Travel 2016 – Tip 19 – France – Mirepoix

In the 13th Century many Cathars settled in Mirepoix, but after the town was inundated by a flood from Lake Puivert, the town was rebuilt in a safer place. From this time, many buildings have survived including almost all of the late-13th to 15th-century houses found around the Place Principale. If you imagine Tudor buildings in rows along the square, but substitute pastel shades for the white, then you will have an idea of what Place Principale looks like. It has been called the finest town square in France, west of The Rhone.

Also in Mirepoix is the Cathedral of St Maurice, built between 1343 and 1865. The early 16th Century nave is over 100 feet wide and is the widest in France.

Zvartnots Cathedral

The main church at this site was built around 650. It had three storeys and seems to have had 32 equal sides, quite a feat of engineering in itself. The whole of the cathedral precinct was destroyed in 930 by an earthquake and gradually became hidden under centuries of soil until it was re-discovered around a hundred years ago.       

What remains now is an semi-circle of pillars and a vast floor along with hundreds of massive stones from the three-storeyed church. The ruins are evocative of a time earlier than the church dates from, as the pillars look as though they belong to a temple rather than a church. The problem at Zvartnots is that the architectural experts can’t agree on what the church really looked like when it was standing between 650 and 930. Some of these experts even believe the scale model in the nearby museum is inaccurate. As that’s the case, I think it’s best to leave Zvartnots as it is, in ruins, and allow visitors to use their own imagination to reconstruct the church.  

La Plata cathedral, nucleus of a new city: a history of cities in 50 buildings

At the heart of custom-built La Plata, the Gothic cathedral rose from political conflict to reflect the separation of church and state in a modern metropolis

Ten Free things in Barcelona

10 free things in Barcelona just for you.

But if you have to pay for one thing go and see Messi play at Camp Nou.

Nassau, The Bahamas

Nassau is the capital of The Bahamas and is found on the island of New Providence.

Today, April 25th 2014 there were five large cruise ships in the harbour and the main shopping thoroughfare, Bay Street, was packed with passengers looking for bargains in the various duty free shops on this street. Once you moved from the main shopping street there was hardly anyone around. I wonder what these cruise passengers see on their journeys other than air-conditioned interiors of duty-free shops?

The Straw Market, now in a permanent building again, was full of people looking for souvenirs of their visit. The main purchases appeared to be bags, t-shirts, and objets d’art such as carved statues and gaudy paintings. Some straw items are still sold such as hats and shopping bags, but now The Straw Market is a general market that sells souvenirs. It’s also a good place to shelter should there be a tropical downpour for a few minutes.

Other sights worth visiting include Fort Charlotte – 15 minutes walk due west of the British Colonial Hilton hotel – with its guns pointing menacingly towards the cricket pitch and the cruise ship terminal. The entrance fee is 1 dollar and the information provided gives an accurate appraisal of the history of the fort. From the ramparts you can see the beach cabins on Arawak Cay, where everyone should eat at least one meal during their stay. Try the gin and coconut milk combination called a ‘Sky Juice’ while you are there.

The most amazing sight is the Queen’s staircase, which is in a gorge that was hollowed out of the ground by 6,000 slaves using six-inch long chisels, just to provide a potential escape route for the governor in case of surprise attack. This is the story that the local guides will tell you at least; whether it’s true is another matter.

Nassau became a city in 1684 when Christ Church Cathedral was built. This is the fourth incarnation of the building, the previous three having been destroyed by fire, Spaniards, and termites. Services are still held here.

The public buildings in and around Parliament Square are all a delicate shade of pink. There are posters in the area in front of the Parliament building outlining the important roles played by various politicians such as Sir Lynden Pindling and Sir Randol Fawkes. Round here are two places to eat. One is the breakfast and lunch place T’s Bistro, which has its own wi-fi and the other is the Cafe Matisse, an Italian restaurant (with non-Italian waiters) where romantic dinners can be had in the open courtyard.