City of Ur in Iraq

20 July 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  11 minutes

Ziggurat of Ur © Kaufingdude/cc-by-sa-3.0

Ziggurat of Ur © Kaufingdude/cc-by-sa-3.0

Ur was an important Sumerian city-state in ancient Mesopotamia, located at the site of modern “Tell el-Muqayyar” in south Iraq‘s Dhi Qar Governorate. Although Ur was once a coastal city near the mouth of the Euphrates on the Persian Gulf, the coastline has shifted and the city is now well inland, on the south bank of the Euphrates, 16 kilometres (9.9 miles) from Nasiriyah in modern-day Iraq. The city dates from the Ubaid period circa 3800 BC, and is recorded in written history as a city-state from the 26th century BC, its first recorded king being Mesannepada.   read more…

Alhambra in Granada

6 April 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Architecture, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  10 minutes

© panoramio.com - Sergey Ashmarin/cc-by-sa-3.0

© panoramio.com – Sergey Ashmarin/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Alhambra (lit. ‘The Red One’) is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It is one of the most famous monuments of Islamic architecture and one of the best-preserved palaces of the historic Islamic world, in addition to containing notable examples of Spanish Renaissance architecture.   read more…

East Turkestan or Xinjiang and the Uyghurs in China

11 March 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  25 minutes

Xinjiang Internment Camps map © US  National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Xinjiang Internment Camps map © US National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Xinjiang, officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (East Turkestan) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), located in the northwest of the country close to Central Asia. Being the largest province-level division of China and the 8th-largest country subdivision in the world, Xinjiang spans over 1.6 million square kilometres (620,000 sq mi) and has about 25 million inhabitants. Xinjiang borders the countries of Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The rugged Karakoram, Kunlun and Tian Shan mountain ranges occupy much of Xinjiang’s borders, as well as its western and southern regions. The Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract regions, both administered by China, are claimed by India. Xinjiang also borders the Tibet Autonomous Region and the provinces of Gansu and Qinghai. The most well-known route of the historic Silk Road ran through the territory from the east to its northwestern border. It is home to a number of ethnic groups, including the Turkic Uyghur, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, the Han, Tibetans, Hui, Chinese Tajiks (Pamiris), Mongols, Russians and Sibe. There are more than a dozen autonomous prefectures and counties for minorities in Xinjiang. Older English-language reference works often refer to the area as Chinese Turkestan, East Turkestan and East Turkistan. Xinjiang is divided into the Dzungarian Basin in the north and the Tarim Basin in the south by a mountain range, and only about 9.7% of Xinjiang’s land area is fit for human habitation. Capital und largest city by far is Ürümqi.   read more…

Saint-Denis in Île-de-France

29 December 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Paris / Île-de-France Reading Time:  12 minutes

Town hall © Chabe01/cc-by-sa-4.0

Town hall © Chabe01/cc-by-sa-4.0

Saint-Denis is a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located 9.4 km (5.8 mi) from the centre of Paris. Saint-Denis, which has a population of 112,000, is a subprefecture of the department of Seine-Saint-Denis, being the seat of the arrondissement of Saint-Denis. It is home to France’s national football and rugby stadium, the Stade de France, built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Saint-Denis is a formerly industrial suburb currently changing its economic base. Inhabitants of Saint-Denis are called Dionysiens.   read more…

Haram esh-Sharif or Temple Mount in East Jerusalem

3 September 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  10 minutes

© Andrew Shiva/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Andrew Shiva/cc-by-sa-4.0

Known to Muslims as the Haram esh-Sharif (“the Noble Sanctuary”, or “the Noble Sanctuary of Jerusalem”) and the Al Aqsa Compound, and to Jews as Temple Mount (“Mount of the House [of God, i.e. the Temple in Jerusalem]”), is a hill in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Old City of Jerusalem that for thousands of years has been venerated as a holy site in Christianity, Islam and Islam, and Judaism alike.   read more…

Portrait: Saladin, the most famous Kurd in history

26 May 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  14 minutes

Portrait of Saladin © The Trustees of the British Museum/cc-by-nc-sa-4.0

Portrait of Saladin © The Trustees of the British Museum/cc-by-nc-sa-4.0

Al-Nasir Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, better known simply as alah ad-Din or Saladin, was a Sunni Muslim Kurd and the first sultan of Egypt and Syria and founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Saladin led the Muslim military campaign against the Crusader states in the Levant. At the height of his power, his sultanate spanned Egypt, Syria, the Jazira (Upper Mesopotamia), the Hejaz (western Arabia), Yemen, parts of western North Africa, and Nubia.   read more…

Theme Week Brunei

24 May 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks Reading Time:  12 minutes

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque © flickr.com - sam garza/cc-by-2.0

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque © flickr.com – sam garza/cc-by-2.0

Brunei, officially the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace, is a country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Apart from its coastline with the South China Sea, the country is completely surrounded by the Malaysian state of Sarawak. It is separated into two parts by the Sarawak district of Limbang. Brunei is the only sovereign state completely on the island of Borneo; the remainder of the island’s territory is divided between the nations of Malaysia and Indonesia. Brunei’s population was 428,963 in 2018. The government is an absolute monarchy under the sovereign rule of Sultan and Yang di-Pertuan, which implements a combination of English common law and sharia law, as well as direct general Islamic practices. The population is at 460,000.   read more…

Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

16 September 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  8 minutes

© BenSlivka/cc-by-sa-4.0

© BenSlivka/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Hassan II Mosque (Grande Mosquée Hassan II) is a mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. It is the largest functioning mosque in Africa and is the 7th largest in the world. Its minaret is the world’s second tallest minaret at 210 metres (689 ft). Completed in 1993, it was designed by Michel Pinseau under the guidance of King Hassan II and built by Moroccan artisans from all over the kingdom. The minaret is 60 stories high topped by a laser, the light from which is directed towards Mecca. The mosque stands on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic Ocean; worshippers can pray over the sea but there is no glass floor looking into the sea. The walls are of hand-crafted marble and the roof is retractable. A maximum of 105,000 worshippers can gather together for prayer: 25,000 inside the mosque hall and another 80,000 on the mosque’s outside ground.   read more…

Kutubiyya Mosque in Marrakesh

12 August 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  9 minutes

© Baca12/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Baca12/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Kutubiyya Mosque or Koutoubia Mosque is the largest mosque in Marrakesh in Morocco. The mosque’s name is also variably rendered as Jami’ al-Kutubiyah, Kutubiya Mosque, Kutubiyyin Mosque, and Mosque of the Booksellers. It is located in the southwest medina quarter of Marrakesh, near the famous public place of Jemaa el-Fna, and is flanked by large gardens. All the names and spellings of Kutubiyya Mosque are based on the Arabic word kutubiyyin, which means “booksellers”. The Koutoubia Mosque, or Bookseller’s Mosque, reflects the honorable bookselling trade practiced in the nearby souk. At one time as many as 100 book vendors worked in the streets at the base of the mosque.   read more…

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