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

© flickr.com - maarten sepp2011/cc-by-sa-2.0

© flickr.com – 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…

Mount of Beatitudes on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee

12 April 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  4 minutes

Church of the Beatitudes © Berthold Werner

Church of the Beatitudes © Berthold Werner

The Mount of Beatitudes is a hill in the Northern District of Israel, in the Korazim Plateau. It is where Jesus is believed to have delivered the Sermon on the Mount which started with the Beatitudes. Pope John Paul II celebrated a Mass at this site in March 2000. The Jesus Trail pilgrimage route connects the Mount to other sites from the life of Jesus.   read more…

Church of the Holy Sepulchre in East Jerusalem

2 April 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  16 minutes

Calvary/Golgotha © Gerd Eichmann/cc-by-sa-4.0

Calvary/Golgotha © Gerd Eichmann/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a church in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of East Jerusalem. It contains, according to traditions dating back to the fourth century, the two holiest sites in Christianity: the site where Jesus was crucified, at a place known as Calvary or Golgotha, and Jesus’s empty tomb, where he was buried and resurrected. The tomb is enclosed by a 19th-century shrine called the Aedicula. The Status Quo, an understanding between religious communities dating to 1757, applies to the site. Within the church proper are the last four (or, by some definitions, five) stations of the Via Dolorosa, representing the final episodes of the Passion of Jesus. The church has been a major Christian pilgrimage destination since its creation in the fourth century, as the traditional site of the resurrection of Christ, thus its original Greek name, Church of the Anastasis (‘Resurrection’). Today, the wider complex around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre also serves as the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, while control of the church itself is shared among several Christian denominations and secular entities in complicated arrangements essentially unchanged for over 160 years, and some for much longer. The main denominations sharing property over parts of the church are the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian Apostolic, and to a lesser degree the Coptic Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox.   read more…

Galtür in Tyrol

25 March 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  10 minutes

Panoramic overview of the beginners ski slope at Galtür-Wirl © panoramio.com - Henk Monster/cc-by-3.0

Panoramic overview of the beginners ski slope at Galtür-Wirl © panoramio.com – Henk Monster/cc-by-3.0

Galtür is a village and ski resort in the upper Paznaun valley in Austrian state of Tyrol located in the Central Eastern Alps 35 km southwest of Landeck near the border of Vorarlberg and Switzerland. Galtür was settled by the Engadinern from the south, the Walsern and Vorarlbergern from the west, and Tyroleans from the east. Today the cultivation work of the Engadiner is remembered in the name Galtür, meaning Cultura. During the Thirty Years’ War, Galtür was badly damaged. The church and many houses were burned down.   read more…

Fátima in Portugal

22 March 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  7 minutes

© Reis Quarteu/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Reis Quarteu/cc-by-sa-4.0

Fátima is a city in the municipality of Ourém, in the Central Region and Médio Tejo intermunicipal community of Portugal, with 71.29 km² of area and 11,788 inhabitants (2011). Its population density is 162.7 inhabitants/km². The homonymous civil parish encompasses several villages and localities of which the city of Fátima, with a population of 7,756 residents, is the largest.   read more…

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