The Enchantment of Rovinj and the Allure of Venice

After Dubrovnik, Rovinj would be another “must see” city in Croatia. A historic harbor town located along the Adriatic Sea on the west coast of the Istrian Peninsula, it is very reminiscent of a number of quaint Italian villages. Travelers will appreciate the abundance of varied, colorful scenes that project charm and romanticism.

Below is a view of the Old Town looking north from the Rovinj Marina at Luka Rovinj. The Church of Saint Euphemia’s spire rises above all other structures.

Here is a closer view

The hilltop location and weathered cobblestone streets provide an array of old world venues to investigate.

In destination cities, there are usually cafes, small boutiques and unique emporiums and Rovinj will not disappoint. Rovinj is made for walking. As a mostly car-free town it invites visitors to explore the narrow alleyways and traverse up and down the stone stairways. Pedestrians stop often to admire the old world architecture and colorful facades.

Don’t get the wrong idea however, Rovinj has also evolved to appeal to the more contemporary taste of savvy travelers. There are interesting eateries and shops with up-to-date color schemes and modern offerings.

Tourists may have a tendency to forget that daily lives swirl about as they visit surrounding streets, but somehow mundane images seem to take on additional appeal in a setting such as Rovinj.

The dominant building and a favorite tourist stop is the Church of Saint Euphemia built on the highest hilltop between 1725 and 1736 .

*The bell tower bears a strong resemblance to St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice and serves as a platform for the statue of St. Euphemia, the Patron Saint of Rovinj. The bronze sculpture is constructed on a spindle which enables it to turn indicating the direction of the wind.

The statue of St. Euphemia can be seen on the top of the bell tower in Rovinj.

The colorful buildings against the blue water and stormy sky provided plenty of opportunity for beautiful photographs.

To relax a bit and take in the ambience of the town, a stroll along the harbor is a top choice.

Walking around Rovinj, one is easily reminded that this is a seafaring locale relying on the Adriatic for its livelihood, tourism and recreation.

Reminders of the daily work

The rustic buildings pointing toward the sea have satellite dishes on the roofs providing a mix of the old and the new.

A number of marinas draw fishing and boating enthusiasts to the area.

A small ferry transports passengers between the town’s perimeter and the old section. A fine place to bid farewell to hard-to-forget Rovinj.

To catch the flight back to the United States, our tour group made a one-day stop over in Venice. Although we had been there before, the contender for the moniker, City of Love, still had plenty of charisma to offer.**

San Giorgio Maggiore island and church in Venice viewed from the Grand Canal walkway

The canals of Venice frame many interesting sights such as the Bridge of Sighs (left) and the San Giorigio del Greci Church (right)

If ever there was a location made for a romantic evening walk, it would be in-and-around the Grand Canal of Venice.

Early evening view of the famed gondolas with San Giorgio Maggiore island in the background

As darkness falls, the magic of the night unfolds in Venice

One of our favorite all-time great evenings was sitting in St. Mark’s Square with a glass of wine listening to the various orchestras compete in a make-shift “battle of the bands.” An evening in the square is a good place to cap off our great adventure.






See Previous Posts in this series:

Dubrovnik, Croatia – Pearl of the Adriatic

Old Town Dubrovnik – Above it all

Old Town Dubrovnik – The Low Down

Dubrovnik from the Adriatic and Mt. Srd

Montenegro & The Walled City of Kotor

Mostar – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Coastal City of Split, Croatia

Zagreb – Capital City of Croatia

Ljubljana – Capital of Slovenia

Slovenia – Cookies, Castle, Caves and Cuisine

Pula’s Ancient Heritage


Perast – Montenegro

“One of the most beautiful towns on the Adriatic coast, Perast, is my favourite place on the Bay of Kotor…

With 17 Baroque palaces, 19 churches but scarcely more than 250 residents, Perast is a tiny town packed with history and legend.

It might be just a 20-minute drive away from popular Kotor, but Perast has a totally different vibe.” – 13 Things to Do in Perast, the Loveliest Town on the Bay of Kotor – Emily Lush

I have no doubt that the quote above is true. Perast certainly is a beautiful city.

Beautiful seaside view of Perast

Our visit to Perast had a defined purpose and that was to see what many would claim is the number one attraction, Our Lady of the Rocks Roman Catholic Church.

There are two islands directly off the coast of Perast. The Benedictine Monastery of St. George can be seen on the left which is not open to the public and Our Lady of the Rocks is on the right.

the two islands off the coast of Perast

Our Lady of the Rocks is constructed on a man-made island. Two fishermen apparently discovered an image of the Virgin Mary at that location in 1452 and this was enough to convince the town that there was destined to be a chapel on that site. Read more about the legend of Our Lady of the Rocks Chapel and its development HERE

the island with Our Lady of the Rocks

Though small, the beautiful landmark is full of charm and worthy of careful exploration.

A view of the wall and dome of Our Lady of the Rocks

The most notable feature is the distinctive blue dome.

Another view of the distinctive blue dome and gardens

The sanctuary is very well appointed with attractive religious statuary and ornaments and the detailed altar is aesthetically framed against deep red walls.

The Altar of the Chapel at Our Lady of the Rocks

Perhaps hoping to garner blessings for recent nuptials, brides hang bouquets above the sanctuary doorway.

Bridal Bouquets left above the doorway

The picturesque surroundings encourage visitors to walk around the perimeter of the island.

The tower of Our Lady

It was fun to seek out the interesting details such as sculptures of muscular ancients holding the bench for those seeking a place to rest.

Statues of ancient musclemen holding up a bench

Tourists are tempted to look back toward Perast through the windows and gates to take in the beauty of the town from a distant perspective.

Looking through a large security door toward the town of Perast

The island is a bustling place with numerous boatloads of people coming and going.

Boats arriving and leaving the island of Our Lady of the Rocks

Another beautiful scene unfolds while looking southeast from Our Lady of the Church toward St. George Island.

St. George Island

This was a spectacular day visiting Kotor and Perast!

Heading back toward the town of Perast




See previous posts in this series:

Dubrovnik, Croatia – Pearl of the Adriatic
Old Town Dubrovnik – Above it all
Old Town Dubrovnik – The Low Down
Dubrovnik from the Adriatic and Mt. Srd
Montenegro & The Walled City of Kotor



Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Evora was established by the Romans and had its halcyon days during the 17th century when the Portuguese royalty became residents. It is noted for the white building facades as well as the popular wrought iron and tile accents.

The city of Evora

One of the major tourist attractions is the Royal Church of St. Francis which, from the exterior, is similar to dozens of other churches one might encounter throughout Portugal. It is located within easy walking distance of the main square.

Royal Church of St. Francis

The building has arched arcades that open to an interior courtyard.

Royal Church of St. Francis - Arcade

Naturally, the church has beautifully detailed altars with ornate artwork.

Royal Church of St. Francis - beautiful altar

What distinguishes the Royal Church of St. Francis from almost every other church in the world is that it houses one of the most famous sights in Evora – the famous Capela dos Ossos (Bones Chapel) dating back to the 1500s.

wall of the Bones Chapel

“The Chapel’s story is a familiar one. By the 16th century, there were as many as 43 cemeteries in and around Évora that were taking up valuable land. Not wanting to condemn the souls of the people buried there, the monks decided to build the Chapel and relocate the bones.” –

closer look at the skeletons of the Bones Chapel

Rather than trying to create a macabre setting, the monks thought they were paying homage to Evora’s deceased and hoped this would provide a place of tranquility and meditation. Bones were chosen to add decorations to the architectural elements of the chapel.

Skulls embedded in the arch of a support column

Here is a close up of one of the support columns. Note the partial skull, second from the bottom of the frame. This may have been damaged accidentally, but bones have been intentionally removed as collector items and visitors are now restricted from getting too close to the walls.

More skeletal remains in a support column

A very poignant display was of the Pompei-like presentation of the bodies below which, at one time, were hanging from the walls by a ropes as complete desiccated specimens until one fell. Now they rest peacefully in a glass coffins.

a desiccated adult body

There are stories associated with these bodies and you can read about them at the Ancient Origins website.

a desiccated child's body

One can only imagine how many bones are located within this structure and the time and patience it took to construct this edifice.

Another wall of bones

As one leaves the chapel to visit the main sanctuary, a somewhat morbid signs harkens to those leaving:

Inscription - We bones in here wait for yours to join us.

“We bones in here wait for yours to join us.”

More things to see and do in Evora in the next Portugal and Spain post!


Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.


Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE



All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2018 –

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Breaking away from our routine of traveling to national parks in the United States, we decided to journey overseas with a noted tour company to see a part of the world in which we have been interested for a long time. So off it was to Portugal and Spain.

Map of Portugal with Lisbon noted

Map Via

We arrived in Lisbon relatively early in the day. After we checked in at our hotel, we were anxious to get out and about to visit some of the sights we researched. High on the list was the Alfama district in Lisbon.

One of Alfama’s distinctions is that it is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon. It is located along the Tejo river and is very picturesque. The concierge at the hotel explained that we needed to take a taxi to the tram stop and then take the number 28 to Alfama.

Tram #28 headed to Alfama

The #28 tram’s route traverses the city’s center thus making it a very busy mode of transportation as tourists use this to arrive at many of Lisbon’s popular attractions. It is less expensive than a tour bus, but there is no guide to point out the sights. We had to be careful as there were two different #28 trams. We determined we needed the one with the destination noted as Prazeres.

You can read more about it HERE

This popular tram usually operates from 7AM until 11PM daily. Check out the current schedules to be sure.

NOTE – Pickpockets often frequent this tram so be careful and keep your valuables close. We had no problems at all (besides the usual language barrier).

Little did we understand that the tram was going to drop us off quite a distance from the main section of Alfama and that we also needed to board a small van to take us to Alfama’s central location; no extra charge. Streets are so narrow in places that cars cannot navigate them. Bicycles and smaller motorized transports are plentiful on these narrow side streets.

As we were walking to board the jitney, we passed a trash can that was quite unique. We didn’t realize that this was customary in Portugal and Spain. Trash/recycle receptacles are sometimes painted and serve as a work of contemporary art. The city sponsors some to the container art. Apparently a number of other European cities have adopted this colorful method of camouflaging these streetside bins.

Art covered trash=recycle bins

We managed to find our way to the small van and disembarked near the Miradouro das Portas do Sol (Viewpoint of the Doors of the Sun) which is a large terraced area with an elevated point of view looking over Alfama. The first thing visitors are going to notice is the famous red roofs. This is Alfama’s trademark!

Landmark red roofs of Alfama seen from Miradouro das Portas do Sol

In the picture above, the river is barely visible, but some of the prominent buildings can be clearly seen. The large building in the upper left (with the two towers) is the Church or Monastery of São Vicente de Fora which Wikipedia translates as “Monastery of St. Vincent .” Just off to the the right of the Monastery is the dome of the National Pantheon.

Saint Vincent is Lisbon’s patron saint and a statue to honor him stands as a sentinel at the Portas del Sol close to where most visitors will arrive at one point or another during their explorations. There are several vendors and street merchants at this location trying to capitalize on the crowds that often gather in this area.

Statue of Lisbon's patron saint, Saint Vincent

Here is another photograph of Alfama taken from the Miradouro de Santa Luzia which is another great viewing area. The Tejo river is located along the horizon. More central with a single tower visible is the iglesia de Santo Estevao (Church of St. Stephen).

Another view of the port of Alfama seen from Miradouro de Santa Luzia

As we began to make our way through the old streets of Alfama on the way to the Thieve’s Market, we passed by ancient structures. Here is a crossover near the Campo de Santa Clara (market square).

crossover near the Campo de Santa Clara (market square)

The Thieves Market is similar to flea markets around the world. It is only open on Tuesday and Saturdays in the square near the Panteão Nacional and São Vicente de Fora dating back to the late 1880’s.

Vendors at the Thieves Market in Alfama

There was a large variety of goods for sale including books, crafts and other typical flea market wares.

Wheelbarrow with dishes for sale

Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.


Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE

All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018 –