Ankara, the beginning of modern Turkey

April 19th, 2014 | General | No Comments »

Turkish Parliament Building © T.C. Büyük Millet Meclisi

Turkish Parliament Building © T.C. Büyük Millet Meclisi

Ankara (historically known with the names Ancyra and Angora) is the capital of Turkey since the Ottoman Empire‘s fall in 1923 and the country’s second largest city, Istanbul being the largest. The city of Ankara has a population of 4,340,000 and its metropolitan municipality 4,960,000.

Centrally located in Anatolia, Ankara is an important commercial and industrial city. It is the center of the Turkish Government, and houses all foreign embassies. It is an important crossroads of trade, strategically located at the centre of Turkey’s highway and railway networks, and serves as the marketing centre for the surrounding agricultural area. The city was famous for its long-haired Angora goat and its prized wool (mohair), a unique breed of cat (Angora cat), Angora rabbits and their prized wool (Angora wool), pears, honey, and the region’s muscat grapes.

The historical center of Ankara is situated upon a rocky hill, which rises 150 m (492 ft) above the plain on the left bank of the Ankara Çayı, a tributary of the Sakarya (Sangarius) river. The city is located about 450 km (280 mi) to the southeast of Istanbul. Although situated in one of the driest places of Turkey and surrounded mostly by steppe vegetation except for the forested areas on the southern periphery, Ankara can be considered a green city in terms of green areas per inhabitant, which is 72 m2 per head.

Ankara is a very old city with various Hittite, Phrygian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman archaeological sites. The hill which overlooks the city is crowned by the ruins of the old castle, which adds to the picturesqueness of the view, but only a few historic structures surrounding the old citadel have survived to the present day. There are, however, many well-preserved remains of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine architecture, the most remarkable being the Temple of Augustus and Rome (20 BC) which is also known as the Monumentum Ancyranum.

Read more on City of Ankara, Ankara Esenboğa International Airport, Wikivoyage Ankara and Wikipedia Ankara. Photos by Wikimedia Commons.

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Schwanenwerder in the Havel river

April 16th, 2014 | General | No Comments »

Boatshouse © Times/cc-by-sa-3.0

Boatshouse © Times/cc-by-sa-3.0

Schwanenwerder (English: “swan ait”) is an island in the Havel river in Berlin. It is in the locality of Nikolassee in the borough of Steglitz-Zehlendorf, and is located in a wider stretch of the river, close to the eastern shore. On the opposite side, on the western bank, lies Kladow, to the south, the Wannsee. Schwanenwerder is an expensive residential area, despite a summer camp for children being located on the island.

Schwanenwerder was originally known as Sandwerder (“sand ait”) or Cladower Sandwerder. In the 19th century, it was a deserted place, overgrown with shrubs and a few trees. In 1882, the island was bought by Wilhelm Wessel, a wealthy industrialist. He ordered extensive landscaping, subdivided the area and offered the lots for sale. The intention was for wealthy buyers like himself to build cottages with access to the river. He himself had a mansion, called Swan Court, erected in the center of the isle. Its continued existence makes it the oldest building on the island. For convenient access, a small bridge was built. It remains the only way onto the island.

In 1896, a charter was drafted that banned inhabitants from setting up disturbing venues like factories and shops. Even a pier for river steamers was inhibited. In 1901, Emperor Wilhelm II granted the official use of “Schwanenwerder”, a more illustrious name than the old “sand ait”. Schwanenwerder was the most expensive street in the interwar German version of Monopoly.

In the second half of the 20th century, old houses were torn down to be replaced with new private buildings. A ringroad circles the island. A column of the Tuileries in Paris was bought by Wessel and placed on Schwanenwerder as part of a mock ruin, typical of the spirit of Romanticism in late 19th-century Germany. It is still on the island and protected as a historic monument.

Read more on – The island of Schwanenwerder (PDF file) and Wikipedia Schwanenwerder. Photos by Wikimedia Commons.

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The Eden Project in Cornwall

April 12th, 2014 | General | No Comments »

Eden Project gardens and Humid Tropical Biome © - David Dixon/cc-by-sa-2.0

Eden Project gardens and Humid Tropical Biome © – David Dixon/cc-by-sa-2.0

The Eden Project is a visitor attraction in Cornwall. Inside the artificial biomes are plants that are collected from all around the world. The project is located in a reclaimed Kaolinite pit, located 1.25 mi (2 kilometres) from the town of St Blazey and 5 kilometres (3 mi) from the larger town of St Austell.

The complex is dominated by two huge enclosures consisting of adjoining domes that house thousands of plant species, and each enclosure emulates a natural biome. The domes consist of hundreds of hexagonal and pentagonal, inflated, plastic cells supported by steel frames. The first dome emulates a tropical environment, and the second a Mediterranean environment.

The project was conceived by Tim Smit and designed by architect Nicholas Grimshaw and engineering firm Anthony Hunt and Associates. Davis Langdon carried out the project management, Sir Robert McAlpine and Alfred McAlpine did the construction. Land use consultants led the masterplan and landscape design. The project took 2½ years to construct and opened to the public on 17 March 2001.

Once into the attraction, there is a meandering path with views of the two biomes, planted landscapes, including vegetable gardens, and sculptures that include a giant bee and towering robot created from old electrical appliances.

Read more on Eden Project, – Eden Project and Wikipedia Eden Project. Photos by Wikimedia Commons.

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