Architecture Tours: The Bucket List

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Visiting the Durham Home of the Prince Bishops

It is difficult to imagine a defensive structure more strategically situated. Guarded by steep slopes descending to an almost complete loop of the River Wear, Durham Castle remained impregnable for eight centuries. Yet even this fortress is dwarfed Read More

Hand painted altar in a Franciscan church (©photocoen).

Discovering Franciscan Churches around Asunción, Paraguay

It all started with a photo: a beautiful photograph of an old wooden altar featuring an angel killing a devil, painted in blue tinges. Some of the paint had chipped off and the wood was damaged, and it was clearly a piece from colonial times. The Read More

Coba Cover Photo

Climbing Mexico’s Tallest Mayan Pyramid at Coba

Chichen Itza may be the most famous ancient Mayan city in the Yucatan Pennisula. It may have garnered all the big titles, like New World Wonder, but that doesn’t change the fact that the older Mayan site of Coba, the region’s capital before Chichen Read More

The entrance through the Passion facade (Ann Burnett)

Awe-struck at the Sagrada Familia Basilica, Barcelona, Spain

Our first view of the Sagrada Familia is from the top of Montjuic Hill at the end of the funicular ride up from the Ave Paral.lel. My eyes sweep over the panorama below Barcelona, and then, rising above it, the unmistakeable shape of Gaudi’s Read More

The Willis Tower, Chicago's tallest building, looms over its neighbors.

On Top of Chicago: Taking in Breathtaking View from Willis Tower Skydeck

My stomach attempts a back flip, a visceral reaction to stepping onto a clear glass floor with 1,353 feet of nothingness between me and the street below. Another step and I begin to get my bearings, feeling brave enough to peer down between my Read More

The Beautiful Blue Coast of Heybeliada

Ferrying to the Princes’ Islands in Istanbul

On the ferries to Princes’ Islands, I would always drink copious amounts of tea. Waiters with dangling trays roamed up and down the decks touting chai for less than a dollar, delivering a tear-drop Turkish tea cup on a little glass saucer, complete Read More

Mayan Pyramid Rising into View
(courtesy of Emma Gallagher)

Entering Tikal, Jungle Heart of the Maya Empire

From atop Temple IV, above the trees of the jungle, the noisy morning sounds of animals went on for ages. “Little” Cesar, our tour guide, had instructed us all just to listen. “Don’t talk,” he said, holding his hand next to his head as if Einstein Read More

Long brown building with many pointed spires and a giant clock tower at the right hand end, on the far side of a broad river

Pondering Power at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, A UNESCO World Heritage Site in London, England

When in London, listen to the stones. The Tower of London says, "Power comes from the King and his army." Westminster Abbey says, "Power comes from God." You would expect the Houses of Parliament to say, "Power comes from the people", but that's not Read More

Entering the Moscow Metro (courtesy of Emma Gallagher)

Touring the Famous Moscow Metro

The Moscow Metro first hit the rails in 1935. Back then, there were only thirteen stations and not even seven miles of track. These days, the Metro ranks as one of the world’s top three busiest transits (Tokyo is an unstoppable first in that Read More

The Tiffany mosaics, Marquette Building

Walking and Talking Architecture in Chicago

It was a cold and snowy day in the Windy City but the walking tours offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation take off promptly - rain or shine - from the CAF headqurters on South Michicgan Avenue. A variety of tours are scheduled throughout the Read More

The decorated walls and carved pillars characterize Bolivia's Jesuit Missions (©Coen Wubbels)

Touring the Jesuit Missions in La Gran Chiquitania of East Bolivia

150 kilometers of unpaved road meander through thick forest and cattle ranches in eastern Bolivia. The road takes me to my third Jesuit Mission: Santa Ana. It's the smallest of the six missions that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site of La Gran Read More

Walking here is utterly peaceful (©Karin-Marijke Vis)

Running through Brazil’s Colonial Town of Goiás Velha, a UNESCO Site

Running through a town? What kind of way of exploring a place is that, you may ask. Did I get to see anything at all? Yes, I did. In fact, running through Goiás Velha was exactly what made my visit to this 17th century, colonial town Read More

According to the neighbor the most beautiful building in the city (©Coen Wubbels)

Studying the Art of Azulejos in São Luís, Brazil’s City of Tiles

In the doorway stands an elderly man. Our eyes meet and I shake his hand. "You are lucky to live in such a beautiful building. What an incredibly tiled façade your home has," I comment. For the past couple of hours I have been strolling through the Read More

An example where Oscar Niemeyer's architecture and Burle Marx's landscape garden complement each other (©Coen Wubbels)

Appreciating Modern Architecture in Brazil’s Capital of Brasília

"Why would you want to go to Brasília? It is an ugly city that lacks a soul," is the most common remark I have heard from Brazilians about their capital. Despite these discouraging words I decided to visit the city and judge for myself. My Read More