Oct 31

The Fisherman’s Bastion

Today we will travel to the Carpathian Basin, all the way to Hungary, where we will unravel the mystery surrounding another highly valuable monument, the Fisherman’s Bastion.

While the construction in itself is imposing and appears to be a grand fortification of Buda that used to protect the city, it should be mentioned from the start  that this was definitely not the purpose of the bastion. Tourists have the opportunity to ascend on the high walls of the construction and admire the panoramic view of Budapest. For this precise reason, several towers have been added in the most recent years in order to give tourists the opportunity to appreciate Budapest in all its glory.  But this should not be the reason for which you want to visit the bastion. Yes, it offers a mesmerizing image of the city, but you should also acknowledge the beauty of the construction itself.



The Fisherman’s Bastion was constructed at the turn of the 19th century (from 1895 until 1902) and it includes in its structure 7 turrets which symbolize the 7 Hungarian tribes that have put the basis of this country.

Its development was part of a sequence of events which were meant to mark the day when Hungary  celebrated 1000 years since its foundation. So naturally it included elements relevant from that ancient time. For once, there were the 7 turrets mentioned previously, and their inclusion in the architectural design was actually a way to eulogize the communities which have settled in this region and thus instituted the present state. Another important element which emphasizes the historical past of that time is the Statue of St. Stephan, who was the first king of the newly emergent state.



The Fisherman’s Bastion was constructed as a terrace where each member of the community could come and enjoy the beautiful scenery. If we were to give this an extra thought, maybe the structure chosen was actually a statement of freedom and of a united community. We can easily follow this stream of thought and consider that different tribes with different ways of life have come together and have managed to live in harmony, thus forming a society. And this idea of unity is further enhanced after centuries by the bastion which was constructed as an open space where anyone can come.


The architect behind this project, Frigyes Schulek, has developed a neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style edifice. World War II took no mercy on the monument, the Bastion being severely damaged in these times of warfare. However, the restoration work did not take too much time to come into effect, – this time around, it was the son of Schulek who supervised the renovation. Time is unforgiving and by 1980s, the bastion was again on the verge of ruin. The smog lifting from the city was detrimental to the walls of the edifice which seemed to age and slowly die under the negative impacts of urbanization. Even the sculptures sprinkled all over the bastion felt the immense weight of time, especially since no one tended to them.

But the situation changed after the municipality took notice of the constant deterioration of the Bastion and restored it to the fullest. Nowadays, it seems that the edifice is quite new due to these renovations which have kept an important piece of history alive.


There is one aspect which we have failed to tackle so far: the name of the construction. Why does it bear the name Fisherman’s Bastion? Well, there is no trustworthy source which can give an accurate answer to this question. So far, we have come across three theories. The first says that it was named this way in order to bring homage to the fishermen who lived right below the walls of the bastion and who protected the edifice in times of perils. Another theory is that the name comes after the fishermen that lived near the Danube, in Watertown, while the third one suggests that the name was given after the fish market that existed in that time close by.

Oct 30

The Rundale Palace

In this article we are going to go near the Baltic Sea, to Latvia, where we will have a look at an impressive palace built for Ernst Johann von Biron, the Duke of Courtland. The Rundale Palace was constructed after the plan developed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli and it is representative for the Baroque style.

The construction of the edifice was structured in two stages. Both of them lasted for 4 years, the first was initiated in 1736 and ended in 1740 while the second was carried on between 1764 and 1768. Built initially as a summer residence for the aforementioned duke, the palace changed several hands, being owned by various counts and princes. The royal families lost possession of the edifice in World War I when the Germans invaded the country and took hold of the palace, transforming it into a hospital.


The subsequent wars that took this land by storm were highly detrimental to the Rundale Palace, leaving the edifice almost mutilated under their destructive force.

It was only in the latter decades of the 20th century that the palace was declared a historical monument and it was transformed into a museum. Slowly, renovation works were undertaken in the attempt to reestablish the former glory of the palace. And this meant not only remodeling the building itself. The façades were important but in order to revive the Palace, it was also necessary to furnish the rooms and adorn them with works of art.  And these efforts paid off because with the help of the restoration works, the Rundale Palace became one of the most important tourist attractions on the Latvian territory.


When we talk nowadays about the Rundale Museum, we actually refer to an entire complex together with the surrounding gardens. It is worth mentioning that constant work is being conducted in order to beautify the ensemble which includes arranging the park and restoring the adjacent constructions which are now an intrinsic part of the museum complex.


There is an entire department which conducts heavy investigation in what concerns the original baroque garden in order to create an exact replica of the initial surroundings. Their dedication to the project is really admirable because they want to recapture that part of history and the architectural style of the time and present it to visitors. In order to attract even more tourists to this part of the country, the administration of the museum has begun exploring the customs and habits of the 18th century population in order to reenact the way of life of the royalty figures of that time.

But while the museum remains faithful to the Baroque movement, the exhibitions within capture different artistic styles, from Late Gothic to the Art Nouveau movement.

Oct 30


Whenever I put pen to paper, or to be more accurate, whenever I stand in front of my laptop determined to post another article on this site, the same question springs to mind: which tourist attractions are more appreciated? But the question remains hanging in the air. Because there is no correct answer to this question as we are all different and our preferences might have nothing in common. So hopefully, some of the tourist attractions presented here might stir your interest and get you packing.

There are some who want to explore the most hidden parts of the world, to uncover places and monuments which have not yet come to the public attention but which are definitely enthralling  and worth traveling far distance for them.


Today I will not focus on a specific monument, building or natural landscape, but I will try to pinpoint the reasons for which you should definitely put Belgrade on your list of ‘places to visit.’

The Serbian capital city is one of the oldest cities in Europe and this alone should get you excited about the historical past that this place has to offer. Just think of how many generations have put their mark on the city and how many architectural styles and cultural elements can be revealed in each nook and corner of Belgrade.


Maybe this tourist attraction would catch your attention even more if I were to mention that Belgrade is one of the most visited capital not only of the European continent, but of the entire world. What is striking is that different historical periods have remained ‘engraved’ in the city and this can be seen in the architectural designs preserved from those ages. So the communist era is still represented in the constructions spread throughout Belgrade, but one can also indulge the sense with a more modernist approach to art due to various contemporary monuments. Among the monuments one ought to visit while in Belgrade, I will mention St. Sava’s Cathedral, the Nikola Tesla Museum, and the Belgrade Fortress, three representative edifices of the Serbian Capital, which have been explored previously on this website.


Another must-see area, which is not that well-known, is the Skadarlija Street where tourists can almost see Belgrade come to life. Why do I mention this particular street? Because it combines mundane elements with artistic features. Tourists can stroll down the street, which is surrounded by the Skadar Lake, admire the multiple paintings which are represented on the façades of the buildings and even relax for a moment by drinking a cup of coffee at one of the multiple coffee shops and terraces sprinkled every here and there.

My advice is this: if you are a world- traveler and you appreciate the different layers of art that the countries of this planet have to offer, then you should not miss the chance to witness how history has managed to inscribed itself within the monuments of Belgrade.

Oct 29

The Kazan Kremlin

When it comes to masterful blending of history, art, cultural characteristics and architectural wonders, Russia occupies one of the highest places among the world’s countries. It is not my intention to undermine the impressive artistic expression of other countries around the world, but today we are going to bring homage to the architects who with an utmost care and immense craft managed to create architectural jewels.



The Kazan Kremlin is an ensemble of archeological and architectural testimonials of great cultural value, as we have already been accustomed with when it comes to Russia. The complex, which consists of numerous monuments which date from different centuries (from the 16th up to the 18th century), has become a part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage since 2000.

Up next, we are going to look at some of the constructions that make up the Kazan Kremlin and even detail brieftly some aspects about their history.


First of all, I will mention the Söyembikä Tower as it is one of the most recognizable monuments within the complex. In the incipient stage of the city’s kremlin, this leaning tower was one of the tallest structures constructed. In time, the inclination of the edifice became more and more visible so that by the first years of the 20th century, its tilting was measured at about 194 cm. Due to the obvious advancement of the tower’s leaning rate, various methods to stabilize the construction were undertaken all throughout the 20th century.

The exact moment when the Söyembikä Tower was constructed is unknown. There are several theories according to which the tower was erected at the end of the 17th centuries, but other scholars claim that the tower came into being in the second half of the 16th century when this type of construction became widespread in Russia.


Legend has it that the tower was in fact built under Ivan the Terrible and its construction lasted for only one week. The most important part of this tale is actually meant to explain the name given to the construction. According to this legend, Söyembikä, who was the queen of Kazan in that time, committed suicide by throwing herself from the tower.

The main entrance to the Kazan Kremlin is made up of two elements: the Church of the Holy Savior’s Image which incorporates a gate within it, thus allowing access within the complex, and the Spassky Tower. The aforementioned church was initially constructed with the purpose of holding within items which stand as testimonials of the battle carried in Kazan in 1552.

The Preobrazhensky Gate Tower is a four-sided construction with two levels which is encircled at the bottom by fortified ramparts for sustainibility.


As it has been previously mentioned the complex is also renowned for its archeological discoveries. In the later years of the 20th century, excavations in the area have revealed stone gates built between the 11th and the 16th centuries. Pylons and other fragments have help scholars put the pieces together and untangle some of the historical past of the area.

The Governer’s Palace was artistically designed by a well known architect, K.A. Ton, who has also designed the plans for two other famous buildings: the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the Grand Kremlin Palace, both situated in Moscow. This particular building was finished in 3 years time (1845-1848).

The Kazan Kremlin constain many more noteworthy monuments and if I have managed to capture your attention even just a little bit, then you will have no problem in finding further information about this one-of-a-kind touristic attraction. And who knows? Maybe you might even make it your goal to visit this place sometimes in the future.

Oct 28

Marasesti Mausoleum

The Marasesti Mausoleum has been constructed in celebration of the 1917 glorious battle of Marasesti and commemorates the heroes that have fought in the National Unification War. The shrine has been erected in the exact place where the conflagration took place, on what is now the national road that connects Focsani and Adjud cities.

Romania is a country that prides itself with many mausoleums which have been constructed so as to honor various heroes or landmark historical events, but among all of these, the Marasesti Mausoleum stands out due to its imposing stature. The impressive architecture and grandeur has made the monument renowned in all of Europe.


In order to better comprehend the impact that this battle had on the country’s past, it is worth mentioning that the outcome of this battle wrote the history of Romania and it is safe to say that it also determined its present. In the First World War, the enemies were steadily but surely advancing on Romanian territory, but their advancement came to a hold the moment they planned to enter Moldova by passing through Marasesti. There, the Romanian army was waiting, prepared to crush anyone who attempted to go past it. The battle of Marasesti lasted for one month, between 21st of July and 21st of August 1917, and its denouement consisted in a glorious victory for the Romanians.


The total number of casualties (in what concerns the Romanian army) was 21.480, of which 480 were officers, while the remaining majority consisted of soldiers. It is to these brave individuals to whom the monument is dedicated. The mausoleum has 154 individual crypts and 9 collective ones spread throughout the 18 floors where the heroes who have sacrificed their life for their country have find their eternal sleep. It is no wonder that on the main façade, on its most upper part, the following words are inscribed: ‘Praise for the national heroes.’



The initiative to construct such a masterpiece worthy of our fallen soldiers was taken by the National Orthodox Society of Women who has presented the idea in front of the Congress in the summer of 1919.

The architects in charge of the project were George Cristinel and Constantin Pompeiu who have designed the plans and have seen the mausoleum come into being throughout its 15 years of construction (between 1923-1938). The construction of the mausoleum occurred in several stages, but what is noteworthy is the summer of 1924 when the earthly remains have been deposited within the finished crypts.



In august, the relics of General Eremia Grigorescu, the commander-in-chief of the 1st Romanian Army during the Battles of Marasesti, were deposited in their rightful place, in an individual crypt, in honor of him leading his army towards victory.

The Mausoleum was inaugurated in the presence of King Carol II on the 18th of September 1938.

Oct 28

Serpeni Headbridge Memorial

The tourist attraction tackled in today’s article is situated in the Republic of Moldova, on the right bank of Nistru River.

The memorial was erected in order to bring homage to those fallen in the 1944 Iasi-Chisinau battle which was carried on with the goal of liberating the nation from under the fascist rule. All the participants in the battle have been martyred for making the ultimate sacrifice for the better of the majority and thus the memorial eulogizes their commitment to their cause for which they have paid with their own lives.


The 22nd of August, 2004, marks the day in which the Serpeni Memorial has opened its doors to the public. The inauguration was actually part of a more grand celebration carried on with the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the independence of Moldova.

The construction work for the memorial was initiated while the Soviet Union was still in power and consisted of only a few basic elements. It should be mentioned that the memorial was constructed on the exact land on which the aforementioned battle was unleashed, an area which did not spread over more than 8 kilometers.


More than 11 thousands soldiers have perished while defending their beliefs and hopes for independence and the name of each of them has been immortalized on granite boards which are spread all around the altar erected in the their memory. The commemorative monument also comprises a bell tower which rises high above picturesque landscapes, and which stands as evidence for the rebirth of Moldova. The memorial is completed by the ‘eternal flame’ which burns indefinitely for the fallen ones, lighting their path, and by two mighty towers which are connected at the top by a cross that watches over them.



The memorial is situated only 40 km away from the capital city of Moldova, Chisinau, so if you are in this neighborhood, do not miss on the occasion of visiting the Serpeni Memorial, where you will find yourself in the presence of heroes.

Oct 01

Sophievka Park

Today we are going to travel to Ukraine, and more precisely to the Uman region, near Kamianka River. Why has this particular location drew my attention? Because it is home to Sophievka Park, a real jewel in terms of gardening design. Just to make you understand just how impressive the landscaping architecture is, it is enough to say that the park attracts half a million visitors on an annual basis.

The park dates from the latter part of the 18th century, when a Polish nobleman by the name of Potocki has taken upon himself the task of rebuilding Uman and embelishing the city with a wonderful addition, a botanical garden of massive proportions.



The first step in putting the project into motion was to import a great variety of rare plants from all over the continent. These were artistically arranged, but the park has become a complete work of art due to the multitude of fountains, ponds, waterfalls and artificial basins which were tastefully prinkled throughout the park. The botanical garden is renowned for its diversity which consists of more than 2.000 forms of plantlife, both local and exotic, but also for the additional decorative objects, such as sculptures, which convey a certain allure to the entire ensemble. If we add the stone garden, the gazebos, artifical cliffs and grottos than we would get a clearer understanding of the reason for which the Sophievka Park is counted as one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine.


The original appearance of the park has been maintained to the present day so that tourists can indulge themselves with a walk in the park and admire exquisite exemples of European landscape garden design from the turn of the 18th century.

The park is divided in several parts, each named in accordance with the type of trees or bushes grown there. For instance, the area named Small Switzerland came into being in the last decade of the 19th century, when pine trees and cypresses were planted there.


While many of the decorations are artificial, as it has been previously mentioned, there are also natural elements in the park, such as the Silver Sources Spring which has been adorned in the antique style.

Another notewarthy aspect about the park is that it presents fragments of Homer’s masterpieces, the Odyssey and the Iliad. So, the conclusion is that if you have the chance to visit the Sophievka Park, you should take it because you will have no regrets. Unique species of plants and trees as well as inimitable landscaping designs await you.

Sep 27

Rose Valley

Whenever we think about a specific country or region in the world, we tend to search for the most well-known characteristic it possess and we most of the times define that area by this single distinguished trait. This does not necessarily bring justice to the region, but it is a common practice nonethesless.

For instance, every tourist knows that Bulgaria is renowned, among other things, for its tradition of producing essencial oils. And anyone who denies having bought a souvenir consisting of a small bottle of rose oil is a liar. This is basically one of the most widespread ‘tokens’ one takes back home after a visit to Bulgaria because it captures the essence, so to speak, of the country. Whenever we think about giving our loved ones a souvenir we consider an item which is basically a symbol of that state’s  tradition.



And this specific tradition dates back from the 1800s and it is a custom that brings great pride to the nation. History has it that the first roses were introduced to the country by soldiers of Alexander the Great and that they had brought them for Persia. The flowers found the soil and the climate to be perfect for their growth and thus massive cultivation began. The Bulgarians have even developed a specific method of cultivation which eased the labor required originally in the process of planting, which favoured massive proliferation, but which preserved the quality of the flowers.

Today, Bulgaria prides itself with a unique region called the Rose Valley and a product, the rose oil, which is recognizable at an international level for its unique properties. In fact, the oil produced here is considered the best in the world and it manages to maintain this distinguished quality due to the strict protocols imposed by the government in terms of both testing and production.



The term ‘Rose Valley,’ or ‘Valley of the Roses,’ is used to refer to the area where the renowned roses are planted, an area situated in the center of the country, but which is not geographically demarcated. While many might not consider fields of roses to be acuratelly labeled as a tourist attraction, one cannot deny the beauty of the immense meadow of roses once confrunted with such a view. It is definitly a way of pleasing the senses.



But if you are interested in more than just admiring the fields, that you should definitely visit Bulgaria in the first week of June. Why is this specific period worth your attention? Because it is the time of the year when the Festival of Roses is being held. The festival includes numerous traditions and even though you cannot actively participate in them, these are definitely great to follow, even if from the spectators’ booth. During this week, the pickers wake up early in the morning and go on about their job in the field in traditional costumes. But the fieldwork is sprinkled with episodes of dancing and singing.



Another event of great interest is the beauty peagent organized each year. All the girls who graduate highschool that particular year are signed up in the contest and the most beautiful of them all is chosen Queen Rose. In her turn, after she is crowned queen, the girl has to reward the most skillful rose picker in another ceremony which takes place later in the afternoon.

The city of Kazanlak, with this festival, manages to involve tourists in the traditions of the country and also to pinpoint the cultural traits and customs it so proudly perpetuate over generations.

Sep 26

Museum of Independence, Poland

At a time when it seems that a technological revolution is underway, with so many breakthroughs in the IT area occurring on a daily basis, it seems almost impossible to maintain the past alive. For some this aspect is not even relevant since many are interested only in looking forward.

But since the past and history have molded us as individuals and nations it is relevant to keep them alive for as much as possible.



Today we are going to have a look at a museum located in Poland. The first thing which ought to be mentioned about the tourist attraction presented in today’s article is that the Museum of Independence, whose scope (as you have probably already guessed) is to pinpoint the struggle underwent by the Polish population in order to achieve freedom, was previously the Lenin Museum. Come to think of it, the setting could not have been more suitable for it captures the transition from one historical era, communism, to another, independence, reviving the country’s autonomy.


The exhibitions found inside the museum are arranged chronologically so as to depict the way in which the political agenda shifted in the country with the passage of time. All the relevant events in the Polish history can be traced simply by having a look at the multitude of objects maintained in great condition from the second part of the 18th century onwards. Thus visitors can gain knowledge about the Kościuszko Uprising from 1794, about the rebellions which swept the country in the 19th century, as well as about the return of Józef Piłsudski to Poland, the revolutionary who played a critical part in the instatement of freedom in Poland. The museum is home to almost 50.000 exhibits, a considerable amount of which are items which have been recovered from concentration camps built in the second world conflagration, but also objects which clearly portray Socialist Realism leitmotifs.


All these objects brought together reflect the downfall and uprising of Poland under different rulers, but also pinpoint the dire conditions the population was subjected to in various historical periods and during wars which have devastated the country. The exhibits go further to portray the fate that Polish individuals had while disseminated in different parts of the world.

The collections encountered here include various national symbols, military pieces, distinctions such as medals and engravings, photographs, posters, letters, works of art, and an impressive collection of documents which honor the memory of those who have given their life for freedom, but also materials which serve as a remembrance of the past occurrences which have changed the face of the country to such an extent. The museum is also the proud owner of one of the most impressive collections in Poland which commemorate the Resistance Movement of the ‘70s-’80s.

So if you are one of those people who are hungry for historical facts and you happen to visit Poland, then the Museum of Independence is definitely one of the places which demand your attention.

Aug 01

Exploring Austria

Austria has numerous attractions and some of them can be further explored in the previous articles published on this website. For this specific article however I will focus my attention on the Austrian highlands.

Whenever I get to thinking about the Austrian Alps, the first thing that springs to my mind is an all white landscape. It is of common knowledge that in the last couple of years Austria has become one of the designated holiday destinations, especially in the winter time due to the opportunity it offers to tourists in terms of winter sports.


The resorts sprinkled throughout the Austrian Alps are quite different in the sense that they are developed for specific target ‘audiences.’ Whether you are interested in testing yourself on the ski tracks or whether you are simply interested in escaping in a fairytale-like setting, surrounded by mountainous peaks that pierce the thick layer of snow, and allow yourself to witness the grandeur of nature, Austria offers you everything you seek.


There are regions where you are guaranteed to be embraced by snow due to the specific climate and others where you will encounter everything you need in order to transform your holiday into an unforgettable one – which basically means that you can push yourself to the limit on the track either by skiing or snowboarding and you can spend your nights in clubs partying until sunrise.  The important thing is to establish beforehand what it is that you want to get out of your vacation and thus choose accordingly the resort. Even if your skiing skills fall in the beginner, intermediate or advance category, there are resorts especially created for you.


But moving away from the wintertime, we should also acknowledge the beauty of the green meadows and uplands when summer awakens the vegetation that fell asleep under the snow during the cold season. Tourists can explore the Austrian natural environment by embarking on a trip on foot through its numerous mountainous trails. There are organized excursions you can opt for and which will take you one step closer to nature. You will be taken aback by the impressive landscapes, some of which have preserve their naturalness to the fullest. Striding on the natural paths is definitely a way to get in touch with our inner self, to meditate and to contemplate life.