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Showing posts from July, 2009

Königstein im Taunus

Königstein im Taunus is near the city of Frankfurt am Main, set on the southern slopes of the Taunus hills. The beautiful location and pleasant climate have attracted many to this town, we as a family have walked the gardens and streets of this city since the late 80's.

We enjoy the walk to the castle and the historic town and of course a nice Italian gelato store in the main street.

The first known record of Königstein dates from 1215. Königstein castle, a royal foundation, stands on the major trade route Frankfurt—Cologne. During the French Revolutionary Wars the fortress was destroyed in 1796. In 1803 Königstein became part of the Duchy of Nassau, and in 1866 it came under Prussia.

After falling into obscurity and poverty as a result of the development of new trade routes and forms of transport, the small town was given new life in the 19th Century by the spa's build in the valley in 1851. Many spa visitors and summer vacationers were attracted, and in 1935 Königstein was o…

The modern coexists with the old

The modern coexists with the old in perfect harmony in this city of Frankfurt. In the "Zeil" (shopping area) not to far from the "Altstadt" (old city) a new building of futuristic design emerged since last year, it is striking to look at it, a hole in the middle of the building... quite impressive.

The Altstadt continues to be as in the past attractive with many of Frankfurt's most important sights, including the Römerberg plaza with the famed Römer city hall and many other middle-age style buildings. Nearby is the Frankfurter Dom of St. Bartholomäus and the Paulskirche, the short-lived seat of the German National Assembly in 1848-49.

Maritime expassion

In the background of this photo of Ana and Joana we see the the "Monument to the Discoveries" which was inaugurated in 1960 during celebrations of the 500 year anniversary of the death of the Infant D. Henrique (Henry the Navigator) in Portugal. It evoques the maritime expansion and is designed in the shape of a caravel, showing Henry the Navigator at the prow holding a small caravel, as well as many relevant heroes of Portuguese history (Vasco da Gama, Pedro Álvares Cabral - discoverer of Brazil - Fernão Magalhães - who crossed the Pacific in1520 -, the writer Camões and many others).

Seen from the huge mariners compass this monument fascinates visitors with its impressiveness and its 50 metres height. It is visited by millions of people each year. Cut into the paving stone, the compass (see panel above) was a present from the Republic of South Africa in 1960 and it's best seen from the top of the Monument to the Discoveries, that you can access by elevator located insi…

A city crowned by the St. George's Castle

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal since its conquest from the Moors in 1147, Lisbon is a legendary city with over 20 centuries of History. Alfama is one of the oldest quarters in Lisboa. Since it largely survived the earthquake of 1755, the area still retains much of its original layout.

Adjacent to the Alfama are the likewise old quarters of Castelo and Mouraria, on the western and northern slopes of the hill that is crowned by St. George's Castle.

Lisbon was under Roman rule from 205 BC, when it was already a 1000 year old town. Julius Caesar made it a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding to the name Olissipo. In 1147, the Crusaders under Afonso Henriquesreconquered the city and since then it has been a major political, economic and cultural center of Portugal.

During our trip in Portugal we spent time at the old quarters of Lisbon and enjoyed the city from it's "miradouros" (viewpoints) ... contemplating t…

Crossing a bridge to reach the ocean

Ria Formosa is a natural paradise between the land and the sea.Consisting of a line of sand dunes, barrier islands and sandy peninsulas, all stretching parallel to the coast, the Ria Formosa Natural Park is a unique lagoon system in a state of permanent change, due to the continuous movement of winds, currents and tides. A gift from nature spreading over an area of roughly 18 thousand hectares, making the transition between the land and the sea along a 60-kilometre stretch of the Algarve coastline. Endowed with some exceptional natural and geographical characteristics, this wetland area enjoys a fully justified international reputation as a valuable and privileged habitat for all kinds of fauna and flora. Amongst the vegetation, attention is drawn to the typical marshland plants, adapted here to the excessive salinity of the salt marshes.

The animal kingdom is represented by many different species that have made their home in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, which is also an important sto…

On the banks of the River Tagus

Situated on the north banks of the River Tagus, the charm of Lisbon exists in its strong links to the past; renovated palaces, magnificent churches and an impressive castle mirror the city's rich cultural heritage. Its eclectic blend of neighborhoods, culture and architecture distinguish this capital city uniquely from the other European capitals and make it a truly fascinating and comprehensive city to visit.

A city set on seven hills, as the legend tells, with its cobble stoned pavements and narrow streets full ofthings to discover, but there is also the new to enjoy, we spent some time in the new area of the city, "Parque das Nações", built in 1998 to host the world expo, this area is today a very pleasant are to walk and relax!

The picture was taken from the roof top of the Vasco da Gama shopping center.

Falésia... a natural wonder!

We are enjoying a few days in the Algarve in the south of Portugal. The Algarve is hilly, but traversed with rich valleys. Its highest point is the mountain range of Monchique, with a maximum altitude of 906m. The Algarve has several cities, towns and villages. It also includes some islands and islets.

The region is also the home of the Ria Formosa, a natural reserve of over 170 square kilometers the and a stopping place for hundreds of different birds.

One of the most important facts in the Algarve's history was the five centuries of Arab occupation, visible in the regions architecture (lattice chimneys and tiles, for example) and in many places' names beginning with 'Al'.

The Algarve was once part of the Roman province of Lusitânia, later becoming part of the Visigoths' jurisdiction. The Roman presence left tracks in several places of the region. Since 1249, and until the Republic proclamation, the Portuguese monarchs were entitled "King of Portugal and of t…

Exploring lighthouses and admiring the ocean

First two days in Portugal - Visit to Guincho and Cascais.

Guincho is situated 5 km from Cascais , lying at the foot of the Sintra hills and facing the Atlantic, it can't be missed. The sand dunes blend subtly with the pine trees, the sea - rich in fish - rushes here and there into majestic caverns and enormous cliffs. The vegetation is varied and beautiful and mostly of the Mediterranean type.

Guincho as always been ideal for surfing owing to the large breakers, but it is now becoming increasingly known for wind surfing - a sport much developed over the last few years. The views of ocean in this area are breathtaking... we spent an afternoon walking in the coast line exploring lighthouses and admiring the ocean.

Cascais is probably our favorite city in Portugal, charming fishing village with bays and incredible corners in the old part of town, this time hoever we spend our time by the marina.

The video featured is about the places we vis…