Historical places in Europe
The architect Iktinos who designed the Parthenon did more than just that. On the Peloponnese peninsula, stands the by-him-designed temple of Apollo Epicurius, also called the temple of Bassae (Vasses). It is one of the best kept temples of its time and has some quite unique features. You can only walk around the temple but unfortunately not enter the central area. Inside used to be some nice friezes, which as so many ancient Greek art has been taken to London in the early 19th century.
For decades, this temple has been undergoing restoration works and in order to protect it from the elements it has been covered by a large tent, which prohibits a full-sized view. It looks like it will still be covered for quite a while. Many of the columns need to be entirely removed in order fix the fundaments of the temple.
The remote location of this temple still makes this World Heritage listed site also a great place to visit.
White Fort Grey is impressive as it's located on a small islet in Rocquaine Bay. It's only connected by a causeway at low tide. It stands on the site of an earlier small castle, but that was replaced with a gun battery in the early 19th century to protect Guernsey against possibly French attack. During WWII, the Nazis used Fort Grey as an anti-aircraft battery. After the fort was converted into a shipwreck museum, an arched gateway and steps was added, since previously the only way in was by climbing the walls with a ladder.
Throughout history Guernsey has held a strategic location. The French, Nazi Germany and the British have all fought over Guernsey (and the other Channel Islands). During WWII Guernsey was occupied by the Nazis, who built a network of fortified positions on the most strategic headlands, and Fort Hommet was one of them. The site has held a fortification since 1680, and along with Fort Grey and Fort Saumarez, it was an important part of Guernsey's defense against a possible French invasion in the early 19th century. Today the fort complex has a bit from all era.
Built in 1680 to protect Rocquaine Bay. During the early 19th century, when the threat of a French invasion was as its height, the fort was further strengthened. Though the Nazis used it as a machine gun position during WWII, they didn't add any concrete bunkers. Today three old cannons point into the bay. The road to the fort is closed for regular traffic, but open for walkers. It's a pretty 10 minutes walk from the bus station.
There is a so-called Fairy Ring (Table Des Pions) a bit further to the left. Though it seems like a mystical prehistoric monument, the correct explanation is a dugout picnic table from the 18th-19th century.
Fort Grey, Fort Hommet, and Fort Saumarez were all built as Martello towers (small defence forts) by the British to protect Guernsey against a possible French invasion in the early 19th century. All of them were further extended during WWII by the Nazis. In the case of Fort Saumarez, a four-storey concrete observation tower was added on top of the Martello tower.
Unfortunately, Fort Saumarez is privately owned and not accessible, but the views at the foot over Lihou Island (only accessible at low tide) and L'Eree Beach are splendid.
Grand Rocques is a beautiful sandy beach, which is a popular place to watch the sunset from. To defend the beach during WWII, the Nazis built a concrete bunker (no 21) at the north end. Today, the bunker offers great vantage point of the beach and the rocky coastline, and you can still explore some of the gun positions.
The coast of Guernsey are dotted with stone watchtowers. The British built originally 15 loophole towers in the late 18th century, but today only 12 towers remains. From each tower you can see to the next one and the next one. Tower no 5 has particularly great views over L'Ancresse Beach.
Þingvellir National Park is an UNESCO Heritage Site. It was here in 930 AD the world's first democratic parliament was established. Maybe contrary to many's belief, the Icelandic Vikings society was fairly advanced - at least when it came to democracy and justice. They had written laws which stated what has to be done to whom, when such and such crime was committed. At the annual assembly at Þingvellir, when people from all over Iceland would gather, these laws were recited at the Law Rock, maybe new were passed by the cheifmen, and disputes were settled. Every issue affecting Iceland were discussed on this site. Today, there are of course nothing left from the Viking age, besides the spectacular natural setting right at the rift valley created by the separation of the Northamerican and Euroasien tectonic plates, but that will also do.
The Grange Stone Circle measures 47.5 m in diameter, making it the largest stone circle in Ireland. It was constructed around 2000 BC during the Stone Age, and there are two smaller stone circles in the same area, along with some standing stones and a megalithic tomb. Not much is known about what the Grange Stone Circle was used for, but it's believed that harvest rituals were preformed at midsummer, when the rising sunbeams pass though the narrow stone passageway and focus right at the center of the circle. The stone circle lies right next to the road and there are no entrance fee, but a small donation is encouraged.
In the middle of cute Castletown lies the castle, which has given name to the town. It's considered one of the best preserved medieval castles in the world and is a true fairytale castle. It was original built in the 12th century, and became home to kings, and later lords, of Mann. It looks fairly simple from the outside, but the interior reveals a maze of narrow stairways and furnished chambers with dummies in costumes.