Pompei in Italy is maybe the best archeological site in the world, at least it is what some experts and tourist say. But who is going to visit Macedonia has surely to go to Stobi and there the traveler will find a great place where to see ancient finds quite well conserved.
Something has yet to be brought back to the light. But right now going around the city of Stobi it is possible to see many beautiful mosaics. The city was founded when the area was under Paeonia before to become the former capital of the Roman province of Macedonia Salutaris. The site of Stobi is located near the town of Gradsko.
What to see in Stobi
Inside the site, the best part is the Northern Basilica, realized with marble. There is a baptistry with mosaics created in the V century. The interesting elements discovered in the 50s show that between the North and the Civil Basilicas there were Thermae Minores, a small bath for people who wanted to take care of their bodies. From there the main street of the ancient town of Stobi takes visitors to the other main buildings. For those are visible the basements.
The religion is, of course, the main feature of the buildings visible in Stobi. There are, with access on the main street also the Central Basilica and the synagogue. The second one in the basement of the first one, built in the V century. Walking around, it is possible to take a guided tour for a cheap price, it is good to follow the way suggested. This allows you to explore properly the history of the place. In case the visitor prefers to go around alone there is a good map at the entrance.
There are many inscriptions to be seen on the stones, especially in the former arena. Among the many spectacular elements present in Stobi it has to be mentioned the House of the Palms. It has a big pool and a mosaic floor, beautiful as the fountain located in a small square in the central part of the town. The finds of the various construction can easily help the tourists to understand the dimension of the buildings and the location of the rooms.
I don’t want to go deep in the explanation of the parts of Stobi. There is a work in progress, so in next months and years it can appear something new, that’s why my short description should only inspire you. If you like archeology you should visit the place. Some discovery of the archeologist can be already showed there now while you read the post.
I highly recommend you, my dear readers, to go there because it is also a way to know the daily life of Romans in that area. I like archeology and maybe it is understandable by some of my posts. But I think the wonder in Stobi is for all. In the end, let me write that I am proud of this site because my country (Italy) sent money and experts in the years to recover the finds and create one of the most beautiful archeological sites of the area.
I just add some pictures taken during my recent trip.
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In the Republic of North Macedonia, there is a city full of history and archeology. In the past, it was very important for Balkans, especially during the Ottoman Empire. During Roman age, it was called Heraclea and a few kilometers out of the downtown you can see the finds of that period. I had the chance to be in Bitola, this its name, a few time and I want to share my experience suggesting you what to see. It is a very interesting destination, like the country.
Bitola is a lovely city with institutional imprinting. I wrote the title of this post thinking about history. Because the city was well known for the presence of more than 100 Consuls. It happened during the Ottoman Empire when in the place became the last capital of Ottoman Rumelia. This was from 1836 to 1867. It was the second European city of the empire after Thessaloniki.
Bitola, history, and attractions
This aspect is, of course, a small part of all the history of Bitola, started in the 4th century BC, with the name of Heraclea. So the “City of the Consuls” had a great past and now there are some prehistory objects and monuments to be admired. Despite some witnesses of the different periods, the city was built, destroyed and rebuilt many times.
Actually going around for the streets it is possible to see many buildings made with European style. There was a covered bazaar, but the fire destroyed it in the 19th century. There is one more new and it is interesting to go there and to visit the shops with a combination of modernity and tradition.
It has also to be mentioned the local park, big, peaceful and full of statues of the most famous people of the area. Mainly they are related to the culture and the art, as poets, writers, painters and so on. But I have to proceed with some order so I can explain better what I like the most and to suggest to you, my dear readers.
Let’s make a list: Shirok Sokak Street, Heraclea, the Clock Tower, and the local Museum. These are the main places that I visited and I liked, but I will write a few lines also about mosques and the most important churches in the city. In the end, there will be some notes about accommodations and restaurants.
The main street
When I arrived in Bitola I started a walk in front of the theatre. It is a modern building that host also the cultural center where are organized time to time expositions. From the small square, there is the entrance to the carsija, the old part of the town with the traditional shops. Here you can meet most of the local inhabitants. It is the center of Bitola’s life.
Going ahead on Shirok Sokak Street the visitor reaches the park. The pedestrian way is alive day and night. Because locals go to spend their free time, especially families with kids, during the day. In the night young people go to the discotheque located in the park.
Starting the exploration of this beautiful area of Bitola it is easy to notice the elegance of the neo-classical buildings. Most of them were used by Consuls in the past and they are quite well conserved. Today there are shops because it is the shopping street, offices and apartments. As usual in downtown, there are a lot of bars and restaurants located on the pedestrian street and few hotels. I guess their number is increasing also because it is one of the cities preferred by tourists.
The Stara Čaršija of Bitola is a great example of how it is possible to restore and preserve the ancient buildings and set. The constructions are of course adapted to modern society needs. As well it is for trendy bars and shops. In general, it has to be said that the speed of Macedonia is slower than in western Europe. Even if there are well-prepared people who are working hard to improve the country.
In one side this is positive for the growth of the country. But on the other side, I guess it should be an example, they shouldn’t follow the Western Europe lifestyle. It’s not good for the community to develop the country too fast and with fewer values. This is only my point of view that has no relation with my travel experience in Bitola.
The Clock Tower
This monument is a landmark for Bitola. It was built in 1830, the same period of the Orthodox Church of St. Demetrius. The Clock Tower is now the way for inhabitants to check the right hour and of course it is an important monument for all visitors. Bitola as a vocation for tourists, maybe because it was considered since the past to be a cosmopolitan city. The tower is located in the center in the northern part of the main street and very close to Magnolia Square. In the same place where most of the local attractions are located.
In the beginning, there were bells. But in 1927 it was decided to substitute the people in charge of ringing the bells with a clock. Thanks to a German mechanism it was possible to ring the bells in the different hours and shows to the people the exact time. In the years the mechanism was restored and improved. Now, since 1970, the Clock Tower is one of the 180 in the world to use that system.
A couple of kilometers far from the actual Bitola it is possible to see the remains of the Greek city of Heraclea Lyncestis, ruled by Romans. The ancient civilizations built the important center and new there are witnesses of the buildings and of the way of life at that time. The site is well kept and the archeologist worked hard to recover many elements. You can see the beautiful mosaics done during the Byzantine period when it was built a big and important basilica, discovered during the II World War time.
To mention the basilica is necessary because the city founded by Philip II of Macedon in the IV century BC was chosen as an Episcopal seat. Some of Heraclea bishops present in the early Christian era were part of synods in Serdica. The religion was a feature of the ancient center, abandoned in VI century AD after a big earthquake and an invasion made by Slavics.
Who has a passion for history can not miss the chance to visit the Bitola Museum dedicated to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He was the guy who made Turkey the modern and great country. The main elements are related to the history of the 1920s-1930s. So there are a lot of connections between Macedonia and the Ottoman Empire. Inside there are military finds, but also many ancient objects.
Do not worry, the recent history is just a part, even do very important, of the local museum. In fact, who visits it can explore all the history of the country, since the origins. Jewels, objects of daily life, costumes and many other things can be found in the permanent and well-curated exposition. Archeology is the feature of some rooms, so I suggest to go after a tour in Heraclea. They need to improve the lights in order to show better the collections, but it is a very good museum.
As I wrote at the beginning of the post in Bitola there are different Orthodox churches and mosques. They were built in different periods. Even if most of them are recent because of the different vicissitudes of the city, destroyed and rebuilt many times. I want to mention Isaak Kadi Mosque because it is one of the oldest religious structures still used in Bitola.
The mosque is entitled to an important Turkish person. He was part of a well-known family that left Anatolia to live in Bitola during the Ottoman Empire. The guy went to study in Istanbul and he got a lot of success, so to celebrate his position in the society he decided at the beginning of the 16th century to build the mosque. Now it is considered a cultural monument of Macedonia. It is a few steps from carsija, where there was the old covered bazaar.
Where to eat and sleep
There is a famous and very nice hotel, called Epinal. It is located at the entrance of the main street. But it has a casino and I preferred to choose a more quiet accommodation 150 meters far from it. The Hotel Ambassador is a four-star structure located in a small street close to the theatre. It is quite modern in the setting and also it has contemporary equipment to give to the guests what they need.
The apartments are spacious and they offer a room, a separate lounge, and a very nice bathroom. It is not so big, but the kind of staff is going to assist the guests with every need. They have also a bar where they serve a huge breakfast in Macedonian style. That means to have a big quantity of salty and sweet food.
In the city, there are a lot of traditional restaurants around the center. So the best way is just to follow the instinct and enter the preferred ones. The prices are quite cheap, especially for “Western standards”. If you want anyway an elegant restaurant where to taste delicious local recipes presented in a very innovative way, you can reserve a table at Gradska Kafeana. It is the restaurant of the Hotel Epinal.
Bitola is the perfect Macedonian Consul to welcome the tourists.
Are you ready for Bitola? To find the mean of transport for your trip, I suggest you Infobus. On the platform, there are the best offers for planes, trains, and buses. Book tickets at the lowest price and plan all the connections. Compare the solutions and combine them.
If you want to find the flight plus the accommodation you can visit Omio. The site is one of the best search engines to find planes, buses, and trains tickets. Then, thanks to the connection with Booking, it offers the list of accommodations with convenient rates.
Compared to Western standards the country and Bitola are quite cheap. Anyway, there are some ways to save money or earn extra cash to finance your trip. For the flight, you should use free air miles. Redeeming them you can have huge discounts or travel for free. Everything depends on your travel credit card and on airlines’ loophole. Watch this video to know how to get a lot of air miles bonuses and save money.
I guess it can be useful to get inspiration from my “make money to travel” guides. Some activities will help you to earn extra cash to pay for your trip’s bills. There are various activities you can do. For instance, rent your car or your flat. Start a travel blog. Also, with a small investment in training courses, you can learn how to be successful in web marketing. If you like to work with your hands and with your creativity, I have another proposal. Get thousands of woodworking plans for a very cheap price, realize items, and sell them. It’s funny and profitable.
I also prepared a packing list for you. It is the one I use to avoid mistakes and to not forget things at home. You can personalize it. And if you want to get advice on how to pack to use properly all the space, check out this guide.
Before to leave your home for some days or weeks, you should consider housesitting. Why? Because a trusted person in your house will keep away thieves and she or he will take care of it. A house sitter can collect mail, water flowers, feed pets, clean, and so on.
My last tip
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In many posts, I wrote about luxury experiences in the capital of Lombardy. It is surely a city I love. Now I want to write about the castle in Milan. It is one of the main attractions of the city, also if it is not well known by most of the travelers. Art, architecture, and history are mixed in the building, that tells a lot about the capital of Lombardy. The place is located not far from Duomo square.
Starting from the cathedral you walk along Via Cordusio and Via Dante. It is 15-20 minutes away by foot. Otherwise, the underground takes you directly in front of the castle (two stops from Duomo). Well, now you have the directions, but why you should go there? Let me give you some information and impressions.
The castle in Milan: history
First of all the name: Castello Sforzesco. In English, we can translate it as Sforza Castle. Sforza was the name of the family who built it and owned it. Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan, commissioned the construction in the 15th century. The architect started to project on the remnants of a 14th-century fortification. During the next two centuries, the family enlarged the castle in Milan in order to obtain one of the largest citadels in Europe. The battles happened in the different periods made some damages and for this reason, the entire complex was extensively rebuilt between 1891 and 1905.
The first construction was made in the second part of the 14th century by Galeazzo II Visconti. It was a huge castle enlarged step by step, but it was almost all destroyed by the Golden Ambrosian Republic. Sforza wanted to recreate the structure as a symbol of its power. For this reason, the hired Filarete, an important sculptor and architect of his time. With a team of painters, after the construction of the walls, they decorated all the castle in Milan. Inside and outside.
The importance of the castle
Sforza Castle became a citadel during the Spanish domination. The governor established in the building his seat for a while before to move to the Ducal Palace. Thanks to its position, the castle in Milan was always the landmark for who ruled the city. Another reason to be the favorite place was also its size and the structure, well fortified. Inside it was possible to host a garrison made by 3,000 men. The fortification offered a lot of space, but also bastions to defend the building from the attacks.
Some battles made damages, but between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, they realized the biggest restoration. Not only of the castle but also of the medieval streets around. In particular at that time was realized Via Dante, to create a direct connection between the Sforza Castle and the Duomo. Also after the Second World War, they rebuilt some parts, but all the times they respected the original Sforza architecture.
The architecture of the castle in Milan
The shape of the castle in Milan is really interesting. It is a hexagon, in the beginning, was a pentagon, with 12 bastions added. The length is about 3 km, meanwhile, the whole area is about 26 hectares. Entering the castle you can see a big courtyard called Piazza d’Armi. In some of the small open spaces, they realized some pools as decoration. Also, the facade shows a lot of different decors to remind the main steps of its history. Let’s see a bit more in details.
The plan of the castle, now visible, is quadrangular. It has square towers and an ogival gate. Each tower has a name coming mainly from Sforza period. A huge park appears behind the complex. It is connected to the castle by a drawbridge. There are two entries: the main one is located in Piazza Castello with a fountain and the other one on the back to go to the park. The walls inside the courtyard have different paintings dedicated to the importantpeople who stayed in the castle in Milan and about the most famous facts of the various periods.
On the main entrance external side, you can see two round towers, as requested by Francesco Sforza to the architect who built the castle in Milan. In the 14th century, they built square towers, but the Duke decided to replace them. Because those type of towers is more efficient against fire weapons. The visitors generally stops in front of the main tower, because it is part of the entrance. They called it Torre del Filarete, in honor of the architect who made it. What you see today it is a modern reconstruction.
The main gate conducts to a large court surrounded by Tower of Bona of Savoy and Rocchetta, that is an internal defensive ridotto. The Rocchetta includes the coat of arms of the Sforza family. The internal court has a portico on three sides. It has arcades constructed in the 15th century. Another court has two loggias, the smallest on the left and the bigger on the right. This one has a fresco with an elephant and for this reason, they called it Loggiato dell’Elefante. The castle in Milan is really a great example of architecture because it is a combination of different styles. Of course, very well united.
I am not going to write a lot about it, because it is a modern construction. Just in front of the main gate, there is a fountain, with some water games. It is no so big, but nice, especially to take some pictures before to enter the castle in Milan. I let you see my picture.
Museum and exhibitions
I guess you found some answers to your curiosity about the castle in Milan, but Sforza Castle is much more. You can just have a walk in the courtyards and in the park, admiring the architecture, or enter in the rooms. Inside it is visitable the Pinacoteca, a great collection of art that includes masterpieces signed by Mantegna, Canaletto, Tiepolo, Tintoretto and other famous artists of the past. The Museum of Ancient Art counts a huge collection of weapons of different periods, a tapestry room and some funerary monuments.
The castle in Milan counts also a Museum of Musical Instruments, a small Egyptian Museum and collections of archeological finds, prehistoric items, applied ars and sculptures. The most famous is the Rondanini Pietà realized by the master Michelangelo. Experts are still working in Sforza Castle to discover frescoes, paintings, and archeological finds. The last masterpiece found in the building was in 2012: a painting of Michelangelo.
During the year the Municipality and some private bodies organize events like fashion shows, concerts and art exhibition in the different rooms and courts of the castle in Milan. So there are a lot of reasons to visit. I recommend you to explore the place when you plan a trip to the fashion capital.
Do you like mountains and amazing views? I have the solution for you: a hundred horizons in Asolo. I already introduced you this beautiful Italian village located in the Veneto region, around 50 kilometers from Venice. Now I share some information and some tips about the fortress. It was built on a Mount Ricco and now it is only partially visible. I am not describing the castle, but the Rocca of Asolo, also known as Rocca Braida. It offers an interesting structure for archeology lovers, but I suggest to all to visit it. Why? For the incomparable view.
Asolo is a medium size village, according to Italian standards, but full of history and important buildings. That’s is why you should consider to visit it. To explore the place it is better to walk because everything is close to the main square. Also to go to the fortress the best way is by foot. Meanwhile, you go up you start to enjoy the panorama. Step by step. A hundred horizons in Asolo means that you can see a special panorama. Mountains, fields, park, and villages all around you. It is a 360° view of the local setting.
Rocca of Asolo
The construction has thick and very high walls, typical of Venetian architecture of the XIV century. On the ground floor, there is the castle, where people stayed. Upstairs the positions for the guards to see potential attacks and to defend the place. Between the 80s and 90s of last century archeologists found in the basement some remains of religious buildings created in VI century. The mosaics were moved to the local museum. The origins, as you can read, are very ancient, but what you can see now is more recent.
In the fortress for a certain time, before the XII century, there were houses with some labs dedicated to the melting of metals. Now you can see the fortress built between the XII and XIII century or better its remains. The last battle was in 1510. After the locals used the structure in different ways. Also as a leper hospital. They restored it, for the last time, in 1994. They are working on it again and there is no deadline for the restoration. On the way to the fortress, you can anyway see the famous panorama: hundred horizons in Asolo.
The amazing view on the hundred horizons in Asolo
If you like archeology and military architecture you will be happy for the visit. Otherwise, focus on the panorama. A hundred horizons in Asolo concern many points, but maybe the best one to enjoy all the landscapes is Rocca Braida. 313 meters on the seal level. From there you can see a huge part of the region. From Piazza Garibaldi, the center of Asolo, you need around 15-20 minutes to walk maximum to arrive on the top of Mount Ricco. You can stop for some pictures on the way. The entrance fee is 2 euro. The price is small compared to the view of a hundred horizons in Asolo.
What can you admire from there? First of all, there are the Dolomites and Mount Grappa, beautiful mountains part of the Alps. Or better the local mountain is part of pre-Alps. You can watch the Asolo hills and its village. If you go to the fortress during a sunny day with a clear sky, you see the Venice lagoon. The panorama is incomparable. When you are on the to you can easily understand why people say Hundred horizons in Asolo. The Po plain appears in front of you in all its magnificence.
I prefer to let you watch my pictures, they should describe better than me the view and the fortress. Anyway, I precise that I took the photos in a previous visit to Asolo, it was September of a couple of years ago. The Rocca of Asolo was open. To be updated about the reopening and to enjoy the panorama you can check the website of the village. If you go to Venice include in your trip Asolo and Treviso, you will thank me for this advice, I am completely sure.
Asolo: Italian beautiful village. It is part of the list of the most beautiful villages of the country. It is close to Venice and located on a hill with a famous fortress. Not far from Treviso there is another jewel that deserves a visit. If you are planning a trip to the Veneto region, follow my advice: include Asolo. You surely want to ask me why. Because you can see marvelous landscapes, to explore archeological finds, to attend to special events. You can also enter in the history thanks to the ancient palaces spread around the village.
I want to focus on different topics, for this reason, I prepared different posts, as I did for Malmö. In this way, I will describe easily the different aspects. Asolo, the Italian beautiful village, counts less than 10.000 inhabitants, but it is one of the pearls for the travellers. If you like Italy, in this place you find the typical shape. Art, architecture, style, and history are very well combined. There is also a chance to taste traditional food.
Buildings: art and architecture
The first post is dedicated to the center of the village, or better to the buildings of Asolo, the beautiful Italian village. You should start the visit from the central Piazza Garibaldi because the main buildings are located to a walking distance from it. Many of the small streets conduct from the square to the various parts of the village. It is almost like the center of a circle from where goes easily and straight to each point. Some of the palaces are decorated with frescoes on their facades to tell you the local history.
Asolo: Italian beautiful village. The origins
Asolo is a pearl of Treviso province and it is also called “The City of a Hundred Horizons”. The mountain setting around this Italian beautiful village makes it one of the best places for the panorama. The foundation of the first agglomeration was made by Veneti, Indo-European people, around 590 B.C., and the name were Acelum. Then Romas ruled the place and now it is possible fo find some archeological site with finds of that age.
The village visible now is mainly made by buildings and churches realized between Medieval time and XIX century. Of course, you can see modern constructions, but outside the center. This is what I like of Asolo: the place and the atmosphere looks like stopped in the past.
Your starting point in Asolo is the main square. What can you see there? As I already mentioned, Piazza Garibaldi is the hub of the village. At the center of the square, you can see the fountain, called Fontana Maggiore, that spouts water from the Roman aqueduct. La Bot, this is the name of the aqueduct, during the Roman time was conducting the water to the ancient baths where Romans. The main buildings that you can see immediately around you are the cathedral and the local museum.
Before to enter in the cathedral stop outside. There is a balcony with a superb view. It is one of the examples of the “hundred horizons”. The style is quite simple, not too many decorations, but you will remain surprised. Duomo is famous for artworks. Among the best paintings conserved there is “Assumption of the Virgin” by Lorenzo Lotto. This is alone a good reason to visit the cathedral of Asolo. But this is only the first step of your walk around the center.
Few steps from the Duomo there is an amazing museum with the local history and finds. Paintings, ancient finds, and archeology are the items that you can find inside. You are in Asolo: Italian beautiful village. So don’t enter immediately. Admire the frescoes on the facade. It is part of the experience offered by the museum. Palazzo della Loggia is a mansion built during the XV century and it is one of the most fascinating constructions in Asolo. The portico occupies the entire ground floor. Frescoes represent “The defeat of Crassus against the Parthians”.
These are the main places I visited and I suggest you do the same, but Asolo, the Italian beautiful village, offers much more. I am going to walk to see them.
Other attractions among buildings
Villa Freya deserves a visit because inside are conserved the remains of foundations of a Roman theatre. Then you should see the Queen’s Castle, built in the Middle Age. The prestigious palace was used by Queen Cornaro as her official residence. Another very nice house is Casa Duse. It is famous because in Asolo lived Eleonora Duse, a popular actress.
Never miss the Convent of Saints Peter and Paul, an XVII century monastery, a great example of religious architecture. Benedictine nuns stayed there until XIX century, then the building becomes a school. I suggest you check also the Longobard house with a facade made with tuff stone and grotesque figures.
To be prepared to explore Asolo, the Italian beautiful village, you should download a map. It will be useful when you will be there to plan your walk and visit.
I wrote a post about the Fortress of Asolo: Italian beautiful village. It offers an interesting structure, also if it is only partially visible as it was. From there you can contemplate the horizon made of amazing landscapes. Stay tuned to know more about Asolo and my trip there. It is so relaxing in the place because the time seems to be stopped. The atmosphere help travellers to go into the local setting as time travel. Autumn is also the best period for a tour. It is so quiet and empty.
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