Granada is a historic city located in Southern Spain and many people visit there to see the Alhambra Palace and Fortress complex. It is equally important to visit the Granada Cathedral, or the Cathedral of the Incarnation, and the Royal Chapel, which is adjacent to the church. The cathedral has an interesting architecture that represents the changing styles that were occurring during its construction in the mid-16th century. There are some gothic features, but it is mainly in the Spanish Renaissance style with elements of Baroque.
The cathedral features a large organ, high domed ceilings, white marble pillars, and a black and white checkered floor. The main dome, with its green background and gold stars, certainly draws the attention of anyone who visits the cathedral. In addition to all of the golden features throughout the interior of the cathedral, beautiful pieces of art adorn the walls of the church. Although the exterior is not as impressive as some of the other gothic cathedrals that can be found all around Europe, it is still quite worth visiting.
Located next to the cathedral is the Royal Chapel, which is the burial place of the Spanish Monarchs, Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand. It was Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand who famously funded Christopher Columbus’ venture that led to the European colonization of the Americas. Construction of the Royal Chapel began in the early 1500’s and was built in the gothic style. The highlight of visiting the Royal Chapel is seeing the tombs, which are protected by a glass wall.
The Granada Cathedral is certainly gorgeous and is a highlight of any visit to Granada. In addition to the cathedral and the Royal Chapel, there are many small streets that wind all around the heart of the old town area with plenty of small restaurants and shops.
With the birthplace and gravesite of Shakespeare, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and historic Tudor buildings, Stratford-upon-Avon is a wonderful town in England to visit. It gets its name because it is located on the River Avon and is sometimes simply referred to as Stratford. Located in the county of Warwickshire, there is also the Warwick Castle nearby, which is definitely worth visiting as well. Although it is definitely a tourist destination, we went during the off-season and enjoyed sharing the streets with more locals than tourists.
Obviously, seeing the birthplace of Shakespeare is a highlight of any visit to Stratford-upon-Avon. The house where Shakespeare was born in 1564 is located on Henley Street, which is part of the historic section of the town. The timbered house has been restored and looks very much today as it might have in the 16th century when Shakespeare was a child. There is also the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre where performances still occur throughout the year, but especially over the summer months featuring many famous actors. With over two million visitors per year, Stratford-upon-Avon can be quite busy.
We were in Stratford-upon-Avon during the holiday season, so there was a Christmas market and the town was decorated for the holidays. We also were there to watch the mayor kick off the holiday season as people gathered around the town hall. There were also many stores that featured holiday gifts as well as other typical shops selling items for tourists. Perhaps even better were the various pubs that were offering mulled wine to keep us warm on a cold autumn evening.
We spent a couple of days in Stratford-upon-Avon visiting the historic town and seeing the impressive Warwick Castle before catching a train to continue on to Manchester. Seeing the English countryside and the historic buildings was certainly one of our favorite parts of our trip to England several years ago.
There are several museums in Budapest that are worth visiting and the Hungarian National Museum located near the Inner City district is certainly one of them. With three floors of exhibits, the museum focuses on the history of Hungary, which includes many different interesting periods of time. For many reasons, Hungarians are both proud of their history as well as embarrassed by certain aspects of it as well. The building, with its murals and decorative dome, is as impressive as the exhibits that it houses.
We visited the museum on a rainy afternoon, making it a perfect way to get out of the rain while enjoying a trip through time as we walked through each of the floors. Hungary has a rich history and was one of the most powerful and influential countries in all of Europe for many centuries. The museum embraces that history with many displays of the royal families, battles, invasions, and more. There are a variety of paintings, statues, as well as historical garments and furniture located throughout the Hungarian National Museum.
We talked to several local Hungarians during our time in Budapest and their commentary regarding the history of the 20th century were all pretty much the same. It was a time of poor choices and a period of decline and occupation until the late 1900’s when the country regained its independence. The museum does not shy away from that part of its history, but instead has displays depicting each phase of that era. It starts Hungary’s involvement in WWI, which resulted in the country being divided into small Nation-States that left Hungary itself a much smaller country than its previous size. Then in WWII, Hungary once again sides with Germany in attempt to regain its former glory, only to end up being occupied by Germany towards the end of the war. Even the liberation of Hungary by the Soviet Union turned into another occupation and a dark period in the country’s history.
Eventually the country regained its independence and is now once again a proud country, albeit still much smaller than it was during the previous centuries. The Hungarian National Museum is definitely quite interesting and worth at least a couple of hours to see.