Articles tagged:

Identity

Magazine article

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.

Magazine article

Ukrainians on the move

by hidden europe

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

Magazine article

Pure theatre: homage to Lake Lucerne

by Nicky Gardner

Swiss lakes are in a class of their own. But is there one that just has the edge over the rest? Some may cast their vote for Léman, and others will argue the case for Lugano. But for us it’s Lake Lucerne, where the lake’s unusual vaguely cruciform shape changes a boat journey into pure theatre.

Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 66

by hidden europe

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

Blog post

Fate shall smile once more

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

Magazine article

Of symbols and secrets: Freemasonry narratives

by Nicky Gardner

The symbols and rituals of Freemasonry, such as the Eye of Providence, the square and compasses, plus alleged secret handshakes and initiation rites all invite curiosity. The last decade has seen a great increase in the number of exhibitions and museums devoted to Masonic craft and traditions. The latest, due to open in the coming months, is in the Latvian capital Riga

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The Slaney Valley

There can be few finer spots to be, on these bright spring days, than exploring the land around the River Slaney in south-east Ireland. The lower reaches of the Slaney, from Enniscorthy down to Wexford, is a gorgeous sweep of river. But we reserve the highest category of praise for the middle reaches of the Slaney upstream from Enniscorthy.

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Lenten cod

Across southern Europe, and most particularly in Portugal, it is the season for bacalhau - the salted, dried cod which is a staple in the Portuguese diet. This much sought after version of cod is a strong Lenten tradition in many Catholic countries.

Magazine article

The home of Esperanto

by hidden europe

Who was Dr Esperanto (Dr Hope)? He was an ophthalmologist by profession, but he is most remembered for his love of languages. The good doctor’s real name was Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof and he is best remembered as the creator of Esperanto. He came from one of Europe’s most multilingual communities: Białystok in north-east Poland.

Magazine article

Beyond the Small Homeland

by hidden europe

Mishar Tatars and Lipka Tatars have been quick to assimilate into the communities to which they migrated. We discover how they moved through the Baltic region, settling in Lithuania and Finland, with some moving on to Sweden and the United States of America.

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The Road to Uhtua

We are in search of the one-time capital city of a forgotten republic. From the turn-off on the Murmansk highway, it is 150 km of easy driving, skirting dozens of lakes, to reach the small community which in 1919 proclaimed its status as the capital of the Republic of Uhtua.

Magazine article

One Glorious Summer

by Nicky Gardner

In summer 1920, the Unovis collective of artists set off from Vitebsk for Moscow. Kasimir Malevich and his comrades were convinced they could realize the full revolutionary potential of art in the Soviet Union. But the rise of Unovis signalled change for a great champion of Vitebsk art. Marc Chagall left his home city. He never returned.

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Just South of Bratislava

The tripoint where Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Austria converged was for years a no-go area. These days, you can enjoy a cross-border picnic at the very spot where the frontiers of Austria, Slovakia and Hungary meet. It’s across the fields to the east of Deutsch Jahrndorf in an area of Austria with a long-standing Croatian minority.

Note

A Tribute to Tim Robinson

A tribute to writer and cartographer Tim Robinson who passed away on 3 April. Amongst his best known publications is his Connemara Trilogy - a profoundly ambitious, yet touchingly intimate, study of a region that stands as a place apart in Ireland. His work on landscape and history has certainly influenced our own endeavours at hidden europe magazine.

Magazine article

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.
Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 58

by hidden europe

If good writing makes the reader think, even if she or he might wholly disagree with the authorial view, then a fine purpose is well served. So see what you make of our words in this new issue of hidden europe where the dominant theme is place and identity.

Magazine article

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.
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The Hungarian Town of Sopron

Sopron is one of those places with a sense of being in the heart of Europe. One hundred years ago, this small town in western Hungary was much in the news. Few places were so shaken by the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It's a thought we contemplate during our journey by train from Berlin to Sopron.

Magazine article

The Swiss Jura by Train

by Nicky Gardner
For first impressions of the Swiss Jura, hop on the red train which plies the narrow-gauge rail route from Glovelier to La Chaux-de-Fonds. Green landscapes aplenty, but tucked away in these hills are communities which were influential in the development of European anarchism.
Magazine article

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.
Magazine article

The Mingrelian Question

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

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.
Magazine article

Wordcraft: A Wander through the World of Words

by Nicky Gardner
New Nature Writing may not be so new after all. But it taps a vein of nostalgia, reasserting aspects of landscape and nature from which we have become detached by modernity. Whatever its history, a new cadre of nature writers are doing much to revitalise travel writing. It is part of a wider movement to rewild the English language.
Magazine article

The Other United States: An Island Polity

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

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

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The politics of memorials

In Russia, as more widely, the question of who is honoured in statues and memorials is deeply political. So too is the question of when the first memorial is erected and how long it remains. Felix Dzerzhinsky, the first head of the feared Soviet secret police, is a good example. But what of Ivan the Terrible and Vladimir the Great?

Magazine article

A River Town out of Season

by Laurence Mitchell
Bicycles outnumber cars in Novi Becej, a small town on the east bank of the River Tisa in the flatlands of the Vojvodina region of northern Serbia. Laurence Mitchell catches the changing moods of Novi Becej as autumn slips into winter.
Note

Ghosts on the Shore

Nicky Gardner, co-editor of hidden europe magazine, reviews 'Ghosts on the Shore' by Paul Scraton. The book was published in June 2017 by Influx Press. It gives rare insights into Baltic landscapes and history.

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The tourist gaze: Zermatt

There is more to Zermatt than the Matterhorn. hidden europe editor Nicky Gardner recalls an early morning walk in the Swiss village.

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Paris sideshows in June 1867

There was much ado in Paris 150 years ago this month. The 'Exposition universelle de 1867' had opened at the Champs de Mars in April and had secured very positive press reviews both in France and more widely across Europe. It also drew a big crowd of visitors to the French capital.

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The Hebridean Blackhouse

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 misunderstanding.

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Thoughts for the 8th of March

Today is International Women's Day (IWD). In the ecclesiastical calendar, Rome assigns 8 March to St John of God, who died on this day in 1550. He was, as it happens, a thoroughly decent guy who in the latter years of his life worked in Granada (Spain) as a printer, publisher and bookseller.

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Saarland, January 1957

We walk down the lane between two villages. Each takes its name from the River Gailbach. The higher community is Obergailbach. It's a wee slip of a place. Just a couple of kilometres down the valley lies Niedergailbach which is rather larger. This is a part of Europe where international borders have faded.

Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 50

by hidden europe

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

Magazine article

Socialist Architecture in Yugoslavia

by hidden europe
In Tito's Yugoslavia, architects offered an ideological space between East and West - aligned neither to Soviet-style communism nor to the capitalist tradition. The result was some assertively different architecture, not all of it memorably beautiful.
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The Colour of Odessa

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 the very first time this spring but a place to which we shall surely return.

Magazine article

Between the Steppe and the Sea

by Nicky Gardner
For Odessa writer Issac Babel, his home town was 'the most charming city of the Russian empire'. For many visitors today, Odessa is one of the most striking Black Sea ports. Join us as we head up the Potemkin Steps to discover Odessa.
Magazine article

The Hills of Western Serbia

by Laurence Mitchell
There are many visions of Yugoslavia's past. Laurence Mitchell visits the hills of western Serbia to learn how heritage and history fuel the imagination. It's a journey that starts and ends in Uzice and takes in the famous Sargan Eight narrow-gauge railway.
Magazine article

The Berry Seller

by Paul E Richardson
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 Karelia.
Magazine article

What colour is your flag when it burns?

by Nicky Gardner

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

Magazine article

Playing the Welsh card

by Nicky Gardner

Welsh settlers landed on the Patagonian coast in 1865 to create Y Wladfa (literally 'the colony') in the Chubut Valley. Within little more than a generation, most of the Welsh migrants had moved inland or left South America altogether. But a veneer of faux-Welshness is still evident in the Chubut Valley town of Gaiman (and perhaps a touch of genuine Welshness too). Playing the Welsh card, we discover, can be a commercial asset in Patagonia.

Magazine article

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.

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Radical assets Geneva-style

All who make their way to Geneva are struck by the sheer beauty of the city's setting. It is also a place that has always made space for radicals of all persuasions. Three hundred years after Calvin's death in 1564, the city emerged as a hotspot in the development of anarchist and socialist ideas which were to make waves across Europe.

Magazine article

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.

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Pentecost in the heart of Bavaria

It rained last night on the hills above the Inn Valley in Bavaria. Lucky were those pilgrims who had the luxury of a bed in one of the many small inns and guest houses which are to be found along the route of Saint James. Nourished in body if not yet completely in soul, the small groups of pilgrims wander south towards Altötting, a small town in Bavaria which is less than a day's walk from the border with Austria.

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The Great Synagogue of Plzen

You might expect the most striking building in Plzen to be a brewery. But there's more to Plzen than beer. In fact the most impressive building in the Czech city is the Great Synagogue on Plzen's main thoroughfare.

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The view from Berlin

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

Magazine article

Tall statements

by hidden europe

Faith has evidently replaced politics as the motivation for some of the world's tallest sculptures. In Europe, the largest such structure is the massive statue of Jesus Christ at Swiebodzin in western Poland.

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Remembering Taras Shevchenko

Grab your coat and come with us. This walk we'll make together is important, and this week is the time to do it. Important because, if we want to understand Ukraine, then we need to know the poetry of Taras Shevchenko. And there's no better place to read Shevchenko than overlooking the River Dnieper just downstream from Kaniv.

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Recalling Marianne

France has changed since our last Letter from Europe. The attacks in Paris which started on 7 January were assaults on an entire nation. For in France, more than elsewhere in Europe, the principles of liberty are more closely etched on the national consciousness.

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The beauty of Berlin

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

Magazine article

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.

Magazine article

The three pillars of Rusyn life

by Nicky Gardner

The fragile flame of Rusyn consciousness is flickering back to life. There is renewed interest in Rusyn art and literature. A group that endured "fifty years of Soviet silence" (Norman Davies' words) is reasserting its right to be heard. We look at a minority which has as its cultural heartland the hill country where the territories of Ukraine, Slovakia and Poland converge.

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Local heroes

'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 admit that we'd never appreciated that the talented captain of Portugal's national football team had Highland connections.

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In search of Eden

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

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The Carpathian spirit

From villages in the Ukrainian hills above Uzhhorod west through the Bieszczady Mountains to remote communities in south-east Poland, there is a Paschal theme this Sunday morning: "Christos voskrese," it runs in Church Slavonic. "Christ has risen." In the rural valleys on the south side of the Bieszczady Mountains, territory which is part of Slovakia, you might catch this Sunday's special greeting uttered in Rusyn.

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Sárospatak: a small town in Hungary

Travelling through north-east Hungary earlier this month, we could so easily have missed Sárospatak. It was a drizzly Sunday afternoon and we turned off the main road merely on a whim. Sárospatak was to us little more than a name on a map. Of course we knew something of the Calvinist traditions of eastern Hungary - a part of the Habsburg realm where the ripples of the Reformation captured the local imagination.

Magazine article

Meaningful partnerships for eastern Europe

by Nicky Gardner

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

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Sweet Cambria

Wales is a place for miracles. Perhaps the greatest miracle of all is that Wales is there at all, that it has a strong cultural identity and a language that is still spoken. Wales is nothing if not tenacious. It has a knack of getting into your blood. And it is all the better for being difficult to grasp.

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Reclaiming Weimar

Snow falls over all the city, covering the cobbles and the pathways. In the gentle stretch of parkland that lines the valley of the Ilm, snow drapes the follies and the ruins. In the middle of Weimar, statues of stern men are laced with light snow. A tricorne for Goethe, an icicle for Schiller.

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Africa: East to Tzaneen

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

Magazine article

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.

Magazine article

A life less ordinary

by Nicky Gardner

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

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Romantic Ireland is not dead and gone

It was one hundred years ago this month that WB Yeats' poem September 1913 was published in a Dublin newspaper. The poem is more than merely a lament for Irish separatist and bold Fenian John O'Leary. It is a sharp critique of the trend in Ireland to more materialist and bourgeois values. This was a cry from the heart, a plea that Ireland might continue to make space for art and the imagination.

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The Îles Malouines

Only rarely do we venture beyond the shores of Europe within our Letter from Europe. But the layered toponymy of the archipelago in the South Atlantic reveals the complicated history of settlement in the islands known today as the Falklands or Islas Malvinas.

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Lastovo (Croatia)

The little port at the south-west corner of the island of Lastovo has a hangdog sort of feel. Long before sunrise today, there was the usual morning bustle around the pier at Ubli as folk gathered for the 4.30 am ferry back to Split. During the few night-time hours that the ferry rested at the quayside at Ubli, something changed quite irrevocably on the island of Lastovo.

Magazine article

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.

Magazine article

Asia in the mind

by hidden europe

We start with a dubious attribution, a few words allegedly uttered by the Austrian diplomat and politician Count Metternich. And we end with the Ukrainian poet and dramatist Lesya Ukrainka in Georgia. In between, we discover that Asia is a state of mind – a place of the imagination that always lies away to the east.

Magazine article

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.

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Look west

For generations of Americans, the West told of a promising new dawn and a land of opportunity. Wild it may have been, but the settling of the West was a process that helped shape American identity. The pioneer past is even today a strong thread in the fabric of American history and culture. Urbane east coasters who may never have seen the Rockies still know the stories of the settlers and prospectors who helped colonise the land beyond the Mississippi. Shift to Russia and the concept of the West has always had mixed overtones.

Magazine article

Where the wild things are: a Polish Arcadia

by Nicky Gardner

The forest reserve at Bialowieski in Poland extends over the border into neighbouring Belarus. This great wilderness is the most important refuge for European bison. So it is no surprise that it is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It's also inscribed on the Polish heart — these border landscapes are the gateway to an imagined Arcadia which helped shape the narratives and images of Polish Romanticism.

Magazine article

Of maps and men: Landranger sheet 57

by Nicky Gardner

With place names like Pendicles of Collymoon and Nether Easter Offerance, Ordnance Survey Landranger Sheet 57 fires the imagination. Maps tell stories, as do old men in pubs. Like the Tartan traveller we met in the Tyrol who tried to persuade us that Garibaldi had Scottish ancestry. From Baldy Garrow it is but a short step to Garibaldi.

Magazine article

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.

Magazine article

In the days of prosperity

by Nicky Gardner

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

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Reformation Day

Europe's Protestant reformers were not, on the whole, men who took kindly to statues. Indeed, thousands of statues in Catholic churches across Europe were smashed to pieces during the Reformation. So it's hard to fathom what Martin Luther would have made of the rather ostentatious statue of himself that stands in the middle of the Rhineland city of Worms.

Magazine article

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.

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The past is another country

by Nicky Gardner

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

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Amina unmasked

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

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The spiritual geography of Karelia

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 landscape full of longing and nostalgia, a region that has a very distinctive sanctity. We did not start our journey as pilgrims, yet Karelia wove its spell around us and turned us into pilgrims.

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Border markers

We sensed we were crossing into another world as the Moscow-bound train rumbled over the long bridge that spans the River Bug. The reed beds are full of wildfowl which are not troubled by the frequent trains that rattle overhead. This is the border wilderness that divides Poland from Belarus. It marks one of Europe's great divides: the Curzon Line.

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The Baedeker legacy

"Kings and governments may err, but never Mr Baedeker," wrote the English humorist AP Herbert in the libretto for Offenbach's operetta La Vie Parisienne. Baedeker was the brightest star in a constellation of nineteenth-century guidebook publishers that also included such redoubtable names as John Murray and Thomas Cook.

Magazine article

Slovakia: a foray into modernism

by Nicky Gardner

Slovakia boasts some of the finest modernist architecture anywhere in Europe, though you would hardly know it from the guidebooks. There is something distinctly Slovakian about these buildings which, during the years that Slovakia was linked to the Czech Republic, became a quiet assertion of national identity.

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Unravelling Gibraltarian identity

Marut and Mesod are both interesting men. And both are equally adamant that they are Gibraltarians. If you thought that Gibraltar was merely Cockney voices or fish and chips, think again. The territory at the southern tip of Iberia has its own very distinctive culture and identity.

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The European flag

by hidden europe

one flag: blue background with twelve stars. It flutters above buildings in over forty European capitals. hidden europe looks at the Council of Europe flag.

Magazine article

Banking on poets

by hidden europe

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

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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.

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An icon of identity: the Faroese flag

by Nicky Gardner

Fámjin is all the better for being difficult to reach. It is a tiny place, a mere pinprick on the map of the Faroes. But Fámjin has something of the Faroese soul about it, for it here that the national flag was first flown. We look at some places that enshrine icons of national identity.

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Rusyn aspirations in Ukraine

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

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The soul of Switzerland

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 community create magnificent theatre at this Berlin outpost on the high days and holy days of the Orthodox year.

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Designing identity

Albanians have not lost their way with clothes, as anyone walking the streets of Tirana's business district at lunchtime will quickly notice. Forget notions of an obscure Balkan nation, and look more for the same stylish chic that you might see strolling around the Quadrilatero d'Oro in Milan. Albania's changed, and Edith Durham just wouldn't know what to make of it.

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DDR nostalgia

For many older Germans who grew up in the DDR, the new order is associated with uncertainty in the labour market, consumerism and rising prices, and many look back with evident affection on some aspects of life in the DDR. Not all of course, and films like Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) act as a sharp reminder that life wasn't always quite so rosy in East Germany.

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'no music day'

Tomorrow, 22 November, is the Feast of St Cecilia, a saint surrounded by a strong music cult. By the time Raphael painted his L'estasi di Santa Cecilia (around 1515), musical instruments had become associated with St Cecilia. The iconography runs deep, and from Verona to Oxford there are pictures, stained glass windows and statues of St Cecilia with musical instruments. Pipe organs seem to be her speciality, but we've spotted St Cecilia with everything from violins to flutes.

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Heritage centres in Ireland - the Danube delta in Romania

In a month that marks the ninetieth anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin, it seemed good to check out the memorial to Eamon de Valera in the village of Brú Rí (Bruree in English), a wee spot just off the main road from Cork to Limerick. Predictably, the one-time simple exhibition in the village schoolhouse where de Valera said the rosary and learnt English history, a quiet homage to the man who was the only leader of the Rising not to be killed by the British, has now become a multimedia heritage centre.