A Travellerspoint blog

June 2019

Salzburg.

Salzburg is a city in central Austria near the German border. It is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791). This city is linked with the Sound of Music; a movie shot in various locations in Salzburg and its sourrondings.

I visited Salzburg around two years ago. I visited the main sights in the city, but I am sure there are many other things to see there.

In this post I will write about some things not to miss in the city.

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The Getreidegasse is a long pedestrian street in the old town. It is bordered by lots of shops, cafes and restaurants. At number 9 on this street Mozart was born in 1756. He lived here until he was seventeen.

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The iron wrought signs hanging on the walls of the buildings is a peculiarity on this street. The reason for these signs is that long ago people wasn' t able to read, so they could see from them what they were selling at the shops there.

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There is a Mc Cafe at the Getreidegasse. It is part of Mc Donald' s. It is a coffee shop where you can have a cup of coffee or cappuccino or a cake at a moderate price.

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Here you can also have a good choice of cakes to chose from. At Mc Cafe they also have a kind of package offer. The times I was there it was a large cup of cappuccino and a piece of cake with cream with a topping of strawberries or peaches.

I liked the strawberries cake with cream (i. e. Erdbeer Butter Milk Schnitte). also had a taste of a chocolate cake (my mother chose it) . It was not a piece of Sacher cake, but it was really good.

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There are several arcades on the Getreidegasse. Walking through them you will discover some beautiful courtyards with cafes and shops.

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A nice courtyard.

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Another courtyard.

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Christmas in Salzburg is a shop where you can find a lots of Christmas and Easter decorations all year. There are decorations for other events and festivities as well; as Halloween for instance.

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Here they sell mostly hand painted emptied eggs. These are really nicely decorated and they are sold at various prices. I think the cheapest ones should cost around four or five euros.

This shop is quite large. It is made of two rooms if my memory serves me well. It is forbidden to take pictures inside this shop. I don' t know why.

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The Alter Markt is a large square not far from Getreidegasse. Here you see a big fountain; the Saint Florian' s fountain.

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Several old buildings surround this square. One of them is the smallest house in Salzburg (see picture). It was built between 1830 and 1860. On the same side of this house there is the popular Cafè Tomaselli. On the other side of the square a tall pale green palace houses a old pharmacy. It was founded in 1591.

There are some beautiful shops at Alter Markt as well.

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Kapitelplatz (chapter square) is a large square situated near the cathedral and below the castle.

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One of its main features is a huge sculpture of a golden ball with a man on the top called Sphaera. Near this sculpture there is a large chess board where you can play. On this square there is a fountain built in 1732 on the site of an old horse pond.

Usually there are some stalls at Kapitelplats. At one of these you can buy pretzels of various flavours.

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The cathedral. Saint Rupert founded the church in 774 on the ruins of a Roman construction. In 767 the bishop Virgil built another church on this site. He might have used the foundations by saint Rupert to construct it. In 842 the church burned down after being struck by a lightning.

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They started to rebuild the cathedral after three years. Between 1000 and 1147 the church was extended and modified . In 1167 it was on fire again. It was rebuilt 10 years later. 400 years later another fire destroyed large sections of the cathedral.

In the seventeenth century it was completely rebuilt in the Baroque style. The dome was damaged during World War II but was restored in 1959.

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The only museum I visited in Salzburg was the toy museum. is housed in a old alms house; the Buergerspital; built between 1556 and 1570.

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Here you can see a good number of old toys; dolls, miniature trains and cars; table games, puppets and more.

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There is even a couple of rooms, maybe more, where kids can play with toys they find there. Adults can have a cup of tea for free in a room while their kids are playing.

Sometimes events are organized at this museum. I visited it around Halloween and a kind of Halloween party was going on.

Every tuesday and wednesday a puppet show is held at this museum.

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Saint Peter' s abbey and the cemetery. Saint Rupert (again!) founded this church and its monastery around 700. The church and the buildings were destroyed by a fire in 1127. The church was rebuilt from 1130 to 1143. It was modified through the years. The church you see today was built from about 1130 onwards. The interior was refurbished in the Rococo style between 1760 and 1782.

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Near the church you see the Peterfriedhof. This is the oldest cemetery in Salzburg. Its origins probably date back to around 700 It was possibly built on the site of an earlier burial place.

Into the Festunberg; the mountain that overlooks the cemetery there are some catacombs. I didn' t visited any.

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Some famous people who lived in the city are buried at the Peterfriedhof. Here you can find the graves of Santino Solari; Michael Haydn; composer and younger brother of Joseph Haydn. Anna Maria Mozart was also buried here. She was the elder sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

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The Mirabell gardens were laid out from 1687. They were altered in 1730 and changed again in the 19th century. These are made of various areas with several attractions as the Zwerglgarten (i. e.dwarfs garden). It is made of a series of stone dwarfs statues. They are 17, but long ago they may have been 28. They were modelled on real life persons. Besides these statues the gardens house an orangery and various statues.

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The Mirabell Palace was originallly named Altenau. It was built for prince archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Ratenau and for his mistress Salomè Alt in 1606.

The palace was renamed Mirabel by von Raitenau' s successor Markus Sittikus von Hohenems. Prince archbishop Franz Anton von Harrach had the palace remodelled extensively from 1721 to 1727. In 1818 the palace was heavily damaged by a fire.

Today Mirabell Palace houses the office of Salzburg' s mayor and the municipal offices.

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One of the main sights of Salzburg is the Hohensalzburg fortress.

It is possible there was a Roman fortress on the site of this citadel. Yes, Hohensalzburg fortress is a kind of little village on a hill. The first buildings on its site were built by prince archbishop Eberhard in 1077. The fortress was enlarged between 1495 and 1519.

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This fortress houses some museums. One of them is a museum of marionettes. I liked it very much and I spent a lot of time inside. There is also a museum with a collection of weapons and a museum with various things. Another highlight of this fortress are the state apartments dated to 1500. Inside this citadel there is also a small church and a couple of chapels.

Inside the fortress area there are a couple of restaurants and a souvenirs shop.

The fortress also serves as a venue for evening concerts.

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Inside the state apartments.

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Elaborated door into the state apartments

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View from the fortress.

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It was a pity the day I visited the fortress was not fine, but the views from there are stunning even if it is not sunny.

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I spent five nights at hotel Haunspergerhof. It is a nice three stars hotel situated in Haunspergstraße at n. 30. It takes around fifteen minutes from the train station to get there.

The twin room they gave me was simply furnished and large enough for two people. It had the bathroom with tube en suite; a television, but it didn' t have a fridge.

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The breakfast was buffet style. It consisted of various kinds of bread, jam, butter and a kind of pastry. There were also ham, cheeses and eggs. Moreover there was yoghurts and some fruit. Hot beverages, as coffee and hot milk and hot water for tea were in thermos flasks.

This hotel has a communal room which is part of the reception area. Wi fi was free of charge there.

Il Padrino is the closest restaurant to hotel Hanspergerhof, so it was convenient for me to have dinner there. This restaurant has two dining rooms and an outside area.

At Il Padrino they have a menu with many of Italian dishes. They serve pasta dishes and various kinds of pizza. I had some kind of pizzas here and I liked them much.

It is advisable to book your seat at this restaurants. It seems lots of local people likes this place very much.

I hope to return to Salzburg quite soon.

Posted by Maurizioagos 00:49 Archived in Austria Comments (2)

Rome.

Rome is the capital of Italy and the largest city in this country.

There are lots of sights to enjoy in this city. Here you can see ancient ruins, churches (there should be around 900 of them!), palaces, museums et al.

I have visited Rome many times, but I still haven' t seen some things.

I will show you some things to see in Rome in this post.

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One of the landmark in Rome is the Colosseum. It was originally known as Flavian Amphiteatre. The Colosseum was built on the site of an artificial lake belonged to Nero Domus Area' s gardens.

Its building was begun under emperor Vespasian in 72 A. D. It was inaugurated by Titus in 80 A. D. and completed by his brother Domitian in 82 A. D.

From second half of the VI century the Colosseum was used for other purposes than a stadium. For example it was occupied by the Frangipans; a family who built their fortress here in the XIII century. In 1750 pope Benedict XIV transformed it into a place where to commemorate the Christian martyrs. Moreover it was plundered to build other constructions in Rome.

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This stadium is 188 per 150 meters large and has 80 arches used as entrances. So that people could enter or exit in a few minutes. It could hold up to 80.000 spectators.

Various games were held inside the Colosseum. For instance; fights between gladiators and fights between men and exotic animals. Most of the gladiators were slaves or prisoners of war. Even dramas and executions were held inside this stadium.

Sometimes the Colosseum was flooded for mock sea battles.

Entry to the Colosseum was free for all Roman citizens, but they were seated according to rank.

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The Roman forum was the political, economical and religious center of Rome during the republic. Originally this site was a marsh. It was also used as cemetery. The Romans drained the area and built several temples and other buildings there.

The forum was later abandoned and filled in by a thick layer of earth, becoming a pasture known as Campus Vaccinus. Some temples were turned into churches.

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There are several ruins you can find in the forum.

The regia. This was the residence of the kings. The curia; the meeting place of the senate. The rostra that was used as a tribune for orators. There are some temples, as the temple of Antonio and Faustina It was built in 141 A. D. by Antonius Pius in honor to his late wife Faustina. It was turned into the church of Saint Lorenzo in Miranda in the middle age.

There are two triumphal arches at the forum; the arch of Titus and the arch of Septimus Severus.

Once you visited the Forum you can walk up to the Palatine. This is a hill overlooking the Roman forum.

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The Palatine was where Rome began as a village; supposedly founded by Romulus in the 8th century B. C. It was a residential district for the wealthy and aristocratic people in Roman time; as well as a number of emperors.

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On this hill you can spend some time at the Orti Farnesiani. These gardens were built over the ruins of Tiberio' s palace in the XVI century by the cardinal Alessandro Farnese; pope Paolo III' s nephew. Their construction was finished in the XVII century.

On the Palatine you can visit some buildings; as Livia' s house (there are frescoes inside), but you must book a guided tour.

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I recommend to take a good book with you or rent an audioguide to visit these sites; in order to know what you will see.

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The Capitoline hill. In ancient Roman times there were various temples on this hill. There was the tabularium (the public Roman archive) and the mint of the Republican age as well.

Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitol square) is situated on the top of this hill. Michelangelo was commissioned to create this square in 1536, but much of the work on this square was done in the 17th century.

Michelangelo designed the new facades for the two buildings; Palazzo Senatorio and palazzo dei Conservatori. He designed a new palace; Palazzo Nuovo. In the center of the square is a statue of emperor Marcus Aurelius. It is a replica. Palazzo Senatorio houses the office of the mayor of Rome. Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo are used as museums. There are mostly ancient statues there.

You have to climb a long stairway to go up to piazza del Campidoglio; the Cordonata. This was designed by Michelangelo as well. At its top there are two big statues of Castor and Pollux.

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The Pantheon is a well preserved Roman temple turned into a church. Originally it was built by Augustus' son in law Marcus Vespasianus Agrippa in 27 B. C. Between 118 and 125 A. D. it was completely rebuilt by Hadrian. It was dedicated to all the gods.

After other restorations it fell in a state of neglect until 608, when it was given by emperor Phocas to pope Boniface VIII who transformed it into the church of Saint Mary and Marthyrs.

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The Pantheon is 43 meters both in diameter and in height. The only source of light inside this building is a hole on its dome.

It is the resting place of several important Italians.

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Piazza di Spagna. This square takes its name from the Spanish embassy of the Holy See (of the Vatican) that was located here.

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Piazza di Spagna is known for the Scalinata della Trinità  dei Monti (Spanish Steps). This long staircase was built between 1721 and 1725. It links the square with the square where the church of Trinità  dei Monti is situated. At the bottom of the stairs there is a fountain called "la Barcaccia". It was designed by Pietro Bernini and his son, Gian Lorenzo.

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Piazza Navona was built on the site of the Domitian stadium. Here athletic games named "agones", chariot races and other sports were held. Since the 17th century until mid 19th century it was partially flooded for mock naval battles (naumachias). This square also served as a marketplace from 1477 to 1869.

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There are three beautiful fountains here. One of these is the fountain of the Four Rivers. It was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and was built by some of his pupils in 1651.

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The huge statues part of this fountain represent the four rivers known at that time. The Gange, the Danube, the Nile and the Rio de la Plata. The other fountains are; the Fountain of the Moor and the Fountain of the Neptune.

In piazza Navona there are two churches; the church of Saint Agnese in Agone and the church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. This square is surrounded by several restaurants, cafes and shops. A Christmas market is held every year here.

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There are several viewpoints in Rome. You have to know this city was built on seven hills. One of the viewpoints is situated on the Pincian Hill. This hill overlooks piazza del Popolo. To get there you have to climb the flight of stairs you see and you will arrive up to this hill; at piazzale Napoleone. From this large square you will enjoy a very beautiful view of the city.

The Pincian hill is not one of the seven hills. It is part of Villa Borghese (a park). This site was a favourite site by the ancient Romans who built villas and gardens here. The name Pincius comes from one of the families that settled here; the Pincii.

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This hill was laid out between 1809 and 1814 by the architect Giuseppe Valadier.

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The Trevi fountain. This large fountain was designed by Nicola Salvi from an earlier plan by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, but it was completed by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762. The central figure of this monument is Neptune; god of the sea. He rides a shell shaped chariot drawn by two sea horses. One of them is calm and the other one wild. They simbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea. To the sides are statues of abundance and salubrity.

This fountain is situated at the end of an aqueduct built in 19 B. C. and it lies where three roads intersect. Hence the name; Trevi (tre vie means "three roads" in Italian)

A legend says that if you throw a coin into this fountain, over your left shoulder you' ll come back to Rome.

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Saint Ignatius church. This church was built between 1626 and 1685. It is dedicated to Saint Ignatius of Loyola; the founder of the Jesuite order.

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This was the second church on this spot. Its main highlight is the troemp l' oeil frescoes painted in 1685 by Andrea Pozzo. One of these is on the ceiling of the nave. It depicts the entry of Ignatius into paradise. The other is a fake dome on canvases which was meant to be a temporary work. This was painted due to the lack of funds. To appreciate the troemp l' oeil effect of these works there are two yellow spots on the floor where you have to stand on.

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Campo de Fiori is a nice square with some cafes, restaurants and shops. Every morning, until 1. 30 p.m. a food market is held here. There are also clothes on sale here.

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According to a legend, the name of this square derives from Flora; a woman loved by Pompeo, or maybe because there was a field of flowers in XV century in this area. Campo de' Fiori (in Romanesque dialect) means literally field of flowers.

The big statue you see in the center of the square represents Giordano Bruno. He was a philosopher burnt at stake for heresy in the 1600.

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There are some nice spots in Rome!

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..and also lots fountains!

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There are many statues too.

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Trastevere is a district in Rome on the west bank of the Tiber. Its name derives from the Latin word "trans Tiberim" that means beyond the Tiber.

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Here there are some churches to visit. Be sure not to miss Santa Maria in Trastevere church and its ancient mosaics. You could also visit Santa Cecilia and San Crisogono churches.

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Another thing to do in Trastevere is to get lost and enjoy this beautiful neighborhood.

There are lots of restaurants, cafes and various shops in Trastevere.

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Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the curches you can visit in this area.

It is said it was Saint Callistus who founded a church where this church is located; in 22 A. D. The church was rebuilt in the IV century. It was enlarged in the IX century. Then it was rebuilt in the XII century and modified between 1550

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Inside you can see various beautiful mosaics. The ones on the apse were made in the XII century. Below them are mosaics scenes depicting the life of the Virgin. These date back to 1291.

The facade of the church is decorated with 12th - 13th century mosaics.

There is an old pharmacy in the Trastevere area; the Farmacia della Scala. It was opened to the public (for the popes; their families and for wealthy people) in 1700.

This pharmacy is not far from Santa Maria in Trastevere church. It is housed into the same building of the Farmacia della Scala (the new pharmacy).

It is quite difficult to visit this old pharmacy. First you have to convince the priest who lives there to let you in ... If you' ll succeed, you will be offered a guided tour of the place.

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I discovered L' Insalata Ricca restaurant by change. I was looking for my favourite restaurant; Tosca. Unfortunately they closed it down. It was located next door to L' Insalata Ricca.

This restaurant has three dining rooms where around 150 people can be seated. It has several outside chairs and tables to use if the weather is fine.

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Here several kind of salads are served; in large bowls. If you don' t fancy a salad for lunch or dinner you can have pasta, other kinds of first courses and several meat dishes.

L' Insalata Ricca is a chain of restaurants. These are located in several areas of Rome. I went to the one in largo dei Chiavari.

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Habana Cafe is a restaurant, but also a place where you can listen to live music at night.

I discovered this restaurant after having checked the prices of the restaurants near the Pantheon. I thought the prices in that area were quite high.

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At Habana Cafe there are three kinds of menu at fixed price. For instance; you can have an appetizer ( salad, or cold cuts for instance), a first course and a drink for 10 euros only. If you order "a la carte" you won' t spend much.

There is a dining room inside this restaurant and a outdoor area where to stay if the weather is fine.

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There is a castle in Rome; Castel Sant' Angelo.

It was built around 123 d. C. as a tomb for emperor Adrian and his successors. It was completed by Antoninus Pius in 139.

The name Castel Sant Angelo comes from the legend of Saint Gregorio Magno who had a vision of an angel appearing on the fortress, and announcing the end of the plague.

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In the fifth century the castle was converted into a fortress and incorporated into the city defensive walls. During the middle ages it was occupied by many noble families. In 1377 it came under full papal control. In the XIVth century, pope Nicholas III linked the castle with a covered passageway to the Vatican; the so called passetto di Borgo. So the popes could seek refuge in the castle if the Vatican was besieged. From the late 1400 the papal apartments were built inside the castle. Castel Sant Angelo was also used as a prison and execution place.

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The castle is made of five levels. On the forth you can visit some papal rooms. There are some nice covered passages around the castle where you can enjoy some beautiful views over the city and rest a bit.

There are some facilities inside the castle; as a cafe restaurants, the toilets and a lift for disabled people.

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Saint Peter' s basilica is located on the site where Saint Peter was buried between 64 and 68 A. D. The current church was built from 1506 to 1626 due to the bad state of the previous one. Several artists worked on this church between these centuries; as Bramante, Raffaello, Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It is a huge church; (218 per 133.30 meters) and full of beautiful works of art. The basilica has 45 altars and 11 chapels.

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One of its highlights is Michelangelo' s Pietà . It is located in the first chapel on the right. He sculpted it when he was 25. Another main sight is Bernini' s canopy. It is situated over the papal altar.

Once you visited the church you can climb to the top of the dome (cupola). It was designed by Michelangelo in 1547 but it was finished by his pupil; Giacomo della Porta, after Michelangelo' s death. From the top of the dome you can see a great landscape of Rome.

Before entering the basilica you see a very large square. It was designed by Bernini and built between 1656 and 1667. It is a elliptical esplanade bordered by four rows of columns topped with 96 statues of saints.

This church is located in Città  del Vaticano. It is a small country inside Rome.

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At the crossroad between via XX Settembre and via delle Quattro Fontane you can see four large fountains. These were commissioned by pope Sisto V between 1588 and 1593.

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Two of these are carved with two bearded men and should represent the rivers Arno and the Tiber. The other two fountains perhaps represent faith and force. Here you see two statues of the goddesses Diana and Juno.

These fountains were restored several times. I think the last time of their restoration was in 2015.

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Don' t miss the church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane.

They say this little church would stay inside a pillar you see in Saint Peter' s Square. It is also called San Carlino; due to its small size (ino in Italian is used as a diminutive for nouns). This church takes its name from the four fountains that stand nearby.

This church was Francesco Borromini' s last work. His nephew completed it in 1667, due to Borromini' s death. It was incorporated in the convent of the Spanish Trinitarians who commissioned the work.

Unfortunately I visited this church late in the evening, so it was quite dark inside and I couldn' t take some decent pics.

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Another church you should visit is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

According to a legend; in august 352 A. D. a rich man and pope Liberius had a similar dream about the Virgin who told them to build a church where they would have found snow in Rome. The next day Pope Liberius spotted snow on the top of the Esquiline hill. Soon he made a church built there.

A re enactment of the snow fall is held every year on august 5 inside the Paolina chapel with a fall of flowers petals.

This church was rebuilt between 432 and 440. It was modified and enlarged in the XIII century.

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Inside you can see a series of mosaics lining the nave and covering the triumphal arch before the altar that date back to the 5th century. There are mosaics in the apse that date to the XIII century as well. The ceiling dates from the 16th century. It is said to be gilded in gold that was bought from America by Columbus. Inside the church there is Bernini' s tomb.

Another thing not to miss in this church is the cappella Sistina. This stunning chapel was commissioned by pope Sisto V in 1587 as his burial place.

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Hotel Domus Praetoria is a hotel i like much. It occupies part of an old palace. I think it is made of 16 rooms.

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Last time I booked a room at Domus Praetoria I had a twin room with bathroom en suite. It had a tiny balcony. My bed was comfortable and the furniture simple.

My room was on the backside of the hotel; so it was quiet. A daily market just ouside of the entrance of the hotel is scheduled except on sunday. It starts very early in the morning.

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Breakfast consisted in fresh pastries and bread. Jam, yoghourt, cereals and orange juice. Hot beverages as coffee, cappuccino and hot chocolate were served by a girl at our table.

The reception at Domus Praetoria is open 24 hours on 24. The personnel at this hotel was very kind and helpful. Wi fi was complimentary.

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Termini station is the main train station in Rome. It was built on two levels. The station has lots of facilities, as luggage storage, a police station, a tourist office, a post office, ATMs and a disability office.

At Termini train station you can take a train to lots of destinations in Italy and abroad as well.

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There are various restaurants (one of my favourites as well; Gusto), cafes and shops inside this station.

Just outside the Termini train station there is the major bus terminus.

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Gusto is a self service restaurant inside Termini train station. Here you can find a good choice of first courses; as pasta, rice and soups; some second courses and vegetables. Appetizers as cold cuts are available as well. There is a good selection of desserts too.

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At Gusto there is a menu of the day offer. You can have a first and a second course with some vegetables for 10.90 euros (2014 price).

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You can do several day trips from Rome. For instance you can go to Orvieto (in the Umbria region) and to Tivoli.

In Tivoli you can visit Villa d' Este.

This villa was commissioned by Ippolito d' Este; son of Lucrezia Borgia in the late 1500. It is listed as UNESCO world heritage site.

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Its interiors are decorated with beautiful frescoes, but this mansion is mostly known for the gardens. These have five hundred fountains, built in various shapes. Some of these are activated during the day. Check the time at the entrance. There are several notice boards with some historical information about the fountains.

Inside Villa d' Este there is a room where you can watch a video about the villa and the gardens before your visit. Other facilities here are the toilets, a self service cafe and a museum shop.

You can go to Tivoli by direct bus from the bus station Ponte Mammolo. Take the metro and get off at Ponte Mammolo metro station.

Posted by Maurizioagos 10:31 Archived in Italy Tagged villa rome tivoli este. d' Comments (10)

Vodnjan and Pula.

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Vodnjan is a large village worth a visit. It is around ten kilometers far from from Pula. The journey from Porec to Vodnjan by bus should takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Vodnjan is famous for the mummies. In fact its main church; Saint Blaise church houses some mummified corpses and part of bodies of saints.

These saints failed to decompose throught the centuries for unknown reasons. This church also has a quite large museum with lots of saints' relics and various religious artifacts.

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This village has a beautiful main square with a reddish city hall built in 1911 and a maze of very old cobbled streets.

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Unfortunately the day I visited Vodnjan the weather was not fine. I enjoyed this village anyway.

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Pula is the largest town in Istria. It is located at the southern tip of the peninsula. It is well known for its Roman monuments.

Here you can see a huge amphitheater constructed between 27 B. C. and 68 A. D. Picture courtesy of Margaret van Nierop from NL.

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There are some Roman arches in Pula. This is the arch of the Sergii. It dates to the 1th century A. C. It is located at the beginning of a street named Sergievaca.

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This beautiful Roman mosaic is hidden into a modern building, but it is not far from the Sergievaca.

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This is Pula' s town hall.

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A mermaid on the town hall?

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This the temple of Augustus. It was built between 2 B. C. and 14 A. C.

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This church is the chapel of Saint Mary Formosa. It was part of a Benedictine monastery together with another chapel.

Pula is a good place for shopaholics. It has great choice of shops.

You can do a day trip from Porec to Pula. The journey from Porec to Pula by bus should last around 1.30 hours.

Posted by Maurizioagos 09:34 Archived in Croatia Tagged pula vodnjan porec. Comments (2)

Porec and Rovinj.

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Porec is a town on the west coast of the Istrian peninsula; in Croatia.

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The main street in Porec; Dekumanska ulica was also the main road during Roman times. It runs from east to west through the center of the old town.

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It is a car free street with lots of shops and several cafes.

At the beginning of this street you see a pentagonal tower. It dates back to the 1447. It is used as a venue for art exibitions.On Dekumanska ulica you shouldn' t miss a Gothic palace built in the XV century and the museum inside Sincic Palace (XVIII century). Unfortunately it was closed last time I visited Porec.

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The Euphrasian basilica is the main sight in Porec.

The basilica is the third church that was built on this site between the 4th and the 6th century. The first church was dedicated to Saint Maurus and dated back to the second half of the 4th century. The present church was built by bishop Euphrasius in the 6th century.

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Inside you can admire several mosaics around the apse. They depict Christ with the Apostles. The Virgin and Jesus child; twelve female saints. Saints Maurus, saint Euphrasius and other saints.

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The church is part of a complex that includes a courtyard, the baptistery, the bell tower, and the bishop palace. This palace was built in the 6th century and houses a collections of religious artefacts. Under the palace various mosaics and Roman remains are stored.

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The complex also includes what remains of the previous churches; a large floor mosaic of the first one and various stone walls.

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Landscape from the bell tower.

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The so - called Romanesque house is a simple stone building. It was built in the 13th century and restored various times through the centuries. Until the end of XXII it was part of a palace destroyed during the war.

I have read it should house a museum and an exposition hall, I suppose this could be on the first floor. Unfortunately I found it always closed.

On the basement floor there is a souvenir shop is my memory serves me well.

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The tourist train runs through a wood. While travelling you can see part of Porec from afar, lot of vegetation, some beaches and hotels.

It stops at three places; Brolo, Plava Laguna and Zelena Laguna. The journey takes around 35 minutes (one way).

This train departs from the edge of the wood Naftaplin; near the Marina. I think it operates from april until september. You can buy your ticket from the driver.

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Hotel Porec is a good budget hotel. I have been there some times. It is situated some meters from the bus station.

I was always given a nice room with bathroom en suite.

The hotel has a two common areas where you can sit to relax after a long walk or after a day trip.

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The breakfast was buffet style and there was a good choice of food. Bread, cheese, ham, eggs, fruits and other things. You could get coffee and cappuccino from a machine. These were quite good.

The dinner isn' t buffet style when there aren' t many guests at the hotel. Anyway I liked much the food I had.

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Pizzeria -restaurant Nono is my favourite restaurant in Porec. It serves a good choice of pizzas, pasta, gnocchi (dumplings) and second courses, as fish or meat dishes.

Here they serve two sizes of pizzas. The small and the medium one. The small pizza is quite large; the medium one is extremely large.

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Rovinj is a picturesque town some kilometers far from Porec. Its old core is located on a peninsula that was once an island. It is a popular tourist resort with plenty of accomodations, restaurants, cafes and shops.

There are daily buses from Porec to Rovinj and vice versa. Unfortunately on sundays less buses operate than the other days.

Rovinj is overlooked by the cathedral of Saint Euphemia; built in 1736 and located on the highest point of the town.

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Rovinj' s main street. Carera ulica.

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The basilica of Saint Euphemia is a Baroque church built in 1736 over the remains of older churches.

Saint Euphemia is Rovinj' s patron saint. Its relics are preserved in a sarcophagus behind the church' s main altar (on the right).

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Eufemia was a young girl who lived in Chalcedon, in Asia Minor, and was devoted to Christianity. She didn' t want to give it up, so she was captured, tortured and thrown to lions who killed her but didn ' t eat her. Her body was kept in a sarcophagus in Constantinople until 800 A. D. The legend say that this sarcophagus with the saint' s remains floated on the seas all the way until Rovinj, where a small boy with the help of two cows managed to get the sarcophagus up the hill.

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After the visit to the church you can go up the bell tower to enjoy the landscape over the town. The bell tower resembles Saint Mark's in Venice.

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Another thing to do in Rovinj besides a visit to Saint Euphemia church and to a couple of museums (which I didn' t visit...) is taking a stroll along the narrow cobbled streets of the old town.

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The streets in the old core are lined with lots of tall houses. Some are restored and other are dilapidated. In the old core there is a good choice of shops, restaurants and cafes.

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Strolling in the old core you will almost surely get to the Grisia ulica. This is the street that runs from the Balbi arch to Saint Euphemia church. It is a long street lined with lots of shops and art galleries.

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In this picture you see my mother on Grisia street.

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The local outdoor market is not far from Tito trg; Rovinj's main square. It is in operation every day; even on sundays, in the morning.

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Here you can find fruit, vegetables, typical spirits and honey. There is a spot where they sell souvenirs as well. I have read somewhere on the web that fish and meat are sold at some shops bordering the market.

So if you have to prepare your meal or if you like to buy some fruit or something else; this is a place to visit.

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If you are not very hungry or it is too hot to have lunch; you could have a good ice cream. I did it twice in Rovinj. Both times I went to bar Sport. It is a cafe where you can have some good scoops of ice cream.

At bar Sport they have various ice cream flavours to choose from.

Posted by Maurizioagos 04:05 Archived in Croatia Tagged rovinj porec istria. Comments (0)

The Algarve.

The Algarve is the southern most region of Portugal.

I visited this region twice. The first time I booked a room in Faro. The second time I visited the Algarve it was for a meeting of a (ex) travel web site; Virtual Tourist. The base chosen was Albufeira. The meeting included a trip to Cabo San Vicente, Sagres (to see the fortress) and Silves.

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Faro is the capital of the Algarve and the largest city in this region. It has a nice old core and some pleasant areas.

Vila Adentro is the old core of Faro. This large area is enclosed by walls. Here you can visit the cathedral, the monastery of Nossa S. ra da Assuncao, the Palacio Episcopal and many streets bordered by white buildings.

Inside Vila Adentro there are also some cafes and a shop where you can buy books, postcards and souvenirs.

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The cathedral was built in the 13th century on the site of a mosque. It was largely damaged during the 1755 earthquake.

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The Museu Municipal is housed inside the Monasterio de Nossa S. ra da Assuncao. This dates from the 16th century.

Here you can see various archaelogical finds. For instance here you can find a large Roman mosaic showing Oceanus, god of the sea. This museum also houses a collection of ancient paintings dated from the XVI to the XIX centuries. These were taken from several churches in the Algarve.

The monastery has a nice two storey cloister with a shrub maze at the center.

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Unfortunately I didn' t find a restaurant where I had a very good lunch or dinner in Faro. Adega Nortenha was one of the best places to have dinner.

The restaurant is a very simple place and the food was good. At Adega Nortenha they serve various kinds of fish and meat dishes.

There is only a dining room here, but it can accomodate several people.

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Gardy is a cafe-restaurant located in the modern area of Faro. It was founded in 1953.

At Gardy' s they have a large selections of pastries, cakes and ice creams. Here you can also have a menu of the day, several kinds of sandwiches and other things. I usualy wento to Gardy' s to have a ice cream.

This confectionery has two dining rooms if my memory serves me well. There is an ouside area there as well.

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The only downside of this cafe is that they close it quite early in the evening.

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Alte is a nice village in inland Algarve. It is some 35 kilometers far from Faro. It has lots of cafes and restaurants.

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You can go to Alte by bus from Faro, but first you have to go to Loulè. Then you have to take another bus. Unfortunately in the summer there are few buses operating in the afternoon. So I' d recommend to vist Alte in the morning.

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Estoi is a white village some 11 kilometers far from Faro. It is well known for its palace and for the Roman ruins of Milreu. Unfortunately when I visited Estoi the palace was closed for restoration (it will be turned into a parador). It was not permitted even to visit the gardens. The ruins of Milreu have various ruins of buildings, but there aren' t many mosaics.

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Estoi has a nice main square with a church and a couple of cafes.

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Tavira is a nice town divided in two areas by the river Gilao. This is crossed by three bridges. One of these is of Roman origin and was reconstructed in the 17th century. The town has lots of churches, cafes and shops.

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I didn' t stay much in Tavira; perhaps three hours. Anyway I enjoyed its 13th castle. Its walls are well preserved and there is a nice garden inside. The castle has also some towers. I climbed to the top of most of these to enjoy the landscape over the town and some private gardens.

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Albufeira is a cliffside town that once was a fishing village. Today it is a holidays resort with lots of beaches. It is situated 39 km far from Faro.

Its name comes from the Arabic "Al buhera" which means; castle on the sea.

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I liked very much the old center in Albufeira with whitewashed houses and narrow streets. This town has a large main square with cafes, restaurants and a pedestrian street full of shops; rua 5 de Outubro. Here you also find the tourist office.

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There are lots of restaurants in Albufeira.

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Cantinho dos Estudiantes is a cafe - restaurant where I usually had breakfast and dinner. It was a convenient place for me because my room was nearby.

The menu here included pancakes, crepes, salads, hamburgers; American, English and French breakfasts.

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I booked a room for five nights at Vila Emilia; in Albufeira. It was a simple twin room with bathroom en suite. It had a small fridge and a television. There was no wi fi.

Vila Emilia is practically a group of buildings used as rooms. The rooms at Vila Emilia are cleaned every day, except on sundays and festivities.

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Outside the rooms there is a nice courtyard with several chairs and tables.

Note. You have to check in at Vila Branca hotel...https://vilabranca.com.pt/; then somebody will take you to your room. Vila Branca is some 150 meters far from Vila Emilia.

Vila Emilia is a bit uphill from the old town, but it is only fifteen minutes from there; by foot. There is a small supermarket and a cafe (Cantinho dos Estudiantes) nearby.

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Fumos and Mitos is quite a large shop where you can find various things to buy. It is situated in the modern area of Albufeira.

Here they sell cigars, cigarettes and alcooholic drinks. At Fumos and Mitos there is a good choice of Porto wine bottles and other kinds of wines.

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Other items you can buy at Fumos and Mitos are; postcards, stamps and books; I saw several very nice photo books over the Algarve here. Here they have candies and ice creams as well.

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One of the reasons why people go to Albufeira; as in other places in the Algarve is to spend some time on the beaches. There are around 25 beaches in Albufeira and nearby.

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Praia do Peneco (reachable through a tunnel) and Praia des Pescadores are the beaches closer to the city center. Other beaches are; Praia da Oura; at three kilometers from Albufeira. Praia Da Gala; at six kilometers from Albufeira old center and Praia de Santa Eulalia, which is around four kilometers from Albufeira.

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The bus station in Albufeira is situated around a couple of kilometers from the old core.

Inside there are some shops where you can find magazines, newspapers and souvenirs. There is a cafe and other facilities as the toilettes and an ATM machines.

You can take a taxi or a bus (the "Giro" buses) to go the the center of Albufeira.

The Giro buses go from the bus station to several places in Albufeira and its neighbours. For instance you can take a bus to Santa Eulalia, Oura, Ferreira and also to the Albufeira train station. Most of these buses operate every 30 minutes. Tickets are sold by the driver.

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Caldas de Monchique is a little spa town located in a narrow gorge some kilometers far from Portimao. It is known since the Roman times for its sulphurus waters. They are said to be good for rheumatism, respiratory and digestive problems.

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Here there is a nice park which is part of a wood where there are paths, several stone chairs, tables and running water.

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Caldas de Monchique has some cafes, restaurants and three or four hotels.

It is here that the famous mineral water gets bottled.

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Silves is a beautiful town situated on a hill.

It was settled by Phoenicians; then it became a Roman city (Sibilis). From the 8th century it was names Xelb; it was a Moorish city.

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Silves is overlooked by a very large castle. It was built between the 8th and the 13th centuries by the Arabs; probably on the site of a late Roman or Visigothic fortifications from the 4th - 5th centuries.

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The castle once had walls that encircled the town. It has eleven towers. Inside there is a small museum, a cafe and a beautiful garden.

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Silves has a cathedral; built in the 13th century on the site of a mosque. It was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755 and later reconstructed. I didn' t visit it, probably because it was closed around lunch time.

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Cape Saint Vincent is the most south westernly point in Europe. It takes its name from Saint Vincent; a priest martyred by the Romans. Centuries ago it was thought as the end of the world. Here it is where Henry the Navigator is believed to have set up his school of navigation in the fifteen century.

I enjoyed much the high cliffs and the ocean when I visited Cape Saint Vincent.

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At Cape Saint Vincent you can see a lighthouse built in1846. It is said it is one of the most powerful in Europe.

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After your visit to this place you can head to the Fortaleza de Sagres. This fortress was originally built in the 15th century and rebuilt in 1793. It was restored in the mid 20th century. It is a very large fortress.

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There is a nice church inside; the church of Nossa Senhora da Graca that dates from 1579. It replaced the original church of Dom Henrique of 1459.

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I had a long stroll into the fortress not realizing my companions (Virtual Tourist members) were waiting for me on the bus. I was in the Algarve for a VT meeting that time I visited the fortress, Cabo San Vincente and Silves.

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Cataplana is both the name of a dish and a pan.

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It is shaped like two clam shells hinged at one end. Traditionally it was made of copper. It is thought it was introduced in the country by the Moors.

You can buy a cataplana in the Algarve. They are quite expensive.

Cataplana as food is a slow cooked stew of fish, seafood, chorizo (a kind of salami) and vegetables. Here the food is put inside raw and is let simmer after having clamped the saucepan.

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In the Algarve you will surely notice the ornamental chimneys on the roof of the houses. There are not many information about these, but it is said that the builders use to ask the customers how many days they wanted their chimneys building last. So that they could calculate the cost of the chimney they were about to make that was based on the time that this would take to build.

These chimneys have cylindrical, prismatic, rectangular or square shapes. Some houses have four or five of them. Usually only one is functional.

Posted by Maurizioagos 09:20 Archived in Portugal Tagged the virtual algarve faro sagres alte albufeira tavira estoi silves tourist.com Comments (0)

Some day trips from Lisbon.

You can do several day trip from Lisbon; even without a car. For instance you could head to Cascàis, to Sintra and to many other towns and villages.

I' d also recommend a visit to the palace of Queluz. I re visited it some years ago.

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The national palace of Queluz was begun in 1747 on order by king Pedro III and completed in 1787. It was originally a hunting lodge.

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Inside this palace you can visit the Throne Room, the Music Room; the Ambassadors Room and many other smaller rooms. There is even a chapel.

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Once you visited the palace you can spend some time to explore its gardens.

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One wing of the palace is used as a residence for foreign head of state visiting Portugal.

The palace is seat of many concerts and exibitions.

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Cascais is a small town on the Atlantic coast, located some 30 km west of Lisbon. Once it was a fishing village. Today it is a famous tourist resort.

One of the attractions of Cascais is the Palace of Castro Guimarães. It was built in 1902. It is opened to visitors.

The Igreja Matriz (the main church) has some paintings by Josefa de Obidos. Unfortunately I couldn' t see them, because the church was closed when I visited Cascais..

If you happen to find the church and the palace closed you could rest on one of the beaches of the town, have a good lunch at a restaurant and do some shopping. There are lots of shops in Cascais!

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The Palace of the Counts of Castro Guimarães. It is opened to visitors.

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A fountain near the palace.

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The palace is surround by a large park. The Parque Marechal Carmona.

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A beautiful boy who lived at the park.

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Dom Pedro I is my favourite restaurant in Cascais. It is a small reastaurant situated just some meters from the town hall. It is well hidden in a narrow street, but you will easily find it.

At Dom Pedro I you can sample various typical Portuguese dishes. They also have a menu at a fixed price which includes soup, a main dish, a dessert, a drink and a coffee.

It has only a small dining room and a small outdoor area where you can have your meal if the weather is fine.

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There is a beautiful shopping center on the road that connects Cascais to the Guincho beach. Its name is Casa da Guia. This is a restored 19th century house. There are around 20 shops inside. Here you can buy furniture, clothes, some souvenirs, flowers and other things.

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In its gardens you can find some kiosks, restaurants and cafes. Casa da Guia is also a place to rest having a meal or a drink.

I went there by foot from the center of Cascais and it was a long walk. So; I' d recommend to take a taxi or a bus to get there.

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Sintra is a hilltop village made by three areas. Estefania; the modern area; with the train and the bus stations. Sintra-Vila; with the Royal Palace. Sao Pedro; located at some kilometers from Sintra-Vila.

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Sintra National Palace. This palace served as a summer residence for the Portuguese kings since the early 14th century. Probably it has Moorish origin. What you see today mostly consists of the buildings ordered by king Joao I (around 1415) and by king Manuel I (1497 and 1530).

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Inside you can see various rooms and a chapel. Some rooms opened to visitors are; Sala dos Cisnes (= swans) with the ceiling divided into panels decorated with swans. Sala das Pegas (= magpies) and Sala dos Brasoes, with a domed ceiling decorated with 72 coats of arms of the king and noble families.

You can spot the palace from afar because it has two huge white chimneys.

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Artnis is quite a large shop where you can find a good choice of home textils and various other items.

Here you can find table cloths, napkins, dish cloths, bath towels, aprons, soaps and other things. At Arnis they also sell clothes and accessories for small children.

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This is a fine shop to look for some presents to take home.

I' ve read that Artnis is "Sintra" written in reverse order. I don' t know if the proprietors of this shop thought about it when they choose a name for it.

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Quinta da Regaleira is a estate built between 1904 and 1910. It was designed by an Italian architect; Luigi Manini for a wealthy Brazilian merchant; Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro.

The palace has five floors. Here you can visit the kitchen, and several rooms. You can visit the palace with a guided tour or by yourself.

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Here you can visit a palace, built in neo-Manueline style, a chapel built in 1904 and a very beautiful garden with several fountains, grottoes, turrets and two artificial lakes.

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There is a nice sculptures museum in Sintra; The museum Anjos Teixeira. It is housed inside a former watermill built at the beginning of the XX century.

If you are interested in sculpture you should visit this museum. Here you can see a large collection of sculptures made by two local artists named Anjos Teixeira (Pedro Augusto dos Anjos Teixeira; the father and Arturo Gaspar dos Anjos Teixeira; the son). Besides the sculptures here you can see lots of drawings and plaster studies.

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Palacio da Pena is a palace situated quite far from the center of Sintra.

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This palace is a mixture of Arab minarets, towers and domes. It was built between 1840 and 1850.

Prince of Baviera D. Fernando of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, husband of D. Maria II ordered it to be build on the site of the ruins of the monastery of Our Lady of Pena.

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Inside the palace you can see a large ball room, the kitchen and several rooms.

The palace has been painted yellow and pink in the 90' s. These were its original colours.

It is quite expensive to visit the palace, but there are some discounts if you buy a special ticket that entitles you to visit this palace and also the national palace, and maybe some other attractions in Sintra.

A note; don' t leave Sintra without having tried some queijadas! The queijada is one of the two typical pastries of Sintra (the other is travesseiro). They are made of a thin pastry case filled with a mixture of cheese, flour, sugar, egg yolk and cinnamon. Queijadas are sold at some other shops and cafes in Sintra.

Its recipe dates back to the 13th or 14th century. It seems that in the middle ages they were used to pay part of the fixed rent of landed properties in the Sintra area.

Some notes about the buses in Sintra.

Bus n. 434 takes a circular route from Sintra to various attractions in the area; including the National Palace, the Moorish Castle and the Pena Palace.

Bus 435 stops near the Museo do Brinquedo and the National Palace (Sintra Vila) then goes to Quinta da Regaleira; to the Palace of Seteais and to Montserrate.

These buses depart from a bus stop near the train station. Tickets can be bought from the driver.

Note; if you have to go only to Sintra Vila, where the National Palace is; take n. 435 bus. You will only pay some cents. Tickets for bus n. 434 costs lots more. I suppose around 5 or 6 euros per person.

Posted by Maurizioagos 01:18 Archived in Portugal Tagged sintra cascais queluz. Comments (6)

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