Enclosures of Talavera de la Reina, Toledo, Spain

The walls and the towers ‘albarranas’ of Talavera de la Reina is a defense system that protected the town in the province of Toledo, Spain, and counted on three walled enclosures, the roads were tangential to the Arab fortress but nowadays, there is only a large part of the first enclosure, the oldest, and some remains of the second. “La Villa” (first enclosure) was built in the IX-X centuries by Arabians possibly following the path of a Roman or Visigoth wall. Its main material are stone blocks, there are a lot of reused Roman remains there, even printed stones of that time; and rough stones. We also find semi-circular and square towers; these being the oldest towers and other flanking the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Unfortunately, the doors do not exist except for the remains of one of the semi-circular towers of the Door of Mérida. There still has a shield and a Virgin who presided the Door of  St-Peter, but they were put in the Basilica of Prado. The second walls (XII) protected the Major cities or New ones and the third (XIII) surrounded the old towns. The second enclosure still retained some of the early ones alongside the citadel, and the door of Seville (XVI); the Powder Tower, a part of the door Zamora and a tower in San Miguel Square. The third will keep several coats of arms of the Door of Cuarto and some traces of the foundation. This kind of construction attached to the first fortifications meant that Talavera was considered one of the safest cities for centuries.

Tips

The walls and towers are on free access. It is a walk that can be done without a guide as there are indicators and panels with photos and explanations.
Talavera de la Reina has a tourist office where you can request more information.

Chichen Itza, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Chichen Itza is an ancient maya city located between Valladolid and Merida in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Classified world heritage of UNESCO and named as one of new 7 Wonders of the world in 2007, after a controversial vote organized by the New Seven Wonders Foundation. The presence of the city in this place is due to 2 water wells (cenotes) because it is a region devoid of water and owes its name to this source of underground water ‘Chi’ means ‘mouth’ and ‘Chén’ means ‘well’ and ‘Itzá’ means ‘water’s wizard ‘ in maya. Its history remains unclear. The first traces of occupation and construction dates from the 8th or 9th century. There are the southern sector or old Chichén, whose buildings are close to those of the cities of Uxmal, Kabah and Labná and the northern sector dedicated to Kukulkan (the feathered serpent), with larger buildings, the difference suggests that the styles have come one after the other. In the North section there is the great pyramid ‘Castillo’ (24 metres high), the observatory’Caracol’, the great field of ball game, the sacred cenote, the ossuary, the group of thousands columns and the temple of warriors. In the southern sector the buildings are more modest: the Casa Colorada (Red House), the Casa del Venado (the Deer House), the church and the nuns quadrangle. What remains is uniformly grey but there are traces that demonstrate that in another time the building were colourful. The ruins are surrounded by forest. The main building, the great pyramid, is linked to the astro-architecture, developed enough by the Maya. It has four sides each divided into nine trays with four stairs each with 90 steps, the orientation, and the construction of the pyramid are such that at the moment of the spring equinox and fall, the sun produces with the edges of the pyramid a drop shadow that makes believe that the large heads of snakes at the foot of the stairs of the pyramid are extended by the corrugated body of a snake. The great pyramid was erected over a smaller one, a very narrow tunnel whose entrance is located under the stairs can be accessed.

Tips

If you spend your holidays at Riviera Maya or nearby, you can buy an excursion at the reception of your hotel with guide in your language. Notice that depending on the location of your hotel, you should wait until they will come pick you up with the bus and it will be the same for the return.
Another possibility is to rent a car, allowing you to visit the ruins in complete freedom. Don’t forget to bring sunglasses to protect you from the sun and water or juice or fruit. Depending on the season you visit the ruins , protect yourself also with sunscreen.
Sports shoes or comfortable ones are required.

Rialto Theatre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The Rialto Theatre is a theater in the Mile End neighborhood in Montreal which was inaugurated in 1924. It is considered a national historic site of Canada. The hall is well known for its magnificent interior decoration, made by Emmanuel Briffa. Its neo-baroque style, richly decorated, has lots of marble, wood paneling, wall hangings, etc. The construction (1923-1924) is due to the Montreal architect Raoul Gariépy and he had designed it as a neighborhood cinema. Rialto featured films, musical performances and plays. The place has a capacity of 770 seats in the stalls and 600 in the balcony. The building that houses the theater also has other facilities such as a ballroom, a bowling alley, a roof garden and shops on the ground floor. It was sold around 1990 and Rialto had lost its cultural role after the sale but it was sold again and since 2010, the new owner has given it back its original role.

Tips

You can know about the different presentations on their website. The theater has an intimate atmosphere and if you are on the ground floor, you’ll still have more like that feeling. There is a bar and sometimes, you’ll also be able to have dinner during the show. The address is 5723 Av du Parc, Montreal, QC H2V 4G9.