Let the cities Information about inspiring travel ideas and top destinations in the world
Berlin worth a special journey
The official founding of Berlin took place in 1237 when the two merchant
settlements of Cölln and Berlin led to the creation of a “double town” containing by the year 1400 a population of about 8,500. From 1415 on the Hohenzollern dynasty rained Berlin for more than 500 years. Today Germany’s capital is a city of diversity and tolerance, a rich culture as well as a pulsating nightlife. Berlin is versatile and multi-faced in terms of its inhabitants, architecture, history and its possibilities of entertainment. Being severly damaged during World War II and seperated during the Cold War, the city has reinvented itself after its tumultueous past and is now the international hub of the country. Events like the International Film Festival and the Berlin Fashion Week, draw yearly about 135 million visitors to the capital and one can be sure not to get bored when traveling to this diverse city.
After World War II Berlin, as well as the rest of the country, was divided and controlled by the four Allied powers, the United States, United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union. As tensions between the Soviets and the other occupying powers grew, the former implemented the Berlin Blockade, which in 1952, left West Berlin alienated in the midst of East Germany. Being however the only place with an open border, hundreds of thousands of East Germans left to the west via West Berlin and a drain of labor
threatened East Germany with an economic catastrophe.
For this reason the East German government erected a barbed-wire barrier in 1961 to separate the two sites which later became the concrete, grey wall which made an escape from east to west practically impossible. An estimated 5000 people tried to pass the wall and at least 136 lost their lives trying. On November 9th, 1989 the wall finally came down and Germany was again united.
Today only a few parts of the former wall are preserved. The most visited are located in Bernauer street (the longest sustained segment of wall), as well as in Niederkirchner street and Liesen street.
It is known as the longest open air gallery in the world. With over 0.8 in lenghs it is also the the longest still preserved stretch of the Berlin Wall. 118 artists from 21 countries let their imagination and creativity run wild and created 101 large murals on the east side of the wall. Painted in 1990 to express the joy of
tearing down the border that kept families and friends apart for so long the gallery expresses
the enthusiasm and hopes for a free and happier future for all people in the wold.
Probably the most famous painting on the wall is by Dmitri Vrubel. It is a replica of a photo depicting
Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker during a fraternal kiss. Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Soviet Union, visited East Germany to celebrate the anniversary of its founding as a Communist nation when the iconic photo was taken. The paintings have been restored a couple of times due to vandalism, graffiti and erosion and can now be marveled at by those who visit Berlin.
Budapest worth a special journey
The capital of Hungary is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Budapest originally consisted of three cities, Buda, Óbuda and Pest, with the former two laying on the west bank of the Danube river and the latter on the east bank. On November 17th, 1873 the three cities were united and became present- day’s Budpest. The city originated as a Celtic settlement before 1 AD and became Aquincum, the Roman capital of Pannonia Inferior in 106 AD. In the 9th century Hungarian tribes under the leadership of Árpád settled in the area.
In 1526 the Turks defeated the Hungarian army and the 150 year long occupation of the Ottoman Empire started until Buda was recaptured from the Turks in 1786. The city became a European metropolis after its unification in 1873 and today an estimated 4.3 million tourists visit the city every year. Budapest can call the world’s largest thermal water cave system and also second oldest metro line its own.
Also called the Royal Palace, this impresssive monument on the southern tip of Castle hill, is a part of Budapest that can not be skipped during your visit. Having been besieged no less than thirty-one times and rebuild at least six times, a truly tumultuous history surrounds the beautiful palace.
The first castle was first finished in 1265 when King Béla IV built a keep surrounded by thick walls on Castle hill. King Lajos the Great replaced it with a castle in Romanesque style, which was substituted by a gothic style palace during the reign of Sigismund of Luxembourg and again changed into a Renaissance style castle during the reign of Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus. During the Christian siege in 1686 when Buda was retaken from the Turks, the castle was destroyed and later rebuild in Baroque style while
using the remains of the former castle. In WWII the palace was again severly damaged by the invading Soviet Army. Reconstruction commenced in the 1950s.
Today the beautiful Buda castle houses two museums as well as the National Széchenyi
Library. The Hungarian National Gallery exhibits Hungarian art from the 11th century to the present and the Budapest History Museum, displays 2000 years of city’s past on 3 floors. Furthermore there
are also two beautiful fountains, the Matthias Fountain and the Fountain of the Fishing Children as
well as several other sculptural monuments. Here you can spend many hours exploring Budapest fascinating history and rich culture.
You can enter the castle through two entrances, either through Habsburg Steps through a ornamental gateway from 1903 or Corvinius Gate, named afterKing Matthias Corvinius.
Each year several festivals are hosted at Buda Castle and draw many visitors to this beautiful spot in the
Amsterdam worth a special journey
Netherland’s capital and biggest city started out as a small fishing village in the late 12th century. The town was build on a dam on the river Amstel and thus aquired the name „Amstelredamme“ which became Amsterdam in 1327.
The 17th century is considered the Netherland’s Golden Age during which Amsterdam was turned into the wealthiest city in the world and its port became one of the most important ones worldwide. The world’s first stock exchange located in the center of the city was established here in 1602.
Amsterdammers are very liberal-minded and almost all are fluent in English. They work hard but also appreciate the slower pace that their city provides. The many canals and the Amsterdammers love for cycling create a relaxed athmosphere in the city and invite the visitor to take things slowly.
This is not a city to speed around by car but to take a canal tour on one of the city’s
many waterways, stroll around on the flower Market, or to pay some of Amsterdam’s eight windmills a visit. And don’t forget to try out the local food like „Snert“, a pea soup, „Bitterballen“, deep fried meatballs or „Poffertjes“ a fluffy version of miniature pancakes.
It’s the typical Dutch way to get from A to B. An estimated 60 percent of trips in Amsterdam are made by bike. The city even has a higher count of bicycles than residents. Amsterdammers love their two wheels. You will witness people walking their dogs while cycling, 2 or 3 people sharing one bike, some even attach waggons and load them with cargo. Talking on the phone while cycling is no uncommen sight and
almost no one wears helmet. Nevertheless there are hardly any traffic accidents involving cyclists.
An 249 miles network of bike paths often covering streets on which no cars are allowed and an almost flat terrain make it fun and easy to get around the city.
For about 8 Euros a day you can rent your own in one of the many bicycle rental shops in
town that also offer better deals for longer rentals. Or take one of the numerous guided bike tours with a local that will show you the best parts of town. If you do decide to explore the city while blending in with the Dutch, pay attention to the local cycling etiquette. Give hand signals before turns, give right of way to trams and traffic coming from the right, and make sure not to block the bike pathes so that others can ride unimpeded.
A trip to Amsterdam is not complete without taking a canal tour along the 62 miles of the city’s waterways. Being the country’s most popular attraction, roughly 200 boats, ranging from party cruisers to five star restaurants on water, carry their passengers along the canals through the „Venice of the North“. It probably is the most enchanting and relaxing way to enjoy Amsterdam. You can choose from an one hour tour, a whole day trip or a ticket for the hop-on hop-off canal buses. The main canals Herengracht, Keizergracht, Prinsengracht and Singel form a belt, the „Grachtengordel“, in concentric semi-circles around the city center and divide, along with the many smaller ones, the city in 90 islands connected by 1500 bridges. Most of them were dug during the „Dutch Golden Age“ in the 17th century but some are as old as the city’s origin.
Not only tourists take advantage of the city’s alternative way of transport. A municipal canal-
bus system traveling three different routes provides locals with an easy way to get to and
from work. Furthermore the canals serve as home for those who choose to live on one of the
2,000 houseboats. During wintertime, people go iceskating on the thick layer of ice that that forms on the water during cold temperatures.
Barcelona worth a special journey
Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and the 2nd largest city in Spain after Madrid. It is also the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea and ranks 10th on the list of most-visited cities in the world.
Originally a Roman city, Barcelona is endowed with a rich cultural heritage, having been besieged several times in history.
Walking through the historic streets of the Gothic Quarter or La Rambla, the busy tree-lined boulevard filled with cafes, shops and street performers, there is so much to see in this beautiful city.
Particulary renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudi who left his mark in many places in the city most notably with the unfinished cathedral ‚La Sagrada Família’. People living in Barcelona do speak Spanish but the majority prefers to speak Catalan, which is not a dialect but a distinct language that evolved from Latin. Sport fans will surely associate the city with the FC Barcelona and ‚Barca’s’ hero
Antoni Gaudi i Cornet was born on June 25th 1852 in Reus, Catalonia as the youngest of 5 siblings.
From 1873 until 1878 he studied at the ‚Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura’ in Barcelona while simultaneously gaining experience by assisting local architects. His collaboration with entrepreneur and friend Eusebi Güell who entrusted Gaudi with many projects resulted in the creation of buildings like the Palau Güell, Colonia Güell and best known Park Güell. Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece was the roman catholic church ‘La Sagrada Familia,. Being known worldwide for his monuments, Gaudi also created furniture that stand out most notably through its ergonomic shape and other objects.
In 1926 he was struck by a trolley car and died of his injuries.
During his lifetime, Gaudi went through several phases of architectural style including
Victorianism and Gothic Baroque but he is most closely associated with the Modernist
movement. Gaudi’s compositions were radically different from those of other architects of his time.
Not the ideas of preceding architects but the forms of nature were the factors that influenced him. His designs are characterized by freedom of form, an organic unity and by the use of a wide range of materials and textures. Colorful ceramic tiles arranged in mosaic patterns in a free, expressive way, grace many of his creations. His buildings stand out through their complex geomitry and the symbolism that is integrated everywhere in them.
The most visited monument in Spain is ‚La Sagrada Familia’ whose construction was commenced in 1882. Gaudi was commissioned with the project in 1883 and completely changed the original design. He continued to work on his masterpiece until the end of his life, leaving it unfinished in 1926 when he was fatally injured in a traffic accident. Since his passing, several architects have continued the work according to his original idea with the help of the models he created during his lifetime. According to Gaudi’s original plan the church is intended to have 18 towers (of now 8). 12 dedicated to the apostles, 4 to the evangelists, one to Jesus and another one to Mother Mary. To date, La Gagrada Familia is completed to 65 percent. Since the beginning, the building of the church has exclusively been carried out through donations. La Sagrada Familia has been declared World Heritage by the UNESCO in 2005 along with 6 other Gaudi buildings. If you visit Barcelona, don’t leave the city without stopping by this incredible landmark.
Los Angeles worth a special journey
Los Angeles, with a population of 13 Million, the 2nd most populous city in the US after New York, attracts yearly roughly 40 million visitors. Tourist can enjoy their stay here all year round because of its sunny and warm climate. LA has been recognized as the most diverse of the nation’s largest cities. People from 140 countries speaking an estimated 86 different languages currently call the city their home. Known for being the entertainment capital of the world, it also consists of more than 300 museums, countless galleries and shopping opportunities reaching from small vintage stores on Melrose Avenue to exclusive Designer Boutiques in Beverly Hills.
For those folks who rather spend their time in nature, the county offers many semi- wild parks for hikes and a coastline that stretches 75 miles long from Malibu to Long Beach.
Everybody recognizes the nine 45-foot-tall big white lettering that hovers over the city. Originally set up in 1923 to advertise „Hollywoodland“, a local real estate developement, the sign is now an internationally known symbol for America’s entertainment capital. After the letters ‚LAND’ had been removed the sign’s image has been used in countless movies and now represents the place known for being the world’s leader in the creation of television productions, movies, video games and recorded music.
The Walk of Fame tells the story of those who walked the towns many roads of success. While strolling along the long boulevard paved with stars honoring ‚Tinseltown’s’ most outstanding celebrities, visitors enjoy stopping by at Madame Tussauds, the Hollywood and Highland Shopping Center or for lunch at Musso and Frank Grill.
The museum actually consists of two premises. The Getty Center in the hills of Brentwood, which is the primary location welcoming roughly 1.3 million visitors each year, and the Getty Villa in the Pacific Palisades, which was the original ground of the exhibition. The former features a collection of Western art reaching from the Middle Ages to the present, the latter displays artistry from ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria.
The founder, J. Paul Getty, an American industrialist who made a fortune with the Getty Oil Company was a avid collector of antiquities and art which were the basis for the foundation of the museum in 1953. He passed away in 1976 leaving his entire wealth to the J. Paul Getty Museum Trust which is nowadays the world’s wealthiest art institution with an estimated endowment of 5.6 billion.
Today visitors can marvel at the enormous collection of art including paintings by Van Gogh, Monet, Pissarro, Manet, Renoir and Sisley as well as drawings from Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. The museum also displays countless aniquities such as greek vases, statues and jewelery, along with illuminated manuscripts, sculptures and photographs.
Fort Lauderdale worth a special journey
The ‚Venice of Florida’, as locals call it is famous for its gateway to the Everglades, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. Take airboat ride for some wildlife viewing of alligators, Florida Panthers and wading birds . Or relax on one of the town’s numerous beaches after taking a stroll on the beachfront promenade with its signature white wave wall and brick paved path. Kids will enjoy the Museum of Discovery and Science or ‚Boomers’, an amusement park with rollercoasters, mini golf and bumper boats.