Reginald’s Tower in Waterford, Ireland

When visiting Waterford in Ireland, one of the sites to visit other than the House of Waterford Crystal Factory and shops is Reginald’s Tower. It is a Viking museum as well as providing wonderful views of the port. It was a rainy day during our day trip from Dublin to visit Waterford and touring the tower gave us an opportunity to get out of the damp cold. Reginald’s Tower is Waterford’s landmark monument and has been in continuous use for over 800 years, making it Ireland’s oldest civic building. The tower was built by the Vikings in 914 and was the cornerstone of the triangular shaped settlement. For hundreds of years, the tower served as a fortification to protect the city of Waterford and today it serves as a museum to commemorate the history of the Vikings in ancient Ireland.

Historic Reginald’s Tower and Statue of Thomas Francis Meagher
View of the Harbor from the Tower
Inside of the Tower
Viking Ship Next to the Tower

The historic structure now stands alone, but originally there would have been walls on either side of the tower adding to its fortifications. The full-size replica of a Viking ship outside of the tower is certainly quite striking and definitely lets you know what the museum is all about. The port of Waterford is Ireland’s oldest harbor and an important part of the history of the region. There is also a statue of Thomas Francis Meagher outside of the tower, which is a tribute to one of the founders of the Irish Confederation that adopted what is the national, tricolor flag of Ireland featuring the green, white, and orange stripes. There are also plenty of restaurants in the area featuring wonderful seafood and traditional Irish dishes.

View of the Tower Exterior
Ceiling of the Tower
What the Viking Settlement Would Have Looked Like
Thomas Francis Meagher Statue

Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) in Germany

There are many cathedrals in Europe that were built in the gothic architecture and the Cologne Cathedral in Germany is definitely one of the more stunning examples. To say that the cathedral dominates the skyline of Cologne would be an understatement as it is clearly the focal point from wherever you are standing. If you enter or pass through Cologne via the train, you certainly can’t miss the cathedral as it is literally a few hundred meters from the train station. It is the tallest twin-spire church in Europe and draws thousands of visitors from around the world on an annual basis.

Beautiful Gothic Architecture
Amazing Details
Looking Up at the One of the Spires

The cathedral was undergoing renovations at the time of our visit as the stones of the church had turned black over time, but are now being renewed to their original luster. The details of façade are overwhelming as there are so many interesting features to see as you walk the grounds of the cathedral. Although the city has put height restrictions in place to ensure that the cathedral remains the highest structure in the area, the Museum Ludwig sits very near the cathedral. It is a strange juxtaposition between the historic cathedral and the modern buildings that house contemporary art.

Cathedral and Museum
Dominating the Skyline
So Much to See

Construction began on the cathedral in 1248, but was not fully completed until 1880. There was no work done on the cathedral between the late 15th century and the 19th century, but when construction resumed, it was completed based upon the original plans. It is currently a UNESCO World Heritage site and certainly one of the most magnificent cathedrals in all of Europe. During the evenings, the sides of church are lit up so that it virtually glows against the night sky.

Cathedral at Night
Lit Up Against the Black Sky
Looking Up at the Cathedral

There are many reasons to visit Cologne with its medieval old town, museums, and waterfront district, but the Cologne Cathedral or Kölner Dom is most certainly the highlight of any visit. Viewing the gothic architecture, the stained glass windows, and impressive buttresses is something that you will never forget. The Cologne Cathedral is certainly one of the finest examples of a medieval church to be found anywhere in the world.

So Many Amazing Windows
Main Entrance to the Cathedral
Gothic Details

Catherine’s Gate and St. Nicholas Church in Brasov, Romania

Brasov is a wonderful town in the Carpathian mountains of Transylvania in Romania. For the people of Romania it is a destination to get away and, depending on the season, either go hiking or go skiing at one of the resorts nearby. There are several interesting sites to see when visiting Brasov and among them are Catherine’s Gate and St. Nicholas Church. They are both located in the same part of the historic area of Brasov and each features some fascinating architectural details.

St. Nicholas Church
Turrets and the Coat of Arms on Catherine’s Gate
Walking Toward St. Nicholas Church and It’s Gated Wall

We walked from our hotel that was located on the town square into the historic area of Brasov in order to see Catherine’s Gate. The gate was built in 1559 after the original gate was destroyed by a flood. St. Catherine’s Monastery was previously on the site, which is how the gate received its name. As with most medieval towns, the gate was there to protect the town from invaders as well as to collect taxes from citizens who entered into the town. The four small corner turrets that surround the central turret symbolize the fact that they had an autonomous judicial system and self-rule. Above the gate is the town’s coat of arms, which is a crown on an oak tree with the roots exposed.

Catherine’s Gate
Murals on the Stone Wall Inside of the Church Gate
St. Nicholas Above the Main Door

We continued on to see St. Nicholas Church, whose bell tower could be seen throughout the old town area. The church sits atop a small hill that is just large enough to let it rise above the other nearby buildings. To get to the church, you pass through a gated wall with murals painted on the inner wall. The church itself was originally established in 1292 and the stone church was erected in the late 1400’s. Above the main door and just below the actual bell tower, is a colorful mural of St. Nicholas, for whom the church is named. Adjacent to the church is a large cemetery with many large headstones.

Cemetery Gate
Church Towers from the Cemetery
Mural of the Church

We really enjoyed our time in Brasov and took the time to get into the countryside to see many interesting historic sites. The people of the town were extremely friendly and we enjoyed walking the streets and eating at some of the many restaurants located there. If you get the opportunity to visit Brasov, you should definitely take time to see Catherine’s Gate and St. Nicholas Church.