Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Turku Castle Reigns Supreme

Turku Castle, Turku, FinlandFinland’s oldest city and its former capital, Turku is located about two hours by train from where I was staying in Helsinki, the superior Hotel Kämp. The country’s sixth-largest city has plenty to see for a full day trip, from its 700-year-old cathedral to a fantastic museum built over a 14th-century archaeological site, but Turku’s most famous landmark is the one I wanted to visit most — the largest castle in Finland. Read more >

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Big Buildings in Little Rock, Arkansas

Villa Marre, Little Rock, ArkansasMy day trip from Hot Springs, Arkansas, to Little Rock centered around a visit to the state capitol, a stroll through a couple of the half dozen historic districts, and the duck march at what was then the Peabody Hotel. This sleepy capital city (indeed, the downtown felt rather abandoned, and within walking distance of it you’ll feel like you’re in the suburbs, with spacious homes along tree-lined streets) is ideal for strolling, whether it’s along the banks of the Arkansas River, through the Market Hall for some international snacks, or around the historic districts that boast some beguiling edifices, many of which rank among the city’s best. Read more about the top five buildings in Little Rock >


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A-List Churches in Albany, New York

St. Joseph's Church, Albany, New YorkFor a smaller capital city, Albany, New York, teems with iconic structures: the unique state capitol, The Egg performing arts venue, and the sprawling old headquarters of the Delaware and Hudson Railway, now the administration building for the State University of New York. Chief among them are the city’s churches, eight of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Their congregations include Baptists, Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Presbyterians, and United Methodists. They span a wide variety of architectural styles, and they all enjoy voluminous histories, making a visit to these venerable institutions a very rewarding experience. Read more about the top five churches in Albany >


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Beyond the Gorges: The Five Best Buildings in Ithaca, New York

Stowell House, Ithaca, New YorkIthaca, New York, is famous for its gorgeous gorges, which weave their way around and through the city, providing ample opportunity for its residents, visitors, and thousands of students at Ithaca College and Cornell University to enjoy some of nature’s finest work. When you emerge from these craggy corridors, you can also enjoy some of man’s finest work in the city’s architectural heritage. Read more about the top five buildings in Ithaca >


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Secular Stockholm’s Religious Past

St. James Church, Stockholm, SwedenNearly 80 percent of Swedes describe themselves as “not religious” or “convinced atheists,” and only about 4 percent of members of the Church of Sweden attend a weekly service. Those statistics belie the country’s religious past: There are more than 3,500 churches in Sweden, dozens and dozens of which are dotted around the capital city. I was enamored by the diversity of their architecture, history, and features, and I was enchanted by all of them. Read more about the top five churches in Stockholm >


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The Depthless Southern Charm of Natchez, Mississippi

Temple B'nai Israel, Natchez, MississippiWith a population that has been almost halved since its peak of only about 24,000 in 1960, Natchez, Mississippi, could easily become a forgotten, dying backwater along the Mississippi River. But its rich history, grand setting, elegance, and hospitality help maintain its relevance as one of the South’s most charming cities, particularly for those interested in heritage tourism. At the city’s zenith, more than 500 millionaires called it home — more than any other U.S. city except New York. They left behind a treasure trove of outstanding architecture that still lures a steady stream of visitors, including me, who come to gape at more than 600 antebellum structures — the largest collection in the United States. Read more about the top five buildings in Natchez >


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The Best Artistic Depictions of Palm Sunday

Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, New YorkThis coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, a key date in the Christian calendar when millions of Christians around the world commemorate Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem — a fateful day that launches Holy Week. Depicted in art for centuries, Palm Sunday is an unmistakable scene, whether it’s been rendered on a canvas or, as in most of the ones that really impressed me, stained glass. Read more about the top five Palm Sundays >