Lecce is a historic city in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Lecce, the second province in the region by population, as well as one of the most important cities of Puglia. It is the main city of the Salentine Peninsula, a sub-peninsula at the heel of the Italian Peninsula and is over 2,000 years old.

Because of the rich Baroque architectural monuments found in the city, Lecce is commonly nicknamed "The Florence of the South". The city also has a long traditional affinity with Greek culture going back to its foundation; the Messapii who founded the city are said to have been Cretans in Greek records. To this day, in the Grecìa Salentina, a group of towns not far from Lecce, the griko language is still spoken.

According to legend, a city called Sybar existed at the time of the Trojan War, founded by the Messapii Italic tribe. Later it was occupied by the Iapyges and conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century BCE, receiving the new name of Lupiae.

Under the emperor Hadrian (2nd century AD) the city was moved 3 km to NE, taking the name of Licea or Litium. Lecce had a theater and an amphitheater and was connected to the Hadrian Port (the current San Cataldo). Orontius of Lecce, locally called Sant'Oronzo, is considered to have served as the city's first Christian bishop and is Lecce's patron saint.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Lecce was sacked by the Ostrogoth king Totila in the Gothic Wars. It was conquered by the Byzantines in 549, and remained part of the Eastern Empire for five centuries, with brief conquests by Saracens, Lombards, Hungarians and Slavs.

After the Norman conquest in the 11th century, Lecce regained commercial importance, flourishing in the subsequent Hohenstaufen and Angevine rule. The County of Lecce was one of the largest and most importants fiefs in the Kingdom of Sicily from 1053 to 1463, when it was annexed directly to the crown. From the 15th century, Lecce was one of the most important cities of southern Italy, and, starting in 1630, it was enriched with precious Baroque monuments. To avert invasion by the Ottomans, a new line of walls and a castle were built by Charles V, (who was also Holy Roman Emperor), in the first part of the 16th century.

Porta Napoli
In 1656, a plague broke out in the city, killing a thousand inhabitants.

In 1943, fighter aircrafts based in Lecce helped support isolated Italian garrisons in the Aegean Sea, fighting Germans during World War 2. Because they were delayed by the Allies, they couldn't prevent a defeat. In 1944 and 1945, B-24 long-range bombers of the 98th Heavy Bomb Group attached to the 15th U.S. Army Air Force were based in Lecce, from where the crews flew missions over Italy, the Balkans, Austria, Germany and France.

Lecce boasts a unique gastronomic and culinary treasure trove which is mostly thanks to the areas natural products and the traditions of peasant cookery. The basic ingredient for almost all of Salento dishes is olive oil. Gabriele d'Annunzio himself sung the praises of the oil, writing that it travelled from the ancient oil-presses as far as England. Indeed, olive oil is the element of Pugliese cookery which makes Salento one of the most renowned eating areas in Italy.

Wine is also an important element in traditional cookery and it is known as "lu mieru" in Lecce dialect. Homer wrote of a "sea of wine": in September the sea becomes dark because of the sea storms and during the grape harvest the sea around Puglia turns the colour of wine. Lecces wines are a good accompaniment for a meal or a dessert and can be used for blends. Each wine carries with it the flavours, scents and colours of the earth and air of its vineyard.

There are plenty of traditional recipes which have been handed down from generation to generation. These include dishes like "ciceri e tria" which is a kind of homemade lasagna with chick peas, or tasty horsemeat spiced up with some chili peppers.
The other essential element of the Salento diet is bread. Great care is taken in the preparation of oiled breads and Pizzi, both typical breads from Lecce.

Finally, there are the famous Pugliese desserts and pastries like strufuli, cartellate and cupete with toasted almonds. A visit to Lecce is not complete without trying a "pasticciotto" filled with cream or a "fruttone" with stuffed with marzipan and covered with chocolate.
Most of the restaurants and pizzerias in Lecce are in the towns old centre. If you walk down Via Palmieri towards Piazza Duomo you will come across a whole series of pizzerias and restaurants including the Piction, an elegant and refined restaurant which serves excellent spaghetti with scampi.

 There is Maccheroni which serves excellent maceroni with sauce. If you are looking for a more characteristic and unusual place then try Alle due Corti dei Giugni which serves excellent horse meat. If you continue down the main thoroughfare, you will see the Dominga, where you can enjoy some superb first courses including "spaghetti alle cozze". You can try the areas famous "pizzi" and oiled breads at La Rusticana. 

Lecce offers a range of activities all year round. There are numerous cinemas, pub, discos, festivals, theatres, and many other places and shows to spend an evening having fun, in the company of lovely, southerners. In every corner of the city, are fun, spirited and cordial people, who make up a population that have always faced life with a lively, daring spirit throughout all the adversities and problems they have come across over the centuries. Many festivals take place in Lecce, during the summer, from June to September. Food and typical, local produce are on offer here, as well as good music. Don't miss out on the special "lampascioni", which are little, wild, onions. There are also many festivals that take place in the surrounding area, such as a beer festival and wine feasts. All these festivals are great fun and very lively.

                                                        Lecce’s Top 5:
  1. Lecce Cathedral is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Lecce. The cathedral was first built in 1144, with repairs in 1230. It was rebuilt in 1659 by the architect Giuseppe Zimbalo by order of bishop Luigi Pappacoda, whose remains are kept in the altar dedicated to Saint Orontius of Lecce (Sant'Oronzo), the patron saint of the city. The cathedral has two entrances. The principal one is on the north side of the church, the other on the square onto which it faces. The principal façade is sober and elegant, while the second portal is a masterpiece of Baroque art with statues representing Saint Orontius between Saint Justus and Saint Fortunatus. The church is built on a Latin cross plan with a nave and two aisles, separated by pillars and pilasters. The central nave and the transept are covered by a wooden ceiling in which are paintings representing the Martyrdom of Saint Orontius and the Last Supper. There are twelve altars. In the cathedral square are other monuments: the bell tower, the bishop's palace and the seminary.
  2. The Castle of Charles V  was built in Lecce by Charles V in 1539. The building was designed by the architect Gian Giacomo dell’Acaya and to build this fortress two constructions were pulled down: the Chapel of the Trinity and the Monastery of the Benedictine Order of the Saint Cross. The castle did not have only defensive functions, in the 18th century one of its rooms was used as a theatre. From 1870 to 1979 it was used as military district. Nowadays it is the seat of the Cultural Affairs of the township of Lecce, a backdrop for many cultural initiatives. Visitors can remain charmed with the delicate ornaments of the interiors: the capitals and the decorated big room, with imposing big stained glass windows. The rooms of the upstairs are sustained by imposing stone columns. 
  3. Porta Napoli - Also know as Arch of Triumph, it was erected in 1548 to pay homage to Charles V and thank him for having fortified the town. Twenty metres tall, the arch is situated in a square named after it, where S.Giusto once was.
  4. Torre del Parco ("Park Tower") is one of the medieval symbols of Lecce. It was erected in 1419 by the then-18 years old Giovanni Antonio del Balzo Orsini, prince of Lecce. The tower, standing at more than 23 meters, is surrounded by a ditch in which bears (the heraldic symbol of the Orsini del Balzo) were reared. The whole complex was the seat of Orsini's tribunal and of a mint, and after Giovanni Antonio's death, it became a residence for the Spanish viceroys.
  5. The Roman Amphitheater was built in the second century AD and once held 25,000 spectators. The amphitheater is partially excavated but monuments have been built above most of it. You'll see the remains near Sant'Oronzo Square where there's a Roman column topped by a copper statue of Saint Oronzo, the city's patron saint.



Leipzig is one of the two largest cities (along with Dresden) in the federal state of Saxony, Germany. Leipzig is situated about 200 km south of Berlin at the confluence of the Weisse Elster, Pleisse and Parthe rivers at the southerly end of the North German Plain.

Leipzig was first documented in 1015 in the chronicles of Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg and endowed with city and market privileges in 1165 by Otto the Rich. Leipzig has fundamentally shaped the history of Saxony and of Germany and has always been known as a place of commerce. The Leipzig Trade Fair, started in the Middle Ages, became an event of international importance and is the oldest remaining trade fair in the world.

There are records of commercial fishing operations on the river Pleisse in Leipzig dating back to 1305, when the Margrave Dietrich the Younger granted the fishing rights to the church and convent of St. Thomas. There were a number of monasteries in and around the town, including a Benedectine monastery after which the Barfussgässchen (Barefoot Alley) is named and a monastery of Irish monks near the present day Ranstädter Steinweg (old Via Regia).

The Leipzig region was the arena of the 1813 Battle of Leipzig between Napoleonic France and an allied coalition of Prussia, Russia, Austria and Sweden. It was the largest battle in Europe prior to World War I and ended Napoleon's presence in Germany and would ultimately lead to his first exile on Elba. In 1913, the Monument to the Battle of the Nations monument celebrating the centenary of this event was completed. 

Neues Rathaus
The city's mayor from 1930 to 1937, Carl Friedrich Goerdeler was a noted opponent of the Nazi regime in Germany. He resigned in 1937 when, in his absence, his Nazi deputy ordered the destruction of the city's statue of Felix Mendelssohn. On Kristallnacht in 1938, one of the city's most architecturally significant buildings, the 1855 Moorish Revival Leipzig synagogue was deliberately destroyed. 

The city was also heavily damaged by Allied bombing during World War II. Unlike its neighbouring city of Dresden this was largely conventional bombing, with high explosives rather than incendiaries. The resultant pattern of loss was a patchwork, rather than wholesale loss of its centre, but was nevertheless very extensive.

The Allied ground advance into Germany reached Leipzig in late April 1945. The US 2nd Infantry Division and US 69th Infantry Division fought into the city on 18 April and completed its capture after fierce urban combat, in which fighting was often house-to-house and block-to-block, on 19 April 1945. The U.S. turned over the city to the Red Army as it pulled back from the line of contact with Soviet forces in July 1945 to the pre-designated occupation zone boundaries. Leipzig became one of the major cities of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

Today, Leipzig is the perfect location for a day's stroll through stores and boutiques. A large number of prestigious specialist retailers are located right in the city centre, suitably accommodated in the large Passagen arcades. A shopping trip could start under the arcades of the Old Town Hall, where Leipzig souvenirs and literature on the city are available. Mädler Passage, which leads on to Königshaus- und Messehofpassage, has a selection of luxury shops and boutiques to warm any shopper's heart. The shopping arcades in Specks Hof, the former trade-fair palace between Reichsstrasse and St Nicholas' Church square, and those in Barthels Hof have been extensively refurbished. There are new shopping arcades in Städtisches Kaufhaus, Strohsack-Passage and in Petersbogen. 

St. Nicholas Church

With its Hauptbahnhof-Promenaden, Leipzig's Central Station is one of the most modern shopping and service centres in Germany. Several well-known department stores have opened both in the city centre and in newly built shopping malls. But the pedestrian-oriented city centre remains the favourite destination for an interesting shopping trip for many Leipzig residents and visitors.

Leipzig's Fresh Foods Markets where agricultural produce from the region is sold by farmers and traders are most popular among the citizens and visitors. There is a market near Leipzig Central Stadium on Saturdays, where you can find almost anything your heart desires. 

In the period before Christmas, the Market Square and its neighbouring areas are decked out for the season – a Fairy-Tale Forest and the world's largest free-standing advent calendar are among the attractions for young and old at the popular Leipzig Christmas Market. 

Leipzig has always been commended as a hospitable city. Merchants coming to the city for trade fairs and students alike praised the city's public houses. Johann Wolfgang Goethe (who was a student in the city) immortalised Auerbachs Keller in his play "Faust", and a visit to the famous barrel cellar is not to be missed when in Leipzig.

Leipzigers are also known for their proverbial love of coffee, and the popularity of the hot drink from Arabia among the people here gave rise to the nickname "Kaffeesachse" ("Coffee-Saxon"). Hence it comes as no surprise to learn that coffee-houses were popular meeting places in the city as early as 1695. The coffee-house tradition is still maintained in various historical cafés in the city and is also being revived in newly established coffee-houses.

Moreover, the city has several "pub districts" including the one known as "Drallewatsch", running from Brühl precinct along Fleischergasse to the New Town Hall. Many pubs 'around the corner' have survived throughout the city, many of which serve good plain food. In addition, many of the allotment garden areas have their own garden pubs, whose beer gardens are especially popular in the summer. A particular Leipzig speciality "Leipzig Gose", a top-fermented beer which is brewed once again in Leipzig and was almost forgotten until revived by an enterprising Leipzig landlord. 

The number of restaurants, pubs and cafés has grown substantially in recent years. Today, Leipzig can offer its visitors a wide range of international cuisine as well as events restaurants of almost all kinds, combining the serving of food with exhibitions, music and dance, a unique atmosphere or interior design, or live performances. To combine the taste of a good beer and a decent snack, try one of the bowling or pool and billiard bars.

                                                        Leipzig's Top 5:
  1. The Thomaskirche (St. Thomas Church) is a Lutheran church and is most famous as the place where Johann Sebastian Bach worked as a cantor, and as the current location of his remains. There has been a church at the current site of the Thomaskirche since the 12th century. Between 1212 and 1222 the preceding church became the new St. Thomas Monastery of the Augustinian order. After several reconstructions (remains of an earlier Romanesque church were found during archaeological excavations), the current building, an example of late Gothic architecture, was consecrated by Thilo of Trotha, the Bishop of Merseburg, on April 10, 1496. The tower was first built in 1537 and reconstructed in 1702, leading to its current height of 68 meters. The composer Johann Sebastian Bach was choir director at St. Thomas Church from 1723 until his death in 1750. His statue that stands next to the church was dedicated in 1908.
  2. New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) is the seat of the Leipzig city administration since 1905. It stands within the Leipzig's "ring road" on the south west corner opposite the city library at Martin-Luther-Ring. In 1895 the city of Leipzig was granted the site of the Pleissenburg by the Kingdom of Saxony to build a new town hall. A competition was held for architectural designs with the specification that the Rapunzel tower sillhouette of the Pleißenburg be retained. In 1897 the architect and city building director of Leipzig Hugo Licht was awarded the job of designing it. The foundation stone of the New Town Hall was laid on the 19th October 1899.
  3. The St. Nicholas Church. has long been one of the most famous in Leipzig, and rose to national fame in 1989 with the Monday Demonstrations when it became the centre of peaceful revolt against Communist rule. The church was built around 1165 when Leipzig, also known as St. Nicholas's City, was founded. It is named after St. Nicholas, the patron saint of merchants and wholesalers, and is situated in the very heart of the city on the intersection of two then important trade roads. It is built partially in the Romanesque style but was extended and enlarged in the early 16th century with a more Gothic style. The church saw four of the five performances (including the premiere) of the St John Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach on Good Friday in 1724, 1728, 1732, and 1749 as well as many of his cantatas and oratorios performed by the Thomanerchor.
  4. Leipzig Opera House. The Leipzig Opera traces its establishment to the year 1693. The Leipzig Opera does not have its own opera orchestra, and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra performs as the orchestra for the opera. This relationship dates back to 1766, with performances of the Singspiel Die verwandelten Weiber, oder Der Teufel ist losby Johann Adam Hiller. The previous theater (the "Neues Theater") was inaugurated on January 28, 1868. From 1886 to 1888, Gustav Mahler was the second conductor; Arthur Nikisch was his superior. During an air raid in the night of December 3, 1943, the theater was destroyed, as were all Leipzig's theatres. Construction of the modern opera house began in 1956. The theatre was inaugurated on October 8, 1960, with a performance of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
  5. The Monument to the Battle of the Nations. is a monument to the 1813 Battle of Leipzig, also known as the Battle of the Nations. Paid for mostly by donations and by the city of Leipzig, it was completed in 1913 for the 100th anniversary of the battle, at a cost of 6,000,000 Goldmark. The monument commemorates Napoleon's defeat at Leipzig, a crucial step towards the end of hostilities in the War of the Sixth Coalition, which was seen as a victory for the German people, although Germany as we know it did not exist at that time. There were German-speakers fighting on both sides, as Napoleon's troops also included conscripted Germans from the French-occupied left bank of the Rhine as well as from the Confederation of the Rhine. The structure is 91 metres tall. It contains over 500 steps to a viewing platform at the top, from which there are spectacular views across the city and environs. The structure makes extensive use of concrete, although the facings are of granite. The monument is widely regarded as one of the best examples of Wilhelmine architecture. It is said to stand on the spot of some of the bloodiest fighting, from where Napoleon ordered the retreat of his army.


Liège is a major city and municipality of Belgium located in the province of Liège, of which it is the economic capital, in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium. The city is situated in the valley of the Meuse River, near Belgium's eastern borders with the Netherlands and Germany, where the Meuse meets the Ourthe. It is in the former sillon industriel, the industrial backbone of Wallonia.

Although settlements already existed in Roman times, the first references to Liège are from 558, when it was known as Vicus Leudicus. Around 705, Saint Lambert of Maastricht is credited with completing the Christianization of the region, indicating that up to the early 8th-century the religious practices of antiquity had survived in some form. Christian conversion may still not have been quite universal, since Lambert was murdered in Liège and thereafter regarded as a martyr for his faith. To enshrine St. Lambert's relics, his successor, Hubertus (later to become St. Hubert), built a basilica near the bishop's residence which became the true nucleus of the city. A few centuries later, the city became the capital of a prince-bishopric, which lasted from 985 till 1794. The first prince-bishop, Notger, transformed the city into a major intellectual and ecclesiastical centre, which maintained its cultural importance during the Middle Ages. Pope Clement VI recruited several musicians from Liège to perform in the Papal court at Avignon, thereby sanctioning the practice of polyphony in the religious realm. The city was renowned for its many churches, the oldest of which, St Martin's, dates from 682. Although nominally part of the Holy Roman Empire, in practice it possessed a large degree of independence. 

373 steps leading from 
Hors-Château to the Citadel
The strategic position of Liège has made it a frequent target of armies and insurgencies over the centuries. It was fortified early on with a castle on the steep hill that overlooks the city's western side. In 1345, the citizens of Liège rebelled against Prince-Bishop Engelbert III de la Marck, their ruler at the time, and defeated him in battle near the city. Shortly after, a unique political system formed in Liège, whereby the city's 32 guilds shared sole political control of the municipal government. Each person on the register of each guild was eligible to participate, and each guild's voice was equal, making it the most democratic system that the Low Countries had ever known. The system spread to Utrecht, and left a democratic spirit in Liège that survived the Middle Ages.

Liège's fortifications were redesigned by Henri Alexis Brialmont in the 1880s and a chain of twelve forts was constructed around the city to provide defence in depth. This presented a major obstacle to Germany's army in 1914, whose Schlieffen Plan relied on being able to quickly pass through the Meuse valley and the Ardennes en route to France. The German invasion on August 5, 1914 soon reached Liège, which was defended by 30,000 troops under General Gérard Leman. The forts initially held off an attacking force of about 100,000 men but were pulverised into submission by a five-day bombardment by the Germans' 42 cm Big Bertha howitzers. Due to faulty planning of the protection of the underground defense tunnels beneath the main citadel, one direct artillery hit caused a huge explosion, which eventually led to the surrender of the Belgian forces. The Belgian resistance was shorter than had been intended, but the twelve days of delay caused by the siege nonetheless contributed to the eventual failure of the German invasion of France. The city was subsequently occupied by the Germans until the end of the war. Liège received the Légion d'Honneur for its resistance in 1914. 

The Germans returned in 1940, this time taking the forts in only three days. Most Jews were saved, with the help of the sympathising population, as many Jewish children and refugees were hidden in the numerous monasteries. The German occupiers were expelled by the Allies of World War II in September 1944 but Liège was subsequently subjected to intense aerial bombardment, with more than 1,500 V1 and V2 missiles landing in the city between its liberation and the end of the war.

After the war ended, the Royal Question came to the fore, since many saw king Leopold III as collaborating with the Germans during the war. In July 1950, André Renard, leader of the Liégeois FGTB launched the General strike against Leopold III of Belgium and "seized control over the city of Liège". The strike ultimately led to Leopold's abdication. 
 Liège has shown some signs of economic recovery in recent years with the opening up of borders within the European Union, surging steel prices, and improved administration. Several new shopping centres have been built, and numerous repairs carried out.

The city is well known for its very crowded folk festivals. The 15 August festival ("Le 15 août") is maybe the best known. The population gathers in a quarter named Outre-Meuse with plenty of tiny pedestrian streets and old yards. Many people come to see the procession but also to drink alcohol and beer, eat cabbage, sausages or pancakes or simply enjoy the atmosphere until the early hours. The Saint Nicholas festival around the 6 December is organized by and for the students of the University; for 24 hours, the students (wearing very dirty lab-coats) are allowed to beg for money for drinking.

Liège is renowned for its significant nightlife. Within the pedestrian zone, there is an area (a 100 × 100 m (328.08 ft × 328.08 ft) square called Le Carré) with many lively pubs which are reputed to remain open until the last customer leaves (typically around 6 am). Another active area is the Place du Marché.

The "Batte" market is where most locals visit on Sundays. The outdoor market goes along the Meuse River and also attracts many visitors to Liège. S
tretching over a mile with colorful stalls offering fruit, cheeses, clothes, flower and local products (every Sunday from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm). After visiting "La Batte", time to eat the famous Boulets à la Liégeoise (meatballs with fries) in a typical Belgian café.

Batte Market
With so many great restaurants in Belgium, the hardest part of dinner is to deciding where to go. From a small, inexpensive meal to a multi-course luxurious dinner, local Belgian specialities or dishes inspired by more exotic lands, you will always be able to find cuisine to suit your taste. For those looking to fully emerge in Belgian culture and discover something new, you can enjoy the traditional cuisine of Liege. The menu includes: boulets-frites (meatballs and chip/fries), salade liegeoise (green beans, potatoes, diced bacon), fricassee (omelette with bacon or sausage), rognons de veau (veal kidneys), gauffres (waffles), peket (gin/juniper spirit), cafe liegeois (liege coffee), etc.

The Liège Christmas Market has become one of Belgium’s most famous Christmas Markets with more than 2 million visitors per year from the end of November to the last day of December. Set in Place St Lambert and Place du Marche, 200 wooden chalets offers gastronomic specialties, handicrafts and souvenirs. The ice rink is surrounded by stands where you can shop, eat and drink.

The people of Liège have a reputation for partying… Both in summer and winter, the various districts of the town come alive in the evenings. Discotheques, private clubs, cabaret cafés, bars with beer, student bistros or jazz clubs, these places, many of which are open through the first light of dawn, are ideal places for imbibing the true spirit of the people of Liège.

The market square (Place du Marché) is another centre for nocturnal activity. The pedestrian part of the square is exclusively occupied by lounge bars with large, lively terraces. The Carré district is an original concept not to be missed : a set of very busy pedestrian streets where there is also a concentration of dozens of cafés, pubs and restaurants... Students come here to celebrate the numerous folklore festivals including the one of St. Nicolas at the beginning of December.

The Prince-Bishops' Palace

                                                        Liege’s Top 5:
  1. St Paul's Cathedral.  During the French Revolution the ancient cathedral of Liège, St. Lambert's Cathedral, was destroyed systematically, from 1794 onwards. After the revolutionary fervour had evaporated a new cathedral was needed. The ancient collegiate church of St. Paul's was thought suitable for the purpose and was elevated in rank, before 1812. This is the present Liège Cathedral. The present cathedral of Liège was originally one among the seven collegiate churches of the city. It was founded in the 10th century, reconstructed between the 13th and 15th centuries, and restored in the mid-19th century. In 1812, further to a request from Napoléon Bonaparte, the tower, with its ogival windows, was raised by a storey and the belltower installed
  2. The Prince-Bishops' Palace of Liège is on place Saint-Lambert in the centre of the City. It was the residence of the former Prince-Bishops of Liège. It once faced St. Lambert's Cathedral. Its imposing facade dominates the end of the place St-Lambert, centre of commercial life in Liège, where St Lambert's Cathedral formerly stood. Two buildings preceded the present palace, a first palace integrated with the fortifications was built about 1000 AD by Bishop Notger, but it was destroyed in the fire of 1185. The palace was reconstructed under Rudolf of Zähringen. This building was much damaged in the sack of the city by the Burgundians and was also burnt in 1505. On mounting the episcopal throne in 1505 Bishop Érard de La Marck found the palace in ruins and entrusted the construction of a new one to the master builder Arnold van Mulken in 1526. It was finished at the end of the 16th century. The principal facade on the south was completely rebuilt after the fire of 1734 in the Louis XIV-Regency style under the direction of the Brussels architect Jean-André Anneessens, son of François Anneessens. In 1849, a new west wing was built by the architect Jean-Charles Delsaux, in the same style as the old palace to accommodate the provincial government.
  3. The Curtius Museum (Musée Curtius) is a museum of archaeology and decorative arts, located on the bank of the Meuse River in Liège, classified as a Major Heritage of Wallonia. It was built sometime between 1597 and 1610 as a private mansion for Jean Curtius, industrialist and munitions supplier to the Spanish army. With its alternating layers of red brick and natural stone, and its cross-mullioned windows, the building typifies the regional style known as the Mosan (or Meuse) Renaissance. After a 50 million euro redevelopment the museum reopened as the Grand Curtius (Le Grand Curtius) in March 2009, now housing the merged collections of four former museums: themuseum of archeology, the museum of weaponry, the museum of decorative arts, and themuseum of religious art and Mosan art. Highlights in the collections include treasures of Mosan art such as a twelfth century gilded reliquary tryptich, formerly in the church of Sainte-Croix, the Evangelarium of Notger, sculptures by Jean Del Cour, and a portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte painted by Ingres in 1804: Bonaparte, First Consul.
  4. Le Perron. The Perron is a piece of living history in Liège, situated in the Place du Marché. This pillar originally served as a symbol of the prince-bishop of Liège, and its image has been found on money used in the region, dated as early as the 12th Century. In the 15th Century the Perron was placed on Lièges coat-of-arms, and the image of it has stayed there to this day.
  5. The Mountain of Bueren and the slopes of the Citadel. Climb the imposing staircase of 373 steps  leading from Hors-Château to the Citadel, or opt for the smaller streets and stairways leading up to the Citadel's slopes. From the top, you'll have a lovely view of the city, from the Palace rooves to the ancient watchtower.

    Le Perron


Lille is a city in northern France (French Flanders). It is the principal city of the Lille Métropole, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country behind those of Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Lille is situated on the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium. It is the capital of the Nord-Pas de Calais region and the prefecture of the Nord department.

The legend of "Lydéric and Phinaert" puts the foundation of the city of "L'Isle" at 640. Although the first mention of the town appears in archives from the year 1066, some archeological digs seem to show the area as inhabited by as early as 2000 BC, most notably in the modern-day quartiers of Fives, Wazemmes, and Old Lille.
The original inhabitants of this region were the Gauls who were followed by Germanic peoples, the Saxons and the Frisians, and the Franks later. From 830 until around 910, the Vikings invaded Flanders. After the destruction caused by Norman and Magyar invasion, the eastern part of the region was ruled by various local princes.

The Citadel
In 1667, Louis XIV of France (the Sun-King) successfully laid siege to Lille, resulting in it becoming French in 1668 under the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, provoking discontent among the citizens of the prosperous city. A number of important public works undertaken between 1667 and 1670, such as the Citadel (erected by Vauban), or the creation of the quartiers of Saint-André and la Madeleine, enabled the King to gradually gain the confidence of his Lille subjects, some of whom continued to feel Flemish, though they had always spoken the Romance Picard language.

For five years, from 1708 to 1713, the city was occupied by the Dutch, during the War of the Spanish Succession. Throughout the 18th century, Lille remained profoundly Catholic. It took little part in the French Revolution, though there were riots and the destruction of churches. In 1790, the city held its first municipal elections.

In 1792, in the aftermath of the French Revolution, the Austrians, then in the United Provinces, laid siege to Lille.  Although Austrian artillery destroyed many houses and the main church of the city, the city did not surrender and the Austrian army left after eight days.

During the second World War's Battle of France, Lille was besieged by German forces for several days. Due to the prolonged French defense, many Allied troops were able to escape to Dunkirk. When Belgium was invaded, the citizens of Lille, still marked by the events of the First World War, began to flee the city in large numbers. Lille was part of the zone under control of the German commander in Brussels, and was never controlled by the Vichy government in France. The départments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais (with the exception of the coast, notably Dunkirk) were, for the most part, liberated in five days, from the 1 to 5 September 1944 by British, American, Canadian, and Polish troops. On 3 September, the German troops began to leave Lille, fearing the British, who were on their way from Brussels. Following this, the Lille resistance managed to retake part of the city before the British tanks arrived. Rationing came to an end in 1947, and by 1948, some normality had returned to Lille. 

Chamber of Comerce
Modern Lille features an array of architectural styles with various amounts of Flemish influence, including the use of brown and red brick. In addition, many residential neighborhoods, especially in Greater Lille, consist of attached 2–3 story houses aligned in a row, with narrow gardens in the back. These architectural attributes, many uncommon in France, help make Lille a transition in France to neighboring Belgium, as well as nearby Netherlands and England, where the presence of brick, as well as row houses or the Terraced house is much more prominent. 

The pedestrian streets just past Grand Place (rue de Béthune, rue Neuve, Rue du Sec Arembault, rue des Tanneurs, etc.) offer popular clothing chain stores such as Etam, Pimkie, Zara, H&M, Sinéquanone, as well as small pubs, restaurants, and two (huge) movie theatres. Some of the buildings that house these stores have beautiful 30's-40's architecture.
Euralille is Lille's largest shopping centre and offers popular clothing chains, as well as the Carrefour hypermarket. Situated between the two train stations, Gare Lille Flandres and Gare Lille Europe, and right in the heart of the city near dozens of hotels, Euralille is easily accessible to travellers coming into the city.

Le Furet du Nord (Place du Général de Gaulle) is the largest bookstore in Europe, it appears to be one of the most touristic "monuments" in the city. It has 8 floors and offers more than 420,000 titles.
There are dozens of upscale boutiques (e.g. Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Hugo Boss, Kenzo) and trendier, independent stores located in Vieux Lille.

Food lovers would definitely be recommended to visit Lille. There are hundreds of little patisseries selling more cakes than I knew existed, as well as a number of chocolate shops. Guillaume Vincent (12 Rue du Cure Saint Etienne),  sells exquisitely decorated chocolates which, judging from their taste, must have about 90% cocoa solids.

                                                        Lille’s Top 5:
  1. Lille Cathedral, the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Treille , is a Roman Catholic cathedral and basilica, and a national monument of France. It has been the seat of the Bishop of Lille since the creation of the diocese in 1913, although construction of the church of Notre Dame de la Treille began in 1854. The church takes its name from a 12th century statue of the Virgin Mary.
  2. The Citadel of Lille  is a pentagon-shaped citadel of the city wall of Lille. It was built around 1668. It hosts the Corps de réaction rapide France. Dubbed "Queen of the citadels" (Reine des citadelles) by Vauban, it is one of the most notable citadels designed by Vauban. The citadel was part of a double line of fortified towns of Gravelines, Dunkirk and Maubeuge-Rocroi. It was famous pré carré ("square field"), conceived by Vauban comprising 28 fortified cities. Starting from Lille, Vauban supervised the construction of the many citadels and channels of the North, which controlled the border between France and Belgium.
  3. The Vieille Bourse (Old stock exchange), built from 1652 to 1653, is undoubtly the town's finest building. This building is made up of 24 little houses around an arched courtyard. A second-hand book market can be seen inside. In summer, the area is brimming with people as Chess tournaments and dancing demonstration are held here.
  4. The Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille is one of the largest museums in France, and the largest French museum outside of Paris. It was one of the first museums built in France, established under the instructions of Napoleon I at the beginning of the 19th century as part of the popularisation of art : Jean-Antoine Chaptal's decree of 1801 selected fifteen French cities (among which Lille) to receive the works seized from churches and from the territories occupied by the armies of Revolutionary France.
    The museum opened in 1809 and was initially housed in a church confiscated from the Récollets before being transferred to the city's town hall. In 1866, the "musée Wicar", formed from the collection of Jean-Baptiste Wicar, was merged into the Palais des Beaux-Arts. Construction of the Palais's current Belle Époque-style building began in 1885 under the direction of Géry Legrand, mayor of Lille, and it was completed in 1892. The architects chosen to design the new building were Edouard Bérard (1843 - 1912) and Fernand Etienne-Charles Delmas (1852 - 1933) from Paris. The building is located on the place de la République, in the center of the city, facing the préfecture of Lille. It was renovated during the 1990s and reopened in 1997. 
     Its sculptures, paintings, drawings, ceramics and so on include works by Raphael, Donatello, Van Dyck, Tissot, Rembrandt, Goya, El Greco, Toulouse-Lautrec, Delacroix, Rubens, Rodin, Claudel and Jean-Baptiste Chardin.
  5. Chamber of Commerce. Created in 1701 by Louis XIV, the Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie (the Chamber of Commerce and Industry) had its headquarters in different parts of the town before a building was purposely built for holding it in the face of rapid industrial development. Situated at the entrance of the boulevard Carnot, opened in 1909 by the engineer Alfred Mongy to link Lille to Roubaix andTourcoing, this building is the work of the Lille architect Louis-Marie Cordonnier, who constructed the Opéra as well as theAmsterdam Stock Exchange. Designed in a neo-regionalist style, the building is directly inspired by the rang du Beauregard (1687) (Beauregard Row) situated just opposite. Towering at 76 metres high, the belfry embodies the power and the might of European market cities.

    The Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille


Once the launch pad for many of the voyages of discovery (notably Vasco da Gama's epic journey to India), Lisbon was the first true world city, the capital of an empire spreading over all continents, from South America (Brazil) to Asia (Macao, China; Goa, India). It is forever known as the city of the explorers, and you too will be filled with the spirit of discovery as you retrace the footsteps of Prince Henry the Navigator or Ferdinand Magellan.

Situated on the north banks of the River Tagus, the charm of Lisbon exists in its strong links to the past. Its renovated palaces, magnificent churches and an impressive castle mirror the city's rich cultural heritage. Its eclectic blend of neighborhoods, culture and architecture distinguish this capital city uniquely from the other European capitals and make it a truly fascinating and comprehensive city to visit. A city set on seven hills, as the legend tells, with its cobble-stoned pavements and narrow streets full of Art Nouveau cafés promises a lot to discover.

Lisbon's abundant sunshine reflects back from the Tagus River onto the white walls of the city's churches and monuments, making these buildings even more radiant -- especially when mixed with the blue sky and the multitude of colors emanating from the houses' tiled façades and rooftops. All of that combined creates the luminous, harmonious beauty that is Lisbon. 

Square of Commerce
Be sure to stroll through  Praça do Comércio, or Square of Commerce, the centrepiece of which is the equestrian statue of King José I, inaugurated in 1775 in the centre of the square. This bronze statue, the first monumental statue dedicated to a King in Lisbon, was designed by Joaquim Machado de Castro, Portugal's foremost sculptor of the time. Opening towards Augusta Street, which links the square with the other traditional Lisbon square, the Rossio, the original project by Eugénio dos Santos planned a triumphal arch, only realised in 1875. This arch, usually called the Arco da Rua Augusta, was designed by Veríssimo da Costa. It has a clock and statues of the Glory, Ingenuity and Valour (by the French sculptor Camels) and those of Viriatus, Nuno Álvares Pereira, Vasco da Gama and, of course, the Marquis of Pombal.

On 1 February 1908, the square was the scene of the assassination of Carlos I, the penultimate King of Portugal. On their way back from the palace of Vila Viçosa to the royal palace in Lisbon, the carriage with Carlos I and his family passed through the Terreiro do Paço. While crossing the square, shots were fired from the crowd by at least two men: Alfredo Costa and Manuel Buiça. The king died immediately, his heir Luís Filipe was mortally wounded, and Prince Manuel was hit in the arm. The assassins were shot on the spot by members of the bodyguard and later recognized as members of the Republican Party – which two years later overthrew the Portuguese monarchy.

Lisbon also hosts a great number of remarkable museums of ancient and modern art, some of which are Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, National Museum of Contemporary Art, National Coach Museum, Berardo Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and Carmo Archaeological Museum. But, Lisbon isn't all culture and history; Bairro Alto is the center of nightlife with various restaurants and bars where melancholic traditional Portuguese music, Fado, can also be listened.

When tired of sight-seeing, shopping in Lisbon will take all your tiredness away! The biggest shopping mall in Iberian Peninsula, Centro Commercial Colombo, will offer you innumerous options. For those who prefer to shop in local markets, there is a fascinating flea market at the Campo de Santa Clara.

The best way to discover Lisbon is to get lost in its narrow streets and up and down roads! Every narrow street will tell you a different story and every story will reach to your heart easily!

Getting around the city couldn't be easier, the quickest way undoubtedly is the Metro. Not because it is cheap and fast but also because the Metro stations are covered with amazing artistic decoration. Metro trains run every day from 6.00 a.m. until 1.00 a.m.
Trams offer a nostalgic trip through ancient neighborhoods such as the Bairro Alto in Alfama with fascinating views of the city, many of them are pre-World War One and still running.
Jeronimos Monastery
Lisbon’s Top 5:
Belem Tower
  1. Belém Tower .  Built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbor, the Belem Tower was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery, and for the sailors it was the last sight of their homeland. It is a monument to Portugal's Age of Discovery, often serving as a symbol of the country, and UNESCO has listed it as a World Heritage monument.
  2.  The Jeronimos Monument.  The Jeronimos Monastery is the most impressive symbol of Portugal's power and wealth during the 'Age of Discovery'. King Manuel I built it in 1502 on the site of a hermitage founded by Prince Henry the Navigator, where Vasco da Gama and his crew spent their last night in Portugal in prayer before leaving for India. It was built to commemorate Vasco Da Gama's voyage and to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for its success. Vasco da Gama's tomb was placed inside by the entrance, as was the tomb of poet Luis de Camões, author of the epic The Lusiads in which he glorifies the triumphs of Da Gama and his compatriots. Other great figures in Portuguese history are also entombed here, like King Manuel and King Sebastião, and poets Fernando Pessoa and Alexandre Herculano.
  3. Alfama District  This quaint medieval district (once the Moorish and Jewish quarter before it became a fishing community) is like a small village. It stands as a time capsule to the years before Lisbon was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake, as it remained standing thanks to its rock-solid foundations.
    Put away your map and wander aimlessly through its "becos" (alleys) and "largos" (small squares), allowing your senses to be the guides. Set in a visually stunning hill, this is Lisbon at its most picturesque and the very soul of the city. Life here continues much as it has for centuries, but walk down towards the river and you're once again in modern times: old warehouses have been renovated and turned into some of the city's coolest hotspots, from DeliDelux for brunch to Bica do Sapato for dinner, and Lux for drinks and dancing until sunrise.
  4. São Jorge Castle .  Saint George's Castle can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. Its oldest parts date from the 6th century, when it was fortified by the Romans, Visigoths, and eventually the Moors. It served as a Moorish royal residence until Portugal's first king Afonso Henriques captured it in 1147 with the help of northern European crusaders on their way to the Holy Land. It was then dedicated to St. George, the patron saint of England, commemorating the Anglo-Portuguese pact dating from 1371, and became the royal palace until another one (that was destroyed in the Great Earthquake) was built in today's Comercio Square.
  5. Discoveries Monument.  Across from Jeronimos Monastery, reached via an underpass by its gardens, is the Discoveries Monument, built on the north bank of the Tagus River in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator.It represents a three-sailed ship ready to depart, with sculptures of important historical figures such as King Manuel I carrying an armillary sphere, poet Camões holding verses from The Lusiads, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Cabral, and several other notable Portuguese explorers, crusaders, monks, cartographers, and cosmographers, following Prince Henry the Navigator at the prow holding a small vessel. The only female is queen Felipa of Lancaster, mother of Henry the navigator, the brains of the discoveries.
    The Discoveries Monument


Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside ,England, United Kingdom along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880. It is the fourth most populous British city, and third most populous in England.

Inhabitants of Liverpool are referred to as Liverpudlians but are also colloquially known as "Scousers", in reference to the local dish known as "scouse", a form of stew. The word "Scouse" has also become synonymous with the Liverpool accent and dialect.

Labelled the World Capital City of Pop by Guinness World Records, Liverpool has produced a wealth of musical talent since the mid-20th century. The popularity of The Beatles, Billy Fury, Gerry and the Pacemakers and the other groups from the Merseybeat era, and later bands such as Echo & the Bunnymen and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, contributes to Liverpool's status as a tourist destination; tourism forms a significant part of the city's modern economy.

King John's letters patent of 1207 announced the foundation of the borough of Liverpool, but by the middle of the 16th century the population was still only around 500. The original street plan of Liverpool is said to have been designed by King John near the same time it was granted a royal charter, making it a borough. The original seven streets were laid out in a H shape: Bank Street (now Water Street), Castle Street, Chapel Street, Dale Street, Juggler Street (now High Street), Moor Street (now Tithebarn Street) and Whiteacre Street (now Old Hall Street).

In the 17th century there was slow progress in trade and population growth. Battles for the town were waged during the English Civil War, including an eighteen-day siege in 1644. In 1699 Liverpool was made a parish by Act of Parliament, that same year its first slave ship,Liverpool Merchant, set sail for Africa. As trade from the West Indies surpassed that of Ireland and Europe, and as the River Dee silted up, Liverpool began to grow. The first commercial wet dock was built in Liverpool in 1715. Substantial profits from the slave trade helped the town to prosper and rapidly grow, although several prominent local men, including William Rathbone, William Roscoe and Edward Rushton, were at the forefront of the abolitionist movement.

By the start of the 19th century, 40% of the world's trade was passing through Liverpool and the construction of major buildings reflected this wealth. In 1830, Liverpool and Manchester became the first cities to have an intercity rail link, through the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The population continued to rise rapidly, especially during the 1840s when Irish migrants began arriving by the hundreds of thousands as a result of the Great Famine. By 1851, approximately 25% of the city's population was Irish-born. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Liverpool was drawing immigrants from across Europe. This is evident from the diverse array of religious buildings located across the city, many of which are still in use today. The Deutsche Kirche Liverpool, Greek Orthodox Church of St Nicholas,Gustav Adolfus Kyrka, Princes Road Synagogue and St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church were all established in the late 1800s to serve Liverpool's growing German, Greek, Nordic, Jewish and Polish communities respectively.

The Housing Act 1919 resulted in mass council housing building across Liverpool during the 1920s and 1930s. Thousands of families were rehoused from the inner-city to new suburban housing estates, based on the pretext that this would improve their standard of living, though this is largely subjective. A large number of private homes were also built during this era. The process continued after the Second World War, with many more new housing estates being built in suburban areas, while some of the older inner city areas were also redeveloped for new homes. The Great Depression of the early 1930s saw unemployment in the city peak at around 30%.

During the Second World War there were 80 air-raids on Merseyside, killing 2,500 people and causing damage to almost half the homes in the metropolitan area. Significant rebuilding followed the war, including massive housing estates and the Seaforth Dock, the largest dock project in Britain. Much of the immediate reconstruction of the city centre has been deeply unpopular, and was as flawed as much town planning renewal in the 1950s and 1960s – the portions of the city's heritage that survived German bombing could not withstand the efforts of urban renewal. Since 1952 Liverpool has been twinned with Cologne, Germany, a city which also experienced severe aerial bombing during the war.

Like most British cities and industrialised towns, Liverpool became home to a significant number of Commonwealth immigrants after World War II, mostly settling in older inner city areas such as Toxteth. However, a significant West Indian black community had existed in the city as long ago as the first two decades of the 20th century.

At the end of the 20th century Liverpool was concentrating on regeneration, a process which still continues today. Previously part of Lancashire, and a county borough from 1889, Liverpool became in 1974 a metropolitan borough within the newly created metropolitan county of Merseyside.

Capitalising on the popularity of 1960s rock groups, such as The Beatles, as well as the city's world-class art galleries, museums and landmarks, tourism has also become a significant factor in Liverpool's economy. As expected, there are many dedicated Beatles tours are available in and around Liverpool highlighting important sites in the history of the iconic band, including visiting Penny Lane, Strawberry Field, The Cavern, The Casbah, and all the Beatles childhood homes and schools.

In 2004, property developer Grosvenor started the Paradise Project, a £920 m development centred on Paradise Street, which involved the most significant changes to Liverpool's city centre since the post-war reconstruction. Renamed 'Liverpool ONE', the centre opened in May 2008.

Spearheaded by the multi-billion Liverpool ONE development, regeneration has continued on an unprecedented scale through to the start of the early 2010s in Liverpool. Some of the most significant regeneration projects to have taken place in the city include the new Commercial District, King's Dock, Mann Island, the Lime Street Gateway, the Baltic Triangle, RopeWalks and the Edge Lane Gateway. 

All projects could however soon be eclipsed by the Liverpool Waters scheme which if built will cost in the region of £5.5billion and be one of the largest megaprojects in the UK's history. Liverpool Waters is a mixed use development which will contain one of Europe's largest skyscraper clusters. The project received outline planning permission in 2012, despite fierce opposition from the likes of UNESCO who claim it will have a damaging effect on Liverpool's World Heritage status.

Liverpool has a thriving and varied nightlife, with the majority of the city's late night bars, pubs, nightclubs, live music venues and comedy clubs being located in a number of distinct districts. A 2011 TripAdvisor poll voted Liverpool as having the best nightlife of any UK city, ahead of Manchester, Leeds and even London. Concert Square, St. Peter's Square and the adjoining Seel, Duke and Hardman Streets are home to some of Liverpool's largest and most famed nightclubs as well as countless other smaller establishments and chain bars. The Albert Dock and Lark Lane in Aigburth also contain an abundance of bars and late night venues.

                                                        Liverpool’s Top 5:
  1. Liverpool Cathedral is the Church of England cathedral of the Diocese of Liverpool, built on St James's Mount and is the seat of the Bishop of Liverpool. Its official name is the Cathedral Church of Christ in Liverpool but it is dedicated to Christ and the Blessed Virgin. The total external length of the building, including the Lady Chapel, is 189 metres (620 ft) making it the second longest cathedral in the world; its internal length is 146 metres (479 ft). In terms of overall volume, Liverpool Cathedral ranks as the fifth-largest cathedral in the world and contests the title of largest Anglican church building alongside the incomplete Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. With a height of 100.8 metres (331 ft) it is also one of the world's tallest non-spired church buildings and the third-tallest structure in the city of Liverpool. The cathedral has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building. The Anglican cathedral is one of two in the city. The other, the Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Liverpool, is situated approximately half a mile to the north. 
  2. The Albert Dock is a complex of dock buildings and warehouses. Designed by Jesse Hartley and Philip Hardwick, it was opened in 1846, and was the first structure in Britain to be built from cast iron, brick and stone, with no structural wood. As a result, it was the first non-combustible warehouse system in the world. At the time of its construction the Albert Dock was considered a revolutionary docking system because ships were loaded and unloaded directly from/to the warehouses. Today the Albert Dock is a major tourist attraction in the city and the most visited multi-use attraction in the United Kingdom, outside of London. It is a vital component of Liverpool's UNESCO designated World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City and the docking complex and warehouses also comprise the largest single collection of Grade I listed buildings anywhere in the UK.
  3. The Cavern Club is a rock and roll club in Liverpool. Opened on Wednesday 16 January 1957, the club had its first performance by The Beatles on 9 February 1961; Brian Epstein first saw them performing there on 9 November 1961. In the decades that followed, a wide variety of popular acts appeared at the club, including The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Kinks, Elton John, Queen, The Who and John Lee Hooker.  The club closed in March 1973, and was filled in during construction work on the Merseyrail underground rail loop. In 1984 the club was re-built with many of the same bricks that had been used in the original club. Despite being a world-famous tourist spot, the club continues to function primarily as a live music venue. 
  4. Liverpool Town Hall stands in High Street at its junction with Dale Street, Castle Street, and Water Street. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building, described in the National Heritage List for England as "one of the finest surviving 18th-century town halls". The Buildings of England series refers to its "magnificent scale", and considers it to be "probably the grandest ...suite of civic rooms in the country", and "an outstanding and complete example of late Georgian decoration". The town hall was built between 1749 and 1754 to a design by John Wood the Elder replacing an earlier town hall nearby. An extension to the north designed by James Wyatt was added in 1785. Following a fire in 1795 the hall was largely rebuilt and a dome designed by Wyatt was built. Minor alterations have subsequently been made.
  5. The Royal Liver Building is a Grade I listed building sited at the Pier Head and along with the neighbouring Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building is one of Liverpool's Three Graces, which line the city's waterfront. It is also part of Liverpool's UNESCO designated World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City. Opened in 1911, the building is the purpose-built home of the Royal Liver Assurance group, which had been set up in the city in 1850 to provide locals with assistance related to losing a wage-earning relative. One of the first buildings in the world to be built using reinforced concrete, the Royal Liver Building stands at 90 m (300 ft) tall and was formerly the tallest storied building in Europe. Today the Royal Liver Building is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the city of Liverpool and is home to two fabled Liver Birds that watch over the city and the sea. Legend has it that were these two birds to fly away, then the city would cease to exist.


Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia. It is located in the centre of the country in the Ljubljana Basin, and is the centre of the City Municipality of Ljubljana. With approximately 272,000 inhabitants, it classifies as the only Slovenian large town. Throughout its history, it has been influenced by its geographic position at the crossroads of the Slavic world with the Germanic and Latin cultures.

For centuries, Ljubljana was the capital of the historical region of Carniola, and in the 20th century it became the cultural, educational, economic, political and administrative centre of Slovenia, independent since 1991. Its transport connections, concentration of industry, scientific and research institutions and cultural tradition are contributing factors to its leading position.

Around 2000 BC, the Ljubljana Marshes in the immediate vicinity of Ljubljana were settled by people living in pile dwellings. These lake-dwelling people lived through hunting, fishing and primitive agriculture. To get around the marshes, they used dugout canoes made by cutting out the inside of tree trunks. Around 50 BC, the Romans built a military encampment that later became a permanent settlement called Iulia Aemona (Emona). This entrenched fort was occupied by the Legio XV Apollinaris. In 452, it was destroyed by the Huns under Attila's orders, and later by the Ostrogoths and the Lombards. In the 6th century, the ancestors of the Slovenes moved in. In the 9th century, the Slovenes fell under Frankish domination, while experiencing frequent Magyar raids.
In the 15th century, Ljubljana became recognised for its art. After an earthquake in 1511, it was rebuilt in Renaissance style and a new wall was built around it. The Napoleonic interlude saw Ljubljana as "Laybach" become, from 1809 to 1813, the capital of the Illyrian Provinces. In 1815, the city became Austrian again and from 1816 to 1849 was the administrative centre of the Kingdom of Illyria in the Austrian Empire. In 1821 it hosted the Congress of Laibach, which fixed European political borders for years to come.

 In 1918, following the end of World War I and the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, the region joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. In 1929, Ljubljana became the capital of Drava Banovina, a Yugoslav province. In 1941, during World War II, Fascist Italy occupied the city, and on 3 May 1941 made "Lubiana" the capital of an Italian "Provincia di Lubiana" with the former Yugoslav general Leon Rupnik as mayor. After the Italian capitulation, Nazi Germany took control in 1943 but formally the city remained the capital of an Italian province until 9 May 1945. 

After World War II, Ljubljana became the capital of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, part of Communist Yugoslavia, a status it retained until 1991, when Slovenia became independent. Ljubljana remained the capital of Slovenia, which entered the European Union in 2004.

Slovenia lies at the meeting point of the Alpine, Pannonian and Mediterranean regions, whose cultural features are reflected in the choice of Slovenian cuisine. It is evident that traditional dishes are generally of rural origin, but nevertheless Slovenian cuisine is not without refinement and the element of surprise. The experience of Slovenian cuisine is inseparably connected with the concept of "gostilna" restaurants, traditional places to enjoy good food and wine in good company. Gostilnas often serve dishes prepared to old recipes using local ingredients. As Slovenian countryside is dotted with mainly small family farms and large-scale agricultural production is scarce, food ingredients are relatively healthy and often organically grown. Enjoying home-grown fruits, vegetables and other local farm produce is an important part of the way of life in Slovenia.

Ljubljanians love to shop at the city's colourful and picturesque Central Market, designed by the architect Jože Plečnik. Also other food markets are generally popular and well stocked. In people's minds, organic and healthy food is closely connected with the concept of "home-grown". Among the popular novelties of recent times, for instance, are milk dispensers offering locally produced whole milk at a low price. For those with a more discerning palate there are a number of delicatessens offering quality certified foods from around Slovenia as well as wine bars and shops selling premium Slovenian wines.

In Ljubljana you can find a good choice of shops and special offers throughout the year. Apart from visiting large suburban shopping centres, you are recommended to experience shopping in small, centrally located boutique shops. Here you can get products from renowned international brands, original souvenirs and gift items, interesting creations from Slovenian fashion designers, remarkable fine art pieces and much more.

Ljubljana Quality (LQ) is a trademark identifying Ljubljana's restaurants and small shops meeting high standards of quality in terms of choice on offer, service, and facilities. Restaurants within the wider city area and all kinds of small centrally located shops are assessed by anonymous inspectors every two years.

In the centre of Ljubljana you can shop for fashion clothing from both well-known international fashion brands and renowned Slovenian fashion designers, glass and crystalware, antiques, arts and crafts items and much more. The shops marked by the LQ sign offer the best selection of goods, the best service and the best ambience according to an expert commission. They are entitled to use the LQ sign for two years from the date of the award announcement. The Ljubljana Quality project is run by Ljubljana Tourism, the city's tourist board. In 2010, the LQ selection procedure involved the assessment of 76 small shops in the centre of Ljubljana.

A good way to put your finger on the pulse of nightlife in Ljubljana is to hang out at the little riverfront cafés and other old city centre's popular hang-outs for the locals. Many of them organize DJ nights and live music events to liven up the atmosphere.

On the one hand, the night scene in Ljubljana is fuelled by clubs based on the concept of combining a bar or restaurant with a dance club and occasional live music venue. There are also several rock and jazz clubs, gaming salons and adult night clubs. On the other hand, nightlife in Ljubljana owes its unique character to places promoting innovative creative practices, such as the Kino Šiška Centre for Urban Culture, which presents an exceptionally modern programme of events, the Klub K4 club, dedicated to promoting contemporary electronic music for over two decades now, and the Metelkova mesto alternative culture centre.

The history of Metelkova mesto goes back to 1993, when a group of artists squatted a former barracks complex earmarked for demolition. Over just a few years, the city's largest squat developed into one of Europe's best known centres for independent artistic practices hosting a daily programme of concerts, lectures, exhibitions and other events held at a string of clubs, galleries and other venues maintained by artists themselves.

                                                       Ljubljana’s Top 5:
  1. Saint Nicholas Cathedral serves the Archdiocese of Ljubljana. Easily identifiable due to its green dome and twin towers, it is located on Cyril and Methodius Square  by the nearby Ljubljana Central Market and the Town Hall. The Diocese of Ljubljana was set up in 1461. Between 1701 and 1706, the Jesuit architect Andrea Pozzo designed the Baroque church with two side chapels shaped in the form of a Latin cross. The dome was built in the centre in 1841. The interior is decorated with Baroque frescos painted by Giulio Quaglio between 1703–1706 and 1721-1723. 
  2. Ljubljana Castle (Ljubljanski grad) is a medieval castle located at the summit of the hill that dominates the city centre. The area surrounding today's castle has been continuously inhabited since 1200 BC. The castle's Outlook Tower dates to 1848; this was inhabited by a guard whose duty it was to fire cannons warning the city in case of fire or announcing important visitors or events, a function it still holds today. Today, it is a tourist attraction. Cultural events and weddings also take place there. Since 2006, a funicular has linked the city centre to the castle atop the hill.
  3. The Dragon Bridge.  was built between 1900 and 1901, when the city was part of Austria-Hungary. Designed by a Dalmatian architect who studied in Vienna and built by an Austrian engineer, the bridge is considered one of the finest works in the Vienna Secession style. Some residents nicknamed the bridge "mother-in-law" in reference to the fearsome dragons on its four corners.
  4. The Town Hall  is the seat of the City Municipality of Ljubljana. It is located on the Town Square in the city centre close to the St. Nicholas Cathedral. The original building was built by the Carniolan architect Peter Bezlaj in 1584. Between 1717 and 1719, the building underwent a radical renovation by the architect Gregor Maček in a combination of late Baroque and Classicist style. In the mid 1920s, a monument to the Serbian and first Yugoslav king Peter I was erected in the entrance of the Town Hall. The monument, designed by the architect Jože Plečnik, was removed and destroyed by the Fascist Italian occupation authorities of the Province of Ljubljana in April 1941. A replica of the Robba's fountain, completed in 1751, stands outside the Town Hall, while the original is kept in the National Gallery.
  5. The Robba fountain. officially known as the Fountain of the Three Rivers of Carniola.  It was originally located outside the Ljubljana town hall near the St. Nicholas Cathedral. In 2006, the fountain was renovated and moved into the National Gallery, while a replica was placed in its previous site on the Town Square. The fountain was designed between 1743 and 1751 by the Italian sculptor Francesco Robba who, inspired by Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers on Piazza Navona during a visit to Rome, designed the fountain to represent the three rivers of Carniola: Ljubljanica, Sava and Krka. Steps representing the Carniolan mountains lead up to the fountain with its characteristic obelisk in the middle.

    The Castle Interior courtyard


Łódź is the third-largest city in Poland. Located in the central part of the country, it had a population of 742,387 in December 2009. It is the capital of Łódź Voivodeship, and is approximately 135 kilometres (84 mi) south-west of Warsaw. 

Łódź first appears in the written record in a 1332 document giving the village of Łodzia to the bishops of Włocławek. In 1423 King Władysław Jagiełło granted city rights to the village of Łódź. From then until the 18th century the town remained a small settlement on a trade route between Masovia and Silesia. In the 16th century the town had fewer than 800 inhabitants, mostly working on the nearby grain farms.

With the second partition of Poland in 1793, Łódź became part of the Kingdom of Prussia's province of South Prussia, and was known in German as Lodsch. In 1798 the Prussians nationalised the town, and it lost its status as a town of the bishops of Kuyavia. In 1806 Łódź joined the Napoleonic Duchy of Warsaw and in 1810 it had 190 inhabitants. In the 1815 Congress of Vienna treaty it became part of Congress Poland, a client state of the Russian Empire.

In the 1815 treaty, it was planned to renew the dilapidated town and with the 1816 decree by the Czar a number of German immigrants received territory deeds for them to clear the land and to build factories and housing. In 1820 Stanisław Staszic aided in changing the small town into a modern industrial centre. The immigrants came to the Promised Land ( Ziemia obiecana, the city's nickname) from all over Europe. Mostly they arrived from Southern Germany, Silesia and Bohemia, but also from countries as far away as Portugal, England, France and Ireland. The first cotton mill opened in 1825, and 14 years later the first steam-powered factory in both Poland and Russia commenced operations. In 1839 the population was 80% Germans and German schools and churches were established. 

In the 1823–1873, the city's population doubled every ten years. The years 1870–1890 marked the period of most intense industrial development in the city's history. Many of the industrialists were Jewish. Łódź soon became a major centre of the socialist movement. In 1892 a huge strike paralysed most of the factories. By 1897, the share of the German population had dropped from 80 to 40%. According to Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 315,000, Jews constituted 99,000 (around 31% percent).

Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Church
By the end of World War II, Łódź had lost approximately 420,000 of its pre-war inhabitants: 300,000 Polish Jews and approximately 120,000 other Poles. In their place were thousands of new German residents, many of whom were Volksdeutsch who had been repatriated from Russia during the time of Hitler's alliance with the Soviet Union. In January 1945 most of the German population fled the city for fear of the Red Army. The city also suffered tremendous losses due to the German policy of requisition of all factories and machines and transporting them to Germany. Thus despite relatively small losses due to aerial bombardment and the fighting, Łódź had lost most of its infrastructure.

The Soviet Red Army entered the city on 18 January 1945. According to Marshal Katukov, whose forces participated in the operation, the Germans retreated so suddenly that they had no time to evacuate or destroy the Łódź factories, as they did in other cities. In time, Łódź became part of the People's Republic of Poland.

Shopping in modern day Łódź centres on three main areas of the city: the thoroughfare of Piotrkowska, the modern shopping centre Galeria Łódzka, and the shopping heaven that is the Manufaktura complex. Some of the streets running parallel to Piotrkowska, including ul. Sienkiewicza, are good for specialist shops, such as antiques and paintings. Indeed, whisper it in Warsaw, but Łódź may in fact be Poland’s top shopping destination. Whether it’s malls, designer boutiques, dusty family stores or antique markets a day spent shopping can result in both bargains and treasures. 

Piotrkowska street is the place to start your explorations, the 4km street that plays host to most of the city’s action. Every time we take a pass down Piotrkowska we spot new businesses cropping up, and we can’t help but recommend Shotme for some of the most creative cocktails you’ll ever see (sprinkles! Milkshake shots!) and Fermentacja for the deepest selection of beers in the city. Now that you know where to imbibe we can tackle that other essential, dining out. Newcomers abound, and our favourites include Restauracja Kryształowa for authentic Silesian cuisine under glittering chandeliers and The Dorsz Fish and Chips when nothing but a classic British fish fry will do.  Piotrkowska Street is the main artery and attraction stretching north to south (one of) the longest commercial streets in the world. A few of the building fronts have been renovated and date back to the 19th century. 

Although Łódź does not have any hills nor any large body of water, one can still get close to nature in one of the city's many parks, most notably Łagiewniki (the largest city park in Europe). Łódź has one of the best museums of modern art in Poland, Muzeum Sztuki on Więckowskiego Street, which displays art by all important contemporary Polish artists. Despite insufficient exhibition space (many very impressive paintings and sculptures lie in storage in the basement), there are plans to move the museum to a larger space in the near future. There is also a branch of Muzeum Sztuki called MS2 located in the area of Łódź largest mall "Manufaktura".

Another popular source of recreation is the Lunapark, an amusement park featuring about two dozen attractions including an 18 metre tall roller coaster and two dozen other rides and features, located near the city's zoo and its botanical gardens.

Eating out in Łódź can be a game of Russian Roulette, with the city offering everything from gastronomic excellence to food poisoning. Perils and pratfalls await at every turn. If a dining room is popular, and therefore busy, expect the chef to labour into the night. By the same rule expect bolted doors if it’s been a quiet day. 

Arthur Rubinstein
Łódź’s commitment to hedonism is on a par with Poland’s capital. For the unadventurous a straight-forward pub crawl down ulica Piotrkowska is the way to go, though stand advised some of the best drinking dens in town are found squirrelled away in the back streets and side alleys. Follow your nose. 

During the warmer months the streets, particularly Piotrkowska, are thronged with beer gardens. Once the chillier weather starts to move in the party shifts back inside and downstairs. For the most part you’ll be paying no more than 7zł for a large beer, and bear in mind that the opening hours are flexible: most bars will stay open as long as drinkers are drinking. Clubs often charge an entry fee, many of which are based on what’s on offer that night.

                                                        Łódź’s Top 5:
  1. Łódź Cathedral.  The city’s Roman Catholic Cathedral is the biggest church in Łódź. A true Gothic masterpiece it was built between 1901 and 1912 by the famous Łódź builders Wende & Zarske from original drawings supposedly supplied by the Berlin architect, Emil Zillmann. Styled along the lines of a typical medieval cathedral with three aisles, transept, choir, ambulatory and Lady Chapel, the interior is famous for being rather severe. Damaged by a fire in 1971, the cathedral has been painstakingly restored including the addition of a new roof supported by modern steel trusses. On the Chancery's side find a small Cenotaph dedicated to the Unknown Soldier, and on the opposite side a monument to Father Skorupka, a Roman Catholic priest who is believed to have made a great contribution to the country’s victory over the Bolsheviks in 1920.
  2. St. Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Church.  One of two Orthodox churches in the city, the domed neo-Byzantine St. Alexander Nevsky is the most interesting of the pair and serves as an official cathedral of the Łódź-Poznań Bishop. Said to have been designed by the official city architect Hilary Majewski between 1881 and 1884 as a gift from Łódź’s industrialists to the Orthodox community, the church has many ornate elevations and a breathtakingly rich interior featuring iconostasis made in St. Petersburg.
  3. Poznański Palace.   Inside the breathtaking Neo-Baroque former residence of Łódź manufacturer Izrael Kalmanowicz Poznański, is a museum within a museum, dedicated to the relatively short life and times of Poland's second city from the end of the 19th century to the outbreak of WWII, knocks you out from the moment you walk through the front door. Jammed full of exhibits tracing the history, people, culture and ups and downs of the city, find recreations of daily life from kitchen interiors to sections of streets. There are many fine examples of silverware and porcelain too, and rooms dedicated to many of the city's former inhabitants, including Łódź's unofficial Rubinstein museum (the only one in the world, and one of the few parts of the museum with thorough explanations in English), giving over several rooms to the legendary Jewish pianist. The Jewish theme is admirably represented, and includes a tribute to Jan Karski, the envoy of Poland's underground authorities who first alerted the West to the Holocaust. 
  4. The chapel of Karol Scheibler, next to the Old Evangelical - Augsburg Cemetery on Ogrodowa Street 43, is a major architectural work in old Łódź. Karl Wilhelm Scheibler (1820 - 1881) was an industrial magnate who raised the profile of Łódź within the textile industry of Europe. He created a large industrial empire on Priest's Mill. After his death, his wife Anna erected the mausoleum-like chapel in his memory. The chapel was built between 1885-1888 by Varsovian architects Edward Lilpop and Józef Dziekoński. Newspapers in Warsaw wrote, "the chapel is a monument executed with the greatest costs concerning our country", and "this is an uncommon work of architecture, designed with great taste and executed with unusual care." The architecture of the building was based on French and German Gothic Revival architecture. The chapel has a slender contour, finished with openwork masonry towers.
  5. Arthur Rubinstein's Piano.  Arthur Rubinstein (January 28, 1887 – December 20, 1982) was a Polish-American classical pianist who received international acclaim for his performances of the music written by a variety of composers; many regard him as the greatest Chopin interpreter of his time. He is widely considered one of the greatest classical pianists of the twentieth century. This controversial sculpture can be found outside his former residence in Piotrkowska street.

    Poznański Palace


London is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its founding by the Romans, who called it Londinium. London's ancient core, the City of London, largely retains its square-mile mediaeval boundaries. Since at least the 19th century, the name London has also referred to the metropolis developed around this core. The bulk of this conurbation forms the London region and the Greater London administrative area, governed by the elected Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Although there is evidence of scattered Brythonic settlements in the area, the first major settlement was founded by the Romans in 43 AD. This lasted for just seventeen years and around 61, the Iceni tribe led by Queen Boudica stormed it, burning it to the ground. The next, heavily planned incarnation of the city prospered and superseded Colchester as the capital of the Roman province of Britannia in 100. At its height during the 2nd century, Roman London had a population of around 60,000. 

Tower of London and Tower Bridge
With the collapse of Roman rule in the early 5th century, London was effectively abandoned. However, from the 6th century an Anglo-Saxon settlement known as Lundenwic developed slightly to the west of the old Roman city, around what is now Covent Garden and the Strand, rising to a likely population of 10–12,000. In the 9th century London was repeatedly attacked by Vikings, leading to a relocation of the city back to the location of Roman Londinium, in order to use its walls for protection. Following the unification of England in the 10th century London, already the country's largest city and most important trading centre, became increasingly important as a political centre, although it still faced competition from Winchester, the traditional centre of the kingdom of Wessex.

In the 11th century King Edward the Confessor re-founded and rebuilt Westminster Abbey and Westminster, a short distance upstream from London became a favoured royal residence. From this point onward Westminster steadily supplanted the City of London itself as a venue for the business of national government.

Following his victory in the Battle of Hastings, William, Duke of Normandy, was crowned King of England in the newly finished Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. William constructed the Tower of London, the first of the many Norman castles in England to be rebuilt in stone, in the southeastern corner of the city to intimidate the native inhabitants. In 1097,William II began the building of Westminster Hall, close by the abbey of the same name. The hall became the basis of a new Palace of Westminster.

The iconic London buses on Oxford Street
Disaster struck during the Black Death in the mid-14th century, when London lost nearly a third of its population.

London's buildings are too diverse to be characterised by any particular architectural style, partly due to their varying ages. Many grand houses and public buildings, such as the National Gallery, are constructed from Portland stone. Some areas of the city, particularly those just west of the centre, are characterised by white stucco or whitewashed buildings. Few structures in Central London pre-date the Great Fire of 1666, these being a few trace Roman remains, the Tower of London and a scattered Tudor survivors in the City. Further out is, for example, the Tudor period Hampton Court Palace, England's oldest surviving Tudor palace, built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey circa 1515. Wren's late 17th century churches and the financial institutions of the 18th and 19th centuries such as the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England, to the early 20th century Old Bailey and the 1960s Barbican Estate form part of the varied architectural heritage. 

Covent Garden
Within the City of Westminster, the entertainment district of the West End has its focus around Leicester Square, where London and world film premieres are held, and Piccadilly Circus, with its giant electronic advertisements. London's theatre district is here, as are many cinemas, bars, clubs and restaurants, including the city's Chinatown district (in Soho). Whether you're looking to shop, dine, stroll, be entertained or experience some unique heritage, there's plenty of things to do in London's Covent Garden. At the heart of Covent Garden is the market with its quirky craft stalls, boutiques and restaurants. The central piazza has a thriving café culture and is buzzing with outlandish street entertainers and fun events all day, every day.Islington's 1 mile (1.6 km) long Upper Street, extending northwards from the Angel, has more bars and restaurants than any other street in the United Kingdom. Europe's busiest shopping area is Oxford Street, a shopping street nearly 1 mile (1.6 km) long, making it the longest shopping street in the United Kingdom. Oxford Street is home to vast numbers of retailers and department stores, including the world-famous Selfridges flagship store. Knightsbridge, home to the equally renowned Harrods department store, lies to the southwest.

Camden High Street
Camden Town offers a mind-bending plethora of eclectic, intriguing and unique experiences. Visitors and locals gather to hunt for treasures in Camden's markets, to stroll by Regent's canal, gaze at the beautiful buildings, sample cuisine from around the world, listen to live music and soak up the vibrant and diverse atmosphere. Camden is located in between some of London's most salubrious neighbourhoods. On one side is bookish Bloomsbury, to the other posh Primrose Hill – not forgetting the dizzy heights of gorgeous Hampstead to the north.

The six open-air markets and myriad retail outlets of Camden will keep the keenest shoppers busy, with everything from vintage to futuristic designs on offer. Camden was hit by large fire in February 2008, which affected the Canal Market and ever-popular Hawley Arms pub, but both the Hawley and Canal Market have since re-opened. Other markets, such as Camden Lock Market and the Stables Market have recently undergone an extensive renovation so they're now bigger and better than ever. Feeling peckish? You'll find food from around the globe in Camden's many eateries and street vendors. And, if all that shopping has given you a powerful thirst, you're never far from a bar in Camden. 

Buckingham Palace Guard
There are so many attractions in London it would be impossible to detail them all. The London Eye, The British Museum and Natural History Museum, The Tate Modern, Madame Tussauds, The Royal Albert Hall, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square  and the O2 Arena to name just a few.

                                                        London’s Top 5:
  1. St Paul's Cathedral.  is a Church of England cathedral and seat of the Bishop of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. St Paul's sits at the top of Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London, and is the mother church of the Diocese of London. The present church dating from the late 17th century was built to an English Baroque design of Sir Christopher Wren, as part of a major rebuilding program which took place in the city after the Great Fire of London, and was completed within his lifetime. The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognisable sights of London, with its dome, framed by the spires of Wren's City churches, dominating the skyline for 300 years. At 365 feet (111 m) high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1962, and its dome is also among the highest in the world. In terms of area, St Paul's is the second largest church building in the United Kingdom.
  2. The Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was used as a prison since at least 1100, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under Kings Richard the Lionheart, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.
  3. Buckingham Palace. is the official residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality. It has been a focus for the British people at times of national rejoicing and crisis. Originally known as Buckingham House, the building which forms the core of today's palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1705 on a site which had been in private ownership for at least 150 years. It was subsequently acquired by George III in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte, and known as "The Queen's House". During the 19th century it was enlarged, principally by architects John Nash and Edward Blore, forming three wings around a central courtyard. Buckingham Palace finally became the official royal palace of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the East front which contains the well-known balcony on which the Royal Family traditionally congregate to greet crowds outside
  4. Westminster Abbey. is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English, later British and later still (and currently) monarchs of the Commonwealth realms. Between 1042 and 1052 King Edward the Confessor began rebuilding St Peter's Abbey in order to provide himself with a royal burial church. It was the first church in England built in the Norman Romanesque style. It was not completed until around 1090 but was consecrated on 28 December 1065, only a week before the Confessor's death on 5 January 1066. The next day he was buried in the church, and nine years later his wife Edith was buried alongside him. His successor, Harold II, was probably crowned in the Abbey, although the first documented coronation is that of William the Conqueror later the same year. The Abbey's two western towers were built between 1722 and 1745 by Nicholas Hawksmoor, constructed from Portland stone to an early example of a Gothic Revival design.
  5. Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the heart of the London borough of the City of Westminster, close to the historic Westminster Abbey and the government buildings of Whitehall and Downing Street. The first royal palace was built on the site in the eleventh century, and Westminster was the primary London residence of the Kings of England until a fire destroyed much of the complex in 1512. After that, it served as the home of Parliament, which had been meeting there since the thirteenth century, and the seat of the Royal Courts of Justice, based in and around Westminster Hall.


Lucca is a city and comune in Tuscany, the north-west of Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plain near the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca. Among other reasons, it is famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls.

Lucca was founded by the Etruscans (there are traces of a pre-existing Ligurian settlement) and became a Roman colony in 180 BC. The rectangular grid of its historical centre preserves the Roman street plan, and the Piazza San Michele occupies the site of the ancient forum. Traces of the amphitheatre can still be seen in the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro. Lucca was the site of a conference in 56 BC which reaffirmed the supremacy of the Roman First Triumvirate.

Frediano, an Irish monk, was bishop of Lucca in the early 6th century. At one point, Lucca was plundered by Odoacer, the first Germanic King of Italy. Lucca was an important city and fortress even in the 6th century, when Narses besieged it for several months in 553. Under the Lombards, it was the seat of a duke who minted his own coins. The Holy Face of Lucca (or Volto Santo), a major relic supposedly carved by Nicodemus, arrived in 742. It became prosperous through the silk trade that began in the 11th century, and came to rival the silks of Byzantium. During the 10-11th centuries Lucca was the capital of the feudal margraviate of Tuscany, more or less independent but owing nominal allegiance to the Holy Roman Emperor.

After the death of Matilda of Tuscany, the city began to constitute itself an independent commune, with a charter in 1160. For almost 500 years, Lucca remained an independent republic. There were many minor provinces in the region between southern Liguria and northern Tuscany dominated by the Malaspina; Tuscany in this time was a part of feudal Europe. In 1805, Lucca was conquered by Napoleon, who installed his sister Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi as "Queen of Etruria". After 1815 it became a Bourbon-Parma duchy, then part of Tuscany in 1847 and finally part of the Italian State.

The walls around the old town remained intact as the city expanded and modernized, unusual for cities in the region. As the walls lost their military importance, they became a pedestrian promenade which encircled the old town, although they were used for a number of years in the 20th century for racing cars. They are still fully intact today; each of the four principal sides is lined with a different tree species. Completely surrounding the ancient city, the walls we see today date back to the 17th century. Now, no longer used for defense, they are crowned by 4 km of green parkland, and are a lovely place to walk, cycle or stop for a picnic. Just another example of how, over the centuries, though buildings last, their roles metamorphose as times change.

Torre Guinigi
Rich families who embellished the city are closely connected with Lucca's many enchanting legends and tales. The central square, at the heart of the city, maintained the shape of the Roman amphitheater and shows the outline of an ancient arena.

Likewise, via Fillungo, the main street in the city, was also born with the Romans. Though it was meant to be the Decumano (a straight main street) and though still central, its narrow, winding path and typical medieval characteristics testify how the shape of Lucca has been altered since antiquity.

Lucca is a city to stroll through, from the walls to the Roman amphitheater, which is now bordered by chic boutiques and restaurants. The town also offers bicycle rentals by the day or the week. The 16th-century red brick walls of the town, offering a wide and peaceful road shaded by chestnut trees, are a favorite place for walking, jogging or cycling. For those who wish to swim in the sea, the coastal strip of Versilia, from Forte dei Marmi to Torre del Lago Puccini, offers more than 20 kilometers (12 miles) of beaches, parks and splendid countryside. Most beaches can be reached from Lucca by car in 30 to 45 minutes.

                                                        Lucca’s Top 5:
  1. The Cathedral of St Martin  Was begun in 1063 by Bishop Anselm (later Pope Alexander II). Of the original structure, the great apse with its tall columnar arcades and the fine campanile remain. The nave and transepts of the cathedral were rebuilt in the Gothic style in the 14th century, while the west front was begun in 1204 by Guido Bigarelli of Como, and consists of a vast portico of three magnificent arches, and above them three ranges of open galleries adorned with sculptures. In the nave a small octagonal temple or chapel shrine contains the most precious relic in Lucca, the Volto Santo di Lucca or Sacred Countenance. The chapel was built in 1484 by Matteo Civitali, the most famous Luccan sculptor of the early Renaissance. There is a legend to explain why all the columns of the façade are different. According to the tale, when they were going to decorate it, the inhabitants of Lucca announced a contest for the best column. Every artist made a column, but then the inhabitants of Lucca decided to take them all, without paying the artists and used all the columns.
  2. The Ducal Palace. The palace is located on the site of the Fortezza Augustan, the residence of condottiero Castruccio Castracani, where also was his palace, perhaps designed by Giotto. The large complex, which occupied some one fifth of the city, was destroyed by the populace in 1370. The fortress was restored and used as residence by Paolo Guinigi in 1401; after his fall in 1429 this was again partially dismantled and later became the Palazzo Pubblico ("Public Palace"). After a period as the residence of Duchess Elisa Baciocchi, it was the seat of the Lucchese state government until the Unification of Italy in 1861, when it was acquired by the province of Lucca.
  3. Piazza Anfiteatro.  Built on the site of an original Roman amphitheatre, Piazza Anfiteatro is another ‘must-see' in Lucca. Some original Roman elements remain, particularly within the outer walls. This ancient site constitutes one of the most characteristic and original monuments of the city. The ancient amphitheatre dates from the 2nd century A.D. It was built on an elliptical plan with two rows of 54 arcades and a maximum capacity of 10,000 spectators. Beginning in the Middle Ages, houses were built over the ruins. Over the course of time the piazza developed its characteristic elliptical shape, with buildings all around it. The ancient remains are still quite evident today. The colorful piazza was restored in 1830. Enlivened by shops and cafes, it is still at the center of cultural activities, music festivals, and fairs.
  4. The Torre Guinigi rises above via Sant'Andrea, crowned by holm oaks to symbolise rebirth. It was added by the family in the late 1300s, with the aim of giving a refined look one of the houses, in a period when numerous bell-towers were going up within the walls of Lucca, as were the towers, an emblem of prestige of the richest families. The Tower was built in brick; its imposing bulk was lightened by mullioned three-light and four-light windows and decorated by coats of arms, cornices and plaques. Since then it has been one of the symbols of the town. Today the Tower is owned by the Lucca town council and is a place not to be missed in the town: going up it is a must, and its top is one of the most fascinating points to stand in the shade of the holm oaks, admiring Lucca's little architectural jewels from above.
  5. San Michele in Foro is a Roman Catholic basilica church, built over the ancient Roman forum. Until 1370 it was the seat of the Consiglio Maggiore (Major Council), the commune's most important assembly. It is dedicated to Archangel Michael. The church is mentioned for the first time in 795 as ad foro (in the forum). It was rebuilt after 1070 by will of Pope Alexander II. Notable is the façade, from the 13th century, with a large series of sculptures and inlays, numerous of which remade in the 19th century. The lower part has a series of blind arcades, the central of which includes the main portal. The upper part, built using plenty of iron materials to counter wind, has four orders of small loggias. On the summit, flanked by two other angels, is the 4 m-tall statue of St. Michael the Archangel. According to a legend, an angel's finger would have a huge diamond. On the lower right corner of the façade is a statue (1480) of the Madonna salutis portus, sculpted by Matteo Civitali to celebrate the end of the 1476 plague.


Lucerne is a city in north-central Switzerland, in the German-speaking portion of that country. Lucerne is the capital of the Canton of Lucerne and the capital of the district of the same name. With a population of about 76,200 people, Lucerne is the most populous city in Central Switzerland, and a nexus of transportation, telecommunications, and government of this region. Due to its location on the shore of Lake Lucerne (der Vierwaldstättersee), within sight of Mount Pilatus and Rigi in the Swiss Alps, Lucerne has long been a destination for tourists. 

After the fall of the Roman Empire beginning in the 6th century, Germanic Alemannic peoples increased their influence on this area of present day Switzerland. Around 750 the Benedictine Monastery of St. Leodegar was founded, which was later acquired by Murbach Abbey in Alsace in the middle of the 9th century, and by this time the area had become known as Luciaria. In 1178 Lucerne acquired its independence from the jurisdiction of Murbach Abbey, and the founding of the city proper probably occurred that same year. The city gained importance as a strategically located gateway for the growing commerce from the Gotthard trade route. 

By 1290 Lucerne became a good-sized, self-sufficient city with about 3000 inhabitants. About this time King Rudolph I von Habsburg gained authority over the Monastery of St. Leodegar and its lands, including Lucerne. The populace did not appreciate the increasing Habsburg influence, and Lucerne allied with neighboring towns to seek independence from Habsburg rule. Along with Lucerne, the three other forest cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden formed the "eternal" Swiss Confederacy, known as the Eidgenossenschaft, on November 7, 1332. Later the cities of Zurich, Zug and Bern joined the alliance. With the help of these additions, the rule of Austria over the area came to an end. The issue was settled by Lucerne’s victory over the Habsburgs in the Battle of Sempach in 1386. For Lucerne this victory ignited an era of expansion. The city shortly granted many rights to itself, rights which had been withheld by the Habsburgs until then. By this time the borders of Lucerne approximately matched those of today.

The Jesuit Church
In 1798, nine years after the beginning of the French Revolution, the French army marched into Switzerland. The old confederacy collapsed and the government became democratic. The industrial revolution hit Lucerne rather late, and by 1860 only 1.7% of the population worked in industry, which was about a quarter of the national average at that time. Agriculture, which employed about 40% of the workers, was the main form of economic output in the canton. Nevertheless, industry was attracted to the city from areas around Lucerne. From 1850 to 1913, the population quadrupled and the flow of settlers increased. 

The first city to join the Swiss Confederation, today Lucerne is a lovely small city with a thriving tourism industry, owing mainly to its status as a gateway to Central Switzerland. The city became a center of Swiss history and legend, and is the setting for the most memorable part of the William Tell legend (the bit with the boy and the apple).

Tourism in Lucerne has a distinguished history dating from the mid 19th century, with Mark Twain among them. In "A Tramp Abroad" he recalls the nascent souvenir business, and other budding examples of the tourism trade.

The commerce of Lucerne consists mainly in gimcrackery of the souvenir sort; the shops are packed with Alpine crystals, photographs of scenery, and wooden and ivory carvings. I will not conceal the fact that miniature figures of the Lion of Lucerne are to be had in them. Millions of them. -- Mark Twain

The shopping in Lucerne has improved somewhat since Mark Twain's visit. You'll find several good department stores with acceptable prices for most items, as well as pricy specialty shops. Shopping for something typically Swiss such as a prestigious brand of watch or jewellery, fashion or stylish accessories is all within easy reach in Lucerne. The Old Town is pedestrianised, and the lively new part of town also boasts a good selection of shops. Attractive markets are held several times a week selling fresh and artisan produce, plants and handicrafts.

Lucerne's gastronomy is noted for its variety. You'll find traditional Swiss specialities alongside innovative and imaginative gourmet fare from around the world. Whatever the establishment – a cosy eatery or a chic restaurant – Lucerne's chefs demonstrate a deep passion for their craft.  

Every year, towards the end of winter, Carnival (Fasnacht) breaks out in the streets, alleyways and squares of the old town. This is a glittering outdoor party, where chaos and merriness reign and nothing is as it normally is. Strange characters in fantastic masks and costumes make their way through the alleyways, while carnival bands (Guggenmusigen) blow their instruments in joyful cacophony and thousands of bizarrely clad people sing and dance away the winter. Lucerne Carnival starts every year on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday with a big bang. There are big parades on Dirty Thursday and the following Monday, called Fat Monday, which attract tens of thousands of people. Lucerne's Carnival ends with a crowning finish on Fat Tuesday evening with a tremendous parade of big bands, lights and lanterns. After the parade, all the bands wander through the city playing joyful music. 

The Hofkirche
                                                        Lucerne’s Top 5:
  1. The Chapel Bridge  is a covered wooden footbridge spanning diagonally across the Reuss River. Named after the nearby St. Peter's Chapel, the bridge is unique since it contains a number of interior paintings dating back to the 17th century, although many of them were destroyed along with most of the centuries old bridge in a 1993 fire. Subsequently restored, the Kapellbrücke is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, as well as the world's oldest surviving truss bridge. It serves as the city's symbol and as one of Switzerland's main tourist attractions.  The bridge was originally built in 1333 as part of Lucerne's fortifications. It linked the old town on the right bank of the Reuss to the new town on the left bank, securing the city from attack from the south (i.e. from the lake). The bridge initially had a length of over 200 metres (660 ft), although due to numerous shortenings throughout the years and river bank replenishments, the bridge now totals only 170 metres (560 ft) in length.
  2. The Hof Church. The main cathedral for the city, as well as the St. Leodegar and St. Maurice religious center. A Benedictine monastery was founded here in the 8th century. In 1633, a fire destroyed the church; it was rebuilt in 1645. It is the most important Renaissance church in Switzerland. Especially noteworthy are the façade, Mary's alter (with a relief panel dating from 1500), and the souls' altar.
  3. Lucerne Water Tower. This octagonal tower - over 34 meters high (111.5 ft.) - was built around 1300 as part of the city wall and used as an archive, treasury, prison and torture chamber. It is Lucerne's most famous landmark and the most frequently photographed monument in Switzerland.
  4. The Jesuit Church The first large sacral Baroque church in Switzerland; constructed in 1666 by Father Christoph Vogler for the Jesuits. The vault was redecorated in the mid-18th century. The original vestments of Brother Klaus, a famous Swiss patron, are stored in the inner chapel. 
  5. The Lion Monument. or the Lion of Lucerne, is a sculpture, designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and hewn in 1820–21 by Lukas Ahorn. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris, France. The American writer Mark Twain (1835–1910) praised the sculpture of a mortally-wounded lion as "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world." The monument is dedicated Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti ("To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss"). The dying lion is portrayed impaled by a spear, covering a shield bearing the fleur-de-lis of the French monarchy; beside him is another shield bearing the coat of arms of Switzerland. The inscription below the sculpture lists the names of the officers, and approximate numbers of the soldiers who died.


The city of Luxembourg, also known as Luxembourg City, is a commune with city status, and the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It is located at the confluence of the Alzette and Pétrusse Rivers in southern Luxembourg. The city contains the historic Luxembourg Castle, established by the Franks in the Early Middle Ages, around which a settlement developed.

The Bock Fiels
In the Roman era, a fortified tower guarded the crossing of two Roman roads that met at the site of Luxembourg city. Through an exchange treaty with the abbey of Saint Maximin in Trier in 963, Siegfried I of the Ardennes, a close relative of King Louis II of France and Emperor Otto the Great, acquired the feudal lands of Luxembourg. Siegfried built his castle, named Lucilinburhuc("small castle"), on the Bock Fiels ("rock"), mentioned for the first time in the aforementioned exchange treaty.

In 987 Egbert, Archbishop of Trier consecrated five altars in the Church of the Redemption (today St. Michael's Church). At a Roman road intersection near the church, a marketplace appeared around which the city developed. The city, because of its location and natural geography, has through history been a place of strategic military significance. The first fortifications were built as early as the 10th century. By the end of the 12th century, as the city expanded westward around the new St. Nicholas Church (today the cathedral of Notre Dame), new walls were built that included an area of 5 hectares (12 acres). In about 1340, under the reign of John the Blind, new fortifications were built that stood until 1867.

Despite Luxembourg's best efforts to remain neutral in the First World War, it was occupied by Germany on 2 August 1914. On 30 August, Helmuth von Moltke moved his headquarters to Luxembourg City, closer to his armies in France in preparation for a swift victory. However the victory never came, and Luxembourg would play host to the German high command for another four years. At the end of the occupation, Luxembourg City was the scene of an attempted communist revolution; on 9 November 1918, communists declared a socialist republic, but it lasted only a few hours. 
In 1940, Germany occupied Luxembourg again. The Nazis were not prepared to allow Luxembourgers self-government, and gradually integrated Luxembourg into the Third Reich by informally attaching the country administratively to a neighbouring German province. Luxembourg City was liberated on 10 September 1944. The city was under long-range bombardment by the German V-3 cannon in December 1944 and January 1945.

After the war, Luxembourg ended its neutrality, and became a founding member of several inter-governmental and supra-governmental institutions. In 1952, the city became the headquarters of the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community. Luxembourg remains the seat of the European Parliament's secretariat, as well as the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Auditors, and the European Investment Bank. Several departments of the European Commission are also based in Luxembourg.

Modern Luxembourg is full of contemporary constructions of glass and steel that house the many banking and business establishments in the capital. Take a lovely walk through Useldange where you can’t miss the feudal castle surrounded by rolling plain. The restoration of this historical centre earned this Village the prestigious Europa Nostra prize. Satiate your appetite for good food and conversation at the colorful cafes−from Irish pubs to cozy bistros−situated in nearly every square. Or, catch a performance at a nearby theatre, wander through galleries displaying the works of national and international artists, and sign up for a tour by foot or by train to get the whole picture. The Musee d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean conceived by I.M. Pei. The impressive collection will feature 200 works of art by more than 100 international artists.

Traditional cuisine in Luxembourg is largely based on pork and potatoes and the influence of German and central European cooking is undeniable. The unofficial national dish is judd mat gaardebounen, or smoked pork neck served with boiled broad beans. A must to try if you do get the opportunity are Gromperekichelchen (literally, Potato Biscuits) which are a type of fried shredded potato cake containing onions, shallots and parsley. Typically found served at outdoor events such as markets or funfairs they are absolutely delicious and a particularly nice snack on a cold winter's day. In most restaurants however, the typical local food would be French cuisine coming in bigger portions. Italian food has been popular since the 1960s. Home cooking has been very influenced by the recipes of Ketty Thull, apparently the best-selling cooking and baking book in Luxembourg since WW II.

The Luxembourg white wines from the Moselle valley to the east of Luxembourg include Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Rivaner and Elbling to name just a few and are good. In autumn, many villages along the Moselle river organise wine-tasting village festivals.

Young people tend to drink local or imported beer. Luxembourg has a number of breweries, with Diekirch, from the village of the same name, Bofferding, Battin, and Mousel being the most popular. Despite the fact that you would be hard pushed to find any of these outside of the country, all are excellent lagers.

As an after dinner digestive, Luxembourgers like to drink an eau-de-vie . The most commonly available are Mirabelle and Quetsch. Both are made from plums and are extremely strong! Sometimes these are taken in coffee which may be a little more palatable for some.

The Ducal Palace
                                                        Luxembourg’s Top 5:
  1. Notre-Dame Cathedral is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Luxembourg City. It was originally a Jesuit church, and its cornerstone was laid in 1613. The church is a noteworthy example of late gothic architecture; however, it also has many Renaissance elements and adornments. At the end of the 18th century, the church received the miraculous image of the Maria Consolatrix Afflictorum, the patron saint of both the city and the nation. Around 50 years later, the church was consecrated as the Church of Our Lady and in 1870, it was elevated by Pope Pius IX to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. At the cemetery of the cathedral is the National Monument to the Resistance and to the Deportation. The centerpiece of the monument is the famous bronze monument by the 20th century Luxembourgish sculptor Lucien Wercollier called The Political Prisoner. The cathedral was expanded and enlarged from 1935 to 1938.
  2. The Grand Ducal Palace is the official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and where he performs most of his duties as head of state of the Grand Duchy. The building was first the City Hall of Luxembourg from 1572 to 1795, the seat of the prefecture of theDépartement des Forêts in 1795, and then the headquarters of the Luxembourg Government in 1817. From 1817, the palace became the residence of the Governor, the representative of the Dutch Grand Dukes. As such, it was used by Prince Henry, during his time as Lieutenant-Representative of Luxembourg. The building's interior was renovated in 1883, in preparation of a visit by Grand Duke William III and his wife, Grand Duchess Emma.
  3. The Bock (The Casemates)  is a promontory in the north-eastern corner of Luxembourg City's old historical district. Offering a natural fortification, its rocky cliffs tower above the River Alzette which surrounds it on three sides. It was here that Count Siegfried built his Castle of Lucilinburhuc in 963, providing a basis for the development of the town which became Luxembourg. Over the centuries, the Bock and the surrounding defences were reinforced, attacked and rebuilt time and time again as the armies of the Burgundians, Habsburgs, Spaniards, Prussians and French vied for victory over one of Europe's most strategic strongholds. Warring did not stop until the Treaty of London was signed in 1867, calling for the demolition of the fortifications. Ruins of the old castle and the vast underground system of passages and galleries known as the casemates continue to be a major tourist attraction.
  4. Adolphe Bridge  is an arch bridge that takes road traffic across the Pétrusse, connecting Boulevard Royal, in Ville Haute, to Avenue de la Liberté, in Gare. At 17.2 m wide, it carries four lanes of road traffic, three to Gare and a bus lane to Ville Haute, and has two footpaths for pedestrians. Adolphe Bridge has become an unofficial national symbol of sorts, representing Luxembourg's independence, and has become one of Luxembourg City's main tourist attractions. The bridge was built between 1900 and 1903. The bridge was named after Grand Duke Adolphe, who reigned Luxembourg from 1890 until 1905, and was the first monarch to hold the title not in personal union with another. Although it is now over 100 years old, it is also known as the New Bridge by people from Luxembourg City. The 'old bridge' in this comparison is the Passerelle, which was built between 1859 and 1861.
  5. Gëlle Fra.  The Monument of Remembrance, usually known by the nickname of the Gëlle Fra (Luxembourgish for 'Golden Lady'), is a war memorial in Luxembourg City. It is dedicated to the thousands of Luxembourgers who volunteered for service in the armed forces of the Allied Powers during World War I. The Gëlle Fra is situated in Constitution Square, in the Ville Haute quarter. The centrepiece of the monument is a 21 metre-tall granite obelisk. Atop of the obelisk stands a gilded bronze statue of a lady, holding out a laurel wreath as if placing it upon the head of the nation. At the foot of the obelisk are two (ungilded) bronze figures, representing those Luxembourgish soldiers that volunteered to serve for France; one lies at the base of the statue, having died in service of his country, whilst the other sits, mourning his dead compatriot. The sculptor of the three bronze figures was Claus Cito, a native Luxembourger. The model for the Gëlle Fra is unknown. The monument was opened in 1923.

    Adolphe Bridge


Lviv, known also as L'viv or Lvov, is a city in western Ukraine. The city is regarded as one of the main cultural centres of today's Ukraine and historically has also been a major Polish and Jewish cultural center, as Poles and Jews were the two main ethnicities of the city until the outbreak of World War II and the following Holocaust and Polish population transfers (1944–1946). 

The historical heart of Lviv with its old buildings and cobblestone roads has survived World War II and ensuing Soviet presence largely unscathed. The city has many industries and institutions of higher education such as the Lviv University and the Lviv Polytechnic. Lviv is also a home to many world-class cultural institutions, including a philharmonic orchestra and the famous Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet. The historic city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lviv celebrated its 750th anniversary with a son et lumière in the city centre in September 2006.

As a medieval city in Red Ruthenia, Lviv was founded on the existent settlement most probably in 1247 by King Danylo Halytskyi of the Ruthenian principality of Halych-Volhynia, and named in honour of his son, Lev. The first record belongs to the cronicles mentioning the events of 1256, when the fire in the city of Cholm was seen from Lviv. Together with the rest of Red Ruthenia, Lviv was captured by the Kingdom of Poland in 1349 during the reign of Polish king Casimir III the Great. Lviv belonged to the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland 1349–1772, the Austrian Empire 1772–1918 and the Second Polish Republic 1918–1939. With the joint German-Soviet Invasion of Poland at the outbreak of the second World War, the city of Lviv with adjacent land were annexed and incorporated into the Soviet Union, becoming part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic from 1939 to 1941. Between July 1941 and July 1944 Lviv was under German occupation and was located in the General Government. In July 1944 it was captured by the Soviet Red Army and the Polish Home Army. According to the agreements of the Yalta Conference, Lviv was again integrated into the Ukrainian SSR. Most of the Poles living in Lviv were resettled into Polish territories annexed from Germany.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the city remained a part of the now independent Ukraine, for which it currently serves as the administrative centre of Lviv Oblast, and is designated as its own raion (district) within that oblast. On 12 June 2009 the Ukrainian magazine Focus assessed Lviv as the best Ukrainian city to live in. Its more Western European flavor lends it the nickname the "Little Paris of Ukraine".

Lviv, Lwow, Lvov, Lemberg, Leopolis... it's a city of many faces. Don't expect the pristine perfection of Prague, but nor the millions of tourists for that matter. What you can expect is a dash of magic, as Lviv can hold its own with the most beautiful of Europe's cities. This dreamy metropolis has been both the capital of Habsburg Galicia, and a key city in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Today it's Ukraine's sweeping second city. The people are full of spirit, there's a banquet for culture vultures and the architecture can hardly fail to bowl you over. 

Travellers with an appetite for culture will be pleased to hear that you won't have to look far to find treasures in Lviv. Simply walking the streets is a pleasure, whilst you could spend several days exploring the delights of the Old Market Square alone. In amongst all these grand old buildings are some tremendous museums. You can savour everything from priceless religious icons in a fine old mansion to the gothic charms of a three hundred year-old (and still functioning) chemists. Meanwhile, Lviv's Gallery of Painting boasts an array of Central and Eastern European art that can put the collections of many better known cities to shame. Musical wayfarers too, will find treats in store. Besides the odd classical performance in one of the city's ancient churches, there's a sublime opera house on hand. At various times of year the romantic old opera house gets involved in Lviv's musical festivals.

Opera House
Although there are one or two fancy restaurants in Lviv, don't expect a gourmet experience just yet. Nevertheless, your hearty old-fashioned diners have charms all of their own. There you can dig into a plate of the legendary pyrohy dumplings or some hearty, steaming soups. In central town, the variety of what's on offer is growing, with reasonable Italian and International restaurants now coming to the fore. 

Sweet-toothed adventurers will be pleased to discover that the old penchant for cakes - a culture which took off during the Habsburg days - is very much alive and well.

During the Soviet times, people used to travel for miles for a taste of the legendary Lvivski beer, a venerable brew whose traditions stretch all the way back to 1715. It makes for a tasty pint that's not be missed. Ukraine's vodkas also get our vote - not least the Nemiroff brand, whose speciality is a marvellous chilli number with a dash of honey. Sounds weird? Give it a try! The locals are also great coffee nuts, and a smattering of stylish cafes have popped up of late, most with summer gardens where you can sit and savour the delights of Lviv's streets.  

Lviv may not be swimming with swish Western styled shops, but on the other hand, treasure after treasure can be found in the region's traditional arts and crafts. Whether it's hand-painted 'pysanky' eggs, lacquer boxes or linen shirts, finding something with quality will be a pleasure. And besides the shops dotted around the Old Town, visiting a market is a must. In this respect, haggling is very much par for the course. Stall owners will certainly not turn away a fist full of dollars, but bear in mind that you may be playing the Father Christmas role by paying five times the local price. 

The Potocki Palace

                                                        Lviv’s Top 5:
  1. St. George's Cathedral  is a baroque-rococo cathedral. It was constructed between 1744-1760 on a hill overlooking the city. This is the third manifestation of a church to inhabit the site since the 13th century, and its prominence has repeatedly made it a target for invaders and vandals. The cathedral also holds a predominant position in Ukrainian religious and cultural terms. During 19th and 20th centuries, the cathedral served as the mother church of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC)( Eastern Rite Catholic).
  2. The Archcathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  usually called simply the Latin Cathedral, is located in city's Old Town, in the south western corner of market square. The first church built on this site was a small wooden Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, built in 1344 and lost in a fire six years later. In 1360 the king Casimir III of Poland founded the construction of the present day church, built in Gothic style, for a cathedral of the newly created Latin diocese. The church was consecrated in 1405 and the parish was moved here from the church of Mary of Snow. In 1412 the seat of the bishop was transferred from Halych. Construction work continued throughout the 15th century and in 1481 the Cathedral was finally consecrated.  In the years 1761–1776 the Cathedral was refurbished in the Baroque style and a tall bell tower was added.
  3. The Lviv High Castle is a historic castle located on the top of the Castle Hill of the city of Lviv. It is currently the highest point in the city, 413 metres (1,355 ft) above sea level. The castle currently stands in ruins. The High Castle is located in close proximity of the historic centre of Lviv, formerly being surrounded by a fortification wall. The Castle Hill took its name from the High Castle (as opposite to the other, Low Castle), which used to be located on the hill from the 13th century to the late 19th century. The castle was a main defensive fort of the city during its existence. As it follows from Rus' Chronicles, the first fortifying structures appeared on the Castle Hill in the time Halych-Volhynia, and were built by Leo I of Halych from wood. It was originally a wood and soil construction, as most others at that time. In 1259 by a request of Burunday Khan they were destroyed, but in 1270 were rebuilt. In 1340, when Lviv was captured by Casimir III of Poland the wooden castle was put under fire. In 1353 it was destroyed again by Lithuanians. A new brick castle appeared on the hill in 1362 by the king Casmimir III. It became the residence of Polish nobles.
  4. The Potocki Palace  was built in the 1880s as an urban seat of Alfred Józef Potocki, Minister-President of Austria. No cost was spared to make it the grandest nobleman's residence in the city. The French architect Louis de Verny elaborated all of Beaux-Arts stylisic devices to produce a hypertrophied imitation of a French hôtel particulier. An open, parklike setting was scored to give the mansion a sense of depth. At the turn of the century the parkland gave way to a network of apartment buildings. The palace itself was adapted for holding wedding ceremonies in 1972 and subsequently underwent restoration. In the 2000s the President of Ukraine appropriated the palace as one of his residences.
  5. The Chapel of Boim family  is a small shrine located just outside the Latin Cathedral, in what used to be known as the Chapter Square. Built between 1609 and 1615, the chapel was originally located in what used to be the city's main cemetery. Founded by mighty merchants, Jerzy Boim and his wife Jadwiga Niżniowska, the Boim chapel was finished by their son, Paweł Jerzy Boim. Attributed to Andrzej Bemer, the chapel is among the prime examples of mannerist architecture in Central Europe. The chapel has lately been under threat from decay; fundraising campaigns are trying to raise the money to save the chapel.

    Boim Chapel



Lyon is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. The city is known for its historical and architectural landmarks and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lyon was historically known as an important area for the production and weaving of silk and in modern times has developed a reputation as the capital of gastronomy in France. It has a significant role in the history of cinema due to Auguste and Louis Lumière who invented the cinematographe in Lyon.

Lyon was founded on the Fourvière hill as a Roman colony in 43 BC by Munatius Plancus, a lieutenant of Caesar, on the site of a Gaulish hill-fort settlement called Lug[o]dunon, from the Celtic god Lugus (light) and dúnon (hill-fort). Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa recognized that Lugdunum's position on the natural highway from northern to south-eastern France made it a natural communications hub, and he made Lyon the starting point of the principal Roman roads throughout Gaul. It then became the capital of Gaul, partly thanks to its convenient location at the convergence of two navigable rivers, and quickly became the main city of Gaul. Two emperors were born in this city: Claudius and Caracalla. Today, the archbishop of Lyon is still referred to as "Primat des Gaules" and the city often referred to as the "capitale des Gaules".

In 843, by the Treaty of Verdun, Lyon, with the country beyond the Saône, went to Lothair I, and later became a part of the Kingdom of Arles. Lyon only came under French control in the 14th century.

During the French Revolution, Lyon rose up against the National Convention and supported the Girondins. In 1793, the city was under siege for over two months, assaulted by the Revolutionary armies, before eventually surrendering. Several buildings were destroyed, especially around the Place Bellecour, and Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois with Joseph Fouché administered the execution of more than 2,000 people. A decade later, Napoleon himself ordered the reconstruction of all the buildings demolished during this period.

Lyon was a centre for the occupying German forces and also a stronghold of resistance during World War II, and the city is now home to a resistance museum. The traboules, or secret passages, through the houses enabled the local people to escape Gestapo raids. The city was liberated by the 1st Free French Division and the Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur on 3 September 1944.

Modern Lyon is a lively city and, as you'd expect, hosts a number of festivals, cultural and sporting events, and fairs throughout the year.Look out for local magazines and guides, which regularly publish an up-to-date listing of forthcoming events in Lyon. The city's tourist office is also a good source of information on things to do.

Be sure to stay around the city into the night time when over 200 of the city’s monuments are illuminated by more than 100,000 projectors , bringing the city’s night scene to life!. Lyon truly deserves its place as being France’s second party city, where residents and visitors are guaranteed to enjoy fun nights out. 

Vieux Lyon, Presqu’île, Croix Rousse the Saône riverbanks and many other places are jam-packed with diverse places to go in order to have a pleasurable evening. Whether you want to dance and let your hair down or simply unwind over a few drinks in a trendy and friendly atmosphere, this is a city that offers a wide variety.

For several centuries Lyon has been known as the French capital of gastronomy, due in part to the presence of many of France's finest chefs in the city and its surroundings. This reputation also comes from the fact that two of France's best known wine-growing regions are located near Lyon: the Beaujolais to the North, and the Côtes du Rhône to the South. Beaujolais wine is very popular in Lyon and remains the most common table wine served with local dishes.

Lyon is the home of very typical and traditional restaurants serving local dishes, and local wines: the bouchons. The city is famous for its morning snacks formerly had by its silk workers, the mâchons, made up of local charcuterie and usually accompanied by Beaujolais red wine. Traditional local dishes include Rosette lyonnaise and saucisson de Lyon (sausage), andouillette (a sausage of coarsely cut tripe), pistachio sausage, coq au vin, esox (pike) quenelle, gras double (tripe cooked with onions), salade lyonnaise (lettuce with bacon, croutons and a poached egg), marrons glacés, coussin de Lyon and cardoon au gratin.

Cervelle de canut (lit. silk worker's brains) is a cheese spread/dip, a Lyonnais speciality. The dish is a base of fromage blanc, seasoned with chopped herbs, shallots, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar.

Lyon offers an exceptional variety of shopping facilities. As well as being home to a huge shopping centre at Part Dieu with all the usual chain stores, the city of Lyon also provides visitors a chance to explore its many small, independently-owned stores.These include everything from chic boutiques to antique shops. In particular, it is worth heading off on foot to browse the rows of shops in the maze of narrow streets in the Vieux Lyon and Croix Rousse districts. As in most French towns and cities, small shops and businesses tend to close for two hours at lunch. However, they do stay open until later in the evening. Shopping malls and supermarkets tend to remain open all day. Be prepared for many shops, large and small, to close all day on Sunday.

If you're in search of designer clothing, then a number of chic boutiques can be found along Rue Emile Zola Rue Gasparin and Rue Président Herriot. Antique-lovers won't fail to be disappointed by a shopping trip to the Rue Auguste Comte, just north of Place Bellecour.
For a good choice of high-street shops in Lyon, both the Rue de la République and Rue Victor Hugo are popular hunting grounds. Chief among these is the popular French store, Printemps. A visit to Galeries Lafayette, in the glass-roofed Part Dieu, is also a must for any serious shopper. This huge indoor shopping centre boasts a number of large supermarkets, as well as cafes and other shops.

Lyon's covered market at Les Halles is worth a visit, even if you go only to look rather than for serious shopping. It's a real feast for the eyes. Fresh produce can also be found in numerous smaller markets around Lyon, including those held between Tuesday and Saturday at the Quai Saint-Antoine by the River Saône. The largest organic fruit and vegetable market in the region is held on the Boulevard de la Croix Rousse on Saturday mornings. A craft market is held every Sunday at Quai Fulchiron, offering a particularly enjoyable shopping experience.

                                                        Lyon’s Top 5:
  1. The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a minor basilica in Lyon. It was built with private funds between 1872 and 1884 in a dominating position in the city. The site it occupies was once the Roman forum of Trajan, the forum vetus (old forum), thus its name (as an inverted corruption of the French Vieux-Forum). Speculating on the reasons for the construction of such an elaborate and expensive building, one author makes the possibly questionable statement that: "The reaction to the communes of Paris and Lyon were triumphalist monuments, the Sacré-Coeur of Montmartre and the basilica of Fourvière, dominating both cities. These buildings were erected using private funds, as gigantic ex-votos, thanking God for the victory over the socialists and in expiation of the sins of modern France." Notre-Dame de Fourvière was included when the whole historic center of Lyon was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.
  2. The Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls was part of the federal sanctuary of the three Gauls dedicated to the cult of Rome and Augustus celebrated by the 60 Gallic tribes when they gathered at Lugdunum. In 1961, it was classified as monument historique.  The amphitheatre was built at the foot of the La Croix-Rousse hill at what was then the confluence of the Rhône and Saône. The amphitheatre dates back to 19 AD.
  3. Lyon Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon) is a Roman Catholic cathedral in the seat of the Archbishop of Lyon. It was founded by Saint Pothinus and Saint Irenaeus, the first two bishops of Lyon. The cathedral is also known as a "Primatiale" because in 1079 the Pope granted to the archbishop of Lyon the title of Primate of All the Gauls with the legal supremacy over the principal archbishops of the kingdom. Begun in the twelfth century on the ruins of a 6th century church, it was completed in 1476. The building is 80 metres long (internally), 20 metres wide at the choir, and 32.5 metres high in the nave.
  4. The Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon  is a municipal museum of fine arts, housed near place des Terreaux in a former Benedictine convent of the 17th and 18th centuries. It was restored between 1988 and 1998, and despite these important restoration works it remained open to visitors. Its collections range from ancient Egypt antiquities to the Modern art period and make the museum one of the most important in Europe. It hosts important exhibitions of art : recently there have been exhibitions of works by Georges Braque and Henri Laurens (second half of 2005), then one on the work of Théodore Géricault (April to July 2006).
  5. Lyon City Hall. The Hôtel de Ville de Lyon is the city hall of the City of Lyon and one of the largest historic building in the city, located between the Place des Terreaux and the Place de la Comédie, in front of the Opera Nouvel. Since 12 July 1886, the building has been classified as a Monument historique. In the 17th century, Lyon was developed and the Presqu'île became the city center with the place of Terreaux, and the Lyon City Hall was built between 1645 and 1651 by Simon Maupin. Following a fire in 1674, the building was restored and modified, including its facade, designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and his pupil Robert de Cotte. In 1792 during the French Revolution, the half-relief of Louis XIV on horseback, in the middle of the facade was removed and replaced only during the Restoration by Henry IV of France, in the same posture.

    Hôtel de Ville de Lyon

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