Karen Warren

Stones at Avebury

Uncovering the Mystery of Avebury’s Stones

A group of people, standing in pairs at the centre of the stone circle, perform a solemn ritual with exaggerated hand movements and stamping on scraps of paper. Perhaps an obscure Wiccan ceremony, or just a bonding exercise. Such sights are Read More

Decorated ceiling

Imagining the Lives of the Harem Women at Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace

The surroundings are stunning. Sumptuous Ottoman architecture, Moorish arches, and Iznik tile mosaics. This was where the Sultan lived with his numerous wives, children and concubines, and I am trying to imagine what it must have been like to live Read More

The orange trees of Cordoba's Alcazar

Walking Beside the Orange Trees at Córdoba’s Alcazar

The gardens of Córdoba’s Alcazar may be smaller than those of rival palaces in Seville and Granada, but they are still impressive. Even in the rain. I had walked through Córdoba’s UNESCO listed historic centre, from the magnificent La Mezquita and Read More

Arches of La Mezquita, Seville

Exploring Cordoba’s Mezquita: the Mosque that Became a Cathedral

The cavernous space of La Mezquita in Cordoba makes me think of Russian dolls. Standing right in the middle of the 8th century mosque is a perfectly formed Renaissance cathedral. What is more, the mosque grew out of an earlier Visigoth church, which Read More

Gold State Coach, Royal Mews, London

Visiting the Queen’s Horses at the Royal Mews, London

First, a confession. I was hardly aware of the existence of the Royal Mews; they were not on my ‘to do’ list for London. In fact, they do not seem to be high on the tourist radar at all. Just a stone’s throw from the mile long queue snaking around Read More

Shakespeare memorial

Discovering the City of Dickens and Shakespeare with a London Walks Tour

Our guide is loud and theatrical, and has no problem making himself heard by the crowd of people clustered hopefully around him. "It had to happen sometime," he booms. "A North American telling you about those two icons of English literature, Dickens Read More

Convent of Santa Chiara, Naples

Searching for the Old and the Unusual in the Historic Centre of Naples

If you believe its reputation, Naples is a den of cut-throats and pickpockets, with nothing much to see. I'd avoided it for years but, lured by the offer of a cheap flight, I decided to see for myself. As I walked along cobbled streets, catching Read More

Blenheim Palace, England

Following in the Steps of Winston Churchill at Blenheim Palace, England

The first thing I notice when we turn into the grand drive of Blenheim Palace is a woman (or should I say a lady?) in a flowery dress and a big hat. A moment’s panic, while I wonder if I am suitably dressed for such august surroundings, but I relax Read More

Fountains Abbey North Yorkshire

Walking Into the Past at Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

Visiting Fountains Abbey is like peeling away layers of history. Are we exploring the 12th century Cistercian Abbey that became the wealthiest foundation in Europe, or the monastery that was plundered by Henry VIII, or the ruin that became part of an Read More

Main Street, Haworth, West Yorkshire

Exploring the Landscape that Inspired the Brontës: Haworth, West Yorkshire

The town is full of men with neat moustaches and women in high heels picking their way between the cobbles of the main street. The sound of We’ll Meet Again comes from an old gramophone and the whole place is festooned with Union Jacks. We had Read More

Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque

Visit Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque: a Masterpiece of Islamic Architecture

We stare at the dazzling white columns surrounding the courtyard of the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, the sunlight forming pools on the marble mozaic floor. The effect is mesmerizing, a play of light and perspective that renders us momentarily Read More