Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel

View down Frederiksholms Kanal in Copenhagen, Denmark

This view down Frederiksholms Kanal is one of the prettiest sights in Copenhagen. The canal runs along one side of the small island of Slotsholmen, which is home to Christiansborg Palace and the Royal Stables. The Prince’s Mansion (upper left) once served as the official residence of the Crown Prince of Denmark. Today it houses the National Museum of Denmark. The three-arched Storm Bridge at center is named after the “Storm on Copenhagen,” a military action that occurred during the 17th century Northern Wars. The bridge stands on the very spot from which Swedish troops mounted an unsuccessful siege on the city. Read More

Like thousands of tourists before me, I made my way to Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark. But rather than join the queues waiting to visit the Parliament and Supreme Court, I decided to stroll around the exterior. At the rear of the palace, an electrified fence surrounded a pasture where two enormous white Kladruber horses stood.

The one nearest me rolled his big black eye, scoping me out. “Beauty,” I said quietly. Curious, he trotted over to get a better look. I began to talk to him. He shook his mane and sprinted away, but was soon back. We played tag for 20-minutes. With each approach he came just a bit closer, but he always skittered away whenever I looked at him directly. I was completely mesmerized.

The Kladruber Horses of the Danish Royal Family

The Kladruber Horses of the Danish Royal Family

I had discovered the Royal Stables, home to the famous Kladruber horses. The lineage is more than 450 years old, making it one of the oldest and rarest of all breeds. Kladrubers originated in the Czech Republic. With their high-stepping gait and musculature, they were bred specifically to pull carriages. In 1994, the Royal Family acquired six young Kladrubers to pull the Queen’s carriage. Read More

In 1994, the Danish Royal Family acquired six Kladruber horses to pull the Queen\'s carriage. See them at the Royal Stables behind Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Boardwalk along Copenhage Harbour

Since its founding, Copenhagen, Denmark, has been inextricably linked to water. The earliest written mention of the Danish capital is found in a 12th century book, which referred to the city as “Merchants’ Harbour.” This was undoubtedly a reference to the waterway we now know as Copenhagen Harbour. This broad and sheltered inlet, which provides the best approach to the Baltic Sea in all of Europe, allowed Copenhagen to develop into a powerful trading center. Unfortunately, as the city grew and prospered, the harbour became ever more industrialized and polluted.

Fast forward to 2015, when the City Council adopted the “Metropolis for People” proposal. The five-year plan had a simple goal: to make Copenhagen the most livable city in the world. A primary focus of the project was redevelopment of the land surrounding Copenhagen Harbour. This past summer I enjoyed the fruits of this project as I strolled down Inderhavn, the most central part of the harbour. Read More

Challenge anyone to list the world’s most famous architects and names like Frank Lloyd Wright, Antoni Gaudí, and I.M. Pei will likely be bandied about. Most would be surprised, however, to learn that a 16th century Italian architect known as Palladio is widely considered to be the most influential individual in the history of Western architecture.

Basilica Palladiana and clock tower is a magnificent example of the palladian architecture of Vicenza Italy

Basilica Palladiana, with its soaring clock tower, is a magnificent example of the Palladian architecture of Vicenza, Italy

Born as Andrea Di Pietro della Gondola in Padua, Italy, he was apprenticed to a sculptor at an early age. By the age of 16 he had moved to Vicenza to work as a mason specializing in monuments and decorative sculpture. He was hired by Count Gian Giorgio Trissino, a poet and scholar who was rebuilding his countryside villa in the ancient Roman style. It was a fortunate break. Trissino was impressed enough with the young man’s work that he sponsored his education and sent him to Rome to study ancient architecture. Upon his return, the Count nicknamed him “Palladio,” after Pallas Athene, the Greek goddess of wisdom. The name stuck. Read More

Palladian architecture of Vicenza, Italy emerged in the 16th century, spread throughout Europe, and even crossed the pond to America.

Piazza dei Signori in Vicenza Italy

Midway between the cities of Venice and Verona in northern Italy, lies a third “V” – the tiny town of Vicenza. Though smaller and lesser known that its more famous neighbors, Vicenza nonetheless packs a punch in terms of history, culture, and especially architecture. In 1994, Vicenza was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its concentration of buildings designed by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. But in my opinion no other place displays the city’s beauty better than its central plaza, Piazza dei Signori. Read More

Strolling along the shores of Lake Garda in Peschiera del Garda in the Lakes District of Italy

I’ve long been fascinated by the idea of the Lakes District in Italy. The roots of my fascination may lie in the many movies that have been filmed there. Casino Royale, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, A Month By the Lake, Ocean’s Twelve, and Man on Fire, among others, were all filmed at Lake Como. Though I’d previously spent time at Lake Lugano in southern Switzerland, and viewed Lake Como from a bus on my way to take the famous Bernina Express train to Chur, Switzerland, I’d never actually stayed at any of Italy’s famous Lakes. During a recent trip to northern Italy, I decided to remedy that with a stop at Lake Garda. Read More