Cosmopolitan Amsterdam is most famous for its narrow, gabled houses lining the canals. Interesting attractions include the medieval weighhouse, Royal Palace on Dam Square, and New Church. Its most glamorous industry is the diamond trade. Not too far from Amsterdam are the flower centers of Aalsmeer, the picturesque fishing villages of Volendam and Marken, cheese markets at Edam and Gouda, and historic Haarlem, the main center of the bulb-growing industry. Enjoy the city’s sights from a glass-topped sightseeing boat which passes characteristic gabled houses and negotiates picturesque arched bridges. Facing Dam Square, the Royal Palace was built in 1648 and is still officially the royal residence, although the royal family resides in The Hague. The marbled Citizens Hall with inlaid maps of the world is worth seeing. One of Amsterdam’s most visited sites is historic Anne Frank House. Rijksmuseum, the city’s most prestigious museum, houses the largest collection of Dutch paintings in the world. Van Gogh Museum houses a striking collection.
Zeebrugge is an important port city in Flanders, connecting Belgium’s intricate railway and canal transportation systems. It is the gateway to medieval Bruges, one of northern Europe's most picturesque old cities and Brussels with its tree-shaded boulevards, splendid parks, imposing monuments, and beautiful buildings.
Le Havre is the gateway for optional tours to Paris, the "City of Light." See the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Champs Elysees. In Le Havre itself, visitors can explore at leisure and learn something of the French "art de vivre." Visit fish and vegetable markets, public parks, modern architecture, a long seaside promenade and a vast beach.
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Bilbao, the capital of Vizcaya Province, lies seven miles from the sea and has a coastline featuring rocks and steep cliffs, creeks and small estuaries; small fishing villages nestle in the inlets below green hills. The port of Bilbao is the largest in Spain and is built against the mountains. The city's fine museums include Fine Arts Museum and Guggenheim Museum. The Guggenheim Bilbao Museum is devoted to American and European art of the 20th century. The Fine Arts Museum specializes in paintings by Spanish masters. Our Lady of Begona Church is a 16th-century church on a hill with a good view of the city and valley. Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art is located in an old convent of Dominican nuns, a 16th-century, L-shaped cloister housing this fine museum with an outstanding exhibit of silversmiths' crafts that is one of the best collections in Spain. The Bullfighting Museum shows interesting bullfighting paraphernalia, such as costumes, photographs of famous toreros and a collection of posters. Visitors can try their gambling luck at Gran Casino Nervion.
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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.
Gibraltar is the famous promontory located at the western entrance of the Mediterranean, with Spain to the north and, across the Straits, Morocco to the south. The Straits are a channel connecting the Atlantic with the Mediterranean. Africa is clearly visible on a fine day. In ancient times, the Rock, as Gibraltar is popularly called, and its counterpart on the African side, Mount Abyla, were known as the Pillars of Hercules. Visitors enjoy historical sites, magnificent views and beautiful beaches. A favorite pastime is strolling along Main Street to browse and shop in the duty-free shops or stop in one of the pubs. Many visitors come to see Gibraltar's curiosity, the Barbary Apes. According to legend, the British will remain as long as the apes survive. Alemeda Botanical Gardens is where the British troops mustered for their parades. Trafalgar Cemetery was named for the casualties of the Battle of Trafalgar. On the fringe of the downtown area is the Cable Car Base Station where the car runs to the rock top.
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.
Today Spain's major commercial port and naval base, Cartagena lies on the coast of Murcia, its great indented bay guarded by rocky promontories, each topped by a fort. The city contains the remains of old walls, a castle constructed probably in Carthaginian times, and a church that was formerly a 13th-century cathedral. Attractive promenades extend along the harbour, while to the northeast is the famous beach and watersports resort area of the lagoon-like Mar Menor.
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Civitavecchia is the port city for Rome. Rome has always been and remains the Eternal City. With its splendid churches, ancient monuments and palaces, spacious parks, tree-lined boulevards, fountains, outdoor cafés and elegant shops, Rome is one of the world’s most attractive cities. Among the most famous monuments is the Colosseum where spectators watched combats between muscled gladiators and ferocious animals. Stop to see the remains of the Forum, once a political and commercial center. Rome’s squares were enhanced with such imposing structures as the Vittorio Emanuele Monument and grandiose fountains like the Fontana di Trevi. Awe at Christendom’s most magnificent church, the Sistine Chapel. The busy square Piazza Venezia is easily recognized by its imposing Vittorio Emanuele II Monument. Take a stroll to Rome's famous Trevi Fountain. Vatican City is the site of lovely St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica, where for 200 years, Renaissance masters worked on its design and created an unparalleled masterpiece. Visit Vatican Museum.
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