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Showing posts with the label palace

Cordoba - Capital of Caliphates, Kingdoms, and Empires

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On any journey to the Iberian peninsula, it is easy to focus all of one's time, budget, and attention to the more popular and glamorous cities of Madrid, Barcelona and Lisbon. However one cannot truly appreciate the richness of Spanish culture, without experiencing the city of Cordoba.
One of the most important cities back in the Middle Ages, yet overlooked today, Cordoba has been inhabited for thousands of years; with its earliest inhabitants thought to be the Neanderthal humans whose fossils can be found all over this area of Spain.

* Later on becoming a Roman settlement, whose people left their mark by constructing this fascinating and sturdy bridge that still stands to this day running across the Guadalquivir River! 

A Night Walk Around Old Town Sevilla

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Definitely one of the advantages of staying in a hotel right in the middle of the city center is the ability to wander around and experience the city after the sun has gone down.
A Spanish city changes at night. Somehow it becomes even more vibrant and authentic as locals, offered a temporary respite from the hustle and bustle of the daily barrage of tourists, are now free to come out, dine, and socialize; the Spanish way of rewarding one's self for a hard day's work.

* And in Old Town Sevilla, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is wonderfully lit and conducive for romance.

Downtown Helsinki and Other Highlights

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Helsinki, capital of Finland, is your quintessential ideal European city: heavily pedestrianized, fantastic public transportation, full of green open spaces and mid-rise buildings, and a general feeling of safety especially for foreigners.
It is also known as the credit card capital of Europe; and indeed one can buy anything (even street food) with a Visa or Mastercard on hand! 

* A fact which came in handy in the city's Market Square!

The Hermitage: Museum and Former Home of the Russian Emperors

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If one wants to truly see how diligently focused and meticulous the Russian Tsars and Tsarinas were in trying to outdo their European neighbors in culture, wealth, and grandeur, one only has to look at their insane collection at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

* The Hermitage Museum is a sprawling art museum that is second only in terms of size to the Louvre in Paris.

Royal Alcazar of Seville: Home to Spain's Medieval Kings

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The wonderful thing about Seville is that the city is compact and highly pedestrianized; with all its tourist attractions within walking distance of each other.
Located in the area heralded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, next to the imposing Cathedral of Seville and impressive General Archives of the Indies, stands the Royal Alcazar of Sevilla.

* Also known as the Royal Castle of the Christian Kings.

The Palaces of Kyoto: Home of the Emperor

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Along with the futuristic megacity of Tokyo and the foodie heaven of Osaka, no trip to Japan would be complete without visiting its cultural capital, Kyoto.
Home to the Japanese imperial court for over a thousand years, Kyoto is full of palaces, temples, shrines, and gardens; which thanks to not being targeted by Allied bombing during World War II, has been preserved in all its authenticity. This is Part 1 of our Kyoto Series: Palaces.
Kyoto Imperial Palace

* From 794 AD to 1869, Japan was ruled by its Emperor from his Imperial Palace in Kyoto.

Gamla Stan: Stockholm's Medieval Quarter

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The Gamla Stan is Stockholm's old town, located on the island of Stadsholmen, full of medieval buildings, cobblestone streets, and picturesque alleyways. If you have but a few hours to spare in this majestic city, every minute of it spent here is a minute worth spent.

* When in Stockholm, to find one's bearings, one must look to the sky.

The Portuguese Palace of Sintra

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Sintra is one of Portugal's most visited (and Instagram featured) tourist destinations! 
A triumph of Romanticist architecture, the town is stocked-full of areas to explore: palaces, ruins, historic estates, villas, gardens, cafes, and Michelin star restaurants.

* And from this view, we can see why Sintra is one of the Iberian peninsula's most sought after real estate markets; home of some of the wealthiest people in the European continent!

The Kremlin: Home of Vladimir Putin

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At the very heart of the beast that was the Soviet Union stands the fortified complex known as the Kremlin. Separated from Moscow's iconic Red Square by thick impenetrable walls, the Kremlin was for Centuries the official residence of the Russian Tsars.

* And this fine tradition continues to this day, as the Kremlin is the home of Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation. He lives in the Kremlin Senate building, which is obviously the most secure part of the fortress.

The Royal Castles and Palaces of Denmark

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Denmark, like many of the former great European powers, is a monarchy.  And as such, Denmark's main (and largest) island, Zealand, is dotted with gorgeous Royal Castles.

* Such as the incredible, Frederiksborg Castle, the largest Renaissance castle in all of Scandinavia.

Copenhagen: From Viking Village to Royal Capital

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Copenhagen.
What started as a small Viking fishing village eventually grew to become the seat of the Dano-Norwegian Empire, and current capital of Denmark.
Now while Denmark is well-known for being one of the world leaders in design, clean energy, and sustainability, as well as liberalism, human rights, and modernism (free education, healthcare, and social security for all), its capital contains multiple treasures to its glorious royal past!

* Like most people from Scandinavia (the people formerly known as the Vikings), the Danes LOVE the water. One of Copenhagen's most picturesque spots is the waterfront area known as the Nyhavn.

When All The Tourists Have Gone Away

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...Venice becomes eerily beautiful!

* People like to joke that Venice is one giant tourist trap!

Palazzo Ducale - The Doge's Palace

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The Doge was the highest official in the once Most Serene Republic of Venice; having total control of the city-state and its global empire for over 1,100 years

* And like most European royal families, the Doge lived in style!

Prague the Mighty - Castle Complex and St. Vitus Cathedral

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Apart from being the home to the Kings of Bohemia, several Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, and Presidents of Czechoslovakia, Prague Castle also has the distinction of being the largest ancient castle in the world.

* Nothing screams WELCOME than two giant sculptures of legendary characters beating their foes to a bloody pulp.

The Castles of Mad King Ludwig - Neuschwanstein

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The high point of a traveler's journey along the Romantic Road is seeing the majestic castles of King Ludwig II: the Linderhof and Neuschwanstein.  No wonder a lot of our beloved childhood fairy tales come from this part of the world as there is an ample supply of folklore, scenery, and structures to encourage these!
Unfortunately, no photos are allowed inside any of the castles, credit is given to images not taken personally. * The Linderhof Palace! While we were expecting a palace of such beauty..

Hitler's Munich and the Third Reich Tour

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Munich, apart from being historical capital of the Kingdom of Bavaria, is also infamous for being the birthplace of the Nazi Party. It was in these streets, after the humiliating defeat at the hands of the Allies during World War I, that disenfranchised and unemployed young men started meeting regularly to debate and argue about the problems of the German people. Munich at this time was very politically charged, with communists, anarchists, liberals, and fascists arguing incessantly. 
For most of the old photos found on this entry, a HUGE thanks to our friends over at http://www.thirdreichruins.com/munich.htm


* Munich's Town Hall, a beautiful landmark defaced by the disgraceful Nazi Swastika banner.

The Palaces of Vienna - Belvedere and Schonbrunn

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After experiencing the wonders and glory of Imperial Vienna, we proceeded to visit some of the other homes of the Habsburg monarchs. Seeing as how the Family at one point ruled ALL of continental Europe, save for France, their homes around Vienna are extravagantly and gloriously decorated.

* The Belvedere is this beautiful, historic building complex that once served as the summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy. A brilliant commander and statesman, Eugene fought wars against the French and Ottomans, and was referred to by Napoleon himself as one of the seven greatest commanders in history.

A Walk Around Imperial Vienna - Legacy of the Habsburgs

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Vienna was the crown jewel and capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Much more than that though, Vienna was the home of the House of Habsburg, one of Europe's most important royal houses.
How important were they? Well the Holy Roman Emperor (ruler of all the Germanic States) from 1438 to 1740 was a member of the Habsburg Dynasty, and the Family ruled pretty much the whole of Continental Europe at one point, save for the territory of the Kingdom of France.
Because of this, Vienna is a city of great cultural, architectural, and historical significance as evidenced by how beautifully well planned everything is.

* Most of Vienna's imperial sights can be found along the Ringstrasse, a circular road which was built to replace the city walls, using money paid by the English for the safe release of King Richard the Lionheart (from the Crusades), who was held hostage by the Austrians.

10 War Memorials and Monuments To See in Warsaw

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Well-rested after a long day of flying and the initial exploration of the city, the newlyweds woke up refreshed and proceeded to tour the highlights of Warsaw's imperial history of warfare where they learned about all the tragedies that befell the Polish people in the 20th Century.

* Easily one of the most beautiful things seen this whole trip was the monument of Frederic Chopin at Lazienki Park. Every Sunday, a pianist performs free recitals of his compositions.

Saying Hello To Will, Kate and George at Kensington Palace

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Continuing on my tour of British Royal Residences, I was able to spend a couple of hours in Kensington Palace. While the Queen certainly favors Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace as her official residences, Kensington Palace was the long-time home of Princess Diana and currently serves as home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate) and their son, George.


* Some nice and quaint-looking buildings greeted us upon exiting the High Street Kensington tube station. It soon became apparent that we were walking along a more affluent side of town!