Studley Royal, a very English country garden
The water gardens at Studley Royal are a striking example of the elegance of Georgian garden design. Here, in the style that was popular at the time, it is not flowers that steal the show, but water features and statuary. But what extensive water features these are!
A stroll around Fountains Abbey
In 1132 a small group of monks left their Benedictine Monastery in York, fed up with the extravagant and rowdy lifestyle of the monks there. Seeking a more devout and simple way of life, they were granted a parcel of land by the River Skell where they built a small wooden church and applied, successfully, to join the Cistercian order.
Chiloé: a place of witches and gnomes
Islands are often special places, removed as much in their culture from the mainland as they are physically separate from it. Chiloé is no exception. This is a place of soft green hills, wild coasts and homely architecture. Famed for its wooden churches, sixteen of which are UNESCO listed, its people still more than half believe in the witches, ghost ships and forest gnomes that inhabit its mythologies.
The wonders of Bulgaria’s Bachkovo Monastery
Bachkovo Monastery was for sure one of the most stunning of the many sights I saw in my short time in Bulgaria! Despite all the visitors, the atmosphere was one of tranquillity. The buildings looked so photogenic both in the drizzly weather we arrived in and the sunshine when we departed; and there was so much to see that was both interesting and beautiful.
A walk in Seville’s picturesque Triana district
Just to the west of Seville’s city centre, across the Guadalquivir river, lies Triana. This former working class neighbourhood was once home to the Escuela de Mareantes (School of Navigation) which instructed many of the famous sailors of the 15th and 16th centuries. Both Columbus and Magellan studied there before their expeditions in search of new worlds. It is famous too for its tradition of ceramic tile work and its unique style of flamenco.
A city shaped by earthquakes
Antigua, or Antigua Guatemala to give it its full name, is a city shaped by the movement of the earth on which it stands. It was founded in 1543 and despite the ravages of several earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, it was for over 200 years the capital and economic centre of the whole Kingdom of Guatemala. This was a significant country, covering what today we know as southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Asen’s Fortress and the Church of the Holy Mother of God
Asen’s Fortress is built on a cliff overlooking the Asenitsa River in Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains, and is impregnable on three sides. It isn’t surprising therefore that there has been a fortification here since the time of the Thracians, who fortified it in the 5th century BC. The fortress was rebuilt during the time of the Roman Emperor Justinian as one of a series of fortresses erected to defend the Empire against invasions by Slavic tribes.
Traditional textiles in San Antonio Palopo
There is something a little bit different about San Antonio Palopo, one of the smaller villages on Lake Atitlàn. Most of the villages in this part of Guatemala are Tz'utujil, where bright reds and embroidered flowers are the preferred shades for huipiles, the traditional embroidered blouses. But the people of this village are Cakchiquel Maya; and almost without exception every woman and girl wears the same lovely shades of blue in narrow vertical stripes.
The Square of Religious Tolerance in Sofia
Sofia is the only city in Europe where you will find places of worship for four major religions almost within sight of each other. Clustered in the vicinity of its Square of Tolerance are: an Eastern Orthodox church; a Roman Catholic cathedral; a mosque and a synagogue. This embodies the pride that Bulgarians have in their history of religious tolerance. Unlike some other countries in the region, its different faith communities have tended to coexist peacefully.
The Abbot’s Kitchen at Glastonbury Abbey
While the monks of Glastonbury may have taken a vow of poverty and lived a life of abstinence and poverty, the abbot lived in a vastly different style. He had a magnificent house, as befitted the abbot of the second richest abbey in the country. His kitchen needed to be able to cater to the many great visitors who came to the abbey, including Henry VII.