House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus, Turkey

Most tours of Ephesus from Kusadasi also include a visit to the House of the Virgin Mary. Obviously, it is an important site from a religious perspective, but it is also interesting just from a historical prospective as well. It is commonly believed that Mary came to Ephesus with Saint John after the crucifixion of Christ and lived near the city for the remainder of their lives. There is no proof that the house was truly the final home of Mary, but it has been a place of pilgrimage since its discovery in the late 1800’s.

Wishing Wall
Statue of Mary
Water Cistern
The House of Virgin Mary

The story of how the house was discovered is just as interesting as the actual site itself. A German nun, Anne Catherine Emmerich, who was an invalid and never traveled outside of Germany had a vision of Mary and the house where she lived. She described the location in great detail in 1812 and it matched the hillsides of Ephesus. In 1881, the house was discovered using the description provided by Anne Catherine Emmerich by a French Priest and it has been visited by people ever since. Although the church has not officially weighed in on the authenticity of the site, several popes have visited the site and have held services at the chapel.

View of the House
Water Spring and Fountains
Display at the Site
Trails at the Site

Seeing the house of the Virgin Mary is interesting, but walking through the ruins of Ephesus is more impressive. We only spent about a half hour walking around the house and listening to the history from our guide. In addition to the house, where photography is not permitted, there is a wishing wall with a spring with a fountain and water cistern where it is believed that baptisms took place.

Another Statue
Wishes on the Wall
Building Next to the Water Cistern
Courtyard at Mary’s House

The Karen Blixen Museum and Gardens in Nairobi, Kenya

It is hard to explain the impact that Karen Blixen had on the city of Nairobi and Kenya in general. The Baroness is best known around the world for her autobiographical story of her time in Africa titled Out of Africa as well as the movie with the same name. To the people of Kenya, she is known for providing healthcare to the people and providing inspiration to the women of Kenya. Although the book and movie romanticize her time in East Africa, the story and her life were rather tragic. The museum, which is the house she lived in and the gardens that surround it, is the location of their failed coffee plantation and features some of the farm equipment as well as photographs of the people in Karen’s life. There is also some memorabilia from the movie as it was filmed on location in Africa.

The Tractor that Karen Used on Her Farm
Landscape of the Farm
Landscape of the Farm
Front of the House/Museum

Photographs are not allowed to be taken from within the museum, but even if you haven’t seen the movie, it is quite interesting. The suburb where the museum resides is actually named Karen and it is home to the most wealthy houses in Nairobi. Although Karen Blixen only lived in Kenya from 1914 to 1931, her legacy has lasted through until today. Because her husband was frequently gone on hunting safaris, Karen ran the farm and the coffee plantation almost single handedly. Her determination and passion for the people of Kenya is what endeared her to the people that worked and lived on her farm.

More Farm Equipment
Walking up the Drive to the House
Rear of the House Behind the Kitchen

The grounds of the farm are quite beautiful and walking around is quite tranquil. The ticket to tour the museum includes a guide who will tell you all about the farm, the house, and the life of Karen Blixen. The house itself was built in 1912 by a Swedish engineer and then bought by Karen and her husband, Baron Bror von Blixen Fincke, in 1917. The house was converted to a museum in 1985 after serving as one of the main locations for the filming of the movie. It took us less than an hour to take the tour and walk the grounds, but for those who are fascinated by the book or the movie, it could take longer.

Wagon Used on the Farm
More of the Farm’s Landscape
Equipment that is About One Hundred Years Old
Trees Looming Overhead

Palacio Portales in Cochabamba, Bolivia

When visiting Cochabamba in Bolivia, we would definitely recommend taking a tour of the Palacio Portales. Not only is the building architecturally interesting, but the gardens, which were modeled after those at Versailles, are quite beautiful as well. Built by the wealthy millionaire Simon Patino, the palace was completed in 1927. Patino’s fortune was built by owning the majority of the tin industry in Bolivia, which earned the nicknames of “The Tin Baron” and “The Andean Rockefeller”.  At one point, he was considered to be one of the five wealthiest people in the world.

Palacio Portales

Details Along the Roof

Building and Water Feature on the Grounds

Palace Garden

Entrance to the House

Construction began on the Palacio Portales in 1915 with inspirations coming from Alhambra and the Vatican. With marble and tapestries imported from Italy and wood imported from France, there are wonderful details throughout the house. Palacio Portales translates to Palace Portals, which has caused people to refer to the house as the palace of doors. The tour, which is offered in English and Spanish at different times, takes a little over an hour and is quite interesting. Although the house was built by Simon Patino, he never actually lived there as his health had declined keeping him from traveling back to Bolivia.

Details Above the Door

Another Colorful Building on the Grounds

Walking Around the House

Fountain and Beautiful Plants

More Details

The colorful exterior, wonderful garden, and interesting history make visiting Palacio Portales a worthwhile way to spend an afternoon in Cochabamba. Located near the center of Bolivia, Cochabamba offers several different opportunities for tours including visiting the ruins of Incallajta as well as Corrasco National Park in the Amazon Jungle.

Shuttered Window

One of the Statues in the Garden

One of the Many Windows

Bright, Yellow Exterior

View from the Street