hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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Sicily seen from the window of the slow train, with Mount Etna in the background (photo © Serjio74 / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

A tangle of detail on the rails

  • 8 Mar 2018
The art of travel writing is not about giving an overview of a country in a recitation of bland generalities. It's about capturing the essence of a place through attention to detail. Tim Parks' book Italian Ways does this ...
Sustenance at half time, as the Bangla Bantams tuck into samosas on the terraces at Bradford City’s Valley Parade Stadium (photo © Emma Levine).
Magazine article

Samosas on the Terraces

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 ...
Eroded limestone sea stacks (called raukar) on Gotland, Sweden (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 53

Globalisation is easy to understand. The sharing economy is less so. What at one moment seems to be altruism shades quickly into greed. Connecting “I want” with “I have” seems like a smart idea, but it raises tensions. Uber tussles with the taxi ...
Shades of the past in the Hebridean blackhouse at Arnol on the Isle of Lewis (photo © hidden europe)
Letter from Europe

The Hebridean Blackhouse

  • 17 Apr 2017
For many visitors to the Hebrides, the traditional blackhouse is a symbol of these islands. Yet rarely is vernacular architecture so freighted with emotion, nostalgia and even ...
The Afsluitdijk is a symbol of Dutch engineering ingenuity. It connects Friesland with northern Holland (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Exploring the dyke

  • 3 Apr 2017
We crossed the Afsluitdijk last week on a long journey from Berlin to the island of Barra in Scotland's Outer Hebrides. Most other vehicles on the Afsluitdijk road sped along close to the speed limit. Instead of dashing over the dyke, we stopped ...
Visitors to Warsaw can chase the ghosts of the city's Jewish past by exploring the boundaries of the former ghetto (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Out of the Shadows

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

From Burton to Berlin

  • 22 Jan 2017
Berlin is not normally a place for liturgical theatre, at least not of the Catholic variety. But St Afra is a place apart. And the musical flourishes in this service are remarkable for their provenance. One of the great English organs of the ...
The extension of the Midland Railway to St Pancras necessitated the demolishion of Agar Town. At the same time St Pancras churchyard was reduced in size. Many of the tombstones which were removed were gathered together around the oak tree pictured above (photo © David Edgar licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0).
Letter from Europe

150 years after Agar Town

  • 28 Dec 2016
It is 150 years since the Midland Railway, which in 1866 was extending its tracks south into St Pancras, demolished a poor, working-class community which inconveniently straddled the company's proposed route to its grand new London terminus. Agar ...
The Augustinian abbey on Inchcolm - an island in the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh (photo © Creativehearts / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Buying a Scottish island

  • 1 Dec 2016
Would you ever consider buying an entire island? This autumn has seen a couple of Scottish islands on the market. For a mere two million pounds, you might consider Tanera Mòr, the largest of the Summer Isles just off the coast of north-west ...
image © Igor Sokalski / dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

More than just a place on a map

  • 18 Nov 2016
I have stood on the cliffs in Ireland and looked west to Hy Brazil, that fragment of lost Atlantis which has fuelled a thousand Celtic legends. You'll search in vain for Hy Brazil on any modern map, yet this legendary land has powerfully shaped ...
End of the road: Siberia, part of the Lausitz village of Welzow (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

News from Haidemühl

The Czech energy group EPH has taken over the lignite mining operations in eastern Germany previously managed by Swedish company Vattenfall. What does this mean for the village of Haidemühl, now abandoned for almost a decade, which sits in a area ...
The view from the tower of the University Church on The High in the heart of Oxford reveals how the countryside nudges up close to the university city (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Escape to Hinksey

  • 24 Aug 2016
One of the many charms of Oxford is that the countryside is never far away. Indeed, seeing folk from Oxfordshire villages tumbling off the buses as they arrived in St Giles this morning, I had a sense of the country coming into ...
Odessa’s famous Potemkin steps (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

The Colour of Odessa

  • 16 Jul 2016
Few European cities are so enshrined in myth, fable, stories and song as Odessa. And that's why we judged Odessa a fabulous choice for our lead feature in the new issue of hidden europe. This is an immensely likeable city, one which we visited for ...
Cleaning pig's intestines at a matanza in Secastilla, Spain (photo © Kate Wilson).
Magazine article

Life and Death in Secastilla

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 ...
The Spine of Russia is a high quality, hardcover photo book by Paul E Richardson and Mikhail Mordasov, published in July 2016. The book is a vivid portrait of modern Russian life.
Magazine article

The Berry Seller

Two new books arising from the Spine of Russia project afford a look at everyday life in the Russian Federation. In this preview of one of the books, Paul Richardson swaps notes with Igor, who is selling berries on a roadside in ...
The Grand Hotel Zvon dominates one side of the town square in the Bohemian town of Ceské Budejovice (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

The Beauty of the Square

  • 11 Jul 2016
Kings come and kings go, and even freedom goes in and out of fashion. But the appeal of the town square endures, because ultimately these are spaces that belong to the people. The square in Ceské Budejovice is no exception to that rule. Welcome to ...
photo © Radius06 / dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

After the referendum

  • 4 Jul 2016
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 ...
From great novels to vintage romance, the whole world of the printed word is traded in Redu, a book town in Belgium (photo © Katrin Schönig).
Magazine article

Redu: that novel idea
  

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 ...
Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children pose for a photo at the renovated Centre for Co-operation and Integration ‘Fidan Lahu’, funded by the OSCE, at Fushë Kosovë/Kosovo Polje (OSCE / Hasan Sopa).
Magazine article

Balkan identities
  

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. ...
This tower in Lago di Resia (Reschensee) in Italy’s Alto Adige region is all that remains of the old parish church of Graun-im-Vinschgau (photo © hidden europe)
Magazine article

Silent witness
  

Discover the extraordinary story of how an Italian village was sacrificed to provide hydro-electric power for Switzerland. The evacuation of Curon Venosta (or Graun-im-Vinschgau in German) was a tragedy. Today the church campanile rises serenely ...
The border museum at Schnackenburg (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

The inner-German border at Schnackenburg

  • 15 Nov 2015
The village of Schnackenburg is on the south side of the Elbe right on the erstwhile border between East and West Germany. It is a place which has lived by borders and died by borders. It is an interesting case of a community which lost out in ...
Issue 47 of hidden europe magazine
Letter from Europe

A new issue of the magazine: hidden europe 47

  • 12 Nov 2015
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 ...
Paul Richardson looks out over the dystopian wasteland near Nikel in Russia’s Murmansk Oblast (photo © Mikhail Mordasov).
Magazine article

The spine of Russia
  

Mikhail Mordasov is a very talented Russian photographer. Paul Richardson is a translator and writer who knows Russia well. When Mikhail and Paul decided to create a book from a long road trip across Russia, we knew something good was in the ...
50 years ago, the village of Capel Celyn in North Wales was sacrificed to make way for a new reservoir (photo by Velela).
Letter from Europe

Remember Tryweryn

  • 20 Oct 2015
The Welsh phrase Cofiwch Dryweryn (Remember Tryweryn) recalls the fate of the Tryweryn Valley which was flooded to provide water for the English city of Liverpool. The new reservoir, officially opened in October 1965, meant the end for the village ...
Isaac Titsingh’s plan of the Dutch trading post on Dejima Island drawn up in 1824–1825 (the original is held by the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in Den Haag).
Magazine article

The bridge to Dejima Island
  

For 200 years, Japan was largely closed to outside influences. But it was not completely isolated, for a small island in Nagasaki Harbour was occupied by Dutch traders. The island was linked by a bridge to the mainland. Cabbages and chocolate, ...
Widerøe flight 702 prepares to leave Trondheim for
the two-hour flight to Bodø — with stops at Brønnøysund
and Sandnessjøen along the way (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Real flying: Norway by plane
  

The consensus is that flying has become boring. But fly on small planes offering a web of scheduled services up the Norwegian coast to discover a very different take on civil aviation. Travel by plane can still be immensely enjoyable. We review ...
Letter from Europe

Letter from Europe: Ten years on

  • 24 Feb 2015
Ten years ago this week we launched our e-newsletter. Letter from Europe was never intended to be more than a minor diversion. To paraphrase George Eliot in Middlemarch, "the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric ...
Letter from Europe

Letter from Africa: Place matters

  • 30 Dec 2014
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 ...
The church at Svanvik asserts Norwegian authority and identity in a region that borders onto Russia (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Borderlands: the Pasvik Valley
  

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 ...
This installation on the shores of the Barents Sea recalls witch burnings in Vardø (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

The witches of Varanger
  

The 17th-century witchcraft trials in Finnmark are recalled in a striking new memorial on the shores of the Barents Sea. hidden europe visited the memorial which is pictured on the front cover of this issue of hidden ...
The Hurtigruten vessel MS Kong Harald in Kirkenes harbour, getting ready for its southbound journey on the Norwegian coastal voyage (photo © hidden europe).
hidden europe note

Hurtigruten: the Norwegian coastal voyage

  • 10 Sep 2014
To our mind, the Norwegian coastal voyage is one of Europe’s finest slow travel adventures.The Hurtigruten vessels which ply the Norwegian coast provide essential links to ports along the way. The pure simplicity of the timetable allows travellers ...
Magazine article

Kratovo: a town worth its salt

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 ...
Looking east into Ukraine from Slovakia at the small frontier post in Slemence (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

A village torn in two: Slemence

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 ...
The school in the Austrian village of Jungholz could soon be welcoming pupils from the nearby German village of Unterjoch (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Divided loyalties: Jungholz

The village of Jungholz lies at an altitude of just over 1000 metres in the Alps. At this time of years, the Alpine meadows are full of wild flowers. So Jungholz is a pretty spot. But it is also exceptional in that it is a diamond-shaped piece of ...
Magazine article

One country, two entities

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 ...
Letter from Europe

Local heroes

  • 20 Jun 2014
'Ronaldo is certainly a big shot round here,' said the man on the slow train to Inverness. His comment distracted us from the scenery unfolding beyond the window as the train dropped down from Drumochter Summit towards the Spey Valley. We had to ...
Magazine article

Where God grew stones: a Mani odyssey
  

Patrick Leigh Fermor's 1958 book on the Mani region of southern Greece helped put Mani on the map. Today it pulls the tourist crowds, yet it still retains a raw appeal. Guest contributor Duncan JD Smith dives deep into Mani to explore the ...
Eastern Mpumalanga in South Africa. The province is part of the region previously known as Transvaal. It is 150 years since Alexander McCorkindale founded New Scotland in the eastern Transvaal (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Exploring New Scotland
  

In the eastern highveld, where South Africa nudges up to Swaziland, place names on maps reveal the predictable mix of isiZulu and Afrikaans influences. But there is another layer to the toponyms of the region, one that reveals a legacy of Scottish ...
The 'old town' recalled in Jacob Riis’s memoirs is Ribe in Denmark, seen here in early autumn (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Remembering Jacob Riis
  

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

The last lepers

  • 23 Nov 2012
On the hills around Vrouhas, giant wind turbines are ambassadors of modernity. Their blades lazily crest the Mediterranean breeze, each languid loop mocking the ancient stone windmills that cluster on the slopes below. The turbines provoke, so ...
Magazine article

Russia’s wooden churches

Many books cross our desks. This year, one particular volume has struck us more than any other. Wooden Churches: Travelling in the Russian North is a remarkable volume. Superb photography by Richard Davies complemented by evocative prose by Matilda ...
Letter from Europe

Transfiguration

  • 24 Aug 2012
I walk by dusk along the dirt road that sweeps through the fields of corn. I do not go as far as the hills, where each distant terrace jumps out in sharp relief. During the heat of the day, the high sun drains the landscape of energy. But, come ...
Letter from Europe

The train to Tundra

  • 31 Jul 2012
Year by year, the population of Obozersky dwindles. Fifty years ago, more than 7000 people lived in this little town in the Russian Arctic. More than half have left. They took the train south and never returned. The cream and brown railway station ...
Letter from Europe

The harsh lands

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

Sanctuary: in the shadow of St Pancras
  

In 'A Tale of Two Cities', Dickens recalls the work of bodysnatchers in St Pancras Churchyard. The graveyard is in the very shadow of London's magnificently restored St Pancras station. We reflect on how the railways have reshaped the St Pancras ...
Magazine article

Agar Town
  

We remember Agar Town, an area of London that simply disappeared from the maps when in 1866 the Midland Railway edged south towards St ...
Letter from Europe

Frisian waves

  • 16 Jan 2012
We map our way around Europe using antique guidebooks, just as we map our way through the year using long-obsolete ecclesiastical calendars. So we are in a small minority of Europeans who happen to know that today, 16 January, was long observed as ...
Magazine article

Orbiting Birmingham
  

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 ...
Magazine article

Communal living: béguinages
  

In Belgium, as elsewhere in northern Europe, there are some remarkable béguinages - reminders of an important social movement dating back to the 13th century. Today, these courtyards are havens of quiet that attest to the capacity of women in the ...
Magazine article

A Basque village: Urzainki connections

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

A hundred years of change: Jovici

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, ...
image © Nexus7 / dreamstime.com
Magazine article

A manifesto for slow travel
  

Slow travel is about making conscious choices, and not letting the anticipation of arrival undermine the pleasure of the journey. By choosing to travel slowly, we reshape our relationship with place and with the communities through which we pass on ...
Letter from Europe

Lost communities: France, Russia and more

  • 27 Jul 2006
Many are the European communities that have been lost to warfare, natural disasters or other agencies. The old town of Tocco Caudio in southern Italy was abandoned after an earthquake in the 1980s, as was Poggioreale in western Sicily a few years ...