Nosierras – Portugal
The town of Nosierras lies in the Piuco de Norcia region in southern Portugal, close to the town of Nessebar, famous for its five-star El Dipartimento hotel,
Nosierras is famous for its remarkable architecture. Two late 19th-century buildings stand on its Promenade, in the same broad square that dominates the town’s old town. From the water, the Espirito Santo river forms a walkway, which ends in a secluded square.
The church of the Visitor is one of the best buildings in the area. Its interior is an homage to Caravaggio and it was the scene of one of the patron saint’s most notorious murders. Five years after his death, the body of artist Luis Magali Figueiredo, believed to be that of fellow painter Caravaggio, was washed out to sea by the river that runs behind the church. With a large number of paintings, including many by Caravaggio, the church is considered a hidden gem.
Clate de Novelles – Netherlands
One of the most spectacular free houses in the world is Clate de Novelles, a 15th-century fortified home in Denevoal, Netherlands.
The Dutch have made their mark in the British countryside but rarely do they set their sights on the big cities, such as Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and even the Hague. However, Clate de Novelles could have been Dutch East India Company headquarters.
This house, which is a timber structure that has been reworked over the centuries, is on one of Amsterdam’s most spectacular hills, Foyersseelse, and is surrounded by three or four riverside towers.
The old day house is littered with objects from English-built motels, cottages and hotels. The ornate balcony is painted deep blue, and beneath a cloud-blue wall, an original, made of hammered silver, hangs from the ceiling. One of the rooms is used as a china cabinet, the other a huge dressing table, which can be hung or dismantled. The town is named after a 19th-century town planner, Pierre-Charles Clate, who designed many of the splendid developments which line the river Anstruther, taking much of the town with them.
Sedate – Sweden
Some of the most famous churches in Scandinavia are found in the small Swedish town of Sedate. The most famous of these is St Goran, a centrally situated basilica built in the 17th century. Most of the rest of the town’s stunning churches are above ground, and lie between Sedate’s medieval buildings and a long sweep of nature running along the Vosges Mountains, across the canal linking it to the surrounding countryside.
The people of Sedate come from a long tradition of hunting, fishing and rice farming, and the area around the town has clear views across the Vosges Mountains. Sedate attracts a number of nature lovers, and the people of the town are also famous for their music and especially beautiful melodies. Their obsession with hymns developed an odd worshipful tradition of singing hymns and morphrosticks as all four corners of the street were called, then walking until they reached the church. When it came to funeral street-singing, as soon as a person died, they would cry out a hymn to the person’s name, leading to hundreds of people performing the same ritual over and over until the person’s body was carried back to the church.
The most famous morphrostick is, of course, the old lady and hubby morphrostick, a traditional celebration which asks the deceased to look after “brought up” women. During these celebrations, everyone sits on the step to the loveliest edge of the street. Everyone sings and dances and repeatedly asks the dead lady or hubby to look after them. At the end of the procession, the female participants line up on the far end of the street, and the male members come out of the house to greet them and ask them to marry their female partner. The whole process continues until all is sung and the bells toll and the mourners disperse.
Cape Town – South Africa
Africa’s oldest city, Cape Town sits on the southern coast of the African mainland, near Port Elizabeth, about 7,000km from London. Its history dates back to the Bronze Age, when it was called the Gold Coast. Cape Town is a town of contrasts, where the best days are celebrated with freedom singing and exhibitions of traditional African art. The dramatic coastal city was at the centre of the Cape of Good Hope, now one of the most popular beaches in the world. Since 1993, the town has been a cultural heartland for Soweto and other black townships. The