Canary Islands Tenerife
Tenerife is the largest and most populous island of the eight Canary Islands, part of a Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Tenerife flag is the same as Scotland’s because St Andrew is the patron saint of the island.
Approximately 43% of the population of Canary Islands live on the island of Tenerife.
Approximately five million tourists visit Tenerife each year.
Mount Teide is a volcano on Tenerife that last erupted in 1909. The volcano and its surroundings comprise Teide National Park, which was named UNESCO a World Heritage Site in 2007.
The Thai themed “Siam Park”, located in a coastal suburb in Tenerife, opened to the public in September 2008. With 25 buildings, it is said to be the largest collection of Thai-themed buildings outside Thailand.
On July 22, 1797, Lord Nelson suffered a wound to his arm during an assault by the Royal Navy on the Spanish port city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. His arm was subsequently partially amputated and was a constant reminder of his defeat.
One of the world’s worst aviation disasters happened in Tenerife on March 27, 1977, when two Boeing 747s collided on the airport runway. There were 583 casualties, and the investigation into the accident led to many changes in how pilots and flight control towers communicate.
Tenerife has been used to film several Hollywood blockbusters, including Clash of the Titans (2010), Fast and Furious 6 (2013) and Jason Bourne 5 (2016).
Dubrovnik is the capital of Croatia and was founded by refugees from a Greek colony in the 7th century.
Building of the old town was finished in the 13th century and remains almost completely unchanged today.
Author George Bernard Shaw said, “Those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik.” upon visiting the city in 1929.
The Old Synagogue of Dubrovnik, located in the Old Town, is the oldest Sefardic synagogue the world still in use today. It is said to have been established in 1352 but gained legal status in the city in 1408.
Dubrovnik's altitude is just three meters above the sea level.
In 1979, UNESCO added the city of Dubrovnik to their list of World Heritage Sites.
Dubrovnik was the main filming location in Croatia for King's Landing, a fictional city in the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones”.
The city of Split was founded as a Greek colony in the 3rd or 2nd century BC. It became a prominent settlement around 650 AD, when it succeeded the ancient capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia, Salona.
The Cathedral of Saint Domnius was consecrated at the turn of the 7th century AD. It is regarded as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that is still in use in its original structure.
The ruins of Roman Emperor Diocletian's Palace, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, was built between the late 3rd and the early 4th centuries AD and can be found throughout the city.
The black granite Egyptian Sphinx statue at the Diocletian's Palace is the only one remaining of the 12 sphinxes originally brought to Split around the year 297 AD, after Diocletian put down a rebellion in Egypt.
Split claims to have the most Olympic medal winners per capita in the world. The Olympic Walk of Fame at Western Riva is embedded with 73 plates detailing the Olympic medal winners who were born in Split or were members of different clubs in Split.
Sigmund Freud vacationed here in September of 1898. In the passage connecting the Fruit Square and the Riva you will find a door with a plaque that is translated as "Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis stayed in this house in September 1898". Freud even mentioned his visit to Split in his book, The Interpretation of Dreams.
Scenes from the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones” was filmed in Split (and nearby Dubrovnik) on the Dalmatian coast.
Copenhagen is the capital and most populous city of Denmark with just under a quarter of Denmark’s population.
Copenhagen is ringed by canals, the most famous of which is Nyhavn, constructed by King Christian V from 1670 to 1675. Christianshavn, another neighbourhood in Copenhagen, has so many canals that its nickname is ‘Little Amsterdam’.
Hans Christian Andersen, the writer of fairy tales such as “The Little Mermaid” and “Princess and The Pea” lived in Copenhagen. His final resting place is Assistens Cemetery in Copenhagen.
Carlsberg beer is brewed in Copenhagen. J.C. Jakobsen founded Carlsberg in 1847 and named it after his son, Carl. The old brewery is still open for tours.
In 1971, a band of squatters took over an abandoned military base in Christianshaven, a borough of Copenhagen, and established their own self-governing commune. The autonomous ‘Freetown’ Christiana is now home to about 1,000 residents.
The 2020 edition of the World Happiness Report ranks Copenhagen fifth among the world’s happiest cities, and Denmark is second in a ranking of 156 countries.
Copenhagen has over 15 Michelin Star restaurants.
Stroget, in downtown Copenhagen, is the longest pedestrian shopping street in the world.
The twenty 222-metre-high wind turbines located just offshore Copenhagen supply more than 40% of Denmark’s energy supply.
More than 55% of Copenhageners commute to work by bicycle.
Alexandria is the second largest city in Egypt with a population of over five million people.
Alexandria is historically one of the oldest ports in the world.
Alexandria was the capital of Egypt from its founding by Alexander the Great in 332 BC until its surrender to the Arab forces in 642 AD.
The city was a major centre of early Christianity and was the centre of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, which was one of the major centres of Christianity in the Eastern Roman Empire.
The Lighthouse of Alexandria was built during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (280–247 BC) and is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. For many centuries it was one of the tallest man-made structures in the world.
Alexandria has the oldest tram system in Africa dating back to 1860, making it one of the oldest in the world.
From the late 18th century, Alexandria became a major centre of the international shipping industry and one of the most important trading centres in the world.
During World War I, Alexandria was the chief Allied naval base of the eastern Mediterranean.
The city was actively involved in World War II, as it came perilously close to being captured by Axis armies and was repeatedly bombarded. British forces left the city in 1946.
The growing modern city of Alexandria was built directly above the ancient one, making it extremely difficult for archaeologists to perform digs in the area.
The white chalk cliffs of Dover are about 136 million years old and were formed from seashells and tiny fragments of sea creatures during the Cretaceous period. The cliffs are up to 110 metres high and run east and west from Dover in Kent, stretching 13 kilometres in total.
King Henry II began to build the present Dover Castle in the 1180s.
The hidden tunnels in the cliffs were carved by prisoners held in Dover Castle during the Napoleonic Wars. The tunnels were enlarged in the Second World War. With five different levels, there are still some sections of the Dover Castle tunnels which have yet to be uncovered.
During WWII ”Operation Dynamo”, the rescue of over 338,000 Allied soldiers from the Port of Dunkirk, France, was controlled from Dover Castle.
Dover was severely affected and extensively damaged by German shells and bombs during WWII. Over 10,000 buildings were damaged, and many were consequently demolished. There were over 3,000 alerts and more than 200 civilians were killed.
The width of the English Channel at Dover is only 34 kilometres, and you can see France from Dover Castle on a clear day.
It is said that author Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, wrote many of his 007 novels at the foot of the cliffs of Dover.
A statue of Charles Rolls (whose surname formed half the brand name “Rolls-Royce”) can be found at Marine Parade, overlooking the Outer Harbour of Dover. Rolls was the first pilot to make a two-way, non-stop aerial crossing of the English Channel on June 2, 1920.
Matthew Webb was the very first person to swim the English Channel, from Dover to Calais, on August 24,1875. It took almost 22 hours.
King John founded Liverpool, his own port city, in 1207 to avoid paying taxes to the Earl when sailing from the nearby port of Chester.
Charles Dickens mentions Liverpool in seven of his novels and he gave many public readings there. His first visit to Liverpool took place in 1838 and he became a regular visitor until April 1869, when his last lecture in Liverpool took place.
Liverpool was home to both the Cunard and White Star Shipping Lines, and was the port of registry of the RMS Titanic, the RMS Lusitania, the Queen Mary, and the Olympic ocean liners.
Liverpool was a major port of departure for English and Irish emigrants to North America in the 19th century.
The Royal Liver Building was built in 1911 and was the tallest building in the UK at that time. It is known as the UK’s first skyscraper.
The Beatles UK popularity began at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. The Beatles (formerly known as the Quarrymen) played under their new name on February 9th, 1961, and featured John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Stuart Sutcliffe with Pete Best on drums.
The entrance to Liverpool’s Chinatown, on Nelson Street, is the home to the largest Imperial Arch in Europe standing at 13.5 metres tall. This arch was a gift from Shanghai to celebrate the twinning of their cities. It was shipped over in pieces in 1999 and rebuilt in time for Liverpool’s annual Chinese New Year celebrations in 2000.
Liverpool’s docklands, and several areas of the historic centre of the city collectively, were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004.
The Liverpool Cruise Terminal, which opened in 2007, is a 350-metre-long floating structure situated on the River Mersey. It allows large cruise ships to dock at Liverpool without entering the enclosed dock system or having to tender passengers.
England Southampton Check out my blog on Southampton
In 1180 AD, a defensive wall was built around the medieval town. The Bargate, the town gateway, still stands in the centre of the High Street.
The Titanic departed from Southampton port on April 10, 1912, carrying 3,327 passengers and crew, bound for New York. Four days into the crossing she hit an iceberg and sank.
Southampton is home to the UK’s only existing geothermal heat-generating station.
Jane Austen was living in Southampton when she wrote Sense and Sensibility. Of note: The new (2017) British 10-pound note depicts the early 19th-century author Jane Austen on the reverse, along with other images from her life.
The prototype Spitfire aircraft first took to the air from Southampton Airport on March 5, 1936.
Southampton was the seventh heaviest bombed city during World War II.
The Wellington Arms Pub on Park Road is the official British consulate for the Caribbean Kingdom of Redonda.
Approximately 450 cruise ships dock in Southampton port each year, carrying roughly 1.5 million passengers.
The Westquay shopping centre, located in the city centre close to the docks, is one of the largest in Southern England.
Tallinn is capital and largest city in Estonia. It has been known by many names over history: Tallinn, Russian Tallin, German Reval, formerly (until 1918) Revel.
Tallinn’s Old Town is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe and was given UNESCO World Heritage status in 1997.
The oldest building in Tallinn is the Dominican St. Catherine’s Monastery which dates to 1246.
One-third of the Estonian population live in Tallinn.
The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence is located in Tallinn.
The Tallinn TV Tower is the highest open viewing platform in northern Europe. The glass-floored viewing platform on the 21st level of the 314-meter communications tower where visitors can look out over the Gulf of Finland and beyond.
Under the Old Town is a labyrinth of 17th century tunnels. During WWII these tunnels were used as bomb shelters, but their existence was not widely known until 2010 when 380 of the passageways were opened to the public.
The 1980 Moscow Olympic sailing events were held in Tallinn.
The Soviet-era Patarei Prison is a sea fortress built in 1840 which remained a functioning prison until its closure in 2004.
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland and covers a total area of 715 square kilometres.
Helsinki was established as a trading town by King Gustav I of Sweden in 1550; then known as the town of Helsingfors.
Finnish and Swedish are the official languages of Helsinki.
Helsinki has an average elevation of 19 metres above sea level.
Helsinki is often referred to as the “white city of the north”, referencing the white buildings which are built from near-white granite obtained locally.
Helsinki boasts the world's cleanest groundwater. Hundreds of millions of liters of water are processed every day and exported to many different countries in the world.
Helsinki is famous for its yummy salty licorice candies called “Salmiakki”.
Helsinki hosted the 52nd Eurovision Song Contest in 2007.
In 2017 Helsinki hosted World Figure Skating Championships.
France Honfleur (Check out my blog on Honfleur and Normandy)
The town dates from the 11th century and changed hands many times in the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453) between England and France.
On 13 April 1608, an expedition commanded by Samuel de Champlain left Honfleur to establish a post at Quebec, which led to the founding of Quebec City.
Honfleur was painted by many impressionists including Monet and Cezanne after Honfleur’s very own Eugène Boudin taught many an art student how to paint outdoors and capture the essence of water.
Honfleur is home to the largest wooden church in France, The Sainte-Catherine Church. This church was built by the ship-makers of the town and looks like the upside-down hull of a ship.
Home of Jardin des Personnalités, a ten-hectare park featuring sculptures of famous figures associated with Honfleur including Claude Monet, Eugène Boudin, composer Erik Satie and poet Charles Baudelaire.
Marseille was founded in 600 BC as a port city by Greek sailors from Phocaea in Asia Minor and is considered the oldest city in France.
Marseille is the second most populous city in France and covers 241 square kilometres, twice the area of Paris.
Marseille has the oldest chamber of commerce in France, established in 1599.
German and Italian forces invaded Marseille and Provence in November 1942. The Old Port was destroyed by the Germans in January 1943. The city was liberated by the Allies on August 29, 1944.
The highest point in Marseille is the Byzantine Romanesque Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica. It is surmounted by a 11-metre-high statue of the Virgin Mary and Child in gold, which is visible from all over the city. She is known as “la Bonne Mère,” (“the Good Mother”) for her unofficial role as the city’s guardian.
The 16th-century fortress Château d'If is located 3.5 kilometres southwest of the port of Marseille. This was converted into an Alcatraz-style prison in the 18th century and was made famous in the 19th century for being the main setting of Alexandre Dumas’s novel, The Count of Monte Cristo.
Provence is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France. It extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône to the west to the Italian border to the east and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the south.
The Rhône river, on the western border of Provence, is one of the major rivers of France, and has been a highway of commerce and communications between inland France and the Mediterranean for centuries.
Provence is France’s oldest, wine-producing region. It is thought that the Phocaeans brought the grapevine to Provence when they founded Marseille over 2,000 years ago.
Many renowned artists such as Picasso, Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, and Van Gogh, spent years living and painting in the region of Provence.
Provence is home to the town of Grasse, which is the perfume capital of the world, a title it has held since the 17th century. It produces approximately three-quarters of the world’s scents.
The region is famous for its annual lavender blooms which peak in mid-July and are harvested in August.
Provence is host to the world-famous Cannes Film Festival one of the most prestigious and oldest film festivals in the world.
France Villefranche (Coming Soon a blog on Eze and Monaco)
The site of what is now Villefranche (and surrounding Beaulieu-sur-Mer and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat) has been settled since prehistoric times.
Villefranche owes it name to Charles II, Duke of Anjou and Count of Provence whom, in 1295, convinced the villagers who were living in the hills to resettle along the coastline.
The town owes its importance to its bay (la Rade de Villefranche) which is one of the deepest natural harbours in the Mediterranean Sea (95 metres), allowing safe anchorage for large ships.
During the 18th century, the city lost some of its maritime importance to the new harbour being built in Nice, but it remained a military and naval base.
Villefranche the home port of the U.S. 6th Fleet from 1948 until February 1966.
Villefranche is now part of the Urban community of Nice Côte d'Azur and so can be considered a suburb of the Nice metropolitan area.
For years, the old town and the bay have offered a natural set for movies such as Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief (1955), Leo McCarey's An Affair to Remember (1957) with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969) with Katharine Hepburn, Bond Movie Never Say Never Again (1983) with Sean Connery, The Jewel of the Nile (1985) with Michael Douglas and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) with Steve Martin and Michael Caine to name a few.
The Rolling Stones recorded their 1972 album Exile on Main St. at the Belle Epoque-era mansion Nellcôte.
Warnemünde is a seaside resort and a district of the city of Rostock in Mecklenburg, Germany.
Founded in approximately 1200, Warnemünde was a small fishing village for centuries but became a sought-after resort town in the 1800s.
Dug as long ago as 1423, the Alter Strom channel in Warnemünde’s harbour was the main channel linking Rostock’s port with the Baltic for more than five centuries.
Warnemünde is considered the birthplace of the beach chair. The Strandkorb (which translates to beach basket) was invented back in the mid-1800s. These covered boxes protect from the sun without taking away from the view and provide a seat for a day at the beach.
The Warnemünde Lighthouse was built in 1897 to replace the old 8-metre-high storm lamp. At a height of 37 meters, 100 stairs take you to the top of the tower where you can see most of the town.
Warnemünde was formerly the site of the original Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft (LFG) aircraft factories during World War I.
Warnemünde is a major sailing area in Germany due to the weak current and good sailing conditions. In the summertime there are numerous international competitions such as the yearly "Warnemünde Week" in July.
Warnemünde has a white sandy beach approximately 15 kilometres in length; the longest uninterrupted strip in Germany.
Warnemünde hosts the annual Sandwelt or Sand World competition in May which attracts talented artists from across Europe.
Warnemünde Cruise Center was opened on May 1, 2005, and the terminal can accommodate up to 2,500 passengers per day.
Gibraltar Gibraltar (aka Monkey jumped on me place - it's in my book on cruising)
First inhabited 50,000 years ago by the Neanderthals, Gibraltar may have been one of their last refuges before their extinction.
Gibraltar is just 6.8 km2 in size and, with a population of about 30,000 people, has the 5th highest density of any country or territory in the world.
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory which means it is under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom but is not technically a part of it.
As a British territory, English is the official language of Gibraltar. However, with Spain right across the border, there is plenty of Spanish spoken as well.
It has the only wild monkey population in the whole of Europe. Over 300 Barbary Macaque monkeys call the rock of Gibraltar home. Feeding the macaques in punishable under Gibraltar law by a fine of up to £4,000.
Gibraltar is home a labyrinth of tunnels known as “The Great Siege Tunnels”, a defence system devised by man, created when France and Spain made an attempt to recapture the Rock from the British in Gibraltar’s 14th siege; the siege lasted from July 1779 right through until February 1783.
The Royal Engineers and a contingent of Canadian Engineers excavated the WWII tunnels. The total length of the entire tunnel network inside the Rock is approximately 52 kilometres.
During World War II, due to its vital position, it was one of the most heavily defended naval ports in Europe. The British controlled nearly all ships coming from the Mediterranean Sea into the Atlantic Ocean.
John Lennon married Yoko Ono at the Rock of Gibraltar in 1969.
Approximately 12% of the workforce is employed by Gibraltar's big online gaming industry.
Athens is Europe’s oldest capital. The city’s origins date back to around 3,400 years ago, also making it one of the oldest cities in the world.
The city-state was named after Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and war. The Athenians shrine to Athena, the Parthenon, is located on a hill in the center of the city.
Having been inhabited for over 4,000 years, Athens has been submitted to nearly every form of government known to this day: monarchy, democracy, socialism, capitalism, even communism.
It was the birthplace of democracy. In 500 BC. a system was enacted in Athens where eligible citizens could directly vote on laws – giving rise to democracy.
Athens is an interesting case study of architecture and is home to a variety of styles, from Greco-Roman to Neoclassical to modern.
Athens was the birthplace of the modern Olympic games in 1896. However, the ancient Olympics were never actually held in the Greek capital.
In 490 BC, a Greek soldier named Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens. His long run inspired today’s 26.2 mile “marathon” event.
On April 28, 1941, German troops entered Athens and raised the Nazi flag over the Acropolis beginning a three-and-a-half-year occupation of the city.
Over 50,000 artifacts were excavated during construction of the Athens Metro to support transportation needs for the 2004 Olympic Games.
Athens is home to 148 theater stages, more than the West End and Broadway NY combined.
Corfu Town aka Old Town sits in the middle of two fortress, the Old and New fortresses, both built by the Venetians in the 15th century.
In 2007 Corfu’s Old Town was declared a UNESCO Heritage site as one of the most well-preserved medieval towns in the world.
There are 37 churches in Corfu’s Old Town, all within 15 minutes walking distance.
The first lighthouse in Greece was built in Corfu by the British in 1822, to light the way to their principal naval base in the Ionian Islands. The lighthouse still stands within the Old Fortress.
The Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth of England, was born in Corfu on June 10, 1921.
Corfu is known worldwide for its high-quality olive oil. It is estimated there are over 4 million olive trees on the island, some of which are over 500 years old.
Most of the James Bond 007 film For Your Eyes Only was filmed on Corfu Island.
The northern tip of Corfu island is just over 3 kilometres from Albania, separated by a strait, and is accessible by ferry.
Angelos Giallinas, a famous Greek landscape painter known primarily for his watercolours, was born in Corfu on March 5, 1857 and he died there in 1939.
Greece Katakolon (Olympia)
The Port of Katakolon is the gateway to the archeological site of Olympia, which is approximately 35 kilometres east of the port.
Olympia is where the ancient Olympic Games took place between 776 BC and the 4th AD. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is considered one of the most important archeological sites in the Mediterranean.
The lighthouse of Katakolon was built in 1865 and is considered a historical monument. Its focal height is 45m.
Katakolon is a small fishing village but it is the second most important mainland cruise port in Greece with an average of 290 cruise ship arrivals per year since 2006.
One of the longest beaches in Greece begins in Katakolon (the Gulf of Kyparissia) and extends approximately 44 kilometres.
Giannitsochori, on the Gulf of Kyparissia, is the site of a Global Vision International (GVI) marine conservation base that is dedicated to protecting one of the most important nesting sites of the near-threatened loggerhead turtle.
Nuuk was founded in 1728 by missionary Hans Egede, making it the oldest town in Greenland.
Nuuk (Greenlandic meaning "The Headland") is also known by its Danish name of Godthåb (Good Hope).
Nuuk is the capital and largest city of Greenland.
Nuuk is also the world's smallest capital city with only 16,000 inhabitants.
Most of the buses and cars owned in Greenland operate in Nuuk.
There are no roads connecting Nuuk with other areas of Greenland.
Nuuk contains almost a third of Greenland's population and its tallest building.
The Danish Krone (DKK) is the official currency in Greenland.
Greenlandic is spoken by around 80,000 Inuits in Greenland, Alaska and Canada.
Nuuk is home to the University of Greenland.
The first permanent settlement in Iceland was in Reykjavík in 874 AD.
Reykjavik is the northernmost capital on earth at just two degrees south of the Arctic Circle at a latitude of 64 degrees and 8 minutes north.
Reykjavik got its name from the steam rising from the area's hot springs, which translates to “Cove of Smokes,” or more eloquently, "Smoky Bay".
More than 60% of the Icelandic population live in Reykjavik.
It is the only Western European capital without a Starbucks or a McDonald’s.
Reykjavík is the only capital city in the world that is home to a major puffin breeding colony. It is estimated that 60% of the entire world population of the Atlantic puffin nests in Iceland.
The official ban on dogs in Reykjavík was issued in 1924. The ban was lifted in April of 1984 and the residents of Reykjavík could keep dogs as pets again.
Nearly half of the inhabitants of Reykjavik during WWII were British and American.
People in Reykjavík lived in turf houses into the 1960s.
Hallgrímskirkja, built in 1986, is a Lutheran church located in the capital city of Reykjavík. It is Iceland's tallest church and has been included in the list of the 10 Strangest Buildings in the World.
Ireland Cork Harbour (Town of Cobh)
Cobh was originally named Queenstown after the visit of Queen Victoria in 1849. When the Irish Free State was established in 1921, the name was changed to Cobh.
The name for Cork in the Irish language is ‘Corcaigh Mór Mumhan’ which translates as ‘the great marsh of Munster’. This refers to the fact that Cork city is built on islands which are marshy and are still liable to flood after a period of heavy rainfall.
Cork has the second largest natural harbour in the world – after Sydney, Australia.
Cobh is home to Ireland's only dedicated cruise terminals and can handle some of the largest cruise ships afloat today.
The Royal Cork Yacht Club, the oldest yacht club in the world, was originally founded in Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour in 1720.
The headquarters of the Irish Navy, the maritime component of the Defence Forces of Ireland is located on Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour.
Fifteen-year-old Annie Moore was the first emigrant to pass through the Ellis Island immigration facility in New York Harbor on Jan 1, 1892. She had traveled with her brothers from Cobh on the steamship Nevada. A statue of Annie and her brothers stands on the quayside in Cobh.
Cobh (then Queenstown) was the last port of call for the Titanic before it departed for New York on April 11,1912.
The first factory that Ford Motor Company built outside of America was in Cork, where Henry Ford’s ancestors were from. The factory initially produced tractors, the first of which rolled off the production line on July 3, 1919.
St. Colman’s Catholic Cathedral in Cobh has the largest number of Carillon Bells in Ireland and the UK (49 bells).
A German Colony was established in Ottoman Haifa in 1868 and can be found in the city centre, at the base of Mount Carmel.
The prophet Elijah won a major victory over 450 priests of Baal during the reign of King Ahab from the top of Mount Carmel.
Haifa’s port is the largest of Israel’s international seaports.
Haifa, Israel's third largest city, is located on the northern and western slopes of Mount Carmel.
Haifa is only city in Israel that has a subway; until the expected 2023 opening of Tel Aviv Light Rail).
Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) has been an integral part of the Haifa’s transport network for nearly sixty years.
The Baha’i Gardens, located in Haifa, include the Holy shrine of the Báb, one the most holy places of the Bahá’í faith. The Gardens were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.
Haifa is the most ethnically diverse city in Israel. New Jewish immigrants, from Ethiopia and the Former Soviet Union, make up 22.8% of the population, veteran Jews and Arabs, both Christian and Muslim, account for 10.6% of the city’s population and a new growing group of ‘Non-Arab and non-Jewish’ immigrants makes up 1-2% of the population.
Italy La Spezia
The port of La Spezia is one of the largest commercial ports in the Ligurian Sea, an arm of the Mediterranean Sea between the Italian Riviera and the island of Corsica.
Castello di San Giorgio is a castle-fortress set on a hill overlooking La Spezia. Originally part of the city’s defensive fortification network, the castle was constructed in the 13th century by Nicolo Fieschi, although most of the present-day structure is from the 1600s.
La Spezia is home to Italy's largest naval base. During the Second World War, because of its strategic importance, the base was heavily bombed and almost completely destroyed.
The Gulf of La Spezia is also known as the Gulf of Poets, a name given to it in 1910 by the playwright Sem Benelli. This was because over the centuries many poets, writers and artists (Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe and Mary Shelley, D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, George Sand, Petrarch) spent time in the villages of the Gulf.
Spezia is the gateway the Cinque Terre, which consists of 5 small villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. These villages are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The International Jazz Festival of La Spezia is the longest-running Italian jazz music festival and has been taking place in and around La Spezia since 1969.
Port Messina is a cruise port known as “the door to Sicily”. The city is located on Sicily Island, separated from mainland Italy by Strait of Messina (width 5 kilometres).
The 35-metre column located at the entrance to Messina Harbour carries the statue of the “Madonnina del Porto” that blesses all ships entering the port. The statue of the Virgin, the city’s Patron Saint, holds the Holy Letter that she gave to the Messina Embassy when she visited Palestine in 42 AD.
The Black Plague arrived in Europe in October 1347, when a fleet of Genovese trading ships from the Black Sea docked at the port of Messina.
Messina has been a Roman Catholic Archdiocese and Archimandrite seat since 1548.
On December 28, 1908, an earthquake in the Strait of Messina, and the subsequent tsunami almost completely destroyed Messina and devastated the coasts of northern Sicily and southern Calabria.
Italy Naples (Napoli)
The name is derived from the Greek word Neapolis which means “new city” or “new town” named by its Greek inhabitants in the 8th century BC.
Naples is the third largest city in Italy after Rome and Milan.
Naples was historically part of the Kingdom of Sicily, an independent kingdom, since 1137. In 1861 Naples became part of the Kingdom of Italy, with the unification of Italy.
The Naples skyline features the looming Mount Vesuvius which erupted in 79 AD and buried the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
The very first pizzeria in Italy and the entire world, Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, was opened in Naples in 1830.
The city was the second most bombed city in Italy, after Milan, and suffered 200 air raids during WWII.
In 1995, the historic city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Central Funicular in Naples opened in 1928 and is one of the longest and most used funicular railways in the world.
The famous “O Sole Mio” song was written in Naples in 1898. In 1980, Luciano Pavarotti won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Performance for his rendition of the song.
The Port of Naples is the 12th largest passenger port in Europe, seeing more than 6.5 million passengers each year.
Taranto's pre-history dates to 706 BC when it was founded as a Greek colony, established by the Spartans. Although the modern city was built over the ancient Greek city, a few ruins remain, including part of the city wall, two temple columns dating to the 6th century BC, and tombs.
The Romans later connected the city to Rome with an extension of the Appian Way (the Queen of Roads), which was started in 312 BC. The Appian Way was built as a main route for military supplies and transport of troops outside of greater Rome.
Ponte Girevole, originally built in 1887 and replaced in 1958, connects the Borgo Antico (Old Town) island with the Borgo Nuovo (New Town) peninsula. It is made up of two swing spans that pivot near the banks of the canal to meet in the middle of the canal. When open, the halves are parallel to the embankment, leaving the width of the canal clear for passage.
The natural harbor at Taranto made it a logical home port for the Italian naval fleet before and during the First World War.
During the WWII Battle of Taranto, which took place November 11-12, 1940, the British inflicted major damage to the Italian navel forces. The Royal Navy launched the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history, using 21 obsolete Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers.
The Municipality of Taranto was declared bankrupt in October 2006, following the resignation of the mayor who was sentenced to serve a sixteen-month prison term for corruption related charges.
Venice was an independent empire and ruled itself until 1797 when Napoleon took control of the city.
The city is made up of 118 islands in the Venetian lagoon, connected with 400 bridges over 170 canals.
Much of central Venice was built on top of millions of petrified logs drilled underneath the surface of the water, beginning in the 5th century AD, and much of Venice still rests on this foundation.
The land Venice sits on is boggy and the city is slowly sinking at a rate of 1-2 millimetres each year, though figures vary. It has always experienced flooding from exceptionally high tides, but the frequency of such events has increased.
The city and its lagoon were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. However, its status as a World Heritage property is in jeopardy due to over-tourism and the lack of an integrated management system for the site.
Calleta Varisco, one of the narrowest streets in the world, is found in Venice and measures just 53 centimetres across.
The first public casino in the world was in Venice. The Casinò di Venezia opened in 1638 and is still operating today.
The Bellini, the world-famous cocktail made with prosecco and peach puree, was invented in 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of the legendary Harry's Bar in Venice. Located just off the Grand Canal, the iconic bar was frequented by celebrities such as Humphrey Bogart, Truman Capote, and Ernest Hemingway.
A gondolier can earn an annual salary of around €100,000. However, there are only about 400 gondoliers in Venice compared to 10,000 in the 16th century.
The number of tourist arrivals to Venice peaked at about 4.78 million in 2019.
Valletta is the capital city of Malta and the smallest capital city in Europe with a surface area of just 0.55 km² and just over 7,000 inhabitants (only Vatican City is smaller).
Valletta is officially the city in Europe with most sun as Malta boasts 300 days of sunshine per year.
During WWII, the island of Malta played a vital strategic role as a base for the Allied Powers. Valletta was heavily bombarded by German and Italian aircraft during due to its importance as a capital city and its location between two harbours.
Valletta has been wholly a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1980. UNESCO describes the city as ‘one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world’.
The Commonwealth Walkway was opened by The Queen in 2015 and connects Valletta’s best cultural attractions.
Valletta features 320 monuments, all within walking distance of each other.
The British Poet Lord Bryon hated the steps of Valletta so much he wrote a poem called Farewell to Malta which included the lines referring to Valetta: “Adieu, ye cursed streets of stairs! (How surely he who mounts you swears!)”.
Many renowned Hollywood productions were filmed in Valetta, including Munich (2005), World War Z (2013) and Assassin’s Creed (2016).
Monaco, a sovereign city-state with an area of 2 km² (smaller than Central Park New York), is second smallest country in the world.
The size of Monaco has grown by 20% (an additional 40 hectares) due to land reclamation from the Mediterranean Sea.
The national flag of Monaco, comprising red and white horizontal bands, strongly resembles that of Indonesia; the only difference being that the Indonesian flag is slightly wider.
The country hosts the Monaco Grand Prix every year.
Monaco became a member of the United Nations in 1993.
Monaco has the largest police force in the world on a per-capita and per-area basis.
In 2015, almost 30% of the population of Monaco were millionaires.
The Oceanographic Museum, established in 1910, is one of the most renowned institutions of its kind in the world.
Three James Bond films (Casino Royal, Golden Eye, and Never Say Never Again) were shot in the Monte-Carlo Casino in Monaco.
The town, first mentioned in 168 BC, was settled during Ancient Roman times and was part of the Roman province of Dalmatia.
Built by the Venetians, the Old Town in Kotor was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Our Lady of the Rocks, an artificial islet in the Bay of Kotor, was created by a bulwark of rocks and by sinking old and seized ships loaded with rocks.
Montenegro was the first nation in the world to have its own printing press, established in 1493.
Montenegro declared its independence from Serbia on June 3, 2006.
One of the narrowest streets in the world, appropriately named "Let me pass" is in the Old city of Kotor. It is so narrow that it is difficult for two people to pass.
Tara Canyon, located in Durmitor National Park in Montenegro, is the deepest canyon in Europe and the second deepest in the world, after the Grand Canyon in Colorado.
More than 60% of the country has peaks higher than 1000 metres.
Brad Pitt started his movie career as the leading man in The Dark Side of the Sun which was filmed in Kotor, Montenegro in 1988.
Northern Ireland Belfast
Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland.
Belfast earned the nickname “Linenopolis” in the 19th century, when it became the largest linen producing area in the world. The American Civil War caused a global shortage of cotton and much of the slack was taken up by Irish linen.
Belfast’s Obel Tower is the tallest building in Ireland, standing at 85m, with 27 floors.
A series of hills flank the northwestern side of Belfast, including Cavehill, which is believed to have inspired author Jonathan Swift’s sleeping giant in his novel Gulliver’s Travels.
Belfast was famous for shipbuilding in the early 1900's. The Harland and Wolff Shipyard, the world's largest shipyard at the time, built most of the ocean liners for the White Star Line, including the RMS Titanic.
Belfast is home to one of the largest optic lights ever made. The Great Light on Belfast’s Maritime Mile has the largest lenses ever made, emitting what was one of the strongest lighthouse beams in the world. The light is over 130 years old, weighs 10 tonnes and is seven metres tall.
The Titanic Museum, which opened in March 2012 on the site of the former Harland and Wolff shipyard, is a monument to Belfast’s maritime heritage.
Dominating the entire city skyline are two great yellow-painted gantry cranes nicknamed Samson and Goliath. Constructed to service at Harland and Wolff, Goliath (the smaller at 96 m) began work in 1969 and the 106 m Samson five years later. Each of the Krupp-Ardelt designed cranes can lift loads of up to 840 tonnes.
In March 1971 Led Zeppelin first played Stairway to Heaven at the historic Ulster Hall, which dates to 1862.
Bergen was the first capital of Norway. Although the Norwegian capital moved to Oslo in 1299, Bergen remained popular due to its ideal location for sea trade.
With a population of under 300,000, Bergen is Norway’s second-largest city.
The Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a maze of red, white, and yellow wooden buildings dating back to the 11th century.
Bergen is recognized and marketed as the gateway city to the world-famous fjords of Norway and has become Norway's largest, and one of Europe's largest, cruise ship ports of call.
In the latter half of the 19th century, the city had the largest concentration of leprosy (now known as Hansen's disease) patients in Europe. George's Hospital, once used to care for lepers, is now a leprosy museum.
During WWII, Bergen was occupied on April 9, 1940, the first day of Operation Weser, Germany's assault on Denmark and Norway.
Oslo is the capital and most populous city in Norway.
While the city centre and most residential areas are on the Norwegian mainland, there are 40 islands within the city limits.
Vast untouched forest surrounds the urban core of Oslo. Known simply as Oslomarka, the forest is protected against most forms of development and is home to lynx, wolf, beaver, moose and roe deer.
Oslo is home of the world’s largest sculpture park, with over 212 sculptures made by a single artist, Norwegian Gustav Vigeland, between 1925 and 1933.
Oslo was the first Scandinavian country to host the Winter Olympics in 1952.
Oslo is Norway's most ethnically diverse city with 27% of the population having origins from more than 150 countries.
The Nobel Peace Prize, one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the Will of Alfred Nobel, Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer, is awarded in Oslo.
The European Commission named Oslo as the European Green Capital for 2019, based on its environmental record.
The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo is home to the world's best-preserved Viking ships.
Every year, the people of Oslo donate the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square in gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during WWII.
Portugal Lisbon (Lisboa)
Lisbon is the oldest city in Western Europe, founded by the Phoenicians in 1200 BC.
During World War II, Portugal maintained a reputation as neutral, but behind the scenes, both Nazi and Allied spies were believed to be operating behind the scenes in the Portuguese capital.
The Vasco da Gama Bridge over the Tagus River is the longest bridge in Europe (17.2 kilometres long).
The 2.27-kilometre-long Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge (The Golden Gate bridge of Lisboa) over the Tagus river was designed by the same architect who designed the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.
The Lisbon Oceanarium is one of the Europe’s largest aquariums, with 16,000 animals and 450 species. The central tank is 7 metres deep and has a diameter of roughly 30 meters.
History records show that the first exports of Guinness beer to continental Europe were to Lisbon in 1811.
Lisbon was hit by a magnitude 9 earthquake in the early morning of November 1, 1755. A large part of the city was destroyed and the number of victims in Lisbon was between 60,000 and 100,000.
Both the oldest bookstore in the world (Livraria Bertrand, 1732) and the smallest bookstore in the world (Livraria do Simão, a little over 3m2) can be found in Lisbon.
Under the streets of Lisbon lies a genuine, 2000-year-old Roman city, the Galerias Romanas, which came to light after the earthquake of 1755.
In 1873 the first tramway in Lisbon came into service as a horsecar line. The trams were called Americanos because they were modeled on those found in the mid-19th century California.
Russia Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703, and was named after his patron saint, the apostle Saint Peter.
The State Hermitage Museum, the second-largest art museum in the world (after the French Louvre), was founded in 1764 by Empress Catherine the Great. A colony of cats, now numbering over 70, have lived in the museum since 1852 and have the status of guardians of the art galleries to keep rodents in check.
Saint Petersburg was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years until the spring of 1918, following the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The city was renamed Petrograd in 1914, at the beginning of World War I, because it sounded less German, was then named Leningrad after the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, and again became St. Petersburg in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed.
St. Petersburg is spread over 42 islands and has over 300 bridges, 22 of which are drawbridges.
The Alexander Column, weighing 600 tonnes, was erected in the Palace Square in Saint Petersburg on August 30, 1832, without the aid of modern cranes or engineering machines. The column was erected by 3,000 men in less than 2 hours and is held in place by its own gravity.
The Church of the Savior on Blood in Saint Petersburg was built as a memorial to Russian Emperor Alexander II and was erected on the site of his assassination on March 13, 1881. Construction began in 1883 and finished in 1907.
The Passenger Port of St. Petersburg is the first and only specialized passenger port in the North-West region of Russia. Construction of the new Port began in 2005, and it received the first ship with passengers on board in September 2008.
The earliest settlers arrived at the site of Ullapool more than 8,000 years ago.
In 1788, the British Fisheries Society commissioned Thomas Telford to design a village and a herring port by the British Fisheries Society.
Ullapool port, with a population of 1,500 located on the shores of Loch Broom, is a gateway to the Scottish Highlands.
Between 1770 and 1815, some 15,000 Highland Scots emigrated to Canada, as part of the Highland Clearances, settling mainly in the Maritime Provinces. It is recorded that ships such as the “Hector, and ”Favorite” left Loch Broom with passengers bound for Pictou Nova Scotia.
The Ullapool Museum (formerly a Telford parliamentary church) provides an in-depth look at the town’s geography and historic significance. It was built in 1829 following a parliamentary initiative to provide places of worship throughout the Highlands.
Scotland Invergorden’s Port of Cromarty
Port of Cromarty Firth is the largest Port in the Highlands and one of the deepest, most sheltered ports in the country.
Invergordon served as a Royal Navy dockyard between World Wars I and II.
The Port of Invergordon welcomes approximately 100,000 cruise passengers and crew members each year between Easter and October.
The entrance to the harbour is guarded by two precipitous rocks. The one on the north is 151 metres high and the one on the south is 141 metres high. They are known as the Sutors after the resemblance to a couple of shoemakers bending over their lasts.
The Cromarty Firth Port Authority (CFPA) was established in 1972 as a dry dock for repair and fabrication of oil platforms operating in the North Sea. This has become an oil rig graveyard as companies tow them to Cromarty Firth, where they could remain on stand-by until oil prices rebound.
Invergordon is the premier mural town of the Highlands. Currently the town is adorned with a series of 17 murals.
Nearby is Loch Ness, best known for alleged sightings of Loch Ness Monster (aka "Nessie").
Koper was originally an island in the Adriatic Sea. However, in 1825. it was connected to the mainland by permanent landfill.
Koper is an important port for the country since Slovene coastline is only approximately 47 kilometres long.
The passenger port is located about 300 metres, a 5-minute walk, from the main town square.
The city of Koper is officially bilingual, with both Slovene and Italian as official languages.
In 1918, with the end of the First World War, the Austro-Hungarian Empire disintegrated. Slovenes joined with Serbs and Croats to form a new state led by Serbian King Peter I. The state of Slovenia was created in 1945 as part of federal Yugoslavia. In June 1991, Slovenia gained its independence from Yugoslavia and is today a member of the European Union and NATO.
Barcelona was the capital city of Spain from 1937 to 1939. Today, it remains the capital of the region of Catalonia.
Barcelona is the only city in the world to be awarded a Royal Gold Medal for architecture by Royal Institute of British Architects. This medal is usually given to architects.
There are nearly 3 million cruisers passing through the 7-terminal cruise port of Barcelona each year, making it the 6th busiest in the world and No. 1 in Europe.
The 4.5 kilometres beachfront was created for the Olympics in 1992, importing the sand all the way from Egypt.
Barcelona’s Camp Nou was built in 1957 and is known as the largest FC stadium in Europe, and one of the largest in the world, with a seating capacity of just under 100,000.
Barcelona has 12 metro stations that are completely abandoned and rumored to be haunted. The stations were mainly abandoned due to a modification of the city’s layout.
La Rambla, the 2 kilometres main street in Barcelona, originally functioned as a stream filled with sewage. In the 14th century the stream was diverted, and the street was developed.
Barcelona was meant to be the home of Eiffel Tower. Gustave Eiffel originally pitched the proposal to the city of Barcelona. When they rejected his idea, he decided to pitch it to Paris.
Antoni Gaudi is considered one of the great architects who vastly influenced buildings in the city. Construction of his La Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and is still not complete.
Barcelona’s Parc de Collserola, with an area of 84.65 km², is the largest metropolitan park in the world (22 times larger than Central Park in NYC).
Spain Palma (also known as Palma De Mallorca
Palma is a resort city located in the southwest of Mallorca, the largest island in the Balearic Islands, which are part of Spain and located in the Mediterranean.
There are two cruise terminals that serve Palma: Muelle de Poniente, located 6 kilometres southwest of the city and Dique del Oeste, located 8 kilometres away from the city centre.
Palma was chosen as the best place to live in the world in 2015 by Britain’s Times Newspaper.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma (La Seu), overlooking the Parc de la Mar, is a Gothic Roman Catholic cathedral and is a landmark in Palma. Construction begun by King James I of Aragon in 1229 but was only finished in 1601.
Bellver Castle, built between 1300 and 1311 for King James II of Majorca, is the only circular castle in Spain and the oldest of its kind in Europe. Originally serving as the residence of the Kings of Majorca, it was used as a military prison throughout the 18th to mid-20th century.
The island of Mallorca has the highest concentration of sundials per square kilometre in the world, 112 of which are in Palma. Palma's sundials can easily be found in churches, convents, historic public and private buildings, as well as on streets and in 'plazas'.
Stockholm is the capital and largest city in Sweden.
The Stockholm metro, which opened in 1950, has been called the longest art gallery in the world. The system spans 105.7 kilometres and has 100 metro stations, 90 of which have artworks on display.
Stockholm is the second most visited city in the Nordic countries.
The central parts of the city consist of fourteen islands, connected by 57 bridges.
Over 30% of the city area is made up of waterways and another 30% is made up of parks and green spaces.
The city is sometimes referred to as ‘Venice of the North’, thanks to its beautiful buildings and exquisite architecture, abundant open water and numerous parks.
The city hosts the annual Nobel Prize ceremonies, with the first ceremony being held in 1901.
The Swedish pop group, ABBA formed in Stockholm in 1972. They went on to be one of the most commercially successful acts in the history of popular music, topping the charts worldwide from 1974 to 1983.
Stockholm ranks among the cities with the most museums per capita in the world, with nearly 100 museums; including the ABBA Museum.
Stockholm’s oldest surviving building is The Riddarholmen Church, a Franciscan monastery built in 1270.
While not the capital, Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city with more than 13 million people.
Istanbul, which used to be known as Constantinople thanks to the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, is built on seven hills to match the seven hills of Rome.
Istanbul has the third oldest subway in the world, built in 1875. It is 573 metres long and located in the Beyoglu District. (1-London/1863 2-New York/1868)
Istanbul is the only pan-continental city in the world situated on two continents, Europe and Asia.
Istanbul is home to the most mosques in Turkey. It has approximately 3,113 mosques, including the historic Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the Blue Mosque) and the Süleymaniye Mosque.
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops.
British author Agatha Christie wrote her famous novel Murder on the Orient Express at Pera Palas Hotel in Istanbul.
The Galata Tower, which was built in 1348 to house prisoners of war, now offers a 360-degree observing platform of the city.
Tulips, the icon of Holland, originated in Istanbul and were sent from Istanbul to the Netherlands in the 1600s.
Buenos Aires was founded twice. In 1536 Spanish conquistador, soldier and explorer Pedro de Mendoza built a fort overlooking the Rio de La Plata. They were forced to flee because relations between the Spaniards and locals soured. In 1580 Spanish conquistador Captain Juan de Garay established a permanent settlement for the Spanish Empire.
The port in Buenos Aires is the country’s chief port and the largest in South America.
An estimated 85% of city residents are of European descent. This is the result of massive immigration from Italy, Germany, and Spain that took place from the late 19th century into the mid-20th century.
The Buenos Aires Underground, which opened in 1913, is the oldest subway system in Latin America. The network was originally built and operated by three separate private companies and was nationalised in 1939.
Buenos Aires is known as the birthplace of the tango, which evolved about 1880 in the lower-class districts of the city.
The Avenia 9 de Julio is the widest avenue in the world. It runs north to south through the city, and is 140 metres wide and 22 lanes, at its widest.
One of the most visited attractions in Buenos Aires is the Recoleta Cemetery. Founded in 1822, it was built like a city with tree lined avenues over 5.5 hectares and includes 5,000 different mausoleums. It has been declared among the most beautiful cemeteries in the world by the BBC and CNN.
Buenos Aires has the most bookstores per capita than any other city in the world with more than 700 bookstores or approximately 25 bookstores for every 100,000 inhabitants.
Almost 60% of households in Buenos Aires own at least one pet. This has contributed to the problem of stray dogs, with an estimated six million dogs roaming the streets.
Argentina declared its independence from Spain on July 9, 1816.
Argentina Puerto Madryn
Puerto Madryn was founded on July 28, 1865, when Welsh immigrants arrived from Liverpool after a two-month journey aboard the converted tea clipper Mimosa. Their intention was to create a new colony where they could preserve their culture, language, and Protestant nonconformist religion, free from English influence.
The city of Puerto Madryn offers over 3 kilometres of beaches.
Madryn is less than 50 kilometres from the Peninsula de Valdés, one of the most important nature reserves in the Southern Hemisphere. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to an important breeding population of the endangered southern right whale, as well as important breeding populations of southern elephant seals and southern sea lions.
Between May and December each year, the Southern Right Whales migrate to the coast of Puerto Madryn.
Argentine prisoners of war that were captured in the Falklands Islands during the 1982 war were repatriated to the port of Puerto Madryn in June 1982.
The Selk’nam Indians, known as the Yaghan, settled the Ushuaia area about 10,000 years ago. The British missionary Waite Hockin Stirling became the first European to live in Ushuaia when he stayed with the Yámana people between January and September 1869.
It was officially established as a penal colony by the Argentine government in 1883. Prisoners were responsible for building the prison as well as much of the original infrastructure of the city.
Ushuaia is the southernmost city in Argentina and claims the title of world's southernmost city. It is often nicknamed the “City at the End of the World”.
Ushuaia is located approximately 1,100 kilometres from the coast of Antarctica and it is the world’s main portal to Antarctica. While there are other ways to get there, crossing the Drake Passage from Ushuaia to the Antarctic Peninsula is widely considered the easiest way to go.
The city of Ushuaia is on the island of Tierra del Fuego, which is divided between Chile and Argentina. To reach the city by land, you must cross into Chile and take a ferry across to the island.
In 1946 the Argentine government allowed the introduction of 25 pairs of breeding beavers from Canada into Tierra del Fuego with the intention of creating a commercial fur trading industry. With no natural predators the population exploded, and today there are an estimated quarter of a million beavers causing devastating destruction to indigenous forests.
Ice hockey is a popular sport in Ushuaia because of the low temperatures year-round. In 2010 the city opened an outdoor short track and ice hockey Olympic-size ice rink, the first of its kind in South America.
The city of Belém was founded by the Portuguese in 1616 and was the first European colony on the Amazon. It did not become part of Brazil until 1775.
Belém, known as the gateway to the Amazon River, lies approximately 100 kilometres upriver from the Atlantic Ocean, on the Pará River, part of the greater Amazon River system.
Belém (which means ‘Bethlehem’ in Portuguese) became an important port due to the flourishing spice-trade in the 18th century and the rubber boom in the 19th century. Today, as the gateway to the Amazon, it is still the most important port city of northern Brazil.
Belém is also known as the City of Mango Trees (Cidade das Mangueiras) because of the abundance of Mango trees found in the city.
The Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, was founded in 1866 to research the diversity of the Amazon Basin. However, the increasingly rich and diverse collection of botanical and zoological specimens led to it also becoming a museum.
Due to the warmth and humidity, it rains almost every day in Belém.
Brazil declared independence from Portugal on September 7, 1822, which led to a two-year war of independence. Formal recognition came with a treaty signed by both Brazil and Portugal in late 1825.
Brazil Porto Alegre
Porto Alegre was founded in 1772 when 60 couples were brought over from Azores, Portugal by the Treaty of Madrid. Much of the population is of European descent.
The city lies on the eastern bank of the Guaíba Lake, where five rivers converge to form the Lagoa dos Patos (Lagoon of the Ducks), a giant freshwater lagoon. The lagoon is Brazil's largest with a total area of approximately 10,000 km2 and is navigable by the largest ships.
In 1833 the President of the province donated land in the center of Porto Alegre for the Theatro São Pedro. The work was suspended with the beginning of the Farroupilha Revolution in 1835. This neoclassical style theater was finally opened on June 27, 1858 and is still in use today.
In 1864 a horse-powered tramway was started between the Menino Deus district and the waterfront. This was only the second of its kind in the country at the time.
The Porto Alegre Public Market, the oldest public market in the city, was established in 1869.
Farroupilha Park (Parque da Redenção) is a major urban park in the city of Porto Alegre. This 40 hectares park was founded on September 19, 1935 and was designed by French architect Alfred Agache.
Porto Alegre was one of the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Recife was founded in 1537 during the early Portuguese colonization of Brazil. It was incorporated as a city in 1823.
Recife means “reefs” in Portuguese and is reference to the plentiful natural reefs along its coast.
Recife Antigo (Old Recife) located on the Island of Recife, near the Recife harbor. is the site of the original city. Its cobblestone streets are lined with beautiful historic buildings in a variety of colors and architectural styles.
The city is often referred to as Brazil's Venice because of the many rivers, small islands and over 50 bridges found in Recife city centre.
Recife Beach is one of the most fatal places for shark attacks in the world. Over 55 attacks have been recorded in the last 20 years, almost half of which were fatal.
Casa da Cultura, a crafts and arts center, is one of the most interesting buildings in Recife. The cross-shaped building was formerly the Pernambuco State Prison, built between 1850 and 1867. In 1976, after the closing of the prison, major renovations took place, and the former cells were converted into small shops.
Recife was one of the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Brazil Rio de Janeiro
The area of Rio de Janeiro was said to have been inhabited by the indigenous tribe known as Tupinambás some 2000-3000 years before the Portuguese founded the city in 1565.
When the Portuguese first came to Rio de Janeiro in January 1502, they thought the Guanabara Bay was a river mouth, hence the name Rio de Janeiro which means River of January, in English.
In 1763 Rio de Janeiro became the capital of the State of Brazil and remained the capital until 1960 when the capital was transferred to Brasília.
The statue of Christ the Redeemer is located at the peak of the 700-metre Corcovado mountain overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro. It was elected one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Completed in 1931, the Christ is 30-metres-tall with a 28-metre-wide arm span and is the largest art deco statue in the world.
Floresta da Tijuca, one of the worlds largest man-made urban forests, is located within the city limits of Rio de Janeiro. Before reforestation, this 33 km2 conservation area was home to coffee farms.
Sugarloaf Mountain juts out of the Atlantic Ocean at the at the mouth of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro. A cableway, opened in 1912, connects the city with the 396-metre peak of the mountain. In 1979 it was featured in an action scene for the James Bond film Moonraker.
Rio Carnival, held every year before Lent, is considered the biggest carnival in the world, and attracts more than 3 million tourists every year. The first Carnival festival in Rio took place in 1723.
There are more than 1,000 shanty towns (Favella) in Rio, and they are home to almost 25% of the city’s population.
In 1994 Rod Stewart played to an estimated 3.5 million people on Rio’s Copacabana Beach. In 2006, the Rolling Stones played for 1.5 million people at the same location.
Rio de Janeiro was one of the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Rio de Janeiro was the host of the Summer Olympics and the Summer Paralympics in 2016 and the first South American city to ever hold the games.
Salvador was established in 1549 by Portuguese settlers as the fortress of São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos ("Holy Savior of the Bay of All Saints"). It is considered one of the oldest cities founded by Europeans in the Americas.
Salvador was Brazil’s first capital from 1549 until 1763, when Rio de Janeiro succeeded it.
Salvador is the third largest city in Brazil, with an area of 709 km2, sprawling inland from the coast.
The Historic Centre of Salvador de Bahia was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.
A 100-metre cliff runs along the entire bay shore, dividing the city into Cidade Alta, up on the cliff, and the Cidade Baixa down by the bay. The Elevador Lacerda, originally built in the late 19th century, links the lower city (Cidade Baixa) to the upper city (Cidade Alta). It has two towers and measures 72 metres in height.
Salvador is known as the most African city outside Africa and is the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture. Its roots can be traced back to the slave trade when the Portuguese colonists required workers for sugarcane plantations in northeastern Brazil.
The Salvador coastline is one of the longest for cities in Brazil. There are 80 kilometres of beaches distributed between the High City and the Low City.
Salvador was one of the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Chile Cape Horn
Cape Horn was discovered in 1616 by the Dutchman Willem Schouten, who named it Kaap Hoorn after the city of Hoorn in the Netherlands.
Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos) is located on the Hornos Island (Isla Hornos) at the southern tip of South America. It is considered the continent's southernmost inhabited island.
Cape Horn lies within Chilean territorial waters, and the Chilean Navy maintains a station on Hornos Island.
Hornos Island is part of the Cabo de Hornos National Park which was a designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005. The park includes Wollaston Archipelago and Hermite Islands.
The waters around Cape Horn are the most dangerous in the world. They are particularly hazardous for ship passage because this is where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet. The stormy conditions include gale force winds and waves as high as ten-story buildings. Today most cargo and cruise ships use the Panama Canal to cross between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The Cape Horn Monument was erected in 1992 and features an albatross in flight. It is a memorial to the seamen from every nation who died in the treacherous seas of Cape Horn. Although built to withstand the extreme high winds in this area, the sculpture was blown over in December 2014.
Several prominent ocean yacht races, such as the Volvo Ocean Race, the Velux 5 Oceans Race, and the Vendée Globe, sail around the world via the Horn.
Chile gained its independence from Spain on September 18, 1810.
Chile La Serina (Coquimbo Region)
La Serina was founded in 1544 by Pedro de Valdivia, a Spanish conquistador and the first royal governor of Chile, to provide a sea link between Santiago and Lima, Peru.
Originally named Villanueva de La Serena, King Carlos of Spain conferred the title of city La Serena by royal decree dated May 4, 1552.
La Serina is the capital of the Coquimbo Region, and is the second oldest city in Chile.
The Coquimbo Region runs along the narrowest part of Chile. The Andes mountain range runs closer to the sea in this region than anywhere else in Chile.
The city was almost destroyed by the Valparaíso earthquake which occurred on July 8, 1730. It had an estimated magnitude of 9.1–9.3 and triggered a major tsunami.
Chile is one of the best places on Earth for stargazing and some of the world’s leading observatories are located here. The Cerro Mayu Observatory is located 25 kilometres from La Serena and is noted for its unique design, inspired by indigenous cultures of Chile. The Mamalluca Observatory was established in 1994 and was the first astronomical observatory in Chile entirely dedicated to tourists.
La Serena is home to 29 churches, a disproportionately large number for a city of its size. One notable church is La Serena’s oldest church, the Iglesia San Francisco, built in the early 1600s.
Chile Puerto Montt
Puerto Montt was founded as late as 1853 during the German colonization of southern Chile.
The City was named after Manuel Montt, the President of Chile (1851-1861). President Montt was responsible for setting the German immigration in motion.
The style of architecture in Puerto Montt and surrounding area is unique because nearly all the buildings are made from wood. This is due in part because of its physical isolation from the rest of Chile, and access to different materials.
Much of Puerto Montt was destroyed by the devastating Valdivia earthquake which took place on May 22, 1960. Said to be the most powerful earthquake ever recorded, this magnitude 9.4–9.6 earthquake lasted for approximately 10 minutes.
Alerce Andino National Park has two entrances to the east of Puerto Montt. Opened in the early 1980s, the park covers almost 40,000 hectares of dense forest and was created to protect the endangered Alerce tree, also known as the Patagonian Cypress and is of the same conifer family as the redwoods. The site’s oldest recorded tree is a 2,600-year-old, 60-metre-high alerce.
Chile is the world's second-largest producer of salmon and Puerto Montt has one of the largest salmon aquaculture industries in the world.
In late 1975, a human settlement now known as Monteverde, was discovered 35 kilometres south of Puerto Montt. Thought to date back 14,600 years, the discovery changed the way archaeologists think about the earliest inhabitants of the Americas and continues to attract the interest of archaeologists and scientists from around the world.
The Chilean Navy has an important naval base in Puerto Montt.
Chile Punta Arenas
Punta Arenas is located north of the Strait of Magellan, one of the few natural passages between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Two early Spanish settlements on the Straits of Magellan in the late 1500s were unsuccessful. Punta Arenas was established by the Chilean government in 1848 as a small penal colony to assert sovereignty over the Strait.
Punta Arenas means “Sandy Point” in English. The city was officially renamed as Magallanes in 1927, but in 1938 it was changed back to Punta Arenas.
The Harbor of Punta Arenas was considered one of the most important in Chile prior to the construction of the
The Nao Victoria Museum exhibits a full-size replica of the Nao Victoria, the ship that was used by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan when he led the first expedition to circumnavigate the world (1519-1522).
Chilean Patagonia’s most important Magellanic penguin colony, located on the Isla Magdalena, is a mere two-hour boat journey from Punta Arenas. This tiny island in the middle of the Strait of Magellan was declared a national monument (Monumento Natural Los Pingüinos) in 1982.
Punta Arenas is often a departure point for Antarctic expeditions.
Today tourism contributes to the city’s economy and sustainable growth. Cruise ships and scientific expeditions to Antarctica depart from the port, which also serves as a hub for cruise lines that travel through the channels and fjords.
Chile San Antonio
There is evidence of nomadic hunters and gatherers extending back about 13,000 years in this Chilean Territory.
San Antonio gained importance as Chile’s main port when the docks and warehouses of Valparaíso were destroyed by a Spanish bombardment during the Chilean-Spanish War in 1865.
Some cruise lines use San Antonio as port for passengers to access Santiago, which is just 140 kilometres away.
The city was 80% destroyed by the Algarrobo earthquake on March 3, 1985. This magnitude 8 earthquake shook a 1,300 kilometre stretch of Chile, causing heavy damage to coastal towns.
Nearby Leyda Valley, traditionally associated with growing wheat and barley, has gained a reputation for its high-quality winegrowing. The only thing lacking was an abundant source of water for irrigation which was addressed by the construction of an 8-kilometre pipeline to channel water from the Maipo River.
Chile Valpariso (Santiago)
Spanish explorers arrived in the area of Valpariso in 1536.
In the second half of the 19th century Valparaíso served as a major stopover for ships using the Straits of Magellan to cross between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
The historic quarter of Valparaíso was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.
Valparaiso’s Naval Command Building, built in August 1906 after a massive earthquake, takes up an entire block along Plaza Sotomayor.
Valparaíso is located about 120 kilometres northwest of Chile’s Capital, Santiago.
Santiago was founded by Spanish conqueror Pedro Valdivia on February 12th, 1541.
The Andes Mountains can be seen from almost anywhere in the city of Santiago.
Guayaquil was founded in 1538 by Spanish conqueror Francisco de Orellana. This port town is one of the oldest cities in Ecuador.
Guayaquil is the largest commercial and international port in Ecuador. It is also the most populated city in the country.
Guayaquil is known as the “Gateway to the Galapagos Islands”.
The Malecón 2000 (Malecón dos mil) is a 2.5-kilometre riverfront promenade named for the year it was opened. What was once a dilapidated riverfront only a few decades ago is now advertised as one of the most successful revitalization projects in South America.
Ecuador gained its independence from Spain on May 24, 1822.
England Port Stanley (Falkland Islands)
The Falklands are a compact group of 740 islands with a landmass of approximately 12,000 km2, located 650 kilometres off the south-east coast of South America.
Port Stanley, on the island of East Falkland, is the capital and the largest town on the Falkland Islands.
The population of the Falkland Islands is approximately 3,500, with 60% residing in Port Stanley.
In the 19th century Stanley was one of the world’s busiest ports because of the damage sustained by ships going around the Cape Horn (the southern tip of South America). However, this ended when the Panama Canal opened in 1914.
The Falklands are democratic and self-governing, except for matters of defence and foreign affairs, and are a British Overseas Territory by choice.
A memorial that stands in Stanley to commemorate the Battle of the Falklands between British and German Naval forces, which took place on December 8, 1914. Historians have referred to it as the most decisive naval battle of WWI because of the surge of confidence it gave to the Allies.
On April 2, 1982, an Argentine military force invaded the Falkland Islands. On June 14, 1982, after 74 days of occupation, British forces liberated the Falkland Islands. Nearly 1,000 Falkland Island, British and Argentine lives were lost because of the war.
As in Britain, you drive on the left, there are red telephone boxes in Stanley, and the currency is the Falkland Islands pound, which is fixed at a rate of one British pound Sterling.
The harbour and surrounding waters contain more 19th century shipwrecks than anywhere else in the world, some twenty of which are visible from the town at low tide.
Georgetown is the capital and largest city of Guyana. It is situated at the mouth of the Demerara River on the Atlantic Ocean coast.
Founded as a small Dutch settlement in the 18th century, Georgetown changed hands between the British, Dutch, and French many times. The city got its current name after the British King George III in 1812.
Georgetown is one metre below sea level and protected by a 450-kilometre seawall that runs along most Guyana's coastline because it is below sea level at high tide. The city and its surroundings also have a notable network of canals.
Georgetown was nicknamed ”Garden City of the Caribbean”. Guyana maintains strong historical, cultural, and political ties with nearby Caribbean islands.
Unlike its Spanish-speaking neighbors, Guyana is the only South American nation where English is the official language.
The Georgetown Lighthouse is a famous landmark with its distinct vertical red and white stripes. The wooden structure was first built by the Dutch in 1817 and replaced by a 31-metre-high octagonal brick structure, constructed by the British in 1830.
Guyana (formerly known as British Guiana) achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1966 and became a republic in 1970.
Guyana New Amsterdam
New Amsterdam is Guyana’s oldest municipality. Built in 1740 by the Dutch and first named Fort Sint Andries, it was made the seat of the Dutch colonial government in 1790. Although Guyana changed hands several times between the Dutch, French and British, it was officially declared a British colony in 1831.
The original New Amsterdam was situated about 90 kilometres up the Berbice River on the right bank. In 1784 the Dutch relocated the town to its present site on the eastern bank of the Berbice River approximately 6 kilometres upriver from where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean.
The name New Amsterdam was chosen because most of the colonists originated from the province of Amsterdam in Holland.
The town has many old colonial buildings dating back to the time of Dutch colonisation. One such building is the Mission Chapel which was built in 1824. The Chapel was designated National Heritage Site in 2001.
Peru Callao (Lima)
Callao is a seaside city on the Pacific Ocean and Peru's chief seaport. Today Callao forms part of the wider Lima Metropolitan Area and is about 12 kilometres from downtown Lima.
The historic port city of Callao was founded in 1537 by the Spanish.
The Lima–Callao earthquake (magnitude 8.6), which took place on October 28, 1746, caused a tsunami that completely destroyed the port of Callao.
The Real Felipe Fortress was built in response to pirate attacks during the colonial era. Construction of the fortress began in January 1747 and the fortress played a key role in defending the bay. Today, the Peruvian Army Museum, is housed in the fortress. The Museum houses a modern full-size submarine (decommissioned in 2000) available for touring.
The Callao Cathedral was completed in 1893 and remodeled after an earthquake in 1970. This neoclassical style building is one of the oldest buildings in the port is also known as the Church of Saint Simon and Saint Judas of Callao.
More than 600 murals by local and international artists can be seen along a walk through historic Callao City Centre.
Peru declared independence from Spain on July 28, 1821.
Trujillo is the second oldest Spanish city in Peru and was once the capital of both the Moche and Chimu civilizations.
The Moche civilization, which existed from about 100 AD to 800 AD, dominated the coast of northern Peru and the area where the City of Trujillo now stands. Although partially damaged by time and Spanish conquistadors, the ruins of their adobe brick structures, such as the Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun) and the Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon), are still intact.
The Chimú culture rose about 900 AD, after the fall of the Moche civilization. They remained a powerful regional force before falling to the Inca Empire in approximately 1470, not long before the arrival of the Spanish.
Chan Chan, the capital of the Chimu Kingdom, was the largest adobe city in the ancient world. Its ruins were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986.
The Spanish conquistador Diego de Almagro founded the settlement of Trujillo de Nueva Castilla on December 6, 1534, becoming one of the first conquistador settlements in South America.
The Wall of Trujillo was built between 1687 and 1690 to protect Trujillo city against attacks from pirates and privateers. It surrounded the current historic centre of the city and some sections of the wall can still be seen today.
On February 14, 1619, an earthquake (magnitude 8.5) in the Trujillo Region caused the complete destruction of the city of Trujillo and surrounding villages.
Trujillo’s Independence from Spain was proclaimed on December 29, 1820.
Indigenous people are estimated to have inhabited the region dating back to 3000 BC. The city is named for the Paramaribo tribe living at the mouth of the Suriname River.
Paramaribo is the capital city, and main port, of Suriname. It is situated on the left bank of the Suriname River, approximately 15 kilometres inland from the Atlantic Ocean.
Paramaribo, a former Dutch colonial town during the 17th and 18th centuries, is also known as “the Wooden City”. The historical buildings and tree-lined avenues of the inner city echo successive Dutch, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese rule and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2002.
Paramaribo has a population of approximately 224,000 people (2020), which is over half the population of the entire country.
Formerly known as Dutch Guiana, Suriname was a plantation colony of the Netherlands between 1667 and 1954. In 1954 Suriname became one of the constituent countries of the Netherlands until November 25, 1975, when it gained its independence.
Suriname is South America’s smallest independent country in terms of population and geographic size.
Suriname is the only Nation outside Europe where Dutch is the language of the majority.
Suriname is one of two South American countries with left-side driving.
Montevideo is located just across the Río de la Plata from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Montevideo is the capital and largest city of Uruguay.
Montevideo was founded in 1726 by the governor of Buenos Aires. During its early years, it was mainly a Spanish garrison town. The British occupied the city briefly in 1807 but it was recaptured by the Spanish in the same year.
The Rambla of Montevideo is an avenue that runs along the Río de la Plata and continues down the entire coast of Montevideo. With over 22.2 kilometres of uninterrupted sidewalk, the promenade is referred to as the longest continuous sidewalk in the world.
The Solís Theatre is in Montevideo's Old Town. Construction of the building began in 1842 but was interrupted in 1843 by the Siege of Montevideo. Although the building was not complete, the theatre opened in 1856. The Theatre remains one of South America’s leading destinations for the performing arts.
The Ciudadela Gateway is one of the few remaining sections of the wall that once surrounded the oldest part of the city. The Gateway now serves as the entrance to Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo's oldest neighborhood.
Parque Centenario, Montevideo’s historic soccer stadium, was built to host the inaugural FIFA World Cup in 1930 (Uruguay defeated Argentina for the title).
Almost 40% of Uruguay’s population live in Montevideo (2020).
Uruguay became independent of Spain in 1811 and was annexed by Brazil. Uruguay declared independence from Brazil on August 25, 1825.
Uruguay Punta del Este
Although the Spanish first set foot in what is now Punta del Este at the beginning of the 16th century, the colonization of the area did not begin until the end of the 18th century.
Punta del Este lies on a peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean east of Montevideo, the national capital.
Tourism is the city’s main industry.
Punta del Este is sometimes referred to as the “Monaco of the South” because it attracts wealthy Argentinians and Uruguayans.
“La Mano.” is a giant plastic sculpture of a hand rising out of the sand, located at Brava Beach. It was designed and constructed by Chilean artist Mario Irrazábal, a participant in the 1st International Meeting of Modern Sculpture in the Open Air in the summer of 1982.
During the summer Punta del Este hosts annual fashion shows which feature prominent Latin American designers. The city is also home to numerous high-end boutiques that feature designer brands from South America and the world.
Although Uruguay legalized marijuana in 2007, foreigners cannot legally purchase marijuana.
According to archaeological findings, the western area of South America which later became Venezuela, was inhabited 15,000 years ago.
In 1562 Francisco Fajardo, a Spanish colonel, attempted to establish a plantation in the Caracas area but was expelled by the indigenous locals. However, Spanish captain Diego de Losada defeated the Mariche chief in 1567 and laid the foundation of Caracas.
Caracas is the capital and largest city of Venezuela. The official name of the city is Santiago de León de Caracas.
The total area of the city covers 433 km2 and is contained entirely within a valley of the Venezuelan costal range, a northeastern extension of the Andes.
The city of Caracas suffered three major earthquakes, in 1755, 1812 and 1967 respectively, which resulted in much of the city being rebuilt.
The Teleférico de Caracas gondola lift stretches from the northern edge of the city to the top of El Avila mountain (elevation 2,100 metres). The 3.4-kilometre lift was put into service in April 1956 and remained open until the end of the 1970s, when it was closed due to the deterioration of its facilities. It reopened in 2000 when the government gave the concession to a private company.
The main campus of the Central University of Venezuela was designed by architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva and constructed during the 1950s. It is a masterwork of modern architecture and art and was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000.
Venezuela achieved independence in 1821 after its war of independence with Spain. It became part of the Republic of Gran Colombia, along with Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador, until 1830 when Venezuela separated and became a sovereign state.
The actual date Maracaibo was founded is in dispute. After two failed attempts in 1529 and 1569, Spanish Captain Pedro Maldonado established the village in 1574 and named it Nueva Zamora de Maracaibo to honour Governor Mazariego's place of birth, Zamora in Spain.
It is the second-largest city in Venezuela, after the national capital of Caracas.
The port of Maracaibo is positioned on the west side of the narrow strait that links the Gulf of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea with Lake Maracaibo, considered to be one of the oldest lakes on Earth.
The General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge, which opened on August 24, 1962, joined Maracaibo with the rest of the country and prompted the rapid expansion of the city, This cable-stayed bridge, made of reinforced and prestressed concrete, spans 8.7 kilometres from shore to shore.
The city was a small coffee port until 1917, when petroleum was discovered on the east shore of Lake Maracaibo. Within a decade it became the oil metropolis of Venezuela and South America.
Lake Maracaibo is the world's top lightning hotspot where nightly thunderstorms occur an average of 297 days a year.