Tripoli in Lebanon

15 July 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage

Tripoli Souk © Bertramz/cc-by-sa-3.0

Tripoli Souk © Bertramz/cc-by-sa-3.0

Tripoli is the largest city in northern Lebanon and the second-largest city in the country. Situated 85 kilometers (53 miles) north of the capital Beirut, it is the capital of the North Governorate and the Tripoli District. Tripoli overlooks the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and it is the northernmost seaport in Lebanon. It holds a string of four small islands offshore, and they are also the only islands in Lebanon. The Palm Islands were declared a protected area because of their status of haven for endangered loggerhead turtles, rare monk seals and migratory birds.   read more…

Étang de Thau in Southern France

1 February 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Barrou Neighbourhood and the Étang de Thau with its Oster farms seen from Sète © Christian Ferrer/cc-by-sa-3.0

Barrou Neighbourhood and the Étang de Thau with its Oster farms seen from Sète © Christian Ferrer/cc-by-sa-3.0

Étang de Thau or Bassin de Thau is the largest of a string of lagoons (étangs) that stretch along the French coast from the Rhône River to the foothills of the Pyrenees and the border to Spain in the Languedoc-Roussillon. Although it has a high salinity, it is considered the second largest lake in France. Located between the towns of Sète and Marseillan in the Hérault département, the Étang de Thau is shared administratively by the communes of (running clockwise): Balaruc-le-Vieux, Balaruc-les-Bains, Frontignan, Sète, Marseillan, Mèze, Loupian and Bouzigues. The Bassin de Thau provides a habitat for a variety of wild animals, notably birds such as herons and pink flamingos and a rich marine fauna, including bivalves (oysters and mussels), jellyfish, fish, and algae. Periodically in the spring and summer, the Thau Lagoon has algae blooms of Alexandrium catenella which sometimes reach such high levels that it results in contamination of the lagoon’s bivalves with algae toxins.   read more…

Union for the Mediterranean: Bon voyage!

12 January 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean

Union for the Mediterranean © AndrewRT/cc-by-sa-3.0

Union for the Mediterranean © AndrewRT/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is an intergovernmental organization of 43 countries from Europe and the Mediterranean Basin: the 28 member states of the European Union and 15 Mediterranean partner countries from North Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Europe. It was created in July 2008 at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, with a view to reinforcing the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed) that was set up in 1995 and known as the Barcelona Process. The Union has the aim of promoting stability and prosperity throughout the Mediterranean region. It is a forum for discussing regional strategic issues, based on the principles of shared ownership, shared decision-making and shared responsibility between the two shores of the Mediterranean. Its main goal is to increase both North-South and South-South integration in the Mediterranean region, in order to support the countries’ socioeconomic development and ensure stability in the region. The actions of the organization fall under three, interrelated priorities—regional human development, regional integration and regional stability. To this end, it identifies and supports regional projects and initiatives of different sizes, to which it gives its label, following a consensual decision among the forty-three countries. The region has 756 million inhabitants and is scenic, architecturally and culturally very diverse. Cities, lakes, mountains, beaches and national parks offer everything that promises fun, recreation and perfect vacations. The cultural offers are numerous. In addition to many UNESCO World Heritage sites, there are numerous galleries, museums, theaters and opera houses. Of course, there are plenty of shopping and entertainment possibilities. However, holiday pleasure is not untroubled in all countries. At present, Syria and Libya in general, Mauritania (Sahara and Sahel) and Lebanon (North Lebanon and the border regions to Syria and Israel), Palestine (Gaza Strip) should be partly avoided. In all other countries of the Levant and North Africa, increased caution, vigilance and prudence are recommended. At the end of each country portrait is a link to the U.S. Department of State, in order to be able to find out about the current security situation on the ground.   read more…

Augusta on Sicily

30 March 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Baia Arcile © Angelo Pappalardo/cc-by-sa-3.0

Baia Arcile © Angelo Pappalardo/cc-by-sa-3.0

Augusta is a town and comune in the province of Syracuse, located on the eastern coast of Sicily. The city is one of the main harbours in Italy, especially for oil refineries (ExxonMobil and others as part of the complex Augusta-Priolo) which are in its vicinity. The city is situated 35 km north of Syracuse and faces the Ionian Sea.   read more…

Costa Brava in Spain

19 February 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Palafrugell © Patronat de Turisme Costa Brava Pirineu de Girona/cc-by-sa-3.0

Palafrugell © Patronat de Turisme Costa Brava Pirineu de Girona/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Costa Brava (“Wild Coast” or “Rough Coast”) is a coastal region of Catalonia in northeastern Spain, consisting of the comarques (counties) of Alt Empordà, Baix Empordà and Selva in the province of Girona. Costa Brava stretches from the town of Blanes, 60 km (37 mi) northeast of Barcelona, to the French border. In the 1950s, the Costa Brava was identified by the Spanish government and local entrepreneurs as being suitable for substantial development as a holiday destination, mainly for package holiday tourists from France and Northern Europe. The combination of a very good summer climate, nature, excellent beaches and a favourable foreign exchange rate, which made Costa Brava a relatively inexpensive tourist destination, was exploited by the construction of large numbers of hotels and apartments in such seaside resorts as Blanes, Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar. Tourism rapidly took over from fishing as the principal business of the area. Between beaches and hidden coves surrounded by vegetation, are 199 locations in the coastal regions of Costa Brava.   read more…

Alanya on the Turkish Riviera

26 January 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

© kallerna/cc-by-sa-3.0

© kallerna/cc-by-sa-3.0

Alanya, formerly Alaiye, is a beach resort city and a component district of Antalya Province on the southern coast of Turkey, on the Turkish Riviera, 138 kilometres (86 mi) east of the city of Antalya. Because of its natural strategic position on a small peninsula into the Mediterranean Sea below the Taurus Mountains, Alanya has been a local stronghold for many Mediterranean-based empires, including the Ptolemaic, Seleucid, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires. Alanya’s greatest political importance came in the Middle Ages, with the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm under the rule of Alaeddin Kayqubad I, from whom the city derives its name. His building campaign resulted in many of the city’s landmarks, such as the Kızıl Kule (Red Tower), Tersane (Shipyard), and Alanya Castle.   read more…

The Nice Côte d’Azur Opera House

29 December 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Opera Houses, Theaters, Libraries

© flickr.com - debs-eye/cc-by-2.0

© flickr.com – debs-eye/cc-by-2.0

The Opéra de Nice is the principal opera venue in Nice on the French Riviera. It offers three types of performances: operas, ballets and classical concerts ; and houses the Ballet Nice Méditerranée and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice. The “petit théâtre en bois” (wooden theatre) was first created in 1776 by Marquess Alli-Maccarani. Sold in 1787 to a group of gentry, it reopened in 1790 under the name “Théâtre Royal”. In 1826, the city of Nice, encouraged by King Charles Félix, bought it from its owners and had it demolished and rebuilt. It was inaugurated in 1828 with Giovanni Pacini‘s Il Barone di Bolsheim. In 1856, a great ball was organized in the honour of King Victor Emmanuel II.   read more…

Miramare Castle in Trieste

8 December 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Museums, Exhibitions, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks

© Žiga

© Žiga

Miramare Castle is a 19th-century castle on the Gulf of Trieste near Trieste, northeastern Italy. It was built from 1856 to 1860 for Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, later Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota of Mexico, based on a design by Carl Junker. The castle’s grounds include an extensive cliff and seashore park of 22 hectares (54 acres) designed by the archduke. The grounds were completely re-landscaped to feature numerous tropical species of trees and plants. The work, steadily supervised by Maximilian, was finished only after his departure in 1864 for Mexico where he was appointed Emperor, and where after a brief reign he was shot in Querétaro in June 1867. Maximilian intended to create an intimate atmosphere in the castle in the area reserved for his family – an area which he wanted to be in contact with nature, reflecting both his own spirit and that of an epoch. On the ground floor, destined for the use of Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, worthy of note are the bedroom and the archduke’s office, which reproduce the cabin and the stern wardroom respectively of the frigate Novara, the war-ship used by Maximilian when he was Commander of the Navy to circumnavigate the world between 1857 and 1859; the library, whose walls are lined with bookshelves and the rooms of the Archduchess with their tapestry of light-blue silk. All the rooms still feature the original furnishings, ornaments, furniture and objects dating back to the middle of the 19th century. Many coats of arms of the Second Mexican Empire decorate the castle, as well as stone ornamentations on the exterior depicting the Aztec eagle. The first floor includes guest reception areas and the Throne Room. Of note are the magnificent panelling on the ceiling and walls and the Chinese and Japanese drawing-rooms with their oriental furnishings. Of particular interest is the room decorated with paintings by Cesare Dell’Acqua, portraying events in the life of Maximilian and the history of Miramare. Currently, the rooms in the castle are mostly arranged according to the original layout decided upon by the royal couple. A valuable photographic reportage commissioned by the archduke himself made accurate reconstruction possible. Nowadays to visit the castle is to experience the fascination of life in the middle of the 19th century in a residence that has remained largely intact and which gives the visitor an insight into the personality of Maximilian.   read more…

Theme Week Libya – Tripoli

25 November 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Istiqlal Street © Abdul-Jawad Elhusuni

Istiqlal Street © Abdul-Jawad Elhusuni

Tripoli is the capital city and the largest city of Libya. Tripoli, with its metropolitan area, has a population of about 1.1 million people. The city is located in the northwestern part of Libya on the edge of the desert, on a point of rocky land projecting into the Mediterranean and forming a bay. Tripoli includes the Port of Tripoli and the country’s largest commercial and manufacturing centre. It is also the site of the University of Tripoli. The vast Bab al-Azizia barracks, which includes the former family estate of Muammar Gaddafi, is also located in the city. Colonel Gaddafi largely ruled the country from his residence in this barracks. Tripoli was founded in the 7th century BC by the Phoenicians, who named it Oea. Due to the city’s long history, there are many sites of archaeological significance in Tripoli. “Tripoli” may also refer to the shabiyah (top-level administrative division in the current Libyan system), the Tripoli District.   read more…

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