Emerald Waterways Recent Press Releases

DATE : June 5, 2020

From Lyon to Arles: Explore the Iconic Architecture of Southern France

It’s impossible to take your eyes off the banks of the Rhône – such is the beauty of its fragrant lavender fields, rolling vineyards and inimitable heritage architecture.

To cruise the Rhône River in southern France is to take a journey through history. The Celts, Romans, Franks, Burgundians and Revolutionists have all left their mark on this spectacular region, and this is reflected in the magnificent architecture which lines the river from Lyon in the north to Arles in the south.

Join us as we take a trip along the Saône and Rhône rivers, unearthing the architectural highlights which await on this unforgettable north to south passage. Beginning in Beaune, we travel through Lyon, Tournon and Viviers, dipping into Provence where the timeless wonders of Avignon and Arles await.

Hospices de Beaune

hospices de beaune architecture

Decadent architecture meets rich local heritage at Hospices de Beaune, one of France’s most prestigious historic monuments. Established in 1443 by Chancellor Nicolas Rolin, this architectural marvel served as a hospital for 500 years, originally treating those affected by the plague and the aftermath of the 100 Years War. With its blend of Gothic and French pastoral architecture, the hospice draws hundreds to the charming commune of Beaune, whose surrounding vineyards are among the finest of the Rhône region.

Basilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière

Designed in the 19th century by architects Pierre Bossan and Sainte-Marie Perrin, Lyon’s Basilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a prized architectural gem, blending Byzantine, Gothic and Romanesque influences. Its symmetrical towers and ornate façade make it a striking addition to the Lyon skyline, and an unmissable stop on your tour of the city. Wander inside and discover a rich décor, complete with illustrious materials including Italian granite, Savoy marble, and an attractive union of ebony and ivory.

Château de Tournon

Built between the 14th and 16th centuries, Château de Tournon is a striking example of how medieval French castles were influenced by Italy’s Renaissance movement. It’s among the most beautiful castles in the region of Ardèche, which covers a large area of the Rhône Valley. Complete with a medieval keep and heavy studded doors, the castle began life as an important river defence, but was later updated by the lord of Tournon to reflect the changing architectural and decorative styles of the time.

St Vincent’s Cathedral

Cathedral of Saint Vincent

Known to be the smallest cathedral in France, St Vincent’s is the jewel in Viviers’ illustrious architectural crown – a 12th-century stone monolith lifted from the pages of the Romanesque rulebook. Imposing in its scale and stonework, the cathedral was partially destroyed during the religious wars which rocked France in the 15th century, but was later restored and improved by master architect, Jean-Baptiste Franque in the 18th century. Today, St Vincent’s is a must, blending flamboyant Gothic and Romanesque architecture with ancient stonework that tells of Viviers’ extraordinary heritage.

Château de Grignan

Choose to take a DiscoverMORE excursion to the pretty commune of Grignan, and you’ll be welcomed by the sight of the town’s principal castle, the Château de Grignan. Built on a rocky headland overlooking the village, this striking castle is a masterpiece of Renaissance and Classicist architecture – a combination which sets it apart from other historic châteaux in the region. A fortified castle was first mentioned in Grignan in the 11th century, but historians believe the current structure was erected in the 17th century, probably by the Marquise of Sévigné. The château was decommissioned during the French Revolution, but later rebuilt brick by brick at the beginning of the 20th century.

Palais des Papes

An exploration of the Rhône’s iconic architecture wouldn’t be complete without mention of the illustrious Palais des Papes, an early Romanesque and Gothic masterpiece in the heart of beautiful Avignon. Originally built in the 11th century, Pope’s Palace hosted the Papacy of Rome for much of the 13th and 14th centuries, with each pontiff expanding and refining the building. Today, the Palais des Papes forms part of historic Avignon’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Site, and stands as one of the foremost architectural wonders in all of France.

Pont du Gard

Spanning the Gardon River close to the town of Vers-Pont-du-Gard, the Pont du Gard is a dramatic example of Roman architecture. Among the best-preserved Roman-age structures in the world, the aqueduct was originally built in the 1st century AD, and was used to source fresh water for the Roman city of Nemausus, now Nîmes. For its age, Pont du Gard is remarkable in its complexity and design, standing 49 metres high and weighing 50,000 tonnes.

Roman and Romanesque Monuments of Arles

With the Mediterranean on its doorstep, Arles has long been a significant destination for trade at the mouth of the Rhône, and this is reflected in its depth of heritage and architecture. Among the many structural wonders to see in this charming French city are the Roman and Romanesque Monuments of Arles – a collection among the finest outside of Italy. Unearth the spectacular Arles Arena, the Necropolis of Alyscamps and the Roman Baths of Constantine, as well as the majestic medieval buildings which make up the heart of Arles’ historic centre.

Discover Southern France with Emerald Waterways

The architecture and natural beauty of the Rhône are yours to fall in love with on an Emerald Waterways river cruise. Click here to explore our collection of upcoming Rhône river cruises or call our team today at 855-222-3214.

DATE : June 1, 2020

Top 5 Austria Places to See

If you’ve ever considered a Central European getaway, Austria is certain to have crossed your mind. Breath-taking alpine landscapes, rich culture, a poignant past and creative legends, Austria is the whole package. Home to a glorious paradox of busy cities and quiet countryside towns, your Austria places to see list can run long. To help you plan the perfect Central Europe holiday, here is our list of top things to see in Austria.

Vienna

Always on top of every Austria places to see list, Vienna is the creative heart of the country. Often known as the City of Music for being the former abode of several musical legends, including Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss, Vienna is the perfect place to catch a classical music concert. Explore its various stunning structures, from baroque to art nouveau, and immerse yourself into its many world-class museums. Some of the top must-see sights of Vienna include, the city’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic center, the stunning Schönbrunn Palace, and the elegant official seat of the president, the Hofburg.

Visit Vienna’s Opera House, Austria

Salzburg

Unless you’ve lived under a rock your whole life, you are certain to be familiar with (and possibly a fan of) the movie classic, The Sound of Music. Salzburg is the city where the iconic musical was filmed and also the place where the original Trapp family once lived, and that is enough reason to put the city on your Austria places to see list. The true movie buffs can join a tour that takes you around the original, still largely unchanged, shoot locations of the film. Salzburg is also the birthplace of the virtuoso Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and you can even visit the home of the city’s famous son. The other things to see in Salzburg include the imposing 12th century Hohensalzburg Fortress, the Mirabell Palace and Gardens and the Salzburg Cathedral.

Be amazed in Salzburg, Austria when you set your eyes on the 12th century Hohensalzburg Fortress

Melk

A picturesque riverside town located on the south bank of river Danube, Melk is well-known for the magnificent Melk Abbey that proudly towers over the townscape and overlooks the Danube River. Home to the tomb of Saint Coloman of Stockerau and the remains of members of Austria’s first ruling dynasty – the Babenbergs, the abbey is as stunning from the inside as it is from the outside. Gaze upon ornate gold leaf walls and walk up seemingly endless spiral staircases in what was once a royal palace, gifted to the monks by Leopold II. A stroll through the streets of Melk’s Old Town, all the way down to the banks of the Danube is one of the most enjoyable things to do here. Expand your area of exploration and head to the Artstetten Castle, located a little outside Melk. This fairy-tale castle is the former abode of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and current resting place of the archduke and his wife.

Explore the magnificent Melk Abbey, Austria

Dürnstein

Add the very photogenic town of Dürnstein to your Austria places to see list for the best travel photographs. Rustic cobbled streets lined by 16th century houses, powder blue colored baroque church overlooking a gently flowing river, and ruins of a castle that once held the mighty King Richard the Lionheart of England prisoner – for a town so small, there is a lot to see and do in Dürnstein. Take the time to visit the 12th century ruins of the Dürnstein Castle and take a guided tour to learn all about its history as a strategic post and as the prison that held the former King of England, Richard I.

Explore charming Dürnstein in Austria

Linz

If you’re looking to escape the tourist-filled towns of Austria, Linz is the place to go. Located about halfway between the busy cities of Vienna and Salzburg, Linz offers the perfect quiet escape. Despite its quaint charm, Linz is anything but old school. The Ars Electronica Center, or Museum of the Future, hosts interactive exhibitions featuring the most futuristic technologies – from self-driving cars, to 3D printing. The Lentos Art Museum is home to over 1,500 works of the finest modern art, and the Mural Harbor is one of Europe’s largest open air graffiti and mural galleries.  

Visit historic Linz, Austria

DATE : March 26, 2020

A Brief History of Castle Hill Budapest

Castle Hill offers remarkable heritage in the heart of Budapest.

Situated on the left bank of the Danube River in the center of beautiful Budapest, Castle Hill is among the finest historic districts in Europe. A meander through its ancient streets reveals a city rich in heritage, with traces of lost civilizations and treasured architectural gems lining each and every boulevard and civic square.

In 1987, Castle Hill, along with other sites in Budapest including Andrássy Avenue and the Banks of the Danube, were designated UNESCO World Heritage Site status – such is the historic showcase on display here. The Castle Quarter can, in itself, fill a whole day of your Budapest itinerary, with countless attractions to admire across the hill.

Whichever route you take through this iconic district, inspiring sights and intriguing pockets of history are never far away. Marvel at Matthias Church and its majestic spire, take in the magical city views from Fisherman’s Bastion, and stand in the shadow of the imposing Buda Castle – one of the greatest Baroque wonders on the continent.

To introduce the highlights of Budapest in greater depth, here we explore the history of Castle Hill and its must-see sights – giving you a taste for what awaits on your Danube river cruise.

A Timeline of Castle Hill

Occupied, destroyed, but never beaten – Budapest’s Castle Hill has seen its share of conflict over the centuries, gifting the area a fascinating story to tell. Explore the illustrious history of Buda Hill and its prized heritage buildings in our interactive timeline below.

CASTLE HILLA TIMELINE OF

START

Occupied, destroyed, but never beaten – Budapest’s Castle Hill has seen its share of conflict over the centuries, gifting the area a fascinating story to tell. Explore the illustrious history of Buda Hill and its prized heritage buildings in our interactive timeline below.

Heritage Highlights on the Hill

Prestigious heritage and monumental architecture combine on Castle Hill, making this historic quarter one of the must-see attractions of the Danube. Explore a handful of the highlights you can expect below.

Buda Castle

royal palace of buda

With its beautiful Baroque design and sprawling position at the very top of the hill, Buda Castle is the piece de resistance of the left bank, and an unmissable stop-off on your tour of the district. Such is the scale of Buda Castle – also known as the Royal Palace – that the structure hosts several museums and government institutions, including the Hungarian National Gallery and Budapest History Museum. Whether you choose to enter the castle or not is up to you, as even from the exterior, there is plenty of heritage to see. Look out for special features like the Matthias Fountain and the lions of the great Buda Gate as you explore the castle.

Matthias Church

matthias church and statue

Built and rebuilt on several occasions, Matthias Church stands today as one of the foremost architectural wonders of Castle Hill. It’s believed a church has existed on the site since 1015, and throughout the Middle Ages, it was used as a place of coronation for the kings of Hungary. Destroyed by the Mongols, transformed by the Ottomans and raised to the ground again during the Siege of Budapest, the church was remodeled in a classic Neo-Gothic style in the 19th century, with architect Frigyes Schulek tasked with restoring the church to its former glory.

Fisherman’s Bastion

funicular railway

Budapest’s charming Funicular Railway is by far the best and most authentic way to reach the summit of Castle Hill. Erected in the 19th century, this beautiful old railway has been transporting visitors to the castle quarter for over 150 years, and has retained its original design to grant a fun and nostalgic way to access Budapest’s historic hillside. The journey to the top takes around ten minutes, and you can enjoy arresting views of the Danube riverbank, Chain Bridge and Hungarian Parliament Building as you take the ride to the summit.

Fisherman’s Bastion

fisherman’s bastion

Owing to its fairytale good looks and majestic panorama, Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the most unique structures of Castle Hill. Perhaps the structure which attracts the most tourist footfall, Fisherman’s Bastion was designed and built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in a Neo-Romanesque style that sets it apart from other buildings on the hill. The structure is set around Matthias Church, and it too was the brainchild of Frigyes Schulek. Aside from its majestic architecture, Fisherman’s Bastion is revered for the views it provides over Budapest – it’s the perfect place to discover just why the city is known as the queen of the Danube.

DATE : February 10, 2020

Do you know Europe’s national and regional flags?

Think you know your Austria from your Hungary? Your Monaco from your Moldova? Put your knowledge of European flags to the test in our interactive quiz.

For centuries, flags have defined Europe. Whether in battle, trade talks or at the Eurovision Song Contest, every country on the continent has its national crest – a unique emblem that has come to define people and place.

While many of Europe’s major flags are easy to identify, others are less apparent. Most people would be able to point out the flags of Germany, France, Italy and Spain, but what about countries like Hungary, Austria, Croatia and Slovakia? With these, we think some would struggle.

And then, of course, there are the regional flags – standards which are flown above city halls and civic buildings from Hungary to The Hague. These flags, too, are entrenched in local history and culture, and decidedly more difficult to identify than their national counterparts.

So, with all this in mind, we want to put your knowledge of Europe’s flags to the test – including both national and regional motifs. Think you have what it takes? Try your luck at the 15 flag-related questions we’ve put together in our interactive quiz below.

So, how did you do? Are you happy with your score or has our quiz left you reaching for an encyclopedia? We’d love to hear how you did, so get in touch on our Facebook page.

No matter how well you know the flags of Europe, there’s a whole lot more to the continent than its historic crests and emblems. Choose to travel its waters with Emerald Waterways, and you can expect heritage, art, culture, cuisine and serene natural beauty in abundance, as well as plenty of opportunities to build on your knowledge of the continent’s history, people and places.

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