hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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Friedrich Zickler’s stylish colonnade at the Karolinenquelle (Caroline spring). The spring was named in honour of Karoline Auguste,Empress Consort of Austria (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Return to Marienbad: The Ghosts of Mariánské Lázne

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 ...
Druskininkai is a watery place. The decorative fountain here is a good deal nicer than the noisy musical fountain in the spa park (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Lithuanian Enigma: A Visit to Druskininkai

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 ...
A combination of well-kept parks and elegant buildings make Mariánské Lázně instantly appealing (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Bohemian Waters

Here's a hidden europe briefing for first-time visitors to the Czech spa towns. Often referred to as the spa triangle, north-west Bohemia actually has more than just three spa ...
The main stret in Karolovy Vary, formerly known as Karlsbad (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Russians in Bohemia

Where would the spa towns of Bohemia be without the patronage from the great and good? The Romanov family's enthusiasm for taking the water has encouraged generations of Russians to visit the ...
The former house of the Iranian consul (called Firouza) in Borjomi, Georgia (photo © Mikhail Markovskiy / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

A Georgian Vichy

  • 5 Jul 2018
The Iranian consul's residence and the Romanov's Likani Palace are just two of many extraordinary buildings which attest to the one-time importance of Borjomi, a Georgian spa town best known for its mineral water. It's a town with a complex history ...
The Swiss village of Samnaun is a duty-free haven (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Keeping loyal to Samnaun

  • 12 Jan 2018
We had assumed that the practice of diligently recording and publishing the name of visitors had long since died out until last summer we visited Samnaun. This really is one of Europe's most oddball communities. It is tucked away in the hills on ...
Classic spa architecture in the Czech town of Frantiskovy Lázne (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Hints of the East in Frantiskovy Lázne

  • 26 Mar 2017
Relaxation is compulsory in Frantiskovy Lázne, a small spa town in the far north-west corner of the Czech Republic. There are two outstanding churches, one a very fine Catholic church executed in graceful Empire style and the other a rather ...
The former bath house in Jurmala, Latvia, erected in the early 20th century (photo © Sergiy Palamarchuk / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Jurmala, a victim of circumstance

  • 6 Oct 2015
Imagine a gorgeous sweep of white quartz sand backed by low dunes and pine forest. Add in several mineral water springs of therapeutic value and an endless supply of curative mud - and there you have Jurmala's prime assets. The Latvian coastal ...
Magazine article

Railway ghosts

Literary ghosts haunt the pages of mid and late 19th-century fiction - from Henry James The Turn of the Screw to Charles Dickens' The Haunted House. One of the spookiest tales of all is Dickens' The Signalman, a fine short story which may have been ...
Teenagers from the Soviet Union and Africa at Artek in summer 1982 (image from RIA Novosti).
Letter from Europe

A children's republic in the Crimea

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

Food for thought - Expo 2015

  • 28 Jan 2015
A van speeds by in the fast lane of the West Tangent ring road, bearing the inscription: 'Nutrire il pianeta, energia per la vita'. That is the Milan mantra for 2015. 'Feed the planet, energy for life'. For this year Milan hosts a Universal ...
The Czech town of Jáchymov rates as one of the lesser spas of western Bohemia. The town also has an intriguing industrial history (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Glowing in the dark

  • 19 Sep 2014
The main road drops down from the hump of the mountain in a series of sharp zigzags. Polished blue sky above, velvety green forests all around and the tacho ticking off the miles of grey tarmac below. We are on the south side on the ore-rich hills ...
Letter from Europe

Yuri gets a ticket

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

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 ...
Letter from Europe

200 years of summer holidays

  • 24 Jul 2012
The thrice-daily local bus service from Altenberg to Teplice is a blessing for cross-border travellers. The bus crosses the mountains that define the border between Saxony and Bohemia. When we rode this route last Thursday, there were just five ...
Letter from Europe

Gerês (Portugal)

  • 6 Mar 2011
It is an odd experience to arrive in a small town before noon and find a local restaurant full of folk eating lunch. Vila do Gerês, the town where spa clients eat before noon, comes as a surprise. It is a little town in northern Portugal — faded, ...
Magazine article

So what really needs correcting here?
  

When Nigel Roberts returned this year to Vetka, the small town in Belarus upon which he reported for hidden europe in 2009, he encountered another side of Vetka life. Nigel takes us behind the scenes at the town's 'correction centre' for ...
The extensive ruins of the Roman civilian settlement of Aquincum were uncovered in Óbuda during the late nineteenth century (photo © Duncan JD Smith).
Magazine article

Budapest: beneath the Hungarian capital
  

Guided by Duncan JD Smith, we dive below the streets of Budapest to unravel the history of the Hungarian capital. No other capital city in the world is so riddled with caves as Budapest. We find Roman ruins, a labyrinth from the Ottoman period and ...