As a bit of an obsessive when it comes to city views, as soon as the Shard opened three years ago I booked myself tickets for London’s highest viewing platform. The building had only been open a few weeks, and I had high hopes for a clear February day, but what I got was thick cloud and snow. So since then I’ve been promising myself I’d go back and see what I missed first-time around. Fast-forward three years and I found myself walking across Tower Bridge on a beautiful day and the Shard caught my eye – why not now?
In a city overflowing with spectacular architecture, Seville’s Plaza de España takes things to another level. A grand sweeping semi-circle of buildings surrounds a canal with arching bridges and a central fountain. But that’s not all, up close you can see that everything from the benches to the balconies is covered in intricately painted tiles. It might look like a historic palace but it was actually only built in the 1920s for the Ibero-American Exposition.
It’s become an annual tradition to take a dip into the photo archives and see what gems I can uncover at the end of each year. I take a ridiculous amount of photos and they can’t all make it into a blog post, so this is a chance to share the ‘best of the rest’, with some of my favourite unpublished photos from the last 12 months (you can see the previous editions from 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 too). They stretch from the Cotswolds all the way to the west coast of Canada, starting off in Santorini and ending up in Seville just last week.
Towering behind rows of boats in Antibes’ harbour, Fort Carré looks out over the Côte d’Azur. The fort was built in the 16th century to protect the border between France and the neighbouring county of Nice and saw its share of battles. After Nice became part of France it was declassified and used as a sports college for soldiers, who used to abseil down its walls, before opening to visitors. It’s claim to fame is that Napoleon was imprisoned there during the French Revolution, but you might recognise it as the villain’s lair from Bond film Never Say Never Again.
Narrow, gabled waterfront houses, a stream of boats along the canal, cobbled streets and cosy cafés – for a minute I thought I’d been transported to Amsterdam. But this is Christianshavn, Copenhagen’s canalside district. It was founded in the 17th century by Christian VI (yes him again, he was a busy boy) as part of his plan to fortify Copenhagen. And it does have an Amsterdam connection as its architecture was inspired by Dutch cities, with wide canals surrounded by warehouses and wealthy merchants houses. Today the warehouses are architects’ studios or art schools and the canals are full of yachts and houseboats.
Britain’s oldest warship, the Mary Rose was built for Henry VIII when he came to the throne in 1509 to show off his riches and military might. But despite its huge size and power it only lasted 35 years until it was damaged in a skirmish with the French fleet, and the king watched it sink off the coast of Portsmouth with 500 men on board. Attempts to salvage the wreck failed and she was left and lost for the next 300 years.
Perched on top of a rock, Harlech Castle towers over the North Wales countryside. One of the country’s most impressive medieval castles, it was built by Edward I in the 13th century during his invasion of Wales. It was heavily fortified with two rings of walls and towers and constructed at the top of an almost vertical cliff with the sea below, so there was no chance of anyone sneaking up on you. But that didn’t stop Owain Glyndwr capturing it for the Welsh in 1404 – and the English capturing it back five years later.
As you follow winding paths through Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean, don’t be too surprised if you come across a huge wooden chair or a deer spun from iron wire. They’re all part of the four-mile Sculpture Trail. Set up in 1986, it was designed to bring art into nature, with different artists commissioned to produce sculptures inspired by the forest. And almost 30 years on the project is still running, with 16 permanent and temporary artworks.
The heart of the French town of Annecy might be its pretty old town, but its lungs are the lake. It’s here that local residents and visitors get outside and get active – running and cycling on lakeside paths, sailing and kayaking on the water or swimming in it. Or if that’s all too energetic you can just soak up the fresh air on one of the boat cruises that tour around the lake. Lake Annecy was formed by melting glaciers 18,000 years ago and the clear waters still flow in from surrounding Alpine rivers and springs.
Between the Brandenburg Gate and Tiergarten in Berlin lies a solemn field of 2771 grey stone slabs. The Holocaust Memorial – or, to give it its full name, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe – commemorates the Jewish lives lost in the Holocaust. It’s an almost impossible task to create something to symbolise that horror, and the design process was a long and controversial one that started back in 1988. Eleven years later, US architect Peter Eisenman’s design was finally approved and the memorial opened in May 2005, on the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII.