S: Europe April 2011 Part I
1: Amsterdam | Cologne | Strasbourg | Colmar | Lyon | Annecy | Chamonix | Geneva
2: Amsterdam is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands. Settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age, a result of its innovative developments in trade. During that time, the city was the leading center for finance and diamonds. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded, and many new neighborhoods and suburbs were formed. The 17th-century canals of Amsterdam were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2010. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in the world, is located in the city center. Amsterdam's main attractions, including its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, Anne Frank House, its red-light district, and its many cannabis coffee shops draw more than 3.66 million international visitors annually.
5: De Wallen, Amsterdam's Red Light District, is a network of alleys containing approximately three hundred tiny one-room cabins rented by prostitutes who offer their sexual services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights. The area also has a number of sex shops, sex theaters, peep shows, a sex museum, a cannabis museum, and a number of coffee shops that sell marijuana.
6: The Anne Frank House is a museum dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank, who hid from Nazi persecution with her family and four other people in hidden rooms at the rear of the building. The Secret Annex, as it was called in The Diary of a Young Girl, is the rear extension of the building. | It was concealed from view by houses on all four sides of a quadrangle. Its secluded position made it an ideal hiding place for Otto Frank, his wife Edith, two daughters, and four other Jewish people seeking refuge from Nazi persecution. The total amount of floor space in the inhabited rooms came to only about 500 square feet.
7: The Westerkerk is a church built from 1620-1631. The spire, called the Westertoren is the highest church tower in Amsterdam. The crown topping the spire is the Imperial Crown of Austria of Maximilian I. Rembrandt van Rijn was buried in the Westerkerk on October 8, 1669. The Westerkerk is located close to the Anne Frank House and is mentioned frequently in her diary - its clock tower could be seen from the attic and Anne Frank described the chiming of the clock as a source of comfort.
8: The original Heineken Brewery built in 1867 was closed in 1988, but still operates as a museum. | The Royal Palace of Amsterdam opened in 1655 as the Town Hall. The brother of Napoleon Bonaparte later converted it to a palace. | The Concertgebouw opened in 1888 and is considered one of the finest concert halls in the world because of its highly regarded acoustics. Some 900 concerts a year take place here.
9: The Rijksmuseum has a large collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age including the most notable collection of Rembrandts. It also displays the stern of the HMS Royal Charles which was captured in the Raid on the Medway, and the Hartog plate. | The Van Gogh Museum is an art museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, featuring the works of the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries. It has the largest collection of Van Gogh's paintings and drawings in the world. | Sint-Nicolaaskerk, built between 1884 - 1887
10: Dam Square derives its name from its original function: a dam on the Amstel River. Built in approximately 1270, the dam formed the first connection between the settlements on the sides of the river. As the dam was gradually built up it became wide enough for a town square, which remained the core of the town developing around it. Dam Square as it exists today grew out of what was originally two squares: the actual dam and an adjacent plaza to the west. | Pillow Fight in Dam Square | Rembrandtplein is a major square named after the famous painter. It used to be a butter market but developed into a center for nightlife with the opening of various hotels and cafés.
11: Amsterdam has been called the "Venice of the North" for its more than one hundred kilometers of canals, about 90 islands and 1,500 bridges. In the early part of the 17th century, with immigration at a height, a comprehensive plan was put together, calling for four main canals - three mostly for residential development and a fourth for purposes of defense and water management.
14: Keukenhof Garden was established in 1949 by the then-mayor of Lisse. The idea was to present a flower exhibit where growers from all over the Netherlands and Europe could show off their hybrids – and help the Dutch export industry (the Netherlands is the world's largest exporter of flowers). Keukenhof has been the world's largest flower garden for over fifty years. | Keukenhof Garden was established in 1949 by the then-mayor of Lisse. The idea was to present a flower exhibit where growers from all over the Netherlands and Europe could show off their hybrids – and help the Dutch export industry (the Netherlands is the world's largest exporter of flowers). Keukenhof has been the world's largest flower garden for over fifty years. Approximately 7 million flower bulbs are planted in the garden annually.
16: Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city (after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich), and is one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants. It is one of the oldest cities in Germany, having been founded by the Ubii in the year 38 BC. The name is derived from that of the Roman settlement, Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium. Cologne is located on both sides of the Rhine River. The city's famous Cologne Cathedral is the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Cologne. The University of Cologne is one of Europe's oldest universities. Cologne is a major cultural center of the Rhineland and has a vibrant arts scene. Cologne is home to more than 30 museums and hundreds of galleries.
18: Cologne Cathedral (Hohe Domkirche St. Peter und Maria) is a Roman Catholic church in Cologne, Germany. It is renowned as a monument of Christianity, of German Catholicism in particular, of Gothic architecture and of the continuing faith and perseverance of the people of the city in which it stands. The cathedral is a World Heritage Site, one of the best-known architectural monuments in Germany, and Cologne's most famous landmark. It is Germany's most visited site, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day. Construction of Cologne Cathedral began in 1248 and took, with interruptions, until 1880 to complete. Its towers are approximately 157 m tall. The cathedral is the third tallest church in the world. For four years, 1880-84, it was the tallest structure in the world, until the completion of the Washington Monument. Because of its enormous twin spires, it also presents the largest facade of any church in the world.
19: The cathedral suffered seventy hits by aerial bombs during World War II. It did not collapse, but stood tall in an otherwise flattened city. The great twin spires are said to have been used as an easily recognizable navigational landmark by Allied aircraft raiding deeper into Germany in the later years of the war, which may be a reason that the cathedral was not destroyed.
21: The Shrine of the Three Kings is a reliquary said to contain the bones of the Biblical Magi, also known as the Three Kings or the Three Wise Men. The shrine is a large gilded and decorated triple sarcophagus placed above and behind the high altar of Cologne Cathedral. The basic structure is made of wood, with gold and silver overlay decorated with filigree, enamel, and over 1000 jewels and beads.
23: The Gero Crucifix carved between 965–970 | Medieval statue of St. Christopher | Mailender Madonna dating from around 1290,
25: St. Maria im Kapitol was built over the site of a Roman temple in the 11th-century | Minoritekirch was completed in 1260. It suffered a fire during WWII, but was later repaired | The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary was completed in 1715. | The remains of St. Alban's Church, which was destroyed in WWII.
26: St. Gereon's Basillica has a highly irregular plan, the nave being covered by a decagonal oval dome, 21.0 m long and 16.9 m wide, completed in 1227 on the remains of Roman walls, which are still visible.
27: The Roman north gate was built in 50 AD when Cologne was a roman colony | Remains of the Roman city walls from 200 AD | Raised section of Roman sewer system | Memorial to Edith Stein, a Catholic nun of Jewish decent killed in Auschwitz during the holocaust | The Gürzenich was built by the City Council as a civic ballroom and market hal between 1441 and 1447 | Haus Neuerburg, the former headquarters of a cigarette company and current home of the Cologne city administration
28: Cologne is home to Germany's oldest city hall with a documented history spanning some 900 years. The history of its council during the 11th century is a prominent example for self-gained municipal autonomy of Medieval cities. Today's building complex consists of several structures, added successively in varying architectural styles: they include the 14th century historic town hall, the 15th century Gothic style tower, the 16th century Renaissance style loggia and cloister, and the 20th century Modern Movement atrium.
30: The Praetorium was the official residence of the governor in the capital of the Roman province of Lower Germany Cologne. It was the most important official building of the city and the main Roman palace on the Rhine.
31: The Roman-Germanic Museum which opened in 1974, is near the Cologne Cathedral on the site of a 3rd-century villa. The villa was discovered in 1941 during the construction of an air-raid shelter. On the floor of the main room of the villa is the renowned Dionysus mosaic. Since the mosaic could not be moved easily, the architects designed the museum around the mosaic. The inner courtyards of the museum mimic the layout of the ancient villa.
32: Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in northeastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Strasbourg's metropolitan area is the ninth largest in France. Strasbourg's historic city center, the Grande Ile, was classified a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988, the first time such an honor was placed on an entire city center. Strasbourg is fused into the Franco-German culture and although violently disputed throughout history, has been a bridge of unity between France and Germany for centuries, especially through the University of Strasbourg, currently the largest in France, and the coexistence of Catholic and Protestant culture.
34: Strasbourg Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg) was constructed from 1176-1439. It is the sixth tallest church in the world today and was the tallest building in the world from 1647-1874. The planned south tower was never built and as a result, with its characteristic asymmetrical form, the Strasbourg Cathedral is now the premier landmark of Alsace.
38: During World War II, the stained glass was removed from the Strasbourg Cathedral in 74 cases and stored in a nearby salt mine
41: Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Catholic Church. | Memorial for those who died in WWI and WWII | Pont de Fonderie | Palace of Justice | Church of Saint Paul | Saint-Guillaume Church
42: The Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Protestant Church got its name, "Young St. Peter's", because of the existence of three other St. Peter's churches in the same city: Saint-Pierre-le-Vieux ("Old St. Peter's"), divided into a Catholic and a Protestant church, and Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune catholique. The church has been Protestant since 1524. The oldest part of the church is the small lower church used as a burial crypt, which is the remains of a Columban church erected in the 7th century.
49: Petite-France is an area of medieval half-timbered houses and baroque sandstone buildings. In the Middle Age, the Petite-France was the tanning-houses and slaughterhouses area. The name Petite-France ("Little France") was not given for patriotic or architectural reasons. It comes from the "hospice of the syphilitic" which was built in the late fifteenth century on this island to cure persons with syphilis, then called the "French disease" in German, Franzosenkrankheit.
52: Colmar was founded in the 9th century. The city's architectural landmarks reflect eight centuries of Germanic and French architecture and most have been spared by the destructions of the French Revolution, the Franco-Prussian War and World Wars One and Two. Colmar has a sunny microclimate and is the second driest city in France, making it ideal for Alsatian wine. Colmar is considered the capital of the Alsatian wine region. The dryness results from the town's location next to mountains which force clouds arriving from the west to rise, and much of their moisture to condense and fall as precipitation over the higher ground, leaving the air warmed and dried by the time it reaches the city. Colmar is also the hometown of Frédéric Bartholdi, who designed the Statue of Liberty.
60: Lyon is a city in east-central France in the Rhone-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon has a long cultural influence on France and the world. The city is known for its historical and architectural landmarks and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lyon was historically known as an important area for the production and weaving of silk and in modern times has developed a reputation as the capital of gastronomy in France. It has a significant role in the history of cinema due to Auguste and Louis Lumiere.
62: The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere is a minor basilica in Lyon. It was built with private funds between 1872 and 1896 in a dominating position in the city, as a mark of the triumph of Christian values over the socialists of the Lyon commune of 1870, like the similarly inspired Basilique du Sacré-Ceour, Paris. Its design, by Pierre Bossan, draws from both Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, two non-Gothic models that were unusual choices at the time. It features fine mosaics, superb stained glass, and a crypt of Saint Joseph. The basilica receives 1.5 million visitors annually. The site it occupies was once the Roman forum of Trajan, the forum vetus, thus its name.
66: The Ancient Theatre of Fourviere was built in two steps: around 15 BC, a theater with a 90 m diameter was built next to the hill. At the beginning of the 2nd century, the final construction added a last place for the audience. The diameter is 108 m, and there were seats for 10,000 people.
67: Place Bellecour | Lyon Theatre | Place de Jacobins fountain | Palais de la Bourse | Lyon City Hall
68: Bartholdi Fountain | Amphitheater of the Three Gauls, built in 12 BC and expanded in 120 AD to seat up to 20,000 people. It is here the representatives of the sixty-four nations of the three Gauls would meet every year. It is also here that in 177 the first Christian martyrs of Gaul were tortured, the most famous being Saint Blandine
69: Ruins of an early Christian church. The church of Lyon founded around 150 AD is the oldest in the west apart from that of Rome.
70: Cathedrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon, begun in the 12th century and completed in 1478.
72: Parc de la Tete d'Or was opened in 1857. The park contains four rose gardens, huge greenhouses, a botanical garden, a zoo and a velodrome. The main entrance, at the southeast corner, is guarded by an enormous wrought iron gate known as the Gate of the children of the Rhone. The gate, with its gilded features, was installed in 1901, when the park was fenced off for the first time.
74: Annecy is a medieval town nestled north of the French Alps and only 56kms southeast of Geneva in Switzerland. This charming destination, a popular weekend getaway for the Swiss, is built around a 14th century chateau and zigzagged by tiny canals and streams that flow into pristine Lake Annecy. Due to its geographical location at the foot of the Alps (between Lyon and Chamonix), the history of Annecy has been rather turbulent as it has suffered many invasions over the centuries.
76: Palais de l'Isle is a castle in the centre of the Thiou, a canal in Annecy, southern France. It was built in 1132. Its triangular shape is reminiscent of the prow of a galley anchored in the river. It was the primary residence of the Lord of Annecy as early as the 12th century, and later became the Count of Geneva’s administrative headquarters, then alternately a courthouse, a mint, and finally a jail, from the Middle Ages until 1865 and once again during World War II.
82: Chamonix is a commune in the Haute-Savoie department in the Rhone-Alpes region in south-eastern France. It was the site of the 1924 Winter Olympics, the first Winter Olympics. Situated near the massive peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges, Chamonix shares the summit of Mont Blanc with its neighboring commune of Courmayeur in Italy, and own the title of highest commune in France. The commune is well known and loved by skiers and by mountain enthusiasts of all types. Mont Blanc, at a height of 4,810 meters, is the highest point in Europe.
89: Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps, Western Europe and the European Union. It rises 15,782 ft above sea level and is ranked 11th in the world in topographic prominence. The mountain lies between the regions of Aosta Valley, Italy, and Haute-Savoie, France. A cable car ascends and crosses the mountain from Courmayeur, Italy to Chamonix, France. The Mont Blanc massif is popular for mountaineering, hiking, skiing and snowboarding. The first recorded ascent of Mont Blanc was on 8 August 1786. Now the summit is ascended by an average 20,000 mountaineer-tourists each year .
90: The Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) is a glacier located on the northern slopes of the Mont Blanc massif, in the Alps. At 7 kilometers long and 200 meters deep, it is the longest glacier in France. The glacier's speed, although not perceptible to the naked eye, is considerable. From more than 120 meters a year in its upper part, the Mer de Glace moves about 90 meters per year in the region of Montenvers, which is about one centimeter per hour. Because of the movement, the man-made grotto has to be dug out every summer
94: Geneva is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland. Geneva is a global city, a financial center, and a worldwide center for diplomacy and the most important UN international co-operation center with New York thanks to the presence of numerous international organizations, including the headquarters of many of the agencies of the United Nations and the Red Cross. It is also the place where the Geneva Conventions were signed, which chiefly concern the treatment of wartime non-combatants and prisoners of war. Geneva has been described as the third European financial center after London and Zurich and a 2009 survey by Mercer found Geneva to have the third-highest quality of life of any city in the world. The city has been referred to as the world's most compact metropolis and the "Peace Capital." In 2009, Geneva was ranked as the fourth most expensive city in the world.
98: Brunswick Monument | View of Mont Blanc from Lake Geneva
99: The St. Pierre Cathedral belongs to the Swiss Reformed Church. It was begun under Arducius de Faucigny, the prince-bishop of the Diocese of Geneva, in the 12th century, and includes an eclectic mix of styles. It is best known as the adopted home church of John Calvin, one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation.