Europe Tour 2: Ireland – Portugal

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Franciscan Friary in Adare, Ireland - Encircle Photos

1 Franciscan Friary in Adare, Ireland

The Franciscans arrived in Dublin around 1230. During the next century, the Catholic order established more than 45 friaries across Ireland. The first in Adare was sponsored in 1464 by Thomas Fitzgerald, the 7th Earl of Kildare, while he was the Lord Chancellor of Ireland (the highest judicial official office). It was dissolve by Henry VIII in 1540 during the Reformation when all monasteries were forced to close. This friary opened again in 1633 but not for long. Several friars were killed when the monastery was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s troops in 1646.

N21 Gortaganniff, Co. Limerick, Ireland
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Parliament Bridge Spanning South Channel in Cork, Ireland - Encircle Photos

2 Parliament Bridge Spanning South Channel in Cork, Ireland

Parliament Bridge is a limestone arch above the River Lee. It was built in 1806 based on a design by William Hargrave. It is not the oldest of the dozen bridges crossing the South Channel. Clarke’s Bridge dates back to 1776 and the South Gate Bridge was constructed in 1713. In the background is the spire of Holy Trinity Church.

Parliament St, Ballintemple, Cork, Ireland
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Record Tower at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland - Encircle Photos

3 Record Tower at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland

In 1204, King John of England commissioned a stronghold to defend the city against potential Norman attacks. The Record Tower on the left, finished in 1228, is the oldest surviving building of the original Dublin Castle. It was used as a prison and is now the Garda or Police Museum. On the right is the Chapel Royal. The Gothic Revival structure by architect Francis Johnston was finished in 1814. In 1943, it became the Church of the Most Holy Trinity. Since 1922, the 11 acre castle property houses government offices. However, sections such as the State Apartments and two museums are available for public tours.

Dublin Castle, Dame St, Dublin 2, Ireland
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Fly Fishing below the Salmon Weir in Galway, Ireland - Encircle Photos

4 Fly Fishing below the Salmon Weir in Galway, Ireland

Galway Fishery is extremely popular among anglers in pursuit of sea trout and especially wild Atlantic salmon. This is the hot spot – from the Salmon Weir in the background and 250 yards downstream. Although the fishing season starts in February, the peak months are May and June when the salmon swim upstream towards their spawning grounds. The average salmon weighs about 12 pounds and looks spectacular on your dinner plate.

Salmon Weir Bridge University Rd, Galway, Ireland
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Medieval Façade of the Black Abbey in Kilkenny, Ireland - Encircle Photos

5 Medieval Façade of the Black Abbey in Kilkenny, Ireland

The Black Abbey has a magnificent, medieval façade accented with blooming flowers in the courtyard. Although some of the early 13th century structure remains, most of the current building dates from the 14th century, including the enormous windows beneath the ancient tower. The largest is called the Rosary Window. It is adorned with stained glass created by Mayers of Munich in 1892. Oliver Cromwell destroyed much of this priory in the mid-17th century. After a significant restoration, it reopened in 1816.

Abbey Sq, Abbey Street, Gardens, Kilkenny, Ireland
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Bird Colonies at Cliffs of Moher near Liscannor, Ireland - Encircle Photos

6 Bird Colonies at Cliffs of Moher near Liscannor, Ireland

The common gulls flying gracefully along this Irish headland are among the 30,000 birds nesting at the Cliffs of Mohr. Two more of the 30 species of seabirds are the razorbill and chough. The star residents are a colony of 1,300 adult Atlantic puffins. It is virtually impossible to see the birds from the top of the cliff except through a few telescopes along the wall. Serious bird watchers get a better view by taking a one-hour cruise. Even then you can only get so close. Over 600 feet of water at the base of the cliff is a protected zone under the EU Birds Directive of 1989.

Ballard Rd Lislorkan North, Co. Clare, Ireland
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Looscaunagh Lough along the Ring of Kerry, Ireland - Encircle Photos

7 Looscaunagh Lough along the Ring of Kerry, Ireland

This gorgeous scene is viewed along N71 from atop Looscaunagh Hill. Looscaunagh Lough is the southernmost of lakes within Killarney National Park. Boating on the lakes is limited by permits issued by the KNP and is strictly regulated to six horsepower or under watercraft. Park management also prohibits radio towers and telephone lines. Their preservation policies have resulted in maintaining pristine, natural beauty.

N71 Looscaunagh Hill, Ring of Kerry, Ireland
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Torc Waterfall along the Ring of Kerry, Ireland - Encircle Photos

8 Torc Waterfall along the Ring of Kerry, Ireland

One of several highlights of the 26,000 acre Killarney National Park is the Torc Waterfall. The falls are located less than five miles from Killarney off of the N71 Killarney Kenmare Road. After an easy ten minute walk through dense woods, you are treated to this cascading water with a drop of 65 feet. If you prefer a longer hike – almost five miles – then follow the trail up the side of the 1,755 foot Torc Mountain. In Irish, Torc means boar. The name is based on a bewitched boar slain by the folklore hero Fionn mac Cumhaill.

Cloghereen Upper, Co. Kerry, Ireland
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Reginald’s Tower in Waterford, Ireland - Encircle Photos

9 Reginald’s Tower in Waterford, Ireland

Ivar of Waterford was the King of Waterford from 969 until he died in 1,000. Reginald’s Round Tower is named after his son and successor, Ragnall ua Ímair. The original Viking citadel was built as part of a defensive wall in 1003. This 54 foot, stone stronghold replaced it in the late 13th century. This is one of three towers forming Viking Triangle. During its history, it has been a prison and a mint plus been attacked several times. Ireland’s oldest building is now the Waterford Viking Museum. Inside are exhibits about the Norsemen’s occupation including archeological artifacts.

2 The Mall, Waterford, X91 W5TX, Ireland
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Queen Victoria Statue at City Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland - Encircle Photos

10 Queen Victoria Statue at City Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland

In 1613, Belfast became a borough by a degree from James VI and I, the King of Scotland, England and Ireland. 275 years later, Queen Victoria granted Belfast a Royal Charter. This marble statue by Sir Thomas Brock shows the United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch holding a scepter and orb with cross, symbols of her sovereignty. Acquiring city status prompted the acquisition of the White Linen Hall in 1896 and the construction of the Belfast City Hall shown in the background.

Donegall Square, Belfast, BT1 5GS
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Santa Maria Assunta and Castello del Dragone in Camogli, Italy - Encircle Photos

11 Santa Maria Assunta and Castello del Dragone in Camogli, Italy

This delightful complex along the shore of the Italian Rivera in Camogli, Italy, has a significant history as well as beauty. On the left is the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta whose origin dates back to the 12th century. On the right is Castello del Dragone, which was constructed as a fort in the 13th century. It was frequently attacked but continuously rebuilt and enlarged each time.

Via Isola, 27 16032 Camogli GE, Italy
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Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy - Encircle Photos

12 Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy

Palazzo Pitti derives its name from its original owner, Luca Pitti. The banker commissioned the elaborate home in 1458. A century later, it was sold to the Duke of Florence, Cosimo I de’ Medici. He expanded the mansion into a palace in order to accommodate his guests. The extravagant property remained the Medici family residence until the dynasty ended in 1737. Today, Pitti Palace is home to the city’s largest museum of Renaissance and modern art. You can also see the royal apartments where the Medici family lived. And do not miss the Boboli gardens in back.

Piazza de' Pitti, 1, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
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San Michele in Foro Western Façade in Lucca, Italy - Encircle Photos

13 San Michele in Foro Western Façade in Lucca, Italy

This side view of the western façade of San Michele in Foro Catholic Church provides a sense of its Pisan Romanesque architecture. Notice how narrow the top four stories are. This series of decorative arches and columns are called a blind arcade. Below that is a band decorated with marble shapes and sculptures of creatures. And flanking the central entrance with its rose window are Corinthian columns and arches with a diamond shape carved in each.

Piazza San Michele 1, 55100 Lucca, Province of Lucca, Italy
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Cathedral of Messina in Messina, Italy - Encircle Photos

14 Cathedral of Messina in Messina, Italy

The gorgeous Gothic façade of the Cathedral of Messina is an architectural history book. The basilica was originally built in the 12th century by the Normans. The entrances date back to the early 15th century and the tympanum was finished a few decades later. The Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta was extensively rebuilt after successive damage from a 1908 earthquake and then WWII bombings. The astronomical clock was installed in 1933.

Piazza Duomo, 14, 98122 Messina ME, Italy
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Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa, Italy - Encircle Photos

15 Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa, Italy

It took almost two hundred years to construct the white marble Tower of Pisa. It started leaning soon after construction began in 1173. In an attempt to compensate, the upper floors were built so one side is taller than the other. Nearly three hundred steps lead to the top. The finished bell tower stands about 186 feet at the peak and leans over 12 feet.

Piazza del Duomo 1, 56126 Pisa PI, Italy
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Marina Gate, the Main Entrance to Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

16 Marina Gate, the Main Entrance to Pompeii, Italy

Porta Marina means Sea Gateway. This is the main entrance into Pompeii. The ancient Italian town was buried during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. A visit to the ruins is a walk through Roman life from over 1,900 years ago. You will see ruts in the cobblestone streets from the chariots, the remnants of gorgeous frescos, the iconic Forum and plaster molds of citizens who died during the rain of pumice and ash.

Via Villa dei Misteri, 3, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Andrea Doria Castle and Fishing Boat in Portovenere, Italy - Encircle Photos

17 Andrea Doria Castle and Fishing Boat in Portovenere, Italy

Perched high above the colorful buildings and fishing boats lining the shore in Portovenere, Italy, is the Andrea Doria Castle. Built by a wealthy Genoese family in 1161 and named after an admiral, the pentagonal shape is now in partial ruins. The historic landmark provides a spectacular, panoramic view of the Gulf of La Spezia. This Cinque Terre town makes a perfect, one-day visit.

Via Olivo, 17 19025 Portovenere SP, Italy
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Castle on the Sea in Rapallo, Italy - Encircle Photos

18 Castle on the Sea in Rapallo, Italy

Since the first settlers arrived around the 8th century B.C., Rapallo, Italy has been plagued by battles with the Lombards, Aragonese, Ottomans, French and Germans. The Castello sul Mare, which translates to Castle on the Sea, was built in the mid-16th century to defend against the Barbary pirates who looted the town and kidnapped young women. Since then, it has been used by the Captaincy of Rapallo, a prison, the Palace of Justice and now a major art exhibition. Attached to the castle is the St. Cajetan chapel which was built in 1688.

Lungomare Vittorio Veneto 1, 16035 Rapallo GE, Italy
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Harbor, Houses and Hills in Recco, Italy - Encircle Photos

19 Harbor, Houses and Hills in Recco, Italy

This circular harbor on the Gulf Paradiso belongs to the resort town of Ricco, Italy. Its colorful houses are dotted along the lush, green cliffs overhanging the Ligurian Sea. Tragically, it was almost completely destroyed during bombing in World War II. It is most famous for Focaccia col formaggio. It consists of Stracchino, a local cream cheese, sandwiched between thin dough and baked for about eight minutes. Manuelina’s family restaurant still serves it since the 19th century.

Via Filippo da Recco, 24 16036 Recco GE, Italy
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Northern Façade of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy - Encircle Photos

20 Northern Façade of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Visit the Colosseum early in the morning when most tourists are having breakfast and while the sun is shining on the northern façade. This view from the elevated street called Via Nicola Salvi lets you feel the grandeur of the world’s largest amphitheater. When it was built in 80 AD, a four-story, 164 foot high wall surrounded its 1,788 foot elliptical shape. On the second and third levels there was a magnificent sculpture inside each arch along the arcades. Notice the corbels (architectural stones) protruding near the roofline. 240 of these supported a retractable awning called a velarium.

Piazza del Colosseo 00184 Roma RM, Italy
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St. Peter’s Basilica View from St. Peter’s Square in Rome, Italy - Encircle Photos

21 St. Peter’s Basilica View from St. Peter’s Square in Rome, Italy

It is exhilarating to enter St. Peter’s Square for the first time. You will stare in awe at St. Peter’s Basilica. The façade stretches 730 feet across and 448 feet tall. This qualifies as the largest church in the world. Among the architects who designed this iconic home to Christianity was Michelangelo. As you marvel at the ornate Renaissance features, you begin to understand why construction of Basilica Sancti Petri required 120 years (1506 until 1626). It is humbling to know you are standing on the spot where the Apostle Simon was crucified in 64 AD. Inside is Saint Peter’s tomb.

St. Peter's Basilica Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City
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Picturesque Harbor View of San Remo, Italy - Encircle Photos

22 Picturesque Harbor View of San Remo, Italy

San Remo is the first major town along the western edge of the Italian Rivera on the Mediterranean coast. This resort town of about 60,000 is famous for its moderate, year-round climate, its production of extra virgin olive oil and its flowers, which gave it the nickname Città dei Flora. Its picturesque harbors called Porto Antico and Portosole overlook the Rivera dei Flora.

Piazza Castello, 1, 18038 Sanremo IM, Italy
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St. Mark’s Bell Tower, Library and Loggia in Venice, Italy - Encircle Photos

23 St. Mark’s Bell Tower, Library and Loggia in Venice, Italy

Here are three significant landmarks in the Piazzetta di San Marco. First, the 323 foot, brick St. Mark’s Campanile. This historic icon was built in 1514 and reconstructed in 1912. Below it is the 16th century Loggetta by Jacopo Sansovino. The same architect designed the Biblioteca Marciana on the left. This Library of St. Mark’s contains over one million historic books and 13,000 manuscripts.

Piazza San Marco 16, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
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Place Guillaume II Square in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg - Encircle Photos

24 Place Guillaume II Square in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

This is Place Guillaume II with the equestrian statue of the square’s namesake: William II, the former King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg. It is a typical scene of the quiet, charming and non-pretentious capital city of about 100,000 Luxembourgers. What is very surprising is this small, landlocked country with about half a million people has the world’s second highest GDP per capita at about $80,000.

17 Rue du Fossé, 1536 Luxembourg
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Yellow Fields of Rapeseed Flowers in Countryside, Luxembourg - Encircle Photos

Yellow Fields of Rapeseed Flowers in Countryside, Luxembourg

In the springtime, the green rolling hills in Luxembourg’s countryside are carpeted with yellow fields of rapeseed flowers. They are a spectacular sight. The plant’s seeds are used for producing cooking oil, biodiesel and animal feed. A significant share of the sparsely populated northern region of Luxembourg, called Oesling, is devoted to small, family-owned farms.

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Vianden Castle in Vianden, Luxembourg - Encircle Photos

25 Vianden Castle in Vianden, Luxembourg

A military fort called a castellum was built on this hill during the Roman Gothic period. Construction on the Vianden Castle began in the 11th century and continued for about three hundred years. A further expansion occurred in the 17th century. After falling into ruins during the 19th century, it was fully restored and now is a fascinating museum that traces its illustrious history.

Vianden Castle Montée du Château, 9408 Vianden, Luxembourg
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Porte des Bombes in Floriana near Valletta, Malta - Encircle Photos

26 Porte des Bombes in Floriana near Valletta, Malta

When the Porte des Bombes was built in 1721 it was the gate for a new wall into Floriana at the west side of Valletta. It was part of a fortification project initiate by Ramon Perellos y Roccaful which is why his coat of arms adorns the top of the Baroque structure. He was a Grand Master of the Order of Malta from 1697 until 1720. At the turn of the 19th century, this spot was occupied by Napoleon’s French troops during the Siege of Malta.

Triq Nazzjonali, Il-Furjana, Malta
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St. Paul’s Cathedral Dome and Bell Tower Behind Walls of Mdina, Malta - Encircle Photos

27 St. Paul’s Cathedral Dome and Bell Tower Behind Walls of Mdina, Malta

This gorgeous dome on top of St. Paul’s Cathedral greets you as you approach Mdina, Malta. On the left is one of the Roman Catholic church’s two bell towers. This beautiful Baroque structure was designed by Lorenzo Gafà and consecrated in 1702. It replaced a previous church from the 13th century that was destroyed during an earthquake in 1693. These timelines seem old until you learn the town’s fortified walls were first built in 700 BC.

Triq Ta'L-Infetti L-Imdina, Malta
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Close Up View of Mosta Dome in Mosta, Malta - Encircle Photos

28 Close Up View of Mosta Dome in Mosta, Malta

I could not resist taking a closer view of the dome atop the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady, often referred to as the Rotunda of Mosta. The world’s fourth largest unsupported dome was the design of local architect Giorgio Grognet de Vassé. He also carefully chose the façade’s warm beige limestone that was quarried locally at Ta’ Vnezja. But I was curious about the motif above the pediment and below the cornice. Their five or seven petals resemble a palmette design. In classic Greek and Roman architecture they are called anthemion.

Rotunda Square, Mosta, Malta
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Valletta Cityscape along Waterfront in Valletta, Malta - Encircle Photos

29 Valletta Cityscape along Waterfront in Valletta, Malta

Malta is a small island of just 122 square miles in the middle of the Mediterranean. When you approach the country’s capital from along the waterfront, you are struck by its multiple layers of stacked buildings. You also notice their uniform golden hue. That is Maltese limestone, the bedrock of the archipelago. There are two types. The most common is called Globerigina while the harder version, which is typically reserved for important construction, is named Coralline. Those arched doorways along the waterfront are part of the Barriera Wharf.

Liesse Valletta, Malta
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Opéra de Monte-Carlo in Monte Carlo, Monaco - Encircle Photos

30 Opéra de Monte-Carlo in Monte Carlo, Monaco

The Beaux Arts style of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, which was built in 1879, has an opulent appearance resembling the Parisian opera house. This similarity is not surprising because they were designed by the same architect and many of the same artisans. Monaco’s opera house is called Salle Garnier while the one in France is Palais Garnier. Both were named in honor of Charles Garnier. On the left is the Hôtel de Paris.

Opéra de Monte-Carlo Place du Casino, 98000 Monaco
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Citadel Fortified Wall in Budva, Montenegro - Encircle Photos

31 Citadel Fortified Wall in Budva, Montenegro

This massive wall at the southern edge of Budva plunges straight down into the blue waters of Boka Bay. The fortification is part of the Citadel at Budva. It was built during the 9th century probably shortly after the town was destroyed by Muslims. It was then expanded during the 15th, 17th and 18th centuries. This rampart has survived several attacks and suffered through earthquakes. But the Citadela stands as a testament to engineering by people who cherished their town and dreamed of freedom. Don’t forget to visit the history museum inside of the Citadel.

Crkva Svetog Save Budva, Montenegro
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Narrow Pedestrian Street in Kotor, Montenegro - Encircle Photos

Narrow Pedestrian Street in Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor is best described as a labyrinth. If you look at a map of Stari Grad (Old Town), you will not detect a pattern to the maze. So, skip taking an organized approach to sightseeing. Instead, meander through the narrow pedestrian-only streets, enjoy the boutique shops and historical sites and take a break in one of the small squares. And don’t worry about getting lost. You are never far from one of the fortified walls encircling the city. They will keep you contained.

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Our Lady of the Rocks Church near Kotor, Montenegro - Encircle Photos

32 Our Lady of the Rocks Church near Kotor, Montenegro

To reach Kotor by ship, you enter the Mediterranean’s deepest natural fjord from the Adriatic Sea and then sail for about 17 miles. Along the way, you pass through Verige Strait. This is the Bay of Kotor’s narrowest channel. According to folklore, the Virgin Mary and Christ Child appeared to sailors here in 1452. The mystical event began the ritual among mariners of throwing a stone into the water after each successful voyage. The location of the apparition is Our Lady of the Rocks. This small Catholic church was built on the Gospa od krpjela islet in 1632 and reconstructed in 1722. The tradition of adding rocks is celebrated annually on July 22 during the fašinada celebration.

Our Lady of the Rocks, Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
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Waterfront Cityscape of Perast, Montenegro - Encircle Photos

33 Waterfront Cityscape of Perast, Montenegro

Perast is one of several jewels encircling the Boka Kotorska or Bay of Kotor. The village is located on the north bank across from the narrow Verige Strait. The idyllic location offers more than 240 days of sunshine. Enjoy exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site with numerous Venetian palaces and churches like St. Nicholas in the foreground. Offshore are two islets with the Monastery of St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks.

Sveti Đorde, Montenegro
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I Amsterdam Sign and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands - Encircle Photos

34 I Amsterdam Sign and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam in the Netherlands has 800,000 people who ride 880,000 bicycles. It’s a charming, very walkable city of concentric canals. The Rijksmuseum in the background contains a million pieces of art, mostly from Dutch artists such as Rembrandt. Across the street are the giant, red and white “I amsterdam” letters that have become the city’s slogan. Tourists have taken more smart-phone photos of their family and friends in front of this sign than any of the city’s wonderful architecture, historic landmarks (such as Anne Frank’s House) or cultural novelties (like the Red Light District).

Hobbemastraat 18, 1071 XZ Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Mermen on King’s Fountain at Paleis Het Loo Gardens in Apeldoom, Netherlands - Encircle Photos

35 Mermen on King’s Fountain at Paleis Het Loo Gardens in Apeldoom, Netherlands

In the late 17th century period known as “William and Mary,” King William III and his wife Queen Mary II ruled over England, Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands. In 1686, they built a palace in Apeldoom, Netherlands, called Paleis Het Loo. This “pleasure house” remained in the Orange-Nassau dynasty until 1962. In back is a large garden with gorgeous flowerbeds traversed by groomed walkways, sculpted hedges and elaborate statues. In the Upper Garden is the 43 foot King’s Fountain. It is adorned with golden, Greek mythology gods and goddesses including these mermen blowing conch shells at the base.

Koninklijk Park 1, 7315 JA Apeldoorn, Netherlands
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Historic Windmills in Kinderdijk, Netherlands - Encircle Photos

36 Historic Windmills in Kinderdijk, Netherlands

The windmill is the quintessential symbol of the Netherlands. In 1850, over 10,000 molens (mills) harnessed the wind to help drain lowlands across the country. Today, less than 10% remain standing while over 2,500 wind turbines generate electricity. The largest collection of mid-18th century windmills are in Kinderdijk, a village ten miles from Rotterdam. This picturesque and historic experience is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see when visiting the Netherlands.

Molenkade Nederwaard 1, 2961 AS Kinderdijk, Netherlands
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Ludvig Holberg Statue at Market Square in Bergen, Norway - Encircle Photos

37 Ludvig Holberg Statue at Market Square in Bergen, Norway

Given its proximity to the Bergen Fish Market (across Torget Street), Market Square is always a whirl of activity and a favorite among people watchers. In the center is a statue of Ludvig Holberg, the Baron of Holberg. During his lifetime (1684 – 1754), this native son was an influential writer of essays, novels and historical non-fiction plus a playwright of over 30 comedies. He is considered to be the father of Danish and Norwegian literature. This bronze tribute to Holberg was sculpted by John Börjeson in 1884.

Vågsallmenningen 4, 5014 Bergen, Norway
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Cruise Ship Docked at Flåm, Norway - Encircle Photos

38 Cruise Ship Docked at Flåm, Norway

Almost every day in late spring and throughout the summer, a cruise ship along West Norway sails into Sognefjord. Statistics alone justify the crown “King of the Fjords.” The fjord is the country’s deepest (maximum of 4,291 feet) and longest (127 miles) and ranks second in the world by length. The widest section is 2.8 miles. The sides are defined by sheer cliffs, rounded mounts and grandiose summits. Several peaks pierce the clouds at over 5,000 feet. Waterfalls, coves and islets abound. Mouths of tributary fjords are common. So are rushing rivers dumping water from melted snow. Words fail to describe the waves of changing beauty created by massive ancient glaciers. At the end, Sognefjord branches into two arms. One direction is Nærøyfjord. This fjord is so incredible that UNESCO designated all 10.5 miles as a World Heritage Site. The ship captain steers into Årdalsfjord. This fjord is equally stunning for another 18 miles through a deep, U-shaped valley. Each year, 160 cruise ships make this journey. You just heard the announcement that your ship has been cleared for disembarkation at Flåm. Enjoy!

Flåm Cruise Terminal, 5743 Flåm, Norway
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Flower Market in Town Square in Kristiansand, Norway - Encircle Photos

39 Flower Market in Town Square in Kristiansand, Norway

A common sight in Europe is finding a fresh flower market in the main square. I love how the fragrances mix with the colors to create a quaint accent to a historic setting. They are irresistibly charming! This display of springtime in Kristiansand’s Torvet square is a beautiful example. I suspect the blue sky and the cathedral’s clock tower added to the ambiance.

Rådhusgata 12, 4611 Kristiansand S, Norway
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Storting Parliament Building in Oslo, Norway - Encircle Photos

40 Storting Parliament Building in Oslo, Norway

Toward the end of the Napoleonic Wars and during the Treaty of Keil in 1814, Denmark agreed to cede Norway. This gave the Norwegians the opportunity to establish their own parliament. May 17th, Syttende Mai, is still celebrated as Norwegian Constitution Day. However, a few months later during the Convention of Moss, they were forced into a Swedish union and were technically ruled by Charles XIII of Sweden. One of the conditions was they were allowed to maintain many provisions of their new constitution. So, the parliament proceeded to meet in temporary facilities until the Storting was finished in 1866.

Karl Johans gate 22, 0026 Oslo, Norway
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Introduction to Wawel Cathedral in Kraków, Poland - Encircle Photos

41 Introduction to Wawel Cathedral in Kraków, Poland

Almost immediately after Kraków was designated as a diocese in 1000 AD, the first cathedral was built on Wawel Hill. It was replaced with a stone basilica in 1142. Some of the 12th century structure still exists. After a significant fire in 1305, nearly 60 years of construction resulted in the current Wawel Cathedral. This magnificent Gothic edifice evolved for the next 300 years until 19 chapels were added. For centuries, kings commissioned a new chapel at the start of their reign to be there mausoleum. In total, 45 Polish rulers are interred here plus bishops and national heroes. The sarcophaguses and interior were beautified by master artists and sculptors. Marble, stained-glass and gold abound. Starting in 1037, nearly every Polish monarch was coronated in the cathedral. This is also where Father Karol Wojtyła said his first mass in 1946. Then he served at Wawel Cathedral while Archbishop of Kraków from 1963 until he became Pope John Paul II in 1978. Let’s walk around the foundation of the cathedral.

Wawel Cathedral, Wawel 3, 31-001 Kraków, Poland
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Alcobaça Monastery and Church History in Alcobaça, Portugal - Encircle Photos

42 Alcobaça Monastery and Church History in Alcobaça, Portugal

During the Battle of Ourique against the Moors in 1147, Afonso Henriques promised that if he won he would build a magnificent monastery and church for the Cistercian Order of monks. Known as “The Conqueror,” Afonso I became the first king of Portugal but would not live long enough to see the Monastery of St. Mary finished in 1223 and the church completed 29 years later.

2460-018 Alcobaça, Portugal
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Batalha Monastery Main Portal in Batalha, Portugal - Encircle Photos

43 Batalha Monastery Main Portal in Batalha, Portugal

In appreciation for winning the Battle of Aljubarrota and becoming the King of Portugal in the late 14th century, John I formed the town of Batalha (which means battle) and commissioned the Monastery of Santa Maria de Vitória in praise to St. Mary for his victory. Below the gorgeous lattice window is an archivolt over the main portal that contains 78 delicate Biblical carvings.

Largo Infante Dom Henrique, 2440 Batalha, Portugal
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Palácio Estoril Hotel in Estoril, Portugal - Encircle Photos

44 Palácio Estoril Hotel in Estoril, Portugal

If you remember the 1969 James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” then you’ll remember this five-star Palácio Estoril Hotel where 007 orders his martini shaken not stirred. It’s also here that the famous British agent saves Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo (played by Dianna Rigg) and then romances and marries her. Unfortunately, at the end of the film, she is shot in his Aston Martin car. In reality, this hotel was the host of many displaced European royalty during WWII.

Hotel Palácio Estoril Rua Particular, 2769-504 Estoril, Portugal
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Basilica of Nossa Senhora de Rosário in Fátima, Portugal - Encircle Photos

45 Basilica of Nossa Senhora de Rosário in Fátima, Portugal

On May 13, 1917, the Blessed Mary appeared to three children while they tended their sheep in a field called Cova da Iria. This same apparition occurred for the next five months until about 70,000 people witnessed the last occasion. Through this colonnade arch is the Basilica of Nossa Senhora de Rosário which honors the miraculous apparitions that occurred at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima.

Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima Rosary R. da Rainha Santa Isabel 26, 2495-401 Fátima, Portugal
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Monument to the Discoveries Detail in Lisbon, Portugal - Encircle Photos

46 Monument to the Discoveries Detail in Lisbon, Portugal

During the Age of Discovery, which occurred from the early 15th century through the 16th centuries, Portugal was a leader in global naval expeditions across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In celebration of the 500th anniversary of Henry the Navigator’s death, a 151 foot monument was created in the shape of a ship bow overlooking the Targus River. These are three of the 33 statues of knights, queens, explorers, scientists and other figures from this era.

Avenida Brasília, 202, Santa Maria de Belém, 1400-038 Lisboa, Portugal
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Carriage Outside Church of Santa Maria in Óbidos, Portugal - Encircle Photos

47 Carriage Outside Church of Santa Maria in Óbidos, Portugal

The streets of Óbidos, Portugal, are mostly cobblestone so it’s best to see this Medieval town by foot or, when you get tired, go for a horse carriage ride. This driver is waiting outside the Church of Santa Maria which is the site where the arranged marriage of King Afonso V to Princess Isabella of Coimbra was celebrated in 1441. What made this event significant is that they were cousins and he was ten and she was only eight years old.

Praça de Santa Maria, 2510-217 Óbidos, Portugal
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Pousada of Dona Maria Clock Tower in Queluz, Portugal - Encircle Photos

48 Pousada of Dona Maria Clock Tower in Queluz, Portugal

Torre do Relógio is the name of this 18th century clock and bell tower on a pink, baroque building that is now a luxury hotel in Queluz, Portugal. It used to be the annex of the National Palace of Queluz which was nicknamed the Portuguese Versailles.

Largo Palácio de Queluz 2745-191, Queluz, Portugal
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Pena National Palace’s Features in Sintra, Portugal - Encircle Photos

49 Pena National Palace’s Features in Sintra, Portugal

Every little boy has built a castle in his imagination which included the following essential elements: turrets, a drawbridge, ramparts, battlements, onion domes, towers, vaulted arches and plenty of gargoyles all majestically dominating a high hill. Portugal’s King Ferdinand II had the same checklist when he had Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege build the Pena National Palace during the 19th century.

Park and National Palace of Pena Estrada da Pena, 2710-609 Sintra, Portugal
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