Articles tagged:

Feature

Flint country: stories set in stone

by Laurence Mitchell

Laurence Mitchell introduces us to the many ways in which flint has shaped the cultural landscape of East Anglia. The distinctive stone that glistens in fields and is ground by the tides on the region’s beaches is used in many of East Anglia’s fine churches. Flint inflects the region’s history.

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.

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Threescore and ten: reflecting on hidden europe

by Nicky Gardner

Is this perhaps the first time in publishing history that a well received and profitable magazine has carefully planned its own sunset? We always knew hidden europe would not be for ever. We saw it as a project with a start, a middle and an end. Now, with a strong sense of having said the things we wanted to say, we reflect on two decades of work celebrating European cultures and communities, and a remarkable mix of lives and landscapes.

Return to Eriskay: A Hebridean community

by Nicky Gardner

Living on a small island demands a willingness to make compromises. Yet islands still have a special appeal. We make time for one of our favourite islands. Nothing much ever happens on Eriskay, and to be honest there’s not really much to see. But this outpost in the Outer Hebrides has a very special magic.

Summer transients: the Fjallabak community

by Katie Featherstone

Four hours drive east of Reykjavík, the Fjallabak nature reserve is home to no one, but lies deep in the hearts of many. Here in the hills of Iceland, the seasonal transients arrive in June, helping prepare the simple accommodation to welcome summer hikers. Katie Featherstome describes a season at Hrafntinnusker, a remote mountain hut on the hiking trail known as the Laugavegur.

Wild bites: foraging in Malta

by Daiva Repeckaite

Wandering Maltese byways, we discover that each season brings its own menu of edible plants. In her first contribution to hidden europe, Daiva Repeckaite shows how foraging for wild plants reveals novel perspectives on the Maltese landscape. Amid the dry austerity, Malta has a rich variety of food there for the taking.

Heathland: exploring the Lüneburger Heide

by Paul Scraton

The great heath at Lüneburg in northern Germany recalls a landscape that was once very common across many parts of Europe. Paul Scraton explores how the landscapes of the heath reflect land management practices developed over many centuries. The Lüneburger Heide still gives a welcome sense of wilderness not far from great German cities.

A London oasis: the Walthamstow Wetlands

by Rudolf Abraham

To have the opportunity to observe a landscape through the seasons, whether an urban swath of green and blue or something more obviously exotic, is a rare and wonderful thing. Over the past year and more Rudolf Abraham has watched the Walthamstow Wetlands transform, and here he reports for us from his home patch of London.

A town in the Sicilian hills: Piana degli Albanesi

by Suzanne and Andrew Edwards

To the south of Palermo in Sicily lies the town of Piana degli Albanesi. The first thing to strike the casual visitor who passes the comune’s boundary line is the customary sign announcing the name of the settlement. Underneath the Italian are the words Hora e Arbëreshëvet with the diaereses hinting at altogether different origins. Susanne and Andrew Edwards investigate Sicily’s Albanian connections.

Vintage pleasures: a taste of Alsace

by Nicky Gardner

If Alsace has a regional watchword, it is balance. It is as true of Alsace’s complex history, deftly melding French and German interests, as of the region’s remarkable wines. Join us as we explore the Alsace wine route, taking in some of the villages where winemaking has for centuries been a staple in the local economy.

Exploring Baedeker's Switzerland

by Nicky Gardner

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 Baedeker’s Switzerland, one from 1881 and the other from 1905, and find that the changes nicely reflect new social and travel pieties.

The Juliana Trail: Slow Travel in Slovenia

by Rudolf Abraham

Launched in late 2019, the Juliana Trail is a long-distance walking route that encircles Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia. It’s a chance to engage with the varied landscapes and communities of the Julian Alps and, by encouraging visitors to explore the region around Triglav rather than just making a dash for the summit, it helps alleviate the pressure on Slovenia’s most popular peak.

Bregenz to Berne: Lands of Silk and Money

by Nicky Gardner

There’s a touch of theatre about the rail journey from Bregenz on Lake Constance to Berne in Switzerland. We feature it in hidden europe 61 as the perfect outing for those venturing nervously forth after weeks or months at home during the Coronavirus pandemic. Join us on this classic journey past lakes and mountains.

Night Vision: Sleeping through Europe

by Nicky Gardner

Changing attitudes towards travel, prompted in part by a fuller appreciation of how air travel is causing climate change, are helping fuel a renaissance in rail travel across Europe. That’s as true of overnight services as it is of day trains. But new night sleeper services require dedicated carriages that will take time to build. And there are some major regulatory issues to be addressed if we are to see Europe’s night trains reaching their full potential.

Malta: The Alleys of Birgu

by Duncan JD Smith

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 explores this most appealing of Maltese communities.

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.

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.

The Spirit of the Vosges

by Nicky Gardner
Join us as we discover the Vosges hills in the Alsace and Lorraine regions of eastern France. It's a region which has always been a wellspring of fine ideas, cutting a dash in the world of culture and industry. We visit a valley once settled by the Amish, learn about an illustrious tradition of printed textiles and roam through the montane heathland above the tree line.

Radovljica: An Ode to Bees

by Rudolf Abraham
If beekeeping has a spiritual home, it's the little town of Radovljica in the Sava Valley of north-west Slovenia. Rudolf Abraham, a regular contributor to hidden europe magazine, explores beekeeping in the region where the great 18th-century apiarist Anton Janša lived and worked. Today, this area of Slovenia is especially noted for its striking painted beehives.

Romania: The Return of Oină

by Emma Levine
Romania's national sport is called oină - and it's enjoying a happy revival as teams across the country are rediscovering a sport which is peculiar to Romania and Moldova. Emma Levine heads off in search of a sport that some suggest could well have served as a model for baseball in the United States.

The Art of Drystone Walling

by Rudolf Abraham
With the art of drystone walling recognised by UNESCO as part of Europe's cultural heritage, communities across the continent are now seeing these traditional walled boundaries in a new light. Rudolf Abraham has gone in search of drystone wall specialists from France to Slovenia and beyond.

Rewilding the Wolf Border

by Laurence Mitchell
Time was when cartographers embellished their maps with warnings to unwary readers. "Here be dragons," was one such advisory notice. For today's travellers, many of whom rarely venture beyond the reach of broadband, there's little chance of dragons. But, as Laurence Mitchell discusses, it is still possible to get a touch of wilderness.

The Legacy of the San Juan

by Karlos Zurutuza
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 Newfoundland and Labrador. Now a fine replica and a great Basque whaling vessel is nearing completion at Pasaia.

Return to Marienbad: The Ghosts of Mariánské Lázne

by Nicky Gardner
Few place names resonate in the way that Marienbad does. The celebrated spa town tucked away in the hills of Bohemia is, like many of the traditional spas of central Europe, a place apart. Today the town is known by the Czech name of Mariánské Lázne and hints of a Habsburg past are draped with a soft veneer of Soviet-style central planning and the sharp edge of modern capitalism.

Lithuanian Enigma: A Visit to Druskininkai

by Nicky Gardner
Lithuanians are firmly asserting a confident national identity which transcends history and occupation. A key asset in the new Lithuanian narrative is the artist and composer Mikalojus Ciurlionis, who spent his childhood years in the small town of Druskininkai. It is, we discover, an appealing place with winsome wooden villas and some oddball Baltic modernist buildings.

For the Love of Libraries: Leuven

by Caroline Mills
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 1940. Caroline recalls the tale of how her great-grandfather took the initiative in helping restore the library after the first conflagration.

Dancing by the Danube

by Rudolf Abraham
In the town of Mohács, on the bank of the River Danube in Hungary, the single most important cultural event of the year is the Busójárás, which is part of a wider European Shrovetide tradition. Rudolf Abraham stopped off in Mohács to report on this extraordinary festival for hidden europe.

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.

Lakeside Tradition: Exploring the Lavaux Vineyards

by Nicky Gardner
The Lavaux area in Switzerland is one of Europe's oldest winegrowing regions, a distinction which has earned for Lavaux a place on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The Lavaux vineyards drape the north shore of Lake Geneva at the western end of the Montreux Riviera. It is an area of immense charm, a perfect region to linger and enjoy the local Chasselas wines which take so much of their character from the local soil.

Between East and West: The Ukrainian City of Lviv

by Nicky Gardner
The city of Lviv, located in the western reaches of Ukraine, is in many respects a classic central European city, a place which has more in common with Wien, Trieste and Budapest than with other cities in the former Soviet Union – of which Lviv was of course a part. We report from a city which has a complex and layered history, something which makes Lviv all the more interesting.

The Art of Falconry

by Rudolf Abraham
Falconry has invariably been associated with a measure of privilege and wealth. So it's no surprise that the French Revolution led to a downturn in falconry. Wider access to modern weapons (guns in particular) also helped sideline the art of falconry. But, somewhat against the odds perhaps, the ancient traditions of falconry have survived in many European countries. Rudolf Abraham explores a sport with mediaeval origins.

Peaks of the Balkans: Discovering the Lhasa of Europe

by Rudolf Abraham
The Peaks of the Balkans trail is a long-distance hiking route, in the shape of a figure-of-eight, which takes in some of the finest mountain terrain in northern Albania and adjacent parts of Kosovo and Montenegro. Rudolf Abraham describes how the trail opens up international frontiers in a region where crossing borders was until recently rarely easy.

Vintage Views: Railways and Wine Tourism

by Nicky Gardner
What better way to survey some of the world's great vineyards than from the comfort of a train cruising slowly through a region celebrated for its fine wines? Ideally with a glass of wine to hand! We explore opportunities for rail-wine tourism in Spain, Hungary, France, Portugal and further afield.

Samosas on the Terraces

by Emma Levine

Britain's Asian communities are woefully underrepresented in professional football, whether as players or on the terraces. Emma Levine returns to her home city of Bradford to report on an initiative to promote diversity on the terraces at Valley Parade Stadium.

Puppetry in Prague: the Art of Bringing Wood to Life

by Rudolf Abraham
The art of puppetry is alive and well in central Europe. In the Czech Republic, puppetry is recognised as a key element of national culture. With some linden wood, textiles, paint and the skill of the puppet maker, it's just a matter of time before the magic appears. Writer and photographer Rudolf Abraham meets the men and women who pull the strings in Czech puppetry.

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.

Islands on the Edge: Exploring Barra and Vatersay

by Nicky Gardner

The islands of Barra and Vatersay are remarkable places. They are the southernmost inhabited islands in the Outer Hebrides. These two Scottish islands have remained Catholic outposts in a country known for its generally Protestant ways. That's not the only unusual aspect of Barra and Vatersay, as we discover in this feature for hidden europe.

Only Fit For Wild Ducks

by Nicky Gardner
Catch the spirit of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides with Gaelic psalm singing at a country church in Lewis or Marian devotions on the Isle of Eriskay. We explore an island archipelago that has a complex mix of landscapes, of which the most distinctive is the machair - the rich grasslands on fragile dunes.

Albania: A Tale of Two Valleys

by Laurence Mitchell
It is unlikely that great streams of tourists will be arriving in the mountains of northern Albania anytime soon. But this part of the southern Balkans now benefits from better access roads. Guest contributor Laurence Mitchell reports from two valleys in the hills often known as the Albanian Alps.

Life and Death in Secastilla

by Kate Wilson
Kate Wilson, a first-time contributor to hidden europe, reports from the village in northern Spain where she lives. This is no ordinary day, for this is el día de la matanza - the day of a ritual pig slaughter. No fun for Tia the pig, but a rich insight into a local tradition.

The Nessers: exploring a Kentish edgeland

by Nicky Gardner

Dungeness Foreland offers an improbable touch of wilderness in south-east England. The great shingle spreads at Dungeness on the coast of Kent create a severe and uncompromising landscape. The Nessers are the locals who call this area home. Join us on a journey through this extraordinary outpost of England.

Redu: that novel idea

by Paul Scraton

Tucked away in the hill country of southern Belgium is the town of Redu. On the face of it, Redu is much the same as other towns in the Ardennes region. Except that, in Redu, the printed word is especially cherished and valued. Paul Scraton invites us to join him as he explores Belgium's premier 'book town'.

Finistère: land of a thousand chapels

by Patricia Stoughton

In the north-west corner of Brittany, an area known as Finistère, dozens of ancient chapels attest to the erstwhile importance of faith in the region. Celtic myth and Catholic belief underpin life and community in this remote part of France. Patricia Stoughton introduces us to the astounding richness and variety of chapels on or close to the coasts of Finistère.

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.

The Saxon villages of Transylvania

by Rudolf Abraham

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 villages of the Carpathian region.

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.

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.

Amid the waves: Heimaey

by Philip Dunshea

The Vestmann archipelago lies off the south coast of Iceland. A ribbon of islands, all of volcanic origin, remind us that here is a part of Europe where landscapes are still rapidly evolving. Surtsey appeared almost overnight in 1963. Phil Dunshea reports from Heimaey, the only island in the Vestmannaeyjar with a permanent population.

Exploring Lisbon with Pessoa

by Iain Bamforth

Think of writers who are intimately associated with a particular city: Kafka and Prague, Joyce and Dublin, Svevo and Trieste... or Pessoa and Lisbon. Pessoa did for Lisbon something which few other leading writers have done for their home city. He wrote a guide for tourists visiting the city. With Pessoa to hand, Iain Bamforth sets out to explore the Portuguese capital.

Heart and soul: the spirit of Altötting

by Nicky Gardner

Join us as we visit the town of Altötting in Bavaria. The remarkable success of Altötting lies in its appeal to all-comers, be they devout Catholics, loyal Bavarians or merely casual sightseers. The town, which hosts one of the leading Marian shrines in Europe, lies in glorious countryside just north of the Alps.

Into the Blue

by Iain Bamforth

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 cyanometer along.

Offshore Provence

by Nicky Gardner

Sailing east from Marseille along the coast of Provence to the Italian border, there are some two dozen islands, many of which are overlooked by visitors to the region. Climb aboard the hidden europe private yacht (if only!) as we set sail for the Côte d'Azur.

Brittany’s Easter Island

by Patricia Stoughton

Patricia Stoughton leads us through the soft landscapes of Brittany to discover a local initiative that showcases local saints. La Vallée des Saints (Traonienn ar Sant in Breton) is a bold statement about the enduring importance of regional culture and identity.

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.

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Monemvasía: the Greek Gibraltar

by Duncan JD Smith

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 Greek Gibraltar'.

Stecci: Bosnia’s mediaeval tombstones

by Rudolf Abraham

The stećci of Bosnnia and Herzegovina are remarkable tombstones with varying styles of decoration. These enigmatic stones are something that all Bosnians can identify with. They are a reminder that this is a land with its own very special sacred landscapes. Guest contributor Rudolf Abraham unravels the story of the stećci.

Simply wood: a journey into the hills

by Nicky Gardner

The humblest homes in many villages in the Carpathians are built of wood. So, too, are the grandest buildings - almost invariably the church. Wood has its own benign beauty, and it is the carrier of tradition. We explore the wooden architecture of that part of the Carpathian region which lies to the east of the High Tatras.

Kratovo: a town worth its salt

by Christopher Deliso

The Macedonian town of Kratovo is by-passed by most travellers exploring the southern Balkans. But guest contributor Chris Deliso took time to discover the town which was once an important mining centre. Join us as we walk over the bridges of Kratovo and find a community which is trying to reinvent itself.

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.

Double act: the Danish island of Ærø

by Nicky Gardner

The Danish island of Ærø is no more than a fleck in the Baltic. Yet this beautiful island is a good place to understand Danish history. If you are ever in any doubt as to how much the sea has inflected the Danish experience, make time for Marstal, the largest community on the island of Ærø. Then head on over to Ærøskøbing, the island capital, to appreciate the comforts of small town life.

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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.

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.

Hiraethog: the hills of solitude

by Philip Dunshea

The Wikipedia entry for Mynydd Hiraethog is slim. So minimal in fact that, acre for acre, this Welsh wilderness must be the least interesting place in the British Isles. Philip Dunshea knows Mynydd Hiraethog well, having grown up in the shadow of this moorland region. In this article, Phil reflects on the lonely landscapes of the area known to English speakers as the Denbigh Moors.

Of alkari, lace and wooden toys

by Rudolf Abraham

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 that this intangible cultural heritage is the DNA that helps define communities - and it is as deserving of protection and preservation as fine mountains, coastlines and wetlands.

Leipzig soundscapes

by Nicky Gardner

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 and Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn, Edvard Grieg and more. We profile a city that has been to a considerable degree defined by music

Hidden Istria

by Rudolf Abraham

Istria may be defined by its coastline, but the hinterland warrants a visit too. Rudolf Abraham, co-author of the new Bradt Guide to Istria, invites us to join him in a search for mediaeval frescoes, truffles and an enigmatic pillar of shame. Along the way we discover the many languages of Istria.

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.

Into the Great Unknown: Rannoch Moor

by Philip Dunshea

The Moor drags itself out to the distant horizon, a great brown smudge studded with little black lochans. Guest contributor Philip Dunshea, writing for hidden europe for the first time, invites us to brave the weather on Rannoch Moor. Maps of the Scottish Highlands can only hint of at the barren reality of this solemn wilderness.

Beauty and the Beast

by Diego Vivanco

Just prior to the start of Lent each year, the village of Bielsa on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees welcomes a flood of visitors to its annual carnival. For a couple of days of transgression, the frenetic energy of the carnival contrasts with the normally slow pace of mountain life. Diego Vivanco escorts us through the crowded streets of Bielsa at a time when caution is thrown to the wind. Anything can happen at carnival time.

Parisian prayers: a litany of liturgies

by Duncan JD Smith

Paris is a city that has always embraced migrants, with each new wave of arrivals bringing their own faith. Walk the streets of the French capital and you'll find faith comes in many flavours, from varying shades of Orthodox Christianity to Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Duncan JD Smith, author of the guide Only in Paris (published March 2013), takes us on a pilgrimage through Parisian prayer traditions.

Cruising the Atlantic Highway

by Nicky Gardner

If roads have personalities, then the A39 in south-west England is certainly one of the most memorable. It meanders from Georgian Bath to the south coast of Cornwall, taking in some of the most engaging scenery in England. For part of its length (west from Barnstaple) it is called The Atlantic Highway. We hop aboard the 319 bus to explore The Atlantic Highway, encountering along the way some the finest bus shelters around.

The heart of Slovenia

by Jonathan Knott

The essence of Slovenia is evinced in the country's rustic simplicity and natural grandeur. Jonathan Knott experiences both on a winter walk through villages that boast a close association with the poets and priests who, in the nineteenth century, helped shape Slovenian identity.

Worth the detour: La Tour de Saint-Amand-les-Eaux

by Patricia Stoughton

Had Bishop Amand not breathed his last in the Scarpe Valley in Flanders, this little French town would probably never have developed as an important ecclesiastical centre. Little remains of the original abbey in Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, bar for one spectacular tower. Patricia Stoughton tells the story of La Tour de Saint-Amand-les-Eaux.

Zagreb street art

by Rudolf Abraham

When you paint something on the street, it is no longer your own. It becomes public property. Street art demands of artists that they 'let go', that they have the courage to relinquish ownership of their work. Rudolf Abraham takes a look at the street art scene in the Croatian capital Zagreb.

Islands of exile: Istanbul’s ‘Princes’ Isles

by Laurence Mitchell

Not quite Europe and not quite Asia, the Princes' Isles in the Sea of Marmara south of Istanbul have long been a place of sanctuary for exiles and minorities. Laurence Mitchell escorts us to the islands where Leon Trotsky lived for some years and wrote his 'History of the Russian Revolution'.

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.

Second fiddle: music in Mittenwald

by Nicky Gardner

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 quality of its musical instruments.

Sanctuary: in the shadow of St Pancras

by Nicky Gardner

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 area, pay a visit to Somers Town and savour the renaissance of the former Midland Grand station hotel, which reopened as the St Pancras Renaissance London Hotel.

The mystery of Los Picaos

by Diego Vivanco

Guest contributor Diego Vivanco visits the village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra in Spain's Rioja region to see how its inhabitants mark Holy Week. He witnesses a Lenten spectacle that is both theatrical and intimate at the same time.

England’s favourite: the port of Boulogne

by Nicky Gardner

The port city of Boulogne has always attracted visitors from across the Channel. Tobias Smolett came and so did Charles Dickens who called the town his "favourite French watering hole", declaring it to be "every bit as good as Naples". Today, the town's ferry terminal is abandoned, but Boulogne remains a popular spot for visitors from Britain and offers a few exotic surprises.

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.

Ukraine's Bukovina region

by Laurence Mitchell

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 town – places where echoes of the verse of poet Paul Celan still touch life today.

Steaming through the Harz Mountains

by Nicky Gardner

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 narrow-gauge railway system. This is slow travel at its best, as we explore the Harz Mountains in autumn.

Celebrating British buses

by Nicky Gardner

Buses are experiencing a happy renaissance in Britain. The advent of concessionary bus passes to senior citizens has tempted many diehard motorists onto the top deck. In a special two-part feature for hidden europe, we look at a new book that showcases fifty great bus journeys from across Britain.

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.

Quo vadis Macedonia?

by Nicky Gardner

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 the modern Macedonian question.

Songlands: a Karelian journey

by Nicky Gardner

Karelia is the land of the Kalevala, the great epic poem that so powerfully influenced the development of the Finnish national movement in the nineteenth century. We travel through the songlands of the Kalevala and look in particular at the role of Orthodox religion in Karelia and more widely in Finland.

Orbiting Birmingham

by Nicky Gardner

Birmingham's Outer Circle bus route is a veteran among urban bus routes, dating back to the nineteen-twenties. How many Brummies who ride the Outer Circle realise that this is Europe's longest urban bus route? Probably very few. But this extraordinary bus route provides a wonderful kaleidoscope of Birmingham life as it makes a great orbit through the suburbs of England's second city.

Border assets: travels on the frontier

by Nicky Gardner

Borders have become something of a rarity in modern Europe. We can now travel by car from northern Norway to the Mediterranean without ever once having to show a passport. Political frontiers have faded, yet cultural frontiers remain. We reflect on the role of borders in Europe today and note how erstwhile lines of division are now recast as assets for the future.

Close encounters: Brittany

by Patricia Stoughton

The church enclosures of Finistère are spectacular pieces of architecture, marking progress from the material world (the village beyond the church) to a more spiritual realm. Patricia Stoughton has been exploring the far end of Brittany to unravel the symbolism and stories of the enclos paroissiaux (parish closes).

Where empires collide: Zemun, Serbia

by Laurence Mitchell

The Danube has always been a natural geographic barrier in the Balkans, a watery frontier between two cultural worlds: the Habsburg to the north and the Ottoman territories to the south. Laurence Mitchell escorts us on a riverfront walk from Belgrade to Zemun through an area where empires collide.

Paths of history: transhumance in Spain

by Diego Vivanco

Southern Europe is criss-crossed by old drove routes that served the pastoral economies of yesteryear. In Spain, these routes are called canadas. They are still used by herders who practice transhumance, spending summer in the hills with their cattle and returning each autumn to the coastal lowlands. Guest contributor Diego Vivanco joined Lionel Martorell and a herd of Avilena cattle on a five day trek down to the Ebro delta.

A place apart: Trieste

by Nicky Gardner

Trieste is wonderful, every bit as intriguing as the most fanciful places ever created by the Austrian novelist Joseph Roth. The Adriatic city is Austria's orphan, a one time entrepôt for the Habsburg Empire, that had to find a new role after the collapse of the K&K world. Today Trieste is the place where Italy rubs shoulders with Slavic world, but still a place that has a hint of Mitteleuropa.

Hope in every snowdrift: life in the Faroe Islands

by Nicky Gardner

Many visitors to the Faroe Islands arrive on cruise ships and see little beyond the capital Tórshavn and its immediate vicinity. But to really understand the Faroes, the visitor must head for smaller communities on islands that rely on occasional ferries and helicopter services for links to the wider world. The very idea of 'remoteness' is a key factor shaping Faroese identity. We climb aboard a boat and hear a tale of men and women who had faith in the Faroes.

Of apes and men: the Dudley story

by Nicky Gardner

Many people visit zoos to see apes, wild cats and okapi. But some visitors to Dudley Zoo in the English Midlands are drawn by quite another reason. Dudley Zoo boasts a fine collection of Constructivist buildings designed by Berthold Lubetkin and his Tecton group of architects. The Lubetkin legacy in Dudley and elsewhere in England deserves to be far better known and much more valued.

Europe's railways: public or private assets?

by Nicky Gardner

Across Europe, advocates for and opponents of the privatisation of national rail networks adduce arguments to support their preferred perspective. We compare the experience of different European countries, and find that the line between private and public operators is often more blurred than is widely believed.

A day in Domažlice

by Nicky Gardner

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 heart.

Hungarian rhapsody

by Nicky Gardner

Sometimes we travel to really get somewhere. But occasionally a journey is worthwhile merely for its own sake. Sit back, relax, and from the comfort of a corner seat watch all the world go by on the train from Berlin to Budapest.

Belarus: the making of Vitebsk

by Nicky Gardner

Tumbling off the train and riding the trolleybus over to the other side of the river is a fine introduction to Vitebsk. The Belarusian city is precise and orderly: Swiss efficiency colliding with Soviet style. And at the annual Slavianski Bazaar, Vitebsk is a city that knows how to party.

Zagreb's literary ghosts

by Rudolf Abraham

While many European cities decorate their squares and boulevards with statues of kings and generals in heroic poses, Zagreb takes a different tack. The Croatian capital gives its prime spots to poets, philosophers and novelists. Rudolf Abraham takes us on a tour of Zagreb's literary ghosts.

Switzerland: the Bernina connection

by Nicky Gardner

The small Swiss town of Pontresina once attracted many of Europe's literati. Today, the poets and philosophers have gone, yet Pontresina and the surrounding mountains are as exquisite as ever. The town's railway station is the jumping off point for the Bernina pass route to Tirano - arguably the finest train route from Switzerland to Italy.full article available online

Taking the high road

by Nicky Gardner

France's Cime de la Bonette road is often feted as "la plus haute route d'Europe". But is this really true? We drive some of Europe's highest roads and track down the real record holders

Welcome to Novi Pazar

by Laurence Mitchell

Novi Pazar (the New Bazaar) in the hills of southern Serbia turns out to be a town with a difference. Guest contributor Laurence Mitchell explores this Muslim town close to the Kosovo border.

Protected by the peacock angel

by Nicky Gardner

hidden europe explores one of Europe's most remarkable diaspora communities, the Yezidis who live in the northern German town of Celle. And from Celle we travel to the Yezidi homeland in Armeniafull article available in pdf format

Two villages in Macedonia

by Christopher Deliso

On the face of it the neighbouring villages of Labunishta and Vevchani seem quite similar. But guest contributor Christopher Deliso probes beneath the surface to reveal the ethnic and cultural differences that have always defined Macedonia.

Zeitz stopped and stared

by Nicky Gardner

On a summer's day in 1976, Oskar Brüsewitz left his home village of Rippicha shortly after breakfast, drove to the nearby market town of Zeitz and set himself alight. Zeitz stopped and stared at the pastor's protest. A sombre tale from the former DDR.

The freedom train

by Nicky Gardner

The legendary Akropolis Express, a train much used by migrant workers, used to run daily from Munich to Athens, passing through Kosovo. hidden europe recalls journeys on the Akropolis Express, and checks out rail travel in Kosovo today, where trains run under the aegis of the United Nations.

City of the Muse: Barga

by Adam J Shardlow

Barga is quintessential small town Italy. And Aristo's, the bar and café in the middle of Barga, is the quintessential bar - a spot that is amiable, intimate and safe. Guest author Adam J Shardlow lingers in Aristo's and finds a rich vein of artistic and musical life in the Tuscan town.

Istrian interludes

by Nicky Gardner

hidden europe explores the coast and its hinterland in Istria, nowadays part Croatia and part Slovenia. On the coast, echoes of Venetian style mingle with Habsburg elegance and Slavic confidence. Inland, we encounter the endangered cultural traditions of Croatia's Istro-Romanian community.

Europe's lost synagogues

by Nicky Gardner

Shoah survivors and their descendants come and stand silent in the synagogue where once an entire kehillah worshiped together. hidden europe finds out what has become of some of Europe's former synagogues.

Between two rivers: Abkhazia

by Karlos Zurutuza

Regular hidden europe correspondent Karlos Zurutuza ventures to parts of Europe that most of us would judge to be off-limits. Here he reports from Abkhazia, a not-quite-independent republic on the Black Sea.

Checkmate or knockout: chess boxing

by Adam Daniel Mezei

Discover the weird and wacky world of chess boxing, the fusion sport which creates an improbable pas de deux. Guest writer Adam Daniel Mezei meets Iepe Rubingh, the Dutch performance artist who is the enthusiastic promoter of chess boxing.

London: Vauxhall pleasures

by Nicky Gardner

For most Londoners, Vauxhall is just a formidably busy traffic intersection on the wrong side of the river. hidden europe discovers that Vauxhall is a place with interesting connections.

Potsdam's hidden history

by Nicky Gardner

Amid the parks and palaces of Potsdam (near Berlin) is an area known as the Neuer Garten ('New Garden'). For almost fifty years, part of it was an extraordinary 'forbidden city' - a place reserved for the Russian military and the KGB. hidden europe explores this area through the eyes of one woman.

The hofjes of Haarlem

by Richard Tulloch

The city of Haarlem is just twenty minutes from Amsterdam. Guest contributor Richard Tulloch shows how Haarlem offers insights into a Holland beyond the big cities of the Netherlands.

A Polish port: Frombork

by Nicky Gardner

In Frombork, a tiny port on Poland's Baltic coast, the ferry terminal has closed down for the winter. A lone fisherman sits at the end of the pier and looks out over the lagoon to Russia. But the town where Nicolaus Copernicus lived and worked turns out to have a rare off-season appeal.

Rest-stops for the soul

by Nicky Gardner

There is little that is religious about modern mass travel. But seaports, railway stations, airports and even motorway service areas have chapels and churches that address the needs of travellers.

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.

The soul of Estonia: Saaremaa

by Neil Taylor

There is more to Estonia than the tinselled turrets of Tallinn's old town. For the soul of Estonia, look to Saaremaa. The Baltic island is a microcosm of the country, a place that captures the spirit of Estonia.

Thinking about festivals

by Nicky Gardner

The festivalisation of culture penetrates all areas of the arts. No longer is it possible to offer a string of Mozart concerts. Nowadays it has to be a Mozart festival. hidden europe probes the issues of authenticity surrounding Europe's growing festival calendar.

Border zone: around Lake Prespa

by Christopher Deliso

At the point in the southwest Balkans where Macedonia, Albania and Greece converge lies Lake Prespa. It is an extraordinary place - brackish waters, fill of bulbous weeds that pull at your feet. In the middle of the lake is Golem Grad, an island with stark white cliffs - and thousands of snakes.

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Where towering cliffs in ocean stand: Lofoten

by Nicky Gardner

Capture the atmosphere of one of Europe's most magical landscapes with our account of two communities in the Lofoten islands in northern Norway. Nusfjord is an old fishing station that has reinvented itself through tourism. Meanwhile, the tiny hamlets that cling to the edges of Reinefjord teeter on the brink of extinction.

Castles in the air: Svaneti

by Karlos Zurutuza

The breathtaking mountains of the High Caucasus tower over the upper Inguri valley, which is home to a rich but endangered culture. Karlos Zurutuza, a regular contributor to hidden europe, visits the Svaneti region of Georgia.

Night train to Narvik

by Nicky Gardner

It is all a matter of watching the birch trees get smaller and the snow get deeper. Twenty hours on the train from Stockholm to northern Norway affords some moments of quiet reflection.

Fireworks frenzy: Malta

by Victor Paul Borg

For the creators of Malta's fabulous fireworks display, their pride is at stake. Each Catholic parish seeks to outdo its neighbours in a summer fireworks frenzy. Victor Paul Borg reports from his native Malta.

The road to Abergwesyn

by Nicky Gardner

The tides in the Mawddach estuary never come too early. Nor too late. The rain never beats too hard on the road to Abergwesyn. hidden europe editor Nicky Gardner celebrates the communities in rural Wales where she once lived.

A question of balance: Bydgoszcz

by Nicky Gardner

Bydgoszcz is a gritty sort of place. You'll still scuff your shoes on the dust as you walk through town on the footpath that hugs the bank of the Brda river. But Bydgoszcz is all the better for having never quite been tamed.

Spain: la vía de la plata

by Laurence Mitchell

The Via de la Plata is one of Spain's ancient trading routes. It served Roman interests and then developed into one of the most important pilgrim trails to Santiago de Compostela. Laurence Mitchell heads north from Seville along the old camino.

Venice: the islands of the mad

by Michelle Lovric

Venice has a long tradition of exiling her problems to preserve her serenity. Gunpowder, lunatics, lepers and amputees had no place in the heart of the city. Michelle Lovric visits the islands of the lagoon in search of hidden Venice.

Belgian border business: Moresnet

by Nicky Gardner

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 Venn Railway.

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.

London's cherished ghost: Crystal Palace

by Tim Locke

"To me this is a poignant place evoking a very lost Victorian London." Tim Locke returns to the south London suburb where he was born to look for traces of the capital's most cherished ghost: the Crystal Palace which burnt down in 1936.

Calypso's isle: Gozo

by Nicky Gardner

Don't go to Gozo in the summer. Go in winter. Feel the lash of the grigal as it whips across the island and gaze as the waves churn a dozen rainbow-tinted boats in Mgarr harbour. And then, as the storm abates, watch the pale winter sunshine fall over honey-coloured basilicas.

Beyond the Bug: rural Ukraine

by Jenny Robertson

Dubno is ordered, a place that sits snug in the Ikva valley. Kremenetz is different. Join Jenny Robertson as she guides us through small-town Volhynia, a region of western Ukraine that lies well off the regular tourist trails.

Women's lives in High Albania

by Antonia Young

Under the kanun code, which governs life in the mountains of northern Albania, women do not inherit. They barely even have a name. Yet, under certain circumstances, it is possible for women to break free from this patriarchal strait-jacket. Join us as we explore the world of Albania's sworn virgins.

City of illusions: London

by Nicky Gardner

The City of London - the very heart of the English capital - has long been a melting pot for cultures and religions. And today the area has striking contradictions in wealth and social status. We report from the city of illusions.

A terrible peace: Bosnia

by Nicky Gardner

The Dayton Accord may have been a sensible way of bringing a terrible war in Bosnia to an end. But what of the peace ushered in by Dayton? We examine life in Muslim communities in the Vrbas valley in central Bosnia.

From coal to tourism: creating new landscapes

by Nicky Gardner

We take a look at an extraordinary landscape regeneration programme that is bringing new life to a former industrial region in eastern Germany. Where once coal was king, now new lakes are being created to promote tourism. And what about the mighty F60?

An island outpost: Helgoland

by Nicky Gardner

One tiny island, a mere fleck of land in the North Sea! And yet so laden with history. Helgoland (often called Heligoland by English speakers) has been both Danish and British. Nowadays it is surely one of the most extraordinary parts of Germany. We visit Germany's only "Hochseeinsel".

Montenegro: accursed mountains

by Rudolf Abraham

The mountainous country where Montenegro abuts onto Albania is one of Europe's true wilderness areas. Guest contributor Rudolf Abraham describes the Prokletije region. The name means "accursed". Read on!

A Pennine portrait

by Nicky Gardner

Heptonstall is a place where gritstone ledges and neat green fields play backdrop to the moods of Pennine weather. This is Yorkshire. We visit gritty moodscapes populated by folk whom poet Ted Hughes described as "bleak as Sunday rose-gardens".

A Caucasian knot: South Ossetia

by Karlos Zurutuza

In Tamarasheni, the clocks are set to Georgian time. Just down the road, the community of Tskhinval prefers Moscow time. All a matter of borders. But in South Ossetia every frontier is contested. Karlos Zurutuza reports from the quasi-state of South Ossetia.

From Prussia to Russia: Kaliningrad

by Nicky Gardner

With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Baltic port of Kaliningrad found itself strangely isolated from the rest of Russia. Hemmed in by the European Union, the city of Kaliningrad is rethinking its role in the modern world. It is a remarkable city in a remarkable region.

Maltese arrivals

by Nicky Gardner

Away from the glitz of the tourist resorts, tucked away on the south coast of Malta, are the refugee camps that house migrants from Africa. The men and women who live in the camps are constantly reminded that there is no space for them on the island.

Wrong turn at Koblenz: the Moselle valley

by Nicky Gardner

If Mary Shelley's judgement is to be trusted, the Moselle possesses only "an inferior beauty". Which is a bit harsh on a valley that hidden europe views as one of the finest in all Europe. The Moselle valley boasts Karl Marx's birthplace, a village called Schengen and much more besides!

Velebit: a mountain in Croatia

by Rudolf Abraham

Just behind the Dalmatian coast of Croatia is the great mountain massif of Velebit. This limestone upland is neglected by most visitors to the coast and islands. Guest contributor Rudolf Abraham invites us to explore one of Europe's great wilderness areas.

Eurostar: connecting the continent

by Nicky Gardner

Had you realised that you can leave London by train this afternoon, and with just a single change of train in Paris, be in Berlin, Barcelona, Venice or Munich by tomorrow morning? Crossing the English Channel today is a whole lot easier than it was when Jean Blanchard made the journey by balloon in 1785.

Crossing the Dniester

by Karlos Zurutuza

It may be small, but Transdniestr has all the trappings of statehood. Car licence plates, postage stamps, banknotes. Karlos Zurutuza reports on life in the would-be state that is unrecognised by the wider international community.

Of cabbages and kinder

by Bryn Frank

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 Golzow'.

An English Eden: Tresco

by Nicky Gardner

Join us as we visit an archipelago of islands in the Atlantic off the southwest coast of England. The Isles of Scilly are a remarkable outpost - lush, verdant and, at their best, almost Caribbean in demeanour.

Exploring the European Arctic

by Nicky Gardner

An earlier generation of Arctic explorers engaged with the landscape in a manner we have lost. Speed has eclipsed understanding. We take time out to feel the pulse of Europe's Arctic environments.

Poznan blues

by Nicky Gardner

Europe's city squares are being radically reshaped by the arrival of mass tourism. Thus far, Poznan's beautiful central square has resisted the pressure for change. It remains essentially a place for the locals. But change is surely in the offing.

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.

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.

Lakeside strategies: Bad Saarow

by Nicky Gardner

The hinterland of Berlin encompasses some of Europe's finest forest and lake landscapes - too often missed by visitors to the German capital. hidden europe makes an excursion to Bad Saarow, a lakeshore spa town east of Berlin, which was until 1990 divided by a wall.

Rock and rituals: Roskilde

by Nicky Gardner

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 of Danish identity.

A Basque village: Urzainki connections

by Karlos Zurutuza

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 American political leader?

Belarus: Tanya's Story

by Nigel Roberts

Vetka is a small town in the southeast corner of Belarus. This community and the surrounding landscape of lakes and forests were terribly affected by the nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl in 1986. Nigel Roberts, a first-time contributor to hidden europe, knows Vetka well. Here he introduces us to Vetka life through the eyes of one family.

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.

Sea fever

by Nicky Gardner

When one time English poet laureate John Masefield extolled the lure of the ocean ("I must down to the seas again..."), he clearly didn't have Cunard's luxury Queen Elizabeth II ship or the same company's new super liner Queen Mary in mind.