Ponte Vecchio, Florence Italy

The most striking and oldest bridge in Florence still in existence is the Ponte Vecchio, literally: the old bridge. The Ponte Vecchio was designed by a student of Giotto, Taddeo Gaddi and was finished in 1345. The Ponte Vecchio is known for the many shops on and around the bridge, which used to be the domain of blacksmiths, tanners and butchers. They used the Arno river in Florence as a landfill. However, Duke Fernandino made sure they left because they caused too much noise and stench. They were replaced by jewelers and goldsmiths, who could also pay a higher rent.

The Ponte Vecchio is said to have existed since Roman times. The bridge was then only made of wood and after the flooding of the bridge in 1333, the Ponte Vecchio was rebuilt in stone in 1345. The bridge consists of three arches, of which the middle one is the largest at thirty meters in length. In the center of the bridge is a bust of Benvenuto Cellini, an Italian artist who started his career as a goldsmith on Ponte Vecchio. The bridge was not destroyed by the Germans in World War II, but a torrent in 1966 was less favorable to the bridge, causing a lot of gold capital to disappear in the Arno.

People who have read Dan Brown’s Inferno have heard of the Corridoio Vasariano, Vasari’s secret corridor. This elevated corridor crosses the shops of the Ponte Vecchio and connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Pitti Palace. Vasari designed this secret corridor on behalf of Cosimo I so that he and his family could move between his two palaces without being seen by the people. The Corridoio Vasariano is almost a kilometer in distance. At first there were four towers on the Ponte Vecchio. Three of the four were demolished during the construction of the Corridoio Vasariano. The fourth tower, that of the Mannelli family, was saved; the Vasari corridor had to be built around this by means of support beams. Unfortunately, the Corridoio Vasariana is under restoration, which means that the secret corridor is presumably not open until 2022 with guided tours.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th-century historicist palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and in honour of Richard Wagner.

Ho Chi Minh City Hall, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City Hall, officially called the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Head Office is the city hall of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The hall was built in 1902–1908 in a French colonial style. Since 1975, the building has housed the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee. Although the building is not open to the public, it is popular for its photo opportunities. Tourists can take photographs outside and many people choose to do this at night when the building and its grounds are lit up.

Saigon Central Post Office, Vietnam

Saigon Central Post Office is located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. Built around 1886 – 1891 when Vietnam was part of French Indochina and based on the design of Gustave Eiffel, a famous French architect, together with his collaborator Alfred Foulhoux, it is the largest post office in Vietnam and a must-go tourist attraction for centuries.

What makes it different from any other post offices is that Saigon Central Post Office is a combination, a mixture, of Gothic, Renaissance and French influences, which fascinates tourists by its typical colonial French features, from exterior to interior decorations.

Standing in front of Saigon Central Post Office for the first time, visitors may feel that they’re brought back to 20th century railway station in Europe rather than a post office in an Asian country due to its glamorous design considering its arched windows creatively designed with engaged piers, green window shutters or the main entrance with intricate ironwork. The facade retaining cubic structure with the arches above the entrance has recorded the names and faces of the characters, representatives of French celebrities. Among these names is the President of the United States Benjamin Franklin, the Italian inventor Alessandro Volta, the British physicist Michael Faraday, French mathematician André-Marie Ampère, Gay Lussac, Oerstedt, Ohm, Arago, Galvani, Foucault, and Laplace. Together with the names and the faces, there are also some inscriptions, which he would like to dedicate these illustrious characters related to discoveries and advances in the field of electricity.

St Joseph’s Cathedral, Hanoi Vietnam

First, St Joseph’s Cathedral was temporarily built of wood. The construction of St Joseph’s Cathedral took place from 1884 to 1887, and during this time it was built of brick and plastered by concrete. The church was said to look like a small simulation of Notre Dame de Paris with multiple representative features of Gothic Revival architecture. 

St Joseph’s Cathedral, or “The Big Church” familiarly called by the locals, is one of the first structures constructed by French colonists during their expansion in Indochina and still intact in Hanoi after two fierce wars.

During the French Colonial period, Catholicism was propagated widely and St Joseph’s Cathedral became the center of Catholicism in North Vietnam. There were daily, weekly ceremonies organizing in the church at that time. The church was a place not only welcoming thousands of Catholics in the north of Vietnam but also hiding and catering Vietnamese revolution soldiers. 

Grand Hotel Taipei ✯✯✯✯✯, Taiwan

Taipei Grand Hotel, a 5-star 14-story palace-like building, faces Keelung River, nestled against Yangming Mountain, overlooking Songshan in the east and Danshui in the west. Since 1952, the Grand Hotel has been standing midway up Yuanshan, a towering building with red columns, gilded tiles and a magnificent, grandiose, regal, classic presence, a must-visit great gem of Chinese culture.

A secret underground tunnel built to evacuate Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (蒋介石) in the event of an emergency was revealed to the public for the first time since being constructed over 50 years ago.

In 1970, two tunnels were added to the plans for Taipei’s Grand Hotel, one running from the west wing of the hotel and the other from the east wing. The secret passageways were constructed to enable Chiang and VIP guests to evacuate from the hotel quickly in the event of an attack by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces.

Nearly 50 years later, in 2019, the hotel opened up the western escape tunnel to the public. An interesting feature of the 85-meter western passage is a slide that runs along a 74-step staircase.

Chateau of Cheverny, France

A magical place which enchants visitors of all ages. The Château de Cheverny is a grand estate which has been in the same family for over six centuries. Cheverny has always been lived in and every generation has made a great effort to take care and embellish it with a true passion. In 1922 it was one of the first private homes to open its doors to the public. We appreciate the splendour and delight of real life in a castle. The owners invited us to discover this fantastic and vivid heritage: from the botanical park to the magnificent interior of the Château; the hunting dog kennels to Tintin’s exhibition and the gardens through to the forest.

Chateau de Chenonceau, France

The Château de Chenonceau is a French château spanning the River Cher, near the small village of Chenonceaux in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France. It is one of the best-known châteaux of the Loire valley. The estate of Chenonceau is first mentioned in writing in the 11th century. Chenonceau castle is well furnished with Renaissance furniture, a good collection of   16th and 17th century tapestries and a great number of masterpieces. The bedrooms of the ladies of the chateau, who played major roles in the history of Chenonceau are the most exquisite. Paintings by Le Primatice, Rubens, Le Tintoret, Rigaud, Nattier are among the most famous names that can be found here.

Milan Cathedral Duomo di Milano, Italy

Milan Cathedral is the cathedral church of Milan, Lombardy, Italy. Dedicated to the Nativity of St Mary, it is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan. The cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete: construction began in 1386, and the final details were completed in 1965. Milan Cathedral, called Duomo di Milano in Italian, is a vast Gothic-style cathedral, located in the heart of Milan. It is 515 ft (157 metres) long and 302 ft (92 m) wide. It can house up to 40.000 people. Duomo di Milano is one of the largest Catholic churches in the world.

Venice City of Canals, Italy

Venice, the capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region, is built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It has no roads, just canals – including the Grand Canal thoroughfare – lined with Renaissance and Gothic palaces. The central square, Piazza San Marco, contains St. Mark’s Basilica, which is tiled with Byzantine mosaics, and the Campanile bell tower offering views of the city’s red roofs.