Karlstein Castle, Czech Republic

Karlstein Castle (Hrad Karlštejn), located 30 km from Prague, is one of the most important castles in Bohemia. It was founded by Charles IV to preserve the jewels of the Imperial crown of the Holy Roman Empire, the royal crown of the Bohemian states and the various holy relics. The original castle was of Gothic architecture but after being abandoned for over a century, many Gothic elements were replaced by others of the Renaissance type. It is known as the most visited castle of the Czech Republic. It has 5 levels with several towers and the large dungeon has 60m.

Tips

Prepare for a walk of about 20 minutes to get there, as the access by car stops in the parking of the main road, the rest of the ascent must be done on foot.

Do not miss the Saint Croix chapel in the upper tower. Generally it is necessary to make a reservation to visit it because of the great affluence of tourists. It has 4 partially glazed windows of gems, a cross of ogives and frescoes illustrating the life of Christ and 129 paintings representing saints signed by Theodoric.

You will also find a well with a depth of 80m where the bucket is raised and lowered by a wheel once driven by people who walked.

It is possible to book a guided tour in different languages. For visits in Czech, German or English it is not necessary.

Rhodes, medieval town, Rhodes, Greece

Rhodes is a town located at the north end of the largest island in the Dodecanese archipel which has the same name (Rhodes). It has a very important medieval town with many ruins in an enviable position where were ancient ports and where today are the modern ports. The Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the world, was a gigantic, statue traditionally located at the entrance of the port. It has a beautiful square which is the tourist centre of the city: Hippocrates Square; where you can find several good modern restaurants with terrace balconies at the top; there is a Turkish fountain in the middle of the square. It has beautiful ceramics and a column topped by a bronze owl. Another place to know is Socrates Street, a small narrow street; you can walk from the square towards the mosque of Soliman, it’s a fully-lined shopping street. Bordering Hippocrates square, there is an interesting building of stones with stairs known as Castellania or lodge of merchants. The building continues through a serie of picturesque arcades in Aristotle St. which connects Hippocrates Square with the Archdiocese. Walking through Akandia entry, you’ll find the ruins of Sainte Marie du Bourg (14th century). There are three apses which remain, a few steps from the ramparts, and the court of the older nave. The ramparts of the medieval city of Rhodes stretch over 5 kilometres in length. There are a dozen doors whose most masterful is the door of Amboise. There are two particularly imposing round towers but it opens on a chicane and you still need to cross Saint Antoine’s door to access within the city. The other remarkable door is the Door to the sea or Door of the Port which was the main entry. Two beautiful twin towers crenelated and equipped with machicolations are rather attractive. Above the semicircular arch, a mutilated bas-relief represents a Virgin with the child surrounded by Saint Pierre and Saint John the Baptist. In the place of the Archdiocese there is another fountain with very modern lines with three metal seahorses that celebrate the nearby marine environment. Akandia Port is one of the three ports of Rhodes. The oldest harbour is in front of the ‘Sea door’; here we can see the boats of fishermen. Mandraki, the most famous with the deer and the hind, welcomes boats and day cruise boats. Third, besides the fortifications, the other port welcomes the Giants of cruise and ferry boats from Piraeus. The harbour of Mandraki is protected by a 300 metres long dam on which stand still three antique windmills; at the end of the dam, the Fort of Saint Nicolas defended the city of Rhodes of the first maritime assaults. Inside the fort, there is a lighthouse which guides the boats at night.

Tips

If you only visit Rhodes for a day, the medieval town takes all day long, but if you stay a few days on the island, you’ll be able to visit it at different times of the day. To walk, the morning and the evening are the most enjoyable moments because the sun is very strong and the the temperatures are too hot nearly noon.
You will find many shops with typical handicrafts but you can usually discuss the price and get what you want for a more reasonable price.
If you want to enjoy the sea, not far from the port, you will find beaches to spend some pleasant hours. The most beautiful beaches are farther but for a day visit, it’s worth it to relax a bit in this so nice sea.
The city has plenty of cafes, restaurants, bars where you can also relax a little and enjoy a good coffee or a good local wine.
Wear comfortable shoes and in summer, wear light clothing and especially, drink plenty of water.

Paestum, Campania, Italy

Paestum is the name of an archaeological site located in the district of Capaccio-Paestum, Campania, southern Italy, formerly called Poseidonia, the name of a city of Great Greece. There are three Greek Doric temples and a museum, making part of the National Park of Cilento and Diano Valley. They say the Greek city was built in the late seventh century BC by the Greek Sybaris (now Calabria). The city changed hands through the centuries and was abandoned in the eleventh century (due of malaria) and the inhabitants founded the city of Capaccio a little further from there. There are important monuments of Greek and Roman times; other the three temples, there is also a small Roman amphitheater and a small funerary temple. The city walls (4.7 km long) are well preserved and there are four Roman gates. You can see the first temple of Hera (Zeus’ wife) or Basilica (called like that because it seemed rather a public meeting room that a religious building). The temple measuring 24.35 m x 54m, has 9 columns on the front and 18 on the sides, with a vegetable decoration neck capitals, with leaves, rosettes and lotus flowers. The second temple of Hera or Poseidon is preserved quite well and seems to have been inspired by the temple of Zeus at Olympia. The presence of two neighboring temples to the same deity, however, remains inexplicable. The third temple of Athena or Ceres is smaller than the others and there were three medieval graves in the basement that suggest they converted the temple into a Christian church. The museum has an extensive collection of Greek antiquities of southern Italy, funerary objects, many vases, jars, weapons and frescoes from the discoveries made in the Greek and Lucanian necropolis around Paestum.

Tips

If it’s a hot day do not forget to bring a bottle of water, sunglasses and comfortable shoes.
You can stay close to the site, there are several hotels and you can simultaneously enjoy to travel the region and visit the beautiful beaches nearby. It is an area with lots of interesting places to see. Ideally, rent a car and discover the region: Salerno, Amalfi, Positano, Naples, Pompeii, Agropoli, Capri and many other beautiful places wait for you.