Saturday, 31 March 2012



Eindhoven is a municipality and a city located in the province of North Brabant in the south of the Netherlands, originally at the confluence of the Dommel and Gender streams. The Gender was dammed off short of the city centre in the 1950s, but the Dommel still runs through the city. The city counts 213,809 inhabitants (1 January 2010), which makes it the fifth-largest city of the Netherlands and the largest of North-Brabant.

The written history of Eindhoven started in 1232, when Duke Hendrik I of Brabant granted city rights to Endehoven, then a small town right on the confluence of the Dommel and Gender streams. At the time of granting of its charter, Eindhoven had approximately 170 houses enclosed by a rampart. Just outside of the city walls stood a small castle. The city was also granted the right to organize a weekly market and the farmers in nearby villages were obliged to come to Eindhoven to sell their produce. Another factor in its establishment was its location on the trade route from Holland to Liège.

Around 1388, the city's fortifications were strengthened further. And between 1413 and 1420, a new castle was built within the city walls. In 1486, Eindhoven was plundered and burned by troops from Guelders. The reconstruction was finished in 1502, with a stronger rampart and a new castle. However, in 1543 Eindhoven fell again: its defense works were neglected due to poverty. 
The industrial revolution of the 19th century provided a major growth impulse. Canals, roads and railroads were constructed. Eindhoven was connected to the major Zuid-Willemsvaart canal through the Eindhovens Kanaal branch in 1843 and was connected by rail to Tilburg, 's-Hertogenbosch, Venlo and Belgium between 1866 and 1870. Industrial activities initially centred around tobacco and textile and boomed with the rise of lighting and electronics giant Philips, which was founded as a light bulb manufacturing company in Eindhoven in 1891.

The Evoluon
The old city centre was heavily bombarded during the Second World War and was almost completely destroyed. New buildings rose where old once stood. Much of the city's industrial heritage was luckily been preserved; these old buildings now stand in beautiful contrast to the modern architecture appearing in Eindhoven today.

Art, technology, design, rock, hip-hop, dance, film, urban sports, unique hospitality. Strijp-S brings all this together. It is the new creative heart of Eindhoven, teeming with inspiration every hour of every day. Strijp-S is the place to be. First there’s the Portiersloge, the new ‘Gate House’ where a mega-model and a giant iPad explain the developments planned for the coming years as well as what there is to see here and now.

With the covered shopping centre 'De Heuvel Galerie', Piazza Centre, large department stores including the exclusive 'De Bijenkorf' and an extensive selection of boutiques an specialist shops, the centre of Eindhoven is the most bustling shopping centre in the South of the Netherlands.

In a central position in the heart of the city is the Markt, where in fine weather, the terraces are immediately full. Here, you mainly find "Grand cafés" where you can eat, drink and make merry! Also situated in the Markt is the legal Holland Casino.

Opposite central station is Stationsplein. With its restaurants, "Grand cafés", trendy dancing bars and terraces, this is an outstanding example of an area that is made for going out. There are more pubs, bars, pleasant eating-places and restaurants in Dommelstraat (side-street off Stationsplein), the venue 'De Effenaar' and the 'Liquid' club are also situated here.
Want to go on a pub-crawl? The Stratumseind is extraordinarily suited to this. This is the street with the most bars in the whole of the Netherlands! There are more than 40 bars and various eating places which are also open at night.

Van Abbemuseum

                                                        Eindhoven’s Top 5:
  1. St. Catherine's Church is a Roman Catholic church in the centre of the city, dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria . The church is located in the Catherine square, at the end of Stratumseind ​​and was built in the19th century to replace the dilapidated medieval, original Church. The neo-Gothic building was designed by Pierre Cuypers and is considered an early highlight of his career. Construction began in 1861 and was completed in 1867. The cost of construction amounted to 279,000 fl. Cuypers processed in this design a lot of ideas about the symbolism of Catholic writerJoseph Alberdingk Thijm . The most striking feature of the church are the two towers, both 73 meters high and at examples of French Gothic several forms, called a male and a female tower, with the names David and Mary. The towers are part of the double front tower . In 1942 and 1944 the church was badly damaged by bombing. After the war, restoration architect CH de Bever began rebuilding . The old windows that were lost were replaced by stained-glass windows by among others Charles Eyck and Pieter Wiegersma . The church has been a national monument since 1972  . 
  2. The Evoluon is a conference centre and former science museum erected by the electronics and electrical company Philips, in 1966. Since its construction, it has become a landmark and a symbol for the city. The building is unique due to its very futuristic design, resembling a landed flying saucer. It was designed by architect Louis Christiaan Kalff, while the exhibition was conceived by James Gardner. The building was based on an idea by Frits Philips, who originally made a sketch of the building on a paper napkin. Frits Philips wanted to give the people of Eindhoven a beautiful and educational gift to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the company that bears his family name. Its concrete dome is 77 meters (253 ft) in diameter and is held in place by 169 kilometers (105 mi) of rebar.In the 1960s and 70s it attracted large visitor numbers, since its interactive exhibitions were a new and unique concept in the Netherlands at that time. But when competing science museums opened in other cities, the number of visitors to the Evoluon declined every year. After several years of losing money, the original museum closed down in 1989 and the Evoluon was converted into a conference center, opening in 1998.
  3. The 'Blob'. Designed by award winning Italian Architect Massimiliano Fuksas, who also designed the new Piazza (glass canopy next to the Bijenkorf), the blob is the centre-piece of a complete re-development of the 18 Septemberplein, which includes two bicycle tunnels and a second smaller blob. Due to open at the end of March 2012, it will host shops on the ground floor and office space on the higher floors. Opinions are sharply divided on the architectural merit’s of the new structure, but what actually is a blob? The term is used in the IT world to denote a large chunk of computer data known as a Binary Large Object, but is more commonly associated with an amorphous, glutinous object, made famous by the 1958 film “The Blob” starring Steve McQueen, in which an ever-expanding jelly from outer-space terrorizes small town America. In the architectural world blob refers to a recognised style used by a number of famous buildings including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
  4. The Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven is the city's top destination for contemporary art lovers. In addition to innovative temporary exhibitions, the permanent collection includes works by Lissitzky, Picasso, Kokoschka, Chagall, Beuys, McCarthy, Daniëls and Körmeling. For a schedule of their temporary exhibitions and other events at the museum, see the Van Abbemuseum website. The building, redesigned in 2003 by Abel Cahen around the original 1936 structure built by architect A.J. Kropholler, is in itself worth exploring.
  5. Parktheatre.  A recently renovated, modern theatre with a variety of shows and entertainment, the Park Theatre is located in the Stadswandelpark just south of the city centre, near the Van Abbemuseum. Re-opened in 2007, the Park Theatre building is a work of art in itself, especially worth seeing at night. Classical theatre, ballet, concerts and other cultural events can all be found here, so be sure to check their schedule to get an idea of what's going on during your stay. There is also a restaurant in the theatre, Park & Pluche, which features outdoor dining during the summer months.

    The controversial 'blob'

Intrepid Travel (Intrepid Guerba)

Thursday, 29 March 2012



Essen is a city in the central part of the Ruhr area in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Located on the River Ruhr, its population of approximately 579,000 (as of June 30, 2008) makes it the 9th-largest city in Germany. For the year 2010, Essen was the European Capital of Culture on behalf of the whole Ruhr area.

Until the 1970s, Essen had been one of Germany's most important coal and steel centres. Historically linked to the centuries-old Krupp family iron works, the city has since developed a strong tertiary sector of the economy, so it is sometimes called "desk of the Ruhr area" (together with nearby Düsseldorf). Essen is home to 13 of the 100 largest German corporations and seat to several of the region's authorities.

The oldest archaeological find, the Vogelheimer Klinge, dates the roots of the city back to 280,000 – 250,000 BC. It is a blade found in the borough of Vogelheim in the northern part of the city during the construction of the Rhine–Herne Canal in 1926. Other artifacts from the Stone Age have also been found, although these are not overly numerous. Land utilization was very high – especially due to mining activities during the Industrial Age – and any more major finds, especially from the Mesolithic era, are not expected. Finds from 3,000 BC and onwards are far more common, the most important one being a Megalithic tomb found in 1937. Simply called Steinkiste (Chest of Stone), it is referred to as "Essen's earliest preserved example of architecture".  Essen was part of the settlement areas of several Germanic peoples (Chatti, Bructeri, Marsi), although a clear distinction among these groupings is difficult. The Alteburg castle in the south of Essen dates back to the 1st or 2nd century BC, the Herrenburg to the 8th century AD. 

As a major industrial centre, Essen was a target for allied bombing during the second world war. Over 270 air raids were launched against the city, destroying 90% of the centre and 60% of the suburbs. On 5 March 1943 Essen was subjected to one of the heaviest air-raids of the war. 461 people were killed, 1,593 injured and a further 50,000 residents of Essen were made homeless.

Both those in search of rest and relaxation and those looking for fun and excitement will find everything they want in Essen – leisure possibilities and events are attractive, numerous and varied, the transformation from an industrial city to a metropolis of culture is evident everywhere. Generally, people who come to Essen for the first time are nearly always surprised: over 50 percent of the area of the city is green! Favourite places for the Esseners and their guests to relax are the banks of the River Ruhr and Baldeney Lake - or the "Gruga" - one of Germany’s biggest and most beautiful city gardens.

With the opening of the shopping center at Limbecker Platz, Essen is decidedly gaining ground in importance as an attractive city. More than 700 retail shops and boutiques are the reason why Essen’s downtown area has been such an attractive shopping place of long standing, and its cultural centres of attraction are quite convincing.

Further enrichments for the Essen experience are city events and attractive restaurant and pubs offering a great selection of food and drink. Essen is regarded as "the city for shopping". Exquisite jewellery shops, elegant boutiques, major furniture stores, exclusive design studios, and an assortment of department stores offer a varied and exciting shopping experience.

Folkwang University of the Arts (Werden Abbey)
Today, most of Essen city centre is a pedestrian zone, it was the first German city to set up a pedestrian area - as early as the 1920s. Essen city centre is very easy to reach by car, bus, or rail. There are 25 multi-storey car parks providing the centre with 12,000 parking spaces.For evening entertainment, there is plenty to choose from: the various Essen theatres, the GOP-Varieté or the cabaret - e.g. in Stratmann's Europahaus. But a tour of the restaurant scene and the various pubs and clubs in Rüttenscheid, Borbeck, Werden, Kettwig, Steele or in the city centre is also well worthwhile. The legendary Lichtburg movie palace and CinemaxX at Berliner Platz - still Germany’s biggest multiplex cinema - not only show all the latest films, but with a variety of bars and bistros also offer their guests the ideal opportunity to conclude an enjoyable evening in style.

Those wanting to “immerse“ themselves in the history of the “Black Country“ should not miss travelling the “Industrial Culture Route“: on a 400-km circuit, 46 industrial monuments afford entirely new perspectives of and insights into the industrial history of the region.

The Old Synagogue

                                                        Essen’s Top 5:
  1. Essen Cathedral. Essen Minster or Cathedral (Essener Münster, since 1958 also Essener Dom) is the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Essen, the "Diocese of the Ruhr", founded in 1958. The church, dedicated to Saints Cosmas and Damian and the Blessed Virgin Mary, stands on the Burgplatz in the centre of the city. The minster was formerly the collegiate church of Essen Abbey, founded in about 845 by Altfrid, Bishop of Hildesheim, around which the city of Essen grew up. The present building, which was reconstructed after its destruction in World War II, is a Gothic hall church, built after 1275 in light-coloured sandstone. The octagonal westwork and the crypt are survivors of the Ottonian pre-Romanesque building that once stood here. To the north of the minster is a cloister that once served the abbey. Essen Minster is noted for its treasury (Domschatz), which among other treasures contains the Golden Madonna, the oldest fully sculptural figure of Mary north of the Alps. The first bishop of Essen, Cardinal Hengsbach, was buried here in 1991.
  2. The Old Synagogue. The former Essen synagogue, completed in 1913 by master builder Edmund Körner on behalf of the Jewish community, is the only free-standing major synagogue structure to have survived - at least externally - the Second World War. Today, it constitutes a unique cultural and architectural monument. The future House of Jewish Culture is, however, presented not as a museum and historical site but rather as a meeting place where people can come into contact with Jewish culture and the Jewish way of life.
  3. The Villa Hügel is a mansion in Bredeney. It belonged to the Krupp family of industrialists and was built by Alfred Krupp during 1873 as a residence. More recently, the Villa Hügel is the main office of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach Foundation (major shareholder of the Thyssen-Krupp corporation) and houses an art gallery.  At the time of its construction, the villa featured some technical novelties and peculiarities, such as a central hot air heating system, own water- and gas works and electric internal and external telegraph- and telephone systems (with a central induction alarm for the staff). The mansion's central clock became the reference clock for the whole Krupp enterprise; every clock was to be set with a maximum difference of half a minute. The archive of the Krupp family and company is also located there. An annex, called the Little House (kleines Haus) on the estate holds sixty rooms and served to confine Alfried Krupp in the aftermath of the Second World War. The house has 259 rooms and occupies 8,100 m². It lies in a 28 hectare park overlooking the River Ruhr and the Baldeneysee. 
  4. Werden Abbey.  Saint Ludger founded a monastery in 799 and became its first abbot. The little church which Saint Ludger built here in honor of Saint Stephen was completed in 804 and dedicated by Saint Ludger himself, who had meanwhile become Bishop of Münster. Upon the death of Ludger on 26 March 809, the abbacy of Werden passed by inheritance first to his younger brother Hildigrim I (809–827), then successively to four of his nephews: Gerfried (827–839), Thiadgrim (ruled less than a year), Altfried (839–848), Hildigrim II (849–887). Under Hildigrim I, also Bishop of Châlons-sur-Marne, the new monastery of Helmstedt in the Diocese of Halberstadt was founded from Werden. It was ruled over by a provost, and remained a dependency of Werden till its secularization in 1803.  During this time the abbey and its territory became part of Prussia, but three years later it was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Berg. In 1815 it became Prussian again as part of the Rhine Province. The buildings are currently used by the Folkwang University of the Arts.
  5. Museum Folkwang. All epoch-making art periods from the romantics to the modern avant-garde are represented in the Folkwang Museum by excellent exhibits: paintings, graphics, and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries, a first class collection on the history of photography, antique ceramics and some examples of Far Eastern and African art.

The Villa Hügel

Tuesday, 27 March 2012



Esbjerg is an important  seaport on the west coast of the Jutland peninsula in southwest Denmark, the main town of Esbjerg Municipality, the site of its municipal council and with a population of 71,576 (1 January 2011) the fifth largest city in Denmark, and the largest in west Jutland. 

During the first months of 1868, a bill was introduced into the Danish Folketing concerning the establishing of a harbour at Esbjerg, which, seen from eastern Denmark at that time, was a desolate, grim, far-flung corner of the country. This bill was keenly debated in the Folketing, and subsequently in the Landsting. It was eventually passed, the harbour was built and the country's now fifth-largest city with 82.000 inhabitants was founded - from nothing, via a pioneer spirit and wild-west conditions to greatness, seen from a cultural as well as a business and educational point of view. 

Esbjerg Water Tower
The city of Esbjerg was a replacement for the harbour in Altona, which had previously been Denmark's most important North Sea harbour. In 1874 Esbjerg was connected by rail to Fredericia and Varde.

The city was once Denmark's biggest fishing harbour, and the harbour is still an economic driving force in the town. Besides the fishing industry Esbjerg is also the main city for Denmark's oil and offshore activities. 

Esbjerg is western Denmark’s main hub with a big city atmosphere. The city offers attractive shopping and cultural activities and a versatile business community. The city centre sizzles with activity all year round. An exciting mix of culture houses, numerous specialty shops, and a rich variety of restaurants and cafés in an alluring urban environment characterize Esbjerg’s shopping and cultural centre.

Esbjerg is a lively and modern city that offers the opportunity to try out new ideas. As a young harbour city, Esbjerg hospitality is striking. Tourists also add their touch to the city. Apart from visitors from summer house areas, large cruise liners call at the city. In Esbjerg, visitors can experience a pulsating shopping and cultural centre and yet still have only a short distance to nature and good beaches. The city’s unusual road network is built on a grid modeled after an American pattern,  straight streets at right angles to each other. That has resulted in plenty of light, air and open street space. 

Esbjerg has some great options for shopping centered around the two main shopping streets. Kongensgade is a pedestrianized shopping street and has some 150 specialty shops and eateries.Torvegade, partly pedestrianized, is also worth a visit. The two converge right around the main square in town.

The suburbs of Esbjerg are characterized by green patches that contribute to making Esbjerg’s residential areas attractive. 

                                                        Esbjerg’s Top 5:
    Old Courthouse
    1. Fisheries and Maritime Museum. The Fisheries and Maritime Museum is the largest institution of its kind in Denmark focusing on Danish fisheries and marine biology, the tidal wetlands (Wadden Sea), west Jutland coastal shipping and the North Sea offshore industries. So the theme of the museum can truly be said to be "people and the sea"
    2. Sædden Church was built and consecrated in 1978. The church was built together with the Saedding centre by designers Inger and Johs. It is monumental building with beautiful brickwork and an Interesting twist on lightning. The church is modern, but related to old romanesque church tradition.
    3. The Old Court House. Esbjerg’s former Courthouse and County Gaol was built in 1891 by the architect H.C. Amberg and officially opened in August 1892. Today, it houses the tourist office and local police station. On the first floor, there is a wedding room and the former town council chamber can be used for receptions, etc. The
      building originally consisted of two sections: a courthouse and town hall in the front part, and a police and a county gaol in the rear section. The cells were used until 1956, when the new police station became operational. The Courthouse was used until 1970.
    4. Water Tower.  Built in 1896-97, Esbjerg's water tower was designed by C.H. Clausen, who has virtually copied the medieval residence Haus Nassau in Nuremberg. The function of the tower as a water tower was not of any supreme importance, although the tower quickly became the landmark of the town. It was originally built with a vantage platform on the top floor. After some years of being inaccessible to the general public, it was reopened after a privately undertaken restoration. Apart from offering a magnificent view of the town and harbour, marshland and sea, the tower has changing exhibitions as an added attraction.
    5. Man meets the Sea is a 9 metre (30 feet) tall white monument of four seated males, located west of Esbjerg next to Sædding Beach. It is located opposite the Fisheries and Maritime Museum, is one of the area's major tourist attractions, and is a famous landmark of Esbjerg. The sculpture was designed by Svend Wiig Hansen and installed on 28th October 1995. It was funded by the municipality of Esbjerg, the Kunstfond (an art fund), and private sponsors, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the municipality in 1994. The artist's original idea for the location of the sculpture was Grenen, north of Skagen. The monument can be seen from ships leaving or entering Esbjerg harbour.

      Man meets the sea


    Monday, 26 March 2012



    Counting nearly 600,000 inhabitants, the city alongside the ancient German trading route (the "Hellweg") is one of the biggest cities of the Federal Republic of Germany and the economic and cultural centre of Westphalia. Dortmund was founded as "Throtmani" around the year 880. Called "Dorpmunde" throughout the Middle ages, it was one of the richest and most important cities of the Hanseatic League for a long time. Coal, steel and beer guaranteed economic prosperity beyond the middle of the past century. In the course of structural change, however, new branches like IT, micro systems technology, logistics, communications- and media technology have re-shaped Dortmund's corporate landscape.

    Like almost no other German city, Dortmund has seen enormous change in recent years. The former "steel city" developed into a modern and cosmopolitan metropolis, acquiring renown all across Europe as an innovative location for technological development. 

    Dortmund is known as Westphalia's "green metropolis." Nearly half the municipal territory consists of waterways, woodland, agriculture and green spaces with spacious parks such as Westfalenpark and the Rombergpark.

    Whether you prefer a major opera or a jiving jazz session, award-winning theatre performances or typical regional cabaret, progressive media art or 18th and 19th century art collections, independent cinemas or gambling. Art enthusiasts and culture-mongers can choose from a multifaceted selection of attractions and events. Regardless what you’re in the mood for, Dortmund will not be boring for you.
    If you're interested in industrial culture, hard work has always distinguished the Dortmunders and their city. Steel, beer, and coal made Dortmund famous around the world. But today no miner can be found underground any more and the blast furnaces have closed down. Nevertheless, you can still feel the presence of times past, since the famous production sites from former times have new roles: they are simultaneously monuments, museums, and stages.
    The centre of the city is series of shopping malls with impressive stores from everything from clothing and shoes to books and media to electronics or jewelry, stretching along the Hellweg, the Rheinoldi-Church in its center, the Thier-Gallerie is also becoming very popular, it is Dortmund's first mall and one of the largest privately financed buildings in Europe.


    A local delicacy in Dortmund is a "Salzkuchen mit Mett" or a "Mettente". The "Salzkuchen" is a bagel-like, caraway spiced roll with seasoned mincemeat and onions. The "Mettente", a smoked sausage, normally comes with spicy mustard. Both are commonplace in the pubs or   Bierhäuser  around the city.  

    Dortmund can claim one of the biggest Christmas markets in Germany, with over 300 stalls packed around a gigantic Christmas tree creation that stands 45 metres tall – reputed to be the biggest in the world. Made up of 1,700 individual fir trees, its 13,000 lights bathe the Christmas proceedings in a seasonal glow. Every day there is a colourful show programme by the Alter Markt Theatre Company and a puppet or magic show to keep the children happy.

                                                            Dortmund’s Top 5:
    1. The U-Tower. or Dortmunder U is a former brewery building in the city of Dortmund. Since 2010 it serves as a center for the arts and creativity, housing among other facilities the Museum Ostwall. It was the first skyscraper of Dortmund, built in 1926-1927. The high-rise Union Brewery used this building for the fermentation and storage of their products. In 1994 the brewery and all its surrounding buildings were closed and demolished, only the Dortmund U-Tower was spared due to having landmark status. In January 2008 the Dortmund U-Tower was decided to be redeveloped as a flagship project for the "Ruhr 2010 - Cultural Capital of Europe". Today it counts to one of Dortmund's central places, in which creative catering and event facilities are offered.
    2. Reinoldikirche. The Protestant St. Reinoldi-church is, according to its foundation date, the oldest extant church in Dortmund. It is dedicated to Saint Reinoldus, the patron of the city. The church was built as a palatinate church in the Ottonian era. The present building is a late Romanesque church with a late gothic quire. The St.-Reinoldi-church was built from 1250 to 1270, and is located in the centre of the city, directly at the crossing of the Hellweg (a historic trade route) and the historic road from Cologne to Bremen. Efforts to complete the tower of the St.-Reinoldi-church were renewed in 1443. After its completion in 1454, it was 112 m tall and was referred to as the "Miracle of Westphalia". The polygonal spire was renovated the first time in 1519. On 24 June 1520, the copper roofing was completed, and on 27 July the spire was added. The apex of the church was now about seven metres higher. In 1661, the tower collapsed after being damaged during an earthquake. The foundation for the new tower was laid 1662, and the building was completed 1701, with a baroque ornament on the top.
    3. Haus Dellwig In 1988 a local museum was founded in Haus Dellwig. This historic moated castle, which was first mentioned as early as the 12th century, has been owned by the City of Dortmund since 1978. The exhibits include a complete kitchen, a sitting room and various workshops (bakery, hairdressers, butchers, laundry, saddler, shoemaker's workshop and carpenters).
    4. Dortmund Opera House.  opened in 1966 and formally operated by the Theater Dortmund. The first opera house of Dortmund of 1904 had been destroyed in World War II. The new opera house was designed by architects Heinrich Rosskotten and Edgar Tritthart. The design separates the functions stage and technical rooms in the Bühnenhaus (stage house), dominated by straight lines, from the hall for the audience under a thin-shell structure roof.
    5. The Florianturm. (Florian Tower, Florian for short) is a telecommunications tower and landmark of the city. It is named after St. Florian, the patron saint of gardeners. The Florianturm is the TV tower of Dortmund and was built in 1959 as an attraction for a federal horticultural show with a height of 219.6 metres. At the time it was briefly the highest freestanding structure in Germany. The tower was constructed similarly to a high concrete chimney. It consists of a reinforced concrete tube, which tapers off as it rises, reaching a height of 129.75 metres. At 130.6 metres there is a building part with two floors. On the lower floor there are operation rooms and on the upper floor at 137.54 metres there is a revolving restaurant. At 141.88 metres and 144.7 metres there are two observation decks.

    Friday, 23 March 2012



    Dijon is a city in eastern France, and is the capital of the Côte-d'Or département and is the historical capital of the region of Burgundy. Population (2008): 151,576 within the city limits; 250,516 (2007) for the greater Dijon area. Dijon began as a Roman settlement called Divio, located on the road from Lyon to Paris. Saint Benignus, the city's patron saint, is said to have introduced Christianity to the area before being martyred.
    This province was home to the Dukes of Burgundy from the early 11th until the late 15th centuries and Dijon was a place of tremendous wealth and power and one of the great European centres of art, learning and science. The Duchy of Burgundy was a key in the transformation of medieval times toward early modern Europe.

    Dijon has one of the best preserved medieval centers in France. It is easy to walk and see the sites, with lots of pedestrianised streets. You can sample some of France's finest cuisine and drink great Burgundy wines at dinner or at one of the many wine bars in town. Dijon offers many cultural activities, including a wealth of museums and annual festivals to keep the tourist busy, including the L'Été Musical (Musical Summer), a classical music festival in June.Dijon boasts a large number of churches, notably Notre Dame de Dijon, St. Philibert, St. Michel and Dijon Cathedral. The city has retained varied architectural styles from many of the main periods of the past millennium, including Capetian, Gothic and Renaissance. Many still-inhabited town houses in the city's central district date from the 18th century and earlier.

    Dijon architecture is distinguished by, among other things, toits bourguignons (Burgundian polychrome roofs) made of tiles glazed in terracotta, green, yellow and black and arranged in eye-catching geometric patterns. Dijon was largely spared the destruction of wars such as the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and the Second World War, despite the city being occupied. Therefore, many of the old buildings such as the half-timbered houses dating from the 12th to the 15th centuries (found mainly in the city's core district) remain intact.

    Dijon is home to many museums, including the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon in part of the Ducal Palace (see below). It contains, among other things, ducal kitchens dating back to the mid-15th century, and a substantial collection of European painting from Roman times through contemporary art.

    Dijon is famous for its mustard: the term Dijon mustard (moutarde de Dijon) designates a method of making a particularly strong mustard relish. This is not necessarily produced near Dijon, as the term is regarded as genericized under European Union law, so that it cannot be registered for protected designation of origin status. Most Dijon mustard (brands such as Amora or Maille) is produced industrially and over 90% of mustard seed used in local production is imported, mainly from Canada. In 2008, Unilever closed its Amora mustard factory in Dijon. Dijon mustard shops also feature exotic or unusually-flavored mustard (fruit-flavoured, for example), often sold in decorative hand-painted faience (china) pots.

    As the capital of the Burgundy region, Dijon reigns over some of the best wine country in the world. Many superb vineyards producing vins d'appellation contrôlée, such as Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey-Chambertin, are within 20 minutes of the city center. The town's university boasts a renowned oenology institute. The road from Santenay to Dijon, known as the route des Grands Crus, passes through an idyllic countryside of vineyards, rivers, villages, forests, and 12th century churches.

    The city is also well known for its crème de cassis, or blackcurrant liqueur, used in the drink known as "Kir", a mixture of white wine, especially Bourgogne aligoté, with blackcurrant liqueur, named after former mayor of Dijon canon Félix Kir.

                                                            Dijon’s Top 5:
    1. Cathedral of Saint-Benigne.   Dedicated to Saint Benignus of Dijon, is a Roman Catholic cathedral, and national monument of France. Originating as the church of the Abbey of St. Benignus, it became the seat of the Bishopric of Dijon during the French Revolution, and has been the seat of the succeeding Archbishopric of Dijon since the elevation of the former diocese in 2002. The present Gothic cathedral was built between 1280 and 1325, and was dedicated on 9 April 1393. The first church here was a basilica built over the falsely reported sarcophagus of Saint Benignus, which was placed in a crypt constructed for it by Saint Gregory of Langres in 511; the basilica over the crypt was completed in 535. This building became the centre of a monastic community. In 871 Isaac, Bishop of Langres, re-founded it as a Benedictine abbey, and restored the basilica at the same time. The crypt is believed to be one of the oldest Christian sanctuaries still visitable in France.
    2. Palais des Ducs de Bourgogne.  The Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Burgundy  is a remarkably well-preserved architectural assemblage The oldest part is the 14th and 15th century Gothic ducal palace and seat of the Dukes of Burgundy, made up of a logis still visible on place de la Liberation, the ducal kitchens on cour de Bar, the tour de Philippe le Bon, a "guette" overlooking the whole city, and tour de Bar. Most of what can be seen today, however, was built in the 17th and especially the 18th centuries, in a classical style, when the palace was a royal residence building and housed the estates of Burgundy. Finally, the 19th façade of the musée on place de la Sainte-Chapelle was added on the site of the palace's Sainte-Chapelle, demolished in 1802. The Palace houses the city's town hall and the musée des Beaux-Arts.
    3. Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne. Housed in a 17th-century Cistercian convent, this museum explores village and town life in Burgundy in centuries past with evocative exhibits illustrating dress and traditional crafts.  The Museum, inaugurated in 1982, is on three floors:- Ground floor: rural and Burgundian ethnographical heritage at the end of the 19C. - First floor: daily life in Dijon from the end of the 18C to the Second World War (reconstruction of 10 trades). - Second floor: a gallery devoted to characteristics of Burgundian life plus a reading room and an audiovisual room. 
    4. Place François Rude (also known as Place du Bareuzai) is a central square with beautiful traditional houses, a fountain with a sculpture, with an old carousel, and a lot of cafés and bars. Popular among locals on summer days.
    5. The Musée des Beaux-Arts is an art museum, located in the Palais Ducal and has a permanent exhibition of medieval art. On the upper floor, there are lots of paintings by local artists and Flemish painters. The museum sometimes hosts temporary exhibitions with works from local artists. The most famous part of the museum is the Guard Room with tombs, though currently closed until 2013 for renovation. On last floor there is more recent art like Picasso, Monet or Courbet.

      Palais des Ducs de Bourgogne 

    Thursday, 22 March 2012



    Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area. Although Dresden is a relatively recent city of Slavic origin, the area had been settled in the Neolithic era by Linear Pottery culture tribes ca. 7500 BC. Dresden's founding and early growth is associated with the eastward expansion of Germanic peoples, mining in the nearby Ore Mountains, and the establishment of the Margraviate of Meissen. Its name etymologically derives from Old Sorbian Drežďany, meaningpeople of the riverside forest. Dresden later evolved into the capital of Saxony.

    The Semperoper 

    Dresden has a long history as the capital and royal residence for the Electors and Kings of Saxony, who for centuries furnished the city with cultural and artistic splendour. The city was known as the Jewel Box, because of its baroque and rococo city centre. A controversial Allied aerial bombing towards the end of World War II killed thousands of civilians and destroyed the entire city centre. The impact of the bombing and 40 years of urban development during the East German communist era have considerably changed the face of the city. Some restoration work has helped to reconstruct parts of the historic inner city, including the Katholische Hofkirche, the Semper Oper and the Dresdner Frauenkirche. Since the German reunification in 1990, Dresden has regained importance as one of the cultural, educational, political and economic centres of Germany.

    After the Second World War, Dresden became a major industrial centre in the German Democratic Republic (former East Germany) with a great deal of research infrastructure. Many important historic buildings were rebuilt, although the city leaders chose to reconstruct large areas of the city in a "socialist modern" style, partly for economic reasons, but also to break away from the city's past as the royal capital of Saxony and a stronghold of the German bourgeoisie. However, some of the bombed-out ruins of churches, royal buildings and palaces, such as the Gothic Sophienkirche, the Alberttheater and the Wackerbarth-Palais were razed by the Soviet and East German authorities in the 1950s and 1960s instead of being repaired. Compared to West Germany, the majority of historic buildings were saved.

    The historical centre of Dresden is located on the left bank of the Elbe, at the peak of a graceful river bend. Protected for centuries by mighty fortifications, the Saxon capital developed splendour and activity. Even today the buildings from the Renaissance, baroque and 19th century determine the Elbe front and the face of our city. Viewed from the opposite bank or from one of the Elbe bridges Dresden presents itself at first glance as a cultural city of European rank.

    In spite of it's traumatic war years, the Old City part of Dresden has preserved or regained much of it's historic past. The most famous symbol of reconstruction in the city centre is the Dresden Frauenkirche Church, the magnificent baroque dome, which dominates the cityscape. Many important cultural institutions are situated along the Old City-side of the Elbe banks: from the Old Masters Picture Gallery to the Green Vault, the treasure chamber of the Saxon electors and kings.
    Dresden Castle

    The area of the new part of the city between the Elba and Albertplatz has been transformed into the most popular place in Dresden. Filled with 4 or 5 storey buildings of the 18th century,  along Keningstrasse. At first sight this street may seem quite dull, but look  deeper and you'll find beautiful gangways and cozy courtyards with good cafes and restaurants. There are also a lot of boutiques, galleries, antique shops and a mall theatre. If you want to do some shopping,  go to Hauptstrasse. At the Alkmarkt and Pragestrasse in the ancient part of the city  you'll find department stores and shopping centres.

    The majority of national dishes that are offered to visitors in restaurants of Dresden belong to the Saxony kitchen. Roast beef is the most popular local meat. Meat here is thoroughly marinated in vinegar and spices before cooking, so it has its unforgettable aroma. For first course the most popular local delicacy is, without a doubt, potato soup.  Anyone with a sweet tooth will love the wonderful local dish - Eierschecke - a delicious cake with cream cheese and raisins. 
    Quarkkäulchen curd is the most popular dessert among locals. In addition to the restaurants that serve traditional cuisine, you will find high quality  French, Spanish, Italian and even Turkish restaurants. The vast majority of trendy establishments are located in Neustadt. A walk here will be of a great interest to every lover of good food.


                                                            Dresden’s Top 5:
    1. The Dresden Frauenkirche  literally Church of Our Lady, is a Lutheran church, built in the 18th century, the church was destroyed in the firebombing of Dresden during World War II. It has been reconstructed as a landmark symbol of reconciliation between former warring enemies. The reconstruction of its exterior was completed in 2004, its interior in 2005 and, after 13 years of rebuilding, the church was reconsecrated on 30 October 2005 with festive services lasting through the Protestant observance of Reformation Day on 31 October. Once a month, an Anglican Evensong in English is held in the Church of Our Lady, with clergy sent from St. George's Anglican Chaplaincy in Berlin.  Since re-opening, the Church of Our Lady has been a hugely popular tourist destination in Dresden. In the first three years after the re-opening, seven million people have visited the church. The project has inspired other revitalization projects throughout Europe.
    2. The Katholische Hofkirche  is a Roman Catholic Cathedral. Previously the most important Catholic parish church of the city, it was elevated to cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dresden-Meissen in 1964. It is located near the Elbe River in the historic center of Dresden. The Hofkirche stands as one of Dresden's foremost landmarks. It was designed by architect Gaetano Chiaveri from 1738 to 1751. The church was commissioned by Frederick Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland while the protestant city of Dresden built the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) between 1726 and 1743. The Elector decided that a catholic church was needed in order to counterbalance the protestant Frauenkirche. In the crypt the heart of King August the Strong is buried along with the last King of Saxony and the remains of 49 other members of the Wettin family as well as people who married into the family, such as Princess Maria Carolina of Savoy, wife of Anthony of Saxony. The church was badly damaged during the war and was restored during the mid-1980s under the East German regime. Today it is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dresden-Meissen.
    3. Dresden Castle is one of the oldest buildings in Dresden. For almost 400 years, it has been the residence of the electors (1547–1806) and kings (1806–1918) of Saxony. It is known for the different architectural styles employed, from Baroque to Neo-renaissance. Today, the residential castle is a museum complex that contains the Historic and New Green Vault, the Coin Cabinet, the Collection of Prints, Drawings and Photographs and the Turkish Chamber. It also houses an art library and the management of the Dresden State Art Collections. Most of the castle was reduced to a roofless shell during the war. The Heraldic, Jewel, Silver and Bronze Rooms were all destroyed. However, the collections survived, having been moved to safety at Königstein Fortress in the early years of the war. For the first 15 years after the end of the Second World War, no attempt was made to rebuild the castle, except to install a temporary roof in 1946. Restoration began in the 1960s with the installation of new windows and has occurred rapidly since then. The castle's restoration is due to be completed in 2013
    4. The Semperoper is the opera house of the Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden (Saxon State Opera, Dresden) and the concert hall of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden (Saxon State Orchestra, Dresden). It is located near the Elbe River in the historic center of Dresden. The opera house was originally built by the architect Gottfried Semper in 1841. After a devastating fire in 1869, the opera house was rebuilt, partly again by Semper, and completed in 1878. The opera house has a long history of premieres, including major works by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss.
    5. The Zwinger (Der Dresdner Zwinger) is a palace, built in Baroque style. It served as the orangery, exhibition gallery and festival arena of the Dresden Court. The location was formerly part of the Dresden fortress of which the outer wall is conserved. The name derives from the German word Zwinger (outer ward of a concentric castle); it was for the cannons that were placed between the outer wall and the major wall. The Zwinger was not enclosed until the Neoclassical building by Gottfried Semper called the Semper Gallery was built on its northern side. Today, the Zwinger is a museum complex that contains the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery), the Dresden Porcelain Collection (Porzellansammlung), the Armory (Rüstkammer) and the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon (Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments).
      Der Dresdner Zwinger 


    Wednesday, 21 March 2012



    Debrecen (Alternative spellings used in English include Debreczen and Debrcczinis the second largest city in Hungary after Budapest. Debrecen is the regional centre of the Northern Great Plain region and the seat of Hajdú-Bihar county. The city was first mentioned by the name "Debrezun" in 1235. 

    Before Hungarians founded Hungary a number of different tribes lived in the area. The town came into existence after some of the small villages of the area (Boldogasszonyfalva, Szentlászlófalva and Debreczun) merged. It experienced rapid development after the middle of the 13th century. In 1361 Louis I of Hungary granted the citizens of Debrecen the right to choose the town's judge and council. This provided some opportunities for self-government for the town. By the early 16th century Debrecen was an important market town. King Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, as part of a treaty with Serbian ruler Stefan Lazarević, gave him the opportunity to rule Debrecen in September 1411. A year after Lazarević's death in 1426, his role was taken over by his successor, Đurađ Branković. Between 1450 and 1507, it was a domain of the Hunyadi family, a Hungarian noble family from the Middle Ages.

    Csonka Templom
    During World War II, Debrecen was almost completely destroyed, 70% of the buildings suffered damage, 50% of them were completely destroyed. A major battle involving combined arms, including several hundred tanks (Battle of Debrecen), occurred near the city in October 1944. After 1944 the reconstruction began and Debrecen became the capital of Hungary for a short time.  The citizens began to rebuild their city, trying to restore its pre-war status, but the new, Communist government of Hungary had other plans. The institutions and estates of the city were taken into public ownership, private property was taken away. This forced change of the old system brought new losses to Debrecen; half of its area was annexed to nearby towns, and the city also lost its rights over Hortobágy. In 1952 two new villages – Ebes and Nagyhegyes – were formed from former parts of Debrecen, while in 1981 the nearby village Józsa was annexed to the city. The newly built blocks of flats provided housing for those who lost their homes during the war. In the following decades Debrecen was the third largest city of Hungary (behind Budapest and Miskolc), and became the second largest in the 1990s when the population of Miskolc decreased. 

    Csokonai Theatre
    Modern day Debrecen is one of the most vivid and undiscovered cities in Hungary: this city is a unique and outstanding whirlpool of a dynamic cultural and intellectual heritage and of an effective and successful economic life. The centuries’ old traditions and the most recent technical and scientific innovations enhancing each other make Debrecen a nationally and internationally renowned city. From a number of excellent art exhibitions, folk programs to many sports and leisure events. The outstanding collections of the local museums, the historical monuments of the city or the various and imposing programs of local folk traditions enchant all visitors who wish to explore the marvels of Debrecen: choir festivals, folk festivals, carnivals, breath-taking exhibitions, fairs offer their programs and goods for the visitors. At the same time Debrecen, which is a university centre, is also a place for conferences and scientific meetings, and this serves the active and organic cooperation of the city’s economic, scientific, educational and cultural life.

                                                            Debrecen’s Top 5:
    1. The Great Reformed Church. The Protestant Great Church or Great Reformed Church  is probably the best known building in the city of Debrecen. It stands in the city centre, between Kossuth square and Calvin square. It is the symbol of the Protestant Church in Hungary, and it is because of this church that Debrecen is sometimes referred to as "the Calvinist Rome". With a ground space of 1500 m² it is the largest Protestant church in Hungary. It also has the largest bell of all Hungarian Protestant churches. The Great Church was built between 1805 and 1824 in neoclassical style.
    2. Csonka Templom (Small White Church). Built in 1600, with some additions in 1727 (a brass globe). The Hungarian name Csonka means truncated since the bastion like top of the tower, was initially meant to be a dome that kept of falling of due to winds.
    3. Saint Anne’s Catholic Cathedral.  was built between 1721 and 1746. In the niches next to the doors on the left we can see the statue of Saint Stephen, while on the right his son Prince Saint Imre. The main altar-piece represents the patron saint of the church Saint Anne teaching Maria, while the oldest altarpiece represents the founder of the Piarist order, Saint Joseph Calasanzi. The carvings and statues of the altars are from the 18th century. The wall paintings on the ceiling and underneath the windows show frescos and stucco ornaments representing saints of the Árpád dynasty.
    4. Csokonai Theatre.   An outstanding piece of Romantic architecture, built in 1865. The building adorned with statues recalls the great figures of universal and Hungarian theatrical life, and is one of the centres of the cultural life of the city to this day. Its façade is decorated by the statues of Melpomene and Terpsichore, the muses of tragedy and dance, alongside statues of six famous Hungarian poets who were connected to the theatre. Above the proscenium arch is a painting by Debrecen artist Károly Telepy (1828-1906) commemorating the prominent actors of the early days of Hungarian theatre who also performed in Debrecen.  By the early 20th century, following the addition of new boxes, it seated 600 people. The theatre has housed an opera company since 1952.
    5. Déri Museum.  One of the richest cultural historical collections in Hungary can be found in the neo-baroque building of the Déri Museum. The greatest attraction of the fine art collection is Mihály Munkácsy's Christ Trilogy. The three grandiose paintings are called Christ before Pilate, Calvary and Ecce Homo. In front of the building of the Déri Museum the four world-famous statues of Ferenc Medgyessy can be seen, which were granted the Grand Prize of the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937. Permanent exhibitions include The history of Debrecen from the 13th century until the Reform Era, The art of Mihály Munkácsy, the Déri-collections, Birds of Our Region and the World of Minerals.
      Déri Museum