Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

Magazine articles marked with the symbol are available in full-length for online reading (provided you are a subscriber to the printed magazine and have created a member account). All texts with the source "Letter from Europe" or "Notes" are available for online reading for every visitor to this website.

River Slaney upstream from Bunclody at Altamont (photo © Colin Park licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)
Letter from Europe

The Slaney Valley

  • 12 May 2021
There can be few finer spots to be, on these bright spring days, than exploring the land around the River Slaney in south-east Ireland. The lower reaches of the Slaney, from Enniscorthy down to Wexford, is a gorgeous sweep of river. But we reserve ...
View of Fiesole with its small cathedral (photo © Henrik Stovring / dreamstime)
Letter from Europe

A Fiesole residency

  • 25 Apr 2021
With its handsome villas, lavish gardens and sweeping views over the valley of the River Arno, Fiesole developed as a fabled spot. It was a place for political intrigue, a retreat to be creative and a spot to just relax. No surprise, perhaps, that ...
Watery polder landscape around the village of Jisp, a community which once played a major role in the Dutch whaling industry (photo © Rudmer Zwerver / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

A village on the polder

  • 7 Feb 2021
There’s a village on the polder which we really like. It’s called Jisp. It is one of those long straggly places where you see cloudscapes just like those in the paintings of Jacob van Ruisdael - the Dutch artist who was born in Haarlem, which is ...
The Tuscan city of Livorno thrived as an early example of a free port (photo © Duccio / dreamstime . com).
Letter from Europe

Free ports

  • 29 Jan 2021
The current plans to create free ports around the shores of the United Kingdom made us delve into the history of the porto franco. This year marks the 600th anniversary of the sale of Livorno - the Tuscan port which Genoa sold to Florence. It paved ...
The Piave Valley in the Dolomites, eastern Alps (photo © Rechitan Sorin / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Alpine horizons

  • 26 Dec 2020
The English, like travellers from other countries, were enthralled by the scenery of the western Alps. But it wasn't until well after the Golden Age of Alpinism that mountaineers and travellers began to explore areas further east in the great ...
The rocks at Teplice in the Czech Republic feature on the front cover of issue 62 of hidden europe magazine (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Sauntering through November

  • 15 Nov 2020
Two events: the centenary of the first-ever General Assembly of the League of Nations (held in Geneva on 15 November 1920) and the publication this week of Issue 62 of hidden europe magazine. Yes, there is a link! We look at this new issue of the ...
The strong Baedeker branding introduced in the late 1850s relied on distinctive red covers and gilded text. This cover shows a nice example of a Baedeker dagger on the initial letter ‘S’ in the title (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Exploring Baedeker's Switzerland

The Baedeker series of guidebooks showed a remarkable consistency in presentation over many decades from the mid-19th century. But many guides were updated every couple of years, so how far did the content change? We compare two editions of ...
Friedrich Oswald’s 1840 essay on landscape captures the mood of the Lüneburg Heath pictured here (photo © Thomaspicture / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Who was Friedrich Oswald?

Friedrich Engels is not someone we would normally associate with travel writing. But, as a young man, he wrote a number of articles in the travel genre; they were all published under the nom de plume Friedrich ...
The centre of Vatican City: St Peter's Square (photo © Ivan Kurmyshov / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

The papal states

  • 28 Oct 2020
The emergence in the eighth century of the papal states in parts of Italy and beyond heralded a geopolitical oddity which survived for over 1000 years, and of which there is the faintest echo in the current status of Vatican City - the world's ...
Berlin's Tegel Airport from the air in summer 2020. The classic open hexagon terminal is at the top left of the airport complex. Note the taxiway which runs over the top of the main approach road (photo © Mariohagen / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Berlin Tegel Airport

  • 27 Sep 2020
Few airports have quite that cool retro feel of the original hexagonal terminal at Berlin’s Tegel airport. The airport opened in 1960 and was an iconic piece of design in "the new Berlin" - that part of the city, occupied by the Western Allies, ...
The Provençal town of Vence, where DH Lawrence died in March 1930 (photo © Myrabella licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0).
Letter from Europe

Memorialising DH Lawrence

  • 29 Aug 2020
Vence is a delightful small town in the hills behind the French Riviera, and it was here in Vence that DH Lawrence eventually succumbed in early March 1930 to tuberculosis.But where is he buried? Join us on a journey that takes us from Provence to ...
Remains of a former monastic church on Inishmurray, Ireland (photo © Andreas F Borchert licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 DE).
Letter from Europe

Inishmurray

  • 2 Aug 2020
Inishmurray lies squat and low half a dozen kilometers off Streedagh Point in County Sligo. No one sleeps on Inishmurray these days. The island’s entire population, then numbering just a few dozen, left in 1948. Since then the buildings have ...
Magazine article

Untold Riches

Jakob Fugger the Rich was indeed very rich. But his approach to business presciently anticipated many practices which are now commonplace. We look at the life of a man who challenged business cartels and had a canny appreciation of the importance ...
Not a real Malevich — but an illustration in the suprematist
style that was popularised by artists at the People’s Art School in Vitebsk in 1920 (image © Dorvard / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

One Glorious Summer

In summer 1920, the Unovis collective of artists set off from Vitebsk for Moscow. Kasimir Malevich and his comrades were convinced they could realize the full revolutionary potential of art in the Soviet Union. But the rise of Unovis signalled ...
photo © Ivanmattioli /dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

Monkeys, Men and John Murray

  • 28 Jun 2020
160 years ago this week, on Saturday 30 June 1860, the intelligentsia gathered in Oxford to hear churchmen and scientists discuss the pros and cons of Darwin’s ideas on the origin of species. Charles Darwin celebrated book had been published in ...
Statue of Chagall in Vitebsk, Belarus (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Chagall Centenary

  • 4 Jun 2020
Vitebsk is a provincial city. St Petersburg is about 500 km away to the north. Moscow, just slighter closer, is due east of Vitebsk. It lies today in the territory of the Republic of Belarus. In the run up to and after the Russian Revolution, ...
The spot where Austria, Slovakia and Hungary meet near Deutsch Jahrndorf (photo © Ed Francissen / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Just South of Bratislava

  • 31 May 2020
The tripoint where Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Austria converged was for years a no-go area. These days, you can enjoy a cross-border picnic at the very spot where the frontiers of Austria, Slovakia and Hungary meet. It’s across the fields to the ...
Spot near Filippoi where Paul baptised Lydia (photo © Kisamarkiza / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Travels with Saint Paul

  • 25 May 2020
Even if you don’t have a thread of religious fibre in your body, try reading the Acts of the Apostles, and see what you make of it as a travel narrative. You may want to have a good atlas of the ancient world to hand as you follow Paul on his ...
One of Loganair's two ATR-42 aircraft on the tarmac at Sumburgh Airport in Shetland (photo © Loganair).
Letter from Europe

Turboprops at Britain's busiest airport

  • 22 Apr 2020
Turboprops are back at London's Heathrow airport. An ATR-42 belonging to Scottish airline Loganair is flying a once-daily scheduled service to the Isle of Man on behalf of British Airways. We take a look at previous occasions when airport staff at ...
A glimps of Jung's tower on the shores of the upper part of Lake Zurich near Bollingen (photo © Davide Mauro licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0).
Letter from Europe

In Jung's Footsteps

  • 14 Apr 2020
The lakeshore trail from Schmerikon along the upper part of Lake Zürich leads to a house once owned by the analytical psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, who was a master of self-isolation. Join us as we ponder on Jung's famous Tower and his thoughts on ...
Connemara landscape (photo © Nofarrell / dreamstime.com).
hidden europe note

A Tribute to Tim Robinson

  • 5 Apr 2020
A tribute to writer and cartographer Tim Robinson who passed away on 3 April. Amongst his best known publications is his Connemara Trilogy - a profoundly ambitious, yet touchingly intimate, study of a region that stands as a place apart in Ireland. ...
The city of Dubrovnik in Croatia was the capital of the former Ragusan Republic (photo © Branex / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Recalling the Ragusan Republic

  • 24 Mar 2020
A powerful earthquake in 1667 destroyed most of Dubrovnik's buildings. The city was at that time the capital of the Ragusan Republic. The city was rebuilt and these days is a strong tourist magnet on the Croatian ...
photo © Macrolink / dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

Anxious Days

  • 20 Mar 2020
You are most likely, as we are, staying close to home. We have time to ponder. And that itself can be a very positive thing. Rest assured that we'll continue to reflect European lives and landscapes with our regular Letter from Europe, ever aware ...
Traditional boatbuilder Andrea Delceppo in his Kalkara Creek workshop, Malta (photo © Duncan JD Smith).
Magazine article

Malta: The Alleys of Birgu
  

When the Knights Hospitaller relocated from Rhodes to Malta, the community of Birgu became their de facto capital. Birgu is on a promontory on the south side of the Grand Harbour, a counterpoint to Valletta away to the north. Duncan JD Smith ...
Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 59
  

The shaping of history and the stories which are told about a region’s past are endlessly fascinating and that’s a running theme in this issue of hidden europe. We look at examples from Alsace and Spain and also look at how guidebooks helped, in ...
The caldera of Sete Cidades on the Azorean island of São Miguel (photo © Lukasz Janyst).
Letter from Europe

A Tale of Two Lakes

  • 26 Sep 2019
Last year, the Azorean authorities reminded residents of the hazards of living in an archipelago where three great tectonic plates meet. This is where Eurasia meets Africa and the Americas. We recall a royal visit to the volcanic caldera of Sete ...
The village of Château Chalon in the French Jura is the place from where some of the very best examples of vin jaune hail (photo © Zimneva Natalia / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

The Taste of Yellow: Wines of the Jura

Could you imagine paying more than €100,000 for a bottle of wine? Not any bottle of wine, but a bottle of vin jaune (yellow wine) from the French Jura. And a wine that was made before the French Revolution. We discover a French rarity that takes ...
The ceremonial banners of Galway’s leading mercantile families (the ‘tribes’) are displayed in Eyre Square (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

The Tribes of Galway

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 ...
The main square in Sopron's Old Town (photo © Vrabelpeter1 / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

The Hungarian Town of Sopron

  • 27 May 2019
Sopron is one of those places with a sense of being in the heart of Europe. One hundred years ago, this small town in western Hungary was much in the news. Few places were so shaken by the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It's a thought ...
Promenade architecture and the Kurhaus in Binz on the shore of the Baltic island of Rügen (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Hidden europe 57

  • 14 Mar 2019
We have this year visited the Baltic twice already. It's a region of Europe that's at its best in winter, we find, and sedate Binz was the perfect place to pen the editorial for issue 57 of hidden europe which is published tomorrow. Let's ...
The adze has long been the tool of choice of a boatbuilder. Here Peter gives the last touches to the scarph between the sternpost and the heel of the replica of the ‘San Juan’ (© ALBAOLA / Photo: Mendi Urruzuno).
Magazine article

The Legacy of the San Juan

On the rocky shores of Labrador (in eastern Canada) is a remote settlement which features strongly in the Basque imagination. Karlos Zurutuza explains how the whalers of Euskal Herria (the Basque Country) once dominated the whale oil trade around ...
Magazine article

In Search of the Old Believers Today

The Old Believers fled from the tsarist heartland into the remotest corners of the Russian Empire. Some went to Manchuria, moving on to South America and then to Oregon and Alaska. Others found refuge back in Moscow, practising their faith in the ...
Paddington station is the departure point for over 200 trains a day which speed west on Brunel's classic railway to Ealing and beyond. Just one train each day follows a different route out of Paddington - the New North Line (photo © Jonkio4 / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Farewell to a London Ghost Train

  • 7 Dec 2018
This is the story of Paddington’s ghost train which runs for the last time today. The 11.35 to High Wycombe uses the New North Line out of Paddington towards the Chiltern ...
The hill community of Zakopane, in the shadow of the Tatra Mountains, hardly seems the sort of spot for revolution. But 100 years ago it was a self-styled independent republic (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

When Empires Crumbled

  • 13 Nov 2018
The dignified commemorations marking one hundred years since the end of the First World War masked the details of what actually happened in November 1918. The aftermath of the Great War was a messy business, with conflict continuing in some areas ...
The main stret in Karolovy Vary, formerly known as Karlsbad (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Russians in Bohemia

Where would the spa towns of Bohemia be without the patronage from the great and good? The Romanov family's enthusiasm for taking the water has encouraged generations of Russians to visit the ...
Library of the University of Leuven (photo © Ivan Vander Biesen / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

For the Love of Libraries: Leuven

Libraries are much more than bricks and mortar, as Caroline Mills discovers during a visit to Leuven in Belgium. The vandalism of war has twice struck Leuven, with its university library set ablaze by marauding German troops in 1914 and again in ...
The former house of the Iranian consul (called Firouza) in Borjomi, Georgia (photo © Mikhail Markovskiy / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

A Georgian Vichy

  • 5 Jul 2018
The Iranian consul's residence and the Romanov's Likani Palace are just two of many extraordinary buildings which attest to the one-time importance of Borjomi, a Georgian spa town best known for its mineral water. It's a town with a complex history ...
The birthplace of Karl Marx in Trier, Germany, which houses a museum on the life of the German philosopher (photo © Matyas Rehak / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Paris in the springtime

  • 5 May 2018
Today marks the 200th anniversary of Marx's birth. He was born in the town of Trier in the Moselle Valley, a place which these days seems so sedate as to be entirely devoid of revolutionary potential. But Marx had sensitive political antennae and, ...
Statue of Vladimir the Great on Borovitskaya Square in Moscow near the Kremlin (photo © Vladimir Zhuravlev / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

The politics of memorials

  • 21 Jan 2018
In Russia, as more widely, the question of who is honoured in statues and memorials is deeply political. So too is the question of when the first memorial is erected and how long it remains. Felix Dzerzhinsky, the first head of the feared Soviet ...
The Swiss village of Samnaun is a duty-free haven (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Keeping loyal to Samnaun

  • 12 Jan 2018
We had assumed that the practice of diligently recording and publishing the name of visitors had long since died out until last summer we visited Samnaun. This really is one of Europe's most oddball communities. It is tucked away in the hills on ...
A ship grave close to the west coast of the Swedish island of Gotland (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Boat-shaped Graves

Lozenge-shaped graves, fashioned in the form of a ship, are a distinctive element of Bronze Age visual culture on the Baltic island of Gotland. Do these unusual graves, known as 'ship settings' have a deeper cosmological ...
Former fishing station at Grynge on the east coast of the island of Gotland. It is typical of the fishing stations that the roofs abutted onto one another (as seen here at Grynge). That gave more protection against the elements (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Fishing stations

A number of fishing stations around the coasts of the Baltic islands of Fårö and Gotland recall the heyday of the herring trade, when farmers would become fishermen for a few ...
The Russian cruiser Aurora is anchored in St Petersburg and currently serves as a museum ship (photo © Marcorubino / dreamstime.com)
Letter from Europe

One shot from the Aurora

  • 16 Oct 2017
100 years ago, on the evening of 25 October 1917 (in the Russian calendar), a single blank shell was fired from the Russian cruiser Aurora. It gave the signal for the Bolsheviks to storm the Winter Palace. Was that single blank shot from the Aurora ...
From left to right: Peter Knutas, Sofia Hoas and Christina Knutas in the house of the Föreningen Svenskbyborna in Roma, Gotland (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Swedes in Ukraine

  • 12 Sep 2017
The Gotland village of Roma has become the cradle of memory for Sweden's historic link with the Black Sea region. The village of Gammalsvenskby in Ukraine was established by migrants from Sweden. The links betweeen Gammalsvenskby and Gotland are ...
photo © Teeraporn Tirakul / dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

The darker side of verse

  • 25 Aug 2017
It is eighty years ago this autumn that the Jewish-German poet and polemicist Ernst Lissauer died in Vienna. His sad life was a roller coaster of rant and prejudice. He was best known for his hate verse deployed against England in the First World ...
St Giles Church at Imber on Salisbury Plain (photo © Tim.firkins licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)
Letter from Europe

Forbidden places

  • 21 Aug 2017
Next weekend, there's the chance to visit an extraordinary place in England - a village where the entire population was forcibly removed in 1943 in order to provide space on Salisbury Plain for American military manoeuvres. It's one of those places ...
The market square in Torgau, Saxony, with the Rathaus (town hall) on the far side (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Lutherstadt Torgau

The renaming of towns to honour an individual is commonplace. Nizhny Novgorod became Gorky, in honour of the Russian writer Maxim Gorki who was born there. The town later switched back to its original name. In eastern Germany, towns have been ...
The Champs de Mars in Paris, site of the 1867 World Fair (photo © Freesurf69 / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Paris sideshows in June 1867

  • 27 Jun 2017
There was much ado in Paris 150 years ago this month. The 'Exposition universelle de 1867' had opened at the Champs de Mars in April and had secured very positive press reviews both in France and more widely across Europe. It also drew a big crowd ...
The memorial to the children of Lidice in the Czech village (photo by Moravice)
Letter from Europe

Lidice shall live!

  • 23 May 2017
This Saturday marks the 75th anniversary of the Czech Resistance's successful attempt on the life of senior Nazi administrator Reinhard Heydrich. It was an event which had terrible repercussions; the Germans retaliated with ruthless force. Those ...
Lenin statue in Moscow (photo © Mjunsworth / dreamstime.com)
Letter from Europe

April 1917: Lenin returns to Russia

  • 25 Apr 2017
News of the revolution in Russia reached Switzerland in March 1917, and many politically active Russian émigrés immediately decided to return home. Led by Lenin, the revolutionaries boarded a sealed carriage and travelled by train across ...
Shades of the past in the Hebridean blackhouse at Arnol on the Isle of Lewis (photo © hidden europe)
Letter from Europe

The Hebridean Blackhouse

  • 17 Apr 2017
For many visitors to the Hebrides, the traditional blackhouse is a symbol of these islands. Yet rarely is vernacular architecture so freighted with emotion, nostalgia and even ...
Tupolev 104 OK-LDC in the Czech border village of Petrovice (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Tale of a Tupolev

Shoppers in the Czech border village of Petrovice are inclined to board a Tupolev 104 airplane when they want a coffee or a snack. Find out why this 60-year-old jet aircraft is a good spot to ...
Visitors to Warsaw can chase the ghosts of the city's Jewish past by exploring the boundaries of the former ghetto (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Out of the Shadows

Władysław Szpilman’s remarkable book The Pianist (made into a film by Roman Polanski) reveals the devastation of Jewish life in Warsaw in 1945. To accompany our feature on Jewish Warsaw we look at the city's Jewish community in the ...
photo © Yarchyk / dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

City without Jews

  • 28 Feb 2017
Speculative fiction can sometimes turn out to be eclipsed by real-life events. In Hugo Bettauer's 1922 novel, Die Stadt ohne Juden, fictitious Austrian Chancellor Karl Schwertfeger signs an executive order decreeing that all Jews must leave Austria ...
Duchcov Castle in the Czech Republic, where Giacomo Casanova spent the last 13 years of his life looking after the library of Count von Waldstein (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Cashing in on Casanova

  • 30 Jan 2017
Were it not for a librarian, we would surely never have ventured to Duchcov. We have always held librarians, and indeed libraries, in high regard. We're of one mind with Dervla Murphy who once described Heaven as an infinite library and Eternity as ...
The Ludwigsplatz with the baroque Ludwigskirche in the heart of Saarbrücken, capital of the German state of Saarland (photo © Sergey Dzyuba / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Saarland, January 1957

  • 15 Jan 2017
We walk down the lane between two villages. Each takes its name from the River Gailbach. The higher community is Obergailbach. It's a wee slip of a place. Just a couple of kilometres down the valley lies Niedergailbach which is rather larger. This ...
The extension of the Midland Railway to St Pancras necessitated the demolishion of Agar Town. At the same time St Pancras churchyard was reduced in size. Many of the tombstones which were removed were gathered together around the oak tree pictured above (photo © David Edgar licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0).
Letter from Europe

150 years after Agar Town

  • 28 Dec 2016
It is 150 years since the Midland Railway, which in 1866 was extending its tracks south into St Pancras, demolished a poor, working-class community which inconveniently straddled the company's proposed route to its grand new London terminus. Agar ...
John Henry Newman was admitted to Trinity College Oxford (pictured here) in December 1816 (photo © Julian Fletcher / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Christmas 1816

  • 24 Dec 2016
One day, a learned and able writer will surely pen a spiritual geography of England, looking at the relationship between faith and landscape in that country. It is a book that just waits to be written. The story of John Henry Newman should figure ...
Byron's visit to the Château de Chillon in 1816 set the agenda for generations of subsequent travellers. This hugely popular castle on the shores of Lake Geneva is in the premier league of Swiss visitor attractions (photo © Pavalache Stelian / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

The Prisoner of Chillon

  • 5 Dec 2016
200 years ago, on 5 December 1816, the Scottish publisher John Murray published The Prisoner of Chillon, a poem in the romantic idiom by Lord Byron. It was inspired by a visit which Byron and Shelley had together made to the Château de Chillon that ...
Magazine article

Catholic Oxford

December 2016 marks the 200th anniversary of John Henry Newman's admittance to Trinity College, Oxford. Almost 30 years later (in 1845), Newman was accepted into the Roman Catholic Church. We take a look at Catholic ...
Part of a 'Kursächsische Postmeilensäule' - a milestone erected in the Electorate of Saxony as part of an initiative to formalise postage charges. This milestone is at Bad Gottleuba on the former post route between Dresden (Saxony) and Teplice (Bohemia) (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Exploring the Ore Mountains

The Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) offer excellent possibilities for hiking, cycling and cross-country skiing. But even less energetic visitors can reach remote communities in the region by local bus and train ...
Magazine article

Socialist Architecture in Yugoslavia

In Tito's Yugoslavia, architects offered an ideological space between East and West - aligned neither to Soviet-style communism nor to the capitalist tradition. The result was some assertively different architecture, not all of it memorably ...
Odessa’s famous Potemkin steps (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

The Colour of Odessa

  • 16 Jul 2016
Few European cities are so enshrined in myth, fable, stories and song as Odessa. And that's why we judged Odessa a fabulous choice for our lead feature in the new issue of hidden europe. This is an immensely likeable city, one which we visited for ...
All aboard the Sargan Eight Railway in western Serbia. The train is at Sargan Vitasi station (photo © Laurence Mitchell).
Magazine article

The Hills of Western Serbia

There are many visions of Yugoslavia's past. Laurence Mitchell visits the hills of western Serbia to learn how heritage and history fuel the imagination. It's a journey that starts and ends in Uzice and takes in the famous Sargan Eight narrow-gauge ...
Magazine article

Bosna-gauge Railways

Had the Balkan region narrow-gauge rail network survived, it would surely today be a cherished asset in promoting tourism over a wide region - in much the same way as the narrow-gauge Rhaetian Railway network has been important in attracting ...
Italian baroque style at the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theatre (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Between the Steppe and the Sea

For Odessa writer Issac Babel, his home town was 'the most charming city of the Russian empire'. For many visitors today, Odessa is one of the most striking Black Sea ports. Join us as we head up the Potemkin Steps to discover ...
The main street in Clarens, South Africa (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

A Tale of Two Clarens

On the face of it, there is no connection between the Swiss town of Clarens (on the north shore of Lake Geneva) and the South African town of Clarens in the Free State. But the South African town took its name from the eponymous Swiss community. It ...
Pushkin statue in Odessa (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

On Pushkin and locusts

  • 30 Jun 2016
They storm in, straight out of the Book of Revelation, and lay waste to the earth. Locusts! They do not make pleasant neighbours. Europe has been largely free of locusts in recent years – but not ...
Ilya Repin's famous painting entitled 'Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire' in the collection of the State Russian Museum, St Petersburg.
Letter from Europe

Ilya Repin and the Cossacks

  • 5 Mar 2016
A picture, so they say, is worth a thousand words, and perhaps the most famous letter in art is that which the Cossacks allegedly sent to the Turkish Sultan in 1676. If you like the work of Ilya Repin, then you'll probably share our enthusiasm for ...
The operations room in Valletta used by the Allies for managing operations in the Mediterranean theatre in World War II (photo © Victor Paul Borg).
Magazine article

Valletta's subterranean secrets
  

Dive into the streets of Valletta and you'll discover one side of the Maltese capital. Climb up to the city ramparts for a very different view of Valletta. But Victor Paul Borg believes that the only way to understand the military history of ...
Magazine article

Playing the Welsh card
  

Welsh settlers landed on the Patagonian coast in 1865 to create Y Wladfa (literally 'the colony') in the Chubut Valley. Within little more than a generation, most of the Welsh migrants had moved inland or left South America altogether. But a veneer ...
Magazine article

From Austerlitz to Waterloo
  

So where is the Trafalgar which gave its name to the Battle of Trafalgar? And where is the Blenheim after which Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is supposedly named? We look at a few European place names which feature larger-than-life in the ...
The former prison island of Cabrera - just off the south coast of Mallorca - is now a popular destination for day trips by boat from Mallorca (photo © Alexander Nikiforov / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Cabrera, a tainted paradise

  • 1 Mar 2016
In the summer of 1812, while Napoleon's Grande Armée was storming east towards Moscow, William Faden's publishing house in London was busy putting the finishing touches to a new guide to Spanish inshore waters. Among the areas covered in the pilot ...
The border museum at Schnackenburg (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

The inner-German border at Schnackenburg

  • 15 Nov 2015
The village of Schnackenburg is on the south side of the Elbe right on the erstwhile border between East and West Germany. It is a place which has lived by borders and died by borders. It is an interesting case of a community which lost out in ...
Magazine article

The Saxon villages of Transylvania
  

In just a few years at the end of the last century, the majority of the Saxons of Transylvania moved away from the village where their families had lived for over 500 years. Rudolf Abraham visited Romania to learn what has become of the Saxon ...
Magazine article

All change at Westbahnhof
  

Big changes are afoot at the Westbahnhof in Vienna, a station which these past months has seen crowds of refugees from Syria and elsewhere. Vienna-based writer Duncan JD Smith takes a look at how the station has changed over the ...
Magazine article

Mennonite migrants
  

Over 100,000 migrants left Kyrgyzstan in the 1990s, a good number moving to Germany. Many of them were descended from Mennonites who over a century earlier had walked from the steppes of southern Russia to ...
Letter from Europe

Encounter at Hendaye

  • 23 Oct 2015
75 years ago this week, Hitler was on the move. Within just a few days, the Führer's train was in north-west France, in the Basque region and in Tuscany. But this was no holiday. On 23 October 1940, Hitler met General Franco in Hendaye. It was the ...
50 years ago, the village of Capel Celyn in North Wales was sacrificed to make way for a new reservoir (photo by Velela).
Letter from Europe

Remember Tryweryn

  • 20 Oct 2015
The Welsh phrase Cofiwch Dryweryn (Remember Tryweryn) recalls the fate of the Tryweryn Valley which was flooded to provide water for the English city of Liverpool. The new reservoir, officially opened in October 1965, meant the end for the village ...
Letter from Europe

No train to Poland

  • 20 Sep 2015
The decision 170 years ago to build a great viaduct across the Neisse Valley was a visionary leap. Now that elegant structure needs a dose of 21st-century vision. Because what use is a graceful viaduct if it doesn't have any ...
Letter from Europe

100 years after Zimmerwald

  • 5 Sep 2015
The Zimmerwald Conference was a defining moment in European socialist history. There were stand-offs between the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks; there were long and heated debates about how class struggle might bring an end to the First World War. ...
Longyearbyen Airport on Svalbard - the Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic - is celebrating its 40th anniversary (photo © Splosh / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Longyearbyen Airport, 40 years on

  • 2 Sep 2015
Today marks the fortieth anniversary of the official opening of the airport at Longyearbyen on 2 September 1975. It was an event which dramatically changed this polar outpost, making it far more accessible to the scientific community and ...
The centrepiece of Geneva's Mur des Réformateurs: sculptures of Beza, Calvin, Farel and Knox (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Radical assets Geneva-style

  • 30 Aug 2015
All who make their way to Geneva are struck by the sheer beauty of the city's setting. It is also a place that has always made space for radicals of all persuasions. Three hundred years after Calvin's death in 1564, the city emerged as a hotspot in ...
Letter from Europe

Life and death in Bar-le-Duc

  • 9 Aug 2015
Stanislaw Leszczynski, or King Stanislaw, lost the throne of Poland (twice as it happens), but was compensated by being awarded territory in eastern France. Thus it was that in 1735 the town of Bar-le-Duc found itself welcoming a Polish king who ...
Isaac Titsingh’s plan of the Dutch trading post on Dejima Island drawn up in 1824–1825 (the original is held by the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in Den Haag).
Magazine article

The bridge to Dejima Island
  

For 200 years, Japan was largely closed to outside influences. But it was not completely isolated, for a small island in Nagasaki Harbour was occupied by Dutch traders. The island was linked by a bridge to the mainland. Cabbages and chocolate, ...
Magazine article

Pity the poor horses

Thomas Tilling revolutionised bus transport in London. Among his pioneering ideas was the notion of having regular bus stops along a route. But the company that bore his name was not always in the forefront of developments. In 1914 Thomas Tilling ...
Letter from Europe

150 years since Staplehurst

  • 12 Jun 2015
A Friday afternoon. The second Friday in June. As is today. The tidal train left Folkestone just after two in the afternoon. Charles Dickens was on board the tidal train on that Friday afternoon in 1865. It should have been a routine journey ...
Teenagers from the Soviet Union and Africa at Artek in summer 1982 (image from RIA Novosti).
Letter from Europe

A children's republic in the Crimea

  • 9 Jun 2015
This week marks the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Artek children's camp in the Crimea. Throughout post-Soviet Europe there are thousands of older people who look back with great affection to the summer holidays they enjoyed as children at ...
Letter from Europe

The view from Ankerwycke

  • 1 Jun 2015
So you know, Ancient Yew, of all that came to pass in 1215? You shivered for more than a thousand winters. You gave shelter for more than a thousand summers. Did you gaze in those days over the Thames to the meadows at ...
The Chapel of Grace (Gnadenkapelle in German) - the centrepiece of Altötting's main square and the heart and soul of Bavaria (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Pentecost in the heart of Bavaria

  • 24 May 2015
It rained last night on the hills above the Inn Valley in Bavaria. Lucky were those pilgrims who had the luxury of a bed in one of the many small inns and guest houses which are to be found along the route of Saint James. Nourished in body if not ...
Letter from Europe

A Rhino called Ganda

  • 17 May 2015
We revisit the story of Ganda, the rhinoceros made famous in Dürer's woodcut, and look at it in the context of Renaissance royal ...
Letter from Europe

Liberland: Bring your wellies

  • 26 Apr 2015
Have you applied for Liberland citizenship yet? Probably not. Though by all accounts lots of folk have been begging the Liberland government to give them passports.Liberland may yet turn out to be merely a publicity stunt, but President Jedlicka ...
Shades of cyan around the Mont
Blanc Massif, seen here reflected in Lac Blanc
above Chamonix, France (photo © Bogdan /
dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Into the Blue
  

For Swiss scientist and mountaineer HB de Saussure, the sky held "in its grandeur and its dazzling purity, an element of death and infinite sadness." Guest writer Iain Bamforth invites us to jump into the blue. Wrap up warm, and bring your ...
A plea for urban renewal: the città vecchia in
Taranto (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Taranto’s broken heart
  

Hop on the slow train to Taranto with us. We ride through rural Puglia in search of Magna Graecia - clutching our copy of George Gissing's account of his visit to the same region over 100 years ...
Widerøe flight 702 prepares to leave Trondheim for
the two-hour flight to Bodø — with stops at Brønnøysund
and Sandnessjøen along the way (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Real flying: Norway by plane
  

The consensus is that flying has become boring. But fly on small planes offering a web of scheduled services up the Norwegian coast to discover a very different take on civil aviation. Travel by plane can still be immensely enjoyable. We review ...
The new European Solidarity Centre in the Polish city of
Gdańsk (photo © Krzysztof Janczewski / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Remembering Anna
  

Anna Walentynowicz died five years ago this spring in the plane crash that also claimed the lives of many in the Polish leadership. We recall the woman who was a welder, crane driver and political activist - a woman who quietly helped shape modern ...
Letter from Europe

Remembering Taras Shevchenko

  • 9 Mar 2015
Grab your coat and come with us. This walk we'll make together is important, and this week is the time to do it. Important because, if we want to understand Ukraine, then we need to know the poetry of Taras Shevchenko. And there's no better place ...
Letter from Europe

Recalling Marianne

  • 25 Jan 2015
France has changed since our last Letter from Europe. The attacks in Paris which started on 7 January were assaults on an entire nation. For in France, more than elsewhere in Europe, the principles of liberty are more closely etched on the national ...
Letter from Europe

A Silesian story

  • 3 Jan 2015
It was 274 years ago today that Frederick II of Prussia rode through the Schweidnitzer Gate in Breslau to claim the Silesian city for Prussia. It is a mark of Frederick's style that he was accompanied, as he ceremonially entered the city, not by ...
Seen from the coast of Laconia, Monemvasía is the perfect island fortress (photo © Duncan JD Smith)
Magazine article

Monemvasía: the Greek Gibraltar
  

In the southern Peloponnese, the island citadel of Monemvasía once enjoyed a key strategic location on major Mediterranean shipping routes. No wonder, therefore, that many have sought to secure control of the rock that is often referred to as 'the ...
This installation on the shores of the Barents Sea recalls witch burnings in Vardø (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

The witches of Varanger
  

The 17th-century witchcraft trials in Finnmark are recalled in a striking new memorial on the shores of the Barents Sea. hidden europe visited the memorial which is pictured on the front cover of this issue of hidden ...
The Forth Rail Bridge (photo © Ian Whitworth / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Setting Forth
  

One firth: three bridges. Each of the three bridges over the Firth of Forth was built in a different century. There is the 19th-century rail bridge, a 20th-century road bridge and now the new Queensferry Crossing road bridge under construction. ...
Magazine article

Martinmas
  

Martinmas is a day for a fresh start, a chance to turn over a new leaf. A good day for an armistice. And a good day to kick off the Carnival ...
Narrow-gauge steam train at the top of the Brocken in Germany’s Harz Mountains (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Following Faust up the Brocken

  • 31 Oct 2014
In our second article to mark 25 years since the political changes in East Germany of late 1989, we make a pilgrimage to one of Germany's most celebrated mountains: the ...
Ketwurst used to be a popular East German snack. It was most associated with Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, famous for its world clock seen here (photo © Patrick Poendl / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Eastern senses

  • 23 Oct 2014
With the approaching 25th anniversary of the East German government's decision to relax restrictions on its borders, you'll surely be hearing a lot about Berlin over the coming weeks. We have our own recollections of the German Democratic Republic, ...
Letter from Europe

Edwardtide

  • 13 Oct 2014
Today is an ordinary working day, though if history had taken a different turn, October 13 could so easily have become a national holiday in England. Many of the men and women who have occupied the English throne in the last 1000 years have aspired ...
The Arctic port of Vardø on Norway's Varanger Peninsula – where the locals are keen to proclaim the merits of cod! (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

The Nansen trail

  • 12 Sep 2014
A recent visit to the Arctic port of Vardø, on an island off the eastern extremity of the Varanger Peninsula, prompts us to reflect on Fridtjof Nansen’s visit to the same place in 1893. Nansen arrived in Vardø on the Fram. It was the ship's last ...
Salted cod bound for Angola being loaded onto the Hurtigruten ship MS Kong Harald at the Norwegian port of Havøysund (photo © hidden europe).
hidden europe note

Hurtigruten ASA: business and brand

  • 11 Sep 2014
Our focus in the notes on Hurtigruten on the hidden europe website is very much on the Norwegian coastal voyage. But that is just part of a wider portfolio of activities undertaken nowadays by Hurtigruten ASA, the company founded in 1912 ...
The Titovka roadside café is a welcome spot to have a coffee and enjoy a break from the road. It is located on the E105 to Murmansk in the north-west corner of the Russian Federation (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Tales from Titovka

  • 5 Sep 2014
Everyone stops at Titovka sooner or later. That's the way things are up here in the far north-west corner of Russia. The Titovka roadside café is on the highway that runs west from Murmansk towards the mining towns of Zapolyarny and ...
Lakeside setting of Mantua in Italy's Lombardy region (photo © Karol Kozlovski / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Travelling with Shakespeare

  • 31 Jul 2014
Hot summer days... and we've been meandering through northern Italy. Virtually, with Shakespeare by our side. Remember Lucentio who, in The Taming of the Shrew, leaves his home city of Pisa in Tuscany? Lucentio's servant Tranio accompanies his ...
Letter from Europe

Financial architecture

  • 21 Jul 2014
Well do we know that modern pieties demand that one speaks only ill of banks, but here at hidden europe we often say nice things about bankers - or, to be more precise, about the good judgement exercised from time to time by bankers as they ...
Pete Seeger at a concert in his home town of Beacon (USA)in 2009 (photo © Sandra Dunlap / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

The power of song

It is forty years since Pete Seeger took to stages in Moscow, the Crimea and Prague as part of a world tour. Seeger died earlier this year of course, and in this postscript to his life we look at how Seeger's music was very similar to that of the ...
Painting at the East Side Gallery, a surviving fragment of the Berlin Wall (image © Anagram1 / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

A share in history

The agency that promotes tourism to the German capital is called Visit Berlin. During 2014 Visit Berlin is promoting the idea that 9 November 2014 is the night when you just must be in Berlin. Just as Notting Hill Festival and Edinburgh Hogmanay ...
Letter from Europe

Yuri gets a ticket

  • 25 May 2014
Yuri overstayed the limit. So he was given a ticket. Then the authorities ushered Yuri out of town. Now he's parked outside the airport terminal. How long he'll stay there is a matter for debate. Our guess is that, as long as Russians keep flying ...
Letter from Europe

Travelling via the Hook

  • 12 May 2014
Some journeys are full of ghosts. The 30-minute train ride from Rotterdam to Hoek van Holland (or vice versa) is in that vein. For a generation of English travellers arriving in Holland on the boat from Harwich, the journey by train along the north ...
Letter from Europe

Sárospatak: a small town in Hungary

  • 15 Apr 2014
Travelling through north-east Hungary earlier this month, we could so easily have missed Sárospatak. It was a drizzly Sunday afternoon and we turned off the main road merely on a whim. Sárospatak was to us little more than a name on a map. Of ...
Bach statue outside St Thomas' Church in Leipzig (© hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Music for 25 March

  • 25 Mar 2014
March 1714 was a good month for Johann Sebastian Bach. On the second of the month, he was promoted to the plum job of Konzertmeister at the Weimar court. This was quite an achievement for a man who was only 28 years old. The terms of the new ...
Magazine article

Where God grew stones: a Mani odyssey
  

Patrick Leigh Fermor's 1958 book on the Mani region of southern Greece helped put Mani on the map. Today it pulls the tourist crowds, yet it still retains a raw appeal. Guest contributor Duncan JD Smith dives deep into Mani to explore the ...
Magazine article

The idea of ‘good’ borders
  

The Curzon Line, which for so long marked the approximate western border of the Soviet Union is named after Lord Curzon. His Lordship has strong ideas on borders, seeing them very much as zones of demarcation. But ideas have changed since Curzon's ...
Eastern Mpumalanga in South Africa. The province is part of the region previously known as Transvaal. It is 150 years since Alexander McCorkindale founded New Scotland in the eastern Transvaal (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Exploring New Scotland
  

In the eastern highveld, where South Africa nudges up to Swaziland, place names on maps reveal the predictable mix of isiZulu and Afrikaans influences. But there is another layer to the toponyms of the region, one that reveals a legacy of Scottish ...
Magazine article

Tales from the A39
  

Forget the Maserati centenary celebrations this year. 2014 marks the centenary of the Mendip Motor. Chewton Mendip was never destined to become a Detroit. But one hundred years ago this month this small Somerset village saw the launch of the Mendip ...
The west coast of Bonaire — an island in the Caribbean that is part of the Netherlands — with a view fo the harbour at Kralendijk, the capital city of Bonaire (photo © Lidian Neeleman).
Magazine article

Dollars and cents
  

Three of the 406 municipalities that comprise the Netherlands use a currency other than the euro. Yes, there really are three municipalities where you buy Dutch pancakes with US ...
Letter from Europe

Sounds of a city

  • 10 Feb 2014
Think how voices help define a city. Speeches and songs have shaped the Weimar soundscape. And they have been more varied in tone than you might expect. To be sure, the foremost exponents of Weimar classicism all pitched into the Weimar ...
Letter from Europe

Reclaiming Weimar

  • 30 Jan 2014
Snow falls over all the city, covering the cobbles and the pathways. In the gentle stretch of parkland that lines the valley of the Ilm, snow drapes the follies and the ruins. In the middle of Weimar, statues of stern men are laced with light snow. ...
Letter from Europe

A polar travel centenary

  • 10 Jan 2014
The Arctic has been much on our minds of late. Today we mark the centenary of an epic moment in polar travel. One hundred years ago today, the Karluk was wrecked in the Chukchi Sea. The ship set off from Vancouver Island in June 1913 on a voyage to ...
Letter from Europe

The Chelyuskin epic

  • 5 Jan 2014
As Russian families gather today to celebrate Christmas (which in Orthodox Europe falls later than in the Roman calendar), they will be inclined - like families everywhere in the world - to look back to Christmas tales from yesteryear. There is ...
Letter from Europe

The storm

  • 28 Dec 2013
It is one of those wild sulphurous days, and the bare heath beats to the roar of the winds. The storm sweeps in from the west. The drenched heath lies low. And it survives the fierce onslaught. The forest at Froeslev is less ...
Letter from Europe

Farewell Madiba

  • 15 Dec 2013
Rolihlahla was born in Mvezo, moving when he was still a young lad to another village called Qunu which is further north, a little closer to the town of Mthatha. Until he went to school, Rolihlahla wore only a blanket. But on the day before school ...
Letter from Europe

Hemingway in Hemmeres

  • 13 Dec 2013
Folk in Hemmeres make the point that theirs was the first village east of the River Our in which the Americans set foot. The truth is that several patrols made forays over the river on the evening of 11 September 1944. And it was on the railway ...
Letter from Europe

Winter comes to Kroscienko

  • 5 Dec 2013
The winter snows have come to higher parts of the Carpathians, and already the beech woods and forests of fir are clad in white. Kroscienko, a little village in the Polish hills, is very quiet this time of year. Were it not for the fact that the ...
Letter from Europe

The Orkneys and more

  • 5 Nov 2013
There will be no boat to the remote island of North Ronaldsay this coming Thursday. The ferry from Kirkwall, the main community in the Orkney Islands, runs out to North Ronaldsay just once a week at this time of year - and that on a Friday. So the ...
Magazine article

Of alkari, lace and wooden toys
  

Rudolf Abraham has over the years written about many of Croatia's most remarkable landscapes for hidden europe. Now he returns to the country in search of something more subtle: Croatia’s remarkable craft traditions and festivals. Rudolf argues ...
Magazine article

Alhama de Granada: Al-Andalus revisited
  

Alhama de Granada is a small town in the mountains of Andalucía, one feted by many writers in the Romantic tradition as being on a par with Granada itself. Laurence Mitchell describes the pulse of everyday life in Alhama, a place that still has its ...
Statue in Leipzig by sculptor Stephan Balkenhol showing the young Richard Wagner overshadowed by his reputation (image © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Leipzig soundscapes
  

Few European cities can rival Leipzig when it comes to musical associations. Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig, Johann Sebastian Bach had an extraordinarily productive 27 years in the city, and the roll call of great musical names continues: Clara ...
The 'old town' recalled in Jacob Riis’s memoirs is Ribe in Denmark, seen here in early autumn (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Remembering Jacob Riis
  

The social reformer and documentary photography Jacob Riis, author of 'How the Other Half Lives' (1890), was born in the town of Ribe in Danish Jutland. Understanding Ribe is the key to understanding Jacob Riis. We take a look at how Riis described ...
Letter from Europe

Making waves from Ribe

  • 3 Nov 2013
Ribe no longer makes waves as once it did. The silting up of waterways has changed the local landscape. The bustle of port trade has long gone, but Ribe is still a watery place. Set in a wall on one Ribe street is an inscription that notes the ...
Letter from Europe

Hidden Devon

  • 24 Oct 2013
We wandered through Devon byways, passing Kingdom's Corner to reach the River Dart at Worthy Bridge. From there it was an easy stroll down the valley towards Bickleigh. John Lean farms a handsome herd of White Park cattle here. He has 150 head of ...
Letter from Europe

Romantic Ireland is not dead and gone

  • 28 Sep 2013
It was one hundred years ago this month that WB Yeats' poem September 1913 was published in a Dublin newspaper. The poem is more than merely a lament for Irish separatist and bold Fenian John O'Leary. It is a sharp critique of the trend in Ireland ...
Letter from Europe

The Out Skerries

  • 11 Sep 2013
For the Out Skerries in Scotland's Shetland archipelago, the 'Filla' has been a veritable lifeline. This year, she marks thirty years of sterling service to the Skerries community. Launched in 1983, the Filla helped transform life on the Out ...
Letter from Europe

Sally Bowles did not live in Weimar

  • 1 Sep 2013
Travelling through eastern Germany last week, we changed trains at Weimar. Does not the very name evoke all sorts of associations to fire the imagination? That edgy period when cultural horizons were redefined in a decade of divine decadence? But ...
Letter from Europe

Delving into glacial history

  • 12 Aug 2013
Hoxne is one of a number of spots in England that are improbably prominent in Quaternary history. Big cities like Birmingham and London count for nothing in this narrative. One day an enterprising tour operator with an interest in geology might ...
Letter from Europe

The Îles Malouines

  • 22 Jul 2013
Only rarely do we venture beyond the shores of Europe within our Letter from Europe. But the layered toponymy of the archipelago in the South Atlantic reveals the complicated history of settlement in the islands known today as the Falklands or ...
Magazine article

Miss Jemima’s Swiss journal
  

In 1863, Jemima Morrell participated in the first ever escorted tour of the Alps organised by Cook. Her diary of that journey is a remarkable piece of writing - one that slices through Victorian formality. The story of what happened to that diary ...
Magazine article

Hitting the buffers
  

Does the European Rail Timetable, published by Thomas Cook since 1873, have a future with a new publisher? Plans are afoot for the relaunch of a book that has defined horizons for generations of ...
Letter from Europe

Remembering Miss Jemima

  • 14 Jul 2013
Cast back 150 years, and Bastille Day came and went without the average Parisian taking much notice. It was not till 1880 that 14 July acquired the status of a national holiday. Thus when Miss Jemima Morrell wandered the streets of Paris on 14 July ...
Letter from Europe

Lastovo (Croatia)

  • 1 Jul 2013
At ten o'clock yesterday evening, well after the sun had dipped below the waters of the Adriatic, the car ferry arrived in Ubli. The little port at the south-west corner of the island of Lastovo has a hangdog sort of feel. Long before sunrise ...
Letter from Europe

Hercules in Lazio

  • 28 Jun 2013
The time is coming when residents of Rome escape the Eternal City. Rome is not a place to stay in summer. Many from Rome head north into the hills of Lazio, where Etruscan, Roman and Renaissance threads intertwine in history and culture. The lakes ...
Letter from Europe

After the flood

  • 24 Jun 2013
The waters came, and so did the European media. The water was ruthless and unsympathetic. It tore down bridges and wrecked homes. The mud and debris that came with the flood blocked culverts and drains. Lives were put on the line. So too were ...
Letter from Europe

The North begins inside

  • 17 Jun 2013
"There is not much to be said for Reykjavik." That, at least, was the opinion of WH Auden when he arrived in Iceland in June 1936. A few weeks later, Irish poet Louis MacNeice joined Auden and the two men took to the hills of Iceland's wild ...
Letter from Europe

100 years of buses

  • 13 Jun 2013
If British buses had a golden age, it was in the years just prior to the First World War. Motorised buses were changing British streetscapes. New routes were being launched every week, and suddenly a ride on a bus was an option even for those of ...
Letter from Europe

The Russian Season in Paris

  • 16 May 2013
Those looking to depart from convention in Paris usually head for the left bank. No-one goes to the Avenue des Champs-Elysées (on the right bank) looking for revolution. But cast back one hundred years this month and the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées ...
Letter from Europe

On the march

  • 29 Apr 2013
It was one hundred years ago tomorrow that Rosa Luxemburg published some thoughts on May Day in the Leipziger Volkszeitung. Writing, as she put it, "amid the wildest orgies of imperialism," Luxemburg extolled "the brilliant basic idea of May Day" ...
Letter from Europe

First plans for a Channel Tunnel rail service

  • 25 Mar 2013
Just think how good it would be if you could board a train in Milan and wake up next morning in Manchester. Forty years ago this spring, civil servants in London and European rail planners were sketching out the first tentative ideas for just such ...
Stephansplatz in the centre of Vienna - an architectural medley of ancient and modern (photo © Pixcom / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Retrospect 1873: Salzburg to Vienna
  

There is a prevailing view in Salzburg that Vienna is halfway to Asia. And that is certainly the perspective with which 19th-century travellers from western Europe approached Vienna. We retrace the itinerary followed by Thomas Cook's clients in ...
Magazine article

The Book of Hours
  

Some argue that printed timetables are obsolete in an Internet Age. But no online database has ever managed to capture the overall pattern of a train service with the fluency of the tabular format used in printed timetables. We probe the magic ...
Letter from Europe

Thomas Cook: March 1873

  • 28 Feb 2013
By the end of February 1873, Thomas Cook had encircled most of the northern hemisphere. Cook and his party of circumnavigators had sailed from Liverpool in September 1872. The travellers discovered iced water, Pullman cars and Sioux warriors in the ...
Letter from Europe

From Sylt to Samoa

  • 1 Jan 2013
We had set our sights on Samoa. But with a fierce storm closing in from the west, we decided instead to make for Zanzibar. Locally, it is the German spelling that prevails: Sansibar. The North Frisian island of Sylt may not seem the most obvious ...
The Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe, England (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Just like Elba

Antony Gormley's dramatic sculpture, The Angel of the North, has done wonders for south Tyneside. Will Verity do the same for Ilfracombe? But Verity's stay in the north Devon port is limited to just twenty years. And who then might take her place ...
Magazine article

Chance encounter: Cape Flora

In July 1893, a remarkable chance encounter took place at Cape Flora on Northbrook Island in the Franz Josef archipelago. The Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his companion Fredrik Johansen, who had failed to reach the North Pole, bumped in ...
The watery townscape of Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany (photo © hidden europe)
Magazine article

It’s the small things that matter

Would you believe that a major guide book publisher really suggests that the Rhine runs from north to south through Germany? With tight budgets, some publishers are cutting corners and skimping on detail. For the Rough Guide to Germany, that means ...
Magazine article

England and Europe

Given our interests, you might have thought that we'd have pounced on The Smell of the Continent the moment it was published in 2009. The book is a witty and well-researched account of how the English discovered continental Europe in a decades ...
Letter from Europe

Land, sea and the frontiers of space

  • 3 Oct 2012
They are the forgotten places, the liminal zones where land meets the sea. Shingle promontories and spits rarely have the same appeal as rugged cliff coastlines or great tracts of golden sand.Unlovely spreads of shingle, patchy sand and saline ...
Letter from Europe

From Askania-Nova to Vaduz

  • 14 Sep 2012
Another Friday morning. And a sunny September day in Liechtenstein. A little fog around dawn down in the Rhine Valley, but that will surely clear quickly. So blue skies will set the tone for the hundredth birthday of Baron Eduard Alexandrovich von ...
hidden europe note

Journeys: Winter in Arabia and Summer by the Baltic

  • 16 Aug 2012
Summer in Europe might not seem a natural ally for winter in Arabia. But Freya Stark’s 'A Winter in Arabia' is a book for all seasons and all continents. It recalls Freya Stark’s second journey through the Hadhramaut region of southern Arabia ...
Letter from Europe

200 years of summer holidays

  • 24 Jul 2012
The thrice-daily local bus service from Altenberg to Teplice is a blessing for cross-border travellers. The bus crosses the mountains that define the border between Saxony and Bohemia. When we rode this route last Thursday, there were just five ...
Violin maker Anton Maller’s workshop inMittenwald, Germany (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Second fiddle: music in Mittenwald
  

Anton Maller is a patient man. He has to be. Creating the perfect violin takes weeks of concentrated effort. We meet Anton Maller, a master violin maker, in his home town of Mittenwald in the Alps. Mittenwald enjoys a fine reputation for the ...
Photo © Ronfromyork
Magazine article

Capital affairs
  

Just over one hundred years ago, Greece was expelled from a currency union that once extended from Latin America to the Balkans. We take a look a currency unions of yesteryear, wading along the way through a medley of soldi and quattrini, blutzger ...
Landranger Sheet 57 sweeps from the Trossachs (above) east to the Ochils (photo © Dennis Dolkens).
Magazine article

Of maps and men: Landranger sheet 57
  

With place names like Pendicles of Collymoon and Nether Easter Offerance, Ordnance Survey Landranger Sheet 57 fires the imagination. Maps tell stories, as do old men in pubs. Like the Tartan traveller we met in the Tyrol who tried to persuade us ...
Letter from Europe

Reshaping mental maps

  • 17 Jun 2012
This evening, a train will speed from Córdoba to Valencia in just a shade over three hours, marking the inauguration of another link in Spain's growing high-speed rail network. True, the new stretch of line in this case is very modest, but it is ...
Letter from Europe

From synagogue to swimming pool

  • 22 May 2012
It is tempting to scatter superlatives when it comes to Poznan. Three years ago we featured this striking Polish city in hidden europe magazine, and since then we've written frequently on Poznan for other media (most recently in the august pages of ...
Letter from Europe

The harsh lands

  • 4 Apr 2012
After the lushness of Puglia, the fierce landscapes of Basilicata came as a firm reminder that southern Italy is not all peaches and almonds. In Puglia we had enjoyed orecchiette with broccoli and been seduced by vincotto di fichi. We had heard the ...
A feast of Victorian Gothic at London’s St Pancras Station. The building houses the reopened station hotel, the St Pancras Renaissance (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Sanctuary: in the shadow of St Pancras
  

In 'A Tale of Two Cities', Dickens recalls the work of bodysnatchers in St Pancras Churchyard. The graveyard is in the very shadow of London's magnificently restored St Pancras station. We reflect on how the railways have reshaped the St Pancras ...
View of Riga’s Old Town with the River Daugava beyond (photo © Prescott09 / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

The art of concealment: Riga
  

The Latvian capital has long been shaped by outside influences. Every new master required the reinvention of the country's identity: what was acceptable was brought into the open and what could not be denied had to be conealed. Guest contributor ...
Magazine article

Zurich’s Moulage Museum
  

Duncan JD Smith, urban explorer extraordinaire, introduces us to the world of medical moulage, a technique that was used to reproduce the physical manifestations of various diseases and dermatological conditions. Welcome to Zurich’s Moulage ...
Magazine article

Rites of penance
  

Prompted by Diego Vivanco's report from San Vicente de la Sonsierra, hidden europe sets out to detect the origins of the religious practice of self-flagellation in ...
Letter from Europe

Women on the rails

  • 8 Mar 2012
International Women's Day (IWD), which is celebrated today in many countries across the world, has been a feature of the European social landscape for more than a century. From the outset, IWD gave focus to a range of initiatives across Europe that ...
Letter from Europe

Across the Dardanelles

  • 24 Jan 2012
Çanakkale is a mere dot on the map, but mere dots in distant lands so often turn out to be bustling cities. And thus it is with Çanakkale, a seaport and fortress town on the east side of the Dardanelles. Çanakkale is a community of more than ...
Letter from Europe

Polish mysteries

  • 23 Nov 2011
We drifted slowly through wintry forests, past unkempt meadows and villages full of scrawny desolation. We crossed the River Odra four times. And four times I gazed down at the river's wine-dark waters from the train, watching the waters swirling ...
Taking water at Eisfelder Talmühle where the Selke Valley railway connects with the Trans-Harz route (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Steaming through the Harz Mountains
  

The Harz Mountains lie astride the erstwhile border between East Germany and West Germany. The forested hills of the Harz preside over the North European Plain. The eastern portion of the Harz benefits from a legacy of East Germany: a wonderful ...
The Tammerkoski River with the Finlayson mills in the Finnish city of Tampere. The city boasts very well-preserved industrial heritage (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Shaping socialist history: Tampere
  

Lenin's promise that Finland would be granted her independence after the Bolshevik Revolution was first made in Tampere. This Finnish city has a fine industrial and political heritage, as we discover when we visit a museum devoted to the life and ...
Habsburg period cobbles in one of the squares in Chernivtsi (photo © Laurence Mitchell).
Magazine article

Ukraine's Bukovina region
  

The Carpathian region of south-west Ukraine has fabulous beechwoods and rural lifestyles that tell of another world – one far removed from much of modern Europe. Laurence Mitchell introduces us to Chernivtsi and to villages in the hinterland of the ...
This modest building is a reminder of the Norwegian presence in Myggbukta on the east coast of Greenland. From June 1931 until April 1933, Myggbukta affected to bethe capital of Eirik Raudes Land (photo © Ole-Chr. Røren).
Magazine article

Viking voyages: Eirik Raudes Land
  

For a brief period in the early 1930s, the Norwegian flag fluttered over two remote settlements in eastern Greenland: Myggbukta and Antarctichavn. This is the story of Eirik Raudes Land (Erik the Red Land), an upstart territory named in honour of ...
Magazine article

Red Star Sofia
  

Whatever happened to the massive five-pointed red star that for many years topped the communist party headquarters in Sofia? For years, it was hidden away in a cellar, but now it greets visitors to a new museum of socialist art in the Bulgarian ...
Letter from Europe

Escape from Alcúdia

  • 10 Nov 2011
The fast ferry will speed you from Alcúdia to Ciutadella in just an hour. Too fast, perhaps, to really savour the transition between two worlds. Alcúdia has its quiet corners. Choose a sunny spring evening and the ruins of the old Roman theatre can ...
Letter from Europe

Remember, remember

  • 5 Nov 2011
Many English readers will know the rhyme that recalls the failed terrorist action in 1605, when Guy Fawkes and a group of Catholic conspirators tried to blow up the English Parliament. But the majority of those who gather at bonfires across England ...
Letter from Europe

Reformation Day

  • 31 Oct 2011
Europe's Protestant reformers were not, on the whole, men who took kindly to statues. Indeed, thousands of statues in Catholic churches across Europe were smashed to pieces during the Reformation. So it's hard to fathom what Martin Luther would ...
Letter from Europe

From Dutch tornadoes to Sussex avalanches

  • 11 Aug 2011
We were surprised to learn recently that the place in the world where you are most likely to experience a tornado is the Netherlands. True, those Dutch twisters don't cause quite the havoc of the big tornadoes that occasionally sweep across the US ...
The city of Ohrid, on the shores of the eponymouslake, is Macedonia’s premier tourist destination (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Quo vadis Macedonia?
  

Protecting the national narrative is a fine art in Macedonia, the south Balkan republic which neighbouring Greece insists should be referred to only as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (or FYROM for short). Join us as we try and unravel ...
Magazine article

An Arctic outpost: Victoria Island
  

The story of Victoria Island, a tiny fleck of land in the European Arctic midway between Svalbard and Franz Josef Land, is a reminder that there are better ways of conducting international diplomacy than leaving a message in a ...

	The principal church at New Valamo Orthodox Monastery in Finland (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

The past is another country
  

To accompany our feature on Karelia in this issue of hidden europe magazine, we look at how Finland’s ceded eastern territories, now part of the Russian Federation, remain a potent symbol in the Finnish ...
Letter from Europe

Train services of yesteryear

  • 30 Jun 2011
There is much talk today about how we live in a new age of the train, and that many journeys around Europe are now much more sensibly undertaken by rail rather than air. Only too true, but such rhetoric does imply that rail travel in Europe was ...
Letter from Europe

The 313 to Botany Bay

  • 8 May 2011
We were having difficulty being enthusiastic about Enfield. Jack, an amiable octogenarian who is Enfield born and bred, is more positive. "Heavens," he exclaims. "You've no idea. Enfield has been important for centuries. Do you remember the Lee ...
Letter from Europe

Szczecin (Poland)

  • 14 Mar 2011
For a spell Swedish, then German (and known as Stettin) and only since 1945 Polish, Szczecin is distant from the hubs of Polish power. Its shipyard workers played a key role in the Solidarity movement of the nineteen-eighties. But the city feels ...
Letter from Europe

Arabia and the European Imagination

  • 3 Feb 2011
Travel and myth-making naturally go hand in hand. Arabia is a product of the European imagination. Romanticised views of the desert and rumours of ancient cities lost in great seas of sand conspire to create picture-book images of an Arabia that ...
Letter from Europe

Issue 200: the Jardin Villemin

  • 15 Nov 2010
A few days ago, we sped from London to Paris on Eurostar, a journey of some five hundred kilometres, in little over two hours. It is very fast, and always leaves us feeling just a little bit breathless. So on arrival in Paris we went as always to ...
Letter from Europe

The last victim of the Berlin Wall

  • 29 Aug 2010
1990 was a Berlin summer dominated by the Mauerspechte - literally the 'wall peckers' - who chipped away at the Wall with chisels, often in the hope that fragments of the legacy of a divided Berlin could be sold to the tourists who were then ...
Letter from Europe

Kvarken life

  • 15 Jul 2010
While much of the world worries about the possible impact of rising sea levels on coastal communities, the Kvarken islands have the opposite problem. This archipelago in the Gulf of Bothnia between Sweden and Finland is still on the rebound - as it ...
Letter from Europe

The ark in the park

  • 21 Jun 2010
Zoos evoke all manner of reactions. Some commentators see them as playing a key role in maintaining biological diversity, others dismiss them as cruel and inhumane. We take a look at European zoos in their social and historical ...
Letter from Europe

The Baedeker legacy

  • 1 May 2010
"Kings and governments may err, but never Mr Baedeker," wrote the English humorist AP Herbert in the libretto for Offenbach's operetta La Vie Parisienne. Baedeker was the brightest star in a constellation of nineteenth-century guidebook publishers ...
Letter from Europe

The legacy of Katyn

  • 10 Apr 2010
It was twenty years ago this coming Tuesday that Moscow formally acknowledged that the Soviet secret police (the NKVD) had shot thousands of officers, priests, poets and professors in the forests of Katyn. The legacy of Katyn still scars the Polish ...
Letter from Europe

East of Trieste

  • 1 Apr 2010
Europe's Cold War borders were by no means ubiquitously impervious. Trieste on the Adriatic coast of Italy always had rather good links to neighbouring Yugoslavia. Earlier this week, we decided to travel east from Trieste, and found that the modern ...
Letter from Europe

A Dutch planetarium

  • 17 Mar 2010
Evidently the world is going to end in 2012. Well, that at least was the suggestion of the young man we met on the train to Franeker, a small town in the ...
photo © Saniphoto / dreamstime.com
Magazine article

A tribute to the humble suitcase
  

The classic suitcase has been relegated to the carousel of history as travellers opt for more modern styles of luggage. But the suitcase is still replete with double-edged meaning - a symbol of freedom for some, but a reminder of unhappy exile for ...
Magazine article

A Russian diversion
  

The Imperial Russian Standard, with the double-headed eagle so intimately associated with the Romanovs, still hangs in the living room of a wooden lodge on the bank of a river in southern Finland. We visit the former holiday home of the Russian ...
Magazine article

An immortal mortar
  

It is a little known fact that the entire course of European history has been shaped by mortars and pestles. We unravel a little tale from Venice that highlights why the mortar deserves pride of place in any good culinary ...
Letter from Europe

Geography matters!

  • 8 Feb 2010
It was way back in 1879 that a witness, testifying before a Select Committee of the House of Commons in London, declared "Geography is ruinous in its effects on the lower classes." If there is one discipline which has informed our writing in hidden ...
Letter from Europe

Vadsø (northern Norway)

  • 24 Nov 2009
You really know you have travelled a long way east when you get to Vadsø. The local church, which dominates the small town on the Barents Sea, is a late 1950s essay in poured concrete. But take a peek inside for a surprise. This is a Norwegian ...
The former Russian military hospital at Beelitz where Erich and Margot Honecker lived for a spell (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

East Germany: after the fall
  

Brandenburg's business corridor, an east-west strip south of Berlin, incorporates many preserves that featured in Cold War history. We take a look at some of the places outside Berlin that played the role in the political events of 1989 and ...
Magazine article

The Cretan question
  

We look at examples of how territories and countries have been internationalised through joint administration by foreign powers. From Crete to Kosovo, Europe has had many examples of shared ...
Image of Cerise Penguin covers reproduced by permission of Penguin Books Ltd (photo by Duncan JD Smith).
Magazine article

Cerise diversions
  

Before being quietly consigned to literary history in 1959, the Penguin Cerise series brought some of the very best of the world's English language travel writing to a huge readership at affordable paperback prices. We remember an icon of ...
The oblong plaza that lies at the heart of Domazlice is typical of towns large and small across Bohemia (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

A day in Domazlice
  

The small towns of southwest Bohemia, many of them just a stone's throw from the border with Bavaria, are well off most tourist trails. We visit Domazlice, a town in the hills that boasts a beautiful elongate plaza at its ...
Letter from Europe

Celebrity tourism in the Trossachs

  • 19 Oct 2009
Celebrity tourism is nothing new. In 1847, Queen Victoria had journeyed to the Hebrides from the Clyde, using the Crinan Canal to avoid the long sea journey around the Kintyre peninsula. In so doing she encouraged thousands of other travellers to ...
Letter from Europe

Day of German Unity

  • 3 Oct 2009
It is a holiday here in Berlin today - and indeed throughout Germany. It is the Day of German Unity, a public holiday on 3 October each year that recalls the unification of the two German States in October 1990. It is unsurprisingly a day that ...
Letter from Europe

Joseph Roth - literary connections

  • 27 May 2009
When the Austrian-Jewish author Joseph Roth was born in Brody in 1894, the town was a Jewish shtetl in Galicia on the eastern edge of the K and K empire - a place beyond which Viennese influence gave way to more tsarist sentiments. Joseph Roth ...
Magazine article

Belgian border business: Moresnet

The easternmost parts of Belgium are home to a linguistic minority that rarely gets a mention in the Flemish-Walloon debate. For here the lingua franca is German. The border region is full of curiosities as we find when we visit Moresnet and the ...
Magazine article

Kaliningrad conundrum

The Königsberg problem: start and end at the same place, and walk through the city, crossing all seven bridges once and no more. A mathematical puzzle from the Russian city of ...
Church at Jelenia Góra (Poland) on the via scara (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

The Via Sacra
  

The Via Sacra is an inspired initiative that foregrounds the religious heritage of a particularly beautiful part of central Europe - the area where Bohemia (Czech Republic), Polish Silesia and the German State of Saxony ...
Magazine article

Edith Durham in Prokletije
  

It was one hundred years ago this year that Edith Durham made the Albanian journeys that were to feature in her book "High Albania". We look at Edith Durham's adventures in the Albania-Montenegro border ...
Magazine article

Of cabbages and kinder

Golzow seems like an insignificant village on the plains not far from the German-Polish border. But it is much more, for Golzow has an important place in the history of documentary film. Bryn Frank introduces us to 'the children of ...
An architectural icon: the main Bauhaus building in Dessau (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Form and function: Dessau
  

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 ...
The Nymph of Allianoi standing in the niche where she was found (photo by Firdevs Sayilan).
Magazine article

The nymph's call to Allianoi
  

Progress always comes at a price. Not far from Turkey's Aegean coast the beautiful ruins at Allianoi are about to be flooded. Local horticulturalists demand more water for their tomato crops. But the defenders of Allianoi are not giving in easily. ...
Magazine article

Passionate nomads
  

Three Swiss-born women travel writers slipped from our shared literary consciousness until they were rediscovered by feminist critics. hidden europe editor Nicky Gardner finds in the writing of Isabelle Eberhardt, Annemarie Schwarzenbach and Ella ...
Magazine article

A Basque village: Urzainki connections

The tiny village of Urzainki in the Basque Pyrenees is a mere fleck on the map. But it is a place with connections. Can it really be true that this one village has a link with an erstwhile Pope, an American President, the Bronte family and a South ...
Magazine article

Rock and rituals: Roskilde

Think of Roskilde, a smallish city on the Danish island of Sjælland. Yes, the annual rock festival. Yet there is much more to Roskilde than the rituals of one of Europe's premier open air music events. It is a place that captures the very essence ...
Goðafoss — the 'waterfall of the Gods' in northern Iceland (photo © Bluesunphoto / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Keeping faith with the past: Iceland
  

Yes, you can go to Iceland in search of glaciers and geysers, but you can also travel north, just as William Morris did, in search of heroes and gods. These are landscapes full of eddic myth and powerful sagas. Iceland is a country that has kept ...
Letter from Europe

Changing horizons for Silvertown (London)

  • 29 Oct 2008
Rathbone Street market in Canning Town, just two stops up the train line from Silvertown, was the furthest most Silvertowners ever ventured. A Saturday special. Pie and mash at Mrs Olley's café followed by ice cream at Murkoff's were Canning Town ...
Letter from Europe

The Isles of Scilly (Tresco)

  • 23 Sep 2008
In the Isles of Scilly, the spectacularly beautiful scatter of islands off the coast of southwest England, equinoctial tides often make for some formidably complicated schedules for the inter-island ferry service. We visit the Isles of Scilly and ...
Letter from Europe

Spitsbergen and the Italia rescue

  • 19 Jul 2008
Not so many St Petersburg visitors make it over to Vasilievsky Island which sits fair and square in the Neva delta. Those that do stick in the main to the eastern end of the island with the old St Petersburg stock exchange. This is a building of ...
Letter from Europe

Swiss spring

  • 14 May 2008
May Day may still be more than a fortnight away, but Zürich takes time out today for an early spring festival. Rain looks set to put a dampener on this year's Sechseläutern. This is a peculiarly Swiss occasion. The name refers to the "six o'clock ...
Letter from Europe

Seaplanes make a comeback

  • 23 Apr 2008
Loch Lomond Seaplanes last week launched a new seaplane service from Glasgow to Tobermory on the Hebridean island of Mull. Predictable media frenzy of course, with hyped accounts in English newspapers of how islanders can now eat 'seaweed muesli' ...
Letter from Europe

Traces of Europe in the Caribbean

  • 31 Mar 2008
On 31 March each year the most American of Caribbean islands recalls its Danish past. Until 1917, St Thomas was part of the Danish West Indies. There were three main islands in the Danish West Indies: St Thomas, St John and St Croix. The capital of ...
Letter from Europe

Trieste connections

  • 18 Jul 2007
The slow train to Trieste hugs the Adriatic coast, giving gorgeous views of the Miramare, a fabulous folly of a fortress built on a rocky plinth by Archduke Maximilian, the younger brother of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I. The train brings the ...
Letter from Europe

Kidnapped in Berlin

  • 8 Jul 2007
Fifty-five years ago today, Lichterfelde was very much in the news on account of the fate of Walter Linse, a local lawyer who was kidnapped at his front gate - destination Moscow. Linse had made a reputation for himself in exposing abuses of the ...
Letter from Europe

DDR nostalgia

  • 18 Jun 2007
For many older Germans who grew up in the DDR, the new order is associated with uncertainty in the labour market, consumerism and rising prices, and many look back with evident affection on some aspects of life in the DDR. Not all of course, and ...
Letter from Europe

The Selwyn swastika

  • 23 Oct 2006
hidden europe has been on the road - or more correctly 'on the rails' - this past week meandering through Europe on a journey that has seen us sleeping on a Russian night train, speeding through the Channel Tunnel on Eurostar, eating pierogi in ...
Letter from Europe

Dark tourism in Berlin and beyond

  • 13 Aug 2006
Many of Berlin's prime attractions evoke the darker side of the city's past. The new monument to the murdered Jews of Europe just south of the Brandenburg Gate is the latest addition to Berlin's dark tourism repertoire. Just a short walk away is ...
Letter from Europe

European lazarets

  • 19 Jun 2006
In more recent centuries, the island of Comino, off the coast of Malta, served as an isolation hospital. The great archipelago off Finland's southwest coast includes the tiny island of Seili, which for over three centuries was a hospital, initially ...
Letter from Europe

Heritage centres in Ireland - the Danube delta in Romania

  • 23 Apr 2006
The capacity of Ireland to create 'heritage centres' is unbounded. In a month that marks the ninetieth anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin, it seemed good to check out the memorial to Eamon de Valera in the village of Brú Rí (Bruree in ...