Southern Europe (31)

I am not proud to say that I used to assume that Saint Peter's Basilica was just the biggest church in Christendom, the pilgrimage and gathering place of all Catholics in the world. What I didn’t know is that not only it is actually one of the most incredible examples of Late Renaissance and Baroque art anywhere, but it is also a place that holds an unexpected secret… Underneath it you can find The Vatican Necropolis, a first century necropolis (city of the dead), basically a roman cemetery where the actual Tomb of Saint Peter is believed to remain, still…
So here's my final post of this three-part series about the Vatican Necropolis under Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Tomb of Saint Peter. In the first article we covered some generalities and the historical background for Saint Peter’s Basilica. In the second article we went one by one through the mausoleums in the Vatican Necropolis tour, explaining each major highlight. Today we finally reach St Peter’s Tomb! Who was St Peter? Peter was one of Twelve Apostles who accompanied Jesus. After Jesus’ death, Peter led the founding the Christian church and became the first pope. 30 years after Jesus' death…
Nestled into the foothills of the Sierra de Mijas is one of Andalucía's well-known pueblos blancos or white villages. Just 8 kilometres from Fuengirola the village of Mijas has become a popular tourist destination. There was a settlement on the site of modern Mijas in prehistoric times. It became known as Tamisa during the Roman occupation and was a stopping point on the trade route between Málaga and Cádiz. Later Mijas came under the rule of the Moors and resisted the Catholic Kings attempts to remove the Moors from the peninsula and restore the country to Catholicism during the siege…
view from Barceloneta (Barcelona) beach apartment This photo features my good friend Anna and I relaxing on a couch after an afternoon BBQ at a friend of a friend's Barceloneta Beach apartment. It is, I believe, the perfect photographic representation of Barcelona: a spectacular seaside city filled with great people, great food and fantastic views. After bouncing back and forth between the US and Spain for 10 years and working as an English teacher and later as a staff writer and editor at a cultural magazine in Barcelona, I've compiled a comprehensive list of places to shop and eat at,…
As I walked up to the entrance of Antimachia Castle, I heard a voice call out: "Ya Svenge?" "Sprechen Sie Deutsch?" "Dag!" "Australian, mate?" The little man was a character straight from the pages of history. Part court jester, part musician, all personality. He was dressed in a native, medieval costume to match his surroundings, this guy was the official greeting party for the Fourteenth century Antimachia Castle. "English? I speak all language! Tell me, where you are from?" I laughed at his persistence as I walked up the stairs to enter the Castle. "California." "American! Ah, U-S-A. Not very…
Shipwreck Cove or Smugglers Cove in Zakynthos, also called Navagio beach is probably the most famous beach in Greece, the beach is only accessed by boat, and well worth the trip.  The picturesque beach is probably the most famous in Greece having been photographed and featured in many holiday brochures, travel books and televised advertisements. The boat was shipwrecked back in 1980 after hitting rocks in bad weather while being pursued by the Greek Navy who suspected it was carrying contraband cigarettes. Those tourists planning to lounge in the sun are advised to bring all necessities with them as there are…
“The air soft as that of Seville in April, and so fragrant that it was delicious to breathe it” – Christopher Columbus A great collection of breathtaking landscapes dotted with wonderful beaches, a cup of sweet Latin vibe melted in the most sensual language, dramatic pueblos reminding of long gone periods, beautiful cities designed by famous artists seems to be the perfect recipe for romance and Spain is the consequence of their combination which gives it the status of one of the most romantic countries alongside France and Italy. Seville is the capital of Andalucía, the city of Carmen, the…
I love Málaga, but it is sadly under-rated. Its name is synonymous with the airport destination for drunken Brits who scatter themselves - generally westwards - along the Costa del Sol. But it shouldn't be. Málaga is one of the oldest cities in the world; its culture and history date back to the Phoenicians in the eighth century BC. It is an elegant, vibrant and interesting city. Málaga has been the home and birthplace of many famous people including Pablo Picasso and Antonio Banderas. It is home to art galleries - Picasso Museum, Carmen Thyssen Museum, CAC - museums and…
In the north of the Greek Ionian island of Zakynthos at an area called Skinari you will find the magnificent Blue Caves.  The Blue Caves are one of the islands most famous natural attractions and were discovered in 1897 by Antonio Komouto. The caves attract thousands of visitors each year and are located just below the lighthouse at Cape Skinari. The caves owe there name to the blue waters inside them. Objects below the water appear to turn blue. This includes people who can enter the water inside the caves to swim. The Blue Caves can only be visited by…
Córdoba sits on the River Guadalquivir in the north of the Spanish province of Andalucía and is filled with the remnants of its rich history, a good portion of which can be found in La Judería - the Jewish Quarter.   The site to which most tourists flock to when first arriving in Córdoba is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Mosque/Cathedral and its surrounding streets. We made our way from our cheap and cheerful hotel on the far side of the river, across the much renovated Roman Bridge, past the statue of San Rafael in its centre, towards…
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