UNESCO Architectural

Siena

Most of the principal sites in Siena cluster around the fan-shaped Piazza Del Campo, one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares.

The piazza occupies the site of the old Roman forum and for much of the city’s early history was the principal marketplace. The present shape began in 1293, when the Council of Nine, Siena’s ruling body at the time, began to acquire land with a plan to create a grand civic plaza.

The piazza has been a setting for executions, bullfights and festivals. Today it is lined with cafés and restaurants. The fountain in 5r square is a 19th-century copy of an original carved by Jacopo della Quercia in 1409-19. It’s relief depict the Virtues, Adam and Eve and the Madonna and Child. The originals are in Santa Maria della Scala. The fountain’s water is still supplied by a 500-year-old aqueduct.

Wroclaw City

Lisbon, Portugal

Stop #33 (the final stop):

Lisbon sits on seven hills, and no matter where you go in Lisbon, you always feel like you are walking up one of them! To get a feel for the streets, take a look at the photos of the streetcars. I don’t know what they have for engines, but they must pack some serious power to navigate the hilly narrow streets.

The city is just north of the Rio Tejo (Tagus River) and has several distinct neighborhoods. We spent time in the following ones (and probably others but didn’t know what they were called):

  • Alfama is the old Moorish quarter. It has some of the oldest buildings because it survived a major earthquake in 1755. This is where the Sé (the cathedral) and the Castelo de São Jorge (St. George’s Castle) are located.
  • Baixa (Lower Town). The very large square, Praça do Comércio is one of Europe’s largest riverside squares— in the photos, is a yellow (perhaps ochre) and white large square building with a gigantic square and monuments. Baixa sits between this square and Praça Dom Pedro IV, a smaller square.
  • Bairro Alto (Upper Neighborhood). We went to a bar and restaurant in this area, which is had hills (of course) and 18th-century streets with lots of bars and restaurants.
  • Alcântara and Belém. The old port district. Belém is the Portuguese word for Bethlehem. It was from here that the country’s great explorers set out during the period of the discoveries. The Manueline buildings in this part of town make it obvious that they came home with many riches.

Highlights:

  • Castelo de São Jorge (St. George’s Castle) was constructed by the Moors, but it refortified previous forts built by the Romans and Visigoths. Dom Afonso Henriques, mentioned in the Guimaraes portfolio, drive the Moors from Lisbon in. The views from the castle were some of the best in town.
  • Elevador de Santa Justa. This is a tourist attraction built in 1902 by Raul Mésnier, who studied under Gustave Eiffel. You will see the steel tower in pictures below.
  • This is another name for Lisbon’s main square described above. It is the same as the Praça Dom Pedro IV. There are ornate sculptures/statues throughout the square.
  • Torre de Belém. The building shown with a reflection in my photos below including balconies and turrets is Belém completed in 1520 to defend the port entrance. It is dedicated to St. Vincent, the patron saint of Lisbon.
  • Padrão dos Descobrimentos. The white Monument of the Discoveries in photos below was made in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. From this site, Vasco da Gama left for India. Prince Henry is first figure on the monument, nearest to the water. Behind him are the Portuguese explorers of Brazil and Asia.

Oviedo, Spain

Stop 24:

Oviedo is the capital city of Galicia.  We didn’t spend a lot of time here.  We built way too much into our interary to take full advantage of this city.  But honestly, other cities in the area were drawing us in.  And again, the highlights here are mostly churches.  We were exhausted from all the churches at this point, and the ones we had already seen were gorgeous, grand, hundreds of years old, and very interesting.

Highlights:

  • San Julian de los Prados, a re-Romanesque shrine – This is the oldest church in the city.  We didn’t make it in time to see the well-preserved frescoes and a Greek lettered cross on the inside.
  • Cathedral of San Salvador – Oviedo’s Gothic cathedral was built between the 14th and the 16th centuries.  Inside is a Holy Chamber built to hide the treasures of Christian Spain during the struggle with the Moors.  Again, we didn’t spend time here, so we missed this.

Thanks to Fodor’s Travel Guides, Trip Advisor, and Wikipedia for the great lessons that helped me to plan and summarize this trip.

Alcazar (Seville, Spain)

Stop 11:

You will see photos of the following:

  • Plaza del Triunfo
  • Mudejar palace, the official residence of the king and queen when they’re in town, built by Pedro I (1350– 69) on the site of Seville’s former Moorish alcázar (fortress). We were not allowed to take photographs, but I will say that it was unbelievably beautiful with all of the Moorish geometric patterns on the walls.
  • Puerta del León (Lion’s Gate) – I have one photo at night and another in the day below.
  • Patio del León (Courtyard of the Lion– while under renovation, I saw the lions and can imagine how beautiful it is without scaffolding!
  • Sala de Justicia (Hall of Justice) – 14th-century
  • Patio del Yeso (Courtyard of Plaster), which remains from the original 12th-century Almohad Alcázar.
  • The gardens were also nice, until we couldn’t figure out the path to get out of the maze.

I thank Randy for being able to look at a map once and know exactly how to navigate somewhere he has never been (a gift I definitely do not have…see Caceres blog)…he got me to the one spot where I wanted to get a photo before the crowds arrived. It is the spot below with the long narrow reflecting pool and the gorgeous arches surrounding the courtyard. This is one of my favorite spots from the whole trip, and one that captures the beauty of the Alcazar.

Thanks to Fodor’s Travel Guides, Trip Advisor, and Wikipedia for the great lessons that helped me to plan and summarize this trip.

Sagrada Familia

This has to be one of the coolest churches I have ever seen.  It is impressive for those that are religious, or interested in architecture, or fascinated by modern engineering projects, or those that just like colors and shapes.  I spent a few hours there in daylight and at night.  I would love to spend even more time there because every time I blinked I saw something new and different.  It is peaceful, and dreamy, and interesting.  When I saw this church in 1998, I remember parts being uncovered.  They made a lot of progress in 17 years!

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