Theme Week Auvergne – Le Puy-en-Velay

29 July 2023 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  8 minutes

Chapel Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe © W. Bulach/cc-by-sa-4.0

Chapel Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe © W. Bulach/cc-by-sa-4.0

Le Puy-en-Velay (literally Le Puy in Velay; Occitan: Lo Puèi de Velai) is the prefecture of the Haute-Loire department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of south-central France. Located near the river Loire, the city is famous for its cathedral, for a kind of lentil, for its lace-making, as well as for being the origin of the Chemin du Puy, one of the principal origin points of the pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela in France. In 2017, the commune had a population of 18,995.   read more…

Theme Week County Mayo – Knock

27 December 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  8 minutes

The Apparition Chapel © KnockShrine/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Apparition Chapel © KnockShrine/cc-by-sa-4.0

Knock is a large village in County Mayo, Ireland. Its notability is derived from the Knock Shrine, a Catholic shrine and place of pilgrimage where, according to Catholic beliefs, that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist may have appeared on 21 August 1879. There is much international skepticism on this event due to the age of the witnesses and lack of evidence supporting the event. In the 20th century, Knock became one of Europe’s major Catholic Marian shrines, alongside Lourdes and Fátima. It was one of the focusses of Irish peace pilgrimage during the Second World War, when the Catholic Irish prayed for peace and to prevent the spread of war to the island. One and a half million pilgrims visit Knock Shrine annually. Pope John Paul II, a supporter of devotion to the Virgin Mary, visited Knock in 1979 to commemorate the centenary of the apparition. Knock is also a civil parish in the ancient barony of Costello. On 26 August 2018 Pope Francis visited the shrine at Knock as part of a visit to Ireland for the 9th World Meeting of Families.   read more…

Paulus-Haus in East Jerusalem

7 December 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  9 minutes

© DVHL-PR1/cc-by-sa-4.0

© DVHL-PR1/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Paulus-Haus is a pilgrim hospice in Jerusalem under the care of the German Association of the Holy Land. It is situated on the Nablus Road in East Jerusalem, directly opposite the Damascus Gate of the Old City. The monumental architecture is reminiscent of the crusader castles. The Schmidt’s Girls College is a German international school for Christian and Muslim girls. It was founded in 1885 and provides primary and secondary education to approximately 500 pupils.   read more…

Theme Week Lithuania – Šiauliai

23 June 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  13 minutes

Hill of Crosses © Diego Delso/cc-by-sa-3.0

Hill of Crosses © Diego Delso/cc-by-sa-3.0

Šiauliai is the fourth largest city in Lithuania, with a population of 99,462. From 1994 to 2010 it was the capital of Šiauliai County. Šiauliai located in eastern part of the northern plateau, Mūša, Dubysa and Venta River divide. Distance of 210 kilometres (130 miles) to Vilnius, Kaunas – 142 km (88 mi), Klaipėda – 161 km (100 mi), Riga – 128 km (80 mi), Kaliningrad – 250 km (155 mi).   read more…

Holy Land

24 December 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  9 minutes

Star of Bethlehem in the Church of Nativity © Dirk D./cc-by-sa-3.0

Star of Bethlehem in the nativity grotto of the Church of Nativity in Betlehem © Dirk D./cc-by-sa-3.0

The Holy Land is an area roughly located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Eastern Bank of the Jordan River. Traditionally, it is synonymous both with the biblical Land of Israel and with the region of Palestine. The term “Holy Land” usually refers to a territory roughly corresponding to the modern State of Israel, the State of Palestine, western Jordan, and parts of southern Lebanon and southwestern Syria. Jews, Christians, and Muslims regard it as holy. Part of the significance of the land stems from the religious significance of Jerusalem, and the location of the First and Second Temples), as the historical region of Jesus’ ministry, and as the site of the first Qibla of Islam, as well as the site of the Isra and Mi’raj event of c. 621 CE in Islam.   read more…

Rishikesh in India

10 December 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  9 minutes

The legendary Beatles Ashram © Chris Dyer Peru/cc-by-sa-4.0

The legendary Beatles Ashram © Chris Dyer Peru/cc-by-sa-4.0

Rishikesh, also spelt as Hrishikesh, is a city governed by Rishikesh Municipal Corporation (since October 2017), and a tehsil in Dehradun district of the Indian state Uttarakhand. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, it is known as the “Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas” and “Yoga Capital of the World”. It lies 21 km (13 mi) north of the city Haridwar and 45 km (28 mi) southeast of the state capital Dehradun. As of 2021, Rishikesh tehsil has a total population of 322,825; this figure includes 93 surrounding villages as well as the city. It is the seventh most populated city in the state of Uttarakhand. It is known as the pilgrimage town and regarded as one of the holiest places for Hindus. Hindu sages and saints have visited Rishikesh since ancient times to meditate in search of higher knowledge. In September 2015, the Union tourism minister Mahesh Sharma announced that Rishikesh and Haridwar will be the first in India to be given the title of “twin national heritage cities”. Due to the religious significance of the place, non-vegetarian food and alcohol are strictly prohibited in Rishikesh. The city has hosted the annual International Yoga Festival on the first week of March since 1989.   read more…

The Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela

1 December 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, House of the Month, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  7 minutes

Bete Giyorgis © Bernard Gagnon/cc-by-sa-3.0

Bete Giyorgis © Bernard Gagnon/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela are monolithic churches located in the Western Ethiopian Highlands near the town of Lalibela, named after the late-12th and early-13th century King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela of the Zagwe Dynasty, who commissioned the massive building project of 11 rock-hewn churches to recreate the holy city of Jerusalem in his own kingdom. The site remains in use by the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church to this day, and it remains an important place of pilgrimage for Ethiopian Orthodox worshipers. It took 24 years to build all the eleven rock hewn churches. The site of the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela was first included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978.   read more…

Capernaum on Sea of Galilee, the town of Jesus

2 August 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  6 minutes

Catholic church, built over the house of Saint Peter © Herwig Reidlinger/cc-by-sa-3.0

Catholic church, built over the house of Saint Peter © Herwig Reidlinger/cc-by-sa-3.0

Capernaum was a fishing village established during the time of the Hasmoneans, located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It had a population of about 1,500. Archaeological excavations have revealed two ancient synagogues built one over the other. A house turned into a church by the Byzantines is believed to have been the home of Saint Peter. The real “House of Peter” is, of course, the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, built over the tomb of Saint Peter.   read more…

Antakya in Turkey

9 July 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  9 minutes

© - maarten sepp2011/cc-by-sa-2.0

© – maarten sepp2011/cc-by-sa-2.0

Antakya, historically known as Antioch, is the capital of Hatay Province, the southernmost province of Turkey. The city is located in a well-watered and fertile valley on the Orontes River, about 20 kilometers (12 mi) from the Levantine Sea. The cuisine of Antakya is renowned. Its cuisine is considered levantine rather than Turkish. The cuisine offers plenty of meals, where beef and lambs are mainly used. Popular dishes include the typical Turkish kebab, served with spices and onions in flat unleavened bread, with yoghurt as ali nazik kebab, oruk, kaytaz böreği and katıklı ekmek . Hot spicy food is a feature of this part of Turkey, along with Turkish coffee and local specialities.   read more…

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