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Special spaces

The Luther factor: discovering Wittenberg

by Nicky Gardner

Yadegar Asisi’s panorama in Lutherstadt Wittenberg is a very modern take on the traditional installation; it’s a very immersive experience. There is the extraordinary contrast between the business of Wittenberg streets, pictured in fine detail, and an almost meditative calm experienced by visitors to the panorama.

Blessings from Heaven: The journey to Scalan

by Nicky Gardner

We venture south, following Livet Water up into the Braes of Glenlivet. This area survived as an outpost of Catholicism in post-Reformation Scotland. At Scalan, on the lower flank of the Ladder Hills, a secret seminary trained priests in the 18th century until the time when a more permissive attitude to Catholicism meant that the Church could function more openly.

Pure theatre: homage to Lake Lucerne

by Nicky Gardner

Swiss lakes are in a class of their own. But is there one that just has the edge over the rest? Some may cast their vote for Léman, and others will argue the case for Lugano. But for us it’s Lake Lucerne, where the lake’s unusual vaguely cruciform shape changes a boat journey into pure theatre.

In search of Tesla: the road to Smiljan

by Nicky Gardner

Nikola Tesla’s father was an Orthodox priest. Nikola was baptised in his father’s church on the day after his birth. And it is at that church, dedicated to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, where crowds now gather to understand more of the life and work of one of Europe’s most distinguished engineers and inventors.

Social Isolation Hebridean Style

by Nicky Gardner

Kenneth Mackay, the one-time postman in the village of Rhenigidale is long retired. But he is happy to chat to visitors about the life of social isolation and material deprivation which was once the norm in remote villages in the Outer Hebrides. We look at how ‘wee Kenny’ and the Schools Hebridean Society championed the idea of building a road to Rhenigidale.

The Tribes of Galway

by Nicky Gardner
We take the pulse of early evening ceol and craic on the streets of the Irish city of Galway - where a dozen families dominated the mercantile and social life of the city for centuries. These families are often known as the tribes of Galway.

A Visit to the Old Country

by Nicky Gardner
Beside the River Elbe, just downstream from Hamburg, lies the Altes Land. It is one of Europe's most intensive areas of fruit cultivation. Apples, raspberries, cherries and plums aplenty in a region which owes much to early Dutch settlers.

Silent witness

by Nicky Gardner

Discover the extraordinary story of how an Italian village was sacrificed to provide hydro-electric power for Switzerland. The evacuation of Curon Venosta (or Graun-im-Vinschgau in German) was a tragedy. Today the church campanile rises serenely from the waters of the reservoir which flooded a remote valley in the Italian Alps.

No space for Marx

by Nicky Gardner

A mock Greek temple on a bluff above the River Danube turns out to be a good spot to reflect on what it means to be German. Walhalla is a national hall of fame - a sort of Bavarian version of the Panthéon in Paris.

Divided loyalties: Jungholz

by Nicky Gardner

The village of Jungholz lies at an altitude of just over 1000 metres in the Alps. At this time of years, the Alpine meadows are full of wild flowers. So Jungholz is a pretty spot. But it is also exceptional in that it is a diamond-shaped piece of Austrian territory that has, bar for one point at the southernmost point of the diamond, no connection with the rest of Austria.

Oriental dreams

by Nicky Gardner

We explore an Eden which has its apple orchards, running waters and beautiful gardens. There is even a touch of the East about this unlikely Eden. It is only the minarets that are missing on our journey past the silent monastery of Petra to a place that is marked on our map as Orient. Join us for a magical tour of an island in the sun.

Fried fish in Cádiz

by Nicky Gardner

"Cádiz is pretty in a way peculiar to itself." And that's as true today as it was when a traveller penned those words 200 years ago. The most important Atlantic port in Andalucía played a key role in mediating Spain's relationship with the Americas. And it invented the classic fish supper.

Botany in Paradise

by Iain Bamforth

Iain Bamforth, a first-time contributor to hidden europe, wanders through the fruit markets of his home town of Strasbourg and reflects on apples and apricots, persimmons and pomegranates. Join us on a botanical tourof Paradise.

Keeping faith: York's Quaker community

by Nicky Gardner

The city in northern England is well known for its important role in Anglican affairs, and many visitors also recall York's association with Catholic martyrs. But York has long been home to many dissenting traditions, and the spirit of the dissenters is today embodied in the Quaker life and spirit that plays so important a role in modern York.

Branding places

by Nicky Gardner

what's in a name? A lot of tourist euros, if the name has the right ring to it. hidden europe checks out the current fad for branding places.

Cultivating the soul

by Nicky Gardner

We refresh our wearied and wandering minds in two intriguing gardens. We visit a secret garden in Prague, and hidden europe reader Mervyn Benford reports on a humble Swedish postman who followed in Linnaeus' footsteps.

Hidden cavities

by Nicky Gardner

The Etruscans did it and so did mediaeval Christians. Teeth and toothache have long been stimuli for travel. We explore the current fad for dental tourism, and alight upon Sopron in Hungary and Kobarid in Slovenia.

In splendid isolation: Scotland

by Nicky Gardner

Tarbet is a spot that is about to be consigned to history. And that's a pity, because Tarbet was a sanctuary - a wee spot that teetered on the edge of being. We report from some of Scotland's remotest communities.

Marne-la-Vallée: pure fantasy

by Nicky Gardner

There is more to Marne-la-Vallée than Eurodisney. This Paris suburb boasts some remarkable architecture. Forget the rides at Eurodisney! Instead discovery fantasy of another kind in Les Espaces d'Abraxas.

Building the future: Berlin's Hansa Quarter

by Nicky Gardner

A visit to the showpiece urban developments of the mid-1950s in both halves of Berlin is one of the city's great free attractions. We look at the legacy of the West Berlin 1957 Interbau exhibition and compare it with Karl-Marx-Allee in East Berlin.

New Jerusalems: European sacri monti

by Nicky Gardner

With Eastertide in mind, we explore some devotional itineraries that led to New Jerusalems all over Europe. From Portugal to Poland, sacri monti (sacred mountains or calvaries) often offer very local interpretations of classic religious landscapes.

Temples of pleasure

by Nicky Gardner

Many modern shopping centres are parodies of the elegant glazed arcades that were, in many nineteenth-century European cities, focal points for shopping and relaxation. From Brussels to Milan, Cardiff to Genoa the arcaded gallery became a byword for style. Many of the best still survive.

Expo architecture

by Nicky Gardner

Expo is back in the news with Milan having just been selected to host the 2015 World Fair. At their best, Expos have served as a boost to imaginative urban regeneration. We look at the Expo legacy in various European cities.

City credentials

by Nicky Gardner

Is Tromsø really the Paris of the North? Or does the title more properly belong to St Petersburg? And the Rome of the North: Is that Cologne, Prague or the Glasgow suburb of Springburn?

Form and function: Dessau

by Nicky Gardner

The Dessau Bauhaus was the creative focus for a galaxy of talented artists, architects and designers, among them Walter Gropius, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Mies van der Rohe. We explore the small town of Dessau in eastern Germany.

From Abisko to Kosterhavet: the centenary of European national parks

The great majority of Europe's citizens will probably not visit a national park in 2009. But for all of us, their very existence is a reassuring reminder that even in a crowded continent there is space to experience wilderness and peace. As Europe marks the centenary of its first national parks, we look at how the concept of a national park has evolved.

The princess of Lake Van

by Karlos Zurutuza

The island in Lake Van, shown on modern maps with the name Akdamar, has a more historic name: Akhtamar. The island is rich with Armenian associations, but Turkey has been keen to distance the island from its cultural history. That change of name is part of a wider tale. Karlos Zurutuza reports from eastern Turkey.