Tag Archives: history

Rhodes’ medieval citadel is one of the best preserved ones in Europe and earned its place on the Unesco heritage list. We can thank the Knights Hospitallers for much of what Rhodes looks like now. They moved to the island in the 14th century and left their mark in the approximately 200 years that they were there. After some Ottoman attacks the knights decided to build heavy fortifications, which you can still see today. However in the the 16th century the Ottomans won after all and added some oriental flavor to the town. Visiting Rhodes Town now, you can see elements from different times in the small streets within the city wall. If you enter the old town from the coast, you walk through the impressive Knight’s street towards the even more impressive palace of the grand master. At the hottest time of the day, tourists were using the small…

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It’s strange to walk through the city these days. Guides stand in the middle of the sidewalk, bike tours race by, people have cameras around their neck and the terraces are full of people having breakfast, even on a weekday. Tourism is returning to the streets of Berlin. It’s minimal, but it’s obvious. A lot of Germans come to check out their own capital, but there some people from further afield.  Sunday started out as an incredibly hot day. Even when I biked through the quiet streets at 9AM, it was already hot. But it was also windy. A change was coming. I decided it was about time for me to explore my city a bit more as well. I chose a small museum that perhaps isn’t visited so often by first time visitors. From my home I walked through the Mauerpark, where cheers were coming from the karaoke stage…

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Diving into Portugal’s Roman heritage The Romans entered Portugal in the third century BC. During the approximately 700 years under Roman rule, many new towns were founded, some of which you can still visit today. Others had been vacated and forgotten, until someone dug up the ruins. Conímbriga, situated about 16 km from Coimbra, is one of these places that was buried for years until excavations started in the 20th century. Most visitors to Conímbriga arrive by car, but if you’re on the camino, you come out of a, in my case very muddy, valley. Climbing up the hill I was surprised the old Roman town was right there next to the trail. The camino goes around the museum building and the parking lot. I quite like history, so I decided to stop and explore the ruins. In the visitor center I was greeted by a super friendly man, who…

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My walk on the camino led me through the town Tomar, about 140 km North of Lisbon. It’s a pretty small city, but one of the bigger ones during my trip. There is also enough to see and do for a day, so I planned an extra day here. Things didn’t go according to plan of course and unfortunately I only had a few afternoon hours in this pretty town. It was just enough to get an impression and visit the incredibly beautiful castle of the knights Templar. Tomar is full of history, mainly because it was the seat of the order of the knights Templar. On a hill on the side of the center you can find a gorgeous piece of 12th century architecture: the convent of Christ. Alongside of it is a big park with good views of the city. From the back of it, you can see…

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Berlin has so many different faces. Friedrichshain has a lot of old buildings and even the new flats are build to resemble the old style. Nothing is really bigger than about 6 floors and the neighborhood feels like a town within a city. A 30-minute walk from my house it’s like you’re in a different city. Big, simple flats dominate along a busy road, hiding everything else out of sight. Behind one of those flats is a terrain with dreary looking concrete buildings. It’s the former headquarters of the Stasi. The Stasi, or ministry for state security, was an infamous organisation of the GDR and former East Berlin. Many films and books were made about the Stasi since they had an enormous network of official and unofficial spies to make sure the people of Eastern Germany were good GDR citizens. Everyone with different thoughts or opinions was at risk of…

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Around 550BC Cyrus the Great founded the Achaemenid Empire. He first defeated the Medes and from there the empire grew conquest by conquest. It became larger than any empire had been before. Cyrus himself built a palace at Pasargadae. His successors preferred other locations. Darius I founded a new capital in Persepolis and an equally large city in Susa. Persepolis was great in summer and mostly a ceremonial place. When the snow came, the administration moved to Susa. The best preserved of the ancient cities in Iran is Persepolis. It’s a super interesting place to visit. I’d read a small book about it and when our guide took us around, I remembered many of the passages. There is so much history behind these pillars and walls. We entered and climbed up the big staircase. This whole city is build on a plateau. It’s hard to imagine what it must have…

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Living in Berlin opens up a whole new world of weekend trips. It seems hard to find the time to relax and get away from it all, so I decided to commit to buying train tickets. I was pretty tired when I made my way to Gesundbrunnen, from where the trains in the direction Ostsee depart. The train arrived late and more and more people with bikes and camping gear crowded on the platform. I managed to find a seat in the hallway. People were sitting everywhere; on the stairs and hanging near the doors. As we slowly made our way up north, stopping at the tiniest of stations, where people were basically dropped off in what seemed to be a field with a small station building, the train got quieter. In Stralsund I changed to the train that went to Binz. We were now at the Baltic Sea, crossing…

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This weekend I went into the suburb of Abbotsford to visit one of Melbourne’s heritage buildings: the Abbotsford convent. At the moment the former convent is a place where art meets health and where locals come in the weekend for a bite to eat and to relax in the surrounding park. In the 11 buildings of the former Convent of the Good Shepherd you can find pop up shops, restaurants, art spaces, rooms for events and there is even a school in there. During the week, it’s where people work and during the weekend, it’s where people come to enjoy themselves. But this wasn’t always an enjoyable place. The place started as a ‘gentlemen farmlet’, but was soon sold to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. Started by four women, the convent grew to be one of the biggest Catholic complexes of Australia and housed over 1000 women at its…

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On the outskirts of Budapest, about a half an hour drive from the centre, lies Memento Park. It is a memorial park where they’ve gathered different statues from the communist period. They come from all over the country and give you a peak into Hungary’s history. You can wander around the statues by yourself, or you can go on a guided tour. I opted for the all inclusive package. Every day at 11AM, a van leaves for the park from Deak square. I was greeted by our guide and found a spot on the van. We drove towards the Buda side, while listening to some information and communist songs. When we arrived, there was some free time until the tour started. Our guide took us around the park for 45 minutes, starting at the front, where a big tribune with two boots on it stood. The boots used to be…

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We all know Dracula as the bloodsucking, evil creature made up by Bram Stoker. He’s got long corner teeth, or fangs, a cape, slick black hair and preferably some blood running from the corner of his mouth. And somehow he’s usually portrayed with his hands out like claws. Long story short: he’s out to get you. But once upon a time there was a real Dracula. Vlad Dracula, or Vlad the impaler, wasn’t the nicest of boys either, but he wasn’t known for sucking people’s blood. This man was a prince of Wallachia, a region that is now part of Romania. For the longest time Wallachia paid off the Turks so they wouldn’t invade, but take care of the small country. But Vlad was fed up with this and wanted freedom for his country. He stopped the payments and had to defend his country somehow. Cruel as he was he…

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