One of the top attractions in Paris has to the Eiffel Tower named after its creator Gustave Eiffel. The tower is one of the worlds most visited structures, it was constructed out of 12,000 iron pieces, weighing over 7000 tonnes and held together by 2.5 million rivets. It was built for the 1889 World Exhibition and is an impressive 324 metres high giving the visitor unrivalled vistas of Paris and its surrounding area. There are three levels which can be accessed by the public, the first two levels each with their own restaurants can be accessed by 300 steps each if feeling like a challenge but for most visitors they take the lifts located in the north, west and east pillars. The third and highest level can only be reached by lift; stairs are present but rarely open to the public. If time is a constraint during your visit then it’s best to buy tickets well in advance online to avoid the huge queues which are often present during the summer season.
In the early days Parisians were not sure the tower fitted in with the general architecture of Paris but today Parisians could not imagine the city without the ever present tower which has become a symbol of the “City of Light”. Each evening in Paris the tower lights up in a dazzling display which can be enjoyed from almost everywhere in the city. Since its construction over 200 million visitors have been drawn to this iconic structure and it’s easy to see why when standing at the foot of this imposing Tower, a definite “must see and do“ on any tour of the city.
Located top of the Montmartre Hill this majestic Basilica is a major tourist attraction towering over the city from its prominent position. Construction began in 1876 in a downtown part of Paris in a former small village and farming community which quickly became the home of many artists and craftsmen who have been ever present since those early days. The leading architect Paul Abadie died before its completion in 1884 and was succeeded by the equally talented architect Lucien Magne who added the world’s largest Savoyarde Clock in the 83 metre tall clock tower. It is a wonderful place to visit and the panoramic vistas over Paris and its surroundings are magnificent, after visiting the Basilica a stroll around the surrounding area is highly recommended. Today it is full of artists and craftsmen selling their goods, for a great holiday memento stop at one of the many artistes and have your silhouette drawn, mounted and framed while you wait. Interesting fact about the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, the stones used in its construction the Château-Landon stones react with rain water to produce calcite which bleaches the stone keeping it white.
The Louvre Museum
Formerly a royal palace the Louvre is undoubtedly one of the most outstanding museums in the world with over 8 million visitors flocking through the doors to see some of the most important works of art in the world. The collection has been housed in the enormous Louvre Palace in the very heart of Paris since the 16th century when King Francis I began his private collection, the renowned “Mona Lisa” being one of his outstanding purchases. The collection steadily grew over the centuries to over one million works of art with 35,000 on display in three large wings: Richelieu, Sully and Denon the most crowed of the wings containing the “Mona Lisa” the Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece. The collection contains fantastic exhibits of Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Near Eastern and Egyptian antiquities, Sculptures including the “Venus of Milo”, Islamic Art, Paintings, Drawings and prints.
The museum itself is a piece of art, entering through the once controversial “Louvre Glass Pyramid” the main entrance to the museum, constructed in 1989 by American architect I.M.Pei it allows copious amount of sunlight into the underground level. Surrounding the glass pyramid entrance are the fabulous “Carrousel Gardens” amongst some of the most superb in the world.
One of the finest examples of Gothic architecture to be found anywhere in the world Notre Dame located on Ile de la Cite attracts millions of visitors and worshippers every year. Construction began in 1163 under the reign of Louis VII but was not completed until 1345 due to continual modifications and enlargements. The final Cathedral was truly monumental in size, 48 metres wide, 130 metres long, and 69 metres high, “The South Tower” contains the famous Emmanuel Bell weighing in at an incredible 13 tons. The Cathedral became the archetype for future cathedrals that were built in France in the following centuries. During the Revolution much of the interior including sculptures and gargoyles were demolished or removed. During the 19th century a 20 year restoration program began to restore it to its former glory and these days there are plenty of attractions for visitors to see.
The stained glass windows are beautiful examples and many of them date back to the time of the original construction, the three “Rose Windows” are the finest example of original surviving glass which gleam like precious stones over the South and North Transept and West door .The most notable feature of the West front of the Cathedral are two 69 metre towers connected by the Grand gallery containing the fabled gargoyles added during the restoration of the 19th century. In the “Kings Gallery” there are statues of 28 Kings of Israel and Judah which replaced those decapitated during the Revolution. The three West Portals of Notre Dame contain fabulous examples of the artistic skill of the early gothic craftsman with scenes depicting the “Last Judgment”, “Virgin Mary” and scenes from the life of “The Virgin Mary’s Mother”.
Notre Dame is open daily from 8am to 6.45pm Monday to Friday and &.15pm on weekends and entry is free during these times.
Arc de Triomphe
Located at the end of the Champs- Elysées at the junction of 12 prominent avenues is the arch an imposing structure rising to 50 metres in height, it was commissioned in 1806 by napoleon to commemorate his many victories but it was not completed until after his demise in 1836. The Arc de Triomphe contains many reliefs mainly commemorating Napoleon’s successful battles with 30 shields containing the names on top of the arch. Below the arch is the “Grave of the Unknown Soldiers” dedicated to the numerous who paid the ultimate price for freedom during the First World War. There is no elevator in the arch so be prepared to climb the 234 steps up to the viewing platform with fabulous panoramic views of the Champs- Elysées, La Defense and Sacré-Coeur.
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There's 101 things to do in London but here's five of the most loved!
The Tower of London
Located in central London near the River Thames is one of the city’s most visited attractions the wonderfully preserved Tower of London. Constructed during the reign of William the Conqueror as a simple timber and earth compound and later added to in stone the Tower of London has stood firm for nearly one thousand years serving as royal palace, place of execution, prison and a symbol of the monarchy in England for centuries. This historical complex is a series of many towers and structures added too over the centuries giving many opportunities to tour different parts and see some of the fabulous displays within its walls and towers. The tower contains the remains of some of the most well-known characters in English history entombed in the Chapel Royal, Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Sir Thomas More of Henry VIII fame and Lady Jane Grey, queen for only 9 days executed by Henry’s daughter Mary Tudor. The highlight of any visit is a viewing of the Crown Jewels, this priceless collection of gold, diamonds, emeralds, platinum, rubies, sapphires, pearls and ancient artefacts worn and used by the Kings and queens of England contained within impenetrable vaults deep within the Tower.
The British Museum
The British Museum is one of the finest attractions in London and its vast collection of artefacts numbering over 8 million is totally free to view and is a great way to spend a day in London observing this unique collection gathered together since its founding in 1753. It is one of the largest and finest collections documenting the story of mankind’s various cultures from around all the continents from its early beginnings to the present time. Approaching six million visitors a year pass through its doors into the magnificent Great Court with its awesome glass and steel roof and reading room with its beautiful blue and gold domed ceiling. From this central focus point visitors disperse in all directions to view the wonders contained within. The various departments cover some of the largest collections of Egyptian, Roman, Greek, Middle Eastern, Etruscan and European to name but a few with some of world’s most famous objects on display such as the Parthenon sculptures and the Rosetta Stone. The permanent collection is enhanced with a number of additional paid exhibitions of specialist items which are obtained from other leading museums from around the world. The museum is committed to improving and enlarging its fast collection for the benefit of future generations and to this end the next phase of its development costing £135million will make it the largest museum in the world.
The London Eye
Located on the South Bank between Westminster Bridge and Waterloo Bridge it is easily found directly opposite the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben and offers incredible views of central London and Canary Wharf, the Thames and Windsor Castle with breath taking panoramic vistas for 25 miles in all directions. Since its opening in 2000 this award winning attraction has been the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe weighing in at 330 tonnes, 135 metres tall with a diameter of 120 metres. The glass capsules weighing 10 tonnes each represents one of each of the London Boroughs and is capable of holding 25 people in comfort, equipped with the latest Samsung Tablets technology which enhances the guest experience featuring touch screen guides and 3D views of each sight. The wheel rotates at a rate slow enough to allow visitors to embark and disembark without the need for the wheel to stop; one full rotation takes 30 minutes. It is the UK’s most popular paid attraction with over 3. 5 million visitors a year and is forever evolving to improve the visitor experience with popular night- time viewing, combination ticket purchases with other London attractions and the latest 4D experience in the purpose built cinema with a unique and outstanding 3D film and impressive in-cinema effects including mist, bubbles and wind adding the fourth dimension to your experience.
Situated in Kensington Gardens to the west of Hyde Park and tucked away from the busy high street is the beautiful Kensington Palace, home to the British Monarchy since the 17th century. Parts of the palace still remain a private residence for today’s members of the Royal household including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. It was also the official residence and home for the late Princess Diana 1981 to 1997 and contains a number of her spectacular evening gowns, part of the fabulous “Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection” on permanent display in the palace since 1982.
The Palace was the birthplace and childhood residence of Queen Victoria and after the recent £12 million renovation a permanent exhibition “Victoria Revealed” can be viewed on tour which explores the long reign of one of England’s best known monarchs with extracts from her journals, personal objects, furnishings and works of art in the Queens Apartments where she once resided. Other important parts of the palace include the magnificent State Apartments full of works of art and paintings from the Royal Collection and the 18th century “Orangery and Sunken Garden” superbly designed to enable Queen Anne to host extravagant court entertainments during her reign.
This 95 storey high skyscraper was the vision of the brilliant Italian architect Renzo Piano who designed a unique building with an irregular pyramidal shape clad entirely in glass. The Shard at London Bridge Quarter has redefined London’s skyline more so than any other recent construction, it is a symbol that is recognisable around the world. The Shard is the tallest completed building in Western Europe at 310 metres with its unmistakable crystalline façade changing the Capitals skyline forever. For the visitor to London it is easily accessible on the superb transport infrastructure with a plethora of amenities and facilities.
Located on the South bank of the Thames this area has always played an important role in the rise of London as a true global city drawing people from around the world to work and live in this vibrant area. London Bridge Quarter and The Shard stand at the very heart of this community. The shard with its World-renowned restaurants and spectacular panoramic vistas over the London skyline combine to create one of the most enjoyable dining experiences anywhere in the world. The masterpiece of the three floors dedicated to the restaurants is a breath taking glass atrium. High speed lifts will whisk visitors up to the 68-72 floors to the viewing areas of the shard. The views are truly amazing on a clear day you can see uninterrupted views across the city for 40 miles in all directions.
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OK, so you've decided when you're off to Dublin here is a list of the top 5 things to do in Dublin the Castle, Botanic Gardens, Cathedral, Guinness Storehouse and the Old Jameson Distillery
One of the most popular attractions is Dublin Castle located on the highest ground at the meeting point of the River Liffey and its small tributary the Poddle. The castle was originally constructed on a former Vikings settlement during 1204 on the orders of King John of England. The castle is of a characteristic Norman courtyard design with a central square protected by strong defensive walls and circular towers at each corner. The “Record Tower” located in the south-east quadrant is the only remaining medieval tower in left in Dublin, it was used as a high security prison in Tudor times to imprison priests and native Irish detainees. The castle underwent a number of renovations in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and during its long history has been used as a treasury, courts of law, prison, military fortress and the seat of English Administration in Ireland. Today this impressive castle is used to host a number of conferences and dining functions, the prestigious State Apartments, Undercroft, Chapel Royal, are open to guided tours, and the Heritage Centre, Craft shop and restaurant are open to visitors.
Dublin Botanic Gardens
Founded in 1795 after receiving funds from the Irish Parliament these public botanic gardens are a very popular tourist attraction. The original purpose was to encourage a scientific approach towards the study of agriculture with the gardens growing plants that were useful for medicine and human and animal food production. It is now famous for its sensitively restored and planted glasshouses containing over 15,000 plant varieties from a diverse range of habitats. These award winning glasshouses have achieved notable recognition for its tireless work for plant conservation housing in excess of 300 endangered plant species from all around the world as well as 6 species unfortunately already lost to the wild.
Recent investment has resulted in a purpose built library/herbarium containing a collection of approaching 750,000 pressed plants, new glasshouses, additional lecture rooms, new compost storage bays and an improved visitor and educational centre, the 18th century Directors and Curators Houses have also been recently refurbished. Visitors can stroll around the beautiful Herbaceous borders, alpine garden, rose garden, rock garden, pond area and the arboretum. The gardens also contain important and historical collections of rare and beautiful orchids.
Christ Church Cathedral
One of the top visitor attractions in Dublin, Christ Church Cathedral is the religious centre of the city and one of the city’s grandest historical buildings. Located in the oldest part of Dublin it can trace its history back almost one thousand years from the Vikings and the turbulent Anglo-Norman times to the present day. It has a rich and diverse history with beautiful interiors and an enthralling medieval crypt, one of the oldest remaining structures in the city, the crypt is one of the finest and largest examples of its kind in Ireland and Britain. Once a major pilgrimage site during the medieval period with an important collection of religious relics, today it’s still possible to view the heart of the patron saint of Dublin, Laurence O’Toole.
During Victorian times major renovations were carried out to prevent the badly decaying structure from collapsing and these works make it difficult to distinguish some of the genuine medieval interiors from the repaired sections. The exterior was extensively refaced with new stone during this restoration period but the Cathedral still retains the original Norman and early English features, to the south of the transept you will find the remains of the 13th century constructed chapter house.
For all lovers of Guinness you must visit one of Dublin’s premier attractions the “Guinness Storehouse” located in a historical building it is the beating heart of this world famous and unforgettable brand. There are an amazing seven floors to explore narrating the amazing story from its humble beginnings when Arthur Guinness the founder signed a 9,000 year lease on the brewery for an annual rent of £45. Your journey begins when entering the Huge glass Atrium which represent the worlds larges pint glass which rises to the top of this wonderful seven storey building. The tour includes the craft of brewing this amazing drink from a combination of just four simple ingredients, hops, yeast, barley and water. Master brewer Fergal Murray explains the step by step brewing process culminating with a sample tasting .From the top of the building you get some fantastic panoramic views over Dublin from the “Gravity Bar” look out. At the end of the tour you arrive back on the ground floor, here you see the Guinness Store where you can purchase all sorts of Guinness memorabilia, much of it exclusive to the Guinness Storehouse. A fantastic and very rewarding experience for all lovers of Guinness.
Old Jameson Distillery
Dublin is home to not one but two of the world’s most famous drinks, Guinness and of course Jameson Irish Whiskey this three times distilled brew gives the taster exceptional smoothness . If you enjoyed the Guinness tour you will love the experience of the Old Jameson Whisky Distillery tour.
Located on the site of the original distillery in Dublin the whisky tour tells the fantastic story of John Jameson and his exceptional smooth Irish whiskey. The tour takes you back in time as the expert guides explain how John Jameson first made one of the world’s finest Irish whiskey. All visitors receive a little tipple of this famous brew and a lucky few are selected to take part in whisky tasting with the much sought after “Irish Whiskey Taster Certificate”.
There are no less than 3 Bars within the distillery, Jameson Dublin Bar, the Reserve Bar and JJ’s Bar the social nucleus with its stone walls, wooden beams and decorative glass chandeliers. There is a top class restaurant “The 3rd Still Jameson Restaurant” located on the mezzanine floor with fantastic views over the Old Jameson Distillery. So there’s plenty to do and see and plenty of places to relax and enjoy a drink or meal with friends and family, a great Dublin institution.
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