Start: Kensington High Street Tube Station.
End: Lancaster Gate Tube Station.
Note: Parts of this short itinerary are covered in the "Knightsbridge, Kensington and Hyde Park" 1 day trip.
On Sundays the gardens are busy with lots of visitors but this fact doesn't not spoil the ambience and beauty of the gardens.
Duration: One leisurely day.
Weather: Ideal itinerary for a sunny day. Spare one-three "rainy" hours for the primary section of Kensington Palace. You can stay, during pours of rain, also in the Serpentine and the Serpentine Sackler Galleries. The Palace is very expensive. The two galleries are free.
From Kensington High Street Tube Station head northeast on Kensington High St. toward Derry St. At the intersection with Kensington Church Street - have a glance at the St. Mary Abbots Church. The church has the tallest spire in London. The present church was built in 1872 by the architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. Friday lunchtime concerts given by students of the Royal College of Music every Friday during term time. All concerts starting at 13.05, tea and coffee on sale, you may bring sandwiches:
After 500 m.turn left at Victoria Rd and enter the Kensington Gardens. Kensington Gardens open during the hours of daylight. Kensington gardens is a vast green space & a great place to get some tranquility away from the City. You can take an extensive walk around the gardens in case it is your very first day in these gardens: the ornate and magnificent Italian Gardens with their beautiful water features and the outstanding statues and large stone urns, the large boating pond adjacent to Kensington Palace, the Peter Pan statue, the Serpentine Lake, the Serpentine Gallery, the Albert Memorial and eventually the Princess Diana Memorial playground. Great way to get some fresh air and walk off the jet lag. Most of the year the gardens are in burst of colors and flowers are in full bloom.
These beautiful gardens prove to be a truly memorable experience and we would thoroughly recommend all tourist visitors to London to find a few SUNNY hours to enjoy the beauty of these gardens. A great escape from the hub and noise of the city. Great to wander round or just sit and enjoy.
Turn right onto The Flower Walk. After 150 m. turn left, after 300 m. turn left. A bit later you see the The Albert Memorial. Albert in gold sits under a grandiose canopy. It is very magnificent and impressive with the surrounding statues: Europe, Africa, Asia and America and further four groups depicting Victorian industrial arts and sciences. The central part of the memorial is surrounded by the elaborate sculptural Frieze of Parnassus (see my blog on the British Museum). On a sunny day the gold positively shimmers. The monument was commissioned by Queen Victoria in the memory of her beloved husband, Prince Albert who died due to typhoid in 1861. It has a great symmetry and imposing design. The base includes a bas-relief of scores of famous men from throughout European history, an attraction in itself. The memorial was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and opened in year 1872 by Queen Victoria. It took ten years to complete and the cost of building it was met by public subscription of the Great Exhibition of London in year 1851 !
Opposite the Kensington Road (to the south) you see the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal College of Art. Open for: events, exhibitions and tours only. This is a one-hour tour covering all Front of House areas including the stunning auditorium, the Gallery and the Queen's private suites, the Royal Retiring Room. All tours are conducted in English. Each tour is subject to availability and limited to 20 people. Groups of 15 or more may book a private group tour. Booking in advance is strongly recommended. Tours are not recommended for children under 7 but they are welcome to attend. Grand Tour dates are generally made available 3 months in advance. Please check back later if you wish to book a tour after that time period. Adult: 12.25 GBP, Concessions: 10.25 GBP, child: 5.25 GBP. The Great Exhibition of London in 1851 made a massive (for those days) profit. Prince Albert was going to use the money to fund his dream of building a conclave to the Arts and Sciences along Exhibition Road. His dream was realized, but he died before it could be initiated. Part of this dream was to be a grand concert hall - which we know as the Royal Albert Hall today. The Albert Hall’s six restaurants are open only two hours before every concert. A guided tour of the Albert hall is a wonderful learning experience. The whole event takes about an hour and gives a thorough history of the building along with the historical links with Prince Albert. Attending an event in the RAH would be, certainly, once-in-life event:
From the Albert Memorial it is 800 m. (10 minutes) walk to the Kensington Palace. Head north toward The Flower Walk. Turn left. Walk 150 m.
Turn right and Kensington Palace is on the right. Opening times (summer/winter): Daily 10.00-18.00/17.00. Shop and Orangery 10.00-18.00/17.00. Last admission 17.00/16.00. Cafes at the KP: The Orangery (pop in if you have the time - very good food) and the Palace Cafe. Admission Rate: 16.50 GBP. Very pricey. If you use a Travelcard allow a 2 for 1 deal on the entrance fee. There is a cloakroom with lockers where you can leave bags and outside coats, so they don't have to be carried around with you. £1 returnable deposit. Note: you are allowed to take photos without flash, but this is not clearly stated at the entrance.
Top things to see: The King's State Apartments, The Queen’s State Apartments, Current exhibition (The exhibition of the life and times of Victoria), Luminous Lace: an amazing light piece at the centre of the palace, The Red Saloon, Victoria Revealed: the life and reign of one of the palace's most famous residents - Queen Victoria, The Gardens: Don’t miss the dramatic East front where Queen Victoria, is seated looking out over the park.
Allow 2-3 hours for the interior and 1 hour for the exterior. You can spend virtually a full day here. On the plus side you get great views of the park:
The displays of some rooms are dark and it is difficult to read the displays and the text on the cabinets. There are no audio guides offered, however, the palace is filled with guides that you can freely ask:
The king's Apartments are pretty luxurious and nice to watch:
Esther and Ahasuerus:
Queen State Apartments:
The palace itself has wonderful green pathways leading up the the front gates, and wonderful gardens which are great for pictures. Kensington Palace is especially beautiful with the sun setting behind it.
King William II - Kensington Palace:
Main Entrance to the palace:
There are 4 parts of this palace to visit and you may start in any order but you always end up back where you originated to connect to another part of the palace. Allow yourself at least 2-3 hours to go through everything before leaving through the Gift Shop.
Temporary Exhibition in the Palace - the life and times of Victoria. The exhibition includes authentic clothing, personal writings, etc. It is a great insight into a mighty monarch. You can see almost the life of queen Victoria from when she was very young till a very later stage in her life:
Queen Victoria Coronation:
Young Queen Victoria:
Old Queen Victoria:
1851 London Great Exhibition:
Queen Victoria and her 4 daughters:
"Fashion Rules"- temporary displays of dresses worn by Queen Elizabeth II during 1950s-60's, Queen Elizabeth II's sister, Margaret 1970's, and Princess Diana's 1980's:
Prince William and Kate Middleton:
Previously the Palace was hidden away in the trees behind railings now it is fully visible and with free access from the Kensington Gardens Park.
The park, the palace's facade, the orangery and the gardens are lovely. Modest but beautiful. The pond nearby is full of ducks, swans and other birds and you can sit down in the palace cafe and enjoy a view of the gardens. The restaurant at the Orangery is lovely as well. Prices for food are high (£4.50-5.00 for a muffin and a cup of tea!). The grounds are free.
Kensington Palace - Orangery Beds:
600-650 m. NORTH to the Kensington Palace, in the north-west edge of Kensington Gardens - you find the Diana Memorial Playground. Tucked away in Kensington Gardens, this wonderful playground offers a whole new experience in terms of fantasy and playfulness. A wonderful place for children in central London, There are lots of different areas, from the Pirate Ship with a lot of sand for them to play to the water play area and the musical section. A great Memorial to her being used everyday by children in the middle of London. This playground has been made where she would have spent hours walking in her days gone by.
It may be quite busy in warm and sunny Sundays:
Princess Diana Memorial Playground - "The Time Flies":
Head south from Diana Memorial Playground. Turn left toward Broad Walk and immediately right onto Broad Walk.
Turn left, turn left, the Round Pond is on your right,
turn a bit right and turn left - to arrive after 700 m. to the Serpentine Gallery in the eastern side of the Kensington Gardens. Open 10.00 - 18.00, Tuesday - Sunday. Only for lovers of Modern Art. The Gallery is "covered" under my blog on Knightsbridge and Kensington areas. It always has unique art displays, free admission, and is not crowded. The gallery itself isn't anything special although the temporary exhibits frequently are. Taking photos is not allowed inside:
The glass & steel Pavillion by Sou Fujimoto is the key attraction in this gallery:
From the Serpentine gallery walk north-east and cross the Long Water (W Carriage Dr)
towards the Serpentine Sackler Gallery (designed by Zaha Hadid). Opened November 2013. The Magazine building,, a 200-year-old former gunpowder store, has been transformed into a marvellous gallery:
Walk back to the Serpentine Gallery direction. Cross the Long Water bridge (the Serpentine Lido seen on your left)
and, immediately, turn rifht. After 400-500 m. walk you arrive to the Peter Pan statue. The world of the imagination and the appeal of Kensington Gardens for children is further enhanced by a popular bronze statue of Peter Pan, a gift from J.M. Barrie to the children of London. Located next to the Long Water between the Serpentine Bridge and the Italian Gardens the statue was mysteriously installed in 1912 by Barrie himself:
Continue to walk northward. Three minutes later you arrive to the Italian Gardens on the north edge of Kensington Gardens (opposite Lancaster Gate Tube Station). The Italian Gardens are believed to be a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria. Albert, a keen gardener, designed similar gardens at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight where the Royal family vacationed. Many of those features, including raised terraces, fountains, decorative urns and geometric flower beds, were replicated in the Italian Gardens, attributed to James Pennethorne and completed in 1860:
Royal Palace (Királyi Palota): Castle Hill, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, consists of two parts: the Royal Palace (no longer a castle), and the associated Castle District, which is now a mostly reconstructed city reflecting a former time in history. The Royal Palace is home to a number of museums, including the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest Museum. The National Archives, the equivalent to the Hungarian Library of Congress, is an attached building in the back. The rest of the Castle District is a small tapered neighborhood with cobblestone streets and twisting alleys; with the exception of buses, most traffic is prohibited, making the streets pedestrian-friendly enhancing the tranquility and the old-world feel. Other attractions include the Lion Courtyard (guarded by lions), the Matthias Well (a bronze statue of King Matthias) and the statue of the Turul Bird (the mythological bird of the Magyars). Prime examples of every type of Hungarian architecture, from early Gothic to neo-Romanesque, can be seen. A leisurely walk in the Castle District will be a historical and memorable experience.
History: The original Royal Palace was destroyed and rebuilt many times - like the Matthias Church. King Béla IV started building the palace in the 13th century after the Mongol invasion. The foundations of today's castle, which would later be besieged no less than thirty-one times, were laid in the fourteenth century when King Lajos the Great built a castle in Romanesque style, which was completed in 1356. Some forty years later, during the reign of Sigismund of Luxembourg, this early castle was replaced by a Gothic-style palace. It was one of the grandest palaces in Europe with an impressive large Knights' Hall. The original Gothic Palace was built and expanded for 300 years. The golden era of the palace was under the rule of King Matthias (1451-90). He ordered the construction of a new palace in Renaissance style. A palace garden was also created during Matthias' reign, which marked a high point in Budapest's history. Artists and craftsmen from across the continent were lured by the city's prosperity. Nothing remains of the early splendor of the Buda Castle. When Budapest was recaptured after the Turkish ruled the city between 1541 and 1686, the complex was completely in ruins. It was totally in ruins in 1686 when the Habsburg army liberated Buda from the Turkish occupation. The Habsburgs built a completely new, small Baroque palace in the beginning of the 18th century. It was designed by Fortunato de Prati and construction was supervised by Johann Hölbling. The palace was extended by Empress Maria Theresa, but the great fire of 1810 and in 1849 the (failed) attack of the castle during the Hungarian revolt, in the 1848-49 War of Independence, against the Habsburgs destroyed much of the new palace. The following reconstruction almost doubled it in length at the end of the 19th century (now it's 304 m long) and a large wing was attached to the back. The Habsburg palace was rebuilt and expanded by Miklós Ybl, one of Hungary's greatest architects. He was aided by Alajos Hauszmann, who was responsible for much of the interior and the impressive Baroque dome. The reconstruction of the palace was mostly symbolic, since no monarch had lived here since 1541.The palatial complex was still inhabited though and until 1944 it was the residence of Miklós Horthy, regent of Hungary. In 1945 it was the last defense of the German troops in Budapest. Reconstruction of the castle started in 1950 following a design by architect István Janáki, based on Ybl's plans. The original Baroque dome was replaced with a classicist version. Post-war reconstruction revealed Gothic and Renaissance foundations that have been incorporated in the building during the reconstruction works. It resulted in that the Palace is a mix of architectural styles.
The main structure of the Buda Castle, known as the Royal Palace, is rather austere. The interior in particular is completely devoid of ornamentation and none the magnificent royal apartments have been reconstructed. But the Buda Castle is still an imposing complex, and its more than three hundred meter long facade facing the Danube is particularly impressive. The palace consists of a number of wings (named after the letters A to F) arranged around the Lion Courtyard. There is the beautiful Lions' Gate, with four Lions guarding the gate, two on the inside and two on the outside:
The courtyard is bordered by the National Library and two museums, the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. There's plenty more to see around the palace, such as several statues and fountains:
The Horse-herd Statue in the Western courtyard of Buda Castle is a different bronze statue, as it was complimented by lovely flower beds and the castle as a backdrop. The statue is the work of György Vastagh. It was sculpted in 1901, and depicts a horseman from the Hortobágy area, taming a wild horse. The statue was displayed in the World Universal Exposition in Paris, but was damaged and removed in the 1960's, to be restored and re-located in the western forecourt of the Buda Royal Palace in 1983:
The entrance to the Royal Palace from Vienna Gate:
Matthias's Well or Fountain: This is one of my favorite fountains in the city. The legend is that King Matthias was on a hunting expedition when a fair maiden came across him by chance. She, Ilona, not knowing he was the king, fell in love instantly with him (and he with her). This is probably the most photographed statue in the city. Mátyás Fountain which depicts the Hungarian king Mátyás Corvinus was designed by Alajos Stróbl in 1904:
Walk further south and you arrive at another, larger terrace with two flower beds and an impressive Statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy. This Neo-Baroque statue was made by sculptor József Róna for the town of Zenta but the town could not afford its price, so the monument was bought in 1900 as a temporary solution until the planned equestrian statue of King Franz Joseph was completed. As you can see, this never happened, and Prince Eugene has remained here ever since. Prince Eugene is the man who was responsible for defeating the Ottoman Army and liberating Budapest from the Turks. The pedestal is richly decorated with statues of Turkish prisoners and bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the Battle of Zenta in 1697:
Stroll around and browse the royal fortifications around. The castle’s earliest history dates back to the 13th century but most of the original medieval architectures are in ruins now as result of war and control of foreign powers:
Wonderful views from the Royal Palace courts towards the Danuba river and Buda hills:
Below an overview of the most important sights and attractions in and around Buda Castle:
The National Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria), in Buda Palace wings B, C and D) houses an astounding collection of paintings. For those interested in Hungarian artists, this is the museum to visit. The exhibition of nineteenth-century Hungarian paintings is most notable. The National gallery is opposite Statue of Prince Eugene (see below) which stands in front of the main entrance of the Hungarian National Gallery. This museum displays a comprehensive collection of Hungarian artwork from the Middle Ages to the present day. Highlights include its collection of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century altarpieces, exhibited in the former throne room. The museum also has a fine collection of Romanticist paintings including works from Mihály Munkácsy, a Hungarian artist known for his large canvases. There are a number of great items inside. They include many lovely paintings, and sculptures. It has 6,000 paintings, 2,100 sculptures, and thousands of drawings. There are three main very large floors and the grand staircase is worth the entry alone. This museum opened in the Buda Palace in 1957 and has been updated since. The stairs and a lot of the building floors are of rich, fabulous red marble, and railings have designs in hardwoods. It is one of the best in Europe, if the time permits to study the fabulous items. OPENING HOURS: TUE - SUN 10.00 - 18.00. Closed on Monday. Closing time of the cashiers: 17.00. Disabled entrance to our exhibitions from Building B. Admission price: Permanent Exhibitions: HUF 1400. Temporary exhibitions: 1400- 2800 HUF. Half price concession for the permanent and Temporary exhibitions (only for citizens of the Europien Economic Area): between the age of 6 and 26, between the age of 62 and 70, for maximum two visitors accompanying at least two close relatives under 18. Audioguide: HUF 800 - Available for the Permanent Collection in English, French, German and Italian:
János Donát, - "Venus", 1810:
The Budapest History Museum: The most southern wing of the palace is home to the Budapest History Museum (Budapesti Történeti Múzeum), which covers the history of Budapest from prehistory to modern times. The museum gives you the chance to see some remains and reconstructions of the medieval palace including a Gothic chapel and the Knights' Hall. You can also see some of the marble sculptures that decorated the palace. It's free entry if you have a Budapest card and one of those places with a compulsory cloakroom where you must leave your bags. If you want to take pictures then you must buy an additional photography ticket. Opening hours: 1 March - 31 October: 10.00 - 18.00, Monday closed. 1 November - 28 February: 10.00 – 16.00, Monday closed. Admission prices: Adults - 1500 HUF, There is a 50% discount on the the ticket if you have a Budapest Card, Students (6-26 years old) - 750 HUF, Pensioners (62-70 years old) - 750 HUF, English audio guide - 1200 HUF:
To the west of the courtyard, opposite the National Gallery, is the porticoed entrance to the National Széchényi Library. The library occupies the F wing of the Royal Palace, a late nineteenth century expansion created by Miklós Ybl and Alajos Hauszmann. The library was founded in 1802 by count Ferenc Széchényi, who donated his private book collection containing more than fifteen thousand books and manuscripts. Today the library holds a copy of every book published in Hungary. Now the collection includes five million prints. Among the most valuable gems are Corvinus manuscripts, which are collections of old books and manuscripts which formerly belonged to King Matthias Corvinus. This collection formed one of the largest libraries in Renaissance Europe. Opening hours: TUE - SUN: 09.00 - 20.00. Monday - closed. Admission: Temporary exhibitions are free. You have to pay only for the bigger exhibitions. (Using the library for one day costs 1200 HUF.):
University of Coimbra - Universidade Velha - Paco das Escolas:
Opening Hours: April 14th to October 15th 8.30 - 19.00 | Tourist Circuit: 9.00 - 19.30, October 16th, 2014 to March 15th, 2015 9.00 - 17.30 | Tourist Circuit: 9.30 to 13.00; 14.00 - 17.30. Entrance prices: General ticket - €9.00 (includes Hall of Capelos, Private Examination Room, Hall of Arms, Joanine Library, Academic Prison), Student ticket < 26 years - €5.50, Senior ticket > 65 years - €7.00, Child ticket - free for under 13 , accompanied by family Tickets tour - €15, free for children under 13 accompanied by family, Tower ticket - €3, children over 13 years old, prohibited to children under 13, General ticket with tower - 12,50 € children over 13 years old, prohibited to children under 13, Audio guide - €3. Closing Dates: December 24th, December 25th, December 31st, January 1st. Biblioteca Joanina only: Opening hours: 1 November to 18 March: Weekdays – 9.00 to 17.30, Weekends – 10.00 to 16.00, 19 March to 31 October: Everyday – 8.30 to 19.00, Closed 24, 25, 31 December and 1 January. Entrance:
€7.00 – general, €5.50 – students and 65+.
Porta Férrea and Via Latina
The Páco das Escolas
Sala dos Capelos (and Private Examination Room and Arms Room)
Saint Michael's Chapel
Introduction: “Porto works, Braga Prays, Coimbra studies, and Lisbon gets the money” goes the saying, and as far as Coimbra is concerned, this is totally true. The main city in the central region of Portugal, Coimbra has about 100,000 inhabitants, including the nearly 23,000 students that makes it the second largest of the 15 public universities in Portugal, as well as the oldest and the best, according to national rankings. Coimbra's university, founded in 1290, is Portugal's oldest and most distinguished. Third of the city's 35,000 population are students. They lend vibracy and vitality to the city. Coimbra is built on a hill. Wandering up into the city you'll find pretty squares and steep, winding alleyways adorned by tumbling displays of flowers. But you'll find that the shops and cafés are often brimming with modern design and quirky originality. Established in the 13th century, the University of Coimbra is one of Portugal's oldest universities, influencing later institutions in the country and beyond. Founded in 1290 — making it one of the world’s oldest continually operating universities — and still one of Portugal’s most prestigious schools. Through the centuries the university developed a set of customs and traditions collectively known as “praxe,” which among other things governs the use of the official university uniform that consists in part of a black cape, giving students a strikingly vampiric appearance. In May each year, the university celebrates the Queima das Fitas (see below also the section about Coimbra Fado), the “burning of the ribbons”, when graduating students burn the ribbons they have been wearing, the colour of which signifies their faculty – yellow for medicine, and so on. The celebrations last a week, and their grand finale is a long drunken parade. The students are not the only ones in black: it is the traditional dress of many of the rural women who come into town as well. The Main University Area accommodates merely a small part of the whole which constitutes the University of Coimbra today. It occupies various areas in the city, with its eight faculties, half a score research centres, an Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, structures for the encouragement of entrepreneurship and of connection to the management field, a university stadium, the Science Museum, the Gil Vicente Academic Theatre, the Botanical Garden, structures of support for students (dormitories, university restaurants, bars, study areas, centres for social contact) and the biggest academy in the country. At the end of the twentieth century, a movement of a great physical expansion of the University began, and which is at this point, attaining its peak. The amount of construction involved in this movement is furthermore the biggest in the history of this institution. Sadly, I didn't go in term time, which I think would be even better as the whole town would be more buzzing. Go in the first week in May, and you can see their festival to celebrate the last week of term.
Porta Férrea ("iron gate", 1634) leading into the fine courtyard. Enclosed on three sides by buildings, it has a terrace on the south side from which there is a magnificent view. With the intent to honour the entrance into the court of the University, the Porta Férrea is the first important work undertaken by the School after acquiring the building thus idealised as a triumphal arch with a double façade (in the tradition of the military fort door), apologetic of the institution, evoked in the sculpturesque programme, allusive of the four faculties (Theology, Law, Medicine and Canon-Laws) and of the two important monarchs (King Dinis, who founded the University, and King John III, who had it transferred to Coimbra) in its history:
On the north side is the actual Old University building, the Colégio, with the Chancellery and the Law Faculty, and, up flights of steps, the "Via Latina" colonnade where once only Latin was allowed to be spoken. On the east side of the courtyard is the observatory (Observatório) and on the west the University Church, built in 1517-52 as the palace chapel, with a 33m/110ft high tower (1733) and an adjacent small museum of sacred art. The Via Latina constitutes in its essence, a mass of grandeur, leaning on the northern internal elevation of the school palace, as a skilful solution to facilitate the access between the vice-rector's court, the Sala dos Capelos and the Main Areas. Behind the Via Latina are richly decorated examination rooms and the elaborate hall where degrees are conferred. From the second-floor gallery a narrow open walkway extends outside along the edge of the roof, affording one of the best views in town:
The Páco das Escolas (Patio of the Schools). The centerpiece of the campus area is the Paço das Escolas, a former Portuguese royal palace, re-purposed centuries ago as university space. Much of it is open to the public: classrooms lined with ancient wooden desks, law students smoking on arcaded balconies, climbing up stairwells whose landings gave successively more impressive views of the city below. Centuries-old Azulejos (Portuguese blue-and-white-glazed tiles) decorated many walls, while just-posted fliers advertising poetry slams and dance lessons covered others. It is located within the Universidade Velha, the Old University. Here are some of the oldest and stateliest buildings of the university. The figure of João III, who installed the university in Coimbra, still reigns from the centre of the patio. Behind him, there is a magnificent view of the river. Every year the Paço das Escolas is visited by about 200 thousand tourists from various backgrounds.
A statue of King João III, who based the University permanently in Coimbra:
View of Paco das Escolas from the viewpoint to the Mondego river (west):
view to the north-west from Paco das Escolas:
and the western wll of Joanina LIbrary:
view to west from Paco das Escolas - the Mondego river:
University Tower: Built between 1728 and 1733, replacing another famous tower which John of Rouen had built in 1561, it was designed by the roman architect Antonio Canevari, creating the matriarch of the European university towers. In addition to the clocks, it accommodates the bells which regulate the ritual functioning of the University. The University Tower may only be admired from the exterior. The University is, however, in the process of preparing this monument for future visits to its interior, which will allow visitors to climb to its highest point and enjoy an unrivaled view of the city of Coimbra. But, still today, you can climb up the clock tower (called The Goat !), where amazing views are guaranteed of the whole city. THe tower's bell is known among students as "Goat". This monument Mafrense Baroque style, has 34 meters high and 180 steps to reach the top, with shaped terrace:
Sala dos Capelos (and Private Examination Room and Arms Room): The Sala Grande dos Actos is the most important room of the University of Coimbra. It is also known as Sala dos Capelos. When visiting the Sala dos Capelos, you may also visit the Private Examination Room and the Arms Room. The Private Examination Room was an integrating part of the royal wing of the palace. It was a royal chamber, that is, the place where the monarch stayed overnight. This was also the first room where the first “meeting” was held between the vice-rector D. Garcia de Almeida and the University professors on the 13th October 1537, which is the date of the final transfer of this institution to Coimbra. The Arms Room was part of the royal wing of the old palace. It accommodates a full array of arms (halberds) of the Academic Royal Guard, which are still used today by the Halberdiers (guards) in the formal academic ceremonies (solemn “Honoris Causa” doctorates, the rector's investiture, formal beginning of the classes):
Sala do Exame Privado:
Ceiling of Arms Room:
Arms Room - Sala das Armas:
Sala dos Capelos 2nd floor - view to Paco das Escolas:
Coimbra roofs from the second floor of the Sala dos Capelos:
Paco dos Escolas, statue of King Joao III and River Mondego - from the Sala dos Capelos 2nd. floor:
View from the Sala dos Capelos in University of Coimbra - Coimbra Se' Velha and Coimbra walls:
Academic Prison: As a result of the privileged condition of the University, from 1593 it would be established in two ancient rooms, underneath the Sala dos Capelos. It remained here until 1773, being then transferred to the substructures of the Joanine Library which, in its turn, had incorporated, during its construction, the ruined remains of what had once been the ancient prison of the Royal Palace, documenting the only space of mediaeval jail still existent in Portugal.
Saint Michael Chapel - Capela de S. Miguel: It was built in the beginning of the 16th century, replacing another chapel, probably from the 12th century. Its architectural structure is Manueline with a visibly decorative style, especially in the huge windows of the main nave and in the transept arch. You enter the Capela entrance and find inside a snack bar with light meals. There is internal courtyard full with Azulejos (cermaic tiles) in its first and second floors:
Entrance door to Saint Michael Chapel - Capela de S. Miguel:
The internal courtyard with Azulejos:
Second floor of the internal courtyard:
Wedding in the Saint Michael Chapel:
Biblioteca Joanina: Among thousands of libraries all over the world, the British newspaper "The Telegraph" highlights two Portuguese libraries in a list of the world's most spectacular libraries: the Library of Mafra and University Library of Coimbra. Indeed, among eight dozen libraries through more than 20 countries, published in the book "The Library: A World History " by James Campbell, the British newspaper selects 16 libraries and places the Baroque Library of University of Coimbra in the first position. Its construction started in 1717, and was completed in 1728. The Baroque library is marvelous – apart from the cathedral-like room itself - its triumphal arches, walls of ancient tomes and shelves, pillars and antique tables, the poor light and atmosphere - all leave you breathless... Since the 20th century, this is a museum of some of Portugal's most revered works of literature. The scene was of row upon row of bookshelves, two stories high, all with gilded covers and stored behind heavy oak shelves. It look more like something from a Harry Potter movie. Entering the library is a surreal experience. It is a bit dark and small bats are flying here and there. A colony of bats is nurtured within it to keep the insect population out from the old books. Over the entrance door, the library exhibits the national coat of arms. Inside it, there are three great rooms divided by decorated arches entirely executed by Portuguese artists. The central nave of the library makes its structure resembles a chapel, where the portrait of King Joao (John) V, takes the place of the altar.The Casa da Livraria, the name with which the Joanine Library was known, received its first books after 1750 and the construction of the building is dated between 1717 and 1728. The building has three storeys and it accommodates around 200.000 books. The noble storey houses 40.000 books. It is said that the builder, King Joao V, was no lover of books, but built the library to outdo his brother-in-law, Kaiser Karl VI, who at the time was building his own library, the Hofbibliotek, in Vienna. These may be the grandest rooms in all Portugal. Lacquered light and dark green cases of rare books rise in tiers from the inlaid marble floor and are topped with elaborate carvings, crests and crowns dripping with gold leaf. This library, perhaps more than any other feature, symbolizes Coimbra's status as an important city, despite its small size. Coimbra was Portugal's first royal capital and the birthplace of six kings. St. Anthony of Padua was ordained here and the city was home to St. Elizabeth of Portugal as well. Portugal's greatest poet, Luis Camoes, and French sculptor Jean de Rouen worked here. Until this century, Coimbra had Portugal's only university.
NO PHOTOS ALLOWED INSIDE.
Last remark on University of Coimbra: Walking through the University of Coimbra campus, you will encounter typical "student graffiti." I find the petty crime rather entertaining. These graffiti works are far from pleasant looking. These student graffitis are always with themes of revolution (against the institution and society), of racism, of lies, of yearnings for reform.
The Prunksaal - “The World's Most Beautiful Library”: From the Augustinerkirche you walk west a few metres to the Prunksaal. It is, actually, a wing of the Hofburg Palace. It is a bit tricky to find in the massive Hofburg complex, if you get lost trying to find it, ask for directions, it is definitely worth the effort. It is a must-see attraction for those who appreciate beautiful things and beautiful buildings. The entry price at Prunksaal is rather pricey (€7 per adult). Photos allowed with no flash. No heating in the hall during the cold season. It was built by the order of Emperor Charles in 1726, and to this day remains beautifully and richly decorated in Baroque fashion. Within the hall, shelves upon shelves of rare and historic books and manuscripts line the walls, punctuated by lovely statues and historic globes, and capped by beautiful ceiling frescoes from the 18th century. There are a few books and manuscripts on display. There's plenty of lovely and memorable images of the Prunksaal to take. Above your head there is an inner dome ceiling fresco that you could stare at for hours. For those considering to visit, we suggest allowing a minimum of 30 minutes to see this attraction, but you can certainly linger there far longer:
Estação São Bento. São Bento Railway Station: The most notable aspect of São Bento Station is the large, magnificent tile panels in the vestibule. The tiles numbers are 20 thousand, date from 1905–1916 and are the work of Jorge Colaço, the most important azulejo painter of the time. The first tiles were put up on 13 August 1905.
The panels depict landscapes, ethnographic scenes as well as historical events like the Battle of Valdevez (1140), the meeting of the knight Egas Moniz and Alfonso VII of León (12th century), the arrival of King John I and Philippa of Lancaster in Porto (1387) and the Conquest of Ceuta (1415):
Tip 6: Opera Evening in Mikhailovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre:
Mikhailovsky Classical Ballet and Opera Theatre was established in 1833. It is St. Petersburg's second largest Ballet and Opera stage and second best Ballet and Opera stage after the world-famous Mariinsky (Kirov).
Like the Mariinsky (Kirov) hall - its hall is also the hall of Imperial theatre, beautifully decorated. It was renovated in 2010 and now looks the same as in 1833. Most of the Mikhailovsky Ballet dancers are graduates of the famous Vaganova Ballet Academy. Most of the Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet dancers are graduates of the same academy as well. Mikhailovsky is a great alternative to Mariinsky, You'll find the the entrance fees for the Mikhailovsky are more reasonable than the Mariinsky (Kirov) ones. This beautiful theatre is a bit smaller, than the more famous Mariinsky.
For current schedule of performances - see: https://www.balletandopera.com/theatre/mikhailovsky/sid=GLE_1
"Tosca" - White Nights Festival - July 2015:
Duration: 1 day. Hundertwasser House, Village and Hundertwasser Museum (Kunst Haus) 1/2 day and The Prater + way to Donaustadt - 1/2 day.
Tip 1: Hundertwasser sites.
Tip 2: The Prater (old fashioned fun), Messe Wien, St. Francis of Assisi Church (Kirche zum heiligen Franz von Assisi), Mexikoplatz, Reichsbrucke (Empire Bridge), the way to Donaustadt (Danube City).
Distance: The two parts: 6-7 km (2.5 km. + 4 km.).
Hundertwasserhaus, Kegelgasse 36-38, Vienna:
From the Landstrasse U-Bahn station - it is 900 m. 12-15 minutes walk:
Head south on Bahnhof Wien-Mitte toward Landstraßer Hauptstraße, 15 m. Turn left onto Landstraßer Hauptstraße, 73 m. Turn left onto Invalidenstraße, 200 m. Turn right onto Marxergasse, 270 m. Turn left onto Seidlgasse, 96 m. Turn right onto Kegelgasse. Hundertwasserhaus is on the right.
From the Rochusgasse U-Bahn station it is 950 m. , 12- 15 minutes walk:
Head northwest on Karl-Borromäus-Platz toward Sechskrügelgasse, 35 m.
Turn right onto Sechskrügelgasse, 160 m. Slight right onto Landstraßer Hauptstraße, 48 m. Continue onto Rasumofskygasse, 450 m. Turn left onto Löwengasse, 220 m. Turn right onto Kegelgasse. The Hundertwasserhaus is on the right.
The Hundertwasserhaus is an apartment house in the Landstraße district on the corner of Kegelgasse and Löwengasse. Built after the idea and concept of Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser with the cooperation of architect Joseph Krawina. This brightly-painted, natural apartment block with a forested roof & balconies is the expressionist Artist's main creation and is a famous landmark of Vienna. The house catches the eye with its colorful tiling, mosaics, turrets, columns and onion shaped spires.
The building is locked and you may not get inside. As it is residential you cannot go inside. The building contains a cafe and a little shop. Just walking around the house is worth a visit in itself.
Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928–2000) was an Austrian painter, architect, and sculptor best known for his architecture characterized by colorful, ornamental, and irregular morphic shapes. He initially gained acclaim for his paintings, but later became more renowned for his unique, avant-garde, surrealist architectural styling. Hundertwasser's architectural style is often compared with those of Antoni Gaudi. In contrast to Gaudí, Hundertwasser used symmetrical mosaic stones, very carefully arranged.
Inspired by the Vienna Secession movement, especially the work of Austrian painters Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt, Hundertwasser incorporated his decorative, labyrinthine spirals into his paintings, architecture and designs for postage stamps and flags. He developed his own theory of “Transautomatism”, which was inspired by the Surrealist concept of automatism (painting or drawing without conscious self-censorship), and sought to loosen the rigid rules of conventional art to emphasize the viewer’s experience.
Born Friedrich Stowasser in Vienna, he became one of the best-known contemporary Austrian artists, although controversial, by the end of the 20th century. In 1948 Friendensreich Hundertwasser studied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts for 4 months. A year later he changed his name to Friedensreich Hundertwasser. His adopted surname is based on the translation of "sto" (the Slavic word for "one hundred") into German. The name Friedensreich has a double meaning as "Peaceland" or "Peacerich" (in the sense of "peaceful"). The other names he chose for himself, Regentag and Dunkelbunt, translate to "Rainy day" and "Darkly multicoloured". His name Friedensreich Hundertwasser means "full-of-peace hundred-water".
From 1949 to 1952 he undertook many journeys to North Africa and Paris, where he started to deal with the paintings of Gustav Klimt, Paul Klee and others. In the 1950s, Hundertwasser began designing architectural projects. These designs use irregular forms, and incorporate natural features of the landscape. Hundertwasser married Herta Leitner in 1958 but they divorced two years later. He married again in 1962 but was divorced by 1966. By this point he was very popular with his art.
During the late 1960s he gave a series of attention-grabbing naked speeches advocating for an individual’s right to construct his or her own house. Hundertwasser's father Ernst Stowasser died three months after his son's first birthday. The Second World War was a hard time for Hundertwasser and his mother Elsa, as she was Jewish. They avoided persecution by posing as Catholics, a credible ruse because Hundertwasser's father had been a Catholic. To remain inconspicuous, Hundertwasser joined the Hitler Youth. In 1962 Hundertwasser had his international break through at the Biennale in Venice. Around this time he also made ideological statements, with his famous nudist speeches and his call for peace, ecology and new forms of architecture. Not unlike the artists of the Session Movement, he saw art as a decoration. Hundertwasser got even more famous as an architect. From 1986 to 1991 he planned and realized different buildings, like the Hundertwasser Haus and the front of the waste combustion Spittelau. Hundertwasser was buried in New Zealand after his death at sea on the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 in 2000, at the age of 71.
As Hundertwasser’s reputation spread, more commissions arrived, including buildings as diverse as a church in the south of Austria, the railway station in Uelzen, Germany, a winery in the Napa Valley, California and the Hundertwasser toilet in Kawakawa. Hundertwasser's revolutionary architectural ideas also include topping buildings with trees and areas where animals can graze, and creating floor surfaces that are unleveled. His radical philosophies and outrageous antics attracted considerable attention from the public. Hundertwasser was against monotonous architecture, and called for a boycott of architecture with straight lines, and demanded instead creative freedom of building, and the right to create individual structures. He wrote manifestos and essays and organized demonstrations.
Hundertwasser house is one of Vienna’s most popular sights and was built 20 years ago as part of the city’s community housing project. Many of its tenants have moved in on opening and enjoy its beauty, its originality and its comforts. The Hundertwasserhaus apartment block in Vienna is his most famous creation. This building has undulating floors, a roof covered with earth and grass, and large trees growing from inside the rooms, with limbs extending from windows. He took no payment for the design of Hundertwasserhaus, declaring that the investment was worth it to "prevent something ugly from going up in its place".
Opening Hours: The café is open daily from 10.00 to 18.00.
In 1985 an English telephone booth was installed in front of Hundertwasser House, which Hundertwasser himself had imported from England. For Hundertwasser the English telephone booth was more in accordance with his architectural design of the house and its surroundings as well as with his architecture philosophy in general. The Austrian telephone booths at that time for him represented the ugliness of straight lines and the grid system. The telephone booth at Hundertwasser House was rebuilt in summer 2013. Also the floor tiles inside were newly laid:
The Hundertwasser and Kalke’s 'Village' is located opposite 'Hundertwasserhaus' and reflects the same ideas of interior design. The concept was not to tear down and demolish - but to rebuild and change concepts. The 'Village' was an old horse stable turned into petrol station and tire workshop owned by Kalke who worked with Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser to turn it into "the village. The Hundertwasser Village opposite is, basically, a commercial complex with souvenir shops and overpriced coffee bars. For 80 cents you can visit the tiled toilets (which a long queue of camera-toting Japanese tourists were all doing). The toilets ARE worth an 80 cents visit, if you need, or almost need, to go. The official Hundertwasser information centre and shop is opposite the village in the complex itself and has much more interesting and relevant fare: information books, posters etc:
Not far from Hundertwasserhaus, four blocks north at Untere Weisbergerstrasse 13, is the KUNST HAUS WIEN, Museum Hundertwasser, Untere Weissgerberstrasse 13. It is 350 m., 5 minutes walk. From the 'Village' head east on Blüteng. toward Untere Weißgerberstraße for 25 m and turn left onto Untere Weißgerberstraße. This Museum is the world's only permanent exhibition of Hundertwasser's works, and is a gathering place for Hunderwasser lovers from all over the world. This building was originally a furniture factory where the famous Thonet bentwood chairs were produced. Today it houses a permanent exposition of the artwork of Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Its facade has a design similar to that of the Hundertwasserhaus, but this time black and white colors dominate. The Kunst Haus Wien, as is typical of Hundertwasser houses, hardly a straight line is to be found here either. Changing exhibitions of other artists are also shown on around 1,600 square meters of exhibition space. The Hundertwasser Museum in the Kunst Haus Wien and the famous Hundertwasser House are not only recommended as places to visit for guests of Vienna who are interested in art, but also invite everyone to go on a fantastic journey through the architecture and art of Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
it is worth a visit and one who loves art needs to plan on spending at least two hours exploring because at each spot you start to say wow that is an interesting way to see the world ! This is a must see!. Believe me, you'll easily get the "Alice in Wonderland" feel in this museum and its (permanent and temporary) exhibitions.
Opening Times: Exhibitions and shop: daily, from 10.00 to 19.00 (the ticket office closes at 18.30). TIAN bistro: Sunday to Thursday from 10.00 to 19.00, Friday and Saturday from 10.00 to 22.00. (after 19.00 only the entrance at Weißgerberlände 14 is open). Opening hours during holidays: 24 December: 10.00 to 15.00, 31 December: 10.00 to 17.00.
Public Transport: U1 or U4 to Schwedenplatz, continue on tram 1 (direction: "Prater Hauptallee") to Radetzkyplatz OR U3 or U4 to Landstrasse/Wien Mitte, continue on tram O (direction: "Praterstern") to Radetzkyplatz.
Prices: Adults: € 10.00, Children up to 10 years: free, Children & young people 11-18 years: € 5.00, Families (2 adults, 4 children up to 18 years): € 22.00. Audioguide: € 3,- for the Hundertwasser exhibiton in English and German:
You start by having coffee in the café with its amazing interior and this is an experience in itself:
Some famed insights by Friedensreich Hundertwasser:
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - The love is something, Venice, 1978:
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - Silent Flowers:
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - "This is the flag of God will. It is the flag of the promised land. The Arab mood is protecting the Jewish star":
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - "The horizontal belongs to nature, the vertical belongs to Man, the straight line is Godness":
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - "Spectacle on human face", Tokyo, 1968:
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - "Do not wait house more", Kyoto, 1980:
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - "Tennoy fly with hats", Kyoto, 1985:
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - "Goodmorning bleeding town", Venice, 1970:
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - "In Gamba" - Venice, 1989:
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - "Regentag on waves of love", Bayern, 1972:
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - "How do you do ? ", Venice, 1984:
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - "King Kong", Venice, 1968:
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - "The boy with the green hair", Paris, 1967:
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - "The garden of the happy deads", St. Moritz, 1953. Hundertwasser believed in equilibrium between Man and Nature, between the City and Nature and in ecological way of living as a key to piece among nations:
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - "Rain of blood falling into the garden", Kyoto, 1972. Hundertwasser's mother was Jewish and all her relatives were murdered by the Nazis. Hundertwasser, himself almost fell in their hands:
The backside of the gallery in Untere Weissgerberstrasse 13 faces the Donaukanal (Danube Canal) and once that you came that far, you should really take a look as well at the ship-station designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser:
From the Donaukanal and the Kunst Haus, Museum Hundertwasser we head to the Prater. It is 20 minutes, 1.2 km. walk. Head northwest on Dampfschiffstraße toward Obere Viaduktgasse, 250 m. Turn right onto Franzensbrücke and continue along it, 600 m. Turn right onto Hauptallee, 22 m. Turn left toward Oswald-Thomas-Platz, 16 m. Turn left onto Oswald-Thomas-Platz, 14 m. Turn right to stay on Oswald, 40 m.
Turn left to stay on Oswald-Thomas-Platz, 90 m. Turn left toward Gabor-Steiner-Weg, 58 m. Turn left onto Gabor-Steiner-Weg, 3m. See Tip 2 below.
Jewish Quarter Itinerary:
Itinaerary: Dohány Street Synagogue - Rumbach Street - Király Street - Gozsdu Courtyard - Kazinczy Street - Vasvári Pál Street - Klauzál tér - Dob utca - Dohány Street Synagogue.
Time: This walk will take about 2-3 hours. Add 2-3 hours if you plan to visit the Great Synagogue and some of the museums (see Tip above).
The old Jewish Quarter was established at the turn of the 19th century when the Jewish community gathered in the 7th District. The center of this area became Király Street. In 1944 the Pest Ghetto was also built here crowding 70.000 people together. In 2002 this historic neighborhood bordered by Király and Csányi Streets, Klauzál Square, Kisdiófa and Dohány Streets and Károly Boulevard was named as the old Jewish Quarter of Pest and entered into the UNESCO World Heritage Conservation program. This area is home to the most famous Jewish cultural heritage sites: "the Synagogue Triangle”: Dohány Street Synagogue (the Great Synagogue), Rumbach Street Synagogue (also known as the "Little Synagogue" and the Kazinczy Street Orthodox Synagogue. This historic district, as a part of the city's reconstruction strategy, started to to look towards youth culture and tourism in recent years. From 2002 some now very popular cafes, bars and summer music venues opened in buildings that were earlier considered for demolition: the Szimpla-garden, the Gozsdu Courtyard, or the Kőleves (Stone Soup) garden to name a few. Since then the area, especially Kazinczy Street is not only known for its rich cultural heritage, but also for it's unique pubs, art and design shops and nightlife.
From the back of the Great Synagogue (north-west) walk along Wesselényi utca (your back to the south-west and your face to the north-east). Raise your head and see the sculptures, Stephen Strasser relief works, on top of the Art-Deco building on your left (Wesselényi utca 5). They can be see, better, from the Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park of the Dohány Street Great Synagogue.
Wesselényi utca is a very long street ( 5 km. !). It is parallel (north) to Rákóczi út and Dohány utca in its first hundred metres. In Wesselényi utca #7 there is Talmud Torah Education Center (Orthodox school for young children). The Goldmark Hall is located in the Talmud Tóra building (Wesselényi u. 7.). Its total renovation has finished in May 2011. The hall inside has a capacity of 140 people and it is equipped with the most up-to-date sound- and light-technology, making it a perfect location for chamber performances:
Turn left (1st left turn) on Rumbach utca. The Carl Lutz Memorial will be on your right, near the corner of Rumbach utca, at 10 Dob utca, located on the wall. Carl Lutz (born in Walzenhausen, Switzerland on 30 March 1895; died in Bern, Switzerland on 12 February 1975) was the Swiss Vice-Consul in Budapest, Hungary from 1942 until the end of World War II. He is credited with saving over 62,000 Jews, the largest rescue operation of Jews of WW2. Due to his actions, half of Jewish population of Budapest survived and was not deported to Nazi Extermination camps during The Holocaust. Nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize, he was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem institute in Israel. Lutz's wife Trudi notably played a central supporting role during the whole period of her husband's activities in Budapest:
Half a block farther along Rumbach utca is the exquisitely beautiful Rumbach Street Synagogue (Rumbach zsinagóga, Rumbach Sebestyén utca 11-13). Built in 1872, patterned and painted in Islamic style, today it is more like a museum as it is not a functioning synagogue. The Rumbach Street synagogue (Hungarian: Rumbach utcai zsinagóga) was built in 1872 to the design of the Viennese architect Otto Wagner.It served the Status Quo Ante community (see former Tip for explanations of the Jewish Community segmentation).
The Moorish Revival synagogue has eight sides and while the interior as of this writing (2008) is badly in need of restoration, the octagonal, balconied, domed synagogue intricately patterned and painted in Islamic style is exquisitely beautiful. It was built not as an exact replica of, but as an homage to the style of the octagonal, domed Dome of the Rock Muslim shrine in Jerusalem. The synagogue was designed by the most renown Viennese architect of the late 19th-early 20th century - Otto Wagner, a creator of architectural modernism and Art Nouveau. It was built between 1868 and 1872. The building is a stunning example of arabesque Synagogues around the world, with one of the nicest inner spaces amongst the synagogues of Budapest. The building was rented to the Jews by the Orczy barons before 1840, when royal cities prohibited their settlement. After 1840 the parliament permitted Jews to acquire real estate and the Jews in Budapest soon intended to erect a Synagogue on a separate piece of land. Prayers were held in the Rumbach Street Synagogue until 1959. At the end of the 80’s, a construction company bought the property and decided to completely restore it, then to sell the building. The street façade and the structure of the synagogue were refurbished and the cover of the inner walls was redone. In 1992 the company went bankrupt and in exchange for its liabilities, the building was handed over to the Hungarian Privatization and State Holding Company (ÁPV), from where it was returned to the Budapest Jewish Community. A Jewish culture festival has been held in this Synagogue during 2014. August 31 - September 7. Even if Rumbach Synagogue has seen much deterioration and restoration - it is NOT currently functioning as a consecrated place of worship. The exterior facade has been restored, but the the interior still needs work. OUTSIDE visit only.
Rumbach Street Synagogue with its minaret-style towers:
I advise you to visit a magnificent designer's shop & coffee shop at the same time - PRINTA, at Rumbach utca 10: Modern contemporary very unusual art: pictures, clothes, home stuff, postcards, even (average) coffee and more....
Continue north-west on Rumbach utca, passing two small commercial centres and take a right (2nd) onto Király utca. Király utca, also known as Budapest's Design Street, forms the northern border of the historic Jewish District. Király Street (or Király utca) is filled with interior design and furniture stores, funky boutiques and modern art galleries, and is quickly becoming a trendy part of Budapest. For instance, on your right, Arioso - home design, flowers, and French food products by La Petite Francaise (Király utca 9). Another example in your proximity: G13 Art Gallery - works of contemporary photographers, sculptures and painters (Király utca 13):
At 11 Király utca, you will see the entrance to Gozsdu Courtyard (Gozsdu Udvar) ((Go-Jdoo)), a long series of connected courtyards. About 500 meters of restaurants, bars, shops and other nice things. The houses served as a passageway between Király utca and Dob utca, with apartments on the top floors, and small shops and workshops on the ground floor.
Recently, Gozsdu Courtyard was converted into a modern residential complex with some great restaurants, pubs and outdoor cafés. The atmosphere is really good, and there are lots of places in close proximity so you don't have to walk too far to go to a selection.
The place comes alive every Sunday from March to October during the Gozsdu Bazaar (GOUBA), a little market with different handmade crafts. It opens at 10 in the morning. Entrance is free:
You can have good meal in the Yiddish Mamma Mia restaurant. Other favorite hangouts to check out include: the lively Kolor,
the very popular Spiler 'Bistropub', the trendy wine bar DiVino, Gozsdu Sky Terrace and the French-style Café Vian. All offer indoor and outdoor dining:
At the east (Dob utca) end of Gozsdu Courtyard is the Spinoza House, a café, restaurant and theater (Dob utca 15). This lively little place is obviously a legend. Some evenings Kletzmer music playing, in others - pleasant piano playing. GREAT GASTRONOMY: The restaurant offers a large variety of traditional and reformed Jewish / Hungarian dishes. Don't miss the 5 euros breakfast:
Exit the Gozsdu Courtyard in its south-east exit near SpinozaHaz and continue your walk on Dob utca with your face to the north-east. Take the second right turn onto Kazinczy utca. Kazinczy Street connects Király utca with Rákóczi út in district VII:
Most parts of the Kazinczy Street and the Jewish Quarter - are full of run-down, historic buildings. This one was built in 1838 in classicist style:
The Orthodox Synagogue is only a short walk away on Kazinczy utca, on your left, located at No. 29-31. This Synagogue was built in 1913 in the Hungarian Art Nouveau style according to the design of the Béla and Sándor Loeffler brothers. The traceries, hand-painted by Miksa Róth stained glass artist are beautiful ornamental elements of the Kazinczy Synagogue. There is a lively courtyard in its center surrounded by other buildings, with entrances on both Kazinczy street and Dob street. The synagogue is attended by Budapest's orthodox Jewish community. The most characteristic synagogue is part of a complex including a school and communal Hall. It is not normally open to visitors, but you can get a closer look around the corner at Dob utca 35 and through the courtyard by the Kosher butchers still functioning since 1914 and the strictly Kosher Hanna restaurant you can find the former orthodox school. Near the Synagogue - there are Kosher shops, Kosher butcher and salami-maker and even the only Mikve (religious bath) of Budapest can be found. The rather simple Hanna Kosher restaurant (Dob utca 35) is located in the courtyard. Next door on Kazinczy there is an upscale Kosher restaurant, Carmel (Kazinczy utca 31):
The Kazimir Info Point at 34. Kazinczy Street (open: Mon-Fri: 10.00 - 18.00) is a new information center of Budapest's Jewish District introducing the historical, architectural, and cultural heritage of the Jewish community. They also give nightlife, and clubbing tips, and organise guided thematic tours in the Jewish Quarter. The Info point web site is packed with information, but so far is only in Hungarian. The Kazimir Point regularly hosts concerts, exhibitions, children programs. The Kazimir Bistro, at the same address, is a budget-friendly place (2 floors + garden) offering breakfast (coffee is only 190 HUF till 11.00), daily menu (2 courses: 990 HUF, or 3 courses 1 190 HUF) ), a wide selection of Hungarian wines by the glass, beers, cocktails, and spirits. Its menu includes pork dishes (!) as well as Chulent. The names clearly refer to Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter of Krakow, which has become a major Jewish tourist attraction and includes several "Jewish style" cafes aimed at evoking pre-WW2 times nostalgies. It hosts exhibitions and concerts (tango night every Thursday night, and the Lakatos Trio on Fridays). Tips should be added to the menu prices. Still, budget prices:
The Cari Mama Pizzeria is at Kazinczy Utca 28. Small with only 8-10 tables but very cosy. The staff are friendly and helpful. The food is tasty and and they have a good range of selection. The portions are reasonable large on pasta and you can choose different sizes of pizzas. As being a bakery as well as pizzeria you are able to buy fresh pastry too. Open: MON - THU: 08.00 - 12.00, 16.00 - 19.00, FRI: 07.00- 12.00. Note: might be closed.
Ruin Pubs (romkocsmák) or garden pubs have become icons of the city's nightclub scene. Even if you're not into partying, drop by at least one to experience the multicultural and retro ambience of these pubs unique to Budapest. Relaxed atmosphere, unusual interior decor, friendly people all characterize a couple of garden pubs in Kazinczy Street (and other parts of the city): Bar 400 (12.00 - 02.00) in Kazinczy Street 52/B
and Szimpla Kert (12.00 - 03.00) at Kazinczy street 14 - trendy but a bit decorated trashy with recycled objects and furniture. Numerous rooms and separate sitting areas:
Most of the Ruin Pubs are open from mid-morning or the early afternoon hours till late night. They offer good, inexpensive food and a wide variety of drinks.
Return your whole way and trace back in Kazinczy utca, with your face north-west until its end and intersection with Király utca. Turn right onto Király utca and, immediately, turn left to Vasvári Pál utca. Built in 1887 in Neo-Gothic and Neo-Renaisance style, the Synagogue at 5 Vasvári Pál Street is hidden in a courtyard surrounded by residential buildings. Renovated in the 1990s the synagogue and the adjacent complex is used by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement as a gathering place and school for Judaic studies. Open: Daily. Opening Hours: Shacharit: 08.00, Friday: Kabbalat Shabat, winter 18.00, summer 19.30, Shabbat: Shacharit 09.00.
Retrace your steps in Vasvári Pál utca and return, by turning left to Király utca. On the first turn to the right walk onto Kis Diófa utca until you reach Klauzál tér, the district's largest square. The original name of this square was Stephans Platz. After 1874, it was known as István tér. In 1907, the square was named after Gábor Klauzál (18 November 1804 – 3 August 1866) who was a Hungarian politician, and served as Minister of Agriculture, Industry and Trade during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 in the first government of Hungary. A theater opened in the square in the year of 1872, but was destroyed in 1874. A shopping hall (market) opened in 1897, in the place of the former theater and, nowadays houses a Kaizer supermarket. Just a few small stall holders remain offering limp lettuce wilting in the heat. Take a stroll through Klauzál Square Market Hall (Klauzál téri piac), one of the five large market halls in the city. The square contains a playground, sports facilities, beautiful environment for relaxation and entertainment, and even dog walking course:
Klauzál tér represented the centre of the ghetto in 1944-45. Over 50,000 Jews were crammed together here in terrible circumstances. First the Jewish people bodies were kept in Klauzál tér market fridges, then when it was very cold the Germans laid the bodies out in the square and buried them there.
There are several interesting, renovated buildings surrounding the square. In the No. 9 Klauzál square you find the Kádár Étkezde. The legendary Kádár Restaurant is also located in in the square, close to the entrance of the market. It is one of those small places where homemade food is served, tables are shared and there are only a few dishes to choose from. A great spot for lunch. Charmingly worn-down and homely, inexpensive too. Opening hours: Mon-Sat 11.30 – 15.30. Note: No dinner time. Sundays closed:
Next door a plaque on the wall reminds passers-by that Klauzál Tér was also a scene of confrontation in 1956. A memorial tablet to Attila Gérecz who died, aged 27, reads “Only he who is bigger than his fate can win in the final push”. The first grave of this poet of the revolution stood in the square and fading flags with the central communist motif burnt out are stuck behind the marble tablet.
It is 800 m. or 10-15 minutes to return to the Dohány Street Synagogue. Exit the Klauzál Tér from its most northern point. Head northwest on Klauzál tér toward Dob utca. Turn left onto Dob utca, 650 m. Dob utca begins at Károly körút and runs up to Rottenbiller utca along the length of the long narrow seventh district of Erzsebetvaros (Elizabeth Town) which continues up to Dózsa György út and the Városliget - City Park. The origin of its name Dob (Drum) utca is a mystery. Shalimar, at Dob utca 50, serves tandoori, tikka and kebab dishes from an open kitchen that taste like they’ve come via southern Hungary (there’s got to be paprika in there somewhere)... Open: noon - 16.00 & 18.00 - midnight. The Macesz Huszár is at Dob utca 26. A literal translation of the Hungarian name would be " The Noodle Hussar ". it is an excellent choice. It is not strictly Kosher but certainly Jewish inspired, Mostly used by Jewish families that are going to dinner. Excellent Chulent. There are also Latkes and desserts. Aside from the a la carte menu there are several chef's specials that change every two weeks. You can eat cheaper in this district if you only want pizza, burgers , shawharma or basic goulash, but if you want something better then this is it. The Fröhlich Pastry Shop is at Dob utca 22. The Fröhlich cukrászda has been producing delicious Kosher cakes since 1962, although the establishment dates back to 1917. Fröhlich is exceptional because all of its goods are made daily on site, Fortunately business is booming, and the café doubled in size two years ago, replacing the hard stone floor with white tiles. The Fröhlich family says it is the only genuine kosher café in Hungary and possibly in Central Europe. Dob utca 16 is the entrance to the Gozsdu Udvar (see above) - decorated with signs for a goldsmith, violin repair and engraving. Only five residents and five workshops remain in the 230-meter-long chain of seven courtyards of Gozsdu Udvar, built in the early 20th century, linking Dob and Király utca.
Turn left onto Károly krt., 34 m. Turn left onto Dohány u. and the Great Synagogue will be on the left. Kinor David is at Dohány utca 10. Budapest's largest kosher restaurant, 'David's Harp' is a cut above the usual and serves dinner as well. There are special fish dishes and Israeli treats as well. Shabbat meals (Friday dinner and Saturday lunch) by prepaid reservation only. Pay in advance for Friday dinner and Saturday lunch. Open: 11.00 - 23.00 MON - FRI & SUN, 12.00 - 14.00 SAT.
Saint-Paul de Vence:
Introduction: Saint Paul (St. Paul) is a beautiful medieval fortified village perched on a narrow spur between two deep valleys. Saint-Paul de Vence is a very frequented place for it's very numerous art galleries and for the Foundation Maeght, museum dedicated to the modern and contemporary art. The Foundation is situated in a garden decorated with numerous outdoors sculptures and welcome every year more than 210,000 guests. It exhibits works of Joan Miro and Alberto Giacometti. The summer, the permanent collection leaves the place to temporary exhibitions. Its location gives you a great view of the village from the La Colle road to the east or the Cagnes-Vence road to the west. Except for the ramparts and the typical old houses, the most predominant things to see in the village are the scores of art galleries, tourist shops, pseudo "artisanal" shops; all very expensive.
Short History: The first record of the village is from the 11th century: Castrum Sancti Pauli. The village was fortified in the 13th century. In the 16th century, St. Paul was ruled by the Lords of Grasse-Bar, and then became a Royal Village. In 1537, François 1st built a second wall to completely enclose the village. Several hundred houses had to be destroyed, and the inhabitants moved down to the lower lands, where La Colle is now located. Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Signac, Renoir, Dufy, Soutine and Chagall came here ( not all together) to the Cafè Robinson, the only existing restaurant. The owner, Paul Roux, accepted their paintings as compensation and day by day, year by year he could build an extraordinary art collection...
Festivities: Every June - Fete de la Musique and Fete, Feux de la St Jean.
BY BUS: Bus no. 400 goes between Nice and Vence via Saint-Paul de Vence. The bus departs from rue Verdun/Albert 1ere bus stop, opposite Hotel Meridian. The ticket costs just 1.50€ and you can buy it from the driver as you board, but note that if you are using a Nice day pass/week pass/or ten-trip card, it will work for going to Vence, but not to Foundation Maeght or Saint-Paul-de-Vence, due to this town lying in another bus network. Nice - Saint-Paul de Vence takes 60 - 75 minutes. If you want to make a free transfer within 2 1/2 hours, you can drop by the Lignes d’Azur boutique (across from train station or just off Place Garibaldi) and buy a Ticket Azur for the same price. This could be useful if you take a tram or bus in Nice before catching the bus 400, or if you want to see the Foundation Maeght and then want to take the bus one stop more to Saint-Paul-de-Vence, to avoid walking. On bus #400 - ask to stop AFTER the Foundation Maeght stop (Saint-Paul-de-Vence is the next stop). Bus #94 departs from the same place, goes to Vence and DOES NOT STOP at Saint-Paul de Vence. For complete, up-to-date time table of line 400 (Nice-Saint Paul de Vence- Nice) (in French): https://www.departement06.fr/documents/A-votre-service/Deplacements/transports-en-commun/dpt06-cadredevie_lignes_400.pdf
Distances to Nice and Antibes: 18 km (each).
We include Fondation Maeght in our Saint-Paul de Vence route - but, leave it for the end of our route. It is 750 m. walk DOWN from the Saint Paul village to this museum. From there, you catch the line 400 bus (stop opposite the museum) - back to Nice.
Duration: 3-4 hours inside the village. Allow 2-3 hours for the bus trips. You can plan a whole day, as there is a lot to explore, if you are the kind of person who sees details and enjoys going into the little workshops and galleries.
The no. 400 bus stops near a small fountain:
The Lavender smell hits your nose - immediately and you feel as if you have indeed stepped into another century. We turn left and begin at the Espace Sainte-Claire carpark. Across the road you will notice the small Chapelle Sainte Claire which marks the entrance to the village, from there walk left towards the main ramparts and you will pass by the famous hotel/restaurant on your left, La Colombe d’Or. Approach the parking lots, the main entrance to fortified Saint Paul and the wall that surrounds the village hugging it on all sides. On our left is the Hotel La Colombe d'Or (Hotel, restaurant and modern Museum - 15 euros entrance fee). La Colombe d’Or is decorated with artworks from Picasso, Leger, Matisse and other struggling artists who settled their bills with paintings. You can’t just wander in and look around, but you can make a reservation for lunch or dinner in the courtyard terrace, or drink an apéritif in the bar and enjoy the artful surroundings:
The first square, we meet, is the Place du Jeu de Boules beneath the ramparts at the entrance to the village. The square is edged with century-old plane trees where the villagers like to gather. The Café de la Place stands on one side: its terrace is the perfect spot for enjoying the atmosphere. The famous Colombe d’Or is on the other: its regulars included the greatest artists of the 20th century: Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Braque etc':
The Café de la Place is at the entrance just across the Colombe d’Or (on your right) and just like the latter, it is a St-Paul landmark:
Follow the ramparts, climbing towards the village, and enter by the Porte de Vence. This powerful, fortified gateway reminds us that Saint-Paul was a key border stronghold. Saint-Paul's ramparts were constructed in the 16th century on the order of François I and have remained intact. The entrance is also protected by a tower from the 14th century. At the Gate of Vence, notice the arched portico, the 14th-century cannons and the fortified tower and you begin to sense the history of this hilltop village as one of the first examples in France of a bastioned enclosure. Most tourists walk uphill on the main street – rue Grande – but just inside the gate take the first street on the right, rue de la Tour, and this leads you along the western ramparts and provides great views over the landscape.
The main entrance is through a thick arch - Vence Gate (Porte de Vence):
From the main entrance and the adjacent, huge tourist parking lot just below the city walls - we walk into the walled town trough the arch/gate above. We are on the top of a hill overlooking stunning countryside all around:
The views to west from the village main entrance through the walls gate:
Restaurant le Tilleul, 2 Place des Tilleuls - near the parking lot in the main entrance:
Turn right onto Rue de la Tour. We start our itinerary in the spot where the Saint Paul tourist office is on our left and the ramparts are on our right overlooking stunning scenery and splendid countryside:
We walk from north-east to south-west along rue de la Prison, slight left and continue 200 m. southward along Rempart S O Courtine Saint-Paul when the ramparts are immediately on our right:
Here and there - there is a contemporary sculpture above the walls:
The ramparts from the north:
When Rempart S O Courtine Saint-Paul meets Rue du Casse Cou (on your left: north-east) - take a couple of minutes to watch the wide countryside around:
On your left there is an hotel (Hôtel Le Saint-Paul) and municipal restroom (20 cents):
You can use the stairs - leading to the private area of Hôtel Le Saint-Paul:
120 m. further south along Rempart S O Courtine Saint-Paul (where it continues as Courtine Saint Michel) and we have wonderful. The cemetery (cimetière) is the resting place of the famous painter Marc Chagall, his simple white tomb often topped with pebbles as tributes (a Jewish tradition). Exiting the cemetery, there are steps to the right up to a lookout area for a panoramic view of the valley, mountains and sea:
Head northeast on Courtine Saint Michel toward Rue Grande, 25 m. Continue northward along Rue Grande.
Rue Grande (from south to north):
The eastern entrance to the Hotel and Restaurant Le Saint Paul :
Stratos Ateliê on the west side of Rue Grande:
Rue Grasnde (near Rue de Soldat:):
Atelier Morin, 50, rue Grande:
Brilliant paintings of movies stars:
Continuing northward along Rue Grande - we arrive to the Town Hall Square (Place de Mairie). In the past - it was the market square. Here stands an h. Place de la Mairie is the highest place of the town, with its highest tower, the Donjon, part of the ancient castle, and now part of the town hall:
Bernardi House - in the Town Hall square:
Donjon Tower - Town Hall:
In this square stands the Gothic Eglise Collegiale, built in the 12th Century with precious frescoes and with the Baroque St-Clement Chapel:
We found that the quality of the artistic items presented in most of Saint Paul galleries - is high-end.
A picture in one of the Rue Grande galleries south to the Town Hall Square:
Rue Grande - ceramics in one of the galleries:
We DO NOT CONTINUE along Rue Grande until its most northern end (it leads back to the Saint Paul Tourist Office). We, already, turned right from Rue Grande, through to the Place de Mairie (Town Hall Square) to Montée de l'Eglise. The L'Eglise Collégiale (La Collegiale de la Conversion de St-Paul) (Collegiale Church) is on our left (dimly lit inside). Masses are celebrated on Sunday in the late afternoon.
Turn left onto Rue du Saint-Esprit, 40 m.
Turn left onto Rue de Derrière l'Église, 15 m.
Head north on Rue de Derrière l'Église toward Rue de la Pourtoune
30 m. Turn right onto Rue des Verdalettes, 20 m. We change direction again. We are heading SOUTHWARD along Rue des Verdalettes when the ramparts are on our left and we see magnificent views beyond the walls (to the east):
Walk 50 m. south along Rue des Verdalettes until it meets the Rue de l’Allée (on your right). Here stands the past house of poet Jacques Prevert. Jacques Prévert discovered Saint-Paul de Vence in 1941, drawn to the French Riviera by his screenwriting when the Victorine Film Studios in Nice were in full swing. He settled in La Résidence (now the Café de la Place), which at the time was a village inn, before crossing the square to hang his hat in the Colombe d'Or. Paul Roux, owner of the Colombe d'Or, Prévert and Pablo Picasso formed a trio of very good friends; many collages by Prévert still decorate the walls of the famous inn. Other celebrities from the movie industry followed Prévert to the village, including film makers Henri-Georges Clouzot and André Cayatte. After the war, Jacques Prévert and his wife Janine rented La Miette, a small house in the centre of the village, before moving into L'Ormeau, a property on the edge of the village, until the mid 1950s.
L'Ormeau - Home of poet Jacques Prevert on the Rue de l’Allée. The house still stands today, framed by thick lashings of bougainvillea and climbing ivy:
Head SOUTH on Rue des Verdalettes toward Rue du Saint-Esprit, 15 m. Continue onto Rue du Fangas, 190 m. Continue onto Cour Tine Sainte-Claire, 70 m. Turn right to stay on Cour Tine Sainte-Claire, 10 m. With our face to the south - we see again the marvelous sights of the Alpes-Maritimes and Saint Paul Cemetery. Nearby is the other gate to the city (southern Gate), Nice Gate (Porte de Nice), from the 14th century:
We retrace our steps and browse, now, several local museums and/or exhibitions. We return to the north side of the village - by crossing, again, Saint Paul village from south to north - via Rue Grande. Head northwest on Rue Grande toward Rue du Casse Cou, 180 m. Slight right onto Descente de la Castre, 25 m. Turn right to stay on Descente de la Castre
7 m. Turn left onto Place de la Mairie, 35 m. Turn right onto Montée de la Castre, 20 m. n the center of the village, opposite the church we find the Musée d'Histoire Locale, 2 Montée de la Castre. It Includes wax figures in period costumes. Open: daily; mid JUN - mid SEP: 10.00 - 19.00; mid SEP - mid JUN: 10.00 -17.30. Closed: mid NOV - mid DEC.
We continue northward along Rue Grande until its most northern end which is exactly where the Tourist Office and the Saint Paul Municipal Museum reside. Musée Municipal Musée de Saint-Paul - 2 rue Grande
Open every day. From 1 JUN to 30 SEP: 10.00 to 19.00. From 1 OCT to 31 MAY: 10.00 - 12.00, 14.00 - 18.00. Free entrance. Contains exhibits by contemporary artists. closed: 15 NOV - 15 DEC.
In the Tourist Office (2nd floor) we saw temporary exhibition (maybe permanent ?) of "75 years of Cinema" of stars who lived in Saint Paul de Vence:
In case you have time and energy to visit the Fondation Maeght (outside of Saint Paul de Vence - on the main road back to Nice) - it is 650-700 m. walk to this contemporary museum. Otherwise - walk back through Porte Vence, Café de la Place and Hotel La Colombe d'Or - back to the 400 bus to Nice (on the other side of the highway !).
Head northeast on Rue de la Prison toward Rue de la Tour, 10 m. Turn left onto Rue de la Tour, 15 m. Slight right to stay on Rue de la Tour, 25 m. Slight left toward Route de Vence, 80 m. Slight right onto Route de Vence, 75 m. Turn left onto Chemin des Gardettes (Nice-Vence highway),
450 m and on your left (west) (steep climb) is the Fondation Maeght, 623 Chemin des Gardettes. Located just outside the village on the La Colle road (Chemin des Gardettes), then up the side road at the first bend (a modern sculpture is at the junction). This museum is world-renowned, and deserves the reputation. The collection of 20th-century paintings, sculptures and ceramics is extensive and excellent, and the museum setting, inside and outside, is beautiful: It has a nice space with green lawns, fountains and a shaded area. Open: daily; OCT - JUN: 10.00 - 12.30, 14.30 - 18.00; JUL - SEP: 10.00 - 19.00. Prices: 15 (!!!) euros. Extra 5 Euros - for taking photos (even outdoors). We do recommend the site but NOT the exhibitions. Pricey. sparse. 4 or 5 masterpieces. Very nice surrounding and gardens. Nice piece of architecture. The building was designed by the Spanish architect Josep Lluís Ser and is spectacular. Inside - there are changing, temporary exhibitions. Pleasant to see all modern art works OUTSIDE and... no more ! We think the site is for modern art enthusiasts. Better, head to Vence.
Juan Miro - Labyrinth:
Riga - National Library of Latvia, Mūkusalas iela 3:
Duration: 2-4 hours (1/2 day). Weather: best for rainy or windy day. For the view of Riga from the Library upper floors - you need a sunny or bright short period of time. Start & End: The National Library of Latvia. Public Transport (stop - 'Nacionala biblioteka'): Bus: 3, 4, 4z, 7, 8, 10, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 32, 35, 38, 39, 43, 54, 55. Minibus: 238, 242, 244, 246, 263, 270, 271. Tram: 1, 2, 4, 5, 10. Trolleybus: 9, 27. Location: the library resides in the western side of Riga - beyond the Daugava river. In case you want to cross the Daugava river on foot from Old Riga: your best bet is arriving from the House of Blackheads / the Town Hall Square / the Latvian Riflemen Monument / Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. Take a short 15-20 minute walk from Riga Old Town over Akmens Tilts (Stone Bridge) and you are here.
View from the Stone Bridge (Akmens Tilts) to the Island Bridge (Salu Tilts):
just a bridge span from Old Town, on the left bank of the Daugava, looms an extraordinary, culturally significant edifice, also known as Gaismas Pils (Castle of Light) - the new Latvian National Library.
In Latvian folklore, a crystal mountain symbolizes the height of achievement – something not easily attainable but full of rewards for those who make the commitment to reach its peak. Latvian literature and folklore also speak of the 'castle of light' as a metaphor for wisdom that has been lost, but will rise again from the depths of the Daugava river after the Latvian people have overcome the intellectual darkness of war, invasion and occupation. The architect has incorporated both of these Latvian myths into the design of the new National Library building. The building was built solely for Latvian National Library in order to have all notable literature works in one place, which previously was dispersed in many parts of Riga. Located on the left bank of the Daugava River, its glassy slopes mirror the spires that shape the distinctive silhouette of Riga's elegant Old Town.
Opening hours: MON - FRI: 9.00 - 20.00, SAT - SUN: 10.00 - 17.00. NOTE: Library is closed for public on the 2nd Monday of each month (Maintenance day) and on Latvian public holidays. On special occasions (with prior notice) - the Library is closed during state level events. You can find list of these dates: https://www.lnb.lv/en/nll-maintenance-days-and-public-holidays-2018-and-summer-opening-times
Guided excursions: Duration of the tour: 1 hour. Pre-booking on weekdays only (MON - FRI) from 9.00 to 17.00. Phone: +371 22022920, e-mail: email@example.com.
Detailed list of facilities in the Library:
Reading Room Level Opening hours, Welcome Desk: Phone: +371 67806135, +371 25627640, E–mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , Level 1: MON–FRI: 9.00–20.00, SAT-SUN: 10.00–17.00.
Aleksejs Apinis Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room: Phone: +371 67716025, E–mail: email@example.com, Level 5 :MON, WED, FRI: 12.00–20.00, TUE, THU: 9.00–17.00, SAT:10.00–17.00 , SUN: Closed.
Alfreds Kalnins Music Reading Room: Phone: +371 67716064, E–mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) Level 4: MON-FRI: 9.00–20.00, SAT-SUN: 10.00–17.00.
Archives of Latvian Folklore of the Institute of Literature, Folklore
and Art (University of Latvia): Phone: +371 67228632, E–mail: email@example.com , Level 5: MON-FRI: 10.00–17.00, SAT-SUN: closed.
Audiovisual Reading Room: Phone: +371 67716065, E–mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , Level 4: MON, WED, FRI: 12.00–20.00, TUE, THU: 9.00–17.00, SAT: 10.00–17.00, SUN: closed.
Baltic Research Centre for East Asian Studies Library (AsiaRes) Reading Room: Phone: +371 67716172, E–mail: email@example.com , Level M:MON, WED, FRI: 12.00–20.00, TUE, THU: 9.00–17.00, SAT: 10.00–17.00, SUN: closed.
Book issuing point: Phone: +371 67716204, E–mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , Level 2: MON-FRI: 9.00–20.00, SAT-SUN: 10.00–17.00.
Children's Literature Centre: Phone: +371 67716041, E–mail: email@example.com , Level 7: MON, TUE, FRI: 9.00–20.00, SAT-SUN: closed.
Economy and Rights, Reading Room: Phone: +371 67806121, E–mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Level 2: MON-FRI: 9.00–20.00, SAT-SUN: 10.00–17.00.
Humanities and Social Sciences, Reading Room: Phone: +371 67806122, E–mail: email@example.com, Level 2: MON-FRI: 9.00–20.00, SAT-SUN: 10.00–17.00.
Inte, SAT-SUN: Closed. rnet Reading Room: Phone: +371 67716178, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends e-mail), Level M: MON-FRI: 9.00–20.00, SAT-SUN: 10.00–17.00.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Reading Room: E-mail: email@example.com, Level 3: MON-FRI: 12.00–20.00, SAT-SUN: Closed.
Konrāds Ubāns Art, Reading Room: Phone: +371 67806140, E–mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Level 4: MON-FRI: 9.00–20.00, SAT-SUN: 10.00–17.00.
Lettonica and Baltic, Reading Room: Phone: +371 67716023, E–mail: email@example.com, Level 5: MON-FRI: 09.00 - 20.00, SAT-SUN: 10.00–17.00.
Library and Information Science, Reading Room: E–mail: firstname.lastname@example.org,Level 8: Closed due to reorganization.
Maps Reading Room: Phone: +371 67716031, E–mail: email@example.com, Level 6: MON, WED, FRI:12.00–20.00, TUE, THU: 9.00–17.00, SAT: 10.00–17.00, SUN: closed.
Periodicals Reading Room: Phone: +371 67806126, E–mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com, Level 3: MON-FRI: 9.00–20.00, SAT-SUN: 10.00–17.00.
Reference and Information Centre: Phone: +371 67806110, E–mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Level M: MON-FRI: 9.00–20.00, SAT-SUN: 10.00–17.00.
Silence and Meditation Room: Phone: +371 67716063, E–mail: email@example.com, Level 4: MON-FRI:9.00–20.00, SAT-SUN: 10.00–17.00.
Small Prints Reading Room: E–mail: firstname.lastname@example.org,) Level 6: MON, WED, FRI: 12.00–20.00, TUE,THU: 9.00–17.00, SAT: 10.00–17.00, SUN: closed.
Technology and Science, Reading Room: Phone: +371 67806132, E–mail: email@example.com, Level 3: MON-FRI: 9.00–20.00, SAT-SUN: 10.00–17.00.
Other facilities and current events in the Latvian National Library: exhibitions (permanent and temporary), restaurant, bistro and cafe "Klīversala". Friends room – Shop and Information Centre for Latvia's centenary celebrations.
The idea for a new National Library was conceived in 1928 - building was finally started in 2008, so it took a good 80 years to get started! As part of Riga's European Capital of Culture celebrations, selected library holdings were symbolically carried from the old to the new building by a human chain on 18 January 2014 (it opened to the public in August 2014).
The new library building houses a modern information centre and ample space for cultural and social events, offering one and all multi-themed reading rooms and access to rare books and audio/video recordings besides the usual printed matter. Open to the general public for viewing is the Dainu skapis. Dainu skapis is a cabinet with 73 drawers of three different sizes used as an editor's tool by Krišjānis Barons (1835-1923) working at the most famous edition of Latvian folksongs “Latvju Dainas” (published in 6 volumes / 8 tomes between 1894 and 1915). The cabinet itself (as a furniture item) was made by a craftsman in Moscow in 1880, the contents of it – paper slips sized approx. 3 x 11 cm (which constitute the actual value of the heritage item) – are the collection of folksong texts sent to the editor by different collectors and copied from other sources available at the time of editing. The material found there came from different individual collections, dating back to mid-19th century (the copied material comes from editions published as early as 1807). The compilation work of the particular edition was started in 1878, so the bulk of the material is later than this date. The very idea of a folk songs' text publication was part of the Latvian national revival. This movement followed the European romantic tradition of the time searching for important heritage of the past to turn that into the cornerstone of the modern culture. The particular work survived change of trends and Dainu skapis for many decades has been both a symbol of Latvianism and a priceless source for scholarly research. The cabinet that UNESCO recognizes as having global significance; included on the register for the programme called World Memory.
The basic objective of the new structure is to accrue and preserve national and international literary works, securing access to them for the general public. Over four million units are now located here, mostly Latvian publications concerning Latvia and Latvians.
Opened in August of 2014, the striking edifice is the masterwork of the world-renowned Latvian-American architect Gunārs Birkerts. It is magnificent, modern glass pyramid that dominates the skyline. It is also spectacular with its position on the waterfront:
The library building has already become active in organizing various exhibits, concerts and conferences. You will be given a leaflet telling you about the temporary exhibitions. There are also permanent exhibitions including a very comprehensive one about the history of books in Latvia. Available here are a restaurant, cafe, WiFi, and the most splendid panoramic view of Old Town.
Guided Tours: Informative guided tours for groups Monday to Saturday; prior reservation on workdays /Mon-Fri/ from 9:00 to 17:00; 22022920, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Foreign visitors please note a EUR 2 fee for a tour; groups of 15 - EUR 20. Guides conduct tours in Latvian, Russian, German and English.
No entrance fee for individuals. Non-guided-tours visitors are allowed entering ONLY floors 1-8. To go to the roof terrace you need to be with a guide.
Security rules: you must leave ALL your bags in a locker, so have a one euros coin with you. You get a special badge which accompanies you during your stay in this temple of culture and architecture. Enter the great hall and ask for a (free) visitor pass with a personal badge. This way you have access to the first eight floors. The view is best from the children's library.
Other facilities: clean, modern restrooms everywhere. The cafeteria or restaurant, with a view over the Daugava river, has excellent food, huge variety of servings. All with very low prices. The overall price for a lunch is about one third of what you'd pay in the old town just across the river! Nice view while eating. A SPECIAL EXPERIENCE ! You will be blown away with this complex and its activities !
We recommend allowing half-a-day for visiting this impressive, admirable, spectacular site. For its size, architectural achievements, extent and quality of culture included in its multiple sections and departments, wealth of exhibitions (reflecting Latvia special character and soul), FANTASTIC view of Riga (especially, during the 2nd half of the day, during bright days) from any high floor of the library - except of the roof. There is also (one-of-a-kind) auditorium where a large crowd is made seated and be entertained by speakers on various issues and subjects. A lovely idea !