UNESCO Religious

Tivoli and Villa d’Este

The Villa was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este in the 1500s, a young man that was named archbishop of Milan when he was only ten years old (of course his family’s wealth helped make that happen)! When he was 27, he was sent to the French court, where he became an advisor to the French King, Francis I, and in 1540 became a member of the King’s Private Council. He became a cardinal at the age of thirty. One of the wealthiest cardinals of the time, he was a patron of the arts. While he was a candidate for pope at five different times, he was never selected.

Tivoli’s altitude made it a popular summer residence since ancient Roman times. It is also quite close to the Villa Adriana, the summer residence of the Emperor Hadrian I. D’Este commissioned a prominent classical scholar, Pirro Ligorio, who had studied the Villa Hadriana and other Roman sites the vicinity, to plan a new villa and garden which would exceed anything the Romans had built. He obtained an abundant supply of marble and statuary from the ruins of Hadrian’s villa.

The nearby river Aniene was diverted to furnish water for the complex system of pools, water jets, channels, fountains, cascades and water games.

D’Este died on December 2, 1572 in Rome, and he was buried in a simple tomb in the church adjoining the Villa.

Burgos, Spain

Stop #20:

Just when you think you’ve seen enough churches to last you a lifetime, you stumble upon a town called Burgos, with one of the craziest churches you have ever seen.  It was stunning!

This small city has some of Spain’s most outstanding Medieval architecture. This is also the city of El Cid, the part-historical, part-mythical hero of the Christian Reconquest of Spain.

The big highlight, you guessed it, is the city’s cathedral.  History tells us that local burghers lynched their civil governor in 1869 for trying to take an inventory of all of the artwork in the Cathedral because the parishoners were afraid there was a plot to steal the artwork.  Construction began in 1221 and was complete by the middle of the 14th century.  The tomb of El Cid is in the hexagonal Condestable Chapel. along with his wife, Ximena.

We also hiked to the top of the city near the Caballeros castle (which we didn’t have time to visit) to get panoramic city views.  The black poplars on the Espolon also look interesting this time of year.

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

Notre Dame Paris

Paris – Notre Dame

In 2019, after the massive fire that destroyed much of Notre Dame, I went back to my raw photos and found a lot more pictures that I have now added to this portfolio. Such a sad story for a beautiful historically significant place. I’m am forever grateful that I woke up super early the morning I took these pictures to be one of the first to enter the church. I remember being one of only a handful of people in the church at the time. It was worth the couple miles walk to get to it!

Chartres Cathedral

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres is a medieval Catholic cathedral located about 50 miles  southwest of Paris. It is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The current cathedral was mostly constructed between 1194 and 1250.

We drove to Chartres from Carcassonne and couldn’t miss the big spires from a couple miles away.  They looked like they were rising out of the farms in the area.  Pretty neat.  I had been to Chartres once in the past, but it was nice to see the church renovated in several parts to look brand new rather than 800 or so years old!


We went to Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas Eve.  Tucked away in the middle of Israel, in the Palestinian Authority is the place where Jesus Christ was born.  Machine guns, war zone, conflict…all quite different from what one might expect in a place that is where these religions were born.  This was one of my most memorable holidays I’ve ever had.

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