Articles tagged:

Politics

Blog post

From A to Z: Achilles to Zelensky

In this Letter from Europe we report from an island in the Black Sea that over the last 200 years has been variously controlled by the Ottomans, Romania, the Soviet Union and Ukraine. It is the place where the Greek hero Achilles allegedly dwelt after his death.

Magazine article

Of mountains and memories: Slovenia’s Walk of Peace

by Rudolf Abraham

Join us on the 230 km hiking trail in western Slovenia known as the Walk of Peace. It is a chance to revisit the scenes of terrible First World War battles along and around the Izonzo Front, where the armies of Austria-Hungary confronted Italian forces. Rudolf Abraham leads us through shrapnel-scarred terrain to discover landscapes of tantalizing beauty and rich historical poignancy.

Magazine article

Winter reading

by Nicky Gardner

Discover three fine books for winter reading. We delve into the first English-language biography of Joseph Roth, find Iain’s Bamforth new collection of essays is full of zest and follow Vitali Vitaliev on a romp across and along some of the world’s most curious borders.

Note

In search of Joseph Roth

Berlin-based author Paul Scraton explores the mercurial life of Joseph Roth, the Austro-Hungarian writer profiled in a new biography by Keiron Pim and published by Granta Books in October 2022.

Magazine article

Ukrainians on the move

by hidden europe

Not far from Lockerbie, in the hills of southern Scotland, a corrugated iron hut was converted into a simple chapel in summer 1947. It is a remote, rural outpost of Ukraine's Greek Catholic Church.

Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 66

by hidden europe

In hidden europe 66 we explore the Drin Valley in Albania, the Vipava Valley in Slovenia, reflect on sustainable tourism and check out the boats in Port Grimaud. We also celebrate a special anniversary with a an article on fifty years of Interrail.

Blog post

Fate shall smile once more

There are no silver linings in the clouds of war. These are dark times. So our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people. That prompts us to reflect on one of Ukraine's most interesting cities: the Black Sea port of Odesa.

Magazine article

Promoting Europe: the Connecting Europe Express

On 7 October 2021, a train from Lisbon arrived in Paris. The journey from the Portuguese capital had taken five weeks. The Connecting Europe Express was no ordinary train, but one which recalled the fine tradition of agit-prop trains which 100 years ago criss-crossed Russia to spread the Bolshevik message.

Magazine article

Names to ponder: memory and place in the city

Take a look as the names of streets as you explore foreign cities. We’ve noted streets named after Stalin in southern England and a road named after Tito in France’s Champagne region. These and similar street name evoke important issues about place and memory, reminding us how historical narratives evolve through time.

Magazine article

Erasing the tsar

by hidden europe

In the Russian town of Pushkin, not far from St Petersburg, there’s a district called Tsarskoye Selo – a sweep of palaces and gardens which was once the summer home of the Romanov family.

Magazine article

On the wrong side of the line: report from a Ukrainian village

by Darmon Richter

Sofia Bezverhaya says she is always glad to cater to those who want to see a more traditional picture of the region. “I am grateful that people are coming,” she says, “and especially when they bring bread, oil, and supplies! We have a mobile shop, but it only comes once a month.” Darmon Richter reports from the Ukrainian village of Kupovate.

Magazine article

From the Balkans to Nürnberg

by Nicky Gardner

What was Rebecca West doing 75 years ago this summer? West’s accomplishments as a travel writer are complemented by a fine range of other work. In the summer of 1946, West was sitting alongside Martha Gellhorn and Erika Mann at the International Military Tribunal in the German city of Nürnberg.

Blog post

The Slaney Valley

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 the highest category of praise for the middle reaches of the Slaney upstream from Enniscorthy.

Blog post

Free ports

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 way for competition between Genoa and Livorno and the development of the first free ports.

Blog post

Sauntering through November

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 magazine which includes an article on the Free State of Fiume - one of two small states created by the League of Nations in autumn 1920.

Magazine article

Who was Friedrich Oswald?

by Nicky Gardner

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 Oswald.

Magazine article

The D'Annunzio affair: remembering the Free State of Fiume

by Nicky Gardner

Gabriele D’Annunzio was an aviator, poet, playwright and populist who in his manner presciently anticipated the current crop of populist leaders. His ‘invasion’ of the Adriatic city of Fiume in 1919 precipitated an international crisis. One hundred years ago, in autumn 1920, the newly created League of Nations endeavoured to defuse tensions by creating the Free State of Fiume.

Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 62

by hidden europe

We do rather like an amble, even sometimes a ramble, but when we are in rural regions we do also quite like to vegetate, and the current pandemic has certainly allowed us many opportunities to do just that. And thus maybe unsurprisingly, there is a walking theme to this issue of hidden europe. Enjoy the read.

Magazine article

Untold Riches

by hidden europe

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 of market intelligence.

Note

The Power of Pots and Pans

Last night the government of Prime Minister Albin Kurti was forced to resign, making it the first government in Europe to be toppled by Coronavirus - aided by saucepans. The protest of the angry citizens of Kosovo was expressed by the noisy clamour of pots and pans banged on balconies. We take a look at how kitchenware has been deployed to deter locusts and topple governments.

Magazine article

Changing Places

by hidden europe

Had you noticed that humble Staines, a riverside town south-west of London, has changed its name? It is now called Staines-upon-Thames. Moving upmarket one might say. But the Canadian village of Swastika is resolutely resisting suggestions that a name change might be in order.

Magazine article

Island Summit

by hidden europe

In October 2003, there was an unlikely standoff between Russia and Ukraine in the Kerch Strait. The status of Tuzla Island had been the subject of discussions between the presidents of the two countries just five weeks earlier.

Magazine article

Admiralty Handbooks: Baedekers with a Twist

by hidden europe
Some of the best academic minds in Britain spent the Second World War writing guidebooks about far-flung places. We explore a clandestine area of professional geographical endeavour which resulted in the Naval Intelligence Guides – often called the Admiralty Handbooks.
Magazine article

Unfinished business

by hidden europe
In a field near the village of Urbès in eastern France, a stretch of graceful railway viaduct stands alone in a valley. It has never been connected to any railway line. It's a poignant reminder of what might have been.
Magazine article

Changing Fortunes: Guidebooks and War

by Nicky Gardner
It's hard to imagine these days that any guidebook might ever sell 100,000 copies each month. But 100 years ago, in the second half of 1919, Michelin was managing just that. We explore how guidebooks fared in the years after the end of the First World War. As Baedeker fell into disfavour among English readers, other companies were quick to fill the gap.
Magazine article

The Last Settlers: Franco's Legacy in Rural Spain

by Karlos Zurutuza
In the 1950s and 1960s, the development of new agrarian settlements became a key element of Franco's statecraft in Spain. The villages, often planted in unpromising terrain, symbolised Franquista power and ambition. Karlos Zurutuza and Andoni Lubaki, respectively a writer and photographer based in the Basque region, set out to discover the villages populated by Spain's last settlers.
Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 59

by hidden europe
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 months after the end of the Great War in 1918, to shape emerging narratives of that conflict.
Blog post

The Hungarian Town of Sopron

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 we contemplate during our journey by train from Berlin to Sopron.

Blog post

When Empires Crumbled

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 for some years after the armistice.

Magazine article

The Mingrelian Question

by Karlos Zurutuza
The green and white stripes of the Abkhaz flag give a striking splash of colour. But the schoolteacher speaks of the Mingrelian language and culture. Karlos Zurutuza goes in search of a minority group in the Republic of Abkhazia, a small territory on the north shore of the Black Sea which has for a quarter of a century asserted its status as an independent state.
Blog post

Paris in the springtime

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, as a young journalist, he wrote about the terrible conditions endured by vineyard workers in the Moselle region.

Magazine article

The Spinetta Report

by hidden europe
In the future it may not be so easy to take the slow train from Sospel to Tende. Or from Clermont-Ferrand to Nîmes. Jean-Cyril Spinetta's February 2018 report to President Macron is not good news for regional rail routes in France. It may be overdoing it to call Spinetta the French Beeching - but the fallout from the report is worth watching.
Magazine article

The Other United States: An Island Polity

by Nicky Gardner
This is the story of the other United States, a territory which surely rates as one of the oddest polities ever to appear on the map of Europe. It had seven constituent states and existed from 1815 to 1864. It used the obol as its currency and its postage stamps featured the head of the English monarch.
Blog post

Winter games on a soft border

Winter skating on the River Doubs, which marks the frontier between France and Switzerland, is a common seasonal pastime in the Jura region. As Switzerland and France are both party to the Schengen Agreement, this is a classic "soft" border, one which people can freely move across without let or hindrance.

Blog post

Votes for women

Today is the 150th anniversary of the birth of the first woman ever elected to the British House of Commons. Constance Georgine Gore-Booth was born into an Anglo-Irish family in 1868. Her stand on rights for women is just one dimension of the wider universal suffrage movement which emerged in Europe at the very start of the last century.

Blog post

One shot from the Aurora

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 perhaps the most famous gunshot in European history?

Blog post

The darker side of verse

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 War. We explore a lesser-known side of war poetry.

Magazine article

The City by the Elbe: Torgau and the Reformation

by Nicky Gardner
This is at one level the story of a renegade monk and a runaway nun. But it's also the wider story of the Reformation in Saxony. Join us as we explore Torgau, a town on the banks of the River Elbe in eastern Germany which played second fiddle to Wittenberg in the Reformation. It is 500 years since Martin Luther kicked off a movement which was to divide the Catholic Church.
Magazine article

Lutherstadt Torgau

by hidden europe
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 prefixed in honour of a notable citizen. We have Lutherstadt Wittenberg. Why not Lutherstadt Torgau?
Blog post

Lidice shall live!

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 repercussions were felt most awfully in the Czech village of Lidice.

Blog post

April 1917: Lenin returns to Russia

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 Germany.

Magazine article

The Place by the Bay: the Butrint Story

by Nicky Gardner
One of the least frequented great classical sites in the entire Mediterranean basin is at Butrint in south-west Albania. Its roll call of illustrious visitors includes Lord Byron and Nikita Krushchev. Take care to avoid the snakes as we explore Butrint.
Blog post

City without Jews

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 by the end of the year.

Blog post

Tales from the East

With mention of fairy tales and film, thoughts often turn to Disney. The cinematic adaptation of fairy tales is often judged in the west to be a peculiarly American prerogative. But central and eastern Europe have a very fine tradition of progressive cinema and a vast store of fairy tales upon which to draw.

Blog post

Saarland, January 1957

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 is a part of Europe where international borders have faded.

Blog post

Issue 50 of hidden europe magazine

Today is special. On account of an anniversary. Today sees the publication of issue 50 of hidden europe magazine. For a niche travel magazine which appears just thrice annually, hidden europe has punched far above its weight, often covering travel stories overlooked by mainstream media.

Blog post

Stumbling through history

As I walked deeper into the complex, surrounded on all sides by the chunky columns, I heard the animated chatter of two kids from time to time - two young English voices in a forest of memories in the very middle of Berlin. I met some Spanish children playing hide-and-seek. Soon I was alone, quite alone, in the dark heart of the memorial.

Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 50

by hidden europe

Welcome to hidden europe 50. We live and work in a city where foreign nationals make an immense contribution to the local economy, to society and to the arts. Berlin is in that respect very typical of many places in Europe. In hidden europe, we celebrate the diversity of our home continent.

Magazine article

Visa News

by hidden europe
A chance to visit Belarus without a visa, and a tweak to the visa regulations in the Russian port of Murmansk are just two of the latest changes to visa regimes in Europe.
Magazine article

Socialist Architecture in Yugoslavia

by hidden europe
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 beautiful.
Blog post

Election thoughts

We watched the run-up, the live TV debates and the tough exchanges veering at times towards acrimony. We've followed the arguments on national security, foreign policy and the question of who has the personal authority and good judgement to lead the country. But, as Bulgaria goes to the polls today, it's still an open book as to which of the candidates will accede to the presidency.

Magazine article

Between the Steppe and the Sea

by Nicky Gardner
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 Odessa.
Magazine article

The Hills of Western Serbia

by Laurence Mitchell
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 railway.
Magazine article

Recalling Tito

by hidden europe
From Skopje to Moscow, from Sarajevo to New Delhi, the names of roads and squares recall Josep Broz Tito, who was President of Yugoslavia from 1953 until his death in 1980. But what happened to all the Tito towns in former Yugoslavia? Titograd became Podgorica. And the others?
Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 49

by hidden europe

Welcome to the 49th issue of hidden europe magazine. In this issue we visit the Ukrainian town of Odessa, explore western Serbia, witness the vanishing art of cowbell crafting in Portugal's Alentejo region and attend the matanza in the Spanish village of Secastilla. All that and much more besides.

Blog post

After the referendum

For millions of Brits of my generation, the EU gave an exit route, a chance to escape. It gave me a chance to feel truly European, to be truly European. It has given me the opportunity to explore other languages, other faiths, other freedoms, that would simply never have come my way.

Note

In honour of Doreen Massey 1944-2016

We have this weekend heard the sad news of the death of Doreen Massey, the distinguished geographer whose ideas powerfully influenced our work at hidden europe. Her ability to challenge everything is a model for all socially committed writers, editors and publishers.

Magazine article

Valletta's subterranean secrets

by Victor Paul Borg

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 Valletta is to venture underground. Join Victor as he explores a subterranean warren under the fortress capital of Malta.

Magazine article

What colour is your flag when it burns?

by Nicky Gardner

Kosovo is arguably Europe's newest country. Most nations now recognising the leadership of the territory as being a legitimate national government, though even some European Union members are still withholding recognition. Kosovo still has internal divisions - just as there were over 100 years ago when Edith Durham first set foot in Kosovo.

Magazine article

Balkan identities

by Nicky Gardner

So you think you know the key ethnic groups in Kosovo? Serbs and Albanians, to be sure. But life on the ground is more complicated. Who are the Gorani? Then there is a trio of ethnic groups who are locally referred to as the RAE community, viz. Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians. We explore the ethnic mosaic of modern Kovoso.

Magazine article

Understanding the socialist city

by Nicky Gardner

Progressive socialist designs for homes and cities are no longer in fashion. Yet Europe's streetscapes still attest to the grand schemes of yesteryear, when architects and planners envisaged a society that stood opposed to capitalism. We go in search of some first-class cityscapes which were the product of communist Europe.

Magazine article

Flagship of red Vienna: Karl Marx-Hof

by Duncan JD Smith

The well-being of residents, communal facilities and the affordability of housing have been the hallmarks of Vienna's social housing programmes for almost a century. Urban explorer Duncan JD Smith leads us to the 'Ringstrasse des Proletariats': Vienna's Karl Marx-Hof.

Magazine article

Kosovo travel notes

by hidden europe

It's perfectly sensible to travel from Budapest to Thessaloniki through Kosovo. But it's unwise to attempt the journey in the reverse direction. Find out why in our notes on travelling through Kosovo.

Blog post

A Kosovo tale

There's a touch of the wild west about Ferizaj. It has a frontier feel. When the English traveller Edith Durham travelled through Kosovo in 1908, she stopped just briefly in Ferizaj, remarking that this was a community created by the railway.

Blog post

A new issue of the magazine: hidden europe 47

hidden europe 47 is published today. It costs just 8 euros, and for that you'll get some of the finest travel writing around. If you like our regular Letter from Europe, why not support our work by taking out a sub to the print magazine? Find out more about the contents of this latest issue of hidden europe.

Magazine article

Eastern connections: rail links through Ukraine

by Nicky Gardner

At a very practical level, the difficult relations between Russia and Ukraine - and in particular their competing interests in Crimea - is playing itself out in train timetables. No trains have run from Ukraine's Kherson Oblast into Crimea for almost a year now. But the effects of the conflict have been felt much further afield, with rail services from Moscow to the Balkans being disrupted.

Magazine article

Slow train to Sarajevo

by Nicky Gardner

Twenty years ago this autumn, the Dayton Peace Accord brought a measure of peace to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Join us as we take the train from Zagreb to Sarajevo, travelling through a region which still bears the scars of war.

Magazine article

Ukrainian-Russian links

by hidden europe

The tit-for-tat posturing between Ukraine and Russia benefits no-one trying to travel to and from Crimea - or for that matter anywhere in the border regions between the two countries. In late October 2015, air links between Russia and Ukraine were severed.

Magazine article

More than just Calvin: the Geneva story

by Nicky Gardner

We take a look at a European city which has often styled itself as a place of refuge. Geneva has long taken a stand on human rights. So join us as we explore the many sides of Geneva, the Swiss city that turns out to have impeccable radical credentials.

Magazine article

Portrait of a Berlin suburb: Marienfelde

by Nicky Gardner

Refugees are the issue of the season in Germany. A suburb in the south of Berlin, very close to where hidden europe is published, has an illustrious history in welcoming refugees. We take a walk around Marienfelde, where none of the streets are paved with gold, but for over half a century new arrivals have been treated with dignity and respect.

Blog post

Encounter at Hendaye

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 only face-to-face meeting of the two leaders.

Blog post

100 years after Zimmerwald

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. Delegates came from a dozen countries - among them were Lenin and Trotsky.

Blog post

Radical assets Geneva-style

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 the development of anarchist and socialist ideas which were to make waves across Europe.

Blog post

Life and death in Bar-le-Duc

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 for 30 years was suzerain of the Duchy of Bar - a little state which rather jealously guarded its independence.

Blog post

Islands and politics

Cartographers, seafarers, poets and artists have long seen the appeal of offshore islands - and they are especially interesting when political allegiance and geography do not quite seem to agree. Perhaps the most striking political compromise with respect to offshore islands was the arrangement between the Japanese and the Dutch during the more than 200 years when Japan pursued its sakoku (closed country) policy.

Magazine article

The bridge to Dejima Island

by Nicky Gardner

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, billiards and badminton were all introduced to Japan over that bridge.

Blog post

Liberland: Bring your wellies

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 seems to take himself seriously.

Blog post

The view from Berlin

Our travels over the last fortnight have taken us from one end of Germany to the other. Yet strangely this is a country which neither of us really understands. One of us is a Berliner by birth, the other a Berliner by choice. The view from Berlin lends no advantage when its comes to reviewing the affairs of Germany.

Magazine article

Remembering Anna

by hidden europe

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 Poland.

Blog post

A Silesian story

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 cannons but by a number of packhorses carrying the royal tableware.

Blog post

Letter from Africa: Place matters

Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country is a volume where the land and landscapes of Africa stand centre stage in the plot. In his book, first published in 1948, Paton goes beyond the romantic rendering of South African landscape which was long the tradition of English language writers such as Rider Haggard and John Buchan.

Blog post

A Christmas journey

The Magi set a trend by travelling in the dying wick of the year. This is the season when most folk just want to hunker down by the fire with friends and family. But it is actually a very fine time for exploring. One of the finest travel memoirs of the last century is Patrick Leigh Fermor's account of his journey on foot from Hook of Holland to the Marches of Hungary in the winter of 1933.

Magazine article

Borderlands: the Pasvik Valley

by Nicky Gardner

Few borders divide societies which are so markedly different as the frontier between Norway's easternmost county of Finnmark and Russia's Murmansk Oblast. We take a look at life on both sides of the border in a region which was once a key part of the Sami homeland.

Magazine article

What next for Gagauzia?

by Nicky Gardner

It is worthwhile to keep an eye on the national elections in Moldova in late November 2014. They could provide the cue for Gagauzia to start thinking again about secession. Could Gagauzia be the next Donetsk?

Blog post

The beauty of Berlin

In the third and last of three pieces to mark the 25th anniversary of the dramatic events of November 1989 in Berlin, the editors of hidden europe reflect on the special qualities that mark their home city.

Blog post

Divided Islands and all things Scottish

Just imagine, for a moment, that Scotland really does vote yes to independence next week. Scotland will then become a new nation state, bidding for a place in European league tables of size and status. We reflect on border issues and look at how Scotland stacks up against other European countries in terms of landmass and population size.

Magazine article

A village torn in two: Slemence

by Nicky Gardner

The fall of the Berlin Wall was way back in 1989. But the community of Slemence remained divided until 2005. For sixty years, there was no link between the two halves of the village which lies astride the border between Ukraine and Slovakia. A new crossing point for pedestrians has eased the situation, allowing renewed contact between the two parts of the village. We take a walk through one of Europe's most unusual villages.

Magazine article

The power of song

by Nicky Gardner

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 guitar poets in eastern Europe in the post-Stalin period.

Magazine article

One country, two entities

by hidden europe

Several European countries are split on ethnic lines. We see the dramas being out in Ukraine just now. Belgium is even more decisively split, but happily the results are not as fractious. Shift to Bosnia and Herzegovina and we see the great game of nationhood played out in a peculiarly schizophrenic way. We unpick the puzzle behind a country that has two "entities".

Magazine article

Silent witness: the bridge over the River Drina

by Laurence Mitchell

Ivo Andric's book The Bridge on the Drina captures four centuries of life in the town of Visegrad. The book is populated by small-town characters of various religious persuasions — Orthodox, Catholics, Muslims and Jews. In the wake of the terrible conflicts of the 1990s, Visegrad is now mainly a Serb town (and thus Orthodox). Guest contributor Laurence Mitchell introduces us to Visegrad, the small town on the Drina in the east of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Blog post

In search of Eden

There is something very pleasing about communities which display a strong architectural coherence. In some instances, the sense of order and unity might take its spark from one striking central feature. The Italian city of Palmanova is a good example.

Blog post

Travelling via the Hook

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 bank of the River Maas was a first glimpse of the continent.

Blog post

Sárospatak: a small town in Hungary

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 course we knew something of the Calvinist traditions of eastern Hungary - a part of the Habsburg realm where the ripples of the Reformation captured the local imagination.

Magazine articleFull text online

Where God grew stones: a Mani odyssey

by Duncan JD Smith

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 otherworldly landscapes of this arid peninsula.

Magazine article

Bright banquets in the Elysian Vale: musings on Weimar

by Nicky Gardner

Can a town have too much history? That certainly seems the case with the small city of Weimar in the German State of Thuringia. The town packs a few surprises and there is even a little counterculture to offset Schiller and Goethe. We unpack the details that you don't find in the tourist brochures in this special feature on a town that is still very much 'east' Germany - and all the better for that.

Magazine article

Meaningful partnerships for eastern Europe

by Nicky Gardner

The worrying developments in Ukraine highlight the challenges experienced by countries eligible for support under the European Union's Eastern Partnerships (EaP) programme. Tugged in one direction by Brussels and in the other by Moscow, it is no surprise that loyalties in the region are being sorely tested.

Magazine article

By the razor’s edge: western Poland

by Nicky Gardner

The Polish village of Siekierki on the east bank of the River Odra is a good spot to reflect on European borders. We visit the Western Territories, the area ceded by Germany to Poland at the end of the Second World War.

Magazine article

Choreographing opinion

by Nicky Gardner

Did Prince Grigor Potemkin really try to fool Catherine the Great into thinking that life in Russia's Black Sea region was rosier than it really was? We think the idea of Potemkin villages is probably a myth, and that Prince Potemkin was guilty of doing no more than what PR agencies do every day - nudging opinion towards a favourable interpretion of reality. It's a fact of modern life, as common in Stockholm and Strasbourg as it is in Sochi.

Magazine article

A question of numbers

by hidden europe

'Grey gold' is the term used by Ærø councillor Carl Heide to describe the talented and still-very-active migrants whom he feels can help sustain community life on the Danish island of Ærø. For an island where deaths greatly outnumber births, and where young adults often move away, the challenge of maintaining a viable community is uppermost on the local agenda.

Magazine article

The idea of ‘good’ borders

by hidden europe

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 day. Across much of Europe, they have become invitations for communities on either side to collaborate.

Blog post

Sounds of a city

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 conversation: Herder, Wieland, Goethe and Schiller. But there are also some less likely threads in the soundscape of the German town.

Blog post

Farewell Madiba

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 started, Rolihlahla's father took a pair of his own trousers, cut them off at the knee and insisted that his son wear them to school. Clad in his outsized trousers next day at school, Rolihlahla met his teacher, Miss Mdingane, who insisted that, now the boy was old enough to be educated, he should have a new name.

Blog post

Hemingway in Hemmeres

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 embankment that Ernest Hemingway stood to observe the American invasion of Germany in the closing months of the Second World War.

Blog post

Winter comes to Kroscienko

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 road through Kroscienko leads to a border crossing with neighbouring Ukraine, there would be scarcely anyone passing through Kroscienko.

Blog post

Africa: East to Tzaneen

The Great North Road, a fragment of the classic Cape to Cairo route, cuts through Limpopo on its way to Beitbridge and the Zimbabwean border. A stream of buses and bakkies head north towards another Africa, their passengers barely sparing a glance for the passing landscape.

Magazine article

A life less ordinary

by Nicky Gardner

Jacob Maria Mierscheid was born on 1 March 1933, so we hear. Still going strong at 80, Mierscheid is a German enigma with a knack for missing key events. Earlier this year, Mierscheid failed to show up for his own 80th birthday party. hidden europe uncovers the story of Germany's most understated politician.

Blog post

Romantic Ireland is not dead and gone

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 to more materialist and bourgeois values. This was a cry from the heart, a plea that Ireland might continue to make space for art and the imagination.

Blog post

The Îles Malouines

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 Islas Malvinas.

Magazine article

New ports for the Far North

by Nicky Gardner

The harbour front at Kirkenes could be transformed if the Norwegian port became a major transit point for freight to and from Russia. The key to this happening is getting Russian-gauge railway tracks to Kirkenes. But other ports in northern Norway are also developing similar plans. We look at the politics of laying tracks across frontiers.

Magazine article

The Caucasus dimension

by hidden europe

Georgians have high hopes for the Lithuanian Presidency of the European Union - a six-month term that started this month. Georgia, like Lithuania, slipped out of the Soviet Union in 1991. The hopes in Tbilisi are that Lithania will open European doors for other ex-Soviet states.

Magazine article

The route to Zakopane: a journey of the spirit

by Nicky Gardner

The slow train journey from Kraków to Zakopane seems to last an eternity. The names of the forty-one stations along the way – and our train pauses at every one of them – make a wonderful litany of Polish toponyms. The route takes in a remarkable religious landscape (one that is inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List) and the valley where Lenin and other early Bolsheviks helped shape their revolutionary code. It concludes at Poland's premier mountain resort.

Magazine article

Papal exits

by Nicky Gardner

The Holy See and the Italian Republic tussled for years over which country owned one contested section of the Passetto di Borgo. That's the name given to the elevated footpath that links the papal apartments in the Vatican with the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome. That path has been for centuries the exit of last resort for popes in trouble. Now the passetto is to be opened to the public.

Note

Small is beautiful: the view from the Vatican

Rarely has the Vatican been so much in the spotlight as over the last week or two. The dog days of a papacy have never in recent times been quite so clearly defined as they were in February 2013. Benedict’s announcement on 12 February ushered in 16 days of preparations for that moment last Thursday evening when the Pope stepped back from office. Important ecclesiastic business was immediately shelved. We find it interesting what business was still transacted in the second half of February.

Blog post

The fifth season

Welcome to the fifth season. Spring, summer, autumn, winter... and now the fifth season. This weekend, and the day or two thereafter, mark the culmination across Europe of fifth season frolics. It is carnival time. The normal rules of social engagement, most particularly with anyone in authority, are suspended.

Blog post

Through the Rhodopes

Septemvri might have been a railway town like Swindon. If Isambard Kingdom Brunel had not built a carriage works at Swindon on his Great Western Railway, the place would probably have remained an insignificant dot on the map halfway between London and Bristol. Like Swindon, the Bulgarian community of Septemvri was born of the railway.

Blog post

Crimea connections

Foros is a place for holidays and for history. During the Soviet era, this resort at the southern tip of the Crimea was much favoured by Kremlin leaders looking for a little summer relaxation. Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev was at his dacha in Foros in August 1991 when the old guard in Moscow attempted to seize power. The coup failed, but it nudged the Soviet Union over the brink. Within a week, the Union was unravelling as constituent republics edged towards independence.

Blog post

Land, sea and the frontiers of space

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.These forgotten wildernesses are good for military exploits. Armies can play games and scientists working in the service of the military can conduct unseen experiments. Peenemünde was perfect in that respect.

Blog post

Remembering Rachel

Wander through the industrial landscapes around Ajka and you'll see a Hungary that does not feature in the tourist brochures. Lake Balaton is just over the hills to the south. The lake stands for recreation and fun. Ajka stands for something quite different. Cast back a couple of years and an awful river of caustic red sludge poured down through Kolontár, an unsung suburb west of the centre of Ajka. Nine people died and over one hundred were injured, many of them seriously.

Blog post

From Askania-Nova to Vaduz

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 Falz-Fein. Eduard von Falz-Fein was born on 14 September 1912 into quite another world. Emperor Franz Joseph I still presided over Austria-Hungary, Nicholas II ruled Russia and journalist Leon Trotsky was making his way south from Vienna to cover the developing troubles in the Balkans.

Magazine article

La Serenissima: San Marino

by Nicky Gardner

No other country in Europe can boast so beautiful a name: La Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino. But to experience the serenity of San Marino, you really need to stay overnight in the capital, which clusters around the summit of Monte Titano. Only then can you catch the flavour of another Europe, a long-forgotten Europe, composed of a myriad of small city-states. San Marino is a survivor from an earlier age.

Magazine article

The Schengen factor

by Nicky Gardner

Schengen is more than just a village on the banks of the River Moselle in Luxembourg. The Schengen programme of free movement across borders helps shape modern Europe geographies. It explains why trains now rumble by night through Hodos and why travellers can no longer enjoy the creatures comforts of night sleepers from England to the continent.

Magazine article

Capital affairs

by Nicky Gardner

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 and kreutzer.

Blog post

A duo of diarchies

Europe boasts an engaging mix of microstates, some less acknowledged internationally than others. The mainland of western Europe numbers five independent nation states that are all among the smallest in the world. In Andorra and San Marino, we have the world's two remaining diarchies - nations that are presided over by two individuals who share the role of head of state.

Blog post

All eyes on Ukraine

Just over five years ago, on a sunny day in mid-April 2007, Victor Yushchenko paid a courtesy visit to the European Commission. On the same day Victor Yanukovich addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Ukraine was in political turmoil and the key protagonists were busy courting the wider European policy community and international public opinion - each hoping to secure some support for their side in the embittered constitutional crisis that then divided their country.

Blog post

Alpine accents

We have been exploring the northern ranges of the Alps this past week, criss-crossing the international border that separates the German State of Bavaria from the Austrian Tyrol. Like many of Europe's borders, this particular frontier has been pretty fluid and there are still some lovely geographical peculiarities.

Blog post

Recalling Guernica

Most art lovers visiting Madrid make first for the Prado and then for the Thyssen-Bornemisza. Both have celebrated collections. The Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, based in a former hospital near Atocha railway station, does not attract quite the same crowds as the two top-tier galleries. But with a weekend in Madrid last month, we made time for the Reina Sofia, where the big draw is Picasso's Guernica.

Magazine article

The art of concealment: Riga

by Neil Taylor

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 Neil Taylor introduces us to the high art of political camouflage.

Magazine article

Shaping socialist history: Tampere

by Nicky Gardner

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 work of Lenin.

Magazine article

Timing matters

by Nicky Gardner

Russia's decision this year to abandon seasonal changes of clocks has prompted much media comment. Belarus has followed Russia's example. Ukraine, after much prevarication, has opted to stick with alternating winter and summer time. In this short piece for hidden europe, we take a look at the politics and time.

Magazine article

Viking voyages: Eirik Raudes Land

by Nicky Gardner

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 one of the Viking World's most celebrated mediaeval scoundrels.

Magazine article

Red Star Sofia

by hidden europe

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 capital.

Magazine article

In the days of prosperity

by Nicky Gardner

The River Narva marks one of Europe's more conspicuous frontiers: that between the European Union (and the Schengen area) to the west and the Russian Federation to the east. But cultures do not always respect borders and in a visit to Narva, on the Estonian bank of the river, we encounter a city that is very Russian in demeanour.

Blog post

Remember, remember

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 this evening probably will not have the details of Guy Fawkes' peculiar act of treason uppermost in their minds as they gaze at crossettes, spiders, horsetails and multi-break shells exploding in the night skies.

Blog post

The other Germany

My brief was to take the pulse of eastern Germany on the 21st anniversary of her union (in October 1990) with her bigger neighbour to the west. Thus was a new and larger Germany born. Twenty-first birthdays have symbolic rather than any legal meaning, but in many cultures there is still a sense of 'coming-of-age' at 21. And this week, all sixteen states in the reunified Germany had a day off work to mark this happy occasion.

Blog post

Happy birthday, Ukraine

Over the last couple of days, we have heard Shche ne vmerla Ukraina sung with just a little more gusto, a shade more passion, than is perhaps the norm. Hot on the heels of one of the most colourful Orthodox feasts of the year - when great baskets of apples were blessed at altars across the country - comes the twentieth anniversary of Ukrainian independence.

Magazine article

The past is another country

by Nicky Gardner

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 imagination.

Blog post

Village life in Jamel

These fine summer days are a time to explore the rural hinterland of Germany's Baltic coast. There is a delicate beauty in the undulating country behind the old port city of Wismar. And there's a touch of history too with ancient dolmens and menhirs hidden away in the forest. Near the tiny village of Jamel is a megalithic passage grave. Yet Jamel itself hits the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Blog post

Amina unmasked

Perhaps you, like us, were enthralled by the tales from Damascus as Amina Arraf blogged about her adventures and misadventures in the Syrian capital. Amina has of course now been exposed as an American hoaxer with a very fine imagination and a gift for writing fiction. The world's media will dissect the Amina affair, and for a while it will make us all a little more attentive to sources. Can this or that blogger be trusted? Or, for that matter, this or that travel writer?

Blog post

Polar nights in Spitsbergen

It was unusually warm in Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen this past Sunday. The temperature peaked at minus 7 degrees Celsius. And the jazz helped give Longyearbyen a more temperate ring last weekend as the remote Arctic community, capital of the Svalbard archipelago, celebrated its annual Polar Jazz festival.

Blog post

The legacy of Katyn

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 soul, even more so today after the air crash near Katyn that claimed the lives of eighty-nine Polish politicians and officials including the Polish President.

Blog post

East of Trieste

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 piety of open borders has done nothing to foster eastbound rail links from the port city.

Magazine article

Flanders: good evening Denderleeuw

by Karlos Zurutuza

The homeland of the Kurdish people is bisected by many international frontiers. But Kurds in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and beyond are united by their affection for a TV station that broadcasts news and entertainment to the Kurdish people. Karlos Zurutuza, a regular contributor to hidden europe, visits the small town in Flanders (Belgium) where Roj TV is based.

Magazine article

Disquiet in Kaliningrad

by Nicky Gardner

Is it no wonder that citizens of Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad are feeling a little jittery these days? Kaliningrad's inhabitants feel that they are a long way from Moscow, and also increasingly distant from the European Union countries that border onto the Russian exclave.

Blog post

Polling day in Iceland

Today is referendum day in Breiðdalsví­k. The town is a ramshackle sort of place on the edge of a bay of the same name. Breiðdalsvík does not really have a lot going for it. It is raw, untamed, an outback town that has something of the feel of the Wild West.

Blog post

The demons of Sylt

Sylt is a place apart. It is one of the most accessible of the North Frisian islands. Frost demons have cast a spell of hard rime over the island these past days. But neither the bitter cold nor the capers of New Year's Eve deter the walkers who march the beach at dawn.

Magazine article

The Cretan question

by Nicky Gardner

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 suzerainty.

Magazine article

East Germany: after the fall

by Nicky Gardner

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 thereafter.

Blog post

Day of German Unity

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 promotes reflection on both sides of the erstwhile border, with many Germans from the west of the country quite unable to understand why some of their eastern neighbours look back with obvious affection on aspects of life in the east.

Magazine article

In spite of Trier

by Nicky Gardner

The birthplace of Karl Marx is, a little improbably it might seem, in the Moselle city of Trier. It is a place that nowadays seems irredeemably bourgeois. Yet Marx' legacy is superbly documented in Trier's Karl-Marx-Haus.

Blog post

Vorarlberg (Austria)

Alighting from the train at Bregenz station in Austria, the traveller instantly has a sense of being in a place that takes recreation seriously. The station architecture is memorably bizarre with its turquoise-green platform canopies and the spiral walkways that decant new arrivals onto the lakefront. Bregenz lies on the eastern shore of Lake Constance (the Bodensee in German) and is the most un-Austrian of Austrian cities.

Blog post

Kosovo and international politics

The Kosovo issue rumbles on. Contrary to popular opinion, the question of who has recognised the would-be state and who has not is far from being a simple east versus west divide. True, Britain and the United States both gave a positive nod to Kosovo within twenty four hours of the Kosovo Assembly declaring independence on 17 February 2008. And Russia has consistently refused to recognise Kosovo.

Blog post

A Liechtenstein moment

One of the events surrounding the twenty-fifth anniversary of women's suffrage in Liechtenstein takes place this evening in the capital Vaduz, when young Liechtenstein women have the chance to meet some of the activists who during the seventies and early eighties struggled for women's rights in their small country. hidden europe e-brief commemorates this moment in Liechtenstein history.

Magazine article

In the ghetto

by Nicky Gardner

on the margins of Berlin, several thousand Russlanddeutsche (Russian-Germans), migrants who arrived in Germany in the mid 1990s, live as an underclass

Magazine article

People's palaces

by Wolf Oschlies

Many central and eastern European capitals boast 'palaces' that were constructed in the socialist period. While Berlin's Palace of the Republic is being demolished, other capitals are finding more creative ways of rehabilitating their 'people's palaces'

Blog post

Tallinn's last Soviet soldier

Tallinn's Bronze Soldier highlights the difficulties of rendering recent history. Visitors to Potsdam, a city in the former German Democratic Republic very close to Berlin, will find many informative notices that unravel the story of the old Hohenzollern palaces that litter the Potsdam landscape. For those interested in architecture, landscape design and imperial history, the park and palaces in and around Sanssouci are magnificent.

Magazine article

Banking on poets

by hidden europe

Nineteenth century poets often nurtured the flower of national consciousness; today they are rewarded with pride of place on many European banknotes.

Magazine article

Paradise lost: Nagorno Karabakh

by Nicky Gardner

The self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno Karabakh is not recognised by any other country. The mountain territory in the southern Caucasus is an extraordinary place, as Karlos Zurutuza found when he took the marshrutka from the Armenia capital Yerevan over the hills to Karabakh.

Magazine article

A Polish work of art: Zamosc

by Nicky Gardner

Zamosc is no ordinary Polish town. Tucked away in the country's eastern marchlands, Zamosc is picture perfect. Its central plaza gets our vote for Europe's finest town square. And the entire place turns out to have an intriguing history.

Magazine article

The nymph's call to Allianoi

by Üstün Bilgen-Reinart

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. Üstün Bilgen-Reinart reports from Turkey.

Magazine article

A hundred years of change: Jovici

by Rudolf Abraham

Krste Jovic has lived in Jovici (Croatia) for almost a century. Regular hidden europe contributor, Rudolf Abraham, introduces us to Krste's home village. Wars, struggle and strife sear the history of a coastal region now known mainly for its sun, sea and sand.

Magazine article

So where is Mukaceve

by Nicky Gardner

Ruthenia and the Rusyn language scarcely figure in our mental maps of Europe. But Rusyn life & culture are alive and well in the remote valleys of the Carpathians.

Blog post

Serbian Orthodox Christmas

Bitterly cold temperatures over central and eastern Europe last evening and this morning do nothing to diminish enthusiasm for the celebration of the Orthodox Christmas. While Orthodox Christmas is underway, daily demonstrations in Belgrade dilute the peaceful spirit.

Blog post

Greenland referendum

There has been a revolution overnight in Nuuk. In the early hours of this morning, referendum results showed that Greenlanders have voted overwhelmingly for much greater autonomy from Denmark. This is not the first time that Greenland has rocked the boat. In 1985, Greenland seceded from the European Community, and in so doing immediately halved the geographical area of the Community.

Blog post

Rusyn aspirations in Ukraine

Father Dymytrij Sydor is a determined man. No-one quite believed him when he asserted that he could raise the funds to build a massive new cathedral at Uzhgorod. This southwesternmost province of Ukraine is hill country, and it is home to the Rusyns - an ethnic and cultural minority who emphasise their distinct identity.

Blog post

Tito toponyms

The cult status surrounding Josip Broz Tito, the onetime president of Yugoslavia, shows no sign of diminishing almost thirty years after his death. The capital of Montenegro, Podgorica, was until 1992 called Titograd. And we report from the extreme southwest corner of Kosovo. Here, in the narrow mountain valleys south of Prizren, is a landscape of quite delicious beauty.

Blog post

New links across Schengen borders

The burden of having to show a passport at a border was never an onerous one (assuming you had an EU passport of course), but it still presented a psychological barrier. Now cross-border excursions for shopping or sightseeing are becoming ever more common. And Europe's new-found enthusiasm for border hopping is mirrored in a growing range of cross-border transport links.

Blog post

Arrivals in Malta

It has been a busy couple of days in the choppy seas off the south coast of Malta. Military helicopters were out in the early hours of Thursday morning searching for over two dozen migrants from Africa whose boat capsized about forty kilometres south of the Mediterranean island. Later the same day another vessel, overladen and leaking, was escorted into Marsaxlokk Harbour in Malta. The twenty-seven Somalis aboard were all taken in custody.

Blog post

Moldova

Moldova is not a country that figures much in the European imagination. Tucked away in southeast Europe, Moldova contrives to be not-quite-Balkan and not-really-Danubian. The country boasts a minimalist connection with the Danube, abutting onto the river for no more than a few hundred metres. Not quite hitting the Black Sea either. Culturally and linguistically, Moldova defies definition.

Blog post

Expanding eurozone

This is an interesting week for Malta, as the island adopts the euro as its national currency. The lira maltija, which has served Malta well for thirty-five years, will be consigned to currency history. And Europeans from Andalucía to Finnish Lapland can ponder how long they might have to wait before the first euro coins with Maltese designs turn up by chance in their small change.

Blog post

Schengen expands

Since 1945 the Neisse valley has been split between two countries: on the west bank Germany and on the east bank Poland. History has scarcely been kind to the villages of the Neisse valley. Hard on the west bank of the river, nestling below what must today be the most easterly vineyard in all Germany, lies the Kloster St Marienthal, a thirteenth-century convent foundation of the Bohemian Queen Kunigunde.

Blog post

Hasta la victoria siempre!

Seaside Kolobrzeg has more to offer than sand and spa cures. Enter Agnieszka Rylik, onetime world kickboxing champion and later a junior welterweight world champion in women's pro boxing. Lidia tells me animatedly all about Agnieszka Rylik. Undefeated in her first dozen bouts, Rylik punched for Poland in Las Vegas, only there to suffer the first ever defeat of her professional career.

Blog post

Kidnapped in Berlin

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 law in the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

Blog post

Passports please!

There is an old Russian proverb that suggests that a man consists of a body, a soul and a passport. But passports are not such an age-old institution as the proverb might imply. A hundred years ago, travellers might wander hither and thither across many parts of Europe without any formal documentation. Where a traveller did have a passport in those days, it was often just a single sheet of paper.

Blog post

The road to Petsamo

Early European travel was hugely driven by Christian virtue. Those of the truly devout who had the resources would try to visit Rome, Jerusalem or Santiago de Compostela. The fifteenth century English mystic, Margery Kempe, managed all three, and then topped off the grand trio of shrines by travelling to Bad Wilsnack near Berlin, which was then one of the premier pilgrimage sites in northern Europe.

Blog post

Dark tourism in Berlin and beyond

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 the Topography of Terror exhibition. For visitors who venture out of Berlin's city centre, the former Nazi concentration camp at Sachsenhausen is a major destination.

Blog post

Minorities around the Black Sea

The Black Sea region bristles with diaspora curiosities, and, in an earlier issue of hidden europe magazine (in July 2005), we explored Estonian villages in the breakaway province of Abkhazia in north-west Georgia. In the upcoming issue of the magazine, due out on 3 May, we feature an intriguing village in the southern Ukraine with Swedish origins. Gammalsvenskby is a name that simply means 'Old Swedish Town'.

Blog post

Kosovo connections - Transdniestr

Western European observers of the east of our continent have had their eyes trained on Serbia and Belarus this past weekend. The Milosevic funeral in Pozarevac, a small city on the Danube plain seventy kilometres east of Belgrade, became a rallying point for Serbian nationalists that will surely, for many in the Balkans and elsewhere in Europe, raise uncomfortable echoes of the past.

Blog post

Latin superstition in Sardinia - the Moldova-Romania border - Christmas gifts

Sardinia is a place steeped in superstition, as the English novelist DH Lawrence discovered when he rushed through the island and found it a curious place, 'lost between Europe and Africa and belonging to nowhere', as he wrote in Sea and Sardinia (1921). Blood feud in the Sardinian hills may be a thing of the past, but there remains an enigmatic quality to life in the remoter parts of this island.

Blog post

Liechtenstein cows - Schengen (Luxembourg) - hidden europe 5 contents

For Liechtenstein's cows, 2005 has not been the easiest of years. The bovine population of the Alpine principality used to be the most laid back cows in Europe. Since a government crackdown earlier this year, the cows are no longer regularly fed hemp, an animal husbandry practice that ensured that the cannabis satiated creatures were the happiest cows on the planet.

Blog post

Migrants in Lampedusa (Sicily)

The Mediterranean island of Lampedusa is generally one of those 'out-of sight, out-of-mind' places, a tiny speck of Italian land that is much closer to Africa than the Italian mainland. Even the Sicilian port of Porto Empédocle is over two hundred kilometres away

Blog post

Herr Heinrich's allotment garden at Erlengrund - hidden europe 3 preview

This is a Berlin of hot languid days. School has finished for the summer, and for the coming weeks many Berliners will spend days on end at the many lakes that surround the city. The asparagus season that started with May Day is now nearing its end, and the migrant workers from eastern Europe who have for weeks worked hard harvesting the precious white spears so cherished by Berliners are beginning to return home.