Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the center of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area. The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay (of the Baltic Sea), in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the Tricity (Trójmiasto), with a population of over 800,000. Gdańsk itself has a population of 455,830 (June 2010), making it the largest city in the Pomerania region of Northern Poland.

Gdańsk is situated at the mouth of the Motława River, connected to the Leniwka, a branch in the delta of the nearby Vistula River, whose waterway system supplies 60% of the area of Poland and connects Gdańsk to the national capital in Warsaw. This gives the city a unique advantage as the center of Poland's sea trade. Together with the nearby port of Gdynia, Gdańsk is also an important industrial center.

Early settlements in the area are associated with the Wielbark culture; and after the Great Migrations, they were replaced by a Pomeranian settlement that probably dates back to the 7th century. In the 980s, a stronghold was built most probably by Mieszko I of Poland who thereby connected the Polish state ruled by the Piast dynasty with the trade routes of the Baltic Sea. The first written record of this stronghold is the vita of Saint Adalbert, written in 999 and describing events of 997. This date is generally regarded as the founding of Gdańsk in Poland; in 1997 the city celebrated the millennial anniversary of the year 997 when Saint Adalbert of Prague baptized the inhabitants of the settlement on behalf of Boleslaw the Brave of Poland.

The Crane
Gdańsk, known then as Danzig, had a long tradition of city-state independence. It was also a leading player in the Prussian Confederation directed against the Teutonic Monastic State of Prussia. 

The Confederation stipulated with the Polish king, Casimir IV Jagiellon, that the Polish Crown would be invested with the role of head of state of western parts of Prussia (Royal Prussia). In contrast, Ducal Prussia remained a Polish fief. Danzig and other cities such as Elbing and Thorn financed most of the warfare and enjoyed a high level of city autonomy, and Danzig used the title Royal Polish City of Danzig.

In 1569, when Royal Prussia's estates agreed to incorporate the region into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by way of a real union, the city insisted on preserving its special status within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, went through the costly Siege of Danzig in 1577 in order to preserve special privileges, and subsequently insisted on negotiating its issues by sending emissaries directly to the Polish king. 

Gdańsk suffered heavily during the second World War, and indeed has been cited as the place where the first shots were fired. In 1941, the German government ordered the invasion of the Soviet Union, eventually causing the fortunes of war to turn against it. As the Soviet Army advanced in 1944, German populations in Central and Eastern Europe took flight, resulting in the beginning of a great population shift. After the final Soviet offensive began in January 1945, hundreds of thousands of German refugees, many of whom had fled to Danzig on foot from East Prussia, tried to escape through the city's port in a large-scale evacuation involving hundreds of German cargo and passenger ships. Some of the ships were sunk by the Soviets, including the Wilhelm Gustloff after an evacuation was attempted at neighboring Gdynia. In the process, tens of thousands of refugees were killed.

The city also endured heavy Allied and Soviet air raids. Those who survived and could not escape had to face the Soviet Army, which captured the city on March 30, 1945. The city was heavily damaged. In line with the decisions made by the Allies at the Yalta and Potsdam conferences, the city became part of Poland. The remaining German residents of the city who had survived the war fled or were forcibly expelled to postwar Germany, and the city was repopulated by ethnic Poles, up to 18 percent (1948) of them had been deported by the Soviets in two major waves from Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union, i.e. from the eastern portion of pre-war Poland.

The Grand Mill
The city that re-emerged from the rubble was Polish, and the controversial matter of the Danzig corridor - 'the match that set Europe alight' - was settled. Thus a city that had been founded by Polish King Mieszko I in 980 - but which had been firmly out of the Polish orbit since 1792 - was re-christened with its original name, Gdansk, and a vast rebuilding project was begun. 

If you're curious about branching off from the Prague - Krakow - Budapest route, then the Tri-City has much to offer the traveller. Known historically as the powderkeg whose spark  ignited the Second World War, it was also in Gdansk where the flame that signalled the collapse of communism was raised (by native son, Lech Walesa). Shedding the stigma that the city is little more than a bunch of battered cranes in a dingy shipyard, Gdansk's Old Town has been scrubbed clean, shined up, and stocked full of hotels, restaurants, cafes, clubs, bars and amber shops amidst the picturesque Burgher houses that line its streets. 

Oliwa Archcathedral
Like many of Poland's cities, Gdansk boasts a rich cultural heritage. There are few places on this planet which can claim as colourful a history as Gdansk . One has but to look at the last few centuries to find the proof: years under Polish rule... times with the Germans... the days of autonomy. Tack on to that a membership in the Hanseatic League and you've got yourself some colour. The city and its personality reflect this colorful past and the many cultures which have shaped its identity. Today, Gdansk is one of Poland's cultural powerhouses with a score of festivals, museums and galleries to prove it. 

Professional foodies are not yet toasting Poland as a mecca of haute cuisine, but given the Poles' creative bent, a renaissance in Polish cooking may not be as far off as it sounds. In terms of sheer variety and quality, options have already increased a hundred fold over the last few years, and whether it's classic Polish fare that you're after, some international spice, or simply a trusty old milk-bar where you can pick up a tasty cutlet for next to nothing, then you can find it in Gdansk.

Pottering around Gdansk's main town you'll find many little shops to explore. One local treasure that you're sure to encounter in this part of the world is amber, 'the gold of the Baltic', and the Poles can make this into pretty much anything from elegant jewellery to elaborate chess sets. Further north in Sopot, you'll find the commercial district centred around the lively ul. Bohaterow Monte Cassino, whilst in Gdynia the brash ul. Starowiejska is setting the tone.  

                                                         Gdansk’s Top 5:
  1. St Mary's Basilica.   The Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is said to be the largest brick church in the world. Its construction took place in two stages, beginning in 1343 and ending in 1502. The church contains many important works of medieval and baroque art. These includes a stone Pietà (from approximately 1410), a copy of Hans Memling’s The Last Judgement and an astronomical clock from the second half of the 15th century constructed by Hans Düringer over a period of 7 years. The church is 344 ft long, including the tower battlements, and the vaults soar 95 ft above floor level. The solid main tower is 255 ft high and crowned with a viewing gallery, from which you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city. 
  2. The Crane. Built in the first half of the 15th century between the pylons of Brama Szeroka (the Wide Gate), became the city’s symbol. In the Middle Ages it was the largest port crane in Europe, used for moving goods and raising ship masts. It was able to lift 4 tons to an altitude of 36 feet, and was powered by workers walking inside two tread wheels. The crane is currently part of the National Maritime Museum.
  3. The Grand Mill The Grand Mill was erected by the Teutonic Order in 1350. It was powered by the Radunia Channel with its 18 waterwheels, each 16 feet in diameter, and is an exceptional construction for the time. The mill's functions included a storehouse and bakery. After modernisation in the first half of the 19th century, the mill was in use until the end of World War II.
  4. Oliwa Archcathedral is a church located in the Oliwa district; dedicated to The Holy Trinity, Blessed Virgin Mary and St Bernard. The archcathedral is a three-nave basilica with a transept and a multisided closed presbytery, finished with an ambulatory. The façade is flanked by two slender towers, 46-metres tall each with sharply-edged helmets. In 1224, during the pagan Prussians crusade the first Romanesque oratory was burnt. The church was rebuilt and extended in 1234 (or 1236) to be soon destroyed by another Prussian crusade. In 1577, during the rebellion of the city of Gdańsk the Gdańsk mercenary army attacked the monastery and burned it to the ground. The church was rebuilt between 1578 and 1583. On the 25th March 1992, Pope John Paul II issued a papal bull by which he established the Archdiocese of Gdańsk with the seat in Oliwa and raised the basilica to the dignity of an Archcathedral.
  5. Westerplatte is a peninsula at the mouth of the so-called Dead Vistula river.  It was here, on September 1, 1939, that the first shots of World War II were fired by the German Battleship Schleswig-Holstein. A Polish garrison of just 205 ill-equipped soldiers held out against two warships, aircraft, heavy guns and over 3,000 German troops for a week, losing only 14 men and killing 300 of the enemy. In 1966 a Monument to the Coast Defenders was erected there and stands to this day. It’s 82 ft high (plus a 66 ft high base). The shape of the monument resembles a serrated bayonet plunged into the ground.

    Westerplatte Monument


Geneva is situated where the Rhone exits Lake Geneva, a financial centre, a worldwide centre for diplomacy and the most important UN international co-operation centre with New York thanks to the presence of numerous international organisations, including the headquarters of many of the agencies of the United Nations and the Red Cross. It is also the place where the Geneva Conventions were signed, which chiefly concern the treatment of wartime non-combatants and prisoners of war.

Geneva's most famous monument, The Jet d'eau, is the world's tallest water fountain and provides a constant landmark for exploring the city. Geneva's ancient Old Town, a gothic maze of cobblestone streets topped by historic Saint Pierre's Cathedral and the Town Hall,  offers a living glimpse of the past while Geneva's more than thirty museums and art galleries capture the rich and vibrant history of the city including the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCO).   For a more historical perspective, head to the Art and History Museum or the Maison Tavel – the oldest house in the city. Make sure to leave some time to check out wonderful antique boutiques located throughout the old town. Wander down along the old city walls to Geneva's theater district and center of culture at Place Neuve.

For a change of pace take a cruise on the lake or relax in one of Geneva's main waterfront parks. Take a dip at Bains de Paquis or just relax in one of the lakeside parks or cafes or stroll to Bastions Park for a glimpse of Reformation Wall containing the effigies of Geneva's founding fathers. 

Be sure to check out Geneva’s famed Market Street to buy a Swiss watch or just window shop on Rue de Rive and Rue du Rhone but try not to look at the price tags. Relax at one of the cafés at Place du Molard or Place de la Fusterie for some first class people watching.

Take a tour of the European Headquarters of the United Nations followed up by a visit to the Red Cross Museum across the street. Be sure to take note of the many sculptures as you wander the grounds in between including the “Broken Chair” monument to land mine victims at Place des Nations.

Hop across the L’Arve River to the Bohemian burg of Carouge modeled after Nice, France and filled with quaint boutiques where you can actually observe the artists at work in their studios. Relax in one of Carouge’s artsy cafes or hang around until after dark to party in one the neighborhood’s famous jazz clubs.

Explore Geneva’s most international districts located just north and east of Gare Cornavin. Try one of the area’s many ethnic restaurants and don’t forget the shopping. The Schtrumpfs Building located at 23-29 Rue Louis-Favre in Les Grottes is a fantastical architectural icon that defies description.

Mingle with the locals at Plainpalais, Geneva’s largest outdoor flea market open Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 08:00 to 17:00 rain or shine. Antiques, records, vintage clothing and other curios await savvy bargain hunters.

Geneva is a city of many faces, among the most famous of these is its role as the world capital of luxury watchmaking, a title earned by generations in the pursuit of perfection. Many monuments and visitor attractions remind the visitors of the role the city played in watchmaking history.

With a myriad of boutiques and department stores, Geneva offers something for everyone. It’s the watch capital of the world, a centre for exquisite jewelry, and a place to find high quality Swiss and imported items. Before you leave, don’t forget to purchase some chocolate from one of Geneva’s master chocolate-makers. And why not stock up on Swiss army knives? They make the ideal gift for anyone - including yourself!

Geneva is the perfect home base for exploring the surrounding countryside. Day trips to the nearby towns of Montreux, Chamonix and Lausanne are highly recommended.

Geneva’s Top 5:
Saint Peter's Cathedral
St Peter's Cathedral
  1. Jet D'Eau. Originally a simple security valve at the Coulouvrenière hydraulic factory, this water fountain has, over the years, grown to be the symbol of Geneva. In 1891, it was transferred to the "Rade", to become a major tourist attraction. However, it was not until 1951 that it was provided with an autonomous pumping station, propelling 500 litres of water per second to a height of 140 metres at a speed of 200 km per hour (124 miles/h). Eight 9,000-watt projectors light the fountain’s majestic column in the evening as it soars skywards.
  2. St Peter's Cathedral. 157 steps lead to the summit of the cathedral’s north tower and to a fabulous panorama overlooking the city and the lake. The first phase of the cathedral’s construction dates back to the year 1160 and lasted nearly a century. Many events, including a series of fires, led to restorations and reconstructions, modifying its original design. Then, in the middle of the 16th century, the advent of the Reformation, with its philosophy of austerity, altered the entire interior of the building. All ornaments were removed and the brightly coloured walls whitewashed. Only the stained glass windows were spared. Its current neo-classic facade dates from the middle of the 18th century, having replaced the former Gothic one.
  3. Place du Bourg-de-FourIn the very heart of the Old Town, the Place du Bourg-de-Four has always been a meeting place. Today, hosts of Genevans still gather around its lovely 18th century flowered fountain or on the terrace of a picturesque bistro. Since Roman times, it was a centre for commerce. In the middle of the 16th century, the houses were raised in order to accommodate exiled Protestants. Today, one may admire magnificent specimens of 16th century architecture, as well as handsome constructions of the 17th and 18th. including the convent of the Order of St. Clare and, until 1857, a hospital.
  4. Basilica of Notre-Dame. The construction of this basilica, which owes much to the joint efforts of many Catholic circles, lasted from 1852 to 1857.In 1850, it was decided to attribute a piece of land belonging to former fortifications to the Catholic parish of Geneva, which had only been able to use the Saint- Germain church for some ten thousand worshipers. Built entirely of sandstone within the Cornavin bastion, its architecture was inspired by the 12th century classic Gothic style and to a great extent, by the Amiens cathedral. The latest restorations were completed in 1981.
  5. United Nations Building
    United Nations Building. Constructed between 1929 and 1936 to house the League of Nations, the Palais des Nations became the headquarters of the United Nations in 1946 when the former organisation was dissolved. The vast wooded park overlooking the lake, where it is located, was donated by the City of Geneva. Today, after the completion of a new wing in 1973, it is the second most important centre of the United Nations after  New York. Its area is the size of the Palais de Versailles and its Assembly Room, seating 2,000, is as large as the Paris Opera House. Over 25,000 delegates meet here annually to negotiate world peace.
    Location: Avenue de la Paix
    Hours: 10:00 – 12:00, 14:00 – 16:00 Daily. 09:00 – 16:00 (July and August)
    Admission: SFr.8.50. 
    Please note your passport is required for entry.


Genoa, known in Italy as Genova, is the capital of Liguria and the sixth largest city in Italy.  Nicknamed la Superba ("the Superb one") due to its glorious past and impressive landmarks, it is one of Europe's largest cities on the Mediterranean Sea and the largest seaport in Italy. Part of the old town of Genoa was inscribed on the World Heritage List (UNESCO) in 2006. The city's rich art, music, gastronomy, architecture and history, allowed it to become the 2004's European Capital of Culture. It is the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.

Genoa's history goes back to ancient times. The first historically known inhabitants of the area are the Ligures. A city cemetery, dating from the 6th and 5th centuries BC, testifies to the occupation of the site by the Greeks, but the fine harbor was probably in use much earlier, perhaps by the Etruscans. It is also probable that the Phoenicians had bases in Genoa, or in the nearby area, since an inscription with an alphabet similar to that used in Tyre has been found.

In the Roman era, Genoa was overshadowed by the powerful Marseille and Vada Sabatia, near modern Savona. Different from other Ligures and Celt settlements of the area, it was allied to Rome through a foedus aequum ("Equal pact") in the course of the Second Punic War. It was because of this alliance that the city was destroyed by the Carthaginians in 209 BC. The town was rebuilt and, after the end of the Carthaginian Wars, received municipal rights. The original castrum thenceforth expanded towards the current areas of Santa Maria di Castello and the San Lorenzo promontory. Genoese trades included skins, wood, and honey. Goods were shipped to the mainland from Genoa, up to major cities like Tortona and Piacenza.

A city rich in art, of flourishing trade and commercial exchange, Genoa is one of the most surprising cities in Italy.

Long ignored by conventional tourist routes, Genoa offers its visitors incredible attractions and a stunning artistic heritage.
Its medieval old town -- the biggest in Europe -- is an intricate labyrinth of alleyways, where among the shops, restaurants, and local stores, visitors can catch sight of the city's noble past in its 16th century palazzos, baroque edifices, and Romanesque churches, looming over the little piazzas. 

Strada Nuova (the present-day via Garibaldi) was opened in the 1500's in a peripheral urban area, not far from the commercial center. This new, lovely and elegant street reflected brightly upon the most wealthy and powerful families of Genoa, who made it their own residential quarter. This long road winds alongside luxurious palazzos, with their grand atriums, staircases, courtyards, outdoor halls and hanging gardens -- innovations never before seen in the Genoa of that time.
La Lanterna
Today, via Garibaldi is home to the most outstanding set of museums in Genoa, including exceptionally important picture galleries such as Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco, and Palazzo Spinola. 

It's easy to go out and enjoy yourself in Genoa. There is an abundance of restaurants and eating establishments in the historical city center to satisfy every taste, from traditional Ligurian cuisine to more exotic ethnic and fusion culinary creations. In addition, the musical scene is always in a ferment, not to mention the summertime, when the city explodes into festivals and the seaside areas fill up with crowds.

Near the Piazza De Ferraris, there is a excellent selection of trattorias, restaurants and lounge bars in the area of via San Lorenzo, Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza San Donato and via Ravecca.  For a more "alternative" atmosphere, find your way to the area around via Garibaldi, on via Maddalena and all the adjacent alleyways.  The third alternative is still in the historic city center -- Porto Antico (the old port): here you will find the most "modern" version of Genoa: the multi-screen Cineplex, ice skating rink and abundant shops, restaurants and the most fashionable nightclubs, like the Fronte del Porto or the Banano Tsnunami. 

La Porta Soprana,
entrance through the city walls
Popular foods local to Genoa include pesto sauce, focaccia, farinata, stoccafisso (stockfish), and salsa di noci (walnut sauce). Pasta (usually trofie) al Pesto is probably the most iconic among Genoese foods. Pesto sauce is prepared with fresh basil, pine nuts, grated parmesan, garlic and olive oil pounded together. Another popular dish which is common to Genoa is the minestrone, a thick soup made out of several vegetables and legumes, such as potatoes, beans, green beans, cabbages, pumpkins and zucchini. 

Other soup dishes which are common to the city include the fish-consisting buridda, zemin (a soup with garbanzo beans), sbira and preboggion. Other specialties are Ravioli al sugo (Ravioeu ao tocco), Cappon Magro, Pandolce (Pandoçe) and Sacripantina. Is also known for its cheese filled pizza crust (focaccia al formaggio), although it is mainly typical of Recco (a town in the eastern Riviera), not far from Genoa.

                                                        Genoa’s Top 5:
  1. San Lorenzo Cathedral. The Cathedral of San Lorenzo, reconstructed in Romanesque style during the 12th century, has since the time of the Crusades protected the ashes of Saint John the Baptist (San Giovanni Battista), the patron saint of Genoa. The black and white edifice sits between two towers, and opening out from it are three richly decorated gothic doors. From the sides of the edifice emerge two stone lions and a statue of San Giovanni. The Museo del Tesoro is located in the basement of the Cathedral: it holds precious relics whose stories have passed into legend: the Sacro Catino, a relic of the Last Supper, the plate which held the head of the Baptist, the Croce degli Zaccaria, and the magnificent tabernacle containing the ashes of saints.
  2. The Palazzo San Giorgio. or Palace of St. George (also known as the Palazzo delle Compere di San Giorgio) is a palace situated in the Piazza Caricamento. The palace was built in 1260 by Guglielmo Boccanegra, uncle of Simone Boccanegra, the first Doge of Genoa. For the construction of the new palace, materials were used from the demolition of the Venetian embassy in Constantinople, having been obtained from Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII as a reward for Genoese aid against the Latin Empire. Stone lions, the emblem of Venice's patron St Mark were displayed as trophies on the facade by her bitter rival, the Republic of Genoa. The palace was intended — through the creation of a civil-political center — to separate and elevate the temporal power of the Republic's government from the religious power of the clergy, centered on the Cathedral of San Lorenzo. In 1262, Guglielmo Boccanegra was deposed and forced into exile. The palace was used for a time as a prison; Marco Polo was its most famous resident and it was there that he dictated his memoirs to Rustichello of Pisa.
  3. The Lighthouse of Genoa. simply called La Lanterna, is the main lighthouse for the city's port. Besides being an important aid to night navigation in the vicinity, the tower serves as a symbol for the City of Genoa, and is one of the oldest standing structures of its kind in the world. It is built on the hill of San Benigno at some little distance from the Sampierdarena neighborhood. At 249 feet (76 m) it is the world's second tallest "traditional lighthouse" built of masonry. It is constructed in two square portions, each one capped by a terrace; the whole structure is crowned by a lantern from which the light is shone.
  4. The City Walls. The city of Genoa during its long history at least since 9th century had been defended by different line of wallsTo this day, large portions of these walls remain, and Genoa has more and longer walls than any other city in Italy. The main city walls are known as “Ninth century walls”, "Barbarossa Walls" (12th century ), "Fourteenth century walls", "Sixteenth century walls" and "New Walls" ("Mura Nuove" in Italian), the more imposing, built in the first half of 17th century on the ridge of hills around the city, having a length of almost 20 kilometres. Some fortresses stand along the perimeter of the "New Walls" or close them.
  5. The Aquarium of Genoa. Is the largest aquarium in Italy and the second largest in Europe. Built for Genoa Expo '92, the Aquarium of Genoa is an educational, scientific and cultural centre. Its mission is to educate and raise public awareness as regards conservation, management and responsible use of aquatic environments. It welcomes over 1.2 million visitors a year. Control of the entire environment, including the temperature, filtration, and lighting of the tanks was provided by local Automation Supplier Orsi Automazione, acquired in 2001 by Siemens. The Aquarium of Genoa is co-ordinating the AquaRing EU project. It also provides scientific expertise and a great deal of content for AquaRing, including documents, images, academic content and interactive online courses, via its Online Resource Centre.

    Palazzo San Giorgio


Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe. 

Archaeological evidence shows human presence in the region of the confluence of Scheldt and Lys going back as far as the Stone Age and the Iron Age. There are no written records of the Roman period but archaeological research confirms that the region of Ghent was further inhabited. 

Around 650 Saint Amand founded two abbeys in Ghent: the Saint Peter Abbey and the St. Bavo's Abbey. The city grew from several nuclei, the abbeys and a commercial centre. Around 800 Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, appointed Einhard, the biographer of Charlemagne, as abbot of both abbeys. In 851 and 879 the city was however attacked and plundered twice by the Vikings. 

The city recovered and flourished from the 11th century on. Until the 13th century Ghent was the biggest city in Europe after Paris; it was bigger than London, Cologne or Moscow. Within the city walls lived up to 65,000 people. 
Today, the belfry and the towers of the Saint Bavo Cathedral and Saint Nicholas' Church are just a few examples of the skyline of the period. Much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact and is remarkably well preserved and restored. Its centre is the largest carfree area in Belgium.

Modern day Ghent is a university city with more than 50,000 students. As such, its streets are filled with young people. But, unlike Leuven, another university town in Flanders, youth is not the only category of people living there. There is an interesting mixture of foreigners who came to live there, or artists, amongst the native people of Ghent. Interestingly, other than the smaller provincial cities or the bigger city of Antwerp, this mixture makes the people more tolerant and open-minded. This atmosphere seeps into every aspect of city life. Many people of Ghent truly see the place like home, and are very proud to live there, seeing it as a place that will always welcome them back home. 

In Ghent and other regions of East-Flanders, bakeries sell a donut-shaped bun called a "mastel" (plural "mastellen"), which is basically a bagel. "Mastellen" are also called "Saint Hubert bread", because on the Saint's feast day, which is 3 November, the bakers bring their batches to the early Mass to be blessed. Traditionally, it is thought that blessed mastellen immunize against rabies.

Other local delicacies are the praline chocolates from local producers such as Leonidas and Dascalides, the 'neuzekes' ('noses'), cone-shaped purple jelly-filled candies, 'babeluten' ('babblers'), hard butterscotch-like candy, and of course, on the more fiery side, the famous 'Tierenteyn', a hot but refined mustard that has some affinity to French 'Dijon' mustard.

'Stoverij' is a classic Flemish meat stew, preferably made with a generous adittion of brown 'Trappist' (strong abbey beer) and served with French fries. 'Waterzooi' is a local stew originally made from freshwater fish caught in the rivers and creeks of Ghent, but nowadays often made with chicken instead of fish. It is usually served nouvelle-cuisine-style, and will be supplemented by a large pot on the side.

For authentic pubs, go to St. Veerleplein (the square in front of the Castle), the pubs around St. Jacob's church (especially during weekends), or the student area around Blandijnberg (Mount Blandin), especially in the proximity of the School of Arts and Philosophy, recognisable from afar by the 64 metres tall art deco Library Tower. 

                                                        Ghent’s Top 5:
  1. Saint Bavo Cathedral  is the seat of the diocese of Ghent. It is named for Saint Bavo of Ghent. The building is based upon the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, a primarily wooden construction; it was consecrated in 942 by Transmarus, Bishop of Tournai and Noyon. Traces of this original structure are evident in the cathedral's crypt. The chapel was subsequently expanded in the Romanesque style in 1038. Some traces of this phase of expansion are still evident in the present day crypt. In the subsequent period from the 14th through 16th centuries, nearly continuous expansion projects in the Gothic style were executed on the structure. Construction was considered complete June 7, 1569. In 1539, as a result of the rebellion against Charles V, the old Abbey of St. Bavo was dissolved. Its abbot and monks went on to become canons in a Chapter that was attached to what then became the Church of Saint Bavo. When the Diocese of Ghent was founded in 1559, the church became its Cathedral. The church of Saint Bavo was also the site of the baptism of Charles V.
  2. The Gravensteen The present castle was built in 1180 by count Philip of Alsace and was modeled after the crusaders castles that Philip of Alsace encountered while he participated in the second crusade. Before its construction, there stood a wooden castle on the same location, presumably built in the ninth century. The castle served as the seat of the Counts of Flanders until they abandoned it in the 14th century. The castle was then used as a courthouse, a prison and eventually decayed. Houses were built against the walls and even on the courtyard and the stones of the walls were used to erect other buildings. At one time it even served as a factory. At the end of the 19th century, the castle was scheduled to be demolished. In 1885 the city of Ghent bought the castle and started a renovation project. The newly built houses were removed and the walls and dungeon were restored to their original condition. This renovation has been the subject of discussion. People argue whether the castle can still be considered authentic. Despite these discussions, the Gravensteen attracts huge numbers of tourists. The castle has been repaired enough to allow people to travel through it and climb on top. It is still partly surrounded by the moat. Inside is a museum with various torture devices (and a guillotine) that were historically used in Ghent.
  3. St. Nicholas' Church is one of the oldest and most prominent landmarks in Ghent. Begun in the early 13th century as a replacement for an earlier Romanesque church, construction continued through the rest of the century in the local Scheldt Gothic style (named after the nearby river). Typical of this style is the use of blue-gray stone from the Tournai area, the single large tower above the crossing, and the slender turrets at the building's corners. Built in the old trade center of Ghent next to the bustling Korenmarkt (Wheat Market), St. Nicholas' Church was popular with the guilds whose members carried out their business nearby. The guilds had their own chapels which were added to the sides of the church in the 14th and 15th centuries. The central tower, which was funded in part by the city, served as an observation post and carried the town bells until the neighboring belfry of Ghent was built. These two towers, along with the Saint Bavo Cathedral, still define the famous medieval skyline of the city centre. 
  4. The Museum of Fine Arts is situated at the East side of the Citadelpark. The museum holds a large permanent collection of art from the Middle Ages until mid 20th Century. The collection focuses on Flemish Art (Southern Netherlands) but also has several European works, including paintings by Hieronymus Bosch and Peter Paul Rubens. It also has a large amount of sculptures. Next to its permanent collection the museum organises temporary exhibitions (approximately 2 every year). The building was designed by city architect Charles van Rysselberghe around 1900. In 2007 the museum reopened after four years of restoration.
  5. The Belfry.  The 91-metre-high belfry of Ghent is one of three medieval towers that overlook the old city centre. Through the centuries, it has served not only as a bell tower to announce the time and various warnings, but also as a fortified watchtower and town treasury. Construction of the tower began in 1313 to the design of master mason Jan van Haelst, whose plans are still preserved in a museum. After continuing intermittently through wars, plagues and political turmoil, the work reached completion in 1380. It was near the end of this period that the gilded dragon, brought from Bruges, assumed its place atop the tower. The uppermost parts of the building have been rebuilt several times, in part to accommodate the growing number of bells.



Girona is a city in the northeast of Catalonia, Spain at the confluence of the rivers Ter, Onyar, Galligants and Güell, with an official population of 96,722 in January 2011. It is the capital of the province of the same name and of the comarca of the Gironès. It is located 99 km (62 mi) northeast of Barcelona. Girona is one of the major Catalan cities.

The first historical inhabitants in the region were Iberians; Girona is the ancient Gerunda, a city of the Ausetani. Later, the Romans built a citadel there, which was given the name of Gerunda. The Visigoths ruled in Girona until it was conquered by the Moors. Finally, Charlemagne reconquered it in 785 and made it one of the fourteen original countships of Catalonia. Thus it was wrested temporarily from the Moors, who were driven out finally in 1015. Wilfred the Hairy incorporated Girona into the countship of Barcelona in 878. Alfonso I of Aragón declared Girona to be a city in the 11th century. 

The ancient countship later became a duchy (1351) when King Peter III of Aragon gave the title of Duke to his first-born son, John. In 1414, King Ferdinand I in turn gave the title of Prince of Girona to his first-born son, Alfonso. The title is currently carried by Prince Felipe, Prince of Asturias, the first since the 16th century to do so.

The 12th century saw a flourishing of the Jewish community of Girona, with one of the most important Kabbalistic schools in Europe. The Rabbi of Girona, Moshe ben Nahman Gerondi (better known as Nahmanides or Ramban) was appointed Great Rabbi of Catalonia. The history of the Jewish community of Girona ended in 1492, when the Catholic Kings expelled all the Jews from Catalonia. Today, the Jewish ghetto or Call is one of the best preserved in Europe and is a major tourist attraction. On the north side of the old city is the Montjuïc (or hill of the Jews in medieval Catalan), where an important religious cemetery was located.

Girona has undergone twenty-five sieges and been captured seven times. It was besieged by the French royal armies under Charles de Monchy d'Hocquincourt in 1653, under Bernardin Gigault de Bellefonds in 1684, and twice in 1694 under Anne Jules de Noailles.

 In May 1809, it was besiegedby 35,000 French Napoleonic troops under Vergier, Augereau and St. Cyr, and held out obstinately under the leadership of Alvarez until disease and famine compelled it to capitulate, 12 December. Finally, the French conquered the city in 1809, after 7 months of siege. Girona was center of the Ter department during the French rule, which lasted from 1809 to 1813. The defensive city walls were demolished at the end of the 19th century to allow for the expansion of the city. In recent years, the missing parts of the city walls on the eastern side of the city have been reconstructed. Called the Passeig de la Muralla it now forms a tourist route around the old city.

As with nearly all cultures, Catalonian cooking has great character. Its innovative cooking often looking back to history for inspiration. Although ultimately Mediterranean, Girona has been influenced by various cultures over the centuries: the Greeks, Romans, the Italians in the eighteenth century and the French have all left their mark on this complex cuisine. Catalonia has absorbed the best of each country and created a culinary package which forms part of the popular wisdom of the region.

The Catalonian cuisine uses the same ingredients as in other Mediterranean regions: tomatoes, garlic, fresh herbs, olive oil (particularly those of the Denomination of Origin Garrigues and Siurana, prepared using the variety of olive called the "arbequina"), onions, cod… The traveller is sometimes reminded of dishes from Provence, Rosellon, Naples or Sicily: cities which invaded the Kingdom of Aragon of which modern Catalonia formed part.

Another activity which reflects the Catalonian dynamism is the wine industry. There are eleven different Denominations of Origin, due to the varied landscapes of the region. Catalonia has both large production regions such as Penedés and small and more specialised regions, such as Conca de Barberá, Alella and Pla de Bages. With this wine heritage, Catalonia is capable of producing fresh, light white wines, powerful red wines and classical rosé wines; light internationally recognised red wines and sparkling wines which are exported world-wide and have the Denomination Cava, the best natural sparkling wine in the world, together with French champagne. 

Historically speaking, the Catalonian vineyard basically produced red wines until the production of cava at the end of the nineteenth century was increased, thereby boosting the production of three other local varieties at the same time: Xarel·lo, Macabeo and Parellada. The last great success of Catalonian viticulture has been the recognition of the D.O. Priorat, an area which produces powerful and complex reds from Garnacha and Cariñena grapes which are considered as among the best in the world. The example of Priorat has served to recognise other Catalonion D.O.s, such as Falset, Tarragona, Empordà-Costa Brava and Montsant (the last one). Recently, the D.O. Catalunya has been created for local products throughout Catalonia.

                                                        Girona’s Top 5:
  1. Girona Cathedral. The ancient cathedral, which stood on the site of the present one, was used by the Moors as a mosque, and after their final expulsion was either entirely remodelled or rebuilt. The present edifice is one of the most important monuments of the school of the Majorcan architect Jaume Fabre and an excellent example of Spanish Gothic architecture. It is approached by eighty-six steps. An aisle and chapels surround the choir, which opens by three arches into the nave, of which the pointed stone vault is the widest in Christendom (22 meters). Among its interior decorations is a retable which is the work of the Valencian silversmith Pere Bernec. It is divided into three tiers of statuettes and reliefs, framed in canopied niches of cast and hammered silver. A gold and silver altar-frontal was carried off by the French in 1809. The cathedral contains the tombs of Ramon Berenger and his wife.
  2. The city walls of the old town was an important military construction built in Roman times in the 1st century BC. It was thoroughly rebuilt under the reign of Peter III the Ceremonious in the second half of the 14th century. The Roman wall was used as a foundation. At the start of the 16th century, the wall was absorbed in the city. The walled precinct lost its military value. Bit by bit, the wall was degrading, as parts were gradually altered from the inside and the outside. The walls and lookout towers that make up these fortifications are split in two - a small section in the north of the old town and a much larger section in the south. It is possible to walk the entire length of the walls and climb the towers, where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Girona and the surrounding countryside.
  3. The Collegiate Church of Sant Feliu is noteworthy from an architectural point of view. Its style is 14th-century Gothic, the façade dating from the 18th, and it is one of the few Spanish churches which possesses a genuine spire. It contains, besides the sepulchre of its patron and the tomb of the valiant Álvarez, a chapel dedicated to St. Narcissus, who according to tradition was one of the early bishops of the see.
  4. Houses on the Onyar. Laid out almost entirely in stone, Girona offers spectacular views of porticoed squares and steep alleyways. Its most emblematic sight, however, are the Houses on the Onyar --the river flowing through the city--, painted in bright colors against the impressing background images of Sant Feliu and the Cathedral.
  5. The Arab Baths.  Its structure is an imitation of Medieval Muslim baths, and its existence has been documented from the 12th century. It has a rectangular layout, and behind the entrance door is the apodyterium, or changing room, and an octagonal pool. A small room gives onto the frigidarium, or cold room, which in turn leads into the warm room or tepidarium. Rather less well conserved is the caldarium, which were been the hot steam baths. The building is situated in the Capuchin convent.



Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands.
The present site of Glasgow has been used since prehistoric times for settlement due to it being the furthest downstream fording point of the River Clyde, at the point of its confluence with the Molendinar Burn. After the Romans left Caledonia the settlement was part of the extensive Kingdom of Strathclyde, with its capital at Dumbarton 15 mi (24 km) downstream, which merged in the 9th century with other regions to create the united Kingdom of Scotland. The origins of Glasgow as an established city derive ultimately from its medieval position as Scotland's second largest bishopric. Glasgow increased in importance during the 10th and 11th centuries as the site of this bishopric, reorganised by King David I of Scotland and John, Bishop of Glasgow. 
George Square

Glasgow grew from a hamlet on the River Clyde to become one of the largest seaports in Britain. Expanding from the medieval Bishopric of Glasgow and the later establishment of the University of Glasgow in the 15th century, it became a major centre of the Scottish Enlightenment in the 18th century. From the 18th century the city also grew as one of Britain's main hubs of transatlantic trade with British North America and the British West Indies. With the Industrial Revolution, the city and surrounding region shifted to become one of the world's pre-eminent centres of Heavy Engineering, most notably in the Shipbuilding and Marine engineering industry, which produced many innovative and famous vessels. Glasgow was known as the "Second City of the British Empire" for much of the Victorian era and Edwardian period. Today it is one of Europe's top ten financial centres and is home to many of Scotland's leading businesses.

Sauchiehall Street
Glasgow is one of the liveliest and most cosmopolitan destinations in Europe. The city has been reborn as a centre of style and vitality set against a backdrop of outstanding Victorian architecture. Glasgow boasts world famous art collections, the best shopping in the United Kingdom outside London, and the most vibrant and exciting nightlife in Scotland. A must see is the splendour of Scotland's best known architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose style adorns many unique attractions throughout Scotland's largest and greatest city.  Art and culture are important in Glasgow life where galleries and museums are in abundance - most with free admission. A choice of over 20 includes the world's first Museum of Religion and the renowned Burrell Collection in Pollok Park. No visit would be complete without experiencing the city's shopping with high street stores, designer labels, and speciality outlets to explore, with welcome pit-stops in the first class cafe culture around the Italian Centre, Merchant Square, Gallery of Modern Art or the Buchanan Galleries.

The city centre is based on a grid system of streets on the north bank of the River Clyde. The heart of the city is George Square, site of many of Glasgow's public statues and the elaborate Victorian Glasgow City Chambers, headquarters of Glasgow City Council. To the south and west are the shopping precincts of Argyle Street, Sauchiehall Street and Buchanan Street, the latter featuring more upmarket retailers and winner of the Academy of Urbanism "Great Street Award" 2008. The main shopping centres are Buchanan Galleries and the St. Enoch Centre, with the up-market Princes Square and the Italian Centre specialising in designer labels. Glasgow's retail portfolio forms the UK's second largest and most economically important retail sector after Central London.

The Merchant City

The Merchant City is the centre of Glasgow's growing "cultural quarter", based on King Street, the Saltmarket and Trongate, and at the heart of the annual Merchant City Festival. The area has supported a huge growth in art galleries, the origins of which can be found in the late 80s when it attracted artist-led organisations that could afford the cheap rents required to operate in vacant manufacturing or retail spaces. The artistic and cultural potential of the Merchant City as a "cultural quarter" was harnessed by independent arts organisations and Glasgow City Council, and the recent development of Trongate 103, which houses galleries, workshops, artist studios and production spaces, is considered a major outcome of the continued partnership between both. The area also contains a number of theatres and concert venues, including the Tron Theatre, the Old Fruitmarket, the Trades Hall, St. Andrews in the Square, Merchant Square, and the City Halls. 

Glasgow is now the envy of many European cities for its amazing and eclectic restaurant and café scene. During the summer months, enjoy alfresco dining in the city centre's Royal Exchange Square or Buchanan Street or on the cobbled streets of the West End and Merchant City. 
Glasgow is viewed as a trend-setter in European Culture and a centre of dining excellence to such an extent that it is now widely acknowledged that Glasgow has the best dining scene in the UK outside of London. The largest city in Scotland certainly provides a dynamic reality of Scotland with Style. Glasgow has the metropolitan feel of a major international city but still retains the village community where local businesses know each other. 

The People's Palace

                                                        Glasgow’s Top 5:
  1. Glasgow Cathedral, also called the High Kirk of Glasgow or St Kentigern's or St Mungo's Cathedral, is today a gathering of the Church of Scotland in Glasgow. The title cathedral is honorific and historic, dating from the period before the Scottish Reformation and its status as the Roman Catholic mother church of the Archdiocese of Glasgow and the Cathedra of the Archbishop of Glasgow. The current congregation is part of the Church of Scotland's Presbytery of Glasgow. Glasgow Cathedral is located north of High Street and east of Cathedral Street, beside the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.  The building is a superb example of Scottish Gothic architecture. It is also one of the few Scottish medieval churches (and the only medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland) to have survived the Reformation not unroofed.
  2. The People's Palace is Glasgow's social history museum and a chance to see the story of the people and city of Glasgow from 1750 to the present. You can see paintings, prints and photographs displayed alongside a wealth of historic artefacts, film and computer interactives. On the top floor is the Glasgow history painting series made by artist Ken Currie in 1987. The series commemorates the massacre of the Calton Weavers, which marked the birth of the trade union movement and visually presents the political history of working class struggle in the city. Attached to the People's Palace is the elegant Victorian glasshouse -the Winter Gardens -where you can relax among the tropical plants and enjoy the café. There is a programme of temporary exhibitions and events throughout the year. The People’s Palace sits at the heart of the historic Glasgow Green by the River Clyde. A major renewal project is ongoing: follow the vehicle diversion signs during 2003.
  3. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum The building houses one of Europe's great civic art collections. Since its 2003–2006 refurbishment, the museum has been the most popular free-to-enter visitor attraction inScotland, and the most visited museum in the United Kingdom outside London. The gallery is located on Argyle Street, in the West End of the city, on the banks of the River Kelvin (opposite the architecturally similar Kelvin Hall, which was built in matching style some years later, after the previous hall had been destroyed by fire).  The gallery was designed by Sir John W. Simpson and E.J. Milner Allen and opened in 1901, as the Palace of Fine Arts for the Glasgow International Exhibition held in that year. It is built in a Spanish Baroque style, follows the Glaswegian tradition of using Dumfriesshire red sandstone, and includes an entire program of architectural sculpture by George Frampton, Francis Derwent Wood and other sculptors. The centrepiece of the central hall is a massive Pipe Organ installed by Lewis & Co.
  4. The Burrell Collection.  When Sir William Burrell and his wife, Constance, Lady Burrell, gifted his collection of over 9,000 works of art to Glasgow, the city acquired one of the greatest collections created by one person. William Burrell had been an art collector since his teens, and the collection is made up of a vast array of works of all periods and from all over the world. You can wander round important collections of medieval art, tapestries, alabasters, stained glass and English oak furniture, European paintings, including works by Degas and Cézanne, an important collection of Islamic art, and modern sculpture including works by Epstein and Rodin. Children will be fascinated by the works from days of long ago -we have a fine collection of works from ancient China, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Architectural features from the collection have been integrated into the structure of the building -you can walk under arches built for medieval lords and ladies. There are also reconstructions of rooms from Sir William’s home, furnished in gothic style with items from the collection.
  5. Glasgow City Chambers.  Has functioned as the headquarters of Glasgow City Council since 1996, and of preceding forms of municipal government in the city since 1889, located on the eastern side of the city's George Square. An eminent example of Victorian civic architecture, the building was constructed between 1882 and 1888 to a competition winning design by Glaswegian architect William Young (originally from the nearby town of Paisley). Inaugurated in August 1888 by Queen Victoria, the first council meeting was held within the chambers in October 1889. The building originally had an area of 5,016 square metres. In 1923, an extension to the east side of the building in John Street was opened and in 1984 Exchange House in George Street was completed, increasing the size of the City Chambers complex to some 14,000 square metres.

    Glasgow City Chambers



Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden by population and the fifth-largest in the Nordic countries. Situated on the west coast of Sweden, the city proper has a population of 519,399, with 549,839 in the urban area and total of 937,015 inhabitants in the metropolitan area. The City of Gothenburg was founded in 1621 by King Gustavus Adolphus. It lies by the sea at the mouth of Göta Älv—the river running through the city—and is the largest seaport in the Nordic countries.

In the 16th and 17th century, the configuration of Sweden's borders made Gothenburg strategically important as the Swedish gateway to the west, lying on the west coast in the narrow area between the territories of Denmark–Norway. After several failed attempts, Gothenburg was successfully founded in 1621 by King Gustavus Adolphus (Gustaf II Adolf). The site of the first church built in Gothenburg, subsequently destroyed by Dutch invaders, is marked by a stone near the north end of the Älvsborg Bridge in Färjenäs park. The church was built in 1603 and destroyed in 1611. The city was heavily influenced by the Dutch and Dutch city planners were contracted to build the city as they had the skills needed to build in the marshy areas around the city. 

Along with the Dutch, the town also was influenced by Scots who came to settle in Gothenburg. Many became people of high profile. William Chalmers was the son of a Scottish immigrant and donated his fortunes to set up what later became Chalmers University of Technology. In 1841 the Scotsman Alexander Keiller founded the Götaverken shipbuilding company that still exists today. His son James Keiller donated Keiller Park to the city in 1906. The Scottish influence can still be felt in Gothenburg in the present-day with names like Glenn and Morgan, which in the rest of Sweden are rare, are not uncommon in Gothenburg, as is the use of a Scottish sounding "r" in the local dialect. 

Oscar Fredrik Church
There are very few houses left from the 17th century when the city was founded, since all but the military and royal houses were built of wood. The first major architecturally interesting period is the 18th century when the East India Company made Gothenburg an important trade city. Imposing stone houses with a Classical look were erected around the canals. One example from this period is the East India House, which today houses Gothenburg’s City Museum.

Gothenburg is undergoing a transformation from industrial seaport to contemporary cultural and international sports venue. With the addition of the Gothenburg Opera in 1994 and a revamping of some of the city’s museums, its cultural landscape is also changing – all for the better. Perhaps the most surprising change in Gothenburg is in its restaurants and other eateries. The city has gained an international reputation for innovative cuisine using local produce, mainly north Atlantic fish and shellfish.  In the past decade, the city has gone from nowhere to being cited as one of Northern Europe´s most exciting culinary destinations, prominently publicized in the New York Times and many other leading international media. Of the star chefs who have been crowned Chef of the Year in Sweden over the past ten years, no less than seven have come from Gothenburg. 

New Älvsborgs Fortress
Those who want to indulge in a true feast of supreme quality seafood, prepared in prime Swedish fashion, may opt for the classic Sjömagasinet dining room overlooking the Göta Älv river or Fiskekrogen in the City Centre. For highly creative contemporary frontline gastronomy, 28+, Fond, Kock & Vin, Basement, Thörnströms Kök and Swedish Taste to name a few elegant eateries which are ranked among Sweden´s top notch restaurants. There are also a large number of charming restaurants, brasseries and bistros in the mid price and budget categories spread out around the city, including Caleo, Hos Pelle, Familjen, Bon and the classic meeting place Brasserie Lipp on the Avenyn boulevard.

If you want to take home some of the famed west coast seafood delicacies – and even if you don´t – you shouldn´t miss a visit to the famous Feskekörka fish market, housed in an original old storage building resembling a church, where you´ll also find the popular restaurant Gabriel, offering a generous fare of excellent quality fish and seafood. The beautiful Saluhallen food market, opened in 1889, is another attractive venue for gastronomic shopping.


                                                       Gothenburg’s Top 5:
  1. The Gothenburg Cathedral. The cathedral is the seat of the bishop in the Church of Sweden diocese of Gothenburg. Before the first cathedral was inaugurated in 1633, the temporary Gothenburg stave church had stood on the property for no more than about 12 years. It had been one of the first buildings in the city and the first church in the current Gothenburg. When a new church was to be built on the site, King Gustavus Adolphus decreed in 1627 a tax, the proceeds of which would be used for church construction. The initial demand was for a barrel (just over 125 litres) of wheat, oats, barley or rye from each church-owned property (kyrkohemman) in Västergötland for a three-year period. In a letter to Gothenburg's town council (13 December 1629) the impost was continued for a further three years.
    By 1633, the stave church had been torn down to make way for the new church building, although its separate tower remained in use as a guard tower. 
     Church construction was led by master mason Lars Nilsson. The foundation stone for the new church was laid by Gothenburg'sjustitiepresident (judge) Nils Börjesson Drakenberg, on 19 June 1626, and in 1633 the new main building was complete. During the construction period and for some time subsequently, the church was called stora kyrkan(the "great church").
  2. Oscar Fredrik Church. was drawn by Helgo Zetterwall and erected in the 1890s. The style is Neo Gothic, but the influence is not the Nordic gothic style but rather the style one can find in the large cathedrals down in continental Europe. The church and the parish got its name from king Oscar II (Oscar Fredrik being his full name).
  3. Haga.  is a city district renowned for its picturesque wooden houses, 19th century-atmosphere and cafés. Originally a working class suburb of the city with a rather bad reputation, it was gradually transformed into a popular visiting place for tourists and Gothenburgers. A major renovation of the area was made in the 1980s, houses were either renovated or torn down and replaced by post-modernistic replicas. Today, Haga has a population of about 4,000 people (4,093 at 2006) a much smaller population compared to 15,000 people one hundred years ago – an indication of the gentrification the district has gone through. Haga is also a parish with the same borders as the city district. It is, areawise, the smallest parish in Sweden.
  4. New Älvsborgs Fortress.  At the mouth of the Göta River, where the archipelago begins, lies New Älvsborgs Fortress. It may be the best preserved fortress in Sweden. During the war with Denmark in 1717-1719 the fortress was besieged time after time without being occupied. Today it is one of the most popular days out in Gothenburg.
    This well-preserved fortress dating from the mid-seventeenth century is one of the most popular destinations for a day out on the west coast of Sweden, with its thrilling tales of dungeons, battles with the Danes and its tiny hospital.
  5. Liseberg. Opened in 1923, Liseberg is one of the most visited amusement parks in Scandinavia, attracting around 3 million visitors annually. Among the noteworthy attractions is the wooden roller coaster Balder, voted twice (2003 and 2005) as the Best Wooden Tracked Roller Coaster in the world in a major international poll. The park itself has also been chosen as one of the top ten amusement parks in the world (2005) by Forbes Magazine. Additional to the summer season, the park is also open during November and December, albeit with fewer rides operating, hosting a Christmas market with traditional Swedish cuisinesuch as mulled wine and specialties such as döner kebab made from reindeer meat.



Granada is a city and the capital of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of AndaluciaSpain. Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of three rivers, the Beiro, the Darro and the Genil. It sits at an elevation of 738 metres above sea level, yet is only one hour from the Mediterranean coast, the Costa Tropical.

The region surrounding Granada has been populated by Iberians from at least the 8th century B.C. The region has furthermore experienced Phoenician, Greek, Punic, Roman and Visigothic influences. The Iberians called the wide region Ilturir. On the the site of present day Granada there seems to have existed a Roman settlement, but no definitive proof has been found. Some 20 miles south of present day Granada, the Romans built Illiberis, a city which minted its own coins. 

The actual founding of present day Granada took place in the 11th century, during a civil war that ended the Caliphate in the early 11th century. In the aftermath of these wars, the North African general Ziri ibn Manad established an independent kingdom for himself, with Elvira as its capital. Because the city was situated on a low plain and thus difficult to protect from attacks, the Zirid ruler decided to transfer his residence to the higher situated Jewish hamlet Gárnata. In a short time the Jewish village was transformed into one of the most important cities of Al-Andalus. In 1066 a Muslim mob crucified the Jewish vizier of the Zirids, Joseph ibn Naghrela, and massacred about 4,000 Jews.  By the end of the 11th century, the city had spread across the Darro to reach the hill of the future Alhambra.

The Court of Lions
Granada is the city of Poet García Lorca, a city "open all year round". No matter when one chooses to visit, there are always activities to enjoy. Among the most well-known events you can finde: The Music and Dance International Festival, the Jazz Festival, the Magic Festival Hocus Pocus, the Tango Festival, besides the complete cultural programme of the city. Among its most important fiestas we can find the Holy Week, declared as "Feast of International Tourist Interest", the Corpus Christi or the Día de la Cruz (May Cross Day)

The gastronomy of Granada and Andalusia is rich and diverse. There is no doubt that it is on its own a reason to visit the city. Granada has a large number of restaurants and bars where one can taste succulent dishes, among we can find: migas, remojón, habas con jamón (beans and ham), Sacromonte omelet, gazpacho.

The bars of Granada are well-known for their free tapas - all you have to do is order a drink and they will bring you a tasty morsel. Many of the bars also have offers on for a caña (small glass of draught beer) and tapas for €1.50 or €2. Just ask when you arrive, or check out their specials board before you enter. The most famous areas for tapas are Plaza Nueva, and also in Plaza Bib-Rambla (next to the cathedral) where in the summer months there is the option to sit outside, within the square - both squares are lively and popular areas, right in the heart of the city.

Drinks other than the selected offers can be expensive here, due to the location, but you get the added bonus of a view of some famous monuments plus a great atmosphere - coupled with table service and the option of ordering some nibbles if you get hungry later on. In and around Plaza Bib-Rambla you can also do some late-night shopping as many the shops stay open well into the evening. Just off the Plaza Nueva is the Calle Elvira, one of the busiest streets in the city for bars and pubs. This area is at its liveliest during the summer season.

One of the streets leading off Calle Elvira is Calle Calderia Nueva, a street known as La Calle de Las Teterias (The Street of the Tea Rooms). This whole street is lined with Moroccan tea rooms - ideal if your perfect evening is a few quiet drinks (or a nice brew) in a chilled-out place lined with candles and incense, and sofas, beanbags, or floor cushions to sit on.

The best part of the nightlife in Granada is that, if you get hungry on the way home, the streets are filled with take away restaurants offering delicious Moroccan kebabs and pitas.

Granada Cathedral

                                                        Granada’s Top 5:
  1. The Alhambra.  Is a palace and fortress complex. It was constructed during the mid 14th century by the Moorish rulers of the Emirate of Granada in al-Andalus, occupying the top of the hill of the Assabica on the southeastern border of the city.
    The Alhambra's Moorish palaces were built for the last Muslim Emirs in Spain and its court, of the Nasrid dynasty. After the Reconquista (reconquest) by the Reyes Católicos ("Catholic Monarchs") in 1492, some portions were used by the Christian rulers. The Palace of Charles V, built by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1527, was inserted in the Alhambra within the Nasrid fortifications. After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the Alhambra was "discovered" in the 19th century by European scholars and travelers, with restorations commencing. It is now one of Spain's major tourist attractions, exhibiting the country's most significant and well known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century and later Christian building and garden interventions. The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the inspiration for many songs and stories.
  2. Granada Cathedral.  Unlike most cathedrals in Spain, construction of this cathedral had to await the acquisition of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada from its Muslim rulers in 1492; while its very early plans had Gothic designs, such as are evident in the Royal Chapel of Granada by Enrique Egas, the construction of the church in the main occurred at a time when Spanish Renaissance designs were supplanting the Gothic regnant in Spanish architecture of prior centuries. Foundations for the church were laid by the architect Egas starting from 1518 to 1523 atop the site of the city's main mosque; by 1529, Egas was replaced by Diego de Siloé who labored for nearly four decades on the structure from ground to cornice, planning the triforium and five naves instead of the usual three. Most unusually, he created a circular capilla mayor rather than a semicircular apse, perhaps inspired by Italian ideas for circular 'perfect buildings' (eg in Alberti's works). Within its structure the cathedral combines other orders of architecture. It took 181 years for the cathedral to be built.
  3. The Generalife is a garden area attached to the Alhambra which became a place of recreation and rest for the Granadan Muslim kings when they wanted to flee the tedium of official life in the Palace. It occupies the slopes of the hill Cerro del Sol above the ravines of the Genil and the Darro and is visible from vantage points throughout the city. It was conceived as a rural village, consisting of landscaping, gardens and architecture. The palace and gardens were built during the reign of Muhammad III (1302–1309) and redecorated shortly after by Abu I-Walid Isma'il (1313–1324). It is of the Islamic Nasrid style, and is today one of the biggest attractions in the city of Granada. The Generalife was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984.
  4. The Arab Baths are one of the most important historic and architectural aspects of Granada, as they are symbolic evidence of the city's religious turmoil all those centuries ago. The baths were built by the Muslims because they believed water was a symbol of purity, and so used it to cleanse their bodies, whilst the Christians, on the other hand, believed this to be decadent and heathen behaviour, and so had the majority destroyed, with only a 'few left remaining. It's easy to forget how important the baths were in Moorish life: they were a key focal point for social activity, second only to the mosque. They help to give us a glimpse into day-to-day life in Arab-era Granada.
  5. The Royal Chapel.  is a mausoleum which houses the remains of the Catholic Monarchs: Queen Isabella I (1451–1504), King Ferdinand II (1452–1516), Their daughter Queen Juana I of Castile, León, and Aragon (1479-1555), Her husband Philip I, Philip the Handsome(1478-1506) and their oldest grandson Miguel da Paz, Prince of Asturias (1498–1500). There are relics, portraits, tapestries, ornaments, Baroque sculptures and paintings on display in the Sacristy Museum. The works are predominantly by Flemish, Italian and Spanish painters of the 15th Century, including pieces by Rogier van der Weyden, Botticelli, Perugino and Bartolomé Bermejo. The chapel was constructed between 1505 and 1517 in the Gothic style and dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. Queen Isabella's, King Ferdinand's, Infante Miguel's, and Philip I's remains were not taken there until 1521.

    Detail of the Royal Chapel


Graz is the second-largest city in Austria after Vienna and the capital of the federal state of Styria (Steiermark). On 1 April 2010 it had a population of 291,890 (of which 258,605 had principal residence status). Graz has a long tradition as a student city: its six universities have more than 44,000 students. Its "Old Town" is one of the best-preserved city centres in Central Europe.
Politically and culturally, Graz was for centuries more important for Slovenes than Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, and still remains influential. 

In 1999, Graz was added to the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites, and the site was extended in 2010 by Schloss Eggenberg. Graz was sole Cultural Capital of Europe for 2003 and got the title of a City of Culinary Delights in 2008.

The oldest settlement on the ground of the modern city of Graz dates back to the Copper Age. However, there is no historical continuity of a settlement before the Middle Ages. During the 12th century dukes under Babenberg rule 
made the town into an important commercial center. Later Graz came under the rule of the Habsburgs, and in 1281 gained special privileges from King Rudolph I. In the 14th century Graz became the city of residence of the Inner Austrian line of the Habsburgs. The royalty lived in the Schloßberg castle and from there ruled Styria, Carinthia, and parts of today's Italy and Slovenia (Carniola, Gorizia and Gradisca). In the 16th century, the city's design and planning were primarily controlled by Italian Renaissance architects and artists. One of the most famous buildings built in this style is the Landhaus, designed by Domenico dell'Allio, and used by the local rulers as a governmental headquarters.

New fortifications were built on the Schlossberg at the end of the 16th century. Napoleon's 
Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II
army occupied Graz in 1797. In 1809 the city withstood another assault by the French army. During this attack, the commanding officer in the fortress was ordered to defend it with about 900 men against Napoleon's army of about 3,000. He successfully defended the Schloßberg against eight attacks, but they were forced to give up after the Grande Armée occupied Vienna and the Emperor ordered to surrender. Following the defeat of Austria by Napoleonic forces at the Battle of Wagram in 1809, the fortifications were demolished using explosives, as stipulated in the Peace of Schönbrunn of the same year. The belltower and the civic clock tower, often used as the symbol of Graz, were spared after the people of Graz paid a ransom for their preservation. 

The old town was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999 due to the harmonious co-existence of typical buildings from different epochs and in different architectural styles. Situated in a cultural borderland between Central Europe, Italy and the Balkan States, Graz absorbed various influences from the neighbouring regions and thus received its exceptional townscape. Today the old town consists of over 1000 buildings, including the Rathaus, Schloßberg and the Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II next to the cathedral, the most important building of Mannerism in Graz. It includes both the grave where Ferdinand II and his wife are buried, and a church dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria.
Geographically speaking, Graz is situated in a basin which opens to the hilly countryside of the Styrian wine-growing region in the south and which is bordered by the alpine pastures of the eastern foothills of the Alps in the north. 

Known as the shopping basket of Austria, which is always replenished with food that is unparalleled with regard to variety and quality. The outskirts of Graz is marked by small-scale structured agriculture and areas of intact nature which deliver top quality foodstuffs. 15 Styrian culinary regions supply Graz with meat, fish, fruit and vegetables and make the city a first-rate culinary capital. Thanks to the Grazer "Krauthäuptel", a crisp specialty lettuce, Graz itself is one of these culinary regions. In no other Austrian city are chefs in restaurants and inns able to obtain such fine ingredients so easily. Thus, a visit to Graz is always a culinary experience with seasonal highlights. In Graz, good food is always accompanied by excellent wine and beer.
The Rathaus
                                                        Graz’s Top 5:
  1. Schloßberg.  The word "Schloßberg" literally means "castle mountain", which describes it exactly. It is a hill topped by a castle, in the centre of the city. Among Graz's most famous tourist attractions, the castle, never occupied until its partial demolition by Napoleonic forces under the Peace of Schönbrunn of 1809, was once a place of refuge for Graz's residents. It was turned into a public park on account of Ludwig von Welden in 1839. The Schloßberg contains an "Uhrturm" (clock tower), which functions as a recognisable icon for the city. Remarkably, the clock's handles have opposite roles to the common notion. That is, the larger one marks hours while the smaller is for minutes. This is due to the fact that originally only the larger handle was there to point out hours and display of minutes was only added later. Near the Uhrturm there is a café with views over the old town. Additionally, on the western side of the Schloßberg, there are two small cafés, one with table service and the other one with self-service. Next to the terminus of the funicular railway there is a hilltop restaurant with views of western Graz. There is also a Turkish Well that was built by Turkish slaves that was used to get water during times when Schlossberg was under siege. The water was routed from the nearby River Mur.
  2. Graz Cathedral.  Today's cathedral reminds of the days when Graz was an imperial city. Emperor Frederick III erected the church together with his new residence in Graz.
    In the course of history, the cathedral saw many changes. Construction work of the court and parish church in late-Gothic style was started in 1438, as Jesuit church it was refurbished in Baroque style in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Since 1786 it has been the cathedral and main church of Catholics in Styria.
  3. The Herz-Jesu-Kirche. (Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) is the largest church in Graz. It was designed down to the last detail by architect Georg Hauberrisser and constructed from 1881 to 1887. The church was designed in the Neogothic style, with a large, high nave and under-church. The tower is 109.6 meters tall, making it the third-highest church tower in Austria. Of special note are the stained glass windows, which are among the few extant examples in Austria of Neogothic stained glass. The altar area was remodelled in 1988 by Gustav Troger, just after the centenary of the church. Apart from that, everything is still according to the architect's concept.
  4. The Landeszeughaus. is the largest existing original armoury in the whole world and attracts visitors from all over the world. It holds approximately 32,000 pieces of weaponry, tools, suits of armour for battle and ones for parades. The Landeszeughaus was built from 1642 - 1645 by a tyrolean architect called Antonio Solar. Styria desperately needed such a large armoury to host a massive amount of weaponry and armour for the defence of styria against the invading Ottoman Empire. There was a defensive perimeter, 100 km south of Graz in nowadays Croatia/Hungary to defend styria against the Turks. The weapons stored in the Landeszeughaus were needed in order to equip the soldiers at this perimeter.
  5. Eggenberg Palace (Schloss Eggenberg)  is the most significant Baroque palace complex in Styria. With its preserved accouterments, the extensive scenic gardens as well as some additional collections from the Universalmuseum Joanneum housed in the palace and park, Schloss Eggenberg counts among the most valuable cultural assets of Austria. With its construction and accouterment history, it exhibits the vicissitude and patronage of the one-time mightiest dynasty in Styria, the House of Eggenberg. In 2010, Schloss Eggenberg was recognized for its significance to cultural history in an expansion to the listing of the Graz Historic Old Town among UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites. The palace lies on the western edge of the Styrian capital of Graz in the Eggenberg (Graz) district. The northern corner of the palace grounds features the Planetary Garden and Lapidarium of Roman stonework as well as the entrance to the new Archeological Museum, which houses the Cult Wagon of Strettweg. The numismatic collection, located in the former rooms of Balthasar Eggenberger, owner of the imperial minting license and operations in the Late Middle Ages, and the show collection of the Alte Galerie, a collection of medieval through early modern period artworks spanning 5 centuries of European art history are also housed in the palace itself.

    Schloss Eggenberg


Groningen is the main municipality in as well as the capital city of the eponymous province in the Netherlands. With a population of around 190,000, it is the largest city in the north of the Netherlands. Groningen is a university city, inhabited on average by about 37,000 students.

The city was founded on the northernmost point of the Hondsrug area. The oldest document referring to Groningen's existence dates from 1040. However, the city already existed long before then: the oldest archaeological traces found are believed to stem from the years 3950 BC–3720 BC, although the first major settlement in Groningen has been traced back to the 3rd century.

In the 13th century, when Groningen was an important trade centre, its inhabitants built a city wall to underline its authority. The most influential period of the city was the end of the 15th century, when the nearby province of Friesland was administered from Groningen. During these years, the Martini Tower was built, which loomed over the city at (then) 127 metres tall, making it the highest building in Europe at the time. The city's independence came to an end when it chose to join forces with the Spanish during the Eighty Years' War in 1594. It later switched sides, joining the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands.

In 1614, the University of Groningen was founded, initially only for religious education. In the same period the city expanded rapidly and a new city wall was built. That same city wall was tested during the Third Anglo-Dutch War in 1672, when the city was attacked fiercely by the bishop of Münster, Bernhard von Galen. The city walls resisted, an event which is celebrated with music and fireworks on 28 August (as "Groningens Ontzet" or "Bommen Berend").

The city did not escape the devastation of World War II. In particular, the main square, Grote Markt, was largely destroyed in April 1945, at the Battle of Groningen. However, the Martinitoren, its church, the Goudkantoor, and the city hall were not damaged. The battle there lasted several days. 

The city is nationally known as the "Metropolis of the North" and as "Martinistad" referring to the Martini Tower. Although Groningen is not a very large city, it does have an important role as the main urban centre of this part of the country, particularly in the fields of music and other arts, education, and business. The large number of students living in Groningen also contributes to a diverse cultural scene for a city of its size.

Recently, Groningen was rightfully chosen as the city with the best city centre in the Netherlands. The selection of shops is enormous and incredibly varied. From large chain shops to small and charming ones, anything can be found in Groningen. Books, clothing, shoes, accessories, antiques and furniture. The Zuiderdiep is paradise for lovers and collectors of antiques, curiosa, and art. A considerable number of antique shops are located here. Maupertuus is Groningen’s interior and design centre; stock includes furniture, accessories, and an art consultancy bureau. They also have a brasserie, a children’s play area, and a bookstore: all in all a great place to spend hours on end. 

Groningen's nightlife depends largely on its student population. Its cultural scene is vibrant and remarkable for a city of its size. In particular, the Grote Markt, the Vismarkt, and the Poelestraat and Peperstraat are crowded every night of the week, and most bars do not close until 7 in the morning. Between 2005 and 2007, Groningen was elected "de beste binnenstad" (the best city centre) of the Netherlands . 
Groningen has no fixed closing times, so this is the perfect opportunity to party until the wee small hours. Groningen is also a musical city where live music performances take place regularly in various cafés. And there are other options: the cinema, a visit to the casino or take in one of the many theatre performances.

Groningen has been called the "World Cycling City", since 57% of journeys within the city are made by bicycle. The city is very much adapted to the wishes of those who want to get around without a car, as it has an extensive cycle network, good public transport, and a large pedestrianised zone in the city centre. The transformation of the historic centre into a pedestrian priority zone enables and invites walking and biking by making these active modes of transport comfortable, safe and enjoyable. 

Aa Kerk

                                                        Groningen’s Top 5:
  1. The Martini Tower.  The most important Groningen monument is the Martini tower which has overlooked the city for over five hundred years. The tower is located at the north-eastern corner of the Grote Markt (Main Market Square), is part of the Martinikerk (Martini Church). The tower contains a brick spiral staircase consisting of 260 steps, and the carillon within the tower contains 62 bells. It is considered one of the main tourist attractions of Groningen and offers a view over the city and surrounding area.  Twice before a tower has stood on the site of the current Martinitoren. The first was built in the 13th century; this was approximately 30 metres high and built in the Romanesque style. This tower was destroyed by lightning. In the 15th century a second tower was built, approximately 45 metres high, but it also was devastated by lightning in a storm. The third and current tower was largely built between 1469 and 1482 from blocks of Bentheimer sandstone. The steeple was not finished until the mid-16th century. This tower was initially an estimated 102 metres high.
  2. The Groninger Museum. The Groninger Museum was founded in 1894. Although not as well known as other Dutch institutions of fine art, the opening of its new building in 1994 caused a sensation and it has since established a reputation of being among the finest museums in the nation. The radically modernist structures forming the Groninger Museum stand in a canal opposite a railway station consist of three main pavilions: a silver cylindrical building designed by Philippe Starck, a yellow tower by Alessandro Mendini, and a pale blue deconstructivist space by Coop Himmelb(l)au. A bridge that connects the museum to the train station is part of a cycling and walking path to the central city. Alderman Ypke Gietema, a strong proponent of the new museum, was responsible for siting the museum at its present location despite acrimonious objections. During site preparation, protesters managed to halt construction in high court for one year. Citizen's objections centered on the controversial design, fearing their homes would not sell with such a peculiar and eccentric structure nearby. Despite controversy, building resumed in 1992 and it was completed in 1994. Local residents had to get used to the shapes and colours of the building, but it soon became a popular success. The Groninger Museum is the home to various expositions of local, national, and international works of art, most of them modern and abstract. Some have provoked controversy, like the photo exhibition of Andres Serrano, but others are more main stream, such as the exhibition of the works by Ilya Repin, the "Russian Rembrandt".
  3. The Goudkantoor otherwise known as the Gold Office in English, is a building built in 1635 and located on Waagststraat near the Grote Markt. Originally it was built as an office for the receiver of taxes of the province of Groningen when it was called Collectehuis. The text on the building, Date Caesari quae sunt Caesaris (Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's) refers to the original function. The coat of arms of the city of Groningen is located on the building. The name Goudkantoor goes back to 1814-1887, when the Waarborgbureau voor Goud- en Zilverwerken was located in the building. Gold and silver could get a hallmark so people could prove it was real. Prior to World War II the Northern Ship Transport Museum was located in the building. Just before the liberation of the city, in April 1945, the entire collection was transferred to a building on the north side of the Grote Markt, because the owners of the museum were afraid that the Goudkantoor would get damaged during the liberation, but in fact it was one of the few buildings that wasn't heavily damaged, because fire-fighters saved it from burning down. After the war, the museum was located in the building again for a short time and later it was used as an information centre (Het Stadjershuis) and as a tourist information centre. The Goudkantoor was restored during the construction of the Nieuwe Waagstraat and is currently a restaurant.
  4. The Aa Church. Originally there was a chapel situated on the site of the current church. This chapel was devoted to Mary and to Saint Nicholas, the patron of the bargees who cast off the vesels at the Westerhaven (Westerharber). In 1247, the chapel became the parish church and was named Onze Lieve Vrouwe ter Aa (Our Lady at the Aa) - Aa being the nearby river. Groningen had two centers at the time. One of them was around the chapel. Here lived the fishermen and the traders. Between 1425 and 1465, the chapel was changed into a brick church with a transept. On 23 April 1710, the tower spontaneously collapsed killing two people. In 1711, a new tower was built.
  5. The University of Groningen was founded in 1614. It is one of the oldest universities in the Netherlands as well as one of its largest. Since its inception more than 100,000 students have graduated. It is a member of the distinguished Coimbra Group. In April 2012, according to the results of the International Student Barometer, the University of Groningen has been voted the best University of the Netherlands.

    University Main Building

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