Dear fellow travellers
Belval is an extraordinary place. A forlorn, almost apocalyptic, industrial landscape is being transformed into a new hub of the knowledge economy. It’s very much the sort of place we find interesting, and that’s why an image of Belval features on the front cover of the new issue of hidden europe.
Issue 61 of the magazine is published on Saturday 11 July. As you can probably imagine, the Coronavirus pandemic presented us with some conspicuous challenges. Our brief is to write about places, yet suddenly our ability to travel was circumscribed. This spring, staying closer to home than for many years, we had ample opportunity to reflect on past journeys and plan future forays.
That experience, shared we know by many of our readers, prompted us to choose two key themes for this latest issue of hidden europe magazine: journeys and isolation.
We kick off with a leisurely account of a wonderful Swiss rail journey - just the kind of outing about which we’ve all be dreaming these past weeks. And there’s more on rail journeys as we reflect on the future of night trains in Europe. We consider the loneliness of a remote village which for many years had only a single telephone and we touch on the isolation Marc Chagall must have felt as, one hundred years ago, he left his home town of Vitebsk for ever.
Communities are the antidote to isolation, so we make space in this issue for an article on a remarkable social housing experiment which was initiated 500 years ago. It’s in Augsburg, and was sponsored by Jakob Fugger, who became immensely rich by breaking a late 15th-century cartel in the Venetian copper market. In the Fuggerei, the housing settlement founded by Fugger, residents today still pay less than one euro a year as rent for their homes.
If you have regularly received our Letter from Europe, but have never actually seen an issue of hidden europe, why not buy a copy of the magazine? It is a chance to support good, independent writing in a publication which has never accepted advertising of any kind. And, because of a reduction in VAT that was recently introduced, we have lowered our prices for all sales from now until the end of 2020. A modest investment of just €7.85 (which includes postage to all European destinations) will secure some first-class travel writing delivered to your front door.
You’ll find a few surprises tucked away in the pages of hidden europe 61. We meet a boatbuilder and a map-maker, and we discover why there’s a link between Luxembourg and a small island in the Cape Verde archipelago. We also visit Belval, that extraordinary place pictured on the front cover. It’s in southern Luxembourg and there’s real drama in the Belval streetscape where now silent smelters and steel rolling mills have been incorporated into a thriving university complex.
Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
(editors,hidden europe magazine)