Monuments and Landmarks in Europe
Belém, or more precisely Santa Maria de Belém, is a monument-packed neighbourhood that oozes history. It's here you find the grandiose Jerniómos Monastery, which holds the tomb of the ancient explorer Vasco de Gama, who discovered the seaway from Europe to India. Across the marina, stands another famous Lisbon landmark, the Tower of Belém. It was built to protect Lisbon from pirates and was located in the river a bit off shore, but the devastating earthquake in 1755 redirected the river, so the tower suddenly was standing on the shore. Both the Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Other points of interest in Belém are a handful of museums and parks, the nice promenade and the ridiculously popular pastry shop, Pastéis de Belém, where people queue up to buy... hold your breath, egg tarts!
It's no secret that San Marino's old town is cute. It's an UNESCO World Heritage Site and receives more than 2 million visitors every year, mostly Italians. However, the narrow and winding lanes are lined with shops selling anything from the usual range of souvenirs to leather jackets and samurai swords. But the historic center, particularly the fine towers of Guaita and Cesta and the 360 degrees panoramic views are totally worth all the kitsch and neverending hordes of tourists. For a break from the mass, take a small hike along the mountain ridge between the towers.
You might never have heard of William Wallace, but what about Braveheart? Though the Mel Gibson featured Hollywood movie about the Scottish freedom fighter is not historical correct, the storyline is fairly accurate. Scotland was oppressed under harsh English ruling, but in 1297 a united Scottish army under the leadership of William Wallance beat the crap out the English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. After a devasting defeat at Falkirk, William Wallance was turned over to the English by a traitor in 1305. He was tried and then punished. He was dragged in his heels by a horse, then strangled but not to death, castrated, had his stomach cut open and his bowels burnt while still alive, before he was finally beheaded. His head was placed on top of London Bridge and his body was cut into four pieces and displayed, separately, in four corners of the English kingdom. Afterwards he became a martyr and symbol of Scotland fight for independence. A bit outside Stirling stands the National Wallace Monument (well, it's more like a castle). The views over the Scottish lowland are particular splendid and includes a few famous battlegrounds between the English and the Scots.
© Fingal Ross
Glastonbury definitely has a vast interest in magic and faeries. It is believed that the Tor (defined as a hill in Celtic tradition) is home to the King of the Faeries and the Fay folk, you will notice by the amount of people waving their crystals around that it is also where the earth's leylines converge. Many think it gives you an uplifting effect; you go up the hill a cranky person and come down a happy one. The Tor is associated with the Holy Grail, King Arthur and Joseph of Arimathea, it has seven terraces for which there are various theories on why this was, one of which was a labyrinth. It is a 20 minute walk from the middle of town to the top where St Michael's Tower is situated, and don't forget your jacket as once you pass the first initial hill, it can get very windy and cold. There are 360 views from the top and on the way back down you can peruse the jewellery made by a didgeridoo playing hill dweller.