Tag Archives: History

Where to find ruins of war in Europe: the German hills of the dead and destruction (and rebirth)

During our last visit to Germany (Stuttgart, Baden Württemberg, Southern Germany) we learnt that also this city, as all major German cities, has an artificial hill made of debris removed from the bombed buildings.

Downtown Stuttgart on a cloudy day. The city is surrounded by hills. The high density of new buildings mixed with older ones is a war legacy

Downtown Stuttgart on a cloudy day. The city is surrounded by hills. The high density of new buildings mixed with older ones is a war legacy

Around Stuttgart lies a range of heights which give the city its beautiful look of an inhabited hollow surrounded by a crown of green hills.

One of those hills was chosen as the final resting place of Stuttgart’s postwar debris. The place’s name is Birkenkopf, and with its additional 120 ft of height due to piled rubble, has become the highest point in Stuttgart. Dirt has been added to allow tree growth.

The total amount of ruins piled on Birkenkopf is 15 million cubic meter.

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Criminal justice system in Japans: effective but chilling to Westerners

How different is the criminal justice system in Japan if compared to the ones in the Western World? Japanese culture and history have produced a completely different justice system, with exceptional results and means difficult to accept or understand for Westerners.

I’ve recently stumbled upon an article about “crime and punishment” in Japan. Its title can be translated in “Japan, lights and shadows of Justice. The most frequent crime is bike theft.”

I found the article extremely interesting because it highlights how different Japanese law enforcement system is from the ones in the western world.

The article, authored by a European journalist who has been living in Japan for a couple decades, begins by listing facts and figures about crime in Japan.

Japan law, crime, jail, courts

  • Japan is the country with the lowest crime level among the countries belonging to G20
  • Japan has 54 inmates every 100,000 citizens (US: 700)
  • Japanese citizens who are victim of at least one crime over one year are 16% (US: 39%)
  • Risk of being robbed in Tokyo is 80 times lower than in New York City
  • Risk of being assaulted in Tokyo is 200 times lower than in NYC
  • Risk of being raped in Tokyo is 700 times lower than in NYC
  • Risk of being killed in Tokyo is 2,000 times lower than in NYC

However, such stellar results don’t come without a price.

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Food in St. Petersburg, or how I ate as a real Russian (did I?)

DranikiDuring my short trip to Saint Petersburg, the most charming city in Russia, in ate only once in a restaurant.

As a result of that trip, I published a photo essay of Saint Petersburg historical center and a tip-post on a good budget hotel.

In the comments of the latter post, I was asked by Victor of Victor Travel Blog, a Russian travel blogger, to post something on Russian food.

Okay Victor, here’s the story around the only Russian meal I ever had.

I wanted that single shot to be totally Russian. It is my habit to eat local as much as I can, especially on short trips, in the belief that food, as much as language, tells a lot about a country’s culture. However, to be completely honest, I’m a total glutton.

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The porphyry disc in St. Peter where Charlemagne was crowned in the year 800 is still there

A photo of the Red Porphyry Disk by Linda C. McCabe

A photo of the Red Porphyry Disk by Linda C. McCabe from Legends of Medieval France and Italy.

Charlemagne

Charlemagne

There is a place in Rome where you can walk over a floor that had Charlemagne on his knees on it.

The most amusing thing about it is that most people don’t even know that. In fact, if you’ve ever been inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, you’ve probably already walked on it.

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Saint Petersburg’s architectural beauty and attractions: a photo essay

The Bronze Horseman, 1782 equestrian statue of Peter the Great, Senate Square, Saint PetersburgWhat do you do when you are in St Petersburg for a short time?

I basically did two things. One is a must: visiting the Hermitage Museum.

The Hermitage is a huge, super-rich collection of pieces of art hosted in buildings which are pieces of art themselves. One of them, the main one, was the royal palace, the Tsar’s residence.
I haven’t seen anything similar to the Hermitage in my life, except for when I visited the Louvre in Paris and the Vatican Museums in Rome.
How long you’ll stay in there depends on your resistance. I think it can be up to one whole day

But what else to do in St. Petersburg on a two-day stay?

Since its first stone was laid in 1703 by Peter the Great, the Tsars called the best European architects from all over Europe to build what is now known as the most Western-like city of Russia.
Mainly Italian and French architects, but also Russians, year after year, century after century, called by Tsar after Tsar, erected a wonderful historical center, made of several different styles: the Petrine Baroque, the Baroque, the Neoclassical, down to nineteenth century’s styles.
All that has produced a large downtown that is an open-air piece of art, and which was promoted UNESCO World Heritage site.

Therefore, I decided to take a bus tour. Below you can find a selection of the photos taken during that two-hour memorable bus ride.

If you’ve never been to St. Petersburg, by looking at the following pictures you can decide yourself whether I’m exaggerating in being so enthusiast about this Russia’s pearl.

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