hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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Seen from the coast of Laconia, Monemvasía is the perfect island fortress (photo © Duncan JD Smith)
Magazine article

Monemvasía: the Greek Gibraltar
  

In the southern Peloponnese, the island citadel of Monemvasía once enjoyed a key strategic location on major Mediterranean shipping routes. No wonder, therefore, that many have sought to secure control of the rock that is often referred to as 'the ...
The streets of Komrat, capital of the autonomous territory of Gagauzia, with a poster suggesting Moldovan national unity (photo © Marco Fieber).
Magazine article

What next for Gagauzia?
  

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 ...
Letter from Europe

An Advent meditation

  • 22 Dec 2013
The sky takes on a different quality in the run-up to Christmas. The grey cloud-folds of Advent have rolled back, and suddenly the air is brighter, drier and clearer. The trees have been flayed by autumn. Only bare skeletons remain, their outlines ...
Letter from Europe

Winter comes to Kroscienko

  • 5 Dec 2013
The winter snows have come to higher parts of the Carpathians, and already the beech woods and forests of fir are clad in white. Kroscienko, a little village in the Polish hills, is very quiet this time of year. Were it not for the fact that the ...
St Anne's Church is now home to Exeter's thriving Orthodox community (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Of cats and creeds: an Exeter essay
  

In Exeter, the great Gothic cathedral certainly helps define the Devon city. But Exeter is also characterised by the threads of faith that criss-cross the city. We follow the call to prayer and make a pilgrimage through Exeter, along the way ...
Letter from Europe

Falling apples

  • 18 Aug 2013
The second of the spas - the Apple Spas - is marked today over much of central and eastern Europe. It coincides, as every year, with the Feast of the Transfiguration - a milestone in the ecclesiastical calendar. The Apple Spas is a day when great ...
The Church of the Resurrection located on the rock above the Black Sea in Foros, Ukraine (photo © Andybor / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Crimea connections

  • 5 Dec 2012
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 ...
Letter from Europe

Retreating into Advent

  • 1 Dec 2012
Have we lost the ability to wait, to keep vigil, to be patient? This weekend, much of Europe marks the start of Advent. In many countries this is still a season defined by quiet reflection in anticipation of Christmas. For some, these weeks in the ...
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

Look west

  • 31 Oct 2012
The West is inscribed on our imagination. It is where we watch the sunset, and thus the cardinal point that ushers in the evening, bringing promise of rest and sleep. And yet the West means other things too. For generations of Americans, the West ...
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 ...
Magazine article

Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb
  

Nicely multi-ethnic, assertively multi-confessional, the cemetery at Maragoj is a fine spot to fire the imagination of the living. The cemetery in Zagreb's northern suburbs is one of Europe's most evocative burial ...
Bright sun over a lake in Karelia (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Songlands: a Karelian journey
  

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 ...

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

The past is another country
  

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

The spiritual geography of Karelia

  • 24 May 2011
Are not some landscapes genuinely therapeutic? We crested wave after wave of rolling forests as we drove through Karelia last week. Writers looking to plot the spiritual geography of Europe might do well to start here, for Finnish Karelia is a ...
Letter from Europe

Palm Sunday

  • 5 Apr 2009
Major liturgical feasts like Palm Sunday are reminders of the calendrical divide that still splits Europe in two. The Iron Curtain may have gone (twenty years ago this autumn, according to those commentators who see the breaching of the Berlin Wall ...
Letter from Europe

Serbian Orthodox Christmas

  • 7 Jan 2009
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 ...
Letter from Europe

Roma gather in the Camargue

  • 20 May 2008
The main highway that skirts the northern fringes of Thessaloníki is no place to linger. Summer has come early to northern Greece this year, and several warm sunny days with still air have left a hazy pall of pollution over Thessaloníki. But the ...
Letter from Europe

Gracanica (Kosovo)

  • 13 Feb 2008
When the celebrated English travel writer Edith Durham arrived at the monastery at Gracanica one hundred years ago, she came to a place that had virtually no experience of the twentieth century. It is an episode that Durham recalls in her book High ...
Letter from Europe

The soul of Switzerland

  • 7 Jan 2008
To cross the threshold of the Wilmersdorf church today is truly to enter another world. For today, in the Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastical calendar, it is Christmas Day. The twin virtues of ardent faith and a strong sense of attachment to a diaspora ...
Letter from Europe

Bosnian bridges

  • 15 Oct 2007
In territories dissected by great ravines, bridges become the very symbols of civilisation. And nowhere more so than in Bosnia. In The Bridge on the Drina, the epic Nobel Prize winning novel by Bosnian writer Ivo Andric, Mehmed Pasha's bridge over ...
Letter from Europe

Celebrating Christmas

  • 23 Dec 2006
Christmas generates its own extraordinary traditions across Europe - but they differ greatly from country to country. Even the date on which the celebrations reach their apotheosis varies across the continent. In Germany, Belgium and the ...
Letter from Europe

Old Believers on the Ukraine-Romania border

  • 8 Aug 2006
Bila Krynytsya? It turns out that this small village in southwest Ukraine, just a stone's throw from the Romanian border, is a household name among many Russian Old Believers. From Alaska to the Danube Delta the name evokes important religious ...