Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Top 5 Buildings in Nuremberg, Germany

Church of Our Lady, Nuremberg, GermanyI was spending the second day of my weeklong jaunt through the Christmas markets of Germany in Nuremberg, a city long associated with the trials of Nazi war criminals in the mid-1940s. But this wonderfully charming city with a very deep history has so much more to offer than the notoriety of that brief period, including some very impressive architecture. Read about the top five buildings in Nuremberg >


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Auckland’s Architectural Gems

Old Arts Building, Auckland, New ZealandI was returning to Auckland via ferry from breakfast and a low-key morning in Devonport. Ahead of me, the skyline of New Zealand’s largest city marched along the harborfront, dominated by modern office and residential towers. With the exception of the Sky Tower and the cheerful Ferry Terminal, this fairly generic skyline could be interchanged most anywhere — Vancouver, for example, or Miami or Honolulu. Once I looked beyond that, however, I found that the city has an impressive list of heritage buildings, more than 200 structures with significant and valued historical and cultural heritage. Read more about the top five buildings in Auckland >


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Faith and Fun in Helsinki’s Finest Churches

Karuna Church, Helsinki, FinlandStrong incense emanating from censers in a Russian Orthodox cathedral. An organ concert in an iconic Lutheran cathedral. Utter silence in a modern chapel in a busy area of Helsinki. A wedding in a church built into a rock. A chorale by Finland’s most famous composer ringing from the bell tower of an Art Nouveau church. My experiences in the city’s churches continually surprised me, surpassing mere architecture, history, and religious tradition (although all of those abound in Helsinki’s houses or worship), and visiting them became one long series of unexpected delights. Read about the top five churches in Helsinki >


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The Churches of Pittsburgh: Very Diverse, All Beautiful

From the top of Mount Washington, I took in the fantastic view of the skyline of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of the best urban views in the United States. Connected to the land across the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers by its iconic yellow bridges, this pie-shaped section of the city rises heavenward with its shiny skyscrapers, which (unfortunately) effectively hide one of the city’s lower-rise assets: its gorgeous houses of worship. Read about the top five churches in Pittsburgh >


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From 1322 to Today, Tallinn’s Town Hall Was Built to Last

Town Hall, Tallinn, EstoniaIn 2005, the Town Hall in Tallinn, Estonia, received second prize in the category of Conservation of Architectural Heritage at the European Heritage Awards. Located in the heart of Tallinn’s Old Town, Town Hall isn’t the largest one I’ve ever seen, nor the grandest or most elaborate, but it’s certainly charming and irrefutably resilient: For nearly 700 years, this structure has weathered everything from its critical role in the then-independent city to its subordination under Soviet Communism to its rebirth as Tallinn’s hub. And, so, that award was very well-deserved. Read more about it >


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Appreciating Alabama’s Architectural Heritage

Steiner-Lobman and Teague Hardware BuildingsIn between outdriving projected tornado paths through central Alabama and enduring a fierce electrical storm that knocked out power in my hotel in Montgomery, I had ample time to explore many of the state’s highlights, from a massive battleship to a lazy cruise on the Alabama River to key civil rights sites. Through it all, I kept admiring some remarkable structures, many of historical and architectural significance that have become national landmarks over the years. Read more about the top five buildings in Alabama >


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The Perfect Place for Your Afterlife to Begin (and Your Current Life to Be Enriched)

Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New YorkBefore picnicking here was banned, it was the second most-visited tourist attraction in New York State, luring 500,000 people every year in the 1860s, a number rivaled solely by Niagara Falls. In the heart of Brooklyn, folks would gather to enjoy the pastoral setting of the lush 478 acres, flush with countless varieties of trees and flowering shrubs, ponds, valleys, winding lanes, and open vistas from the highest natural point in Brooklyn of the surrounding communities and as far away as Manhattan. A few of these people might have even been there to acknowledge this place’s primary objective: a chance to visit their deceased friends and relatives buried within its grounds. Now, 181 years after it was founded, Green-Wood Cemetery remains one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, and tourists still come to visit, whether or not they have ancestors resting here in peace. Read more >