Showing posts from March, 2017

Ggantija, Gozo, Malta

The Ggantija temples were built sometime between 3600 and 3200 BC. The word Ggantija derives from the Maltese word for giant as the site was commonly associated with giants, given its proportions. The temples are made of coralline limestone and there's evidence of the internal walls having been plastered and painted over. Remains of animal bone suggest some sort of ritual involving animal sacrifices. The temples are one of the most important archaeological sites in Malta and are in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Opening hours:  9 am to 5 pm (6 pm Apr. to Sep.). Closed on Jan. 1, Good Friday, Dec. 24,25 and 31. Entrance fee:  €6 How to get there : You can reach the island of Gozo by ferry ( link here ). From the ferry to Victoria  Bus 301 ; from Victoria to Xaghra  Bus 307 . Back to Gozo    

The Flower Torch Festival, São Brás de Alportel, Portugal

The Flower Torch Festival takes place in Easter Sunday in the small Algarvian town of São Brás de Alportel. The townspeople carpet the streets with flowers and raise the flower torches in honour of the resurrection of Christ. This used to be a procession popular in the whole of Algarve. The members of brotherhoods had to carry a lighted torch or lantern but with the shortage of wax, the torch was replaced by a painted stick decorated with flowers.  Opening hours: Easter Sunday, from 9.30 am. Entrance free How to get there: There are no public transports to São Brás on Easter Sunday. You can only get there either by car or taxi.

Kyrenia, Cyprus

Kyrenia is a city in northern Cyprus. Evidence shows that it has been inhabited since 5800-3000 BC but it's traditionally accepted that the city was founded by the Achaeans after the Trojan War. By the late 4th, early 3rd century BC there was a lively maritime activity, evident in an ancient shipwreck discovered in 1965 and now exhibited in Kyrenia castle. During the Roman period, Kyrenia continued to be a populous and prosperous city and it was during this period that the first castle was built. With the division of the Roman Empire Kyrenia fell under the Bizantine rule. During the crusades, King Richard I of England became the master of the island but eventually sold it to Guy de Lusignan in order to get more funding for his crusade. Under Frankish rule, Kyrenia again became the commercial and administrative centre of the region. The castle was enlarged and walls and towers were built around the town. In 1489 Cyprus was conquered by the Venetians who remodelled the castl

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain

The Palau Nacional, which houses the museum, was built for the International Exhibition of 1929. Its facade is crowned by a large dome inspired by that of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican; the two lesser domes and four towers were inspired by the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella. The Museum opened its doors in 1934 bringing together the medieval collection. In 1955 new rooms of Romanesque art were inaugurated. The collection has subsequently been extended, a process which ended in 2004 with the integration of the Modern Art collection. Opening time : Oct-Apr, Tue-Sat 10 am to 6 pm; (8 pm Jun-Sep; Jun to Sep also opened on Sundays and Public holidays from 10 am to 3 pm) Entrance fee : €12 How to get there : You can take th e Montjuic Funicular , at the Paral lel Metro Station, to go up the hill.

Convent of Christ, Tomar, Portugal

The origin of Tomar Castle is closely linked to the beginning of the Portuguese kingdom and the knights Templar, that took an active role in the formation of the new kingdom. Following the extinction of the Order, King D. Dinis, wishing to keep the Knights Templar and their assets under an Order circumscribed to his kingdom, established the Order of Christ in 1319. In 1420 the Master of the Order of Christ, Henry the Navigator, transformed the existing military house into a convent. At the beginning of the 16th century, under king Manuel I the convent was extended and decorated in the characteristic Manueline style, which evokes the Age of Discoveries. The convent was finished, with the construction of the 6 km long aqueduct, under Philip I (II of Spain). Opening hours : Oct-May 9h00 to 17h00 (18h00 Jun-Sep). Closed on Jan 1, Easter Sunday, May 1 and Dec 25. Entrance fee : €6 How to get there:  You can take the train from Lisbon or Oporto. Direct train from Lisbon takes unde

Mdina, Malta

Mdina is known as the "Noble City" or the "Silent City" and is the former capital of Malta. It was founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC due to its strategic position on a hilltop, far from the sea. It was at this time that the first city walls were built. A few centuries later it was occupied by the Romans and, according to tradition, it was during this period, in 60 AD, that Paul the Apostle was shipwrecked on the island and the Maltese people converted to Christianity. However, the first evidence of Christianity in the island dates from the 4th century. Malta was besieged by the Arabs in the 9th century, who looted the city and killed most of its inhabitants. Mdina remained almost uninhabited until the 11th century when a community of Arabs moved to the island and built the city of Mdina (and nearby Rabat) on top of Roman Melita's remains. The city later surrendered peacefully to Christian forces after a short siege and remained the capita