Alhambra, Granada, Andalusia, Spain

Alhambra’s late flowering of Islamic palaces were built for the last Muslim emirs in Spain during the decline of the Nasrid dynasty who were increasingly subject to the Christian Kings of Castile. After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the buildings occupied by squatters, Alhambra was rediscovered following the defeat of Napoleon, who had conducted retaliatory destruction of the site, the re-discoverers were first British intellectuals and then other north European Romantic travelers. It is now one of Spain’s major tourist attractions, exhibiting the country’s most significant and well-known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century and later Christian building and garden interventions. The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the inspiration for many songs and stories.

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Alcazar of Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Spanish for “Castle of the Christian Monarchs”), also known as the Alcázar of Córdoba, is a medieval Alcázar located in the historic centre of Córdoba (in Andalusia, Spain), next to the Guadalquivir River and near the Grand Mosque.  The fortress served as one of the primary residences of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon.

Bern, Switzerland

Corner of the street in Bern. No archaeological evidence that indicates a settlement on the site of today′s city centre prior to the 12th century has been found so far. In antiquity, a Celtic oppidum stood on the Engehalbinsel (peninsula) north of Bern, fortified since the second century BC (late La Tène period), thought to be one of the 12 oppida of the Helvetii mentioned by Caesar. During the Roman era, a Gallo-Roman vicus was on the same site. The Bern zinc tablet has the name Brenodor (“dwelling of Breno”). In the Early Middle Ages, a settlement in Bümpliz, now a city district of Bern, was some 4 km (2 mi) from the medieval city.

The medieval city is a foundation of the Zähringer ruling family, which rose to power in Upper Burgundy in the 12th century. According to 14th-century historiography (Cronica de Berno, 1309), Bern was founded in 1191 by Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen.

The Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, France

In 1758, King Louis XV commissioned the greatest architect of his day, Jacques-Ange Gabriel, to build twin structures overlooking the Place de la Concorde. The result was a masterpiece of 18th-century architecture. Behind one of the facades rose a sumptuous private residence decorated by the era’s finest artists and craftsmen. Such are the origins of the Hôtel de Crillon, created to host the world’s great ambassadors. Long owned by the illustrious family of the Counts of Crillon, this private mansion was transformed into a luxury palace hotel in 1909 under the impulse of architect Walter-André Destailleur.