Tag Archives: UNESCO world heritage site

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – Albi Tarn France

Not the best known side of Toulouse-Lautrec, look how magnificently he understands animals.

Painted at 16 if I have it right, perhaps in the days of hit innocence?

Poor character had a bone disease, his bones never stopped growing. His parents were cousins – nobility. Excellent plan for aggregating land and power, – not the best things for the genes of your children.

Look at the roof where the horse hangs 😉

How do you build that?

The museum is housed in the Berbie Palace, part of the Episcopal city in Albi.  Built of red brick, same as the nearby city of Toulouse. This was Roman territory.

And you must see the place.. Well at least we know the church wasn’t obsessed with earthly possessions and power at the time.

Their little view on the Tarn flowing past.

A view of the garden from inside.

They house some his most well known posters.

Modern architects didn’t invent the idea of maximum use of the views it seems.

A small courtyard, nothing fancy.

Impressive really. As you may imagine it is one of the largest brick structures in the world.

For all else they may have done the church did leave a rich architectural heritage and employed artists and artisans.

And that bears saying in this region, the inquisition was active here for a very long time.

This fortress was built in the fight against the Cathars. They were burnt alive by the hundreds and their castles are now in ruines. That’s how you know who won the fight.

They were of the opinion that the church and its people should not have a lot of possessions and power.

Off course that had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that they were branded as heretics and a crusade was called against them.

Well, some more Toulouse-Lautrec posters.

Interesting to see the development.

They have a huge collection. The family donated lots of his work.


Tulum – Yucatan

Modern day Maya can still visit their beautiful Tulum. It is conserved as a National Park. Not quite the same I presume, but it’s still there.

I believe around a third of the inhabitants of the cities have Maya as their home language. Very much alive.

And the local flavour is there to welcome you.

Tastes like chicken I hear..

These cities had hundreds of thousands of inhabitants. You can see the city of Dzibilchaltun stretching for kilometers before you reach the archeological site. The highway goes right through it. It is quite unreal. There is hectares of the stuff. Far too much to keep everything fenced off.


The view still cannot be surpassed.

Many US citizens move to the Yucatan to retire. It is on the Caribbean  sea, lovely, safe and beautiful. And malaria free, as opposed to their southern neighbours.

Officially known as the free and independent state of the Yucatan, one of 31 Mexican states.

You can swim at almost all of the archeological sites in the Yucatan. They were built by a canotte. Lovely fresh waterholes connected to the underground river system.

The Yucatan has no surface rivers but underground rivers break through the limestone and gives you these beautiful cool fresh waterholes.

At Tulum off course you also have the sea. Not cool, but still ravishing.

Nazrid Palaces – Al Hambra, Granada

In Granada, the famous Palaces of the last Moorish rulers in Europe.


A view on one of the courtyards.

Wood inlay on a ceiling board


You simply can’t do justice to the grace of these designs.

All 17 mathematically possible wallpaper groups are represented at the Al Hambra. A feat not repeated in architecture anywhere else.

And you still have to imagine the whole lot in colour. Some remaining colour here and there gives us some idea.


Those Majorica tiles were added by a later and somewhat less subtle stylist.

Another charming courtyard.



The Catholic Kings Ferdinand and Isabella set up their cannons on a opposing hill in 1492 and threatened to bombard the Al Hambra. This was too much for the emir of the time and he surrendered.

According to legend the emir’s mother berated him on the way out of the region, – you couldn’t fight like a man to keep the city and now you are crying like a woman because you lost her.

Well perhaps he was right, they survived him by centuries, even in a ravished state, and we can still wonder at them today.

The Generalife are gardens surrounding and completing the palaces. They are a story on their own. Here is just a glimpse.


The water for the gardens and fields for feeding the city comes from these mountains. Its is one of those magic spots where you can ski in the morning and go to the beach in the afternoon.

Rhodos Harbour

The harbour of the Greek island Rhodos where the Colossus, one of the wonders of the antique world stood.

The Colossus was a bronze statue of the Greek sun god Helios, who stood with one leg on either pillar of the harbour entrance. He fell during an earthquake in 266 BC and remained there for 900 years until the Arabic army destoyed it to sell for scrap in 654 AD.

Romantic no?

Kopalinia Sol – Wieliczka

It amuses me to use products from the region, so I had to have salt from the Wieliczka mine while I was in Krakow. Fool that I am, I was thrilled every time I used it 🙂 I was even silly enough to take one of those small packets of salt from the cafeteria in the mine. Saw it again the other day, it is still floating around in my bag, contriving to travel with me. Sometimes I do wonder if I don’t perhaps get attached too easily 😀


They are quite proud of their mine and it got on the list as a UNESCO world heritige site already in 1978. Salt was mined here since the 13th century, so for more than 750 years. All workers were always free, no slave labour was ever used here. Mining was stopped in 2007, – too much flooding in relation to the price of salt. Today salt is extracted from the water they have to keep pumping from the mine. Perhaps this method could have saved them a lot of touble for centuries 😉

The workers used to live in the mine and left an unbelievable legacy. They kept horses there as well, the men at least got to get out from time to time but the poor horses spent their lives never seeing the sun.

When you first enter the mine it seems more like a wood mine than a salt mine. So much of the corridors are lined with wood. The wood is so salted it is probably preserved for ever.

This is their cathedral. It is cut from the (salt)rock deep in the mine. Even the chandeliers are salt crystal. This wasn’t made by trained artists, but by the miners themselves. Just goes to show if you do something a lot you get good at it.. You have to care as well off course.

Some of the statues were made later, the one of pope John Paul, an earlier bishop of Krakow. Janow Pavlov is his naam in Polish so I suspect the plaque is for him. There is also a statue of him.

Copernicus (also Polish) was also added later. Goethe isn’t a local, but he visited the mine and they added him. Chopin was also there, but I didn’t see him, perhaps too thin..

Casimir was their king, I don’t remember when he was made, but I seem to think he was in an older part of the mine.


An exhibition of crystals from the mine.


A few photos of Luxembourg – the city. Luxembourg the country is a grand duchy and the last one in Europe.

Banking is important off course and brings with it the highest per capita income in Europe.

This is the Spaerkaese or savings chest, it seems to be their moto, save and guard.

Spaerkaese (Spaarkas) die Staatsbank
Spaerkaese the State Bank

One can speculate that the security brought by the casemate lead to banking in Luxembourg becoming so popular.

Their tunnels in the mountains together with the Bock became the dream of every military man to such an extent that a decision was taken on European level to demolish them as they had become a threat to peace in Europe.

Starting a war only in order to take them had become worth while.

The Luxembourgoise word for their country is Letzebuerg. If it means Last Burg as one may assume, – it is a germanic language, it is quite aptly named.

Below a protestant church shows the name on their glass doors.

Apparently they are not people who want to battle with ventilation.

The Pétrusse valley runs through the heart of the city and is planted and maintained very beautifully. There is a very sophisticated and massive sluice system in place 😉

Sluis Lux vallei kanaal

From the Pétrusse valley you can see how they built walls on top of the cliffs. The whole town is a project that ran over centuries with a single purpose – defence.

You can only imagine.

Their is a very old and tiny chapel in the Pétrusse valley named after Saint Quirin. It was cut into the rock with a facade of cut rock.

Inside is a fountain where you can still see the original shrine built over it to mark it as a holy site.

The chapel is said to date from the 5th century AD. Rather early for Christianity to reach the North?

Sint Quirin kapel
Chapel of Saint Quirin

According to church authorities, it is still used on special occassions, but it doesn’t look as if they had one recently..

In town everything is very well  kept and seemingly wi-fi is big.

The war memorial is for WWI volunteers who gave their lives for the freedom of their country. A golden lady or gëlle fra in the local language.

WW1 monument
Gëlle Fra

Luxembourg was invaded by the Germans despite their declared neutrality, it was labelled a war necessity. Many people of Luxembourg didn’t trust the declared goals of the Germans and suspected that Germany will annex their country after the war. Later plans proved them right.

Those in Luxembourg at the time of the invasion couldn’t do much but people overseas at the time could join the allied forces. 3700 fought with the French and 2000 lost their lives. Luxemburg lost about 1% of her population at the time. A much higher price than many other countries.

Charlotte seems to have been a popular grand duchess. Her statue has pride of place and she had an important bridge named after her.

Duchess Charlotte bridge
Charlotte Hertogin
Duchess Charlotte

Outside of town, people have their gardens and provision is made for bon fires.