Portugal’s capital is an 18th-century city - elegant, open to the sea and carefully planned. Most places of interest are within easy walking distance. Rossio Square, the heart of Lisbon since medieval times, is an ideal place to start exploring. Many rebuilt houses with original façades provide stores and restaurants with modern interiors. High above Baixa is Bairro Alto - with its teeming nightlife. There are many monuments and museums, such as San Jeronimos Monastery, Royal Coach Museum and Gulbenkian Museum. Two well-known landmarks are the Monument to the Discoveries and the Tower of Belem. A statue of Christ looms above Europe’s longest suspension bridge. Madragoa, Bica and Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s older sections, offer a variety of sights: the Church of Sao Roque, with its beautiful tiles; St. George Castle, which offers a splendid view from its location above the Alfama quarter; the botanical gardens, featuring an unusual, cold greenhouse; and the cathedral, stunning with its Moorish design. Renowned Gulbenkian Museum is the cultural center of Portugal.
Cadiz is an old city with Andalusian character. The magnificent Baroque cathedral and impressive mansions were built with gold. Cadiz’s modern-day treasure lies 30 minutes to the north in the rolling hills of Jerez - where production of the liquid gold, as the famous sherry is often called, ensures a booming economy. Visit one of the bodegas for a tour and tasting. The Historic City Center of Old Cadiz is a pedestrian zone for a pleasant stroll. The monument to "Las Cortes" is the Spanish Parliament established in Plaza de España. The 18th-century golden-domed Cathedral of Santa Cruz looms over the whitewashed houses. The dazzling interior contains a magnificent collection of sculptures and art objects. The Museum of History features an outstanding model of Cadiz in ivory and mahogany that illustrates what the town looked like at the end of the 18th century. The small, colorful Flower Market offers much local flavor. The Moorish-style Alameda Apodaca Gardens serve as a reminder of the Moors’ occupation in past centuries.
Malaga is a popular holiday destination - known as the birthplace of Picasso and for sweet Malaga dessert wines from vineyards outside of town. Points of interest include impressive Gothic architecture, remains of a Moorish castle and interesting museums. Malaga is a popular starting point for trips to Granada and resorts along Costa del Sol. Splendid Granada and famed Alhambra are the region’s most outstanding attractions. Magnificent Moorish palaces and fortifications contrast sharply with Christian churches from Spain’s 1492 Reconquest era. Ronda's incredible location affording spectacular views over the valley and distant hills. Malaga Fine Arts Museum holds works by Spanish artists of the 16th to 20th centuries and by artists from Malaga, including Picasso. Marbella, which has been favored by the rich and famous, is a very popular holiday and yachting resort destination. One of the first resorts of the Costa del Sol, Torremolinos has luxury hotels, busy plazas and shopping streets, a lively art scene, a Wax Museum created by Madame Tussaud, and a glitzy casino.
Alicante is located on Spain’s Costa Blanca in the Levant Region, along the country’s southeastern coast and is a tourist resort and commercial port. The region is marked by lush mountain ranges. During the Gothic era of the fifteenth through sixteenth centuries centuries, art and architecture flourished in Alicante and the remainder of the Levant Region. Immense palaces and grandiose churches were built with elaborate baroque details. Visitors can see a third century BC fortress - the citadel of Santa Bárbara built by ruler Amilcar Barca, a Carthaginian, Arrabal Roig - the old quarter, the Baroque town hall (1701-60), the Church of Santa María (14th century), and the Renaissance church of San Nicolás de Bari (18th century).
The Balearics are comprised of 16 islands; the three principal ones are Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca. Lying just 60 miles off the Spanish mainland, the islands’ lush and rugged landscape combined with an extremely mild, sunny climate prove irresistible. The Balearics boast cosmopolitan resorts with lively nightlife and plenty of sports activities. Palma de Majorca is the capital of the archipelago. A cosmopolitan city with sophisticated shops and restaurants, it also offers buildings of spectacular Moorish and gothic architecture. Museo de Mallorca housed in the Palacio Ayamans boasts an interesting collection of Moorish, medieval and 18th- to 19th-century art. Those who wish to explore the northern end of the island will enjoy the dramatic land and seascape of Cabo Formentor at the end of a long, narrow peninsula. A winding road with magnificent views leads to the luxury Hotel Formentor, beautifully situated above the bay. The lighthouse of Cabo Formentor is the most northerly point on Majorca.
Barcelona, the self-confident and progressive capital of Spain, is a tremendous place to be. Though it boasts outstanding Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings, and some great museums – most notably those dedicated to Picasso and Catalan art – it is above all a place where there's enjoyment simply in walking the streets, stopping in at bars and cafés, drinking in the atmosphere. A thriving port and the most prosperous commercial centre in Spain, it has a sophistication and cultural dynamism way ahead of the rest of the country. In part this reflects the city's proximity to France, whose influence is apparent in the elegant boulevards and imaginative cooking. But Barcelona has also evolved an individual and eclectic cultural identity, most perfectly and eccentrically expressed in the architecture of Antoni Gaudí. Scattered as Barcelona's main sights may be, the greatest concentration of interest is around the old town (La Ciutat Vella). These cramped streets above the harbor are easily manageable, and far more enjoyable, on foot. Start, as everyone else does, with the Ramblas.
Marseille is a vibrant, cosmopolitan port in the Provence region of France. Craggy mountains provide a spectacular backdrop. As a Mediterranean melting pot, the port virtually rubs shoulders with intimate, picturesque old harbor, the Vieux Port. Packed with watercrafts, this is the heart of Marseille. Two fortresses guard the harbor: Fort Saint Nicolas and Fort Saint Jean. Several vantage points offer spectacular views, including the impressive Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde - a prominent landmark overlooking the city that is crowned by a monumental, gilded statue of Virgin Mary. Marseille boasts numerous fine museums well worth a visit. Sitting at one of the many outside cafes or strolling the streets of the old port area lets you experience the unpretentious charm of this city. Other sights include Chateau d'If - a 16th century fortress-turned-prison; Basilica St-Victor - Marseille's oldest church with the appearance of a fortress; and La Canebiere - a broad boulevard with everything from hotels to cafes and shops.
Monaco is famous as Côte d’Azur’s playground. With spacious beaches, elegant hotels and lively nightlife, this tiny domain is a jet set favorite and home to some of the world's most expensive real estate. In addition to luxury hotels and beautiful beaches, Monaco is noted for mild climate and magnificent scenery. Monaco and Monte Carlo rank high on every visitor’s must-see list. Monaco-Ville is the old city and seat of Monaco’s government. The 19th-century Romanesque cathedral Prince's Palace contains impressive works of art and the tomb of Princess Grace, while the Parliament building and Oceanographic Museum, under the auspices of the Jacques Cousteau Society, offer additional sights. Monte Carlo spells sophistication, elegance, and glamour. Every year the rich and famous gather here to bask in the sun, gamble at the world’s most opulent casino and attend spectacular parties. The most splendid hotels, several fine theaters, museums and excellent restaurants cater to the elite. Nothing typifies more the elegant lifestyle of the Côte d’Azur than glamorous Monte Carlo.
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