Tag Archives: church

churches into mosques

Aya Sofia is the most obvious example, but there are a few less famous ones around Istanbul: the Turks came, took the churches and converted them into mosques. One that still is a mosque is the small ex-church that was … Continue reading

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surpassing Solomon

“Solomon, I have surpassed you”; that is what the 6th century Byzantine emperor Justinian is supposed to have said when he first entered the church he had commissioned, Aya Sofia, the shrine of the Holy Wisdom. In this mosaic he, … Continue reading

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the man who invented Europe

On Sunday afternoon, Aachen is a quietly typical German bourgeois town, with a brass band playing in the Cathedral square and teenagers wearing t-shirts emblazoned with legends like NEW YORK FUCKING CITY. It has hot springs, which, along with its … Continue reading

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east

On Saturday night, Lublin is rocking – more even than Krakow. The old town – a few cobbled streets and a medieval square – is jammed with people partying out loud in sweltering heat. A punk band blasts cacophony from … Continue reading

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Kraków

Kraków is a fine, bustling city with bags of self-confidence and plenty to be proud about. Here are the tombs of the Polish kings – something like the tombs of the Kings of Gondor in the Lord of the Rings. … Continue reading

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lagerland

Plzeň is ground zero of the global lager explosion – it was invented here in the 1830s (ever wondered what the Ur in Pilsner Urquell stood for?) So much to answer for… There’s a museum dedicated to General George S. … Continue reading

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Prague: beaten track

what is it with Prague? On paper it ought to be the most attractive big city in Central Europe, out-beautifying Budapest and even Vienna. If those three cities had been goddesses and Paris only cast his eyes above two metres … Continue reading

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Dresden: twice risen

Sad though it may seem, Dresden’s greatest claim to fame these days is probably that it was bombed pretty much out of existence by the RAF on the night of February 13th 1945: There are lots of modern buildings interspersed … Continue reading

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Byzantium by bus

And so, 30 years after I first conceived the ambition while turning right at Thessaloniki, I came not sailing but on a highway bus (aware, always, of the tyre-tracks of history) to Istanbul-Constantinople-Byzantium. The rain had cleared and we descended … Continue reading

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old religion, new year

now the rain came pouring down; it was cold, my shoe was letting in water, and I had no place to stay. Regretting that I hadn’t taken the ferry back to the world, I sheltered in the doorway of one … Continue reading

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