Europe Tour 3: Russia – Wales

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1 St. Basil’s Cathedral at Red Square in Moscow, Russia

Saint Basil’s Cathedral anchoring the south end of Red Square was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in 1554 and finished in 1561. The iconic landmark consists of eight brick churches in perfect symmetry around the ninth tallest one. The Cathedral of Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat is stunning with its towers, scales, arches and onion domes. Originally all white, the rainbow of colors was added in 1860. Thankfully, this former Russian Orthodox church survived attempted demolition by Napoleon in 1812 and Joseph Stalin in 1936.

St. Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square, Moskva, 109012, Russia

2 Smolny Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Smolny Convent was commissioned as a monastery to house Peter the Great’s daughter. Instead of becoming a nun, Elizabeth became the empress of Russia in 1741. Smolny Cathedral is the 307 foot centerpiece of the large complex. The Russian Orthodox church is the exquisite work of Italian architect Francesco Rastrelli. He designed several opulent landmarks in Saint Petersburg for Empress Anna and Empress Elizabeth during the mid-18th century. Construction began in 1749. Although the exterior was finished in 1764, the interior was not completed until 1835. In 1982, this blue and white masterpiece behind the springtime tulips became a concert hall. Some of the other buildings house classes for Saint Petersburg State University.

Ploshchad' Rastrelli, 1, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 191124

3 Great Hall in Catherine Palace near Saint Petersburg, Russia

Overwhelming! That is your first and lingering impression when entering the Great Hall. It is enormous … over 8,600 square feet. It is also called the Bright Gallery because of the streaming sunlight by day and 696 candles at night. It is ornate … over 130 woodcarvers created the ornamentation between 1752 and 1756. Plus the carvings and stucco glisten with gold. As you stand on the wooden parquet floor, look up. The ceiling displays three allegories representing Russia, peace and victory. The art was designed by Giuseppe Valeriani in 1752. A century later, they were replaced by another painting. In the mid-1950s, two of the three original panels were discovered. After an extensive restoration, they were replaced on the ceiling along with a reproduction of the missing Allegory of Russia. Now imagine you have been invited here for a ball or masquerade during the mid-18th century.

Garden St, 7, Pushkin, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 196601

4 Upper Garden at Peterhof Palace near Saint Petersburg, Russia

From 1714 until 1760, three successive architects crafted the Baroque, 37 acre Upper Garden. This impressive approach to Peterhof Palace is worthy of an emperor. Tree-lined paths flank eight rectangular sections divided by two center walkways. The impeccable lawn is accented with flower beds, five fountains plus sculpted trees and bushes. In 1757, Italian sculptor Antonio Bonazza created four marble statues of Roman deities related to gardens. This is Flora, the goddess of spring and flowers. In the background is the Coat-of Arms Pavilion. It was built in 1755 to accommodate distinguished guests. It also was the private apartment for Catherine the Great while empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796. This western wing of the Grand Palace is now the Special Treasury Museum. Among the displays are jewels of Russian emperors.

Razvodnaya Ulitsa, 2, Petergof, Sankt-Peterburg, 198516, Russia

5 Marischal College Broad Street Façade in Aberdeen, Scotland

The Broad Street façade of Marischal College is remarkable. The Gothic design by Alexander Marshall Mackenzie was constructed from Kemnay granite and finished in 1906. It is the world’s second largest granite building. The pinnacles glisten in the sun after an extensive renovation in 2011. The equestrian statue by sculptor Alan Herriot depicts King Robert the Bruce raising the Great Charter. This royal decree granted Aberdeen financial independence in 1319.

Marischal College, Broad St, Aberdeen AB10 1AB, UK

6 Edinburgh Castle Attraction in Edinburgh, Scotland

The number one tourist attraction in Scotland is the Edinburgh Castle. Inside are over twenty structures. Some date to the 16th century such as the Great Hall built in 1510. The oldest building is from the early 12th century. You will discover several museums including three focused on the military. Equally exciting is the display of the Scottish Crown Jewels within the Honours of Scotland. This photo is a small section of the northwest wall showing The Hospital and the Western Defenses. Just to the left off camera are a series of cannons along the Argyle Battery. This is also where the One O’clock Gun Salute is fired six days a week.

Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, UK

7 Tolbooth Steeple in Glasgow, Scotland

When this Tolbooth Steeple was built in 1626, the 126 foot tower was part of the Glasgow Council Chamber. During the next three centuries, this city’s core called Glasgow Cross became the main district for merchant warehouses and residences. They thrived while trading commodities including tea, sugar, tobacco and later produce. After this neighborhood fell into decline, the city purchased many of the buildings to make way for a major roadway that never happened. So, during the 1980s, they began a redevelopment effort including a new moniker of Merchant City. Now, this wonderful old clock tower at the intersection of five streets is surrounded by restaurants, entertainment and retailers.

17 High St, Glasgow G1 1LX, UK

8 Eilean Donan Castle on Loch Duich in Scottish Highlands, Scotland

The Eilean Donan Castle is located on a small island at the juncture of three lochs: Duich, Long and Aish. Its namesake is Saint Donnán of Eigg, a 7th century Irish priest. The first fortification was built here during the early 13th century by the Scottish nobles called Lord of the Isles. Late in the 1200s, it was owned by Clan Mackenzie. The Mackenzies expanded the fort and maintained control for centuries despite several battles among neighboring clans. The castle met its fate during the Jacobite rising of 1719. After three ships from the Royal Navy bombarded the castle from sea, they completely destroyed the Eilean Donan using 27 barrels of gunpowder. It was rebuilt during the early 20th century.

A87 Kyle IV40, UK

9 Tours on Loch Ness in Scottish Highlands, Scotland

Visiting Loch Ness is a wonderful daytrip from Inverness. Guided coach tours are available around the lake including a stop at the Urquhart Castle. Better yet, consider booking a cruise ranging from one to three hours along the Caledonian Canal and the lake. Bring your camera. The scenery is gorgeous. You might also be lucky enough to capture an image of Nessie.

Parking Loch Ness, A82, Inverness IV63 6XR, UK

10 Sound of Sleat on Skye in Scottish Highlands, Scotland

The Isle of Skye is a gem of the Scottish Highlands and frequently named among the best islands in the world. Only 10,000 people populate its 639 square miles shaped by rugged coastlines and beautiful bays. An example is this picturesque view of the Sound of Sleat forming the island’s southeastern shores. In the background is the Knoydart Peninsula on the Scottish mainland. Often called “Britain’s last wilderness,” much of it is reachable only by boat. The summit is Ladhar Bheinn. This mountain peaks at 3,280 feet.

A851, Isleornsay, Isle of Skye IV43 8QW, UK

11 Sheep along Loch Leven at Ballachulish in Scottish Highlands, Scotland

The last leg of your driving tour through the Scottish Highlands is from Fort Williams to Glasgow. You will follow scenic A82 for about 110 miles. Initially, the road runs south, parallel to Loch Linnhe and the Great Glen Fault, until you reach this delightful view at the base of the Glencoe Mountain. These blackface sheep are grazing along the Old Ferry Road beneath the Ballachulish Bridge. Since 1975, its steel truss frame has crossed over Loch Leven, connecting the villages of North and South Ballachulish. There are about 6.5 million sheep in Scotland or 1.3 million more than people.

A82 & Old Ferry Rd Fort William PH33 6SB, UK

12 The Simpson Building at Gordon Schools in Huntly, Scotland

The Simpson Building was named after its architect, Archibald Simpson. It was funded by Elizabeth Brodie, the Duchess of Gordon, and constructed in 1839 to honor her husband, George Gordon, the 5th and last Duke of Gordon. This is the grand entrance to The Gordon Schools, a six-year secondary school founded by the duchess in the same year. Beneath the clock tower is the Clan Gordon crest featuring a stag’s head. On the other side of this arch is a tree-lined avenue leading to the Huntly Castle ruins. This pathway provides a peaceful and lovely stroll.

6 Seton Terrace, Huntly AB54 8EF, UK

13 Greig Street Bridge in Inverness, Scotland

The Greig Street Bridge connects Huntly Street along the west shore of the Ness River to the Free North Church on Bank Street in the east section of Inverness. The pedestrian-only footbridge was erected by the Rose Street Foundry in 1881. The iron suspension bridge flows like a wave as you walk across. That is delightful for a tourist but frustrating as a photographer.

40 Huntly St, Inverness IV3 5HR, UK

14 East Twin Spires at St Andrews Cathedral, Scotland

In 1160, Bishop Arnold ordered a replacement to the adjacent Church of St. Rule. The new cathedral required about 150 years to construct. When it was consecrated in 1318, it had six turrets and a central tower. The cathedral was so prominent that in 1472, the bishop of St Andrews became an archbishop and Scotland’s spiritual leader. In 1559, during the Scottish Reformation, the building was attacked and finally abandoned two years later. The most dramatic remnants of St Andrews Cathedral are the twin spires of the east façade. They are a testament to the Roman Catholic church’s former grandeur.

The Pends, St Andrews KY16 9QL, UK

15 Sagrada Família by Guadí in Eixample District in Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is best known among architecture aficionados for the Modernisme Movement and its master, Antoni Gaudí. The famous architect’s pièce de résistance is Sagrada Família. Construction of the minor basilica began in 1882. The estimated completion date is 2026 – one hundred years after Gaudí’s death. Crowds of tourists come to stare at the enormous spires at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tallest tower of the 18 planned will be 560 feet tall.

Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain

16 Puertas de Tierra at Constitution Plaza in Cádiz, Spain

In the early 16th century, a huge defensive wall was built encircling the southwest end of Cádiz. The two bastions named San Roque and Santa Elena were designed to prevent attacks by land. This is now the demarcation between the historic center and the neighborhood of Puerta Tierra. In 1756, this magnificent marble Ground Gate was created in the curtainwall by Torcuato Cayón, a prolific and talented Spanish architect. About a century later, the Puerta de Tierra Tower was added as an optical telegraph station. When Puertas de Tierra (Gates of Earth) were extensively remodeled in 2013, a fountain and reflection pond were built as part of Plaza de la Constitucion.

Puertas de Tierra, Plaza de la Constitución, 11008 Cádiz, Spain

17 Welcome to Cartagena, Spain

You are arriving by cruise ship into Cartagena, one of Spain’s most delightful coastal destinations. This city of 220,000 people was founded in the third century BC. You are about to explore Roman ruins dating back before the birth of Christ. See evidence of the nations who exchanged control during the Middle Ages. Witness battle scars from the 18th and 20th centuries. Enjoy the facades of ornate Modernista architecture. Stroll along the promenade between 18th century defensive walls and this picturesque harbor. Take your first step toward creating a lasting memory.

Paseo Alfonso XII, 8, 30202 Cartagena, Murcia, Spain

18 Tribute Tower at Alcázar of Córdoba, Spain

This site has a long history of being a fortress and palace for Romans, Visigoths and Muslims. Most of the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos we see today was rebuilt by King Alfonso XI of Castile starting in 1327. Although he was Catholic, his palace was designed using a Mudéjar style favored by the Muslims of Al-Andalus. Historical events here included a civil war fought by Henry IV of Castile against his half-brother, residency of monarchs including Isabella I and Ferdinand II, the financing for the first voyage of Christopher Columbus, the center for the Spanish Inquisition for three centuries, a military garrison run by Napoleon’s army in 1810, and a jail before being opened to the public. Inside are two lovely courtyards, displays of Roman and Moorish artifacts plus a royal bath. These people are walking at the base of the Tribute Tower. It is also called the Homage Tower because it was the venue for knights to swear their allegiance.

Plaza Campo Santo de los Mártires, s/n, 14004 Córdoba, Spain

19 Alcaicería Arab Market in Granada, Spain

While Muhammed V was the ruler of the Emirate of Granada in the late 14th century, an Arab market was established to supply him and other elite with the finest merchandise crafted from silk, gold and silver. Despite the evolution of the Alcaicería over the centuries, the old souk is still crammed with merchants eager to haggle for their wares. The bazaar bustles with activity. Mercado de Artesania (Craft Market) is a cultural shopping experience you will not want to miss.

Calle Alcaiceria, 1, 18001 Granada, Spain

20 Tours at Alhambra in Granada, Spain

Most of the outdoor landmarks you have enjoyed so far on Sabikah Hill are free. But the undisputed highlight is the Nasrid Palaces. For that, you will need a ticket. Book well in advance. Attendance is strictly regulated. You can try gaining admission the day of your visit, but chances are you will be disappointed. Tours last from three to four hours. They include entry into Alcazaba, Generalife and the palaces. You will not want to miss spectacular arabesque decorations like this in Patio del Cuarto Dorado. The Muslim architecture inside the Nasrid Palaces is considered to be among the finest examples from the late Middle Ages in the world.

Patio del Cuarto Dorado, Calle Real de la Alhambra, 18009 Granada, Spain

21 Cervantes Monument at Plaza de España in Madrid, Spain

In the center of Plaza de España – Spain’s Square in English – is a tribute to one of the greatest writers in Spanish literature: Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. The author’s likeness sits in the middle overlooking two characters he created in the early 17th century. On the left is Don Quixote and next to him is his partner in fantasy, Sancho Panza. Most of the Cervantes Monument was designed by Rafael Zapatero and sculpted by Lorenzo Valera. The first phase was completed in 1930. Additional fictional characters were added in 1957 by the sculptor’s son, Federico Mendigutia.

Plaza de España, 187, 28008 Madrid, Spain

22 Roman History in Málaga, Spain

You are walking on Calle Alcazabilla. Although only 800 feet long, this pedestrian-only street contains the most important archeological site in Málaga: the Roman Theatre. The Romans ended the Carthaginian occupation in 218 BC and renamed the city Malaca. They introduced the Latin language, built infrastructure and revitalized the port. During the 1st century AD, residents were first granted rights as Roman citizens. Then, Malaca became a Roman municipality and allowed to self-govern according to statutes outlined in Lex Malacitana. Roman influence began fading as the Western Roman Empire collapsed during the late 5th century. In 552 AD, the city fell to the Byzantines, an extension of the Eastern Roman Empire. Their reign was short lived. The era ended in 615 at the hands of the Visigoths. Imagine this 800 plus years of history as you explore this marble-tiled street. You can also access the Alcazaba from Calle Alcazabilla.

Calle Alcazabilla, 10, 29015 Málaga, Spain

23 Puente San Miguel in Ronda, Spain

This one arch-span was called the Roman Bridge until the end of the 15th century when it was renamed Puente San Miguel (Bridge of Saint Michael). Both names are a misnomer because it is an Islamic construction. In the background are the ruins of Baños Arabes. This 13th century Arab Baths has three chambers for different stages of cleansing defined by horseshoe arches plus brick and marble columns. Water was supplied by a waterwheel and aqueduct from the Arroyo de las Culebras (Creek of the Snakes) near its confluence with Rio Guadalevín.

Calle Real, 2, 29400 Ronda, Spain

24 Torre del Oro along Guadalquivir River in Seville, Spain

In 1220, Abu Eola, the governor of the occupying al-Andalus, ordered the construction of this watchtower as part of the city walls. To further protect Sevilla from invasion, a chain was stretched across the Guadalquivir River to La Torre del Oro, thus blocking entry by enemy ships. Since 1936, the Tower of Gold has been Museo Naval. The museum has a modest collection of maritime items ranging from the Spanish navigators to military and industrial shipping.

Paseo de Cristóbal Colón, s/n, 41001 Sevilla, Spain

25 Puerta de Bisagra Nueva in Toledo, Spain

The original Puerta de Bisagra was created by the Moors during the 10th century. This Renaissance version of the New Bisagra Gate was designed by Alonso de Covarrubias in 1559. He was the most prolific architect in Toledo during the 16th century. Among his works are the Toledo Cathedral, Alcázar and the Tevera Hospital. Puerta de Bisagra Nueva is one of the city’s most recognized structures because of the twin towers capped with a green and white checkerboard motif. This city view bears the coat of arms of Charles I. Also known as Charles V, he was king of the Spanish Empire and a Holy Roman Emperor during the first half of the 16th century.

Calle Real del Arrabal, 26, 45003 Toledo, Spain

26 Kungsporten Square in Gothenburg, Sweden

When Gothenburg was founded in 1621, much of the land was marshy. During most of the 17th century, Dutch engineers built fortified walls and moats around the city. This means of defense was short lived when the ramparts proved ineffective against enemy cannons. The walls were torn down around 1810. About forty years later, this square was constructed at the location of the old King’s Gate. This used to be the main portal into the city. The plaza is named Kungsportsplatsen or King’s Port Place. Above the craftsman selling wicker baskets is the equestrian statue of King Charles IX of Sweden. Karl IX reigned from 1604 until 1611.

märra Östra Larmgatan, 411 09 Göteborg, Sweden

27 Waterfront Cityscape of Helsingborg, Sweden

Helsingborg was founded in 1085 and controlled by Demark until 1658 when it was ceded to Sweden. It is now their fourth largest city with a population of about 100,000 people. Located in the country’s southwest corner along the Øresund waterfront, Helsingborg is a delightful blend of historic landmarks and narrow cobblestone streets. The city is also the home of international companies such as IKEA and Nicorette. No wonder Helsingborg is called The Pearl of the Sound.

Atlantgatan 1 252 25 Helsingborg, Sweden

28 Hedmanska Gården Half-timbered Façade in Malmö, Sweden

On the south side of the Lilla Torg square in Malmö, Sweden is this half-timbered building called Hedmanska Gården. One look and you know it has a fascinating history. It was constructed during the 16th century as the first building on the Hedmanska Farm. Neighboring buildings were added during the 17th and 18th centuries. This is now the home of the Form/ Design Center showcasing innovative architectural and industrial designs.

Lilla torg 9 211 34 Malmö, Sweden

29 Sunset over Historic Landmarks of Stockholm, Sweden

This beautiful sunset bathes the history of Stockholm with hues of orange and yellow. In the center, on the island of Stadsholmen, is Gamla stan. Old Town originated in the 13th century. The spires on the horizon are (left to right): Riddarholm Church (13th century), City Hall (20th century), German Church (14th century) and Storkyrkan Cathedral (14th century). Floating in the Strömmen waterway is Stockholms Ström 2. This passenger ferry was powered by a steam engine when launched in 1894.

Strömmen, Saltsjön Bay, Stockholm, Sweden

30 Rathaus Town Hall Clock in Basel, Switzerland

This beautiful clock was added to the Rathaus Town Hall in 1512. On the left holding a church building is Heinrich II. He was king of Germany and then Italy before becoming the Holy Roman Emperor in the early 11th century. On the right with a cross is his wife, Cunigunde of Luxembourg. In the center is Justitia, the crowned Lady of Justice. The Latin phrase translates into “Renovated into a large church in 1901.”

Marktpl. 9 4001 Basel, Switzerland

31 Scenic Western View of Bern, Switzerland

This scenic, western view of Bern from the platform of the Cathedral of St. Vincent gives you a glorious look at the row houses along Aarstrasse, the Aare River and a tram crossing the Kirchenfeldbrücke. The bridge was built in 1883. On the left are the spires of the Bernisches Historisches Museum.

Münsterplattform 3011 Bern, Switzerland

32 Snow-capped Swiss Alps in Erstfeld, Switzerland

The snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps: what a magnificent sight to behold. But this huge mountain range was also a transportation challenge. The first Gotthard Railway depot opened in Erstfeld, Switzerland, in 1882. But more exciting is this small town in the Canton of Uri became the northern portal for the 35 mile Gotthard Base Tunnel. Since 2016, it is the world’s longest rail tunnel. The Alp Transit project cost over $10 billion. It allows passengers to travel over 150 m.p.h., making the trip from Zurich to Milan in just over an hour. In contrast, the road trip is 190 miles.

Gotthardstrasse 11, 6473 Silenen, Switzerland

33 Cathedral of Notre Dame West Portal in Lausanne, Switzerland

The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Lausanne, Switzerland, was consecrated in 1215 after 45 years of construction. This tympanum and archivolt on the west portal called Montfalcon is elaborately decorated with Biblical statues. It was built in 1517 and named after Bishop Sébastien de Montfalcon.

Place de la Cathédrale, 1005 Lausanne, Switzerland

34 Swans, Lake Lucerne and Swiss Alps in Lucerne, Switzerland

Sit down among the swans at Schwanenplatz and savor one of the prettiest views in central Switzerland. Across Lake Lucerne behind the sightseeing boats is KKL. This stands for Kunstmuseum Luzern or the Museum of Art. Next to it is the train station. These landmarks frame the majestic view of the snow-capped Swiss Alps. On the left is Mount Pilatus with an elevation of 6,982 feet. The 5,897 foot peak on the right is the massif called Rigi.

Schwanenplatz 6004 Lucerne, Switzerland

35 Snow Covered Lugano Prealps in Lugano, Switzerland

The brightly painted buildings along Riva Giocondo Albertolli, plus the boats dotting the shoreline, provide a stunning setting for the snow-covered Lugano Prealps. This mountain is located in the Canton Ticino in southern Switzerland and northern Italy. The highest elevation of this range is over 7,000 feet. This is Monte Bré. The 3,061 foot summit is accessible from a cableway leaving from Cassarate.

Riva Vincenzo Vela 2 6900 Lugano, Switzerland

36 Restaurants along Rue de Rive in Nyon, Switzerland

Nyon, Switzerland, is a delightful small town on Lake Geneva’s northern coast. It makes a perfect stop for some uncrowded sightseeing, a glimpse into Roman Empire history and then an outdoor lunch or dinner in one of the restaurants along Rue de Rive. The coastal scenery offers great views of the Alps and Mont Blanc while enjoying delicious cuisine.

Rue de Rive 28 1260 Nyon, Switzerland

37 Docked Paddle Steamer in Ouchy, Switzerland

Paddle steamers began sailing on Lake Geneva in 1823. Many of these historic boats have been extensively renovated since being built in the early 20th century. They regularly leave the Port of Ouchy during the warm months for sightseeing, as ferries to French coastal towns, and for lunch and dinner cruises.

Quai d'Ouchy, 1006 Ouchy, Switzerland

38 Biel Gate Clock Tower in Solothurn, Switzerland

The old, historic part of Solothurn, Switzerland, sits on the left bank of the Aare River. A 17th century wall surrounds the colorful Baroque and Renaissance buildings. This clock tower is part of the 13th century Biel Gate. It is the western entrance to the Old Town’s cobblestone streets. It is also called Bieltor. This means the gate towards the town of Biel.

Gurzelngasse 38, 4500 Solothurn, Switzerland

39 Opernhaus Zürich Building in Zurich, Switzerland

Over the Opernhaus Zürich’s entrance behind the Corinthian columns are three busts of famous composers: Mozart, Weber and Richard Wagner who was exiled in Zurich for a dozen years. His Romantic opera called “Lohengrin” was the first to be performed in the Stadttheater Zürich when it opened in 1891. The performing arts venue was renamed Opernhaus Zürich in 1925 and restored in 1984. The exquisite structure now hosts dramatic, musical and theatrical events plus, of course, operas.

Schillerstrasse 1 8001 Zürich, Switzerland

40 History of Ancient Ephesus, Turkey

The area encircling Ephesus has an 8,000 year history! Human traces have been found from the Neolithic Age (6000 BC). During the Bronze Age, female warriors (Amazons) created the Kingdom of Arzawa. In the 10th century BC, Androklos, the prince of Athens, formed an Ionian settlement. After King Croesus of Lydia conquered the city in 560 BC, he built the second Temple of Artemis. The Persians ended his rule 13 years later and Alexander the Great conquered them in 334 BC. The Ionian’s prosperity was then thwarted by the silting of the harbor. In 287 BC, King Lysimachus flooded out the residents, forcing them to move to the present location of ancient Ephesus. The new city exchanged hands several times for about 150 years until the Roman Empire took control in 129 BC. Now Ephesus began to flourish in population, wealth and world trade. The pinnacle was under Augustus (reign 27 BC to 14 AD) when he made this the capital of Asia Minor. Many of the ruins you see today stem from this era and the following century. The decline began in 262 AD when the Goths destroyed Ephesus. Although there were periods of renewal, the deterioration was hastened by a series of attacks, earthquakes and the unstoppable silting of the harbor. Ephesus was finally abandoned in the 15th century. Why wasn’t the city looted for its abundant building materials? Malaria. The retreating harbor became a swamp filled with disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Efes Harabeleri, 35920 Selçuk/İzmir, Turkey

41 Dome and Semi-domes of Süleymaniye Camii Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

The interior of the Süleymaniye Camii Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, is almost 200 feet high and wide. Look up! The 173 foot dome is surrounded by semi-domes, arches and massive columns punctuated by 200 stained-glass windows that accent the brilliant coloring. The mosque was built by 3,500 workers and finished in 1558. A three-year restoration project was completed in 2010.

Süleymaniye Cami & Süleymaniye Cd., 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey

42 Afon Seiont Harbor in Caernarfon, Wales

Caernarfon is a small town of about 10,000 residents in northwestern Wales. Segontium Roman fort was established here in 80 AD. This was a logical location because of the natural harbor formed as the Afon Seiont river empties into the Menai Strait. The Victorian Dock was built in the 1860s to accommodate imports from Scandinavia. Now, the marina caters to small watercraft of local Cofis and modern-day explorers of Wale’s coastline. Most tourists arrive by highway A487. They come to see the castle. They stay to enjoy the town’s quiet charm.

Castle Marine Ltd The Harbour, Caernarfon LL54 5RS, UK

43 South Lake View of Caerphilly Castle in Caerphilly, Wales

Caerphilly Castle is a spectacular medieval fortress, the largest in Wales and the second biggest in the U.K. Its concentric design sits on a 30 acre island protected by manmade lakes and moats. Most of it was built within three years (1268 – 1271) by Gilbert de Clare, the 7th Earl of Gloucester, during his quest to control an ancient county of South Wales called Glamorgan. The castle was attacked numerous times until it was mostly in ruins by the end of the 15th century. Refurbishment began in the late 18th century and continued under various members of the Stuart family through 1950.

Caerphilly Castle, Castle St, Caerphilly CF83 1JD, UK

44 Pierhead Building in Cardiff, Wales

From 1794 through the late 19th century, a number of docks were built to accommodate the exporting of coal and iron. A railway was also constructed to transport the material to the bay. These investments led to Cardiff becoming a major world port until the early 20th century when it began its decline. This Gothic Revivalist building by architect William Frame opened in 1897 for the Bute Docks Company and was later used by the Cardiff Railway Company. The Pierhead Building owes its distinctive red color to glazed, terracotta bricks made from Etruia Marl clay. Locals call this landmark’s clock the Baby Big Ben. After a major restoration ending in 2010, the building became a history museum. Pierhead Building is part of the adjacent National Assembly.

Pierhead Pierhead St, Cardiff CF10 4PZ, UK

45 Great Hall at Conwy Castle in Conwy, Wales

This archway once served as the divider between the Chapel and the Great Hall. In lieu of the missing floor is a catwalk so you can tour the rooms and see down to the basement. After the Conwy Castle was finished in 1287, it survived several attacks in 1295, 1399, 1401 and 1642 until it was destroyed by Parliamentary troops in 1665. Several restoration projects have occurred since the late 19th century. However, the castle is still primarily in ruins. This popular tourist attraction was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.

Castle Square, Conwy LL32 8AY, UK

46 Entrance of Tredegar House in Newport, Wales

The Tredegar House is an impeccable mansion located near Newport, Wales. Llewelyn ap Morgan was the first to live on the grounds early in the 15th century. Little of the original structure remains. The property is dominated by the red brick buildings commissioned by William Morgan. Most were finished by 1672. Three more generations of Morgans enhanced the interior while delighting guests during lavish social events and slowly draining their wealth. In 1951, Tredegar House became a Catholic school. After another 23 years, it was purchased by the city of Newport City Council. In 2011, Tredegar House was leased to the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest and opened as a tourist attraction.

Duffryn, Newport NP10 8YW, UK

47 Courtyard of Castell Coch in Tongwynlais, Wales

John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute, was one of the wealthiest men in the 19th century. He loved spending his money on fanciful architecture. After he hired eccentric architect William Bruges, the two of them splurged on building the Cardiff Castle (see separate photo gallery) and the Castell Coch. This lavish restoration of a 13th century castle was intended to be an occasional summer house. After construction was completed in 1891, neither the owner nor his subsequent generations spent much time here. Castell Coch was donated to the government in 1950 and is managed by Cadw, a heritage agency. This is the inner courtyard with the twin turrets of the Well Tower in the background.

Castell Coch, Tongwynlais, Cardiff CF15 7JS, UK