Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, California, USA

Griffith Observatory is in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, California, sitting on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood. It opened in 1935 with a free admission, according with Griffith’s will because he wanted to make astronomy accessible to the public and it included a planetarium under the large central dome. During World War II the planetarium was used to train pilots in celestial navigation and it was again used for this purpose in the 1960s to train Apollo program astronauts for the first lunar missions. They renovated it in 2002 and it was closes for 4 years. They built an underground expansion too with a café, a gift shop and a theater. One wall inside the building is covered with the largest astronomically accurate image ever constructed “The Big Picture” 150 feet (46 m) by 20 feet (6.1 m) depicting the Virgo Cluster of galaxies; visitors can explore the highly detailed image from within arm’s reach or through telescopes 60 feet (18 m) away. The observatory has six sections: The Wilder Hall of the Eye, the Ahmanson Hall of the Sky, the W.M. Keck Foundation Central Rotunda, the Cosmic Connection, the Gunther Depths of Space Hall, and the Edge of Space Mezzanine and you can see different exhibitions in each part.

Tips

The observatory is closed on Mondays. The entrance is free but you must pay the shows in the planetarium.
There’s a small free parking next to the Observatory, but you can also leave your car along the steep road leading up to the observatory.
You also have a public bus leaving from the Vermont-Sunset Metro station at weekends.
It’s a very good spot to make photos of the Pacific Ocean, the Hollywood Sign and Downtown Los Angeles.

The Andromeda fountain, Segovia, Spain

The Andromeda fountain is in the gardens of the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso; one of the residences of the Spanish Royal Family, located in the province of Segovia in the Royal Site of San Ildefonso, with other beautiful fountains, being the highest and most important of the Horse Racing. In the middle of the pond stands a high cliff; Andromeda half naked, appears to be strongly linked to rocks and some geniuses who try to release her. There is also Perseus reducing the monster while showing the head of Medusa to immobilize him and behind Perseus, Minerva with her weapons to help if necessary. The main jet comes out of the mouth of the dying dragon and reaches a height of thirty-seven meters only a few meters less of the jet of water from the fountain of Fame. In Andromeda Square, where we find the eight streets called of Andromeda, there are some statues: Nereida with dolphins; Honor (the man in Roman costume, crowned with laurel and trumpet in the right hand); Cibeles, with a crown of towers and cornucopia; Faun crowned with ivy and a flute in his right hand; among others; all characters from Greek mythology. The fountain has its own lawn with cedars and redwoods.

Tips

To know a little more about the history of Greek mythology and learn about the exact time that was represented in sculpture, you can consult the book of Francisco Herrero, ‘Mythological Route, by the fountains of the Gardens of la Granja ‘.

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.