St. Vitus Cathedral, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert, Prague, Czech Republic

St. Vitus Cathedral, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert is located in Prague, the Czech Republic and is the seat of the archbishop of the city. It is the biggest and most important church in the country, located within the Prague Castle. Henry the Fowler offered to the Duke Wenceslas 1 a relic of Saint Vit around the year 925 and to house it, the Duke Wenceslas built a church on a place of pagan site dedicated to the goddess of mythology Slavic life (Siwa). In 973 the church was chosen as the seat of bishopric and in 1060, a Roman basilica is raised instead. Through the centuries, the original church took the form of what is now a mainly Gothic church. St. Wenceslas Chapel contains the tomb of the saint, it is adorned with murals on the top, representing the saint’s life and in the lower part there are semiprecious stones. The crown jewels are locked in the chapel. There is also the burial crypt of Czech kings, which contains the tombs of Charles IV, Wenceslas IV and Rodolphe II. St. John of Nepomuk has a tomb in silver. The windows date mostly from XX century. Zygmunt Bell (the biggest Czech bell, 1548) is in the south tower. There is also a carved monumental cross, in wood, dating from 1899.

Tips

Do not leave without climbing the south tower from where you can have a beautiful panoramic view of the city. Guided tours in the cathedral are organized by the Administration of Prague Castle but you can not just buy the visit to the Cathedral, this visit will be included by purchasing one of two tours offered. Tickets are on sale in the Information Center. There are discounts for children and adolescents under 16, seniors 65 and over and families.

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.

Bolzano, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy

Bolzano is an Italian alpine town, the capital of the homonymous autonomous province in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. 74% of the population is of Italian language, a little more than 25% speaks German and a 0.68% is of the Ladin language. Bolzano is located on the eastern part of the vast basin that comes from the conjunction of Isarco, Sarner and the Adige valleys. Basin is bounded on the West by the chain of Maier, the Altopiano del Salto at noth-west (1500 m), the Round mountain at north-east-and by Mont Pozza (1619 m) in the south. A small rocky cliff of the latter, called Virgolo is located behind the city. The city is connected to the three closest mountains, through cable cars that exceed each about 1,000 metres. From the city, you can see the mount Rosengarten (3004 m) which is part of the Dolomites with the Vajolet Towers. The historic centre of the city is located in the triangle bordered to the West by the Talfer torrent, on the South by the Isarco River and on the Northeast by Mount Tondo. To visit: the Romanesque and Gothic styles Cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta in Walther Square; the archaeological museum which preserves the body of Ötzi, the man of the ice era; the International Museum of the mountain; the Stabile Theatre (1950) and also the beautiful gardens for walks. Bolzano is also much visited for its Christmas market, the oldest in Italy.

Tips

The area is a paradise for hikers or climbers, whether beginners or experienced. The trails are all well marked and easy to follow. The surrounding landscapes are breathtaking.

If you like the winter, there are several ski slopes, spas, restaurants with excellent alpine food and wonderful desserts. Enjoy the traditional meal ‘polenta’, good cheese, sausages and smoked meats and good wine.

If you go there in December, don’t miss the ‘Christmas market’, it is the most important in the area, you will find many crafts even as typical products sold by their producers. Note that at this time it is very cold and you will find mountain cold to endure all day outside, cause the market is in the open air; so be careful and dress warmly. You can warm in one of the typical cafés with a hot chocolate or several kinds of coffee and delicious pastries.