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Posts tagged ‘architecture’

The Insider’s Tour of Basel’s Town Hall

I’m usually a much better planner than this.  I arrived in Basel with a vague idea to explore the old city center because, as I’d already discovered, old Swiss city centers are amazing.  Basel’s old town is dominated by the bright red Rathaus, or town hall.  Already impressed by the Rathaus’ exterior decorations, I jumped at the chance to take a guided tour of what I thought was a museum inside or minimally a preserved historic interior.  Even though the tour was in German (which I don’t speak), I completely enjoyed this insider’s look at the art, history, and, surprisingly, the contemporary life of the city housed inside this Basel landmark.

Basel Town Hall, or Rathaus, and Marktplatz

My lunch time view of the magnificent Basel Town Hall, or Rathaus, and Marktplatz square.

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A Concert in the Beautiful Hungarian State Opera House

It’s nice to tour gorgeous, historic music venues, but it’s even more enjoyable to appreciate the interior while taking in a concert!  The Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest is a Neo-Renaissance masterpiece from the late 19th century (like many other architectural wonders in the city).  With nearly nightly performances and very reasonable ticket prices, the Opera is a great way to spend an evening.  Just make sure you leave plenty of time before and after the show to wander the elegant lobbies and corridors.

Hungarian State Opera House interior

Empty seats and dimmed house lights in the Hungarian State Opera House after the concert.

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The Convent & the Hidden Ruins: Where to Stay in Jerusalem

Walking through the streets of Jerusalem crowded with believers of several faiths, you know you’re in a holy place.  During my visit, I wanted to stay in the heart of the old city so that I could experience this energy and spirit.  My early morning walks with mothers taking their children to school and evening strolls among the prayerful were everything I had hoped for.  While in Jerusalem, I stayed at a guesthouse for pilgrims run by an order of nuns which was located on the Via Dolorosa (or the Way of the Cross).  Besides being a welcoming home, the convent had a surprisingly beautiful but quirky church and a basement of archaeological remains dating to the Roman occupation of the city.  What more could I ask for?!

Via Dolorosa and Ecce Homo arch, Jerusalem

The Franciscans and Catholic pilgrims heading down the Via Dolorosa for the Friday afternoon Stations of the Cross. Note the aptly named alley (“The Nun’s Ascent”) and the public entrance to the Lithostrotos at the right.

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Digging into the Legend of Troy

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme.  This month we are discussing Folklore!  Take a look at all the great stories at the bottom of the page.

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, "The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy"

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, “The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy”, 1773, National Gallery, London (Photo)

Whether it was reading through the Iliad and Odyssey in school or seeing Brad Pitt as Achilles, we all know about Troy.  This mythical fortress city conjures up images of fierce battle, epic warriors, beautiful Helen herself, and of course, one of the greatest tricks of all time, the magnificent Trojan Horse.  Sometimes its easy to lump Troy in with Atlantis, the island of the Minotaur, or the lands of the Amazons – just fantasy places that serve as a setting for Greek mythology.  But what do we really know about Troy?  Along the northwest coast of Turkey are the archaeological remains of a city with walls that just might have been great enough to hold back the Athenian army and Achilles himself.

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Bern’s Historic Old City

If I had to describe a nation’s capital city, I would think of broad streets, massive administrative buildings, and commercial areas.  I picture public art, decorative architecture, and parks too but its all in the context of the greater metropolis at the heart of the city.  So then imagine how unprepared I was to visit Bern, Switzerland’s national capital.  Instead of a booming, modern downtown, they’ve done an amazing job of preserving the historic old city center.  The heart of the city is gorgeous and the perfect place to spend a day strolling.

Bern Old Town

The historic soul of Switzerland can be found in its incredible capital city, Bern.

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