Belgium’s Castles Offer Homey Comforts

When my editor asked me to check out castles in Belgium, I conjured images of opulent palaces and imposing châteaux. Instead I found something better.

Tower of Château de Jannée

Tower of Château de Jannée

In Belgium—as in much of northern Europe—”castles” are often large but homey buildings with tidy square towers, plump furnishings, and folksy nobility who welcome guests with cheery warmth.

Hard white stone in Belgium’s French-speaking region, the Ardennes, gave rise to hundreds of these cozy castles. Some villages boast several, built in the 11th and 12th centuries to protect the growing population from invading armies.

Most of the original castles fell to ruins, but new residences were built atop the medieval foundations and now more than 160 are open for tours, dining, or overnight stays.

Visit three castle hotels…


Experience the EXPERIENCE Music Project

Seattle Music Project by architect Frank O. Ge...

Experience Music Project by architect Frank O. Gehry, Seattle, Washington (Photo credit: Wikimedia)

Architect Frank Gehry uses computers to help design and build his famous wavy, shiny, psycho-structures. The EMP in Seattle is a museum of rock-and-roll, but even if you don’t like rock music, you’ll want to see Gehry’s rebellious design for the building.

Learn about the Experience Music Project (EMP) in Seattle, Washington >


Visit the UN

English: United Nations headquarters in New Yo...

United Nations Headquarters in New York, seen from the East River. (Photo credit: Wikimedia)

The tall Secretariat Building overlooking New York’s East River is the centerpiece of the United Nations complex and a symbol of the quest for peace between nations. The smooth glass facade is also a landmark example of the International Style, a mid-twentieth century movement toward simple, geometric design. The architects included Le Corbusier, Oscar Niemeyer, and Wallace Harrison.

The United Nations officially came into being October 24, 1945. The Secretariat building was completed in 1952 and renovated in 2012.

Learn about the United Nations Building and the International Style >>