Switzerland has more than vast Alpine meadows, luscious chocolate, and elegant watches to offer. The country also has a wealth of different attractions for nature lovers, adventurers, history buffs, religious faithfuls, and other kinds of travelers. The best Switzerland attractions caters to a wide variety of interests which in turn attracts tourists both young and old alike.
The Benedictine Convent of Saint John Mustair is a must-see for the faithful. It is thought to have been founded by Charlemagne. The date at which it was built is unknown but the murals inside the convent date back to 800 AD. Stucco artwork and Romanesque frescoes may also be seen in its interiors and contributes to its overall charm. The convent’s façade is rather simple and is probably the reason why most tourists don’t include it in their itinerary.
If you love architecture and nature, one of the top reasons to visit Switzerland is Chateau de Chillon. It is strategically located on the eastern edge of Lake Geneva. The beautiful Chillon Castle sits on top of jagged mountains. The castle appears to be surrounded by calm waters from afar and looks like a scene straight out of a movie. The reason why it was isolated is because it served as a medieval fort and prison. Long-abandoned, Chateau de Chillon is now open for tours and for exploring its natural surroundings.
The town of Bellinzona is strictly a historical-only landmark in Switzerland protected by fortified walls. Within its walls are the Castelgrande, Montebello, and Sasso Corbaro castles. On the contrary, a strict nature-only attraction in the country is the Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area. It is a glacial area with about 35,000 hectares of frozen mountains. It is also home to Aletsch, the lengthiest glacier in the Alps which stretch 23 kilometers long. Hiking, trekking, and skiing opportunities are available to visitors of this nature reserve.
If you’re taking kids with you and if you want them to have fun, take a train that passes through Albula and Bernina. Some of the country’s most scenic landscapes are along these train routes. It’s an effortless way of showing your kids the best of Switzerland. Meanwhile, travelers who adore art should stop by the Fine Arts Museum where works of Picasso, Monet, and other famous painters are on display. Products of Expressionism, Pop Art, and other kinds of art are also on display at the Fine Arts Museum.
A sweet escape to the awe-inspiring haven of Ireland wouldn’t be completely fulfilling if you don’t get to see the top castles to visit in Northern Ireland. The castles in North Ireland were built around 800 years ago as medieval fortresses. But others are just modern homes or mansions which were patterned to the old castles. The greatest castles however were built by Normans who conquered England and Wales, and went to Ireland in 1169 to colonize the island as well. It has been said that “The greatest castles were the work of the ever-ambitious Normans”.
One of the most significant Norman-built castles in the entire Ireland is the Carrickfergus Castle. Built in the mid 1170’s, Carrickfergus is widely-considered as the most impressive among the castles in Ireland. It is remarkable because it represented the Normans’ military strength during the Iron Age. The castle was strategically built in a defensive location, used to be surrounded by the sea, and overlooks Belfast Lough on the east. The castle is marvellously constructed from rough-hewn stone and its structure is exceptional even to contemporary standards. Despite its fearsome look, this castle is not really gigantic to explore. It was besieged several times and was used to be a penitentiary over the centuries. Today, functions to accommodate tourists who enjoy the glimpse of medieval ambience with all the embellished waxworks of the castle.
Another remarkable castle in North Ireland is Dunluce castle. It was built on basalt crag surrounded by wild waves of the sea. And from afar, it looks as if it peeks from below the sea on the edges of the crag which makes a spectacular sight. To get to the castle you have to cross a bridge from the mainland cafe and coffee shop. It’s like the castle is from another era and space or isolated from real world, and it would be almost impossible to intrude from the sea to where it stands. The castle evidently manifests Iron Age strategic stronghold and protection before the times of the Vikings. Today, Dunluce castle remains under the protection of Northern Irish Ministry for the Environment. It is considered to be the most visited among the castles in North Ireland and is open the entire year with an entrance fee that is modestly charged.
Dunseverick Castle is also another noteworthy castle to consider exploring. It has a rich heritage to tell that is why it belongs in the category of top castles in Northern Ireland. Although there’s nothing much to see on the castle because its remnants have almost completely vanished, the castle’s remaining stone walls create a romantic scenery with flocks of sheep grazing on green grasses overlooking the blue sea down the cliff. Founded well before Normans arrived in Ireland, Dunseverick Castle was the site of the fort during Iron Age. In 500 AD, it was allegedly visited by St. Patrick, it was attacked by Vikings in 900 AD, it was fortified by Normans after they invaded the island, it was held by McCain family in around 1600 who further strengthened the site, and finally destroyed by Cromwellian campaign from England in 1642 when they conquered Ireland. Today, it’s a common stopping point for tourists who travel along Causeway Coast of County Antrim and you don’t even need formal visiting arrangements nor do you have to pay entrance fees to visit the ruins of the castle.