Category: <span>arcitecture</span>

Grand Site De France. Saint -Guilhem de -Desert

 In the South of France, in the heart of Languedoc and the Hérault gorges, the ‘Grand Site de FranceSaint-Guilhem-le-Désert – Gorges de l’Hérault’ main tourist attraction is one of Languedoc’s gems. It is thus no surprise that it has been awarded the ‘most beautiful villages of France’ label.

Set between vertiginous cliffs and stretching out along winding streets, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert originally developed around Gellone Abbey, just a few kilometres from the Pont du Diable (Devil’s Bridge). Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites by virtue of their being on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. The Saint-Guilhem mountains and the Pont du Diable, are much appreciated by hikers and are perfect for discovering fantastic views and rare botanical species.


Abbaye de Gellone – Hérault, le Languedoc  Photothèque Hérault Tourisme – Julie Noclercq The ‘Grand Site de France Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert – Gorges de l’Hérault’ (Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert – Hérault Gorges Major Tourist Attraction) is best-known for Gellone Abbey, founded by Charlemagne’s cousin, Guilhem. Extolled by troubadours during the Middle Ages, Guilhem became famous for his military campaigns against the Saracens. The hero of the siege of Barcelona in 803, he eventually decided to lay down his arms to become a monk. In 804, guided by Saint-Benoît d’Aniane, he founded a monastery in the isolated Gellone valley.

From the 10th century onwards, Guilhem was known as Saint-Guilhem and the spiritual importance of Gellone was further strengthened. The monastery became a privileged stopping place 
along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.

At the beginning of the 11th century, reconstruction of the Abbey began. It is a symbol 

of early Romanesque art in Languedoc.  

The Abbey is also classed as a UNESCO World Heritage site by virtue of its position on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, as is the nearby Pont du Diable bridge, considered to be one of the oldest medieval bridges in France. It is situated at the extreme southern end of the Hérault gorges, at the point where they suddenly open out onto the plains of Languedoc.

The gorges offer a spectacular, steep and plunging rocky landscape. Reaching a depth of between 200 and 300 metres in places, they are home to a wealth of uniquely Mediterranean flora and fauna. When the weather turns warmer, kayaking down them is great fun, and the St-Guilhem mountains above make an equally great day out for hikers. From the village square, you can head off to discover some of these exceptional panoramas, as well as some rare botanical species, such as the Salzman pine.

For all these reasons and more, the ‘Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert – Gorges de l’Hérault’ site has been awarded the ‘Grand Site de France (Main Tourist Attraction) label. In 2012 the French people voted it their second favourite village. 

My 4 years trip around the World ,part 7 .CAIRNS AND GREAT BERRIER REEF

Cairns, Great Barrier Reef

Cairns is a modern, sophisticated city, and is an ideal base to explore the wider Tropical North Queensland region with front door access to World Heritage listed Reef, Rainforest and Outback.

The city itself is where much of the accommodation is situated close to international standard restaurants, boutique shopping, modern art galleries and evening entertainment. All the attributes of a world class modern city are to be found in Cairns: International air access, rail systems, high-standard accommodation facilities, an art gallery, botanic gardens, university, a casino and a convention centre.
Over a century of architecture is reflected in the city streets – a comfortable blend of traditional Queenslander style and modern designs. There is enough of the old Cairns left for the astute visitor to imagine what the city was once like.
Modern buildings grace the cityscape with a mixture of architectural designs including the Reef Hotel Casino, Cairns International Hotel and the Cairns Convention Centre. A focal point for the city is the Cairns Esplanade. Almost two kilometres of landscaped parkland fringes a busy thoroughfare and restaurant strip on one side, and a natural harbour inlet on the other. Each year, thousands of visitors flock to the Esplanade to relax on the grass, eat at sidewalk cafes, meet new people, to walk under the trees, and to watch the many bird species which come to feed on the tidal zone.
















Next Papua New Guinea

On the way to Monaco from Porto Rotondo



It felt like our departure from Porto Rotondo in the Costa Smeralda region of Sardinia was overdue, although we will always have fond memories of the friendly locals and the superb food and wine. We set sail for the east coast of Corsica, and as soon as we were out of the protected inlet in Sardinia we started to experience a moderate wind and ocean swell. Within minutes we could see the mountains of Corsica which were surprisingly covered with snow. It’s always a spectacular sight having the combination of snow, the ocean and sunny skies. For the rest of the day we sailed parallel to the east coast of Corsica with generally pleasant conditions. As soon as we had passed the northern most tip of Corsica, the signs of dark clouds on the horizon and a rapidly changing ocean were ominous in the least. By this time night had fallen and the moon shone on larger and more powerful swells. Our destination was the Portofino coast in Italy and although we were 80 nautical miles away, in the midst of heavy seas it seemed an endless journey. The French and Italian coast guard began to radio all boats instructing them to seek shelter. We experienced a night of heavy seas. Our arrival in Portofino was on schedule and we were relieved to anchor in the beautiful bay in Portofino. Within minutes we were however being screamed at by an irate Italian from the marina that our vessel was too large to anchor in Portofino. I felt it was rather a pity that the local Portofinians had been deprived by the local municipal bureaucracy of the site of Pangaea’s presence for at least a day. We immediately proceeded to the much larger marina of Santa Margharita and were granted mooring for a few hours only. We quickly disembarked and walked through the beautiful town of Santa Margharita looking for a place to have breakfast. The shops were beginning to open and some of the local women were on their morning errands as five ravenous, unshaven and probably a bit dirty seamen prowled the streets looking for a suitable cafe. Within an hour we were making our way back to the boat as we needed to press on to Genova, a much larger port where hopefully Pangaea would feel more welcome. We sailed a further 23 nautical miles through some large swells again into Marina Aeroporto in Genova.We are now in port with the ‘big dogs’ and its now gin palace boats on steroids here. Ironically these boats are built for show and would have been swallowed up in the seas we sailed through yesterday. An early dinner at the marina with a bottle of Chianti went down well and more so for some of us as we were served by an attractive African Italian lady…..










Hurghada Al Azahar Mosque

The Al Azhar Mosque (the most blooming), is situated in the El Hussein Square and was constructed in 972 CE on the order of Caliph Muezz Li-Din Allah, designed by Fatimid general Jawhar El-Sequili shortly after the founding of Cairo itself. Located in the center of an area presenting some of the most beautiful Islamic monuments from the 10th century, it was named “Al-Azhar” after Fatama al-Zahraa, daughter of the Prophet Mohamed (Peace and Prayers Be Upon Him). Al Azhar mosque reflects both the Amr Ibn El-As and Ibn Tulun mosques. The Al Azhar mosque was a meeting place for Shi’a students for centures and remains a focal point of the famous university which surrounds it and also the first Fatimid monument in Egypt. Yaqoub Ibn Cals is credited for transforming the mosque into a teaching institute. In 974 CE the first lecture was delivered here making it the oldest university in the world. Today the university built around the Mosque is the most prestigious of Muslim schools, and its students are kept in the highest regard for their traditional training. This university once housed upwards of 10,000 students, today however, classes are taught in adjacent buildings while the mosque is reserved for prayer. In addition to the religious studies, modern schools of medicine, science and foreign languages have also been added.

Architecturally, the mosque represents the many styles and influences that were once present in Egypt, with a large part of it having been renovated by Abdarrahman Khesheda. There are five minarets with small balconies and intricately carved columns. The mosque has six entrances, the main of which, is the 18th Century Bab el-Muzayini (barber’s gate), where students once received haircuts. This gate leads into a small courtyard and then into the Aqbaughawiya Medersa to the left, which was built in 1340 and serves as a library. On the right is the Taybarsiya Medersa built in 1310 which has a beautiful mihrab. The Qaitbay Entrance was built in 1469 and has a minaret on top of it. Inside is a large courtyard that is 275 by 112 feet which is supported by over three hundred marble columns. To the east is the prayer hall which is larger than the courtyard and has several rows of columns. The Kufic inscription on the interior of the mihrab is original, though the mihrab has been modified several times, and behind is a hall added in 1753 by Abd el-Rahman Katkhuda.












Me and Stephen in Emirates Palace Hotel



















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