
    Trams: 1, 2, D and J, stop at Burgring
    Bus: 2A and 3A, drop off at Hofburg.

    Opening hours: The Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Silver Collection are all open daily, including public holidays:
    September to June 09.00  to 17.30.
    July and August 09.00 to 18.00. Last admission one hour before the ticket office closes.

    Café Hofburg: Opening hours daily from 10.00 to 18.00.

    Prices (including audio guide in 13 languages) : Adult - € 11,50 €, 
    (combined ticket with the Schönbrunnn Palace - € 25,50), Children (aged 6-18) € 7,00 (€ 15,00), Students (aged 19-25) € 10.50  (€ 23,00), Disabled persons € 10,50  (€ 23,00 ), Vienna Card € 10,50 (€ 23.00).

    Guided tours:
    Standard guided tours of the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments  used by Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth: Daily at 14.00.
    Duration approx. 55 minutes. Admission charges: Adults € 13,50, Children (aged 6-18) € 8,00, Reductions (Students, Vienna Card) € 12,50.

    Touring the Palace exterior: We start our visit in the Hofburg in the MichaelerTor entrance (north-east side of the Imperial Palace complex) and exit the Hofburg from its north-west side in the Ballhaus platz. The tickets office is in the south-east side of the palace and the entrance is, also, in the north-east side (adjacent to Michaelerplatz). The Michaelertor, which is a very beautiful Baroque gateway, that connects Michaelerplatz (St. Michael's square) to a large courtyard referred to as the Innenhof. On the west side stands the Amalienburg (see later) which is my preferred building because of its nice late Renaissance style. Once (16th c.) it was a free-standing building opposite the older Schweizertrakt (Swiss courtyard). It has a small tower with a dome and an astronomical clock on the façade. Inside are the Imperial Apartments and the Sissi Museum. The monument in the centre is the bronze statue from 1846 of Emperor Franz II . He is represented as a Roman Caesar emperor even if he suffered several defeats by Napoleon (like in Austerlitz). Here stands the statue of Francis I in the Inner Castle Court (innerer Burghof) by Pompeo Marchesi. The monument shows the emperor in classical Roman attire set atop a tall plinth, surrounded by four other statues:

    The emperor looks in the direction of the Schweizertor,

    an old gate which leads to Schweizerhof (Swiss Court), the inner courtyard of the oldest part of the imperial palace. The vast complex of buildings went through five major stages of constructions over six centuries. To follow the course of its development, continue right onto the middle at the Schweizerhof, named after the Swiss guard that used to be housed there:

    The Burgkapelle (Castle Chapel) tucked awayin the northern corner of the Schweizerhof, was built in year 1449.Originally Gothic, it was rebuilt in Baroque style and partially restored to its original form in 1802. The Wiener Sangerknaben (Vienna Boys' Choir) sing Mass here every Sunday morning (except: July, August and September). The Burgkapelle is directly above the entrance to the Schatzkammer or Treasury (see later - the Hofburg museums interior). It was built in the 1440ies under the rule of Friedrich III, the first Habsburg to become Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. This makes the chapel one of the older, but not the oldest part of the Hofburg in general:

    An archway connects Schweizerhof with Josefsplatz, a square graced with a statue of Joseph II, created in 1807 by Franz Anton Zauner. Josefsplatz (Joseph Square) is at the south-east corner of the Hofburg. Of note is the equestrian statue of Emperor Joseph II by Franz Anton von Zauner at the center of Joseph Square. It imitates the statue of Marcus Aurelius on Capitoline Hill in Rome. The statue was commissioned by Emperor Francis II who, from the age of 16, had been raised under the supervision of his uncle, the Emperor Franz Joseph II. The depiction of Franz Joseph II as a Roman conqueror, dressed in a toga and a laurel wreath, reflects the Habsburg belief that they were descendants of the ancient Roman emperors:

    The square is enclosed on three sides by famous sections of the Hofburg Palace. In the south-west side is the Prunksaal (State Hall), the central structure of the Austrian National Library, which is part of the Hofburg Palace complex—a fine example of late Baroque architecture on a grand scale. The building was designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and his son Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, with side wings later added to the designs by Nikolaus Pacassi. This grand Baroque library, at around 80 metres long, has impressive domed and marble interior, with giant bookcases and many frescoes. Opening Times: TUE - SUN 10.00 - 18.00 ( THU to 21.00). Entrance Fee: 5 Euro:

    To the south is the Augustinian wing of the Austrian National Library and the Augustinerkirche (Augustinian Church), the oldest building on the square. In fact, following Augustinerstrasse from Josefsplatz brings you past the Augustinerkirche. Here Maria Theresa married Francois of Lorraine in 1736, Marie-Louise married Napoleon in 1810 and Franz Joseph married Elizabeth in 1854.

    In the north-west side and facing the Augustinian Church is the Redoutensäle (Redoubt Hall), which was added to the Hofburg complex between 1744 and 1748. The Redoutensäle was badly damaged by fire in 1992:

    In the northwest corner of the square is the Stallburg (Stable Palace), the former Imperial Stables, which once housed around nine hundred Lipizzaner horses. Built in the sixteenth century for Archduke Maximillian, the Stallburg housed the art collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm between 1614 and 1662. The building was later converted to stables for the Hofburg, surrounding a large courtyad with arcades on three levels with large chimneys. Today the Stallburg houses the Spanish Riding School and the Lipizzaner Museum.

    We turn, now, to the Hofburg museums interiors. We'll explore the three museums and, later, return to the newer wing of the Hofburg exterior - the Neue Burg.

    Hofburg Interior:

    Until 1918 the extensive palatial complex at the heart of Vienna was the political centre of the Habsburg empire and monarchy. In the Hofburg Emperor Joseph II drew up his revolutionary programme of reforms, the Congress of Vienna met and danced and where Emperor Franz Joseph held audiences. The Hofburg was the residence of the Habsburgs for over 600 years and thus the centre of the Holy Roman Empire. Apart from its function as the seat of government and administrative centre, the Hofburg was also the winter residence of the imperial family. From the 18th century onwards the court spent the summer at Schönbrunn Palace. The nineteen rooms in the Imperial Apartments (Kaiserappartements) were occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth, comprising studies, residential suites and reception rooms. They are all furnished and decorated to the highest standards of historical authenticity, Visitors to the Imperial Apartments will gain an insight into the world of Austria's most illustrious imperial couple.  The Imperial Apartments form a fascinating contrast to the exuberant splendor of imperial summer residence at Schönbrunn. Court ceremonial dictated that each member of the family had their own apartments or suites in one of the numerous palace wings. Today the imperial complex fulfills the same role for the democratic Republic of Austria. Now, part of the palace houses the offices of the Federal President, the ministers of the chancellor's office and the secretaries of state. The other part - the Imperial Chancellery Wing and the Amalia Residence, which contained the apartments of Franz Joseph and Elisabeth, are today open to the public. A wonderful insight into the living arrangements of one of the richest and most powerful European dynasties. The fittings and furniture mostly date from the second half of the 19th century, but the majority of the ceramic stoves are part of the original 18th-century fittings. These stoves were fired by court stove-stokers from special parallel "heating" passages in order to avoid making the rooms dirty. From 1824 pipes for heating the stoves with hot air were installed. The chandeliers of Bohemian lead crystal were made by the firm of Lobmeyr and held candles until the end of the 19th century, when electricity was installed in the palace.

    The Sisi Museum is dedicated to Elisabeth who was Franz Josesef's wife. Elisabeth, who's nickname is Sisi, was mysterious, narcissistic, beautiful and mostly silent. Sisi was non-conformist who abhorred conventional court protocol and was a free spirit. Following the suicide of her son Rudolf (famous Mayerling love affair), she withdrew from public life. Nowadays Sisi is compared to Princess Diana, because of her beauty, her estrangement from her husband and her tragic death. As it is known, Sisi was murdered in Geneve/Switzerland, in 1898, by an Italian anarchist. The Sisi Museum conveys a broad web of Empress Elisabeth daily life: with numerous, partly very personal objects on display which afford fascinating insights into the official and private worlds of this unique woman. Here as in no other place the legend of Sisi becomes tangible. More than 300 items on display in the museum include parasols, boxes and gloves which once belonged to the melancholic Elisabeth, along with her beauty recipes, her death mask and the actual file used in her assassination, which is usually kept securely under lock and key. Further items include a reconstruction of the evening dress worn by 16 year old Sisi in 1854 before she left her home in Munich, and a replica of a section of her imperial railway carriage. She wanted no part of being part of the Royal Family but yet for all of Austria’s history, she is the most popular member of the royal family. Her myth started ONLY after her assassination. In 2009 the Sisi Museum was closed for renovation and partial remodeling. The display was extended to include some spectacular exhibits, including the reconstructed Hungarian coronation dress, the black coat used to cover Elisabeth after the assassination, mourning jewellery and the young Sisi on her swing. The guided tour adds a lot of juicy stories and gossip about Sisi life.

    In the Imperial Silver Collection magnificent dining services, centrepieces measuring up to 30 metres in length and exquisite napery give an impression of the lavish grandor of the imperial banquets and feasts. As far back as the 15th century, the Silver Chamber at the Habsburg court was supervised by a Master of the Silver Chamber who was responsible for administering fruit, bread, silver and tableware. Over the course of time the Silver Chamber gained in importance. Its various responsibilities were divided between the Court Kitchen, the Court Confectionery, the Court Linen Room, the Court Cellars, the Court Silver and Table Room, the Court Depot of Victuals, the Court Firewood and Coal Depot and the Court Light Room, that is, the offices that regulated the imperial household. After the end of the Habsburg monarchy in 1918 the court household was dissolved and the imperial holdings passed into the ownership of the Austrian Republic. While a number of items were sold off, the majority remained in the Court Silver and Table Room. Of these, a part remained in use for formal state banquets and dinners given by the republic while others were put on public view in the former offices of the Silver Room from 1923. After complete renovation and the adaptation of adjacent rooms that had once housed the Royal and Imperial Gobelin factory. the Silver Room was reopened in 1995 as the Imperial Silver Collection. Today around 7,000 items from the total of 150,000 in the collection's holdings are displayed over an area of 1,300 m².

    Tips: There is no cloakroom in the Hofburg: you must take your equipment with you all along the palace floors and rooms. Go early - as soon as they open, to avoid the big crowds and the large tourist groups. During the busy summer months - tour guides would park their groups in the middle of hallways and block many walk through spaces in the Hofburg palace and museum.  we recommend visiting in April or from September as the weather is still lovely and crowds are low. Note that the Hofburg treasury is not included in your ticket price. Bear in mind that the Schonbrunn Palace is partially similar inside to the Hofburg Imperial Apartments. This Audio / Guided tour starts with the china, silver, gold dining ware on the whole bottom floor. To some people, this part becomes easily boring with the endless display of crockery. In that case - just breeze through that part and start your in-depth visit in the 2nd floor of the palace...  If you are planning to visit the Hofburg and the Schönbrunnn Palace-  go first to the Hofburg and buy the "Sisi Ticket" which gets you into both locations and, here is our advice - lets you skip a frequently massive queue at the Schönbrunnn.

    The Austrian Crown Jewels are kept at the Imperial Treasury (Schatzkammer) in the southern wing of the Hofburg Palace. It is even more impressive than the luxury displayed in the Kaiserappartements Imperial and royal regalia and jewels date from the 10th century to the 19th century. They are one of the biggest and most important collections of royal objects still in existence, and reflect more than a thousand years of European history. The Austrian Crown Jewels (Insignien und Kleinodien) is a term denoting the regalia and vestments worn by the Holy Roman Emperor, and later by the Emperor of Austria, during the coronation ceremony and other state functions. There are crowns, sceptres, orbs, swords, rings, crosses, holy relics, and the royal robes, as well as several other objects connected with the ceremony itself. The regalia were normally kept in Nuremberg, and a smaller part in Aachen. With the advance of the French in the French Revolutionary Wars, they were taken away in 1796 and brought to Vienna for safety. They have remained in the Schatzkammer ever since, even after the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. The regalia briefly left Vienna when Hitler had them sent to Nuremberg in 1938. After the war they were found by American troops in a bunker and eventually returned in 1946. Opening hours: everyday (EXCEPT TUESDAY) 09.00  - 17.30. Prices: Adult -  € 12, Vienna-Card - € 11, reductions -  € 9.  Combined Ticket „Treasures of the Habsburgs“: KUNSTHISTORISCHES MUSEUM, NEUE BURG & TREASURY (visit each one on 3 separate days): Adults: € 20. Audioguide: € 4 (!). Vistiors are enthusiastic about this exhibition and museum !

    Bust of Emperor Rodulph II:

    Heldenplatz is located south-west to the Hofburg and the Imperial Treasury. It is south-west to the In der Burg road which exits from the Hofburg. Heldenplatz (German: Heroes' Square) is a public space in front of Hofburg Palace where many important actions and events took place there along the history course of time, most notably Adolf Hitler's ceremonial announcement of the Austrian Anschluss to Nazi Germany on 15 March 1938. In the huge square, there are two equestrian statues designed by Anton Dominik Fernkorn:

    The statue of Archduke Charles of Austria, inaugurated already in 1860:

    The second statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy was inaugurated in 1865:

    In 1809, a part of the old bastion adjacent to the old castle was demolished in the course of the Napoleonic Wars. All the way up to the present Ringstraße, new grounds were laid, in which the neoclassical Castle Gate (Burgtor) was integrated. Within the new walls which were erected in 1817, three gardens were laid: the private Imperial Castle Garden (Burggarten), Heroes Square as a lawn with boulevards, and the People’s Garden (Volksgarten) with the Temple of Theseus (Theseustempel), which, along with the Burgtor, was designed by Peter von Nobile. A further addition from this period (already by 1804) is the Hall of Ceremonies (Zeremoniensaal) by Louis Montoyer, which at that time was a protrusion jutting out of the complex. Today it is fully integrated into the New Castle (Neue Burg) (see below):

    Neue Burg (the New Castle) is part of the Hofburg Palace complex. The most recent part of the Hofburg is the Neue Burg, an imposing wing built between 1881 and 1913 after designs by Gottfried Semper. It can be accessed from the Heldenplatz which is reached via a gate through the Leopold Wing coming from the Hofburg or via the Ringstrasse. It is standing south-east to Heldenplatz and north-west to the Burggarten (see below). Neue Burg is not only home to a number of museums but also contains the main reading room of the National Library. The curved building, Neue Burg, was built in 1913 - making it the newest addition to the palace complex. Today, the Neue Burg houses the Austrian National Library and a number of museums: Ephesus Museum (ancient relics from Anatolia in Turkey), Collection of Ancient Musical Instruments (Baroque and renaissance music instruments), and Collection of Arms and Armour (swords, helmets, crossbows etc.). Entrance to the three museums are included in the price of the Kunsthistorisches Museum entrance ticket !  The building is also worth a closer look with its many pillars, sculptures, and other details. The interior is also very beautiful, especially the elegant main staircase and the Armour exhibition. The items are so well preserved and so beautiful and the collection quite extensive. This is an amazing collection of crowns, robes and religious material. Opening hours: TUE- SUN 10.00 - 18.00, (THU 10.00 - 21.00). Closed: Monday. Prices: adult - 14 €, Vienna card 13 €, < 27 yr & > 65 yr 11 €, Free < 19 yr. Combined Ticket „Treasures of the Habsburgs“: KUNSTHISTORISCHES MUSEUM, NEUE BURG & TREASURY (visit each one on 3 separate days): Adults: € 20:

    We head south, out of the Hofburg - where the Burggarten resides. The Burggarten is a former palace garden, located (south to) near the Hofburg. Today it is a pleasant public park with a number of statues and an elegant palm house. As we move to the Hofburg Garten - we see the south-west facade of the Hofburg palace:

    At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Vienna was still surrounded by a defensive wall, at a time when most cities in Europe had started to demolish city fortifications. The wall proved useless in stopping Napoleon from occupying Vienna, and in 1809, when Napoleon left, he demolished large parts of the defensive wall. This created space around the Hofburg, and part of it was used to create a private palace garden, the Burggarten. The garden was laid out in an informal English style. In 1918, with the fall of the Habsburg Empire, the park opened to the public. The most photographed statue in the Burggarten is undoubtedly the Mozart memorial statue (Denkmal), created in 1896 by the Austrian sculptor Viktor Tilgner. The monument, which was originally erected at Augustinerplatz but moved to the Burggarten in 1953 shows Mozart on a pedestal surrounded by musical instruments. Reliefs refer to Mozart's famous opera 'Don Giovanni. In May-June - beautiful giant peonies bloom in front of the Mozart statue.

    The solemn statue of Emperor Franz-Joseph I was created in 1904 and moved to its current location in 1957. A more classical equestrian statue shows Emperor Franz I, spouse of Empress Maria-Theresia.

    In the south end of the Burggarten there is a huge monument of Goethe. A Goethe society was founded in 1878 in Vienna and wanted a monument built of Goethe. Unfortunately, they had trouble raising the money, so it wasn't until December 1900, the monument was finally unveiled on the corner of Goethegasse/Opernring close to Ferdinand Schiller. It shows Goethe sitting majestically on a chair:

    The Burggarten is bordered to the north by the Palmenhaus, a magnificent glass palm house designed by Friedrich Ohmann in the Jugendstil style (the local version of Art Nouveau). The iron and glass structure was built between 1901 and 1907 as a greenhouse. Today the central part is home to a popular café:

    There are some lovely places to sit and eat if you buy something from a food cart nearby (cheap noodles).

    The left part of the Palmenhaus houses the Schmettlerlinghaus, a butterfly garden where you can see tropical butterflies and even bats. In the butterfly house you see, in the annual cycle, around 50 species of butterflies and more than 300 daily butterflies. Opening times:
    April to October Daily 10.00 - 17.00, November to March Daily 10.00 - 16.00. Visit to the butterfly garden is highly recommended, especially for young children.

    Intetior of the Butterfly House (Schmetterlinghaus-Burggarten):

    From the Palmenhaus walk south-east and from the Goethe statue walk nort-east - to exit the Burggarten from its east side (Goethegasse/Hanuschgasse. Cross Hanuscgasse from south-west to north-east and you face the Albertina Museum. Named for the son in law of Maria Theresa. This museum houses one of the largest and most important graphic works collections in the world. Apart from the graphics collection the museum has recently acquired on permanent loan two significant collections of Impressionist and early 20th-century art, some of which will be on permanent display. The Albertina was erected on one of the last remaining sections of the fortifications of Vienna, the Augustian Bastion. In early 1919, ownership of both the building and the collection passed from the Habsburgs to the newly founded Republic of Austria. In 1920 the collection of prints and drawings was united with the collection of the former imperial court library. The name Albertina was established in 1921. In March 1945, the Albertina was heavily damaged by Allied bomb attacks. The building was rebuilt in the years after the war and was completely refurbished and modernized from 1998 to 2003. The range of outstanding works at the Albertina span from Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael through Albrecht Duerer, Rembrandt and Rubens to Lorrain, Delacroix, Manet and Cezanne. The collections of the 20th century include works by Magrit, Picasso, Schiele,Klimt and Kokoschka, as well as Andy Warhol and Rauschenberg. Another highlight of this museum are the Habsburg State Rooms, which are newly renovated and recently reopened to be viewed. The building interior itself is also a marvel to look at - especially the state rooms, open rotunda, grand stairway and the statues. Handsome, convenient, noble, no-hurried museum without glass cases in between. Quite expensive entrance fees. Wait for attractive temporary exhibitions. Opening hours: Daily 10.00 to 18.00, Wednesday 10.00 - 21.00. Prices: Adults - € 11.90, Vienna Card (Wien Karte) holders - € 9.70, Senior citizens (aged 60 and over) - € 9.90, Students with ID (up to age 26) - € 8.50. Photos allowed.

    The cast statue of the Hapsburg Emperor Joseph II stands guard over Albertina Platz:

    The building in the back is the Opera house:

    View from the Albertina balcony to the Burggarten and the Schmettlerlinghaus:

    The lower level of Albertina Museum:

    Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450–1516) - Beggars and Cripples:

    The Painter and The Buyer (Maler und Käufer) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder ((1526/1530–1569), 1565:

    The White Horse "Gazelle" by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, 1881:

    House Among the Roses by Claude Monet, c. 1918:

    Egon Schiele - Female Lovers, 1915:

    William Kentridge: Five Themes:

    Litho print of Erzherzog Albrecht Stadler:

    Jakob Alt - Der Dachstein vom Plassen bei Hallstatt - 1825:

    Cornelis Hendrickszoon Vroom - Forest Road with Two Horse-Drawn Carts, c. 1638-1642:

    The Albertina Square is surrounded by the Vienna Opera House, the Albertina and well known coffeehouses. The tower and spire of St Augustin's Church is on the distant right.  Albertina platz and a walk-in sculpture of Albert Hrdlicka (1928-2009) against the Fascism and the Enslavement:

    The 'Stone of the Republic' bears excerpts from the declaration of reestablishment of the Republic of Austria in 1945:

    The Cafe Mozart, in the Hotel Sacher (east side of the square) , in Albertina Platz is famous for its traditional coffee culture:

    The Wiener Staatsoper, Opernring 2 (Vienna State Opera) is in the south side of Albertina Platz. Vienna is music and music is Vienna and it all happens here at the Opera House. The Neo-Renaissance style building was the first major building on the Vienna Ringstraße. Work commenced on the building in 1861 and was completed in 1869. owards the end of World War II, on March 12, 1945, the opera was set alight by an American bombardment.The front section, which had been walled off as a precaution, remained intact including the foyer, with frescoes by Moritz von Schwind, the main stairways, the vestibule and the tea room. The auditorium and stage were, however, destroyed by flames as well as almost the entire décor and props for more than 120 operas with around 150,000 costumes. Lengthy discussions took place about whether the opera house should be restored to its original state on its original site, or whether it should be completely demolished and rebuilt, either on the same location or on a different site. Eventually the decision was made to rebuild the opera house as it had been. on May 1, 1945, after the liberation and re-independence of Austria from the Nazis, the first performances were given. It was not until November 5, 1955, (after the Austrian State Treaty), that the Staatsoper could be reopened with a performance of Beethoven's Fidelio, conducted by Karl Böhm. The musical tradition and history of this house always performed at a top level. World famous musicians managed the house: For example, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss ro also Herbert von Karajan. Also the musical cast of characters is, as usual, a conspicuous class of its own: beside Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko or also Maria Callas sung at the Opera of Vienna. The Wiener Staatsoper is one of the busiest opera houses in the world producing 50 to 60 operas per year and ten ballet productions in approximately 300 performances. It is quite common to find a different opera being produced each day of a week. As such, the Staatsoper employs over 1000 people. More than 50 productions are staged every year, and there is a performance nearly every day for ten months of the year. The orchestra fantastic. The productions beautiful. Year 2009 marked the 140th anniversary of the Vienna Opera House. The opera house also has an opera school for boys and girls between the ages of eight and fourteen, which takes place in the afternoons after regular school. The children are introduced to music theatre and the prospect of becoming opera singers. The company recruits singers for children's roles in its productions from this opera school. Twice every season there is a special matinee performance of the opera school. Immediately before each performance, cheap, standing room tickets are sold (€ 3 and you don't see so much). These are popular with all age groups, and now have an almost legendary regular clientele, which allegedly is merciless in showing its displeasure with a performance loudly and unambiguously, but is even louder in voicing approval. You can get standing room tickets for only € 3. They go (quickly) on sale 80 minutes before the show starts. Sometimes, it is definitely worth it. Sometimes, the standing option is unpleasant experience. If you get a Burgtheater card, any seat not sold within 24 hours of a performance will cost you 50 Euros. You can find out about the Opera productions and buy Opera tickets on-the-spot for many performances, just by going to the Burgtheater ticket office right near the opera, at #2 Operngasse.  The Wiener Staatsoper is closed from July 1st until August 31st. The state Opera offers subtitle machines in front of most seats (standing spots too) so you can read and listen to better follow the show. Great for Non-German-speaking tourists. Another option of visiting the stunning State Opera house: The doors are open an hour before performance starts, thus go early to walk around and take pictures. You can bring snacks and drinks with you - no one checks your bags in the entrance.

    The building is much too distinctive and much too showy to be ignored when passing it. The building complex with the numerous side wings and ornaments is very fascinating. What is specially attractive is the State Opera House of Vienna at night because it is then illuminated from all sides. On the exterior a loggia façade enthralls with statues of muses on horseback. A triumphal arch is set prominently in front of the main roof. Above it is a shield flanked by eagles with the Habsburg-Lorraine coat-of-arms, topped by the Austrian imperial crown. The glassed in loggia boasts five bronze statues, such as Heroism and Fantasy, the tallest because it is the source of all arts. The water sprite Lorelei, whose beauty and song caused sailors to crash their vessels, is perched on top of a fountain on the front façade. Other statuary represents Love as a maiden with flower petals; Mourning who is in the midst of covering her face with one hand; and the wild-haired Revenge, armed with a dagger, ready for battle. Twenty coats-of-arms of states and provinces in the Austro-Hungarian Empire adorn the façade, too.

    For online tickets make sure you use the official state opera house website which sells at face value and has a seating map from which you choose your seats. With other web sites - you'll pay hiked prices. Ticket agent add on at least 10-15 of euros. If you do take or reserve a tour, try to do it on a Sunday or a holiday, when you will have a better chance of visiting the stage. Best seats, for the most sought-after performances, will cost a bundle and must be reserved far ahead. https://www.culturall.com/ticket/isto/performance_schedule.mc?language=2

    The Vienna State Opera offers guided tours. The approximately 40-minute tour includes the entrance foyer, main staircase, Tea Salon, Marble Hall, Schwind Foyer, Gustav Mahler Hall, and the auditorium (with a look at the stage). Guided tours are offered in the following languages:
    English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Chinese. Tours cost €7.50. There are 2-4 guided tours in very specific days along the month. The Opera house is spectacular, well worth a visit but do try and see an opera while you are in Vienna. It is amazing. Pricey but well worth it for the experience. Dress up !You must see the exact days and hours in their web site: http://www.wiener-staatsoper.at/Content.Node/home/opernhaus/fuehrungen/fuehrungen.en.php

    Front of the Staatopera:


    Carriages waiting in front of the Opera house (Fiaker Rundfahrten):

    Inlaid stone slabs memorizing famous composers in front of the Opera building:

    The State Opera interior: The staircase leading up from the main entrance to the first floor. The main staircase shows off seven allegorical statues made of marble, representing arts such as music, dance and sculpture. The painting on the ceiling, “Praise and Recognition,” depicts in vibrant colors a female figure gripping a roll of music and holding a trumpet and laurel wreath. Noone wants to take the elevator with this grand entrance...

    The capacity of the auditorium is now 2,284 instead of the previous 2,881. It offers 1,709 seats, 567 standing spaces, 4 wheelchair spaces, and 4 wheelchair companion seats. The traditional colors of red, gold, and ivory were used for the auditorium, and the large central chandelier was replaced for safety by ring of built-in ceiling lights made of crystal glass. The glass ring weighs about 3,000 kilograms and uses 1,100 bulbs. It is 7 meters in diameter and 5 meters high; it has space for a lighting stand and corridors for maintenance of the system. The safety curtain is decorated with the mythological scene in which Orpheus and Eurydice bid farewell to the underworld:

    The Foyer: The tour turns left at the top of the stairs and moves into the Foyer. There are 16 oil paintings from the operatic repertoire, including Beethoven’s Fidelio and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville displayed in this elegant room. A bust of the composer sits beneath each painting:

    Mahler worked here from 1897 to 1907. Today his piano is on display as is a modern portrait. But the most famous monument to Mahler is the bronze bust by Rodin, on display in the Schwind Foyer:

    There are two tearooms in the Vienna Opera. One displays the original tapestries by Schwind, and the other has more modern pictures made of inlaid stone. I am researching to learn more about the inlaid stone:

    Gustav Mahler Hall is dedicated for the rest of the spectators during opera reception and intervals. Gustav Mahler was apparently one of the most accomplished conductors and directors in Viennese history:

    It is 450 m. walk from the State Opera House to the Karlplatz subway station (U!, U2, U4). Head east on Opernring toward Opernpassage. Turn right at Opernkreuzung onto Kärntner Str. Walk 180-200 m. and turn left onto Karlsplatz station.

  • Citywalk | Hungary
    Updated at Jan 21,2015

    The Westend, Nyugati ter, Teréz körút, Nagymező utca, Andrássy út, Erzsébet körút.

    Main attractions: The Westend, Nyugati Railway Station, Eiffel tér, Radisson Blu Béke Hotel, Teréz körút 43, Teréz körút 36, Művész Mozi (ART cinema) at Terez Korut 30, Terez Korut 28, Teréz körút 25, Teréz körút 22 and Richard Court (Richárd udvar), Teréz körút 9, Teréz körút 7 - The Mahler House, Oktogon, Alexandra Könyvesház - Párizsi Nagyáruház, Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre, Thalia Theatre, Hungarian House of Photography (Mai Manó Ház), Liszt Ferenc tér, Hungarian State Opera, Avilai Szent Teréz templom (The Theresa Town Parish Church), Erzsébet körút 54, Corinthia Hotel Budapest, Erzsébet körút 44-46, Örökmozgó Filmmúzeum -  Erzsébet körút 49, Hunnia cinema, Erzsébet körút 39, Erzsébet körút 21, The New York Palace and Cafe, Blaha Lujza tér.

    Start: Deák Ferenc tér. We arrive to the Westend by Metro or by walking.

    End: Blaha Lujza tér (M2 Metro - Red line).

    Weather: Any weather is good, even, a rainy day.

    Duration: 1 day.

    Orientation: Many hours along busy and bustling thoroughfares of Pest. Modern and historical architectural and cultural landmarks of Budapest.

    Transportation to the start point:

    Metro: From Deák Ferenc tér take Subway M3 (blue line) towards Újpest-Központ  for 3 stops. Stop at Lehel tér and walk about 6 min , 550 m to the Westend (directly from the underpass).

    Bus or Tram: You can take tram number 14 and bus number 133 to Lehel tér and from there enter the Westend by the Westend’s Ferdinánd bridge side entrance.

    Walk: From Deák Ferenc tér head north on Deák Ferenc tér toward Erzsébet tér, 10 m. Turn right to stay on Deák Ferenc tér, 75 m. Turn left to stay on Deák Ferenc tér, 60 m. Continue onto Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út
    1.1 km. Slight right to stay on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky útca, 190 m. Continue onto Nyugati tér,75 m. Turn right onto Teréz krt., 30 m. Continue onto Váci út,
    500 m. Turn right, 45 m. to arrive to the Westend. Named after an old hotel. The Westend is no longer Budapest's largest shopping centre, as it was when it was opened in 1999. It is a covered commercial small "town" with a 20-metre high artificial indoor Niagara fall (the waterfall is a nice decorative attraction), tens of restaurants and eateries, many cinemas and a bit less than 400 stores. Pest residents are using the site as their meeting-point, their coffee-house and their promenade. It is next (400 m. walk) to the Budapest-Nyugati Railway Terminal (Western Railway Station). Part of the mall is underground. There isn't much free seating and no many REAL bargains. Better prices in the most bottom floor. To avoid crowd drop in the shopping mall in the morning around 10-12 if you can. A very nice feature is the Baby-Mom Room (open every day from 11.00 to 19.00, use the escalator or elevator from the 2nd floor to the Semiramis Roof Garden). It has a comfortable armchair, changing table, and microwave should need to warm a meal for your little one.

    Opening hours: The shopping mall is open every day from 08.00 to 23.00.  The roof garden is open every day between 08.00 and 23.00 .  Stores: MON-SAT: 10.00 - 20.00 or 21.00. SUN: 10.00 - 18.00 or 19.00. On the 24th and 31st of December: 10.00 - 14.00.

    From the Westend complex head south on Váci útca toward Nyugati tér,
    80 m. Turn left to stay onto Nyugati tér, 110 m. Budapest-Nyugati Railway Station. Budapest-Nyugati pályaudvar (Budapest Western railway station), is one of the three main railway terminals in Budapest. Known to locals and foreigners alike simply as the Nyugati it lies in front of the Western Square ('Nyugati tér'): a major intersection where Teréz körút (Theresia Boulevard), Szent István körút (Saint Stephen Boulevard), Váci útca (Váci Avenue), and Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út (Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Avenue) converge. The square also serves as a transport hub with several bus routes, tram routes 4 and 6, and a station on M3 of the Budapest Metro. Note: there are TWO streets called Váci utca. In our case, now, we mean the northern one and NOT the famous shopping street. The Westend City Center shopping mall resides, partially, above the Nyugati train and Metro station. West Railway Station provides rail services to Eastern Hungary. In recent years, trains departing from the Nyugati also stop at the Budapest Franz Liszt International Airport. Hungarian State Railways runs regular service between the station and Budapest Ferihegy International Airport's Terminal 1. The trip takes approximately 25 minutes, costs 365 HUF, and runs 2-3 times per hour. The station sits also on the Metro 3 line connecting north and south Budapest. In front of the square, on Teréz Boulevard, are the tram numbers 4-6 run along the Grand Boulevard (Teréz körút) of Budapest providing transport to the entire city as well as bus numbers 6, 26, 26A, 91, 191, and trolley buses numbers 72, 73. The impressive building of the train station was designed by the Gustave Eiffel Company and was opened in 1877. The building is grandiose and beautiful. It is worth to explore the surroundings of the station. Beyond the station stands the Nyugati Post Office dated from 1908 (Monday to Friday from 8.00  to 18.00:


    From Nyugati tér head southeast on Teréz krt. toward Podmaniczky utca.
    230 m. Turn left onto Podmaniczky utca, 130 m. You face the Eiffel tér. A lovely place where you can make a break after a long walk or ride with or without your luggage. There is a Costa Coffe shop and McDonalds nearby. A perfect meeting point with friends, families and other travellers - especially during weekends. On weekdays and Sundays, it's open from 10.00  until midnight, while on Friday sand Saturdays, from 10.00  until 02.00. I think that this is one of the most wonderful squares I saw in Europe !!! It is a quiet but, still, lively park in front of the bustling station and building - complete with a truly livable and enjoyable working environment adjacent to the the heart of Budapest Nyugati Railway Station:

    There is Ice rink on Eiffel tér which is open from the second weekend of December and will welcome all the lovers of this winter sport until the end of February. Daily tickets are 700 HUF however with a student concession card it is only 600 HUF:

    From Eiffel tér we head southwest on Podmaniczky u. toward Kármán utca, 130 m. Turn left onto Teréz krt, 140 m. Podmaniczky street was NOT named after the urban developer  Frigys Podmaniczky, but his relative the Count Laszio who relinquished the whole area of the railway station  to the city of Budapest for free. His past house stood at Teréz körút 54. 

    We arrive to the Radisson Blu Béke Hotel, Teréz körút 43 on our left. It stands in the heart of the pulsating metropolis, on the Grand Boulevard, 200 metres south of the Western Railway Station. A successor to the legendary Britannia Hotel, which was established in the early 1900s. Wonderful combination of tradition, style and culture, complemented by excellent modern facilities. On its walls are frescoes from year 1550. A coffee trader Henrik Fabri opened here the Britannia hotel in 1913. The hotel was taken by Aladar Nemeth in 1926 and was cooperating by the artist Jeno Haranghy in decorating several halls of the hotel. Therefore, the hotel was called, for years, as Haranghy Museum. The hotel changed its name to Béke (Peace) hotel during WW2.  During 1983-1985 the hotel was completely rebuilt - but the frescoes on the facade and several decorations into the halls - had been preserved:

    Our direction of walk along Teréz körút is from north-west to the south-east. We continue further southward and 140 m. further we arrive to the Teréz körút 36 house (on the right, south) side of the street. This is an elegant corner house designed by Zsigmond Quittner (who designed other 15 houses along Teréz körút). The house has a tower,a pediment, wrought-iron balconies and wooden lift-doors:

    We continue further 110 m. on the same side of the street to arrive to Terez Korut 28. But, before, the Művész Mozi (ART cinema) stands at Terez Korut 30. Great small art cinema with book store and cafe inside. For local and foreign intellectuals. English-speaking movies from 5-10 years ago. Not the mainstream ones. For up-to-date information: http://muveszmozi.hu. The building at Terez Korut 28 is an upper-class apartment building built in 1898 (!). On the 1st floor the Saint Jerome Catholic Bible Society (Szent Jeromos Katolikus Bibliatársulat) holds lectures and sells biblical, religious books:

    Continue 40 m. to Teréz körút 24:

    Continue southeast on Teréz krt. toward Zichy Jenő utca, 25 m. Make a U-turn at Aradi utca and walk NORTHWARD (back) for 70 m. to arrive to Teréz körút 25. In famous building: no event connected with, no memorable residents, no prominent shop. It is a beautiful house with arched windows and pink facade. A typical building in the Grand Boulevard:

    From Teréz körút 25 we head southeast on Teréz krt. toward Aradi u.
    55 m. We turn right onto Aradi u., 15 m. Turn left onto Teréz krt. and walk 20-22 m. to arrive to Teréz körút 22 and Richard Court (Richárd udvar). An imposing building, run-down, but, beautiful in its exterior and interior.  in the corner of Teréz körút and Aradi road. Named after the Baron Richárd Drasche who built the building in 1887. A tower rises above the corner balconies. A clock on the battlements; next to the sun and moon pendant underneath the coat of arms of the Baron's initials read. Beautiful swans are molded into the the terrazzo flooring, yellow and white main staircase, glass doors, a little rusty handles but original, just as the most visible stair handrail rod holder. The Home-Made Hostel is located at this building and was elected as the best hostel around the globe:

    From Teréz körút 22 head southeast on Teréz krt. toward Oktogon and Andrássy út, 120 m. Turn left onto Andrássy út, 15 m. Turn right onto Teréz krt., 130 m. The house in Teréz körút 9 will be on  the left. Built in 1885, and, still, it is a marvelous house - even if it looks very grim. There is an elegant rear staircase in the back and an outside loggia corridor. The walls are out of color and full with pigeon' droppings. Today, the Forras Gallery occupies the frontal hall:

    The next building in Teréz körút 7 is The Mahler House. The  house is closed. This apartment block was built in 1887 and one of the first residents was Gustav Mahler. He lived here during the years 1889-1891 when he directed the Opera House Orchestra. He was living in the first floor in a front apartment. The Oktogon Pharamcy in the corner moved here in the end of the 19th century from Buda. 

    We change direction and from Teréz körút 7 we head northwest on Teréz krt. toward Oktogon, 130 m. 2. Turn left onto Oktogon, 65 m. The name 'Oktogon' refers to the shape of the square. Here, Nagykörút. (the Grand Boulevard) meets the Andrássy út (Avenue). The four identical blocks around the square were built in 1873  and designed by Antalk  Skainitzky  and Henrik Koch. To many people this buildings recall Renaissance Venetian palaces. Oktogon is also a station on the yellow M1 (Millennium Underground) line of the Budapest Metro which runs underneath Andrássy Avenue to Heroes' Square (Hősök tere).


    Turn left onto Andrássy út,  180 m (passing by Liszt Ferenc tér/square on your left. We'll return to this square a bit later) and the Alexandra Könyvesház - Párizsi Nagyáruház (Alexandra Book cafe'), Andrássy út 39 will be on the left. For many tourists - it is the most beautiful cafe' in Europe. The Párizsi Nagyáruház, which opened in 1910, was the first significant department store building in Budapest. Its facade towards Andrássy Avenue was built in Art Nouveau style, while the part facing Paulay Ede Street has the characteristic features of the Neo-Renaissance. The buildings first transformation took place in 1909 when the new owner, Samuel Goldberger renovated the building which had been damaged by a fire in 1903. The new building opened on the 3rd of March 1911 under the name Párizsi Nagy Áruház (Paris Department Store). The Párizsi Nagy Áruház was actually Hungary’s first modern department store, and thanks to its stunning architecture – an open plan atrium, a high glass vaulted ceiling, and a glass-mirrored elevator – it was soon known as one of the most beautiful buildings in the capital’s most beautiful avenue. The building survived the war undamaged, but as with the Pariszi Udvar – it was nationalized and more or less run down. The Párizsi Nagy Áruház was renamed into Divatcsarnok – Fashion Hall, and reopened to the public in 1958, and received a protected monument status in 1967. The Orco Property Group (a french real estate group) bought the building in 2005 and spent the next 4 years renovating the building. When the building reopened on the 10th of November 2010, the first tenant was the Alexandra Bookstore, which took over the ground and first floor, as well as the Lotz Hall – Lotz Terem (more to that in a moment). There is an antiques dealer/art gallery on one of the upper floors, while the rest of the building is planned to be let out as office space. After entering the Alexandra Bookstore on the ground floor you’ll find a pair of escalators...

    which bring you up to the first floor, and throws you directly in front of the Lotz Hall (Lotz-Terem) – a fantastically ornate Neo-Renaissance ballroom turned into grandiose cafe. This is the breathtaking hall that makes the Párizsi Nagy Áruház so special - fantastically decorated with the paintings of Károly Lotz:



    From Alexandra Könyvesház - Párizsi Nagyáruház, Andrássy út 39 we head southwest on Andrássy út toward Nagymező u., 85 m. We turn right onto Nagymező u., 65 m. and the The Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre, Nagymező utca 17  will be on the right. In the past years the Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre has become a renowned and sought after theatre abroad. It tours with its musicals and operettas regularly in different theatres and festivals in Europe, travels regularly to Japan, but has also performed in the United States and in different countries of Asia, as well. Up-to-date information: http://www.operett.hu/operett.php?pid=repertoire.
    In 1923 the city of Budapest decided to give the genre of operetta a home of its own. With the opening of the Metropolitan Operetta Theatre the Hungarian capital saw the beginning of the "silver operetta" period by giving a new and permanent home to the genre after Népszínház and Király Színház. In the history of the theatre the most important thing was to cherish the traditions of the classic operetta while enriching it with modern artistic solutions. Next to Vienna, Budapest is the other capital of the operetta and anyone who comes to our theatre can see the high quality of the genre represented here. The Operetta Theatre's present house was built after the plans of the famous Viennese architect-duo Fellner and Helmer in 1894. The spacious stage of the main auditorium were surrounded by intimate booths in a half-circle on both sides, while a dance floor ensured enough room for the waltz, polka, mazurka and the galopp. Its decorative winter garden housed the most exquisite French restaurant, while on the street front a concert café was opened. In 1966 the building was rearranged, whereby the inner architecture and rooms were changed to a great extent. Between 1999 and 2001 it was completely refurbished. The most modern European stage technology was built in and the beautiful original decoration was regained along with the balcony row of the auditorium. Today the theatre has 901 seats in an air-conditioned auditorium:

    Nagymező street is also called theatre quarter or the Broadway of Pest. You’ll find a lot of restaurants along Nagymező street as well as a bunch of clubs. Imre Kálmán was the king of operetta/light opera in the 19th-20th century. His statue, with his cigar, stands in Nagymező 17:

    In Nagymező utca 22 you find the Thalia Theatre (Thália Színház). Since 1996, Thália has been functioning partly as a presenting theatre, featuring guest performances and guest artists. The Theatre was opened in 1913 and was originally called Jardin d'Hiver (after the winter garden on the mezzanine). It has been through 12 name changes since its foundation. It hosted the shows of Madách Theatre and the Budapest Operetta Theatre during their reconstruction, and even the Hungarian State Opera exported some its premiers to Thália:

    Hofi statue: Hofi’s (a Hungarian comedian from the 20th c.) was to make people laugh and here his head is joking with a skull. The title of this statue is actually „színház” which means theatre but Budapesters just call it Hofi statue. It stands in front of Thalya theatre:

    The Hungarian House of Photography (Mai Manó Ház). The Hungarian House of Photography (Magyar Fotográfusok Háza), also known as Mai Manó Ház, stands in Nagymező Street 20. Its main goal is to provide a venue for Hungarian, international, historical and contemporary photo exhibitions. The Mai Manó Bookshop on the mezzazine floor functions as a photo gallery as well, so visitors can browse its photography-themed books in the unique atmosphere of the actual exhibitions. In the collections of the 3rd-floor Pécsi József Library of Photography, one can find national and foreign photo albums, professional books on the technology and history of photography. Opening hours: 14.00 - 19.00.

     

    We change directions again and head, now, to the east. Our next destination is the Liszt Ferenc tér. It is 300 m. walk to this square. From the Magyar Fotográfusok Háza - Mai Manó Ház at Nagymező utca 20, we head southeast on Nagymező u. toward Andrássy út, 120 m. We turn left onto Paulay Ede utca, 180 m. We face Liszt Ferenc tér. This square is named after Franz Liszt (Liszt Ferenc in Hungarian), the world famous Hungarian composer. The square is around 200 meters long with a park in the middle and restaurants and cafés all around (most of them are pricey). Liszt Ferenc Square Budapest is a great place to meet up, relax, drink and eat. There is a wide choice of restaurants situated around the square.

    The List Musical Academy (Liszt Ferenc Zeneművészeti Egyetem) is at the south-east end of the long and cute square. The Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music is a concert hall and a world-famous music conservatory. The building was erected in 1907 in Art-Nouveau style. The seated statue above the main entrance depicts Ferenc Liszt, the first president of the Music University founded in 1875. Its interior is richly decorated with frescoes, stained glasses, and mosaics and its concert hall is considered the most beautiful of its kind in Budapest. Once the workplace of world-famous Hungarian musicians and composers, like Béla Bartók or Zoltán Kodály, the Academy today attracts students from the four corners of the world as one of the top music schools. Folllowing a 4-year reconstruction, the building was reopened to the public in the autumn of 2013 with its former beauty in contemporary quality. Inside is one of the city's most popular concert halls. It can host 1200 people. Opening hours: 11.00 - 18.00:

    We head now to the Hungarian State Opera House in Andrássy út. We leave the Liszt Ferenc tér from the Menza Etterem (Restaurant), Liszt Ferenc tér 2.  Head northwest on Liszt Ferenc tér toward Andrássy út, 85 m., Turn left onto Andrássy út, 350 m (cross Nagymező utca) and the Hungarian State Opera, Andrássy út 22, is on your right. The decision to build the Opera House was made in 1873. Following a public tender, the jury selected the design submitted by famed architect Miklós Ybl (1814-1891), a major figure of 19th century Hungarian architecture. Construction began in 1875 and, despite minor delays, was completed nine years later. The project was funded by Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary. The opening night – to which Emperor and King Franz Joseph was also invited – was held on 27 September 1884. The gala performance, conducted by Ferenc Erkel and his son Sándor, featured the first act of Bánk Bán, the overture from Hunyadi László and the first act from opera Lohengrin of Wagner. Today it is the largest opera house in Budapest and in Hungary. Miklós Ybl’s neo-renaissance palace has remained virtually unchanged in the 130 years since and continues to attract admirers of opera and ballet alike. Each year, thousands of tourists visit the building to take in one of Budapest’s most impressive 19th century national monuments. In beauty and the quality of acoustics the Budapest Opera House is considered to be amongst the finest opera houses in the world. It was built in neo-Renaissance style, with elements of Baroque. Ornamentation includes paintings and sculptures by leading figures of Hungarian art including Bertalan Székely, Mór Than and Károly Lotz. In front of the building are statues of Ferenc Erkel and Franz Liszt. Both were sculpted by Alajos Stróbl. Liszt is the best known Hungarian composer. Erkel composed the Hungarian national anthem, and was the first music director of the Opera House; he was also founder of the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra. Each year the season lasts from September to the end of June and, in addition to opera performances, the House is home to the Hungarian National Ballet. Today, the opera house is home to the Budapest Opera Ball, a society event dating back to 1886 (like in Vienna).

    There are guided tours of the building in six languages (English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Hungarian) almost every day:daily at 15.00 and at 16.00 (If rehearsal is on, then most probably there will be no tour).  Prices: Adults HUF 2900/ € 11,5/ person, Students (with International Student Card,ISIC) HUF 1900/ € 7,5/ person. The visitors are divided then into several groups according to the language, and gathered at different points of the entrance stair, and finally guided inside the building. Note: sometimes it is difficult to hear the guide. There are many groups in many languages. The guided tour may be carried out, sometimes, hastily.

    The guests are offered a "Mini Concert" ticket together with the guided tours. The mini concert takes 5 minutes and includes 2 arias performed by one opera singer, right after the tour. Location of the concert is the Main Buffet of the Opera House (or another special room but not the auditorium). The program of the concert is varying since there are different performers. You can reach the Opera House easily using the yellow metro, Line 1.

    I would suggest that even if you are not an opera devotee, going to the opera in Budapest is a great experience that you shouldn’t miss while visiting this wonderful city. Take advantage of the affordable prices of the performances, tickets costs ranging from 400 ft up to 16,900 ft (sometimes higher), depending on the production. The main season of the Budapest Opera runs from September until the end of June and includes over 50 major ballet and opera productions, many of which are familiar to international opera and ballet lovers . I recommend booking some weeks in advance, though cheaper seats are often available at the last minute. A tip: if you do stay in a box make sure you have one of the three seats in the front row. People sitting behind cannot see most of the stage and are forced to standing up to get a view. Up-to-date information: http://visitbudapest.travel/arts-entertainment/opera-performances

    Online reservations: https://www.jegymester.hu/eng/PlaceInfo/3/Hungarian-State-Opera-House

    If you’ve never seen the inside of an old-fashioned opera house , the interior of the Budapest Opera might make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. It’s all purple velvet and ornate gold decorations, and the walls aren’t walls but row upon row of private boxes elegantly decorated with mirrors. The horseshoe-shaped, three-floored auditorium provides a breathtaking experience. The auditorium holds 1,261 people. It has – according to measurements done in the 1970s by a group of international engineers –  the third best acoustics in Europe after La Scala in Milan and the Palais Garnier in Paris. Although many opera houses have been built since, the Budapest Opera House is still among the best in terms of the acoustics. The gorgeous red-gold colours, the relaxed, harmonised composition with its ceiling fresco above and the lavish bronze chandelier make this the most memorable space in this representative building. Each level is decorated differently, but the overall picture is uniquely harmonious.

    The Bertalan Székely Hall: The hall is decorated with rich oak carvings in which the dominant feature is Székely’s naked putti-ornamented rococo frieze, known as the Four Seasons. This room currently hosts recitals and press conferences:

    The round ceiling is decorated with Károly Lotz’s monumental cupola fresco. The main hall is decorated with a

    bronze chandelier weighing 3050 kg. It illuminates the above designated fresco by Károly Lotz - depicting the Greek gods on Olympus.

    The foyer has marble columns and dominated by marble panels of various colors:

    The Red Salon, which is the parlour for the royal box and received its name from its oak panels and sour cherry-coloured drapes, is situated on the first floor. Its walls and ceiling are decorated with a mythologically themed cycle by Mór Than. The royal box opens from the parlour, which to this day remains closed to the public. Performances can only be viewed from this box by Hungary’s three topmost dignitaries and their guests:

    Going to the opera was a great social occasion in the 19th century. A vast, sweeping staircase was an important element of the opera house as it allowed ladies to show off their new gowns. The grand staircase is one of the most impressive aspects of the Opera House. The main branches of the staircase lead from the two sides of the foyer directly to the ground floor auditorium entrances, so the Opera House’s magnificent use of space is not fully revealed until one reaches the mezzanine. Wrought-iron lamps illuminate the wide stone staircase and the main entrance. The ceiling is covered with murals by Bertalan Székely and Mór Than. They depict the nine Muses (nine squares representing “The Awakening and Victory of Music”). The decorations featuring mythological scenes above the windows are also Mór Than's work:

    The central stage proscenium arch employed the most modern technology of the time. It featured a revolving stage and metal hydraulic machinery:

    The royal box is located centrally in the three-storey circle. It is decorated with sculptures symbolizing the four operatic voices - soprano, alto, tenor and bass:

    From the Hungarian State Opera, Andrássy út 22 -head northeast on Andrássy út toward Hajós u., 160 m. 2. Turn right onto Nagymező u., 180 m. You pass (on your left) the Radnóti Miklós Színház (RadnótiTheatre), in Nagymező u. No. 11, which keeps its distance, remaining a literature-centered repertory theatre. Turn left onto Pethő Sándor u. 15 m and the
    Avilai Szent Teréz templom (The Theresa Town Parish Church), Pethő Sándor utca 2,  is on your left. The church, designed by Fidel Kasselik and was built in 1809, replacing a wooden chapel. The statue of St. Theresa on the facade as well as other reliefs around are the work of Lorinc Dunaiszky. The church tower served as a fire-watch tower, and, thus, has a circular balcony. The interior altars were designed by Mihaly Pollack:

    Head southwest on Pethő Sándor u. toward Nagymező u., 20 m., turn left onto Nagymező u., 40 m., turn left onto Király u., 290 m. Turn right onto Erzsébet krt., 85 m. The building in Erzsébet körút 54 is on the right - opposite the Royal Hotel. The house (Hungarian:lakóház) - eclectic block of apartments built in 1888 based on the plans of Gustav Lederer. Still preserves wooden windows' frames decorated with wrought-iron and flanked with guarding statues. Inside the entrance and in the staircase there are gilded stuccos. There are beautiful star-patterned floor tiles. Sándor Ferenczi (1873-1933), psychoanalyst lived here between 1905 and 1916 :

    A bit further southward along Erzsébet Avenue, in the opposite side of the street - stands Corinthia Hotel Budapest, Erzsébet körút 43-49. Corinthia Hotel Budapest is one of the grandest hotels in the city. An impressive landmark building with an imposing Neo-classical façade and soaring glass atrium. Designed by Rezso Ray and opened in 1896. From 1915 a cinema (Royal Apollo) operated in the ballroom, changed its name to Red Star, and, finally, Apollo. The hotel still preserves its original facade and ballroom:

    70 m. more southward move,again, to the opposite side (south) of the avenue to Erzsébet körút 44-46. Mor Jokai, a leading Hungarian writer of the 19th century lived in a corner flat in the 2nd floor of this building ( see a memorial plaque in the street corner).

    Several cinemas have existed along the Erzsébet Boulevard. The film Museum, located at Erzsébet 39 (renamed Örökmozgó Filmmúzeum) screens renown cinema classics:

    The Hunnia cinema, Erzsébet 39, (Hunnia Kávézó) is the last original, authentic cinema with its narrow, dull, small hall. Open: MON - SAT 17.30 - 01.00:

    Try to sneak into the building in Erzsébet körút 21. Again, an eclectic  (see also the adjacent # 19house ) facade, Neo-Renaissance stuccos inside, and the beautiful loggias all around:

    The New York Palace and Cafe is 500 m. further south, in Erzsébet körút 9-11. The New York Café has lived through many eras, political systems and historical turning points. It was designed by Alajos Hausmann and was built in 1894 for the NY Life Insurance company. Still, it has always been reborn, sparkling and occupied by those who longed for its comforts: artists, members of the nobility and commoners alike. Franc Molnar wrote his book Paul Street Boys in this cafe. Molnar threw the cafe keys into the Danube so the cafe would never close... The Boscolo Group has reconstructed it in a way which reflects the tendency to regain its old patina and reputation ranking it as the “Most Beautiful Coffee House in the World”. It is a striking, breath-taking place: alabster pillars, giant ceiling frescoes, gilded ornaments. BUT, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TAKE PHOTOS INSIDE !

    If you continue three minutes further (180 m.) south along Erzsébet körút - you arrive to the Blaha Lujza tér (M2 Metro - Red line). The domed corner building of the First Domestic Savings-bank of Pest has dominated the square for more than 100 years. The square is named after Lujza Blaha, an actress (1850–1926). The Hungarian National Theater was located on the square until 1964 when it was demolished (blown up actually) because of the subway construction. The Corvin department store, in the square, dates from 1926.