The hosts of Euro 2020
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and the third largest in the UK. Only an hour’s drive from the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, it is also a commercial center and large shipbuilder.
What makes this city attractive is because it was once a small fishing town before becoming one of the most advanced Atlantic seaports. Still, the roots of its long and well-preserved culture and history are evident from the architecture from different periods, giving us a glimpse of the city, as if traveling through time.
For football fans, Glasgow was the host city of the first international football match in 1872 between Scotland and England. This year it was one of the UEFA Euro 2020 host cities, held at Hampden Park, which was the largest stadium in the world from 1908-1950, and used in various other important matches, including the UEFA Championship League and UEFA Cup.
If you come to Glasgow, the first major tourist attraction that will come to mind is the University of Glasgow, one of the UK’s four oldest universities, founded in 1451. With its outstanding and unique neo-gothic architecture, the place is the prototype for Hogwarts School from the famous Harry Potter child literature. The place is lined with restaurants and shops where you can chill outdoors.
Only a five-minute walk from the university, you will arrive at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum which showcases over 8,000 artifacts across twenty-two themes. The gallery is divided into two: the Right Wing provides the background on the history and culture of Glasgow and Scotland, including Scotland’s wildlife gallery, while the Left Wing houses an art gallery showcasing retrospective and contemporary French and Dutch artifacts, including artworks of world-famous artists, such as Monet and Van Gogh. Importantly, entry is free.
For lovers of shopping, don’t miss Buchanan Street, the main shopping street lined with high-end and local boutiques, chic cafés, and restaurants. It is the most vibrant and liveliest area of the city where you will see realistic graffiti on various buildings. The street also connects the most famous city square, George Square, surrounded by historic buildings, such as the Glasgow City Chamber and statues of dignitaries.
Nearby is the popular Gallery of Modern Art, a venue that exhibits the works of both local and international artists. The highlight here is the statue of the Duke of Wellington, which is evidence of Glaswegian humor. It is said that the duke was in graceful form for a long time before someone put a traffic cone on his head. At first, the authorities tried to fix it by raising the statue base higher, but the next morning, a traffic cone appeared on the statue again. There was even a group of people who came to resist the permanent removal of the cone. Finally, the authorities gave up, and the duke has worn his cone ever since.
Another historic site is Glasgow Cathedral, the city’s only medieval church, and the oldest building in Glasgow, built in 1136. It is characterized by Scottish gothic architecture and was the site where King James IV of Scotland signed a permanent peace treaty with England in 1502.
Whether you are fond of a city with ancient vibes, liveliness, friendly people, and a sense of humor, or enjoy art museums, architecture, and diverse cultures, and especially
if you are fascinated by football, don’t hesitate to add Glasgow to your ‘must-go’ list.
A city with two cultural heritages, namely a favorite film location and the starting point of Christopher Columbus’s voyage around the world in 1492.
Sevilla is the capital and the largest city of the Andalusia Autonomous Region, and the fourth largest city in Spain. The region used to be under Muslim rule and flourished for half a century before it was overruled by Christian Spanish in 1248 under King Ferdinand III. The Moorish and Christian cultures have blended and its Eastern European art can be seen throughout the city.
Start your trip at the Cathedral de Sevilla, the largest Gothic style cathedral in Spain, chosen by UNESCO in 1987 as a World Heritage Site. It used to be a mosque before being renovated as a Christian church Still, we can see evidence of Moorish art and architecture, such as the Giralda Bell Tower.
Inside are church artifacts, namely an item believed to be a part of the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus prior to his crucifixion, and a 36-meter altar carved into biblical stories, and the highlight—the burial site of Christopher Columbus. On the other side of the city is the Real Alcazar de Sevilla, one of the oldest royal palaces in the world. It may look familiar to you because the Game of Thrones TV series was filmed here.
Next, head to the most popular square of the city—Spanish Plaza, a semicircular area with a small canal where you can enjoy paddling. The bridge across the canal represents the four ancient kingdoms of Spain, and the arch around the door is decorated with colorful mosaics representing each region. And check out Parque de Maria Luisa, the most beautiful garden in town, across the street.
Apart from the historic zone, we recommend you visit Metropol Parasol Las Setas de Seville, a new modern landmark renowned as the world’s largest wooden structure. It is described as mushroomed shape, but it looks to me like a beehive. It is located at La Encarnación Square where you can experience a panoramic view of the city.
For football fans, don’t miss the Estadio La Cartuja stadium. Built for the 1999 World Athletics Championships, it is now the arena for the Copa del Rey football championship, including the UEFA Cup, Davis Cup, and concerts featuring artists such as Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, U2, and AC/DC.
The little city of Baku is the ancient, historic, capital city of Azerbaijan, and a bridge connecting Europe and landlocked Asia.
The miracle of Baku is its diversity of cultures as it is located in Eastern Europe and Southwestern Asia. Lying on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest inland sea even though it is 28 meters below sea level, the city is abundant with natural resources, namely natural gas, oil, gold, silver, and metal from which it derives its income.
Popular tourist sites in Baku include the Old City of Baku (Icheri Sheher) – a World Heritage Site since 2000. The architecture of the city encompasses many eras of ancient philosophy, as well as Zoroastrianism, Sasanian, Arabian, Persian, and Ottoman civilizations, including that of Soviet Russia. The unique attractions are the Maiden Tower and Shirvanshah Palace.
Leaving the old town, we could see the diversity of architecture from Europe, Asia, and Russian Stalinist styles. The most prominent one is the Underground Subway of Baku which is similar to that in Moscow. Upland Park is the most scenic viewpoint from where you can enjoy panoramic views of Baku and the vast Caspian Sea.
If you are a fan of innovative architecture, we recommend visiting the Flame Towers, a building in the shape of a flame, reflecting its natural resources which include three structures – resting zone, hotel, and office. Heydar Aliyev Center is an extraordinary place of architecture awarded Outstanding Museum Design in 2014 and exhibits art both indoors and outdoors.
Spend time traveling out of town to explore magical nature featuring over 300 Mud Volcanoes. Spreading across the land and under the Caspian Sea, these volcanoes erupt mud instead of magma, like regular volcanoes.
Located not far from Baku, Gobustan Rock Art Landscape is semi desert terrain and various sizes of mountain rocks, where ancient drawings between 5,000 to 20,000 years old can be found in many places.
End your trip at the Baku Olympic Stadium, the home of the Azerbaijan national team, which has been used for international tournaments, such as the 2018-2019 UEFA Europa League semi-final round, and the exciting match when Chelsea defeated Arsenal. This year it is also a venue for the Euro 2020 football competition.
When talking about Bucharest, I think of two things: ‘Budapest’ – the capital city of Hungary and the home of Dracula—a vampire in human form featured in the well-known 19th century novel by Bram Stoker and subsequent horror movies throughout the 20th century.
It is much different from what I had imagined. The city’s atmosphere is not that gloomy or forbidding as in Bram Stoker’s novel. This is a place full of elegant architecture inspired from Paris, giving the city the name “Paris of the East” or “Little Paris.”
Travel around the city is very convenient, whether by subway, bus, or on foot.
Start the day at the Palace of Parliament, the second largest building in the world, next to the Pentagon. With its neo-classic architecture, the parliament interior is elegant as if a palace, which is said to have shed the sweat and tears of many thousands of Romanian people.
Then head to Biserica Coltei, an important Orthodox church built in 1701. Located near the church is the Coltea Hospital, the oldest hospital in Bucharest, built in 1704.
Discover Romania history at the National Museum of Romanian History, which used to be a post office. Now it houses more than sixty exhibition rooms.
Another unmissable place is Bram or Dracula Castle. Novelist Bram Stoker took this castle as inspiration for Dracula’s castle in his novel, and based Dracula’s character on Vlad III Dracul, a brave and cruel ruler of Walachia. But for Romanians, the prince is honored for his excellence as a ruler of the land.
Peles Castle is located in the north of Bucharest. Built during the reign of King Carol I of Romania in 1873, it took about 10 years to construct. With a gathering of skilled craftsmen from Europe and Asia, the castle is a delicate mixture of various art styles.
Only 100 meters away from Peles Castle is Pelisor Castle. It was built by the order of King Carol I of Romania as a residence for his nephew King Ferdinand, the crown prince of Romania. Its exterior was created using wood and cement, as in the German style, while the interior design is art nouveau.
Before leaving Bucharest, stop by the National Arena. With a capacity of up to 55,600 seats, it hosted the 2011-2012 Europa League final when Atletico Madrid defeated Athletic Bilbao.
This year, the news of Euro 2020 that made me smile was a French fan club who missed the football in Budapest as they misunderstood the city’s name and went to Bucharest instead. So, they ended up traveling around Bucharest and cheering France and Hungary via a big LCD screen.