The Alhambra palace in Grenada, completed in the 14th century under Muslim rule, is one of the world's greatest architectural wonders. Today, The Alhambra's famous Ismlamic architecture is one of Spain's major tourist attractions. In 2007, it was among the contenders to become one of the New Seven Wonders of the World through a massive worldwide vote.
Fireworks explode behind the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum in the Spanish northern Basque city of Bilbao. The museum features modern and contemporary art, and was designed by world-renowned Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. The structure is made with glass, titanium and limestone.
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Although Spanish convents and monasteries such as the Monasterio de San Benito de Montserrat convent outside Barcelona have traditionally opened their doors to accept pilgrims and other members of the cloth, more and more they are accepting non-religious visitors looking for spiritual reflection or a relaxing break from city life.
The town of Tarifa, located in southern Spain across from the Straits of Gibraltar, is particularly popular with windsurfers and kitesurfers due to its strong winds. Two consecutive non-windy days are rare.
Two fishmongers wait for customers at their fish and seafood shop at a market in Madrid. Traditional markets are still a part of the Spanish way of life, and many are distributed through the city. A visit to one of these markets will reveal a large selection of quality vegetables, meat and much of the traditional way of life.
Architect, artist and engineer Santiago Calatrava designed the 'L'Azud D'Or' bridge (foreground) and Principe Felipe Museum (background) of the City of Arts and Sciences complex, one of Spain's top tourist attractions, in Valencia. Visitors are encouraged to touch everything in the museum so they can learn the sciences through experience.
Tourists enjoy the pool of the Costa Encantada Hotel in Lloret de Mar, Spain. The coastal town is one of the most popular holiday resorts in the Costa Brava.
Spain Tourism Video
España, beautiful Spain
Participants run ahead of Cebada Gago fighting bulls during the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain. On each day of the festival six, which starts July 6 and ends at midnight on July 14, bulls are released at 8 a.m. to run from their corral through the narrow, cobbled streets of the old town over an 850-meter course. Ahead of them are the runners, who try to stay close to the bulls without falling over or being gored.
Running with Giants: A San Fermin Documentary Part 3/4
Running with Giants: 2010, Part 4/4
Famed Spanish matador Miguel Abellan gives a pass with a muleta (the red cloth) to his Conde de la Corte fighting bull during the first corrida of the 2008 San Fermin festivities in Pamplona.
Spanish flamenco dancer Fuensanta "La Moneta" performs on the stage during rehearsal for the show "Entre la luna y los hombres" ("Between Moon and Men") at La Zarzuela theatre in Madrid. The flamenco, which embodies a complex musical and cultural tradition and is considered a part of the Spanish culture, actually originates from Andalusia.
The architecture of the Alpujarras harkens back to when this was the last stronghold of the Moors in Spain. The villages' flat, whitewashed houses and distinctive conical chimneys are reminiscent of Berber villages in the mountains of nearby Morrocco.
On March 19, 1882, work on the La Sagrada Familia cathedral was started by architect Francisco de Paula del Villar, but by the end of the next year, Catalan Architect Antoni Gaudi was commissioned to finish it. He did not abandon his task until his death in 1926, when the grand church was left unfinished. Since then, different architects have worked on the cathedral to continue his original idea -- that it mirror the people who built it.
Ricardo Penalba prepares to taste a wine at Penalba's winery in Aranda de Duero, northern Spain. With more than 2.9 million acres planted, the country is the third largest producer of wine in the world, but the most widely planted wine-producing nation.
A scenic view in downtown Madrid highlights the beauty of the Plaza de Cibeles, which features the Fountain of Cibeles and the Palacio de Comunicaciones, which was built between 1905 and 1917 as the headquarters of the post office. In 2007, it became Madrid's official city hall.
A man looks at "The execution of Torrijos and his companions" by Antonio Gisbert at the Prado museum in Madrid. Spanish architect Rafaelo Moneo designed the sober and elegant red-brick cube-shaped expansion building that opened in 2007.
Members of the Royal Guard take part in the first changing of the guard outside the Palacio Real in Madrid. Every Wednesday, the guard changes in front of the palace in an effort to boost tourism.
Santa Maria del Mar is an imposing church in Barcelona. Located in the district of La Ribera, it was built between 1329 and 1383, at the height of Catalonia's maritime and mercantile preeminence. It is an outstanding example of Catalan Gothic, with a purity and unity of style that are very unusual in large mediaeval buildings.
A scenic view of Plaza del General Torrijos shows the "Las Tres Gracias" fountain with the Alcazaba Castle in the background in Malaga. The Alcazaba was built in the 11th century and extended in the 13th and 14th centuries. It originally defended the city from pirates.
Spain, its people and its culture
The beauty of Spain
Landscape and Architecture (HD) - 22 - Spain
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The Eiffel Tower and the Hotel des Invalides are illuminated at dusk with in Paris.
The intricate ceiling of the Appolo Gallery at Paris' Louvre Museum is reflected in a display case in the foreground. Built in 1661, the gallery was not fully completed until 1851. In all, over twenty artists worked on the decoration. The Appolo Gallery gallery contains more than two centuries of French art, and houses such wonders as the French Crown Jewels, including the famous Régent (140 carats) and Sancy (53 carats) diamonds, as well as the 105-carat Côte de Bretagne ruby.
Louvre Museum part 1, Paris 98C
Louvre Museum part 2, Paris 98C
The Sacred Heart Catholic church (Basilique Sacré-Coeur) is seen on Paris' highest point, in Montmartre. The view at the top of the dome is excellent -- 271 feet above Montmartre Hill -- and is the second-highest viewpoint after the Eiffel Tower.
This elaborate stained-glass cupola (dome) inside Magasins du Printemps department store is located above the main restaurant in the store. Installed in 1923, it is composed of 3,185 individual pieces of stained glass.
Tourists soak their feet in a reflecting pool at Place du Trocadero, an area of museums and gardens.
A "Bateau Mouche" tourist boat travels near the Paris Justice court. These boat tours are a popular, but relaxing way to view the sights of Paris along the Seine River.
FRANCE VISITE DE PARIS EN BATEAU MOUCHE
Originally a royal fortress for kings, and open to all since 1793, the Louvre is one the world's greatest art museums, housing 35,000 works of ancient and Western art, displayed in over 60,000 square meters of exhibition space. More than 6 million visitors see the Louvre per year.
Local art, food and other goods are sold in passage Jouffroy, across Boulevard Montmartre. Originally designed to protect pedestrians from mud and horse-drawn vehicles, the passages (shopping arcades), arre located between the Grands Boulevards and the Louvre.
A view of the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Its 1977 factory style architecture contrasts with the surrounding buildings of Paris' oldest district near Notre-Dame cathedral. It has a public library, and the French National Museum of Modern Art.
One of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture is the Notre Dame Cathedral, attracting 13 million visitors each year. The name Notre Dame means "Our Lady" in French.
The famous stone statues of Notre Dame.
The Jardin des Tuileries is Paris's most central garden. Its fountains, sculptures, cafes, formal gardens, and central location, make it a popular destination for visitors and locals.
Tuileries Palace encloses the western end of the Louvre and the formal gardens that make up Jardin des Tuileries park, stretching from the Louvre to the Place de Concorde, and bordered
by the Seine.
The cabaret Moulin Rouge was built in 1889, in Paris' red-light district of Pigalle on Boulevard de Clichy. The Moulin Rouge is best known as the birthplace of the can-can dance.
Moulin Rouge - Rhythm of the night
The Fontaine des Mers at one of the main public square, Place de la Concorde. At 20 acres, it is the largest square in Paris.
The Arc de Triomphe stands in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs-Elysees. The arch honors soldiers who fought for France. The names of generals and wars fought can be found on the inside and top of the arc. Underneath, is the tomb of the unknown soldier from World War I .
People walk past a boulangerie (bakery) in the Montmartre district in Paris.
A piece of renowned French Roquefort blue cheese is displayed in a shop in Paris.
The Place Vendome is an octagonal square located to the north of the Tuileries Gardens and east of the Eglise de la Madeleine. The bronze spiral column at the center of the square was constructed in 1810 by Napoleon to celebrate the French army’s victory at Austerlitz. Within the square are apartments, and posh hotels and high-end retailers, including Cartier, Chanel, and Bulgari.
The high-speed rail network in France goes to several Parisian train stations, including Gare Du Nord shown here. The name was derived by the idea that travelers would be able to travel to Belgium, Netherlands, Northern Germany and the Scandinavian countries. It is the busiest railway station in Europe, and the third -busiest in the world.
The Pere Lachaise cemetary (Father Lachaise Cemetery) on the eastern edge of the city, is named after the Jesuit Father Lachaise, King Louis XIV's confessor. Many famous people are buried here, including Musset, Chopin, Moliere, Oscar Wilde, Delacroix, Balzac, Jim Morrison.
Paris Sightseeing Tour #1: The Historical Axis
Paris Sightseeing Tour #2: Porte Dauphine to the Eiffel Tower
The Musée d'Orsay is one of Paris' most popular museums, housed in the former railway station, the Gare d'Orsay. The museum houses an extensive collection of sculptures and impressionist masterpieces by Monet, Degas, Renoir, and Cezanne.
The Grand Palais (Big Palace) was built for the World Fair of 1900. The building is best known for its enormous glass-domed roof, making it one of Paris’ most recognizable landmarks. The Grand Palais was the work of three different architects, and is currently the largest existing ironwork and glass structure in the world.
The Louis Vuitton department store is located on the stunning Champs-Elysees, one of the world's most famous and beautiful streets.
Le Pantheon was originally intended to be a church dedicated to Saint Genevieve to fulfil a vow made by Louis XV while he'd fallen ill. It was used for religious and civil purposes until 1885 and now functions as a famous burial place.
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Construction on the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens began in 515 B.C., and was completed 700 years later by Emperor Hadrian in 131 A.D. There were originally 104 Corinthian columns, but only 16 remain standing now.
Millions of visitors enjoy sunny days on Anthens' beaches each summer, with warm weather seeming to last longer into fall. Many beaches have a small entry fee that helps pay for keeping the beaches clean.
An Orthodox bell tower overlooks the port town of Fira on the Greek island of Santorini. With a view to one of the most stunning sunsets in the Mediterranean, Santorini is one of Greece's most popular tourist destinations.
The Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena and perhaps the most famous surviving building from ancient Greece, sits at the top of the Acropolis and overlooks Athens. Construction on the temple began in 447 B.C. and completed in 438 B.C. Today, the temple attracts millions of visitors a year.
The Agora on Athinas Street, otherwise known as the Athens Central Market in Athens, is a great place to buy affordable, fresh food. The market is open Monday through Saturday, and everything from meat to fish to vegetables to herbs is available.
Travel in Greece
Visions of Greece part 1of 5
Visions of Greece part 2 of 5
Concrete buildings typifying Athen's urban sprawl are visible from the Acropolis. The city, which has expanded geographically throughout the 20th century, has had severe problems with urban pollution that have improved in recent years.
Monks and hermits have found refuge in the monasteries at Meteora in Athens for more than 1,000 years. The gigantic rock formations in central Greece, which still puzzle scientists as to how they came to be formed, are visited today by thousands of tourists. The Holy Meteora have been maintained and protected as a monument of humanity by UNESCO.
Visitors view the old winch system that used to bring people and supplies to the monsteries inside the Monastery of Agia Triada at Meteora. The monastery, which is perched atop a pinnacle and is accessible by taking 140 steep steps, may look familiar because it was featured in the James Bond film "For Your Eyes Only." The two monks who still reside there often show visitors around.
Frescoes by 16th century Cretan painter Theophanes the Monk have survived over the years and can be seen inside the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas at Meteora.
Tourists stand before a seawater tank containing sea life of the Mediterranean Sea at the Cretaquarium in the city of Irakleion on the island of Crete in southern Greece. This tourist destination, which opened in December 2005, works as a modern-day research, educational and entertainment facility. The aquarium was developed to hold 32 tanks containing around 2,5000 organisms from 200 species.
The Athens Olympic Stadium was built in 1982 and hosted the European Championships in Athletics that year. The city won the honor of hosting the 2004 Summer Olympics, and after an extensive renovation on the stadium, including a roof redesign, the building reopened just in time to host the opening ceremony on Aug. 13. Today, the venue hosts everything from major sporting events to concerts.
In the 8th century B.C., the first Olympic festival was organized in Olympia (tradition dates the first games to 776 B.C.). Ruins of the ancient stadium are still evident at the site, though a fire in August 2007 ravaged the area and scorched the museum that housed some of Greece's great archeaological collections. Still, the Olympic flame of the modern-day games are lit by the reflection of sunlight in a parabolic mirror at the stadium.
Visions of Greece part 3 of 5
The statue of Sleeping Maenad, which dates back to the time of Emperor Hadrian (117-138 A.D.) can be seen at the Greek National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The statue presumably adorned a luxury residence and was found to the south of the Athenian Acropolis. It is just one of the many important artifacts from various archaeological locations around the country from prehistory to late antiquity.
Tourists admire the six caryatids of the Erechtheion temple on the Acropolis Hill in Athens. Caryatids are female figures that serve as supporting columns that hold up roofs. Renovation works to restore them were underway for 30 years and finally ended in November 2008. The entire temple was dedicated to Athena Polias and Poseidon Erechtheus when it was built between 421 B.C. and 407 B.C. The caryatids are on a porch on the north side called "Porch of the Maidens."
The Lesvos Petrified Forest on the Greek Aegean island of Lesvos is a UNESCO heritage site. The Petrified Forest numbers around 70 trees of various sizes that are ancestors of today's pines and cypresses, and were fossilized when the area was covered in volcanic lava around 20 million years ago.
Bathers relax in the waters of the hot Loutraki spring near the town of Aridea in northern Greece. Curative tourism is among a series of new products that Greek authorities want to highlight in a bid to diversify the country's usual recipe of sea and sun.
A hiker climbs Mount Olympus, the legendary home of the ancient Greek gods in central Greece. The mountain is the country's highest, standing at 9,570 feet.
Visions of Greece part 4 of 5.
Visions of Greece part 5 of 5
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The Statue of "David" by Michelangelo is on display at the Galleria dell'Accademia. Sculpted from 1501 to 1504, the 17-foot tall marble statue portrays the Biblical King David at the moment that he decides to do battle with Goliath. It is the most recognizable statue in the history of art.
David-statue in Galleria dell' Accademia
A visitor takes in the view from the top of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral's Dome in Florence, Italy.
Florence, Italy: Brunelleschi's Dome
The Boboli Gardens are filled with a collection of sculptures dating from the 16-18th centuries. Stroll through the grounds and see more statuary from Michelangelo (copies are here now to protect the originals), a massive Egyptian obelisk, classic grottoes and garden temples, and carefully groomed plants and trees.
The "Last Judgment" fresco by Frederico Zuccaro and Giorgio Vasari seen in the dome of the Florence Cathedral.
A view of the interior of the Chapel of the Princes in San Lorenzo Basilica. The massive structure, which is the mausoleum of the powerful Medici family, was erected between 1604 and 1643 by Matteo Nigetti.
Florence, Duomo, Churches, Museums
Houses and shops are built along on the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval bridge over the Arno River, in Florence, Italy. It is Europe's oldest wholly-stone, closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the cathedral church of Florence, Italy. The basilica is most notable for its dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi.