While southern England gets most of the glory — and the tourists — the country’s far northeastern corner harbors some of the best historical sites. Hadrian’s Wall serves as a reminder that this was once an important Roman colony, while nearby Holy Island is where Christianity gained its first toehold in Britain. And both can be reached from the town of Durham, home to England’s greatest Norman church.
For years I’ve visited Hadrian’s Wall, the remains of the fortification the Romans built nearly 2,000 years ago to mark the northern end of their empire, where Britannia stopped and where the barbarian land that would someday be Scotland began. But until last summer, I never ventured beyond the National Trust properties, the museums, and the various car-park viewpoints.
Read more of the story at From Hadrian’s Wall to Holy Island to Durham, England’s past comes alive – chicagotribune.com.
Story by Rick Steeves – Chicago Tribune; Photo by Bill Gats – Wikimedia
Turkey has some of the best preserved ancient sites in the world, Annabel Simms of The Telegraph writes about the top locations.
Here, Britannia is shown as a bare-breasted barbarian woman (Boadicea?) lying at the feet of an immensely idealised and youthful Emperor Claudius. This is just one among the many other savage tribes in a series of sculptured reliefs dating from around AD80 showing the size and reach of the Pax Romana – and the extent to which the local Greek dignitaries had bought into Roman values.
Another group of symbolic statues, one covered by the billowing cloak of night, rams home the message: this is the empire on which the sun never sets.
Read More at Turkey’s best ancient sites – Telegraph
Even though Corsica has been ruled by the Greeks, Etruscans, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Saracens and Genoese through ancient times until they ended up in the hands of the French, the island known as the “mountain in the sea” still remains untouched and picturesque. Arnie Wilson of the Daily Mail details his travels to the beautiful Mediterranean island of Corsica.
If Napoleon had had any sense he would never have left Ajaccio. It would have saved him – and much of Europe – a great deal of trouble. Old Boney was lucky enough to have been born on Corsica, one of the world’s most beautiful islands, described as a ‘mountain in the sea’.
But ambition took him from his sandy shores, vineyards, Clementine orchards and almond, chestnut and olive groves. And the rest really is history. Even his arch foe Nelson is irrevocably linked with Corsica.
The heroic British admiral famously lost the sight of his right eye at the siege of Calvi in 1794. And Christopher Columbus, it turns out, may have been born in Calvi, where today the 2nd Foreign Legion Parachute Regiment is based in the city’s spectacular Genoese citadel.
We tried to reach Calvi in Corsica’s north-western Balagne region – so fertile it’s sometimes known as ‘the garden of Corsica’ – by train. But the once-a-day Trinicellu (‘Little Train’) narrow-gauge railway, nicknamed the TGV (train à grande vibration), that runs along the coast between Calvi and Bastia via Ponte Leccia was disabled by a strike. So we drove the 22 miles from our base at L’Ile Rousse instead.
Read More at Corsica holidays: La dolce vita on the French island basking in Italian sun | Mail Online.
Photo by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT
Formed by the Rhine Valley, Liechtenstein’s Unterland, which means lower country, is at the foot of the Drei Schwestern Mountain running along the slopes of the Eschnerberg ridge and framed by the scenic expanse of the Rhine Valley.
This picturesque region of rolling wooded hills and stunning meadows is more than just a rambler’s jaunt. It is also home to the Eschnerberg Historical Trail – a paradise for lovers of history. An extensive network of footpaths in the area will take you along a stretch of villages boasting of rich history and culture. In fact, some of them dating back to the New Stone Age and features various archaeological finds that will make any history buff’s day. In addition, you will be guided by about 45 sign posts explaining the historical significance of the areas you discover and explore along the way.
Schellenberg is the best place to start exploring the Eschnerberg Historical Trail. This small village is said to have already been settled at the dawn of the New Stone Age and that alone is mind blowing. The hamlet is dominated by the Obere Burg Schellenberg, one of the two castles built here during the Middle Ages. Discover the ruins of the 13th century castle and enjoy the spectacular views it provides before you head out to explore other historical settlements further along the trail.
Hike downhill and you will find at the foot of the Eschnerberg the village of Mauren – the gateway to Austria. But you are not visiting to cross the border here but rather, you are there to explore various historical artifacts such as the ruins of Roman baths and other archaeological finds. Be sure to visit the impressive church that dates to 1787 while you are here. You can then cross the expanse of scenic woodlands and meadows that will bring you to the village of Schaanwald. However, avid bird-watchers may find themselves happily occupied in the woodlands – a protected bird sanctuary – viewing the different species of birds they will discover along the wooded nature trail.
Move downstream along the Rhine and you will encounter the wonderful villages of Gamprin and Bendern. The hamlets history is also traced back to the New Stone Age and there is much to do in the area. One of the highlights is the ancient Bendern Church that dates back to 809 AD and still stands impressively to this day.
Not far away from the church you can enjoy the ruins of a much smaller 55 AD church as well as the one of a kind Mariengrotte shrine. It is also interesting to note that Gamprin is a very significant historical site in the country’s history as this is where the first oath of allegiance to the Prince of Liechtenstein was made back in the day. In addition to its historical offerings, the area’s breathtaking landscape is also a feast for the eyes. Hit the nearby campground where you can soak up the sights and rest your weary limbs for a while.
Finally, the Eschnerberg Historical Trail will also lead you to the villages of Eschen and Nendeln where you can find ruins of prehistoric settlements and what remains of a Roman villa. Other structures worth exploring include the Pfrundhaus, the Holy Cross Chapel and the small churches of St. Sebastian and Rochus.
If you are still up for more hikes, you can continue rambling along the Eschnerberg trail and it will take you along scenic mountain tracks and reward your effort with the splendid views along the way.
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Sparkling new cathedrals blending in with fine 19th-century architecture, a thriving cultural scene, and the proximity of the taiga make the city of Khabarovsk, on the banks of the great Amur River, one of the most beautiful in Russia. There is no hint of Asia, however, in this city of 620,000, the last major stop on the Siberian railroad before Vladivostok. Although only 30 kilometers separate Khabarovsk from China, the city shares more in common with the Baltic coast, some 8,000 kilometers away.
Founded in 1858, everything from its broad tree-lined avenues, pre-Soviet-era buildings, trams, quaint cafes, squares with fountains and a buzzing riverside, is reminiscent of Europe. Khabarovsk has a laid-back Mediterranean feel in the summer, with sun-bathers thronging to the riverside beaches to work on their tans. While summers are even hotter and more humid than those in Mumbai, temperatures plunge sharply in the winters and average around minus 30 degrees Celsius. In those days, it is possible to take long walks on the frozen Amur.
Story by Ajay Kamalakaran – Russia Beyond the Headlines; Photo by Em and Ernie