hidden europe 12

An Azeri national symbol

by hidden europe


The Maiden Tower in Baku is a powerful national symbol for all Azeris. But remarkably little is known about this enigmatic structure.

Symbols often play an important role in the branding of nations and the assertion of identity. What is France without the Eiffel Tower, Italy without its leaning tower at Pisa, and Switzerland without the Matterhorn? When a group of feminist activists hacked off the head of Copenhagen's Little Mermaid a few years ago, the vandalism was interpreted as an attack on Danish identity - Edvard Eriksen's sculpture on Copenhagen's harbour front neatly picks up a theme from Hans Christian Andersen to symbolise the Danish nation and its relationship with the sea.

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One travel guide claims that Finisterre is the most westerly point on the European mainland. This is in fact wrong, just as other points that lay claim to special status as geographical extremities are often spurious. We map Europe's extremities.

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Rail update: Russia, Ukraine and Belarus

New rail timetables for the former Soviet Union come into effect later this month. There remains some uncertainty about some services, but for travellers heading east, here are a few thoughts on what to expect: the return of the Berlin to Kaliningrad night train, a new link from Riga to Minsk, a direct daily train from Berlin to Ukraine and more.