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 office). It was dissolved 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. The span 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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Irish Stone Wall along Dingle Peninsula, Ireland - Encircle Photos

3 Irish Stone Wall along Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Seeing stone walls in Ireland’s countryside is as traditional as sipping Guinness in an Irish pub. Most people associate Ireland with being green. It is, thanks to lots of precipitation. For example, Dingle only sees the sun 20% to 40% of the time with an average annual rainfall of 55 inches. Just below the green canopy, however, is a thick layer of blue limestone. For generations, farmers have cleared these rocks from their fields and piled them together to border their property. So why don’t they use mortar? For one, just stacking them is easier. Another reason is livestock learn not to get too close to the walls because they will collapse on their hooves.

R561, East Inch, Inch, Co. Kerry, Ireland
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Tall Ship and Harp Bridge in Dublin, Ireland - Encircle Photos

4 Tall Ship and Harp Bridge in Dublin, Ireland

The Jeanie Johnston was a three-masted sailing vessel launched in 1848. The barque ship initially transported Irish immigrants to America during the Great Famine and returned with cargo such as wood. It sunk in 1855. This recreation was launched in 2000. When docked along the quay, the tall ship serves as a history museum and event center. Behind it is the Samuel Beckett Bridge, one of River Liffey’s newest landmarks. It was cleverly designed by Santiago Calatrava to resemble a harp, Ireland’s national symbol. The 394 foot steel bridge opened for traffic in 2009. The waterfront buildings in the background are on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.

5 Custom House Quay, North Dock, Dublin, Ireland
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Fly Fishing below the Salmon Weir in Galway, Ireland - Encircle Photos

5 Fly Fishing below the Salmon Weir in Galway, Ireland

The 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 toward their spawning grounds. The average salmon weighs about 12 pounds. The pink fish looks spectacular on a dinner plate.

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

6 Medieval Façade of the Black Abbey in Kilkenny, Ireland

The Black Abbey has a magnificent, medieval façade accented with blooming flowers in the courtyard. Some of the early 13th century structure remains. However, 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, the Black Abbey 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

7 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 Moher. 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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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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Master Cutter at Waterford Crystal in Waterford, Ireland - Encircle Photos

9 Master Cutter at Waterford Crystal in Waterford, Ireland

During the Waterford Crystal tour, you will be mesmerized while watching the various stages of the process – blowing, polishing, marking, cutting, etc. Each master specializes in only one stage. The craftsman who had the greatest influence on Waterford Crystal was Jonathan Gatchell. While a clerk in 1783, John Hill taught him how to mix, polish and cut glass. Gatchell worked at the plant for forty years. He became a co-owner in 1799 and then sole proprietor from 1810 until 1823.

28 The Mall, Waterford, Ireland
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Santa Maria Assunta and Castello del Dragone in Camogli, Italy - Encircle Photos

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

This delightful complex along the shore of the Italian Riviera 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

11 Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy

Palazzo Pitti derives its name from the 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

12 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. 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

13 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

14 Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa, Italy

It took almost two hundred years to construct the white marble Tower of Pisa. The iconic landmark 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

15 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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Colorful Houses along Palazzata in Portovenere, Italy - Encircle Photos

16 Colorful Houses along Palazzata in Portovenere, Italy

Portovenere, Italy, is one of several charming maritime villages in Cinque Terre. Called Portus Veneris during the first century BC, it was named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Enjoy your stroll along Palazzata where these pastel houses hug the shores of a peninsula. Then, take an excursion boat past the three nearby islands that are filled with caves. They inspired the scandalous romantic Lord Byron to write his poetry. This is why the area is nicknamed the Gulf of Poets.

P. Marina, 6 19025 Portovenere SP, Italy
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Castle on the Sea in Rapallo, Italy - Encircle Photos

17 Castle on the Sea in Rapallo, Italy

Since the first settlers arrived around the 8th century BC, Rapallo, Italy has been plagued by battles with the Lombards, Aragonese, Ottomans, French and Germans. Castello sul Mare was built in the mid-16th century to defend against the Barbary pirates who looted the town and kidnapped young women. Since then, Castle on the Sea 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. It 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

18 Harbor, Houses and Hills in Recco, Italy

This circular harbor on the Gulf Paradiso belongs to the resort town of Ricco, Italy. Colorful houses punctuate the lush, green cliffs overhanging the Ligurian Sea. Tragically, Recco was almost completely destroyed during bombings in World War II. The community is famous for focaccia col formaggio. The delicious treat consists of stracchino (a local cream cheese) sandwiched between thin dough and baked for about eight minutes. Manuelina’s family restaurant has served 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

19 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 the 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

20 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

21 Picturesque Harbor View of San Remo, Italy

San Remo is the first major town along the western edge of the Italian Riviera on the Mediterranean coast. This resort town of about 60,000 is renowned for moderate, year-round climate, the production of extra virgin olive oil and abundant flowers, which gave it the nickname Città dei Flora. San Remo’s 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

22 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

23 Place Guillaume II Square in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

This is Place Guillaume II with the equestrian statue of the square’s namesake: William II. He was 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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Vianden Castle in Vianden, Luxembourg - Encircle Photos

24 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, the fortress was fully restored. Today, Vianden Castle is a fascinating history museum.

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

25 Porte des Bombes in Floriana near Valletta, Malta

When 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 initiated by Ramon Perellos y Roccaful. 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

26 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

27 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

28 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 the harbor, 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

29 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. They were designed by the same architect and decorated by 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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Main Gate Stone Tower in Budva, Montenegro - Encircle Photos

30 Main Gate Stone Tower in Budva, Montenegro

Flanking the Porta di Terra Ferme – the main gate into the Old Town of Budva – are two massive stone towers. They were built into the fortified walls during the 15th century. Look closely and you will see the Winged Lion of Venice up near the left battlement. This bas-relief is a testament to when this region was ruled by the Most Serene Republic of Venice from 1420 until 1797.

Vrzdak 1, 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

31 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

32 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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Kamperbinnenpoort in Amersfoort, Netherlands - Encircle Photos

33 Kamperbinnenpoort in Amersfoort, Netherlands

At the eastern terminus of Langestraat (Long Street) is Kamperbinnenpoort. The city gate was built during the 13th century as part of the first fortification of Amersfoort. The original name was Viepoort. Although Kamperbinnenpoort qualifies as the oldest gate, the most famous is Koppelpoort. The elaborate water and land gate was built in 1425 during the second fortification.

Kamperbinnenpoort 8, 3811 AL Amersfoort, Netherlands
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Rijksmuseum Art Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands - Encircle Photos

34 Rijksmuseum Art Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Rijksmuseum is the most famous art museum in the Netherlands and is ranked among the best in the world. The National Art Galley was established in The Hague in 1800. Eight years later, it was moved to Amsterdam on the orders of Louis Bonaparte (Napoléon’s younger brother) while he was the king of Holland. In 1885, the stunning design of architect Pierre Cuyper became home for Rijksmuseum. Since then, the National Museum’s collection has swelled to over one million pieces. The works range from the early 13th century through the 21st century. Although only a fraction is on display – about 8,000 items – it is impossible to fully appreciate all 80 galleries during a single delightful visit.

Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Royal Garden at Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn, Netherlands - Encircle Photos

35 Royal Garden at Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn, Netherlands

The Great Garden at Het Loo Palace is magnificent! The cultivated oasis was designed by the talented imagination of French landscape architect Claude Desgots. He was born into a family of royal gardeners and tutored by André Le Nôtre, the principal gardener at the Palace of Versailles. Among Desgots’ other credits are gardens at Windsor Castle. Over time, the garden at Het Loo Palace evolved away from the original design. But after a significant renovation, it has been transformed back to the 17th century symmetrical splendor savored by William and Mary. Enjoy the gorgeous flowerbeds traversed by manicured walkways, sculpted hedges and elaborate statues.

Koninklijk Park 1, 7315 JA Apeldoorn, Netherlands
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History of Delft, Netherlands - Encircle Photos

36 History of Delft, Netherlands

Delft is well worth the hour drive southwest of Amsterdam. This home to about 100,000 people dates back to 1075 when a count settled along the Delft canal. William II of Holland (reign 1234 until 1256) granted Delft city status in 1246. By 1581, when the surrounding provinces declared their independence from Spain, Delft was one of the largest and most successful cities in the newly formed Netherlands. It thrived during the Dutch Golden Era (1581 – 1672) until a massive gunpowder explosion destroyed most of the city in 1654. Come explore this popular tourist destination.

Markt 80, 2611 GW Delft, Netherlands
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Venice of the Netherlands at Giethoorn, Netherlands - Encircle Photos

37 Venice of the Netherlands at Giethoorn, Netherlands

Giethoorn is about a 90 minute drive from Amsterdam in Overijssel Province. After parking, the rest is easy. No need for maps or guides. Simply stroll left or right along Binnenpad. This pedestrian-only walkway hugs one side of the main canal. You will frequently cross over it on rudimentary bridges. You can also wander down side canals. The 175 bridges and multiple canals spawned the nickname Venice of the Netherlands. Plan on spending at least a couple of hours exploring Giethoorn.

Binnenpad 33, 8355 BR Giethoorn, Netherlands
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Types of Windmills in Kinderdijk, Netherlands - Encircle Photos

38 Types of Windmills in Kinderdijk, Netherlands

There are 19 polder windmills in Kinderdijk. They are aligned in two rows along the Nieuwe Waterschap canal. During your scenic excursion, you will walk or cycle among the mills on a two-lane path named Middelkade. Overwaard Windmill No.1 is the first in a series of wooden windmills on one side of the canal. Their scoop wheels drain water from the Lower Basin. On the other side are stone windmills called Nederwaard. They pump water to the Upper Basin. Their sweeping blades are so long they earned the nickname ground sailer. All of these windmills were built around 1740. There are also two Lekkerland polder windmills.

Overwaard Windmill No.1, 2961 AT Kinderdijk, Netherlands
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Ridderzaal inside Binnenhof in The Hague, Netherlands - Encircle Photos

39 Ridderzaal inside Binnenhof in The Hague, Netherlands

At first glance, Ridderzaal looks like a magnificent Gothic church with a rose window and twin towers. This is Knight’s Hall where visiting knights once resided. It was built inside of Binnenhof during the second half of the 13th century by Floris V, Count of Holland and the only son of William II. The medieval structure is primarily used for the annual opening of Parliament, formal government events plus receptions hosted by the country’s monarch and royal family.

Binnenhof 1, 2513 AA, Den Hague, Netherlands
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Queen Victoria Statue at City Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland - Encircle Photos

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

In 1613, Belfast became a borough by a decree 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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Ludvig Holberg Statue at Market Square in Bergen, Norway - Encircle Photos

41 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

42 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

43 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. The blue sky and the cathedral’s clock tower add to the ambiance.

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

44 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

45 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.

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

46 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. However, he 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

47 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 (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. The façade contains 78 delicate Biblical carvings.

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

48 Palácio Estoril Hotel in Estoril, Portugal

If you remember the 1969 James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” then you will remember this five-star Palácio Estoril Hotel where 007 orders his martini shaken not stirred. It is also where the famous British agent saves Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo (played by Dianna Rigg), 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

49 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. The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary 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

50 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

51 Carriage outside Church of Santa Maria in Óbidos, Portugal

The streets of Óbidos, Portugal, are mostly cobblestone. It is 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. Igreja de Santa Maria 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. He was ten years old and she was only eight.

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

52 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. It used to be the annex of the National Palace of Queluz which was nicknamed the Portuguese Versailles. The vibrant structure is now a luxury hotel in Queluz, Portugal.

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

53 Pena National Palace’s Features in Sintra, Portugal

Every little boy has built a castle in his imagination. The fantasy structure probably includes 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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