La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

English: West side of the Sagrada Familia, Bar...
English: West side of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain Français : Côté ouest de la Sagrada Familia, Barcelone, Espagne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sagrada Família, Barcelona
Sagrada Família, Barcelona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

View of the Passion Façade (Western side) in September 2009

Construction started:1882   Height170 m   OpenedNovember 7, 2010  The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, commonly known as the Sagrada Família, is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. WikipediaAlthough incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 was consecrated and proclaimed a minor basilica by Pope Benedict VI.

It certainly has taken a long time to see it finally opened for public viewing & appreciation. We first laid eyes upon this spectacular structure during our Whitsun Holidays in 1960, when we visited France, Spain & Portugal. This was one sight not to be missed in Barcelona that was a MUST-SEE in our itinerary. Of course, we didn’t get to see the inside!

The building is still under construction so be prepared to see a lot of work continuing when you visit. The interior proves to be more interesting than its unusual exterior.The Sagrada Familia it is a truly magnificent building and an absolute must-see when you visit Barcelona.


Though construction of Sagrada Família had commenced in 1882, Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style—combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms.

Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada Família’s construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War—only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026—the centennial of Gaudí’s death

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Describing Sagrada Familia, art critic Rainer Zerbst said “it is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art” and Paul Goldberger called it ‘the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages’.

The basílica has a long history of dividing the citizens of Barcelona—over the initial possibility it might compete with Barcelona’s cathedral, over Gaudí’s design itself, over the possibility that work after Gaudí’s death disregarded his design, and the recent possibility that an underground tunnel of Spain’s high-speed train could disturb its stability.

Antoni Gaudi

Beijing, Paris, London & New York

The Cities above are so placed in an alphabetical order

and not by any means on an arguably competitive basis


In hindsight, having travelled to Beijing, Paris, London & New York, the four major metropolitan cities in the world, I just can’t begin to take stock as to which city I like best. I guess each one has its own unique attractions to offer and likely too because of differing love & interests, each individual will have have a different opinion.

I asked my wife for her choice of the appealing attractions of each place and she indicated the following:


Forbidden City

The magnificent Forbidden City is the largest & the best-preserved imperial palace complex in the world. It has 9,999 rooms during the flourishing period, just one room short of the number that ancient Chinese belief represents ‘Divine Perfection.’ It is surrounded by a moat six metres deep & a ten-feet high wall. For five centuries, this palace functioned as the administrative centre of the country.

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is one of the ‘Eight Wonders of the World’ and is enlisted in the World Heritage Directory. This immense wall was built to keep out invaders as well as to retain the inhabitants. It spans five provinces from Shanhaiguan Pass in the east to Jiayuguan Pass in the west, looking like a gigantic dragon across deserts, grasslands and mountains. In the downtown area of Beijing, it is possible to climb Badaling Great Wall.

Tiananmen Square

The solemn and respectful Tiananmen Square is the largest central city square in the world, which serves not only Beijing’s symbol but also the whole of China. This immense courtyard is surrounded by a variety of significant edifices such as the Tiananmen Tower, Great Hall of the People, Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, Monument to the People’s Heroes and National Museum of China.



Eiffel Tower

Probably the best known landmark in Europe, the Eiffel Tower is the symbol of Paris and one of the city’s must-see attractions. You can climb up the stairs or take the elevator after waiting in the (long) queue.

Louvre Museum

One of the not-to-miss sights in Paris is the Louvre Museum, possibly the most famous museum in the world with a fabulous collection. It is housed in the Louvre Palace, once home to France’s Royal Family.

Notre Dame Cathedral

The Notre Dame de Paris is one of the first Gothic Cathedrals ever built.

Construction started in 1163 and lasted for almost two decades. From the lookout at the north tower you have a great view over the city.


Big Ben

The Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster, known as the Big Ben, is one of London’s most famous landmarks. At the time the tower was built in 1858 its clock was the largest in the world.

Tower Bridge

London’s Tower Bridge is one of the most recognizable bridges in the world. Despite being disliked by many when it was built in 1894 the bridge soon became one of the London’s most famous landmarks.

Piccadilly Square

Piccadilly Circus is a busy square in the heart of London. It is famous for the fountain that was installed here at the end of the 19th century and for the neon advertising that turned the square into a miniature version of Times Square or Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

New York

Empire State Building

Tired of staring up at New York City skyscrapers? Check out the view of New York City from atop the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building is a classic New York City attraction, and offers visitors wonderful views of New York City and the surrounding area.

Statue of Liberty   The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States in honor of the friendship established during the French Revolution. The Statue of Liberty has become an American symbol of freedom and welcome to the immigrants who come to the USA looking for a better life. While the interior of the Statue of Liberty is closed for improvements, you can still visit Liberty Island and nearby Ellis Island.

Grand Central Terminal   Renovations since its opening in 1913 have turned Grand Central into more than just a hub for transportation — there are shops, dining and more available to visitors. Grand Central is both an essential transit hub and a beautiful example of Beaux-Arts architecture.

Pingyao (平遥) – Ancient World Heritage City

Some like it young

Some like it old

Others like the new & modern

And still others like the classic & ancient.

To each one of us preference is personal

For each selected choice appreciation is eternal.


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Pingyao, an ancient city dating back 2700 years, was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage site list in 1997. It is one of the 4 most well preserved ancient city / town in China. The others being LiJiang 丽江in Yunnan, Yangshuo 阳朔in Guangxi and Weizhou 微洲in Anhui. Pingyao boast a most complete and well maintained city wall.

In its hey days during the Qing Dynasty of the 1800s, this was also known as the “Wall Street” of China. Banking has its roots here in Pingyao. In fact, Pingyao spawned the famous term “汇通天下literally meaning….Remittance across all borders. Yes, what we are now familiar with of Bank Drafts, Electronic TT and in this cyberspace age of “Internet Banking” to a great extent has its roots in Pingyao…..

The city walls and gates of Pingyao are laid out in the shape of a turtle, the traditional Chinese symbol for longevity, though you’re more able to see the similarly shaped battlements as you explore the ancient banking capital’s interior and old town. Full of temples, traditional architecture and watchtowers, you’ll be enthralled with the town’s medieval history and feel. If you’re as keen as Pingyao’s founders on living a long time, perhaps you can benefit from Chinese tradition; find a store or dispensary that sells herbs and extracts for health and long life. Such shops in Pingyao, like elsewhere in China, are stuffed with extracts of ginseng, ma huang, gingko biloba and all manner of other natural products claiming to benefit longevity and virility. Or perhaps have a local meal chock-a-block with garlic – another magic ingredient with medicinal benefits. (Gecko’s)

Increases in tourism have put pressure on the ancient walled city of Pingyao. During the tourist high-season, the amount of visitors to the city can reach up to 3 times its maximum capacity per day.

Since 2007, non-profit organizationGlobal Heritage Fund (GHF) has been working with the Pingyao County Government to protect the city against various problems such as mass tourism and uncontrolled development. GHF’s stated goal for the project is to better preserve the cultural heritage of Pingyao ancient city in more comprehensive and systematic approaches as part of an integrated planning, conservation and development program. The Pingyao Cultural Heritage Development Program aims to preserve the vernacular architecture, revitalize and stimulate the traditional arts and establish special historic areas. (Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay – A UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ha Long Bay, one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, features thousands of limestonekarsts and isles in various shapes and sizes. It’s the centre of a larger zone which includes Bái Tử Long Bay to the northeast, and Cát Bà Islands to the southwest. These larger zones share similar geological, geographical, geomorphological, climate, and cultural characters.

Ha Long Bay has an area of around 1,550 km2, including 1,960–2,000 islets, most of which are limestone. The core of the bay has an area of 334 km2 with a high density of 775 islets.The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate. (Wikipedia)

Halong City, a reformed coal-mining town, is gateway to one of the most majestic sites in Vietnam. Capital of its province, it now capitalises its greater profits by promoting tourism. Its nearby Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is attracting tourists both domestically & internationally.

 Halong Bay is the kind of rare site that inspires fairy tales and landscape paintings. It centres on a field of limestone karst towers jutting out the bay and soaring high over green waters. These rock formations take a number of odd, often surreal shapes. The name itself means ‘descending dragon’, and looking out over the myriad rock shapes, its easy to imaging the undulating tail of a dragon snaking its way through the water. “

Source: Wikipedia Pictures

A first visit to Halong Bay, with craggy, forested spires and perpetual mists, requires a few moments’ processing. After that initial gaze, visitors descend for all kinds of activities. Weaving through the pillars by kayak or rappelling off a limestone precipice are especially popular pursuits. Old Chinese junks launch sightseeing cruises from the pier.

The best hotels near Halong are on Cat Ba Island – an enviable place to spend a night or two. It’s an oasis of jungle in the midst of the bay, home to sandy beaches, lakes, Buddhist grottoes, waterfalls and five-star resorts.