Information on talks available

Architectural History

Talks relating to Areas of the World

Europe & the Mediterranean
The Baltic
Africa & Middle East
The Americas




“Hi Ron, Thank you for sharing the photos of Boudicca's cruise around the Med. We just want to say how much your talks enhanced the trip for us. In fact, hand on heart, we can say that we will never forget the exploits of Detective Inspector Corinthian or the mounting body count. We hope to travel again with you some day!”
Bob and Anne   

"Just a brief note of thanks following your series of talks aboard the Adonia, which my wife and I enjoyed hugely. You were both engaging and entertaining." 


   "  ……… your talk on Pompeii was perfect prior to our visit, the photos, graphics and your humour really brought it alive." 

Alex – Viking Sea

    Europe & the Mediterranean

Talks can be delivered which relate to the following countries: 

England, France, Spain, Italy, Greece & Islands, Croatia, Turkey, Malta, Monaco. 
See below for the talks that are available for each of the above locations.

Buckingham Palace - London

Acquired by George III in 1762 it has been the home and office of the British Monarch since 1837. In this talk, Ron looks at the history, architecture and design of the palace and takes you inside to look around the State Rooms. LEARN MORE
Tower_of_London Tower of London

In its 1000 years history it has been a citadel, palace, prison and treasury. Ron guides you around the site, traces its development, and looks at some of the historical events that have occurred there. LEARN MORE
Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) - London

Dating back to the middle of the 11th century it served as the residence of the British Monarch until the 16th century. Destroyed by fire in 1834 it was rebuilt with over 1000 rooms. It has been the seat of the two houses of the British Parliament since 1512. In this talk, Ron looks at its history and architecture and the traditions that have been built up over the years.  LEARN MORE

Westminster Abbey - London

Westminster Abbey started as a Benedictine monastery during the 10th century. It became a Royal church during the reign of King Edward the Confessor and underwent significant development during the reign of Henry III in the 13th century. The abbey contains the tombs of seventeen monarchs and many distinguished musicians, writers, scientists and political figures. In this talk, Ron looks at the building, its contents and the many famous people associated with it.  LEARN MORE
St Paul's Cathedral - London

Built by Sir Christopher Wren to replace the cathedral destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was inspired by the Duomo of Florence and St Peters Basilica in Rome. Today it is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions and in this talk, Ron looks at the history of this and previous cathedrals on the site and the current ones design and construction. LEARN MORE
Windsor Castle - Windsor

Dating back over 1000 years, it is the largest inhabited castle in the world. In this talk, Ron looks at the requirements of a castle and some of the events that occurred here to shape the course of British history. LEARN MORE

Blenheim Palace - Oxfordshire

Presented to John Churchill, the First Duke of Marlborough in the early 1700’s as a gift from the Nation for his military triumph against the French and Bavarians at the battle of Blenheim; it is one of England’s largest houses and the birth place of Winston Churchill. In this talk, Ron looks at the Palace and the lives of some of the people who lived there and their influence on history.

Lincoln Cathedral

Built on the orders of William the Conqueror in 1072, it has been destroyed by fire and earthquake to be rebuilt to become one of the finest Gothic buildings in Europe. In 1300 it became the tallest building in the world until the collapse of its central spire in 1549. In this talk, Ron guides you around the building and its architecture and looks at its history and the conservation work that is needed to maintain it. LEARN MORE

Hadrian’s Wall - North of England

Build by Emperor Hadrian in 122AD, it marked the edge of the Roman Empire. Build from stone and turf, the stone sections measured over 9ft wide and up to 20 ft high and it stretched for 74 miles with forts along its length. In this talk, Ron looks at the background to its construction and what life would have been like for those who built and manned it.

Channel Tunnel - England/France

Opened for use in 1994 it joins England and France with a high-speed rail link. Stretching 50km it has 23 km 45m below sea level. In this talk, Ron will explain the way it was constructed and the problems that were overcome in order to create one of the greatest feats of engineering.


Eiffel Tower - Paris

Since its completion in 1889 it has become the most visited paid monument in the world. Standing 1,063 ft high it is one of the most recognizable structures in the world and has become the icon of a city and nation. In this talk Ron looks at how it was constructed and key events in its history.

Palace of Versailles - Paris

From 1682, when King Louis XIV moved from Paris, until the return to the capital in 1789, the Court of Versailles was the centre of power in France as well as the home of the French Royal Family. In this talk, Ron looks at the palace and the events in history for which it is famous.

The Cathedral of Monaco (St Nicholas Cathedral) - Monte Carlo

Built in 1875 on the site of a 13th-century church dedicated to Saint Nicolas. Constructed in the Roman-Byzantine style it has been used as the burial place for the Grimaldi Princes of Monaco including Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace the former American actress Grace Kelly. In this talk, Ron looks at the history of the cathedral and its architecture and its ties to the Grimaldi family which has ruled the Principality of Monaco for over 700 years.


Sagrada Familia - Barcelona

The surrealist architecture of Gaudi’s unfinished church. Started in 1882, work is expected to continue until 2026. In this talk, Ron will look at the design and the designer and track the progress of the work that is being done today.  LEARN MORE

Alhambra Palace - Granada.

The Alhambra Palace and fortress complex dates back to the 9th century though started to take its’ present form under Yusuf I and Mohammed V during the 14th century when the Moors ruled North Africa and Spain. Despite being partly destroyed in the 18th century it is one of Spain's finest examples of Islamic architecture. In this talk, Ron looks at its' history and architecture. LEARN MORE


The Cathedral - Santiago de Compostela

Holding the remains of St James in a silver casket below its floor, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella has been the 3rd most important site of Christian pilgrimage since the 12th century. In this talk, Ron looks around the cathedral explaining its features, its history, and the draw it has on Christians’.  LEARN MORE

The Mosque-Cathedral - Cordoba

The Mosque of Cordoba is one of the largest in the world and the only remaining one in Spain from the days of the Moors. The Mosque was converted from a church and then back again to a Christian Cathedral but retained its architectural features. In this talk Ron looks at the building and its history.  LEARN MORE

Cathedral of the Holy Chalice - Valencia

Valencia’s Cathedral of the Holy Chalice was built between 1252 and 1482 in the Gothic style, on the site that was previously a Roman temple, a Visigoth cathedral, and an 8th-century Mosque. It contains the challis, which is said to be The Holy Grail, the cup used at the Last Supper. In this talk, Ron looks at the building and explores the stories attached to it.  LEARN MORE


Almudaina Palace - Palma

Built on the site of a Roman fort the palace dates back to 903 when it was the residence of the Moorish rulers of Mallorca. In 1229, Mallorca was captured by King James I of Aragon, and the Palace became the town residence of the Mallorcan Kings. King James I then set about the construction of the Palma Cathedral just across from the palace in order to make the statement that Christianity had replaced Islam as the dominant religion of the area. In this talk, Ron looks at the history of the palace and takes the audience on a virtual tour of the palaces rooms.  LEARN MORE
- Rome

Built by the Roman Emperor Vespasian in 70 AD on the site of Nero’s Golden Palace it became known as Rome's arena of death, where for four and a half centuries animals and people were sacrificed in the name of entertainment. In this talk, Ron will look at the building, how it functioned, and the events that led up to its’ construction.  LEARN MORE

Click to play presentation 
Roman Forum - Rome

The Roman Forum is located between the Palatine and Capitoline hill and was the centre of political and social activity. It included temples, the senate house and law courts. In this talk, Ron looks at the buildings, their use, and the history connected to them.  LEARN MORE

St Peters Basilica - Rome

Located within the Vatican City it is the greatest of all the churches of Christendom and the burial site of St Peter. In this talk, Ron looks at the Basilica and why it is such a major draw to tourists.  LEARN MORE
Pantheon - Rome

Built as a Temple by the Emperor Hadrian and dedicated to all the Roman gods, it is the best preserved of all Roman buildings and is now used as a Christian church. It is the oldest standing domed structure in Rome and has a height to the oculus of 142 ft, the same as the diameter of the interior circle, and was for many years the largest domed building. Ron will explain its history and how it was constructed without the use of modern building methods. LEARN MORE


Rediscovered in 1748 from under many meters of ash and pumice, Pompeii provides an insight into the lives of the ancient Romans preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD. Ron will take you on a guided tour to look at some of the buildings and learn about the lives of its’ citizens, how they lived and how they died. LEARN MORE


Click to play presentation 

Herculaneum was a seaside resort for the wealthy and contained many elegant residences as well as the businesses and facilities to provide for them. All were covered during a succession of pyroclastic surges which occurred with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD hiding it beneath 20 meters of lava, mud and ash. In this talk, Ron takes you on a virtual tour to explain the buildings and the excavations.  LEARN MORE
Leaning Tower of Pisa

The campanile (Bell Tower) of the cathedral of Pisa. Intended to stand vertically, the tower began leaning soon after construction began in 1173. In this talk, Ron will look at the Cathedral Group, which includes the tower, and discuss why it leans and the work that has been needed to prevent it from toppling.  LEARN MORE
Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo) – Florence

The cathedral church notable for its dome and one of the lasting symbols of the Italian Renaissance. Ron looks at the events that caused it to be built; the rivalry of its builders and at its construction. He takes you up into the dome to see the marvels of its design and how it defied gravity.  LEARN MORE
Doge’s Palace - Venice

The building, which marked the foundation of Venice as a city, was largely constructed between 1309 to 1424, to replace earlier fortified buildings on the site. As well as being the ducal residence, the palace housed the government of the Republic of Venice. Badly damaged by fire in 1574 it was rebuilt in the original Gothic style though incorporates the classical Bridge of Sighs which links the palace to the prison. In this talk, Ron takes a look at the Palace, its history, design, and some of its treasures.  LEARN MORE

Pompeii & Herculaneum

Rediscovered from under many meters of ash and pumice, Pompeii and Herculaneum provide an insight into the lives of the ancient Romans preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD. Ron will take you on a guided tour to look at some of the buildings and learn about the lives of its’ citizens, how they lived and how they died. This talk combines the two sites in one presentation. 
The Glory that was Rome

The story of Rome conveyed by three of its most famous building works. The Roman Forum; The Colosseum and  The Pantheon. In this talk, Ron introduces you to the buildings and the people which made Rome the important city it was. This talk combines the three sites in one presentation.                                                                             


Acropolis - Athens

The Acropolis marked the highlight of Greek achievement and is seen as the symbol of a civilization which gave us democracy. Its magnificent buildings and architecture has had an influence throughout the ages and is still imitated today. In this talk Ron will look at the history behind the building, its construction, and its use.  LEARN MORE


Renowned as the site of the ancient Olympic Games celebrated every four years by the Greeks starting in 776 BC and ran up to the end of the 4th century AD, an event which resulted in the cessation of all hostilities for the duration of the games. Olympia was purely a venue for the games with the buildings associated with their functioning and the worship of the gods. In this talk, Ron will look at the site and the games themselves and the findings that the excavations carried out here since 1829 have found. LEARN MORE

Believed by the ancient Greeks to be the centre of the world it was the location of the eternal flame. It was here that the most important oracle of the classical Greek world resided and where city states would consult to receive the prophesies of the Gods. In this talk, Ron looks at the site as it is today and what it would have been like in antiquity. LEARN MORE


Palace of Knossos

The magnificent palace complex constructed around 1,900BC, it was the administrative and religious centre of the Minoan kingdom. Under King Minos it became famed in mythology when his wife gave birth to the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull creature that was imprisoned in the labyrinth to which virgins from Athens were delivered as sacrifices until it was slain by Theseus. In this talk, Ron explores the mythology and history of the site and looks at it as it is today.  LEARN MORE

Achilleion Palace - Corfu

Achilleion Palace was built by Empress Elizabeth of Austria, the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I, in 1890, following the death of her son Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria. The palace was designed to represent an ancient Phaeacian palace with the mythical hero Achilles as its central theme. In this talk, Ron looks at the events that led up to its construction and takes a virtual tour around the palace. 


Palace of the Grand Master
Originally the site of the Byzantine citadel of Rhodes, constructed in the 7th century, the building was incorporated into a palace by the Order of the Knights of St John when they acquired Rhodes in 1309. The Order ruled Rhodes as an independent state for over two centuries developing the palace until the Island came under siege by the Turks in 1522. This resulted in the Order being forced to capitulate and leave the island. In this talk, Ron looks at is history and takes a tour of the building, which was extensively restored by Mussolini in the 20th century.  LEARN MORE


According to Greek mythology, Delos was the birthplace of the god Apollo and his sister Artemis. A small rocky island, it has been habited since 2,500 BC. In the 9th century BCE it became a sanctuary to Apollo and one of the most sacred places to the ancient Greeks.  Its importance grew when in 167BC it was declared a free port and it prospered until 88 BC when attacked and looted by the King of Pontus. In 69BC it was attacked by pirates after which it was abandoned and fell into decline. In this talk, Ron looks at the legends and history and takes a tour of the site showing what it looks like now and recreating what it would have looked like before its decline.  LEARN MORE

Diocletian's Palace - Split

After being in power for over 20 years, the Roman Emperor Diocletian relinquished the throne to the Roman Empire and, in 305, at the age of 60, settled in what is now Split, Croatia building a palace and military barracks that today forms part of the centre of the city of Split. In this talk, Ron looks at the life of Diocletian and at the palace he built and takes the audience around the buildings today and back in time to see what it would have looked like then.  LEARN MORE
Blue Mosque - Istanbul

Built between 1609 and 1616 it incorporates Byzantine and traditional Islamic architecture. Still a functional building it has a capacity of approximately 10,000 people. In this talk, Ron traces its history and looks at the elements of the architecture.  LEARN MORE
Topkapi Palace - Istanbul

Constructed in 1459 after the defeat of Byzantine Constantinople it was the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans from 1465 to 1853. At the height of the Ottoman Empire, it accommodated 4,000 people. Ron’s talk looks at the palace and the empire which was responsible for its development.  LEARN MORE

Hagia Sophia - Istanbul

Originally constructed between 532 and 537 AD as a church for the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. In 1453 it was converted to a mosque when Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. It remained as a mosque until 1935 when it became a museum. In this talk, Ron looks at its history and at the building and exhibits.  LEARN MORE


Its strategic location ensured it thrived as a port and important commercial centre and it played a major role in ancient times, dating back 1000 years BC. One of the ancient wonders of the world was located at Ephesus, the Temple of Artemis, built in 356BC and the first church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was also there. In this talk, Ron looks at its history and the type of place you would have known if you had lived there at the height of its power.  LEARN MORE

Grandmasters Palace - Valletta

The Palace in Valletta was built between 1573 and 1578 to serve as the residence of the Grandmaster's of the Order of the Knights of St John: Something that it was to do for more than 200 years. The palace is now the Presidential Office and houses Malta's Parliament but is also a museum open to visitors. Housing one of the World’s finest collections of arms and armour, it contains the exquisitely furnished Grand Masters apartments. In this talk, Ron conducts a virtual tour of the Palace looking at the rooms and explaining its history.  LEARN MORE


              All  Photographs were taken by and are copyright of Ron Gatepain

  Site Map