Palermo is a city in Insular Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old. Palermo is located in the northwest of the island of Sicily, right by the Gulf of Palermo in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The city was founded by the Phoenicians, but named by the Ancient Greeks asPanormus meaning 'always fit for landing in.' Palermo became part of the Roman Republic, the Roman Empire and eventually part of the Byzantine Empire, for over a thousand years. From 827 to 1071 it was under Arab rule during the Emirate of Sicily when it first became a capital. Following the Norman reconquest, Palermo became capital of a new kingdom (from 1130 to 1816), the Kingdom of Sicily. Eventually it would be united with the Kingdom of Naples to form the Two Sicilies until the Italian unification of 1860.
|Remains of the old city walls|
|The Palazzo dei Normanni|
From 1820 to 1848 all Sicily was shaken by upheavals, which culminated on January 12, 1848, with a popular insurrection, the first one in Europe that year, led by Giuseppe La Masa. A parliament and constitution were proclaimed. The first president was Ruggero Settimo. The Bourbons soon reconquered Palermo (May 1849), which remained under their rule until the appearance of Giuseppe Garibaldi. This famous general entered Palermo with his troops (the “Thousands”) on May 27, 1860. After the plebiscite later that year Palermo and the whole of Sicily became part of the new Kingdom of Italy (1861).
In 1946 the city was declared the seat of the Regional Parliament, as capital of a Special Status Region (1947) whose seat is in the Palazzo dei Normanni. Palermo's future seemed to look bright again. Many opportunities were lost in the coming decades, owing to incompetence, incapacity, corruption and abuse of power.
The main topic of the modern age is the struggle against the Mafia and bandits like Salvatore Giuliano, who controlled the neighbouring area of Montelepre. The Italian State had to share effective control of the territory, economic as well as administrative, with the Mafia families.
The so-called "Sack of Palermo" is one of the major visible faces of this problem. The term is used today to indicate the heavy building speculations that filled the city with poor buildings. The reduced importance of agriculture in the Sicilian economy had led to a massive migration to the cities, especially Palermo, which swelled in size. Instead of rebuilding the city centre the town was thrown into a frantic expansion towards the north, where practically a new town was built. The regulatory plan for the expansion was largely ignored. New parts of town appeared almost out of nowhere, but without parks, schools, public buildings, proper roads and the other amenities that characterise a modern city. The Mafia played a huge role in this process, which was an important element in the Mafia's transition from a mostly rural phenomenon into a modern criminal organisation. The Mafia took advantage of corrupt city officials (a former mayor of Palermo, Vito Ciancimino, has been condemned for his bribery with Mafiosi) and protection coming from the Italian central government itself.
Today, Palermo is a city still struggling to recover from the devastation of uncontrolled urban growth. The historic city centre is still partly in ruins, the traffic is horrific, and poverty is widespread. Being the city in which the Italian Mafia historically had its main interests, it has also been the place of several recent well-publicized murders.
Palermo is connected to the mainland by an international airport and an increasing number of maritime links. However, land connections remain poor. This and other reasons have until now thwarted the development of tourism. This has been identified as the main resource to exploit for the city's recovery, the legacy of three millennia of history and folklore.
Caponata, a tasty salad made with eggplant (aubergines), olives, capers and celery, makes a great appetizer. There is also an artichoke-based version of this traditional dish, though you're less likely to find it in most restaurants. Sfincione is a local form of pizza made with tomatoes, onions and (sometimes) anchovies. Prepared on a thick bread and more likely found in a bakery than in a pizzeria, sfincione is good as a snack or appetizer. Panella is a thin paste made of crushed or powdered ceci (garbanzo) beans and served fried. Maccu is a creamy soup made from the same bean. Crocché(croquet) are fried potato dumplings made with cheese, parsley and eggs. Arancine are fried rice balls stuffed with meat or cheese.
Sicily is renowned for its seafood. Grilled swordfish is popular. Smaller fish, especially snapper, is sometimes prepared in a vinegar and sugar sauce. Seppia (cuttlefish) is served in its own black sauce with pasta. Another Sicilian seafood dish made with pasta is finnochio con sarde (fennel with sardines). Meat dishes are always popular. Many are traditionally made with lamb or goat. Best known outside Sicily is vitello alla marsala (veal marsala), one of many regional meat specialties. Chicken "alla marsala" can be prepared using a similar recipe and method. Milza (veal spleen) sandwiches are a bit "native" for most tastes, and loaded with cholesterol, but delicious anyway.
Sicilian desserts are superlative. Cannoli are tubular crusts with creamy ricotta and sugar filling. If they taste a little different from the ones you've had outside Italy, that's because the ricotta here is made from sheep's milk. Cassata is a rich, sugary cake filled with the same delicious filling. Frutta di Martorana (or pasta reale) are almond marzipan pastries colored and shaped to resemble real fruit. Sicilian gelato (ice cream) is excellent. In fact, it is possible that ice cream was invented in Sicily during Roman times, when a relay of runners would bring snow down from Mount Etna to be flavored and served to wealthy patricians. You'll find flavors ranging from pistachio and hazelnut (nocciola) to jasmine (gelsomino) to mulberry (gelsi) to strawberry (fragala) and rum (zuppa inglese). Granita is sweetened crushed ice made in Summer and flavored with lemons or strawberries.
- The Cathedral of Palermo is an architectural complex It is characterized by the presence of different styles, due to a long history of additions, alterations and restorations, the last of which occurred in the 18th century. The church was erected in 1185 by Walter Ophamil (or Walter of the Mill), the Anglo-Norman archbishop of Palermo and King William II's minister, on the area of an earlier Byzantine basilica. By all accounts this earlier church was founded by St. Gregory and was later turned into a mosque by the Saracens after their conquest of the city in the 9th century. Ophamil is buried in a sarcophagus in the church's crypt. The medieval edifice had a basilica plan with three apses, of which only some minor architectural elements survive today. The upper orders of the corner towers were built between the 14th and the 15th centuries, while in the early Renaissance period the southern porch was added. The present neoclassical appearance dates from the work carried out over the two decades 1781 to 1801, and supervised by Ferdinando Fuga. During this period the great retable by Gagini, decorated with statues, friezes and reliefs, was destroyed and the sculptures moved to different parts of the basilica. Also by Fuga are the great dome emerging from the main body of the building, and the smaller domes covering the aisles' ceilings.
- The Palazzo dei Normanni or Royal Palace of Palermo was the seat of the Kings of Sicily during the Norman domination and served afterwards as the main seat of power for the subsequent rulers of Sicily. Today it is the seat of the regional parliament of Sicily. The palace stands in what is the highest point of the ancient centre of the city, just above the first Punic settlements, whose remains can still be found in the basement. The first building, the Qasr (in Arabic, castle or palace) is believed to have been started in the 9th century by the Emir of Palermo. Parts of this early building are still visible in the foundations and in the basements, where typical Arabian vaults are present. After the Normans conquered Sicily in 1072 (just 6 years after they conquered England) and established Palermo as the capital of the new Kingdom of Sicily, the palace was chosen as the main residence of the kings. The Norman kings transformed the former Arabian palace into a multifunctional complex with both administrative and residential aims. All the buildings were linked to each other via arcades and enclosed by gardens, designed by the best gardeners of the middle east. In 1132 King Roger II added the famous Cappella Palatina to the complex, making it the focus of the palace.
- Palermo City Walls. Palermo has got at least 2 circuits of City Walls - many pieces of which still survive. The first circuit surrounded the ancient core of the punic City - the so-called Palaeopolis (in the area east of Porta Nuovo) and the Neopolis. Via Vittorio Emanuele was the main road E-W through this early walled City. The eastern edge of the walled City was on Via Roma and the ancient port in the vicinity of Piazza Marina. The wall circuit was approximately Porto Nuovo, Corso Alberti, Piazza Peranni, Via Isodoro, Via Candela, Via Venezia, Via Roma, Piazza Paninni, Via Biscottari, Via Del Bastione, Palazzo dei Normanni and back to Porto Nuovo. In the medieval period the wall circuit was expanded. Via Vittorio Emanuele continued to be the main road E-W through the walled City. West gate was still Porto Nuovo, the circuit continued to Corso Alberti, to Piazza Vittorio em Orlando where it turned east along Via Volturno to Piazza Verdi and along the line of Via Cavour. At this North East corner there was a defense, Castello a Mare, to protect the port at La Cala. A huge chain was used to block La Cala with the other end at S Maria della Catena (St Mary of the Chain). The sea-side wall was along the western side of Foro Italico Umberto. The wall turns west along the northern side of Via Abramo Lincoln, continues along Corso Tukory. The wall turns north approximately on Via Benedetto, to Palazzo dei Normanni and back to Porto Nuovo. Source: Palermo - City Guide by Adriana Chirco, 1998, Dario Flaccovio Editore.
Several gates in the City Wall survive.
- The Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele is an opera house and opera company. It was dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II. It is the biggest in Italy, and one of the largest of Europe (the third after the Opéra National de Paris and the K. K. Hof-Opernhaus in Vienna), renowned for its perfect acoustics. The opera house was designed and overseen by the very genial Italian architect Giovan Battista Filippo Basile and, following his death in 1891, construction was then overseen by his highly artistic son, Architect Ernesto Basile. G. B. Filippo Basile was well known in Sicily also for his previous cathedral restoration design in the city of Acireale, as well as garden and villa designs in the city of Palermo and Caltagirone.
- Catacombe dei Cappuccini, the catacombs of the Capuchin convent located on the Piazza Cappuccini, just west of the city centre, contain over 8000 mummified ex-residents from Palermo and its surrounding villages, some merely clothed skeletons, other remarkably well-preserved and lifelike. Well worth a visit, interesting, if slightly morbid. Children may either find it exciting or terrifying and it must be the responsibility of their parents to think carefully before taking them.
Palma, in full Palma de Mallorca, is the major city and port on the island of Majorca (Mallorca) and capital city of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands in Spain. The names Ciutat de Mallorca (City of Majorca) and Ciutat (City) were used before the War of the Spanish Succession and are still used by people in Majorca. However, the official name was Mallorca, the same as the island. It is situated on the south coast of the island on the Bay of Palma. As of the 2009 census, the population of the city of Palma proper was 401,270, and the population of the entire urban area was 517,285, ranking as the twelfth largest urban area of Spain. Almost half of the total population of Majorca live in Palma. The Cabrera Archipelago, though widely separated from Palma proper, is administratively considered part of the municipality. Its airport, Son Sant Joan, serves over 22 million passengers each year. The Marivent Palace was offered by the city to the then Prince Juan Carlos I of Spain. The royals have since spent their summer holidays in Palma.
After the conquest of Majorca, it was loosely incorporated into the province of Tarraconensis by 123 BC; the Romans founded two new cities: Palma on the south of the island, and Pollentia in the northeast - on the site of a Phoenician settlement. Whilst Pollentia acted as port to Roman cities on the northwestern Mediterranean Sea, Palma was the port used for destinations in Africa, such as Carthage, and Hispania, such as Saguntum, Gades, and Carthago Nova. Though no visible remains of this period are seen in present day Palma, archaeological discoveries still occur whenever excavating under the city centre.
In 707, a Muslim fleet, under the command of Abd Allgaht ibn Musa, son of the governor of Ifriqiya, Musa ibn Nusayr, stopped at the island. It appears that Abd Allah convinced the factional powers of the city to accept a peace treaty. This treaty granted, in exchange for a tax, respect for social, economic and political structures to the communities that subscribed it, as well as the continuity of their religious beliefs..
In 848 (maybe 849), four years after the first Viking incursions had sacked the whole island, an attack from Córdoba forced the authorities to ratify the treaty to which the city had submitted in 707. As the city still occupied an eccentric position regarding the commerce network established by the Caliph in the western Mediterranean, the enclave was not immediately incorporated into Al-Andalus.
While the Caliphate of Córdoba reinforced its influence upon the Mediterranean, the interest of Al-Andalus for the city increased. The logical consequence of this evolution was the substitution of the submission treaty by the effective incorporation of the islands to the Islamic state. This incorporation took place in the last years of the Emirate. a squad under the command of Isam al-Jawlani took advantage of the instability caused by several Viking incursions and disembarked in Majorca, and after destroying any resistance, incorporated Majorca, with Palma as its capital, to the Córdobese dominions.
The boom in tourism caused Palma to grow significantly, with repercussions on immigration. In 1960, Majorca received 500,000 visitors, in 1997 it received more than 6,739,700. In 2001 more than 19,200,000 people passed through Son Sant Joan airport near Palma, with an additional 1.5 million coming by sea.
In the 21st century, urban redevelopment, by the so-called Pla Mirall (English "Mirror Plan"), attracted important groups of immigrant workers from outside the European Union, especially from Africa and South America.
“Café culture” is a way of life here. People sit out all day long just watching other people…you never know who you might meet…This is great people watching territory. You can drink hot chocolates or cappuccinos, surrounded by artists, famous people and creative types. Try the Mallorca’s ensaimadas pastry. They’re absolutely delicious.
The eating out scene in Palma can be split into two separate areas. If you’re looking for bars serving light snacks the best place is the Sa Llotja area. Passeig Maritim has some excellent restaurants, most are alongside the harbour. In the old town and Santa Catalina you’ll find some newer restaurants along with the local favourites.
Palma holds some of the best nightclubs and bars on the island. The most stylish and expensive venues are found here and you could even be partying amongst some famous stars. Palma has a wide range of clubs, bars, restaurants and cafe bars. The nightlife buzzes all night long and all year round. One of the busiest places is Sa Llotja. The pubs and bars here tend to get very packed and things start to wind down at around one or two in the morning. Then everyone heads off to the Passeig Maritim, where the drinking and dancing continues…the bars and discotecas stay open till at least 5 or 6am.
Passeig Maritim is located to the west of the city centre. Like Sa Llotja, It’s a regular haunt of both locals and tourists. This is where it all continues after Sa Llotja. The Passeig Maritim is a mixture of both a gay scene and a grunge/indie scene, with sex shops and topless bars. Some places well worth checking out here are; the Crazy Cow (with its charming terrace and delightful house music); and Made in Brazil (for Latin tunes).
Most of the clubs here play Spanish pop music apart from Pachas. Located on the side of the cliff looking over the Paseo Maritimo and the yachts linked between the Palma’s horseshoe shaped Marina, Pacha Mallorca is one of the best known nightclubs in Palma. This club comes into life from 10pm in the night and stays so till 6am the following morning. During the summer months this club gets exceptionally busy and the entrance fee is increased.
- The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma, more commonly referred to as La Seu, is a Gothic Roman Catholic cathedral, built on the site of a pre-existing Arab mosque. It is 121 metres long, 55 metres wide and its nave is 44 metres tall. Designed in the Catalan Gothic style but with Northern European influences, it was begun by King James I of Aragon in 1229 but finished only in 1601. It sits within the old city of Palma atop the former citadel of the Roman city, between the Royal Palace of La Almudaina and the episcopal palace. It also overlooks the Parc de la Mar and the Mediterranean Sea. In 1901, fifty years after a restoration of the cathedral had started, Antoni Gaudí was invited to take over the project. While some of his ideas were adopted – moving the choir stalls from the middle nave to be closer to the altar, as well as a large canopy – Gaudí abandoned his work in 1914 after an argument with the contractor. The planned changes were essentially cosmetic rather than structural, and the project was cancelled soon after.
- The Banys Àrabs, or Arab Baths, one of the few remnants of Palma's Moorish past, are accessed via the quiet Ca'n Serra street near the Convent of the Cathedral, and include the lush gardens of Ca'n Fontirroig, home to Sardinian warblers, house sparrows, cacti, palm trees, and a wide range of flowers and ferns. The small two-roomed brick building that once housed the bath is in fact of Byzantine origin, dating back to the 11th century and possibly once part of the home of a Muslim nobleman. The bath room has a cupola with five oculi which let in dazzling light. The twelve columns holding up the small room were pillaged from an earlier Roman construction. The floor over the hypocaust has been worn away by people standing in the centre, mainly to photograph the entrance and the garden beyond it. The whole room is in a rather disreputable condition. The other room is a brick cube with a small model of the baths as they once were in the corner.
- The Royal Palace of La Almudaina is the Alcázar (fortified palace) of Palma. It is the royal summer official residence and administered by the Patrimonio Nacional. The site dominates the entrance to the city and this excellent strategic position was realised as early as the Talayot period, whose people were the first to live here millennia ago. The Romans used the same area in the 2nd century BC to create a nucleus for their new city, Palmeria, which marked the birth of the city as we know it. When the ‘Dark era’ began, 7 centuries later, the Vandals destroyed it building one of their own, but in 903 when the Arabs conquered the island, the governor, or Wali as he was known, built himself a fortress on the same site. ‘Almudayna’ in Arabic meaning ‘Fortress’ and this was the beginning of the building you see now.
- The museum of Palau March, next to Parliament, sits exactly where the old gardens of the Convent of San Domingo used to be. In the 1930’s Juan March Ordinas, the richest man in Mallorca, began its construction as a residence for his family. The drawings were made by the famous Spanish architect Luis Gutierrez Soto but were based on preliminary work done by the Mallorcan architect Forteza. The result combines the austere Herreran style of the façade in Calle Conquistador with the light, open Mediterranean style of this side, facing the Cathedral. It stands out more as an example of the architectural change undergone during this period than it does on the basis of its intrinsic value. Its construction took 6 years, finishing in 1945.
- Bellver Castle - a fairy tale outline that stands on a pedestal of pine trees. If anything defines this castle it’s the location, because it is also the origin of its name – ‘Bellver’ meaning ‘Beautiful view’. The Bellver Castle is located 3 km from Palma's city centre and 112.6 m above sea level, dominating the bay and a large part of the island of Mallorca.Like the Cathedral and the Almudaina, it was the brainchild of King James II and was to serve as a residence for the kings of Mallorca. Started around 1310, it took about 9 years to complete and is witness to a unique architectural design- it is the only castle, in all of Spain, with a circular design. The castle consists of three semi-circular towers and another tower about 7 metres away from the main body. The construction is set around a central courtyard and has two levels: the ground floor with round arches and flat ceilings and the upper floor with lancet arches covered with a cross vault in pure Gothic style.
Paris is the capital and largest city of France. It is situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region. As of January 2009 the city of Paris, within its administrative limits (the 20 arrondissements) largely unchanged since 1860, has an estimated population of 2,234,105 and a metropolitan population of 12,161,542, and is one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. Paris was the largest city in the Western world for about 600 years prior to the 19th century.
Paris is today one of the world's leading business and cultural centres, and its influences in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities. Paris is considered one of the greenest and most liveable cities in Europe. It is also one of the most expensive cities.
The collapse of the Roman empire and the 5th-century Germanic invasions sent the city into a period of decline. By AD 400, Lutèce, largely abandoned by its inhabitants, was little more than a garrison town entrenched into a hastily fortified central island. The city reclaimed its original appellation of "Paris" towards the end of the Roman occupation.
Repeated invasions forced Parisians to build a fortress on the Île de la Cité. One of the most remarkable Viking raids was on 28 March 845, when Paris was sacked and held ransom, probably by Ragnar Lodbrok, who left only after receiving a large bounty paid by the crown. The weakness of the late Carolingian kings of France led to the gradual rise in power of the Counts of Paris; Odo, Count of Paris, was elected king of France by feudal lords, and the end of the Carolingian empire came in 987 when Hugh Capet, count of Paris, was elected king of France. Paris, under the Capetian kings, became a capital once more.
In 1590 Henry IV unsuccessfully laid siege to the city in the Siege of Paris. During the Fronde, Parisians rose in rebellion and the royal family fled the city (1648). King Louis XIV then moved the royal court permanently to Versailles, a lavish estate on the outskirts of Paris, in 1682. A century later, Paris was the centre stage for the French Revolution, with the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 and the overthrow of the monarchy in September 1792.
The building code has seen few changes since, and the Second Empire plans are in many cases still followed. The "alignement" law is still in place, which regulates building façades of new constructions according to a pre-defined street width. A building's height is limited according to the width of the streets it borders, and under the regulation, it was always difficult to get an approval to build a taller building. However, In an effort to boost the global economic image of metropolitan Paris, several skyscrapers (300 m (984 ft) and higher) have been approved since 2006 in the business district of La Défense, to the west of the city proper, and are scheduled to be completed by the early 2010s. Paris authorities also stated publicly that they are planning to authorise the construction of skyscrapers within the city proper by relaxing the cap on building height for the first time since the construction of the Tour Montparnasse in the early 1970s.
For the uninitiated, it is unfortunately possible to have a uniformly poor dining experience during a stay in Paris, mainly because many attractions are situated in upscale areas of town, and that mass tourism attracts price gougers. It is frequent to hear of people complaining of very high Parisian prices for poor food and poor service, because they always tried to eat close to major tourist magnets. For good food and great service, try to go eat where the locals eat .
Many restaurants are tiny and have tables close together - square metres are at a premium and understandably restaurateurs need to make the most of limited space. In some cases when the restaurant is crowded, you may have to sit beside strangers at the same table. If that does not appeal to you, go to a more upscale place where you will pay for the extra space. Trendy restaurants often require reservations weeks, if not months in advance. If you haven't planned far enough ahead, try to get a reservation for lunch which is generally easier and less expensive.
One of the best value and most convenient ways to see the sights of Paris is with the Paris Museum Pass, a pre-paid entry card that allows entry into over 70 museums and monuments around Paris (and the Palace of Versailles) and comes in 2-day (€39), 4-day (€54) and 6-day (€69) denominations (prices as of Apr 2012). Note these are 'consecutive' days. The card allows you to jump lengthy queues, a big plus during tourist season when line can be extensive, and is available from participating museums, tourist offices, Fnac branches and all the main Métro and RER train stations. You will still need to pay to enter most special exhibitions. To avoid waiting in the first long queue to purchase the Museum Pass, stop to purchase your pass a day or more in advance after mid-day. The pass does not become active until your first museum or site visit when you write your start date. After that, the days covered are consecutive. (Do not write your start date until you are certain you will use the pass that day and be careful to use the European date style as indicated on the card - day/month/year.
Other great areas to shop around in are around the area Sèvres Babylone (Métro Line 10 and Line 12). It is in this area you will find the Le Bon Marché 7th, particularly rue de Cherche Midi 6th. The area boasts some of the major fashion houses (Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace, etc) and also has smaller private boutiques with handmade clothing.
In the Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés, you can find a handful of vintage clothing shops, carrying anything from couture early 20th century dresses, to 70s Chanel sunglasses. Walking along Boulevard Saint-Germain, you will find major brands. However, if in search of eclectic finds, opt to walk the northern side of the Boulevard, especially along rue Saint André des Arts, where you can always find a nice café to stop in. The area south of Saint-Germain is just as nice, and comes with a price tag to match.
In the artsy quarters of 1 and 4, there are many bargains to be had, once again, if you are prepared to look. Souvenirs are easily found and can be fairly inexpensive as long as you don't buy from the tourist sites. For cheap books of French connection, try the University/Latin quarter as they sell books in all languages starting from half a euro each.
- The Eiffel Tower is a puddled iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris, named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair, it has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; 7.1 million people ascended it in 2011. The third level observatory's upper platform is at 279.11 m the highest accessible to public in the European Union and the highest in Europe as long as the platform of the Ostankino Tower, at 360 m, remains closed as a result of the fire of August 2000. The tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.
- The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A popular landmark, the basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. Sacré-Cœur is a double monument, political and cultural, both a national penance for the supposed excesses of the Second Empire and socialist Paris Commune of 1871 crowning its most rebellious neighborhood, and an embodiment of conservative moral order, publicly dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was an increasingly popular vision of a loving and sympathetic Christ.
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. It was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919.
- The Musée du Louvre in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre—is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, France, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (district). Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet). The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) which began as a fortress built in the late 12th century under Philip II. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum, to display the nation's masterpieces. The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.
- The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle (originally named Place de l'Étoile), at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. There is a smaller arch, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, which stands west of the Louvre. The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
- Notre Dame de Paris also known as Notre Dame Cathedral or simply Notre Dame, is an historic Roman Catholic Marian cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement. Widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and among the most well-known churches ever built, Notre Dame is the cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese of Paris; that is, it is the church that contains the cathedra (official chair) of the Archbishop of Paris, currently André Vingt-Trois. The cathedral treasury is notable for its reliquary, which houses the purported crown of thorns, a fragment of the True Cross and one of the Holy Nails – all instruments of the Passion and a few of the most important first-class relics. Notre Dame de Paris is often reputed to be one of the most prominent examples of Gothic architecture in both France and in Europe as a whole, and the naturalism of its sculptures and stained glass are in contrast with earlier Romanesque architecture. The first period of construction from 1163 into 1240s coincided with the musical experiments of the Notre Dame school.
Parma is a city in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its prosciutto, cheese, architecture and surrounding countryside. This is the home of the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world. Parma is divided into two parts by the little stream with the same name.
The Roman colony was founded in 183 BC, together with Mutina (Modena); 2,000 families were settled. Parma had a certain importance as a road hub over the Via Aemilia and the Via Claudia. It had a forum, in what is today the central Garibaldi Square. In 44 BC, the city was destroyed, and Augustus rebuilt it. During the Roman Empire, it gained the title of Julia for its loyalty to the imperial house.
The city was subsequently sacked by Attila, and later given by the barbarian king Odoacer to his fellows. During the Gothic War, however, Totila destroyed it. It was then part of the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna (changing name to Chrysopolis, "Golden City", probably due to the presence of the imperial treasury) and, from 569, of the Lombard Kingdom of Italy. During the Middle Ages, Parma became an important stage of the Via Francigena, the main road connecting Rome to Northern Europe; several castles, hospitals and inns were built in the following centuries to host the increasing number of pilgrims who passed by Parma and Fidenza, following the Apennines via Collecchio, Berceto and the Corchia ranges before descending the Passo della Cisa into Tuscany, heading finally south toward Rome.
Between the 14th and the 15th centuries, Parma was at the centre of the Italian Wars. The Battle of Fornovo was fought in its territory. The French held the city in 1500–1521, with a short Papal parenthesis in 1512–1515. After the foreigners were expelled, Parma belonged to the Papal States until 1545.
In that year the Farnese pope, Paul III, detached Parma and Piacenza from the Papal States and gave them as a duchy to his illegitimate son, Pier Luigi Farnese, whose descendants ruled in Parma until 1731, when Antonio Farnese (1679–1731), last male of the Farnese line, died. In the Treaty of London (1718) it was promulgated that the heir to the duchy would be Elisabeth Farnese's elder son with Philip V of Spain, Don Carlos. In 1731, the fifteen-year-old Don Carlos became Charles I Duke of Parma and Piacenza, at the death of his childless great uncle Antonio Farnese. In 1734, Charles I conquered the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, and was crowned as the King of Naples and Sicily on 3 July 1735, leaving the Duchy of Parma to his brother Philip (Filippo I di Borbone-Parma).
During World War II, Parma was a strong centre of partisan resistance. The train station and marshalling yards were targets for high altitude bombing by the Allies in the spring of 1944. Much of the Palazzo della Pilotta — situated not far (half a mile) from the train station — was destroyed. Along with it also Teatro Farnese and part of Biblioteca Palatina were destroyed by Allied bombs. Several other monuments were also damaged: Palazzo del Giardino, Steccata church, San Giovanni church, Palazzo Ducale, Paganini theater and the monument to Verdi. However Parma did not see widespread destruction during the war. Parma was liberated of the German occupation (1943–1945) on April 26, 1945 by the partisan resistance and troops of Brazilian Expeditionary Force. Recently Parma was chosen for the setting of John Grisham's American football comedy Playing for Pizza. During the European sovereign-debt crisis, after incurring a €900 million debt, the people of Parma voted in a direct democratic platform.
If you are in Parma, your trip is not complete until you try a hunk of its eponymous cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano. Known the world over, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese owes its quality to its source. The cows that produce the milk graze only on grass and hay in fields around the city. The cheese is made and aged from 18 months to over 30.
Another food you must try in Parma is the local cured ham, Prosciutto di Parma. Parma's Prosciutto is the gold standard for salumi. The hams are cured and aged in temperature and humidity controlled rooms for at least 10 months. The result is a salty, sweet, piece of meat that is sliced razor thin and can be eaten all by its self, or as a part of many regional dishes. It is delicious served simply over a plate of summer melon. As far as salumi goes though, Culatello is king. Unfortunately government regulation on the production of Culatello has driven it nearly to extinction, but there are still rogue producers who cure the meat in cellars. Culatello differs from Prosciutto in that it is made from the fillet cut of the ham as opposed to the whole ham.
Parma is also known for its delicate stuffed pastas and outdoor markets. Be sure to take advantage of the fresh seasonal vegetables that Parma has to offer.
Try a bottle of the local sparkling red wine called Lambrusco; great on its own and perfect with much of the local cuisine. It can be purchased in virtually any bar or corner shop and is very inexpensive.
- Parma Cathedral (Duomo) is an important Italian Romanesque cathedral: the dome, in particular, is decorated by a highly influential illusionistic fresco by Renaissance painter Antonio da Correggio. The construction was begun in 1059 by bishop Cadalo, later antipope with the name of Honorius II, and was consecrated by Paschal II in 1106. A basilica existed probably in the 6th century, but was later abandoned; another church had been consecrated in the rear part of the preceding one in the 9th century by the count-bishop Guibodo. The new church was heavily damaged by an earthquake in 1117 and had to be restored. Of the original building, remains can be seen in the presbytery, the transept, the choir and the apses, and in some sculpture fragments. The wide façade was completed in 1178: it has three loggia floors and three portals, whose doors were sculpted by Luchino Bianchino in 1494. Between the central and the right doors is the tomb of the mathematician Biagio Pelacani, who died in 1416. The Gothic belfry was added later, in 1284-1294: a twin construction on the left side had been conceived, but it was never begun. Beside the Cathedral lies the octagonal Baptistry of Parma.
- Teatro Farnese is a Baroque-style theatre, built in 1618 by Giovanni Battista Aleotti. The theatre was almost destroyed by an Allied air raid during World War II (1944). It was rebuilt and reopened in 1962. Some claim this as the first permanent proscenium theater (that is, a theater in which the audience views the action through a single frame, which is known as the "proscenium arch")
- The Baptistery of Parma is a religious edifice in Parma. Architecturally, the baptistery of Parma Cathedral marks a transition between the Romanesque and Gothic styles, and it is considered to be among the most important Medieval monuments in Europe. The Baptistery was commissioned to Benedetto Antelami by the City Council of Parma in 1196. The outside of pink Verona Marble is octagonal. The inside contains sixteen arches, forming alcoves each containing a painted scene. All these are 13th and 14th century frescoes and paintings. The most striking part of the Baptistery, however, is its painted domed ceiling. Sixteen rays come out of the center of the ceiling, which each correspond to the arches. However, problems were posed over time as the paintings were not true frescoes. The paint would start to come off the walls and would be literally hanging on. Due to this, the Baptistery had to be painstakingly consolidated and restored with syringes and spatulas.
- The Museo Lombardi The Museum was created by the efforts of Glauco Lombardi (1881-1971), who devoted his entire life to the recovery, study and conservation of all that remained on the antiquary market or in private collections of the enormous artistic and documentary heritage of Parma under the Bourbons (1748-1802, 1847-1859) and Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma (1816-1847), largely scattered during the period of Italian Unification in various residences of the Savoy family. From 1915 to 1943 the original nucleus of the Museo Lombardi was housed in the ballroom and adjacent rooms of the Ducal Palace of Colorno. The year 1934 is a crucial one for the museum: it was then that Lombardi finally managed to stipulate an agreement with count Giovanni Sanvitale to sell to the Museum the precious objects that had belonged to Duchess Marie Louise, grandmother of count Giovanni.
- The Ducal Palace, built from 1561 for Duke Ottavio Farnese on a design by Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola. Built on the former Sforza castle area, it was enlarged in the 17th–18th centuries. It includes the Palazzo Eucherio Sanvitale, with interesting decorations dating from the 16th centuries and attributed to Gianfrancesco d'Agrate, and a fresco by Parmigianino. Annexed is the Ducal Park also by Vignola. It was turned into a French-style garden in 1749.
Pesaro is a city and comune in the Italian region of Le Marche, capital of the Pesaro e Urbino province, on the Adriatic. Fishery, furniture industry and tourism are the main strengths of the local economy.
During Renaissance it was ruled by the Malatesta (1285–1445), Sforza (1445–1512) and Della Rovere (1513–1631). Under the latter family, who elected it as capital of their duchy, Pesaro lived its most flourishing age, with the construction of numerous public and private palaces, while a new line of walls (the Mura Roveresche) was erected. On September 11, 1860 the Piedmontese troops entered the city, and Pesaro was subsequently annexed to the new Kingdom of Italy.
At the heart of the city lies the wide main square, Piazza del Popolo. Sipping a cool drink from one of the smart bars flanking the piazza, admire the sea-horses and tritons that decorate the sparkling fountain in the centre. Then let your eyes wander over the Palazzo Ducale that vies for your attention with the imperious post office building. The clean-lined Renaissance palace, recently restored, was built in the middle of the 15th century by the ruling Sforza family. It now houses local government offices and an exhibition space open to the public. Take a moment to walk into the imposing courtyard.
The city was once noted for its ceramic workshops that turned out the brightly painted earthenware known asmajolica. In the Musei Civici (Civic Museums) in Piazza Toschi Mosca (just off via Rossini) you can browse through one of Italy's finest collections of Renaissance and baroque pottery, much of it striking for its spontaneous, almost modern, use of colour and design.
If crockery leaves you cold, the warmth of Giovanni Bellini's masterpiece, the Coronation of the Virgin in the adjoining Pinacoteca shouldn't. This large painting with a series of smaller panels, originally created as an altarpiece, catches the eye with its sun-drenched colours and rounded, sculptural figures. The gallery also has a large collection of interesting, if less important, Renaissance pictures.
|La Rocca Costanza|
Centuries before the Sforza family ruled Pesaro, the city was already a thriving Roman colony, founded in 184 BC, probably on the foundations of an even older settlement . For lost property from Roman Pisaurum visit the Museo Archeologico Oliveriano in via Mazza to the west of the main square.
Like most Italian beaches, the 3 km strand here is laid out with serried ranks of umbrellas and deck chairs but it is rarely overcrowded. For a more secluded beach with green hills as a backdrop, make for Baia Flaminia just to the north of the centre. As well as sections with all the gear where you have to pay, there are also free stretches of public beach. You'll also find free, uncluttered public beaches just south of the town on the SS16 road towards Fano.
Not surprisingly, the best food is still to be had in Marche homes rather than in restaurants. The arrival, however, of tourists in smaller towns and villages has often raised the standards in local restaurants and led to the "rediscovery" of long lost traditional dishes.
The old labels ristorante, trattoria and osteria have become somewhat interchangeable in recent years; many of the smarter, and most expensive places, call themselves osterie and take pride in reinterpreting strictly local dishes with great flair. Many restaurants also double as a pizzeria, but note that pizzas are usually only available in the evening when the wood-fired oven is lit.
Avoid the temptation just to order dishes whose names are familiar to you from back home - you will frequently be missing the best the house has to offer. If you are touring in summer or early autumn, look out for posters advertising the local sagra - a festival dedicated to a town's particular speciality where you can try the food in question in every guise imaginable.
- The Ducal Palace, constructed by Alessandro Sforza in the second half of the 15th century. The façade has a portico with six arcades supported by six heavy pilasters and an upper floor with five windows crowned by coats of arms, festoons and puttoes.
- Pesaro Cathedral Basilica, built in the 5th century over remains of a late Roman edifice and dedicated to St. Terence during the Middle Ages. The façade, in Romanesque-Gothic style, is unfinished: it has a simple ogival portal surmounted by a band of small arches. Step inside to see the remarkable mosaic floor uncovered in 2000. The beautiful early Christian work dates from the 6th century and can be admired through glass panels set in the suspended modern floor. This vast work of art belongs to the same period as the magnificent Byzantine mosaics at Ravenna. In some points you can also glimpse an even earlier and deeper mosaic floor dating from as early as the 4th century.
- The Rocca Costanza (Castle), built in the 15th century by Costanzo Sforza, later for a time used as prison. It has a square plan with four cylindrical corner towers and a wide dry moat. The building was named after Costanzo Sforza, who had it built between 1474 and 1483. The initial design of Giorgio Marchesi Settignano, but soon after was assigned to another architect, probably the great Luciano Laurana, the Work continued under the guidance of Cherubino from Milan. In 1500 Cesare Borgia occupied Pesaro and the fortress, The interior features an arcade courtyard with round arches. The central arch is flanked by two round with garlands marble, beneath which elegant inscriptions recalling the two main architechts of the Rock. Newly renovated in 1657, the Rock was turned into prison in 1864 until 1989. It is currently used as a venue for cultural events, including those linked to the annual Rossini Opera Festival.
- The birthplace of Gioacchino Rossini, located at 34 Via Rossini. It has a museum dedicated to the composer, with manifestoes, prints, portraits and his spinet.
- The Palla Di Pomodoro In Freedom Square, at the center of the gardens, there is a huge sphere with characteristic mechanisms, created by renowned sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro, is now a symbol of Pesaro and the square is a meeting of citizens. The grand ball lying on the surface of the water of a fountain from which one looks the sea, is the bronze cast made in 1998 by sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro based on the original made in 1967 for Expo ' Montreal. The original work is located in Rome today outside the main entrance of the Foreign Ministry headquarters. Since the seventies, the Great Ball has become a traditional meeting place and to provide information to visitors passing through town. In the late '90s it was covered with bronze and placed at the center of a large fountain, mainly to prevent degradation and vandalism.
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa. Although Pisa is known worldwide for its leaning tower (the bell tower of the city's cathedral), the city of over 88,332 residents (around 200,000 with the metropolitan area) contains more than 20 other historic churches, several palaces and various bridges across the River Arno.
Ancient Roman authors referred to Pisa as an old city. Strabo referred Pisa's origins to the mythical Nestor, king of Pylos, after the fall of Troy. Virgil, in his Aeneid, states that Pisa was already a great center by the times described; the settlers from the Alpheus coast have been credited with the founding of the city in the 'Etruscan lands'. The Virgilian commentator Servius wrote that the Teuti, or Pelops, the king of the Pisaeans, founded the town thirteen centuries before the start of the common era.
The power of Pisa as a mighty maritime nation began to grow and reached its apex in the 11th century when it acquired traditional fame as one of the four main historical Maritime Republics of Italy (Repubbliche Marinare).
At that time, the city was a very important commercial centre and controlled a significant Mediterranean merchant fleet and navy. It expanded its powers in 1005 through the sack of Reggio Calabria in the south of Italy. Pisa was in continuous conflict with the Saracens, who had their bases in Corsica, for control of the Mediterranean. In 1017 Sardinian Giudicati were militarily supported by Pisa, in alliance with Genoa, to defeat the Saracen King Mugahid who had settled a logistic base in the north of Sardinia the year before. This victory gave Pisa supremacy in the Tyrrhenian Sea. When the Pisans subsequently ousted the Genoese from Sardinia, a new conflict and rivalry was born between these mighty marine republics. Between 1030 and 1035, Pisa went on to defeat several rival towns in Sicily and conquer Carthage in North Africa. In 1051–1052 the admiral Jacopo Ciurini conquered Corsica, provoking more resentment from the Genoese. In 1063 admiral Giovanni Orlando, coming to the aid of the Norman Roger I, took Palermo from the Saracen pirates. The gold treasure taken from the Saracens in Palermo allowed the Pisans to start the building of their cathedral and the other monuments which constitute the famous Piazza del Duomo.
The decline of Pisa as a significant naval power began on 6 August 1284, when the numerically superior fleet of Pisa, under the command of Albertino Morosini, was defeated by the brilliant tactics of the Genoese fleet, under the command of Benedetto Zaccaria and Oberto Doria, in the dramatic naval Battle of Meloria. This defeat ended the maritime power of Pisa and the town never fully recovered: in 1290 the Genoese destroyed forever the Porto Pisano (Pisa's Port), and covered the land with salt. The region around Pisa did not permit the city to recover from the loss of thousands of sailors from the Meloria, while Liguria guaranteed enough sailors to Genoa. Goods continued to be traded, albeit in reduced quantity, but the end came when the River Arno started to change course, preventing the galleys from reaching the city's port up the river. It seems also that nearby area became infested with malaria. Within 1324 also Sardinia was entirely lost in favour of the Aragonese.
Pisa tried to build up its power in the course of the 14th century and even managed to defeat Florence in the Battle of Montecatini (1315), under the command of Uguccione della Faggiuola. Eventually, however, divided by internal struggles and weakened by the loss of its mercantile strength, Pisa was conquered by Florence in 1406. In 1409 Pisa was the seat of a council trying to set the question of the Great Schism. Furthermore in the 15th century, access to the sea became more and more difficult, as the port was silting up and was cut off from the sea. When in 1494 Charles VIII of France invaded the Italian states to claim the Kingdom of Naples, Pisa grabbed the opportunity to reclaim its independence as the Second Pisan Republic.
|Palazzo della Carovana|
Pisa was the birthplace of the important early physicist Galileo Galilei. It is still the seat of an archbishopric; it has become a light industrial centre and a railway hub. It suffered repeated destruction during World War II.
This said, near the Leaning Tower, in via Roma, there's a good Indian Restaurant, with a beautiful atmosphere and really good, though not always cheap, dishes. In Piazza dei Miracoli, there's a quite good restaurant-pizzeria, cheap enough, the Kinzica. In any case, don't miss Salza, in Borgo Stretto, with high prices but absolutely gorgeous chocolate, sweets and pastries of all kinds. Don't sit down inside, though, because you end up paying €10 for two coffees.
During summer nights, everybody stays around the banks of the rivers, sipping drinks bought from the several bars in the area. A few very good wine bars are also available for colder, winter nights.
- The Leaning Tower of Pisa or simply theTower of Pisa (Torre di Pisa) is the campanile, or freestanding bell tower, of the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa, known worldwide for its unintended tilt to one side. It is situated behind the Cathedral and is the third oldest structure in Pisa's Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo) after the Cathedral and the Baptistry. The tower's tilt began during construction, caused by an inadequate foundation on ground too soft on one side to properly support the structure's weight. The tilt increased in the decades before the structure was completed, and gradually increased until the structure was stabilized (and the tilt partially corrected) by efforts in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Construction of the tower occurred in three stages across 177 years. Work on the ground floor of the white marble campanile began on August 8, 1173, during a period of military success and prosperity. This ground floor is a blind arcade articulated by engaged columns with classical Corinthian capitals. The tower began to sink after construction had progressed to the second floor in 1178. This was due to a mere three-metre foundation, set in weak, unstable subsoil, a design that was flawed from the beginning.
- Palazzo della Carovana (also Palazzo dei Cavalieri) is a palace in Knights' Square, presently housing the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. It was built in 1562–1564 by Giorgio Vasari for the headquarters of the Knights of St. Stephen, as a renovation of the already existing Palazzo degli Anziani ("Palace of the Elders"). The name, meaning "Palace of the Convoy", derives from the three year period undertaken by the initiates of the Order for their training, called "la Carovana". The façade is characterized by a complex scheme with sgraffiti representing allegorical figures and zodiacal signs, designed by Vasari himself and sculpted by Tommaso di Battista del Verrocchio and Alessandro Forzori, coupled to busts and marble crests. The current paintings date however to the 19th-20th centuries.
- Pisa Cathedral. The heart of the Piazza del Duomo is the Duomo, the medieval cathedral, entitled to Santa Maria Assunta (St. Mary of the Assumption). This is a five-naved cathedral with a three-naved transept. The church is known also as the Primatial, the archbishop of Pisa being a Primate since 1092. Construction was begun in 1064 by the architect Buscheto, and set the model for the distinctive Pisan Romanesque style of architecture. The mosaics of the interior, as well as the pointed arches, show a strong Byzantine influence. The façade, of grey marble and white stone set with discs of coloured marble, was built by a master named Rainaldo, as indicated by an inscription above the middle door: Rainaldus prudens operator. The massive bronze main doors were made in the workshops of Giambologna, replacing the original doors destroyed in a fire in 1595. The central door was in bronze and made around 1180 by Bonanno Pisano, while the other two were probably in wood. However worshippers never used the façade doors to enter, instead entering by way of the Porta di San Ranieri (St. Ranieri's Door), in front of the Leaning Tower, made in around 1180 by Bonanno Pisano.
- Santa Maria della Spina is a small Gothic church in the Italian city of Pisa. The church, erected in 1230, was originally known as Santa Maria di Pontenovo: the new name of Spina ("thorn") derives from the presence of a thorn allegedly part of the crown dressed by Christ on the Cross, brought here in 1333. In 1871 the church was dismantled and rebuilt on a higher level due to dangerous inflitration of water from the Arno river: the church was slightly altered in the process, however. The church is one of the most outstanding Gothic edifices of Europe: it has a rectangular plant, with an external facing wholly composed of marble, laid in polychrome bands.
- The Campo Santo, also known as Camposanto Monumentale ("monumental cemetery") or Camposanto Vecchio ("old cemetery"), is a historical edifice at the northern edge of the Cathedral Square. "Campo Santo" can be literally translated as "holy field", because it is said to have been built around a shipload of sacred soil from Golgotha, brought back to Pisa from the Fourth Crusade by Ubaldo de' Lanfranchi, archbishop of Pisa in the 12th century. A legend claims that bodies buried in that ground will rot in just 24 hours. The burial ground lies over the ruins of the old baptistery of the church of Santa Reparata, the church that once stood where the cathedral now stands. The term "monumental" serves to differentiate it from the later-established urban cemetery in Pisa. The building was the fourth and last one to be raised in the Cathedral Square. It dates from a century after the bringing of the soil from Golgotha, and was erected over the earlier burial ground. The construction of this huge, oblong Gothic cloister was begun in 1278 by the architect Giovanni di Simone. He died in 1284 when Pisa suffered a defeat in the naval battle of Meloria against the Genoans. The cemetery was only completed in 1464.
Santa Maria della Spina
Podgorica is the capital and largest city of Montenegro. Podgorica's favourable position at the confluence of the Ribnica and Morača rivers and the meeting point of the fertile Zeta Plain and Bjelopavlići Valley has encouraged settlement. The city is close to winter ski centres in the north and seaside resorts on the Adriatic Sea.
From the 5th century, with the arrival of the first Slavic and Avar tribes and the beginning of the break-up of the Roman Empire, the area bore witness to many noteworthy events. With time, the fortifications ceased their function and new towns were built. Slavic groups in the area were in constant war with Byzantium and tended to establish a new state. The result was establishment of a new settlement that was probably named after the river Ribnica on whose banks it was built. The first mention of Ribnica is during the rule of the Serbian royal family of the Nemanjići. The importance of Ribnica was its position as crossroads in communications with the west. In occupying these areas, the Slavs created a new state and developed their own culture and art, acceptable to the mediaeval church and feudal class.
The Ottoman capture of Podgorica in 1474 interrupted its economic, cultural and artistic development. Podgorica became a kaza of the Sanjak of Scutari in 1479. The Ottomans built a large fortress in Podgorica and the existing settlement, with its highly developed merchant connections, became the main Ottoman defensive and attacking bastion in the region. At the beginning of 1474 there were informations about intention of Ottoman sultan to rebuild Podgorica and Baleč and settle them with 5,000 Turkish families in order to establish an additional obstacle for cooperation of Principality of Zeta and Venetian Shkodër. The fortified city, with towers, gates and defensive ramparts, enabled the Ottomans to resist all attacks. In 1864, Podgorica became a kaza of the Scutari Vilayet called Böğürtlen 'blackberry'. It was also known Burguriçe in Albanian.
The Berlin Congress in 1878 annexed Podgorica to Montenegro, marking the end of four centuries of Ottoman rule, and the beginning of a new era in the development of Podgorica and Montenegro. The city developed quickly and became a strong marketplace. The first forms of capital concentration were seen. In 1904, Zetska savings bank, the first significant financial institution, was formed. It would soon grow into Podgorička bank. Roads were built to all neighbouring towns and, in 1902, a tobacco plant became Podgorica's first significant commercial company.
Podgorica suffered heavily during World War II; the city was bombed over 70 times throughout the course of the war and razed to the ground, causing the deaths of over 4,100 people. The city was liberated on 19 December 1944. Under the name of Titograd, the city became the capital of the Socialist Republic of Montenegro on 13 July 1946. A period of unprecedented expansion followed, which marked the SFRY era: the population increased dramatically, the city was heavily industrialized, infrastructure was improved, and health, educational, and cultural institutions were founded. The city rapidly became the commercial, socio-economic and cultural centre of the country. The progress halted again when the break-up of SFRY began in the 1990s. The name of Podgorica was reinstated on 2 April 1992.
The destructive Yugoslav wars bypassed Montenegro, but the entire country was greatly affected economically. A period of severe economic stagnation lasted throughout the 1990s. The economy began to recover in the early years of the 21st century, when Podgorica began to emerge as a modern, pro-western city. Following the successful independence referendum in May 2006, Podgorica became the official capital of an independent state, boosting its status as a regional centre and raising its economic prospects.
The currency in Montenegro is the Euro (€). ATMs are widespread in the city center and the new part of town. Upscale shops and restaurants will usually accept any major credit or debit cards.
Streets in the center of Podgorica are filled with boutiques, yet, one should be aware counterfeited clothes of world famous brands. Most of the premium clothing brands have their stores in new part of the city, chiefly Vectra-Maxim neighborhoods. The prices are on par with those in the region. There are a few shopping malls in Podgorica, most notably Delta City, a 48,000 sqm mall with over 70 stores, food court and a multiplex cinema, and Mall of Montenegro. There are also smaller malls, such as Palada andNikić Center.
- The Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ is a cathedral of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The shrine is dedicated to the Resurrection of the Christ and it represents the largest Orthodox Christian shrine in Montenegro. It is located in part of Podgorica called Momišići. The construction of the Shrine begun in 1993 and it is still in progress. The founding stone was laid by the Russian patriarch Aleksey. The impressive architectural structure is dominated by golden crosses, which were a present and a donation from Russia.
- Trg Republike or Square of the Republic is the central town square of Podgorica. It is located in Nova Varoš (New Town), the administrative, as well as socio-cultural heart of the city. The city library "Radosav Ljumović" is located on the square, as well as the state gallery "Art". The square is bordered by Ulica Slobode (Freedom street) to the east, and Njegoševa ulica (Njegoš's street) to the west. Both Njegoševa and Slobode street are newly-renovated pedestrian zones - with Ulica Slobode also being a popular shopping street. Bokeška andVučedolska street create the square's northern and southern borders, respectively. A pedestrian passage connects the Republic Square to Podgorica's City Hall and the Montenegrin National Theatre building. Trg Republike was until 2006 known as Trg Ivana Milutinovića (Ivan Milutinović square) - a famous Montenegrin communist politician, military general and national hero. In 2006, the year of the Montenegrin independence, the square underwent a massive reconstruction. It was widened, paved, a big central fountain was constructed and the area was turned into a car-free zone. The square was decorated with colonnades, palm trees and water channels. The whole project cost around 2.5 million Euros. In late 2011 and early 2012, the square was the site of a series of anti-government protests, organized by several Montenegrin NGOs. The largest event occurred on March 18, 2012, with an estimated attendance of 20.000 people, according to the organizers (7.000 people, according to the Montenegrin police). The events were popularly dubbed the Montenegrin Spring by the media.
- The Millennium Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge that spans the Morača River. The bridge was designed by the Slovenian company Ponting and Mladen Ulićević, a professor at Faculty of Civil Engineering in Podgorica. It was built by the Slovenian company Primorje, and opened on July 13, 2005, Montenegro's National Day. It quickly became one of the city's most prominent landmarks. The bridge is 140 metres long, and the pylon soars 57 m above the roadbed. Twelve cables support the roadway deck, while twenty-four more are attached to the counterweights, creating an imposing image. The construction of the bridge began in 2005, and the building cost was approximately 7 million euros. The roadway carries two lanes of traffic and a pedestrian walkway in each direction. The bridge connects the Boulevard of Ivan Crnojević in the city centre and July 13 street in the new part of city, thus relieving the other congested bridges connecting the city center with the densely populated districts over the Morača river.
- The Old Mosque Of Skender Čauš This mosque was built by Skender Čauš in the late 15th century. With the fortress mosque above the estuary of Ribnica and Morača named Mehmed Han’s Mosques, this was the only mosque in the Old City until 1582. It has been rebuilt many times. Major expansions took place in 1985. Mosque courtyard contains headquarters of the Islamic Community Board for Podgorica and Mešihat (highest religious and administrative organ) of Islamic Community in Montenegro.
In 1387, Porto was the site of the marriage of John I of Portugal and Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt; this symbolized a long-standing military alliance between Portugal and England. The Portuguese-English alliance,(see the Treaty of Windsor (1386)) is the world's oldest recorded military alliance.
In the 14th and the 15th centuries, Porto's shipyards contributed to the development of Portuguese shipbuilding. It was also from the port of Porto that, in 1415, Prince Henry the Navigator (son of John I of Portugal) embarked on the conquest of the Moorish port of Ceuta, in northern Morocco. This expedition by the King and his fleet, which counted amongst others Prince Henry, was followed by navigation and exploration along the western coast of Africa, initiating the Portuguese Age of Discovery. The nickname given to the people of Porto began in those days; Portuenses are to this day, colloquially, referred to as tripeiros (English: tripe peoples), referring to this period of history, when higher-quality cuts of meat were shipped from Porto with their sailors, while off-cuts and by-products, such as tripe, were left behind for the citizens of Porto: tripe remains a culturally important dish in modern day Porto.
Known as the city of bridges, Porto built its first permanent bridge, the Ponte das Barcas (a pontoon bridge), in 1806. Three years later it was sabotaged. It was replaced by the Ponte D. Maria II, popularised under the name Ponte Pênsil (suspended bridge) and built between 1841–43; only its supporting pylons have remained.
Unrest by Republicans led to a revolt in Porto on 31 January 1891. This would result ultimately in the creation of the Portuguese Republic in 1910.
Porto is home to a number of dishes from traditional Portuguese cuisine. A typical dish from this city is Tripas à Moda do Porto (Tripe Porto style), which still can be found everywhere in the city today. Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá (Gomes de Sá Bacalhau) is another typical codfish dish born in Porto and popular in Portugal.
The Francesinha - literally Frenchy, or more accurately little French (female) - is the most famous popular native snack food in Porto. It is a kind of sandwich with several meats covered with cheese and a special sauce made with beer and other ingredients.
Port wine, an internationally renowned wine, is widely accepted as the city's dessert wine, especially being that the wine is made along the Douro River which runs through the city.
There are also some big, cool clubs and live music venues, while an alternative and artistic crowd gathers at "Maus Habitos".
- The Porto Cathedral, located in the historical centre, is one of the city's oldest monuments and one of the most important Romanesque monuments in Portugal. The current Cathedral of Porto underwent construction around 1110 under the patronage of Bishop Hugo and was completed in the 13th century, but there is evidence that the city has been a bishopric seat since the Suevi domination in the 5th-6th centuries. The cathedral is flanked by two square towers, each supported with two buttresses and crowned with a cupola. The façade lacks decoration and is rather architecturally heterogeneous. It shows a Baroque porch and a beautiful Romanesque rose window under a crenellated arch, giving the impression of a fortified church. The Romanesque nave is rather narrow and is covered by barrel vaulting. It is flanked by two aisles with a lower vault. The stone roof of the central aisle is supported by flying buttresses, making the building one of the first in Portugal to use this architectonic feature. This first Romanesque building has suffered many alterations but the general aspect of the façade has remained romanesque.
- The Clérigos Church is a Baroque church in the city of Porto. Its tall bell tower, the Torre dos Clérigos, can be seen from various points of the city and is one of its most characteristic symbols. The church was built for the Brotherhood of the Clérigos (Clergy) by Nicolau Nasoni, an Italian architect and painter who left an extense work in the north of Portugal during the 18th century. Construction of the church began in 1732 and was finished around 1750, while the monumental divided stairway in front of the church was completed in the 1750s. The main façade of the church is heavily decorated with baroque motifs (such as garlands and shells) and an indented broken pediment. This was based on an early 17th century Roman scheme. The central frieze above the windows present symbols of worship and an incense boat. The lateral façades reveal the almost elliptic floorplan of the church nave. The monumental tower of the church, located at the back of the building, was only built between 1754 and 1763. The baroque decoration here also shows influence from the Roman Baroque, while the whole design was inspired by Tuscan campaniles. The tower is 75.6 metres high, dominating the city. There are 225 steps to be climbed to reach the top of its six floors. This great structure has become the symbol of the city.
- The Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace) The palace was built in the 19th century by the city's Commercial Association (Associação Comercial) in Neoclassical style. It is located in the Infante D. Henrique Square in the historical centre of Porto, designated World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Palácio da Bolsa is located beside the St Francis Church of Porto, which was once part of the St Francis Convent, founded in the 13th century. In 1832, during the Liberal Wars, a fire destroyed the cloisters of the convent, sparing the church. In 1841, Queen Mary II donated the convent ruins to the merchants of the city, who decided to use the spot to build the seat of the Commercial Association. Building work began in 1842 following the plans of Porto architect Joaquim da Costa Lima Júnior, who designed a Neoclassical palace of Palladian influence, inspired by previous structures built in the city. Most of the palace was finished by 1850, but the decoration of the interior was only completed in 1910 and involved several different artists.
- The Episcopal Palace of Porto is the former residence of the bishops of Porto. The palace is located on a high elevation, near Porto Cathedral, and dominates the skyline of the city. It is part of the historical centre of Porto, designated World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The palace is an important example of late baroque and rococo civil architecture in the city. The original Episcopal Palace of Porto was built in the 12th or 13th century, as attested by some architectural vestiges like romanesque-style windows that exist inside the present building. In 1387, this mediaeval palace witnessed the marriage of John I of Portugal and Philippa of Lancaster. During the 16th and 17th centuries the palace was greatly enlarged, and an old drawing shows it to be composed of a series of buildings with towers, as was typical for the architecture of Portuguese manor houses of the period. The present palace, however, is the result of a radical rebuilding campaign carried out in the 18th century, which turned it into a baroque work.
- Liberdade Square It is located in Santo Ildefonso parish, in the lower town (Baixa) area. The square is continuous on its north side with the Avenida dos Aliados, an important avenue of the city. The square has its origins in the beginning of the 18th century. It was in 1718 that a project for the urbanisation of the area begun, which resulted in the creation of new streets and an ample square, known as Praça Nova (New Square). The square was initially limited by the medieval walls of the city and by urban palaces, all of which are now lost. After 1788, the Order of the Lóios (a Portuguese religious order) built a convent on the south side of the square that replaced the medieval wall; the imposing Neoclassical façade of the convent, nowadays known as the Cardosas Palace (Palácio das Cardosas) is the oldest extant building of the square, dominating the south side of the square for over 200 years.
The Palácio da Bolsa
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island. It is situated 64 miles (103 km) south west from London and 19 miles (31 km) south east from Southampton.
As a significant naval port for centuries, Portsmouth is home to the world's oldest dry dock still in use and also home to some famous ships, including HMSWarrior, the Tudor carrack Mary Rose and Lord Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory. Although smaller than in its heyday, the naval base remains a major dockyard and base for the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Commandos whose Headquarters resides there. There is also a thriving commercial ferryport serving destinations on the continent for freight and passenger traffic.
In 1194 King Richard The Lionheart returned from being held captive in Austria, and set about summoning a fleet and an army to Portsmouth, which Richard had taken over from John of Gisors. On 2 May 1194 the King gave Portsmouth its first Royal Charter granting permission for the borough to hold a fifteen day annual "Free Market Fair", weekly markets, to set up a local court to deal with minor matters, and exemption from paying the annual tax, with the money instead used for local matters. King Richard later went on to build a number of houses and a hall in Portsmouth. The hall is thought to have been at the current location of the Clarence Barracks (the area was previously known as Kingshall Green). Some believe that the crescent and eight-point star found on the thirteenth century common seal of the borough was derived from the arms of William de Longchamp, Lord Chancellor to Richard I at the time of the granting of the charter but it is actually the granting by Richard of the arms of the defeated Isaac Komnenos of Cyprus (Isaac had held Richard's fiancee and sister captive; and he conquered Cyprus as a result, in the Third Crusade. His awarding of the arms could possibly reflect a significant involvement of Portsmouth soldiers, sailors or vessels in that operation.). The crescent and star, in gold on a blue shield, were subsequently recorded by the College of Arms as the coat of arms of the borough.
In 1338 a French fleet led by Nicholas Béhuchet raided Portsmouth, destroying much of the town, with only the local church and hospital surviving. Edward III gave the town exemption from national taxes to aid reconstruction. Only ten years after this devastation the town for the first time was struck by the Black Death. In order to prevent the regrowth of Portsmouth as a threat, the French again sacked the city in 1369, 1377 and 1380. Henry V built the first permanent fortifications of Portsmouth. In 1418 he ordered a wooden Round Tower be built at the mouth of the harbour, which was completed in 1426. Henry VII rebuilt the fortifications with stone, raised a square tower, and assisted Robert Brygandine and Sir Reginald Bray in the construction of the world's first dry dock. In 1527, with some of the money from the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII built Southsea Castle and decreed that Portsmouth be home of the Royal Navy he founded. In 1545, he saw his vice-flagship Mary Rose founder off Southsea Castle, with a loss of about 500 lives, while going into action against the French fleet. Over the years, Portsmouth's fortifications were rebuilt and improved by successive monarchs.
During the English Civil War the arsenal at the Square Tower was surrendered by its royalist commander in return for safe passage out of the city for himself and the garrison. The City would become a major base for the Parliamentary Navy during the war. The father of the Royal Navy Robert Blake during the Commonwealth would use Portsmouth as his main base, during both the Anglo Dutch war and the Anglo Spanish war. He died within sight of the city after his final cruise off Cadiz.
Portsmouth has a long history of supporting the Royal Navy logistically, leading to its importance in the development of the Industrial Revolution. Marc Isambard Brunel, the father of famed Portsmouth engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, established in 1802 the world's first mass production line at the Portsmouth Block Mills, to mass produce pulley blocks for rigging on the Royal Navy's ships. At its height the Dockyard was the largest industrial site in the world.
Admiral Nelson left Portsmouth for the final time in 1805 to command the fleet that would defeat the larger Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar. The Royal Navy's reliance on Portsmouth led to the city becoming the most fortified in Europe, with a network of forts (a subset of "Palmerston's Follies") encircling the city. From 1808 the Royal Navy's West Africa Squadron, who were tasked to stop the slave trade, operated out of Portsmouth.
In 1926 Portsmouth was granted city status, following a long campaign by the borough council. The application was made on the grounds that Portsmouth was the "first naval port of the kingdom".
The most significant project is at the Northern Quarter, centred on the former Tricorn site, which will form a new regional shopping destination. The development will provide new shops, cafés and restaurants.
- The Cathedral Church of St Thomas of Canterbury commonly known as Portsmouth Cathedral, is the Church of England cathedral of the Diocese of Portsmouth and is located in the heart of Old Portsmouth. It is the seat of the Bishop of Portsmouth. Around the year 1180, Jean de Gisors, a wealthy Norman merchant and Lord of the Manor of Titchfield, gave land, in his new town of Portsmouth, to the Augustiniancanons of Southwick Priory, so that they could build a chapel "to the Glorious Honour of the Martyr Thomas of Canterbury, one time Archbishop, on (my) land which is called Sudewede, the island of Portsea". This chapel was to become, in turn, a parish church in the 14th century and then a cathedral in the 20th century. Of this original building, the chancel and transepts remain.
- HMS Victory is a 104-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, laid down in 1759 and launched in 1765. She is most famous as Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. She was also Keppel's flagship at Ushant, Howe's flagship at Cape Spartel and Jervis's flagship at Cape St Vincent. After 1824 she served as a harbour ship. In 1922 she was moved to a dry dock at Portsmouth, and preserved as a museum ship. She continues to be flagship of the Second Sea Lord and is the oldest naval ship still in commission. The naval architect chosen to design the ship was Sir Thomas Slade who, at the time, was the appointed Surveyor of the Navy. She was designed to carry at least 100 guns and was established with that number of guns; in practice, her armament varied from 104 to 106 guns and carronades. In January 1808 the Victory was reduced to a 98-gun second rate, but was reclassed as a 104-gun first rate in February 1817. The keel was laid on 23 July 1759 in the Old Single Dock (since renamed No. 2 Dock and now Victory Dock), and the name was finally chosen in October 1760.
- Southsea Castle (early in its history also known as Chaderton castle ) is one of Henry VIII's Device Forts, also known as Henrician Castles, built in 1544 on the waterfront at the southern end of Portsea Island (an area that later became named Southsea after the castle). The castle was built to guard the eastern entrance to the Solent and entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. Henry VIII watched the Mary Rose sink from near this location. The Castle was initially constructed in 1544 however there is the possibility that work started the year before. The work was in part paid for by money received as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The castle was constructed around a square keep. To the south towards the sea the castle had an angled bastion with the same arrangement on the north side. Square gun platforms made up the east and west sides. Edward VI spent a night at the castle in 1552 while inspecting the defenses of Portsmouth.
- Spinnaker Tower is a 170-metre (560 ft) landmark tower. It is the centrepiece of the redevelopment of Portsmouth Harbour, which was supported by a National Lottery grant. Its shape was chosen by Portsmouth residents from a selection. The tower, designed by local firm HGP Architects and the engineering consultants Scott Wilson and built by Mowlem, reflects Portsmouth's maritime history by being modelled after a sail. After several years of delays and cost overruns, it was opened on 18 October 2005. The tower is 2 1⁄2 times as high as Nelson's Column, making it the tallest accessible structure in the United Kingdom outside London. The tower is visible for miles around Portsmouth, changing the horizon of the area. It can be seen from the Isle of Wight, and even the Manhood Peninsula.
- The Mary Rose was a carrack-type warship of the English Tudor navy of King Henry VIII. After serving for 33 years in several wars against France, Scotland, and Brittany and after being substantially rebuilt in 1536, she saw her last action on 19 July 1545. While leading the attack on the galleys of a French invasion fleet, she sank in the Solent, the straits north of the Isle of Wight. The wreck of the Mary Rose was rediscovered in 1971 and salvaged in 1982 by the Mary Rose Trust in one of the most complex and expensive projects in the history of maritime archaeology. The surviving section of the ship and thousands of recovered artefacts are of immeasurable value as a Tudor-era time capsule. The excavation and salvage of the Mary Rose was a milestone in the field of maritime archaeology, comparable in complexity and cost only to the raising of the Swedish 17th-century warship Vasa in 1961. The finds include weapons, sailing equipment, naval supplies and a wide array of objects used by the crew. Many of the artefacts are unique to the Mary Rose and have provided insights into topics ranging from naval warfare to the history of musical instruments. Since the mid-1980s, while undergoing conservation, the remains of the hull have been on display at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. An extensive collection of well-preserved artefacts is on display at the nearby Mary Rose Museum.
Poznań is now Poland's fifth largest city. It is the historical capital of the Wielkopolska ("Greater Poland") region, and is currently the administrative capital of the province called Greater Poland Voivodeship.
In 1138, by the testament of Bolesław III, Poland was divided into separate duchies under the late king's sons, and Poznań and its surroundings became the domain of Mieszko III the Old, the first of the Dukes of Greater Poland. This period of fragmentation lasted until 1320. Duchies frequently changed hands; control of Poznań, Gniezno and Kalisz sometimes lay with a single duke, but at other times these constituted separate duchies.
In reunited Poland, and later in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Poznań was the seat of a voivodeship. The city's importance began to grow in the Jagiellonian period, due to its position on trading routes from Lithuania and Ruthenia to western Europe. It would become a major centre for the fur trade by the late 16th century. Suburban settlements developed around the city walls, on the river islands and on the right bank, with some (Ostrów Tumski, Śródka, Chwaliszewo, Ostrówek) obtaining their own town charters. However the city's development was hampered by regular major fires and floods. On 2 May 1536 a blaze destroyed 175 buildings, including the castle, the town hall, the monastery and the suburban settlement called St. Martin.
In the second half of the 17th century and most of the eighteenth, Poznań was severely affected by a series of wars (and attendant military occupations, lootings and destruction) – the Second and Third Northern Wars, the War of the Polish Succession, the Seven Years' War and the Bar Confederation rebellion. It was also hit by frequent outbreaks of plague, and by floods, particularly that of 1736, which destroyed most of the suburban buildings. The population of the conurbation declined (from 20,000 around 1600 to 6,000 around 1730), and Bambergian and Dutch settlers (Bambrzy and Olędrzy) were brought in to rebuild the devastated suburbs. In 1778 a "Committee of Good Order" (Komisja Dobrego Porządku) was established in the city, which oversaw rebuilding efforts and reorganized the city's administration. However in 1793, in the Second Partition of Poland, Poznań, came under the control of the Kingdom of Prussia, becoming part of (and initially the seat of) the province of South Prussia.
In the Greater Poland Uprising of 1806, Polish soldiers and civilian volunteers assisted the efforts of Napoleon by driving out Prussian forces from the region. The city became a part of the Duchy of Warsaw in 1807, and was the seat of Poznań Department - a unit of administrative division and local government. However in 1815, following the Congress of Vienna, the region was returned to Prussia, and Poznań became the capital of the semi-autonomous Grand Duchy of Posen.
- The Archcathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul is one of the oldest churches in Poland and the oldest Polish cathedral, dating from the 10th century. It stands on the island of Ostrów Tumski north-east of the city centre. The cathedral was originally built in the second half of the 10th century within the fortified settlement (gród) of Poznań. This was one of the main political centres in the early Polish state, and included a ducal palace (excavated by archaeologists since 1999, beneath the Church of the Virgin Mary which stands in front of the cathedral). Saint Peter became the patron of the church because, as the first cathedral in the country, it had the right to have the same patron as St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. The first church survived for about seventy years, until the period of the pagan reaction and the raid of the Bohemian duke Bretislav I (1034–1038). In the 14th and 15th centuries, the church was rebuilt in the Gothic style. At that time, a crown of chapels was added. A fire in 1622 did such serious damage that the cathedral needed a complete renovation, which was carried out in the Baroque style. Another major fire broke out in 1772 and the church was rebuilt in the Neo-Classical style. In 1821, Pope Pius VII raised the cathedral to the status of a Metropolitan Archcathedral and added the second patron - Saint Paul. The last of the great fires occurred on 15 February 1945, during the liberation of the city from the Germans. The damage was serious enough that the conservators decided to return to the Gothic style, using as a base medieval relics revealed by the fire. The cathedral was reopened on 29 June 1956. In 1962, Pope John XXIII gave the church the title of minor basilica.
- Grand Theatre, Poznań is a neoclassical opera house named after famous Polish composer Stanisław Moniuszko. Designed by German architect Max Littmann, and inaugurated in 1910 with The Magic Flute (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), is a main opera stage in Greater Poland Voivodeship currently directed by Michał Znaniecki. Its season runs from mid-September to mid-June and the company mounts an annual "Festival Verdi" in October and "E. T. A. Hoffmann Festival" in April, often with special guests.
- Poznań Town Hall or Ratusz is located in the Old Market Square (Stary Rynek) in the centre of the Old Town neighbourhood. It served as the city's administrative building until 1939, and now houses a museum. The town hall was originally built in the late 13th century following the founding of the medieval city in 1253; it was rebuilt in roughly its present-day form, in mannerist style, with an ornate loggia, by Giovanni Battista di Quadro in 1550–1560. The display of mechanical fighting goats, played out daily at noon above the clock on the front wall of the building, is one of the city's main tourist attractions.
- The Museum of Poznan Uprising 1956 Placed in the interiors of Emperor's Castle shows exhibits connected with the Poznan workers' protest against the communist system in June 1956. On the exhibition there are photos of attendants and their personal belongings, as well as historical sources about the anticommunist opposition between 1945-1989. An interesting thing is a reconstructed tram, used by protestants as a barricade.
- The Imperial Castle popularly called Zamek, is a palace in Poznań. It was constructed in 1910 by Franz Schwechten for William II, German Emperor, with significant input from William himself. Since its completion, the building has housed government offices of Germany (to 1918 and during the Second World War) and Poland (1918–1939, 1945–present). During fighting in 1945, the castle was a temporary camp for German POWs, and was later used as a barracks by the Polish People's Army. During this period, the communist government considered the demolition of the castle as a symbol of the German occupation and bourgeois style. Due to a lack of funds, only some of the German symbols were removed and the upper part of damaged tower was demolished.
During the war, the city hall and the seat of the town authorities was destroyed. The castle was renamed to "New City Hall" (Nowy Ratusz), and later transformed into a centre of culture. On 6 June 1979 the castle was declared a historical monument under protection of law. Today, the Throne Room is used as a cinema room; other apartments contain art galleries, a puppet theater, pubs, music clubs and restaurants. The courtyard is often a place of concerts and outdoor movie performances during summer. The second floor is still empty and has not been renovated. The square in front of the building is the main venue for the St. Martin's Day parade and celebrations held in Poznań annually on November 11.
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of nearly 2.0 million. The city has a temperate oceanic climate with warm summers and chilly winters.
Prague has been a political, cultural, and economic centre of central Europe with waxing and waning fortunes during its 1,100 year existence. Founded during the Gothic and flourishing by the Renaissance eras, Prague was the seat of two Holy Roman Emperors and thus then also the capital of the Holy Roman Empire.
World War I ended with the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the creation of Czechoslovakia. Prague was chosen as its capital and Prague Castle as the seat of president (Tomáš Masaryk). At this time Prague was a true European capital with highly developed industry. By 1930, the population had risen to 850,000. In 1993, after the split of Czechoslovakia, Prague became the capital city of the new Czech Republic. Once the capital of the Roman Empire, Prague was founded more than 1,100 years ago and it features many historic attractions and buildings which survived destruction during the World Wars.
Rarely visited by tourists until 1989 and the fall of Communism, Prague is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Europe. The city is located on both sides of the Vltava River in central Bohemia and is now home to over one million residents, there is also plenty to see and do for tourists. In fact, the city has seen a boom since November 17th, 1989 and the Velvet Revolution which freed the city from communist rule.
Prague is home to a number of famous cultural attractions and much of the city is very beautiful. One of the best ways to see it is by simply taking a walk along cobblestone streets while observing the fantastic architecture, churches and buildings that will line any route. In fact, there are over 866 hectares of land listed on the UNESCO World Culture and Natural Heritage Register. The history of the city actually goes back thousands of years and was first established around 200 BC by the Celts. As a result, visitors can take in sites ranging from the time of the Holy Roman Empire to the Communist party.
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There is also plenty of food and cultural events to take part in as well. Visitors can enjoy classical concerts and operas or participate in the clubbing scene. Both lunches and dinners can be had at relatively cheap prices and don’t forget to include a famous Czech beer to wash down the meal. Look out for events such as the Czech Beer Festival, where more than 70 brands of famous Czech beer can be tasted.
|Prague Castle Entrance|
- Prague Castle. The most easily recognised historical structure of Prague. The Castle is what gives Prague its fairytale image. It also boasts of being the largest and best preserved castle in the world. The Crown Jewels are stored in the castle and it also forms the seat of the Czech government. The gothic spires, baroque architecture and large gardens seem like pictures come alive from a fairytale. Today the castle houses many museums.
- Charles Bridge. The Charles Bridge crossing the Vlatava River is a famous sight in Prague. The bridge connects the Prague Castle and the Old Town. Adorned with beautiful baroque statues and statuaries on both sides, it is a pleasing sight to behold. During the day it is filled with tourists, street artists, musicians and vendors. At night, it magically transforms into a serene and inviting destination, perfect for a romantic, moonlight walk.
- Old Town Square & Astronomical Clock. The astronomical clock at the Old Town Square is the oldest functioning clock in the world today. To truly appreciate the splendour of this clock, view the procession of the twelve apostles that takes place after every hour. Christ is followed by his disciples while the death bell tolls the statue of a Turk. The Old Town Square also houses the St Nicholas Church, Tyn Cathedral and the Old Town Hall. The views from the Old Town Hall are spectacular and present Prague, in all its glory.
- Petrin Tower. The Petrin Tower draws inspiration from the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Set atop the Petrin Hill, the tower was built in 1891 for the Jubilee exhibition. You can reach the Petrin Tower by a funicular railway, passing through beautiful views. There is an observatory at the tower from where you can view the city below with lush landscaped gardens. The hall of mirrors is also popular among tourists.
- Josefov. Or the Jewish quarter is what is left of the Jewish ghetto from the 13th century. Most of the ghetto was destroyed in the 19th century. At the Jewish quarter you can visit the Spanish synagogue, Klaus synagogue, Maisel synagogue, Pinkas synagogue, Old New synagogue and the Jewish Town Hall. Perhaps the most significant and moving sight in Josefov is the Jewish cemetery. As the space for burying the dead began to be scarce, they were burials on top of the existing bodies.
After the fall of Rome, Pristina grew from the ruins of the former Roman city. The city was located at a junction of roads leading in all directions throughout the Balkans and it soon rose to become an important trading centre on the main trade routes across south-eastern Europe.
From the 1870s onwards Albanians in the region formed the League of Prizren to resist Ottoman rule, and a provisional government was formed in 1881. On the other hand Serbia tried to enlist the support of Albanians against the Ottomans but this came to nothing, as Albanian Mujahidin were encouraging a policy akin to ethnic cleansing. This increased the number of Kosovo Serbs emigrating from Kosovo, while for their part, Albanians from Albania migrated from the infertile lands of northern Albania to take advantage of the fertile lands of Kosovo.
In March 1981, students at Pristina University rioted over poor food in their university canteen. This seemingly trivial dispute rapidly spread throughout Kosovo and took on the character of a national revolt, with massive popular demonstrations in Pristina and other Kosovo towns. The Communist Yugoslav presidency quelled the disturbances by sending in riot police and the army and proclaiming a state of emergency, with several people being killed in clashes and thousands subsequently being imprisoned or disciplined.
Shopping-wise, Pristina is full of good bargains but low on selection (and if you happen to be a man who wears shirts or pants, forget about it). Silver is sold in the old quarter and is a pretty good value; Albanians are known throughout the former Yugoslavia as silversmiths.
Do as the locals do: In Pristina, this means korza. In the evenings, when it's warm, a large proportion of the population heads out into the streets and promenades, between cafes or in with no particular destination. The objective is to see and be seen, chat with friends, and take in as much fresh air as possible before the horrific winter descends. Note that 53% of Kosovo's population is under the age of 25, so most of the people on the street around dusk are teenagers and people in their early twenties.
- Gračanica Monastery [Manastir Gračanica] The monastery in the village of Gračanica, a short drive south of Pristina, is one of Kosovo's best religious monuments. Completed in 1321 and built by the legendary king of Serbia, Milutin Nemanjic, the Serbian Orthodox monastery church represents the height of Serbian Byzantine tradition. Its real beauty is hidden within, where several distinct periods of fresco painting are extremely well preserved, depicting the early life of Jesus as well as the representations of the ecclesiastical calendar and a terrifying Day of Judgement. The monastery is guarded by police who may require to see your ID. To get there from Pristina, take the bus to Gjilan, which passes through the town after 15 minutes. Note that Gračanica is a Serb enclave that sometimes is the focus of unrest, and some embassies warn against visiting.
- The Clock Tower (Sahat Kulla) dates back to the 19th century. Following a fire, the tower has been reconstructed using bricks. The original bell was brought to Kosovo from Moldavia. It bore an inscription reading "this bell was made in 1764 for Jon Moldova Rumen." In 2001, the original bell was stolen. The same year, French KFOR troops replaced the old clock mechanism with an electric one. Given Kosovo's electricity problems the tower is struggling to keep time.
- The Museum of Kosovo is located in an Austro-Hungarian inspired building originally built for the regional administration of the Ottoman Vilayet of Kosovo. From 1945 until 1975 it served as headquarters for the Yugoslav National Army. In 1963 it was sold to the Kosovo Museum. From 1999 until 2002, the European Agency for Reconstruction had its main office in the museum building. The Kosovo Museum has an extensive collection of archaeological and ethnological artifacts, including the Neolithic Goddess on the Throne terracotta, unearthed near Pristina in 1960 and depicted in the city's emblem. Although a large number of artifacts from antiquity is still in Belgrade, even though the museum was looted in 1999.
- The Fatih Mosque. Opposite the clock tower, the Fatih or Imperial Mosque was built in 1461 under Turkish Sultan Mehmed II Fatih ('the conqueror'), as witnessed by the Arabic engraving above the main door. Inside, painted floral decorations and arabesques grace the walls and ceiling. Pristina's grandest building has a spectacular 15-metre dome resting on support pillars, an architectural feat at the time of construction. The minaret is a reconstruction after the original was damaged during an earthquake in 1955. The mosque was briefly turned into a church during the Austro-Turkish wars from 1690-1698. During Friday payers, the congregation spreads out into the courtyard and even onto the street to pray.
- Newborn Monument Missing a central rallying point in the heady days of the declaration of independence in February 2008, these seven huge yellow steel letters spelling out the word 'newborn' were placed in front of the Palace of Youth and Sports. The three metre high letters were quickly covered in autographs and texts, scribbled by thousands of people starting with the PM and president.
Pula is the largest city in Istria County, Croatia, situated at the southern tip of the Istria peninsula. Like the rest of the region, it is known for its mild climate, smooth sea, and unspoiled nature. The city has a long tradition of winemaking, fishing, shipbuilding, and tourism. Pula has also been Istria's administrative center since ancient Roman times.
Greek tradition attributed the foundation of Polai to the Colchians, mentioned in the context of the story of Jason and Medea, who had stolen the golden fleece. The Colchians, who had chased Jason into the northern Adriatic, were unable to catch him and ended up settling in a place they called Polai, signifying "city of refuge".
From 788 on Pula was ruled by the Frankish kingdom under Charlemagne, with the introduction of the feudal system. Pula became the seat of the elective counts of Istria until 1077. The town was taken in 1148 by the Venetians and in 1150 Pula swore allegiance to the Republic of Venice, thus becoming a Venetian possession. For centuries thereafter, the city's fate and fortunes were tied to those of Venetian power. It was conquered by the Pisans in 1192 but soon reconquered by the Venetians.
In 1238 Pope Gregory IX formed an alliance between Genoa and Venice against the Empire, and consequently against Pisa too. As Pula had sided with the Pisans, the city was sacked by the Venetians in 1243. It was destroyed again in 1267 and again in 1397 when the Genoese defeated the Venetians in a naval battle.
The Venetians took over Pula again in 1331 and would rule the city until 1797. During the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, Pula was attacked and occupied by the Genoese, the Hungarian army and the Habsburgs; several outlying medieval settlements and towns were destroyed. In addition to war, the plague, malaria and typhoid ravaged the city. By the 1750s there were only 3,000 inhabitants left in ancient city, an area now covered with weeds and ivy.
With the collapse of the Venetian Republic in 1797 following military defeat at the hands of Napoleon, the city became part of the Habsburg Monarchy. It was invaded again in 1805 after the French had defeated the Austrians. It was included in the French Empire of Napoleon as part of the Kingdom of Italy, then placed directly under the French Empire's Illyrian Provinces.
Under the Italian Fascist government of Benito Mussolini, non-Italians, especially Slavic residents, faced huge political and cultural repression and many fled the city and Istria altogether.
The Nazi German army entered to fill the vacuum left by retreating Italian soldiers. The whole city became part of “Küstenland”, the occupied zone under the Third Reich. During German military rule (1943–1945), Pula was integrated into the Operational Zone Adriatic Coast, a German occupation zone.
Subsequently, the city's Croatian name, 'Pula', became the official name, while the former Italian one was 'Pola'. Since the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1992, Pula and Istria have become part of the modern-day Republic of Croatia.
- The Pula Cathedral or fully, the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a co-cathedral in Pula, Croatia. Along with the Euphrasian Basilica it is one of the two official seats of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Poreč and Pula. The church is located on the south side of the Pula bay at the foot of the hill with the 17th century Venetian fort. The site of the present-day church has been used for religious worship since ancient Roman times and the first Christian churches on the site were built in the late 4th and early 5th century AD. These had gone through a series of enlargements and reconstructions over the ages. In 1242 the cathedral was heavily damaged in a Venetian raid and the ensuing fire. The damage was fully repaired in the 15th century when the building went through extensive reconstruction and the present-day sacristy was added. In 1707 the free-standing baroque-style bell tower was added, next to the 5th century baptistery in front of the basilica. The belltower was built using stones taken from the Roman-built Pula Arena. The present-day cathedral's classicist facade was built in 1712, at the time of bishop Bottari, when extensive works on the reconstruction of the basilica and the bell tower were launched and were eventually finished in 1924.
- Arch of the Sergii is an Ancient Roman triumphal arch. The arch commemorates three brothers of the Sergii family, specifically Lucius Sergius Lepidus, a tribune serving in the twenty-ninth legion that participated in the Battle of Actium and disbanded in 27 BC . This suggests an approximate date of construction : 29-27 BC. The arch stood behind the original naval gate of the early Roman colony. The Sergii were a powerful family of officials in the colony and retained their power for centuries. The honorary triumphal arch, originally a city gate, was erected as a symbol of the victory at Actium.
- The Communal Palace. The local government of the City of Pula is situated at the northern end of the main square of the old part of the City, called the Forum Square. The spot occupied by the Palace has been used for the public buildings since the Roman times, when the place was used as a part of the triade of Roman temples, of which today only Temple of Augustus remains. Construction of the new city hall, at the site of the Temple of Diana, was begun in the end of 13th century, and was finished in 1296.
- The Archaeological Museum of Istria is situated in the park on a lower level than the Roman theatre and close to the Twin Gates. Its collection was started by Marshall Marmont in August 1802 when he collected the stone monuments from the temple of Roma and Augustus. The present-day museum was opened in 1949. It displays treasures from Pula and surroundings from prehistory until the Middle Ages.
- The Pula Arena is the name of the amphitheatre located in Pula. The Arena is the only remaining Roman amphitheatre to have four side towers and with all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved. A rare example among the 200 Roman surviving amphitheatres, it is also the best preserved ancient monument in Croatia. The Arena was built between 27 BC - 68 AD, as the city of Pula became a regional centre of Roman rule, called Pietas Julia. The name was derived from the sand that, since antiquity, covered the inner space. It was built outside the town walls along the Via Flavia, the road from Pula to Aquileia and Rome. The amphitheatre was first built in timber during the reign of Augustus (2-14 AD). It was replaced by a small stone amphitheatre during the reign of emperor Claudius. In 79 AD it was enlarged to accommodate gladiator fights by Vespasian and to be completed in 81 AD under emperor Titus. This was confirmed by the discovery of a Vespasian coin in the malting.
Quimper is the ancient capital of La Cornouaille, Brittany’s most traditional region, and has a distinctive Breton character. Shops and flags celebrating the region's Celtic heritage can be found throughout the city. Quimper was originally settled during Roman times. By AD 495, the town had become a Bishopric. It subsequently became the capital of the counts of Cornouailles. In the 11th century, it was united with the Duchy of Brittany. During the civil wars of the 14th century, the town suffered considerable ruin. In 1364, the duchy passed to the House of Montfort.
The heart of Quimper undoubtedly lies in it's atmospheric old town, where you’ll find many half-timbered houses dating from the 14th century. The streets are named after old job titles and Place au Beurre, where butter was sold, is one of Quimper’s prettiest locations and good place to stop for a crêpe. The old market hall burned down in 1976 but the new Halles St Francis (open daily) are particularly lively on Saturday mornings.
Quimper is known throughout Brittany and the Celtic world for its Festival de Cornouaille, which takes place for a week each July and celebrates Breton culture in all its forms. The reigning queens of traditional festivals, such as the Filets Bleus in Concarneau, the Ajoncs d’Or in Pont-Aven and the Brodeuses in Pont-l’Abbé paraded proudly through the streets of Quimper. This was the starting point of a long history, the result of which is now a festival with an eighty year old tradition, which is still giving the same pleasure to some 250,000 visitors every year. There are concerts, all sorts of entertainment, competitions to find the best bagadou (Breton pipe-band), bombard player or dancer... Not to mention Sunday’s Grand Parade, where everyone is dressed in traditional costume. For a week, the historical heart of Quimper beats to the rhythm of Celtic music. The Festival de Cornouaille is a horn of plenty blown also by the likes of Simple Minds, Joan Baez and Césaria Évora.
- St Corentin's Cathedral. Quimper’s most impressive building is its cathedral, which is said to be the best example of Gothic religious architecture in Brittany. Building started in the 12th century and continued at intervals until the 19th century, when the two spires were constructed and new stained glass windows were installed. The cathedral is named after St Corentin, Quimper’s first bishop.
- Musée Départmental Breton. Next to the cathedral is the former Bishop’s Palace, which is now the Musée Départmental Breton. The museum displays finds from archaeological digs around Brittany and is highly regarded for its collection of Breton costumes and furniture.
- Musée des Beaux-Arts. The museum has a nineteenth century façade and an entirely rebuilt interior. It houses a collection of 14th to 21st century paintings that includes works by Boucher, Corot, Oudry and Rubens along with canvases by such Pont-Aven School painters as Bernard, Denis, Lacombe, Maufra and Paul Sérusier.
- Quimper faience Pottery. Has been produced in a factory near Quimper since 1708, Quimper faience ("faïence" in French) is painted by hand, and production continues to this day. The "Faïenceries de Quimper" were established in "Locmaria", the historical faience quarter of the city of Quimper, near the center. The Faïencerie d'Art Breton, newly created in 1994, was also established in Quimper, but outside the historical quarter "Locmaria". "Locmaria" now also houses a Quimper faience museum. The pottery's design reflects a strong traditional Breton influence. One famous design which became typical for Quimper faience is the "petit breton", a naive representation of Breton man and/or woman in traditional Breton costume. The "petit breton" became popular around 1870 and is still today the main design bought by tourists.
- River Odet. Runs from Saint-Goazec (near Leuhan, in the Montagnes Noires of Brittany) into the Atlantic Ocean at Bénodet. Bénodet is being given its name from the river (Ben means river mouth in Breton). The river is popular with kayakers. The river runs past, or through, the towns of Bénodet, Combrit, Plomelin, Quimper, Ergué-Gabéric, Briec-de-l'Odet, Langolen, Coray, Trégourez, Leuhan and Saint-Goazec