St. Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

St. Joseph’s Oratory is the largest church in Canada, located on the northwest flank of Mount Royal in Montreal. The secondary element of the site is the Catholic basilica whose dimensions, its cross and the dome (60 m high and 39 m in diameter) are remarkable. The place has gardens where you can take a holy path with several sculptures that represent the Passion of Christ. Brother André took the initiative for its construction which started through donations and in 1904 a small modest chapel dedicated to St. Joseph, was inaugurated but it could not contain all the faithful while its doors were open and the faithful were praying outside so they decided to expand the place and the same was extended twice for the present appearance that can accommodate 1,000 people. The walls are covered with silver granite and the dome is covered with copper. There are several sculptures, paintings, stained glass windows, a chime and a large important organ. There are 283 steps to climb to the oratory and nearly a hundred are in wood for pilgrims who want to get it on his knees. Outside the church there is the Chapel of Brother André that is also his grave. He was beatified in 1982 by Pope John Paul II. Father André was known to receive sick people and heal them through his prayers to St. Joseph so there is a chapel where you’ll see the canes, prostheses, corsets, etc., which left the sick who felt healed.

Tips

At Christmas time, you can visit a part of a collection of more than 900 nativity scenes in the Oratory Museum.
The heart of Brother André is exposed behind a wrought iron gate in the exhibit room dedicated to his life and his work.

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.