Category Archives: History

The Mezquita

The biggest attraction in Córdoba was literally a 5 minute walk from our hotel.  The Mezquita is truly a must see building.  It’s a massive former mosque turned cathedral with an amazing forest of columns topped by red and white striped double arches that have seen over 1000 years of history.  It is not only the largest mosque in the world, but the largest temple in the world as well.   It occupies an area of over 250,000 square feet or almost 6 acres.

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The Mezquita with Red and White striped arches

The focal point in the prayer hall is the mihrab – which identifies the wall that faces Mecca

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the Mihrab

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the dome above the mihrab

 

Originally built in 786, the initial construction lasted for about 200 years.  After Córdoba was recaptured by King Ferdinand III in 1236, the mosque became used as a church.  Currently in the very middle of the Mezquita is a stunning Renaissance cathedral, which was built in the 1500’s.  Although some parts of the original column hall had been destroyed to make room for the cathedral – the building is still a remarkable and dazzling example of Moorish architecture.

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sun streaming in through stained glass

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the cathedral

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ceiling in the cathedral between the organ pipes

 

The Mezquita is certainly a signature attraction in Córdoba and visitors should plan on spending at least a half day to see everything.

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On the Danube in Budapest

Cruising on the Danube river in Budapest past the stunning parliament building is a special treat both day and night. Did you know that the Danube flows over 1700 miles passing through 10 countries on its way to the Black Sea? You can travel almost all of it on an amazing river cruise. How much time do you have? 1 week? 2 weeks? More? Let us know and we can design the perfect trip for you.

Versailles – Take a Tour or Go it Alone?

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The palace of Versailles, located just outside Paris and listed as a World Heritage Site, was the seat of the government of Louis XIV.  This marvelous palace and gardens should certainly be on your must see list while in France.  The big question however is how to see it?

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Well to answer that question, first consider that the Palace contains 2,300 room and more than 3 million people visit annually.  Then consider your motivation for visiting, are you a wanderer who enjoys the sites without too much detail or are you a history buff where the story is important.

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There are so many options to choose from – anywhere from going it alone with your audio guide (comes with the admission ticket) to a private guided tour.  When choosing also consider what parts of the palace will be included (Palace, Estate of Trianon, Gardens and Parks, Musical Fountain Show and Musical Gardens and/or the Coach Gallery) in relationship to how much time you want to spend.

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Here are a few tips that will make your visit more pleasurable.

  • This place is huge and can’t be done in just one hour.
  • Regardless of what way you wish to tour Versaillas, be sure you have purchased your ticket prior to your arrival otherwise you’ll spend a good part of your allotted time just standing in line for a ticket.
  • Plan a minimum of 4 hrs.
  • Wear good walking shoes.
  • Eat a good breakfast or lunch before you arrive. Just the scores of people are enough irritation you don’t need hangry to rear its ugly head too.
  • Make sure your tour offers headsets, with the crowd it is essential for hearing your guide.

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Now for my personal (any travel professional) opinion, take a tour that offers skip the line and a small group format and access to the secret rooms – it will be well worth the money!

Whenever you go, enjoy your visit, it is a marvelous Palace.  Au revior for now.

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