Category: Europe

Germany During The Frankish Period: Charlemagne (768 – 814)

Germany During The Frankish Period: Charlemagne (768 – 814)

Of particular importance was the subjugation of the last Germanic people who, on the right of the Rhine, had still managed to maintain their independence: the Saxons. Established between the Ems, the Harz and the lower Elbe, the Saxons were divided into the four tribes of the Vestfals, between the Lippe and the Ems; degli Angri, on the Weser and on the Hallep; degli Ostfali, between the Weser and the Elbe; of the Nordalbingi, who had pushed into Holstein beyond the Elbe estuary. With independence, the Saxons had essentially preserved intact the ancient economic, social and political structure of the Germans, and the ancient pagan beliefs. This material and spiritual patrimony they, led by their national hero, the Westphalian Vitichindo, defended in thirty years of terrible struggles, sustained with desperate fury against the tenacity and the fervent impulse of Christian propaganda, which animated the conqueror. The enterprise, which began in 772, could only be said to have been completed in 804 (see carlomagno). But after the conquest the country took on a completely new aspect. By the tens of thousands the Saxons had either fallen fighting or executed, or had been transferred to other regions. The survivors and those who remained had had to receive baptism, and the administrative and religious institutes of the Frankish kingdom had been extended to the occupied territory, centering those on the counties, these on the bishoprics.

The definitive subjugation of Bavaria was also of great importance. The dukes who ruled it, of the national dynasty of the Agilolfingi, carried out their own internal and foreign policy. This one, oriented towards the Lombards, to whom the Bavarian dukes had also tightened with parental ties, sought in their friendship a useful counterweight to the threatening influence of the Franks, and had recently had a new seal from the marriage of Duke Tassilone III with Liutperga, daughter of king Desiderio. But there was no lack of a party in favor of the Franks; and the clergy, in the forefront the bishops of Salzburg and Freising, felt attracted to the Carolingians by their merits towards the Church of Rome. Two years (787-788) were enough for Charlemagne to extinguish Bavarian independence. Tassilone III was deposed and locked up in a monastery; the same fate had the wife and children. After the Agilolfinges were broken up, Bavaria was first ruled by a brother-in-law of Charlemagne, Geroldo; and after his death (799), it was divided into counties.

The subjugation of Bavaria brought the Frankish kingdom into direct contact with the Avars of Pannonia. It was the end of this people of predatory raiders. Between 791 and 796 with a series of expeditions the Franks went as far as their main fortified camp (Ring), near the Tisza and conquered it. The Avars submitted; from the beginning of the century. IX their name also disappeared. Thus, even in the Middle Danube basin the work of Charlemagne created relations with Germany, which would not have been without effect for its future history. The conquest of Saxony had similarly brought the Frankish kingdom into wider and more direct contact with the Slavs to the north-east. No ground was gained over them, because Charlemagne did not wage real wars of conquest against them, and on the contrary ceded to the Abodites, who had been his auxiliaries in the struggle for the occupation of Saxony, part of the lands taken from the Nordalbingians on the side of the Baltic. But equally important, for future events, was the arrangement to defend the eastern border. Land was instead gained to the north,

Charlemagne had succeeded where Rome, after a few attempts, had had to abandon his work. Germany up to Elba definitively became part of the Western civil world, and received the order from which its further life would be carried out with that greater awareness of its own strengths and mission, which certainly before the Frankish conquest populations could not hear.

Also in Germany, the basis of the administrative order were the counties, in which Saxony, Alamannia and Bavaria were divided, and which had a particular military organization on the north-eastern and south-eastern borders. Here the marches of Nordalbingia or Danese, Sorabica, and Pannonia or Orientale (the future Austria) were formed, conveniently garnished with cores of selected troops, who leaned on a line of fortresses. In this way, the valid embankment was raised that would put an end to the centuries-old westward movement of the barbarian world.

Germany During The Frankish Period

Amarante and Marvao, Portugal

Amarante and Marvao, Portugal



Amarante is a wonderful city in the north of Portugal. To the east, the huge mass of the Serra do Marão protrudes, while the Tâmega Valley is lined with high hills covered with a forest. The postcard picture in Amarante is the bridge of São Gonçalo on the Tâmega next to the Renaissance monastery of the same name. Amarante is a city that brought many important artists and writers to Portugal, especially at the beginning of the 20th century, and whose works are presented in the magnificent city museum. Nearby are Romanesque churches, picturesque mountain villages and cycling and hiking trails to immerse yourself in the picturesque landscape of the Tâmega Valley.


“Amar” is the Portuguese verb for love, which is very apt as the first part of the name of this attractive city. Amarante, a 4th century BC settlement BC, lies in the rich agricultural areas of the Minho region, the northern part of the country that is responsible for the grapes of Vinho Verde, the young, sparkling, “green” wine that is unique in Portugal. The river Tâmega flows through the city, which you cross over the striking arched bridge Ponte São Gonçalo. It is said that this bridge helped local heroes fend off a French attack in the early 19th century. Nowadays, neat cafes and restaurants make the most of their dreamy location on the river.

A famous son of Amarante was the artist Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, who created some of the internationally acclaimed Cubist paintings in his short life at the beginning of the 20th century. His work is on display at the local museum, although in his day he exhibited alongside artists such as Modigliani and much of his work is still in Paris, where he spent his most productive years.

A very cozy, typically Portuguese town, Amarante is the ideal destination for those looking for a relaxing holiday and the opportunity to discover the northern region of Portugal as it is very close to Braga, Porto and Vila Real. Even today, Amarante is known beyond its borders for its handicrafts. Knitwear, pottery and wickerwork are still traditionally operated. Vacationers shouldn’t miss out on trying the city’s sweets in the cafes and patisseries.


impressive fortress city

The small town of Marvão, surrounded by fortress walls, is located deep in the hinterland of Portugal, only a stone’s throw from the Spanish border and is nicknamed the Eagle’s Nest, which is hidden in the hills. The place is located on a large granite rock with a wonderful view over the wide plains of the Alentejo region and is one of the most beautiful areas in all of southern Europe. The 13th century fortress walls are almost completely intact and Marvão is accessed through a narrow medieval archway, near which is a strange-shaped Moorish-looking building known as the Jerusalem Chapel. Steep stone-paved streets meander past whitewashed, flower-decked houses, with the most beautiful wrought-iron balconies that can be seen in this part of Portugal.

Marvão was founded in the 9th century by Ibn-Marúan, a Muladi (Iberian who converted to Islam) who plays an important role in Al Mossassa, the Islamic festival held in Marvão every October. At the center of this lovely postcard village is the old castle, which seems to rise from the living rock on which it was built. Perched on a granite base, the walls are home to countless kestrels and offer breathtaking 360-degree views of one of the most strikingly picturesque parts of Portugal. The 865 meter climb to Marvão, the highest place in Portugal, starts near Portagem, which is itself a place with a long and exciting history. The four-arched Roman bridge marks the place where Jews who fled Spain at the time of the Inquisition,

The Portuguese village of Marvão today has fewer than a thousand inhabitants, but was of great importance in the Middle Ages and a vital defensive bastion during the frequent battles with neighboring Spain. But not only with Spain. During a checkered history, the Portuguese also fought against Moors and French here. The view from the keep is impressive; to the south are the Serra de São Mamede and the beautiful city of Estremoz, while in the north the mountains of the Serra da Estrela with Castelo de Vide in the northwest and finally Spain in the northeast. There is also a lot to discover in the area, after all, Marvao is part of a nature park of the same name.

Marvao Portugal

Sights in Liechtenstein

Sights in Liechtenstein

Take a group tour through Liechtenstein, a sovereign miniature state in the Alpine region. The close coexistence of lived village traditions and the intensive international exchange that characterizes Liechtenstein forms the basis for an extraordinarily diverse cultural life. Visit the numerous cities in Liechtenstein such as the capital Vaduz; the largest and highest situated community Triesenberg; Schellenberg or Eschen. Admire the most important sights such as Vaduz Castle, the art museum, the government building or the Noldi Beck ski museum in Vaduz; the Walser Heimatmuseum, the Malbun Peace Chapel or the town hall in Triesenberg; the parish church, the nunnery, the castle ruins and the Biedermannhaus in Schellenberg; the Holy Cross Chapel, the benefice house or the mill in Eschen. Enjoy Liechtenstein on a study trip and get to know its culture!

Castle Vaduz

The surrounding area

With only 160 km², Liechtenstein is only a very small area on the maps between Austria and Switzerland. Vaduz is on the right bank of the Rhine. To this day it is the capital and seat of government of the principality. Vaduz Castle is one of the most important sights in Liechtenstein, along with many interesting buildings and regions. It rests about 120 meters above the city.

The way to the castle

The imposing castle is best conquered on foot from the city of Vaduz.
The moderate ascent takes about three quarters of an hour at a leisurely pace.
The signposts in the village offer good orientation for the ascent. But the city’s residents are also happy to point you in the right direction. On the footpath to the castle, visitors learn a lot about the history of the complex and can enjoy a unique natural landscape. But you can also easily get to the car park above the castle by car.

Once at the top

Once at the top, you will be rewarded with a wonderful view of the picturesque Rhine Valley, the city of Vaduz and the mountains of neighboring Switzerland.
The oldest parts of the castle complex probably date from the twelfth century. However, some historians suspect that the first settlements go back to the time of the Romans. It was first mentioned in a document in 1322. At the beginning of the 20th century, the castle was saved from final ruin and fundamentally renovated. It has been the permanent residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein since 1939. Vaduz is the capital of the Principality, which with just under 37,000 inhabitants is the sixth smallest state in the world.

Liechtenstein Art Museum

The Liechtenstein Art Museum is a state museum for modern and contemporary art. It is located in Liechtenstein’s capital, Vaduz.

The Liechtenstein Art Museum – an ideal destination for a study trip

The Liechtenstein Art Museum is one of the largest and most interesting sights in Liechtenstein’s main municipality, Vaduz. It is an ideal destination for a visit, especially as part of a study trip. It enables its guests to travel through 130 years of art history.

The creation of the Liechtenstein Art Museum

Together with the government of Liechtenstein and the municipality of Vaduz, several private donors built a Liechtenstein art museum in the 1990s. In November 2000 the inauguration of the modern building, which was conceived by the Swiss architects Morger, Degelo and Kerez, took place. The important collection contained there also represents the state art collection.
From the outside, the museum as a black cube made of cast basalt stone cannot be overlooked and in turn is a work of art. Visiting it means an unforgettable art experience on a trip to Vaduz.

The sights of the museum

The collection of the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein includes international contemporary and modern works of art that range from the 19th century to the present day. The profile of the museum is determined by sculptures, installations and objects. One of the focal points of the exhibitions is the works of art from Arte Povera. The estate of the Swiss painter and draftsman Andre Thomkins (1930-1985) is also managed in the building.
In 2015 the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein was expanded to include a new exhibition building from the Hilti Art Foundation. The works of art range from classical modernism to current contemporary art trends.


The Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein presents changing solo exhibitions by Andy Warhol, Gottfried Honegger, Paul Klee, Otto Freundlich, Georg Malin, Joseph Beuys and Bill Bollinger, among others. The group exhibitions include, for example, “The Ricke Collection”, “Lust for Life” or “Knockin ‘on Heavens Door”. In addition, special exhibitions with works from the collection of the Prince of Liechtenstein are presented at regular intervals.

Sights in Liechtenstein

Berlin, Germany Politics and Culture

Berlin, Germany Politics and Culture


In order for Berlin to become the capital of Germany again by law, a vote had to be held in the Bundestag in June 1991, where it was decided to transfer the institutions from Bonn to Berlin. The transfer of the Federal Government and the Chancellery took place in 1999.

Following German reunification, several enthusiasts have launched the project to officially return the name of Prussia to the region made up of the states of Berlin and Brandenburg. In a referendum in 1996, the majority of the residents of Brandenburg and East Berlin spoke out against the merger of the two states, while those of West Berlin spoke in favor. Despite the setback, the merger initiative continued.

Since the 1990s, according to Allcitycodes, Berlin has been undergoing a serious economic and financial crisis, due, on the one hand, to the consequences of reunification (which, among other things, doubled the number of civil servants that the City Council had to pay), and for another, to the bankruptcy of a state banking company in 2001.

This latest scandal led to a change in the regional government and the replacement of the conservative Eberhard Diepgen by the Social Democrat Klaus Wowereit, who was the first leader of his party to agree to a government in coalition with the Left Party (since 2007 renamed Die Linke), heir to the Socialist Unity Party of Germany in the GDR.


Museums and art galleries

The Bode Museum at the northern tip of Museum Island. Berlin is home to 365 museums. The ensemble on the Museum Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is situated in the northern part of the Spree Island between the Spree and the Kupfergraben.

Already in 1841 it was named “district dedicated to art and antiquities” by a royal decree. Consequently, the Altes Museum (Old Museum) in the Lustgarten, the Neues Museum (New Museum) showing the bust of Queen Nefertiti, the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), the Pergamon Museum and the Bode Museum were erected there. The names of the buildings did not necessarily correspond to the content of the collections they exhibited.

In the Museumszentrum Berlin-Dahlem (Dahlem district), there are several museums of world art and culture, such as the Museum of Indian Art, the Museum of East Asian Art, the Ethnological Museum, the Museum of European Cultures, as well as the Museum of the Allies (a museum about the Cold War), the Brücke Museum (an art museum).

Other museums

  • Bauhaus-Archive: is an architecture museum of the integrated design school founded by Walter Gropius.
  • German Museum of Technology (Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin) in Kreuzberg: has a wide collection of historical technical artifacts.
  • Egyptian Museum in Berlin: Across the street from Charlottenburg Palace, it houses one of the world’s most important collections of objects from Ancient Egypt, including the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti.
  • Beate Uhse Erotic Museum near the zoo: it claims to be the largest erotic museum in the world.
  • Humboldt Museum of Natural History near Berlin Hauptbahnhof: It has the world’s largest assembled dinosaur skeleton and the best existing specimen of an Archeopteryx.
  • Jewish Museum of Berlin: it has a permanent exhibition of two thousand years of German-Jewish history.
  • Stasi Museum, in Lichtenberg, on the grounds of the former East German Ministry for State Security (Stasi).
  • Story of Berlin Museum: combines new audiovisual technologies with the history of the city. In it you can also visit one of the 23 underground bunkers that remain in the city.
  • Filmmuseum, museum of German

Main events

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Every year in February, the Berlinale festival evokes the magic of the film world between the towers and glass palaces of Potsdamer Platz. An international jury chooses the winners of the Golden and SilverBears.
  • Love Parade: Every summer the biggest parade of techno music lovers that goes through the Tiergarten park in the city center. More than a million people come together every year in the midst of floats and colorful clothing. This festival was held again in 2006 after being suspended for two seasons.
  • Berlin International Literature Festival: Draws large audiences annually to ecumenical trends in contemporary prose and lyric. In the first fortnight of September, a hundred authors meet in the German capital who not only share their texts with the audience, but also express their opinions and vicissitudes on current political or cultural issues of the countries of origin in which symposia organized for this purpose.


The city has three airports:

  • Schönefeld (airport that began operating in the 1930s and after the division of Germany had remained in the territory of the GDR), Tegel and Tempelhof (closed on October 31, 2008), although between all of them they register less traffic than the Frankfurt am Main and Munich
  • The Berlin Metro (in German Berliner U-Bahn) is one of the most functional and practical in Europe. Together with the suburban train (S-Bahn) it forms a dense urban transport network that facilitates travel around the German capital. The metro is managed by the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) to which buses and trams also belong, the S-Bahn by the Deutsche Bahn (DB).
  • Berlin Central Station (in German Hauptbahnhof) is a 900 million euro project started in 1992, which began to be built in 1995 and was inaugurated in May 2006, just in time for the celebration of the Soccer World Cup in Germany.

Twinned cities

Berlin has established a brotherhood since 1967 with nineteen cities:

  • Los Angeles, United States (1967)
  • Paris, France (1987)
  • Madrid, Spain (1988)
  • Istanbul, Turkey (1989)
  • Moscow, Russia (1990)
  • Warsaw, Poland (1991)
  • Budapest, Hungary (1991)
  • Brussels, Belgium (1992)
  • Jakarta, Indonesia (1993)
  • Tashkent, Uzbekistan (1993)
  • Mexico City, Mexico (1993)
  • Beijing, China (1994)
  • Tokyo, Japan (1994)
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina (1994)
  • Prague, Czech Republic (1995)
  • Windhoek, Namibia (2000)
  • London, UK (2000)
  • Seville, Spain (2008)

Berlin, Germany Politics

Why are Norwegian Soldiers in Iraq?

Why are Norwegian Soldiers in Iraq?

In April 2015, the Norwegian government sent 120 soldiers to Iraq . There, they were to “help train Iraqi security forces.” Some of the soldiers were stationed in the Kurdish provincial capital of Erbil under the security forces of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq (KRG). Other Norwegian soldiers were stationed in the capital Baghdad.

  • What are the main rules of international law for military operations on foreign soil?
  • What is the basis for the Norwegian military presence in Iraq from 2015?
  • How does this presence stand against the rules of international law for the use of military force?
  • What international law challenges does the presence face?

The Norwegian military will support the Iraqi central and regional authorities in recapturing territory from Islamic State (IS), which in 2015 controlled approx. 1/3 of Iraq. Norwegian participation is part of a loosely led American coalition with the goal of “crushing” IS.

The Norwegian presence in Iraq represents a break with the tradition of Norwegian military operations abroad after the year 2000. The presence also raises at least three challenges : uncertainty about what the mission is, insufficient legal certainty for the soldiers, and questions about whether the soldiers can perform their tasks so efficiently as provided.

2: International law: barriers to the use of military force in other countries

A central international agreement – the UN Charter ‘s Article 2 (4), non-interference court as a “cornerstone of the UN Charter” – and international legal custom prohibits the use of military force in interstate relations (power ban). Threats of such use of force are also prohibited.

Military use of force in the territory of another state violates the principle that every state is sovereign in its own territory. The prohibition on force also applies to the use of force against non-state actors in the territory of another state. However, the ban on power has two exceptions that can make military use of force in other countries legal: Chap. VII mandate and self-defense . In addition, another state may be invited by the government of a country to operate militarily in that country. Every sovereign government is free to do so.

3: Chapter VII mandate

One exception to the ban on power is military operations adopted by the UN Security Council . The Security Council may authorize (grant the right to) the use of military force under Chapter VII of the UN Charter if there is a threat to peace, a breach of peace or an act of aggression (Article 39 of the Covenant).

In addition, a resolution may clarify the legality of an ongoing military operation to which it has been invited. In 2015, the president of Yemen lost control of the capital and state-owned institutions. He then invited a group of states led by Saudi Arabia to help put down the rebels. Eventually, the Security Council confirmed that the President had the competence – stood strong enough – for such an invitation. Resolutions that confirm the legality of ongoing use of force do not change the basis of international law. The operation in Yemen is based on an invitation and not on a mandate from the Security Council.

A related clarification of legality can be found in the Security Council’s call from November 2015 for permission to use “all necessary measures” against groups in IS-controlled areas in Syria and Iraq to prevent terrorism.

The Chapter VII mandate nevertheless sets clear barriers to the use of force under international law . The operations must be carried out within the framework of the mandate. A Chapter VII mandate authorizes the use of all necessary means to achieve the purpose, but no more.

The use of force must also be proportional to the purpose of the use of force. Military operations for purposes that are outside the mandate or that are disproportionate to the purpose of the use of force, represent a violation of the prohibition of force . In Libya in 2011, removing Gaddafi’s regime (regime change) was not part of the mandate.

A state may not invoke the right to self-defense against military operations based on a mandate from the Security Council. The legality of the operations in Syria has been repeatedly disputed by the Assad regime . When Resolution 2249 confirms the legality of these, Assad can not claim that the operations are acts of aggression that trigger Syrian right to self-defense. The Security Council has stated that self-defense against IS (and certain other non-governmental groups) in Syria (but also in Iraq) is not contrary to international law.

4: The right to self-defense

The second exception to the ban on power is access to military operations for national self-defense (Article 51 of the UN Charter). A country thus has the right – individually / alone or collectively / together with other states – to defend itself against attacks contrary to international law. Other states can then assist in self-defense. The right to self-defense is triggered by an “armed attack”. Most states and international law lawyers have interpreted this exception strictly. In the case of collective self-defense, a country that has individual self-defense rights asks for help from other states.

Self-defense outside its own territory will not order the other UN countries to cooperate with other states, such as a Chapter VII mandate. Other states can then take a stand for or against the use of force or invoke neutrality. If the right to self-defense is confirmed by the Security Council, they must still comply.

Also in self-defense, military operations must be necessary (for defense) and proportionate . That is, the operations’ damage (scaling) must be in proportion to the purpose of the attack. When Israel attacked Lebanon after Hezbollah’s attacks on Israeli territory and a subsequent ambush in Lebanon in 2006, the operation was in line with Israel’s self-defense law. The purpose was to prevent similar future attacks. But the extent of Israel’s response was criticized by many, such as France, Russia, the EU and the United States, for being disproportionate to this purpose – and therefore contrary to international law.

The self-defense rules in Article 51 do not apply to a state power that exercises authority in its own territory, e.g. maintains or restores peace and order. Iraqi authorities can not invoke self-defense against Iraqi IS in Iraq. Here, it is the state’s right to exercise authority that is the hook under international law. International law does not give a state power the “right” to wage war against its own people when warfare is based on arguments about self-defense. This type of self-defense right also does not apply in occupied territory. Rules and barriers to what an occupying power can afford in the use of force differ both from self-defense against external enemies and from the rules on the exercise of power in one’s own country.

The situation in and around Syria and the lack of a Chapter VII mandate (cf. the use of the right of veto) has led to a number of allegations of self-defense for other states’ military use of force on Syrian soil: US airstrikes on Syrian territory began on 22 September 2014. The United States has stated several various self-defense bases for its operations on Syrian soil: Self-defense against IS, collective self-defense to safeguard the self-defense rights of Syria’s neighbors, self-defense against a non-governmental group and defense of US allied groups (insurgents) on the ground in Syria.

The right to self-defense is the most obscure of the legal bases for the use of force. The core consists of a basic right to self-maintenance. However, the vast majority of military operations can be presented as a version of self-defense. Therefore, international law has always sought a narrow framework for this exception to the prohibition of power. However, the right to self-defense seems to have been interpreted somewhat more broadly since 2001. The situation in Syria and Iraq also seems to push the states’ practice of self-defense even a notch further.

5: Invitation to military assistance

A third legal basis for the use of military force on foreign soil consists of an invitation or consent from state authorities in another country. These authorities then invite one or more other states to assist them in maintaining or restoring order internally, in practice to retain state power, defend the territory or to prevent the territory from being exploited by non-state actors for violence that may threaten national or international Safety.
This legal basis is no exception to the prohibition of power in the UN Charter. Such military operations have a background in the sovereignty of the inviting government . Thus, they do not violate the ban on power.

Government authorities may invite other states or non-governmental organizations to assist them in the use of force in their own territory. The Assad regime, which is thus the ruling power in Syria, can invite other states such as Iran and non-state actors such as Lebanese Hezbollah to assist the Syrian authorities with the use of force on Syrian territory. Russian soldiers in Syria have also been invited by the Assad regime.

However, if the use of force by invitation extends beyond the inviting state and into the territory of another sovereign state, the prohibition on force requires a decision by the Security Council. Iraqi forces or other states’ armed forces at the invitation of Iraq can not simply use military force against IS on the Syrian side of the border. It requires a different basis of international law.

Security Council Resolution 2249 provides a kind of “cloak of international law legality” for various types of military operations in Syria and Iraq.

An invitation must be clearly expressed . It cannot be assumed that the state would have consented “if it had been asked”. Other states may also question how real a consent is. In addition, the invitation must come from authorities that (still) are strong enough to be able to invite, e.g. still has central state-supporting institutions.

The Security Council can confirm whether the government in a country has the capacity to invite , as in Yemen, or it can cut off such a right. When the Security Council recognized the opposition in Libya as “the legitimate representative of the Libyan people” in 2011, Libyan authorities could no longer invite others to help them.

If the use of force by an invited state (the sending state) should affect the consent, the use of force is contrary to international law. If it can be characterized as an armed attack, it even triggers the consent state’s right to self-defense against the sending state (Article 51).

The purpose of the invitation will depend on what an inviting government wants, or the agreement between it and the sending state. Such agreements normally take the form of agreements on the legal status of forces (SOFA). They clarify the purpose of the military contribution, and they give military personnel criminal immunity for their presence and for actions that fall within the scope of the mission. It provides visibility and clarity (notoriety) to the outside world. And it provides security for the soldiers and predictability within.

6: Rules for the actual use of force

Even if the legal basis for an operation is in order, violations of international law can still occur as a result of the way the operations are carried out. The use of force must take place within the framework of the legal basis. Also: Is a military operation in accordance with the rules of international law for warfare – including the protection of war victims and the ban on using rules that prohibit certain types of weapons?

There are four different sets of rules in international law that set general barriers for different types of military operations, rules for:

  • intergovernmental conflict
  • occupation,
  • non-intergovernmental conflict,
  • for military operations in situations below the threshold of armed conflict

The first situation is governed primarily by humanitarian law (the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions), the latter by human rights . Occupation and non-international conflicts are extensively regulated by both humanitarian law and human rights, but in different ways.

On a couple of important points, these sets of rules differ from each other, and impose different rights and obligations . Thus, the use of force that is legal under one set of rules may be a violation of international law under another. The use of expanding bullets or tear gas is, for example, permitted by law enforcement internally in a country, but if these means are used in combat, it will be classified as war crimes. Persons who have committed war crimes must either be prosecuted by their own authorities or extradited to states or courts abroad with the right to prosecute them. Furthermore, the demarcation between military targets and civilians is clearer under the first two sets of rules than in non-international conflicts / civil wars.

7: By invitation – Norway is in Iraq

In the summer of 2014 , IS conquered important strategic areas in northwestern Iraq. They declared an Islamic caliphate and committed massive war crimes against Iraqi soldiers and religious minorities, including the so-called Camp Speicher massacre . More than 1,500 Iraqi Shiite cadets and soldiers were executed by IS during one afternoon. Abuses against the Kurdish Yezidi minority received a lot of attention in the late summer of 2014, with acts that according to several may be genocide .

In the autumn of 2014, the Norwegian authorities decided to send military forces to military advice and training in Iraq. Norway is now contributing militarily to fighting IS. The mission will “help to better enable the Iraqi forces to meet the ISIL threat”. Norwegian personnel will not participate in military operations, but will be part of the military support apparatus for Iraqi security forces.

There is not any Chapter VII mandate from the Security Council which are entitled to Norwegian military presence in Iraq. After IS conquered parts of four Iraqi provinces and declared an Islamic State on Iraqi and Syrian territory in June 2014, the Security Council in August 2014 ruled that IS was a threat to Syria, Iraq, the Middle East and to international peace and security. But the Security Council has not adopted the right to use force under Chapter VII in extension of this, even though the Security Council has unanimously condemned IS ‘conduct.

On 24 September 2014, the Security Council decided in Chapter VII to order states to fight foreign fighters (Res. 2178). But it did not give the green light for the use of force against IS. The loosely organized US operation is mainly based on arguments about self-defense (see above) in the face of a serious threat to international security. The Security Council has established that IS is. Thus, it has clarified that states can invoke self-defense law even if IS is a non-state actor.

However, Norway has not stated self-defense for our presence in Iraq. Collective self-defense is derived from the right of self-defense to countries that are under attack and asking for help. Norway is helping Iraq (primarily) against Iraqis in Iraq. Norway can not claim to help Iraq to self-defense in Iraq as international law does not contain any self-defense rule for the exercise of power in its own territory. The Iraqi authorities, on the other hand, can state self-defense for operations on the Syrian side of the border, where Norway may assist based on collective self-defense, but then on behalf of Baghdad. The Norwegian authorities can thus justify their presence in Iraq by saying that they are there to help the regime retain state power. Operations in Syria will have the same justification.

With Resolution 2249 behind it , outside states can conduct military operations in Syrian and Iraqi territory. It clarifies that means of force can be used to prevent terrorist attacks by IS (and certain other groups) from the area that IS controls in Syria and Iraq. The resolution is not a UN mandate to operate militarily on Syrian or Iraqi territory without coordinating with the governments of Baghdad and Damascus. Iraqi authorities remain in the driver’s seat of operations in Iraq.

The UN Security Council confirmed the invitation and thus also the Iraqi authorities’ competence to invite. Iraq could need such confirmation as the situation was in Iraq in the summer of 2014. At that time, the Iraqi security apparatus went up in limbo in northern Iraq in the face of an advancing IS. In addition, Kurdish forces from Erbil occupied many controversial and strategically important places. When the invitation came, Baghdad practically controlled less than 40% of the land. The Security Council acknowledged that their numbers were not enough to defeat Iraqi government.

Iraqi authorities may impose conditions on the use of force on those invited, or withdraw their consent at any time. As early as October 2014, the Iraqi authorities stated that the letter to the Security Council in September had restrictions. “We asked for help, but it was about air force.” Among other things, Baghdad announced that neighboring Arab countries (read: Sunni Muslims) were not wanted on the ground in Iraq.

In August 2015, Iraqi authorities asked the Security Council to allow Turkish troops to leave Iraq, a demand Iraq repeatedly made in the fall of 2015. Iraqis do not consider ground forces from countries in the region to be covered by the Security Council’s request.

Outside this requirement is neighboring Iran, which has a separate defense agreement with Iraq. It gives Iranian soldiers the right to operate on Iraqi soil. Iran has also carried out airstrikes against IS in Iraq since December 2014, independent of the international coalition. The close military cooperation between Iraq and Iran means that Iran has a different and broader mandate for its presence in Iraq.

It is thus not obvious that the Norwegian military in Iraq is covered by the invitation Iraq handed over to the UN Security Council in September 2014. According to the Iraqi authorities, the request only includes air force . But it is not air force Norwegian soldiers in Iraq are engaged in. The legal basis for the Norwegian military presence in Baghdad is an invitation , in Norway’s view. What this invitation entails is very unclear . Norwegian soldiers have been invited to Iraq to take part in an air offensive against IS, an air offensive in which they are not participating.

8: Counters at the legal basis

As with the Norwegian operation in Iraq in 2003–2005, no special Norwegian restrictions were placed on military participation in 2014 – except that «Norwegian forces will not participate in direct combat operations».

However, there is a big difference between Norway’s Iraq operations in 2003–2005 and in 2015. In 2003–2005, there was a clearer organization and a much clearer legal basis (see below). When the international law basis for military presence in a foreign country is weak, unclear or controversial, it becomes all the more important with clear agreements that regulate the nature of the mission and the situation of the soldiers.

Invitation as a legal basis is usually regulated in more detail by a defense agreement. The United States has a political agreement, and Iran has a defense agreement with Iraq. Norway does not have that.

GENERAL RULES: If the legal basis and the nature of the assignment is somewhat unclear, the general rules of international law apply. Since the summer of 2013, the Iraqi authorities have been involved in a civil war-like situation against Sunni Muslim areas, ie the same areas where IS eventually took control.

The term “non-international conflict” is not limited to armed conflicts that take place only in the territory of one country. The fight against IS extends over two countries, and involves more than 60 nations on one side and a non-state actor on the other.

Iraq is today neither in a situation of occupation nor in an international armed conflict. Here, the rules of a country’s sovereign law enforcement and internal armed conflicts apply.

This means that the rules of humanitarian law for non-international armed conflicts apply to Norwegian soldiers to the extent that they have a military function linked to one of the parties to the conflict.

9: Norway in Iraq: Three challenges

Since the turn of the millennium, Norwegian soldiers have been involved in several military operations on foreign soil. Many of them have not been UN operations in the sense of peacekeeping operations (after the ceasefire agreement has been reached) under the UN mandate – Afghanistan (2001–2016), Iraq (2003–2005) and Libya (2011). All three operations were launched following a mandate from the Security Council.

After the year 2000, Norway has had clear legal bases for its military foreign operations. But Norway’s military contribution to Iraq from 2015 represents something new . The backing of international law for Norway does not seem controversial, since the Iraqi authorities do not consider Norwegian soldiers to be enemy soldiers, as they do with certain other coalition countries. Nevertheless, the invitation appears to be deficient . It does not provide clarity (notoriety) about the purpose of the contribution or framework around the activities of Norwegian soldiers in Iraq in 2015.

By invitation to assistance, we lend military capabilities to another state. A recipient state will normally have other motives and interests than ours. And it will probably be involved in power struggles and conflicts that are beyond the control of Norway, but where we can still be drawn in. Consequently, it is important to have a clear framework for such lending. The somewhat vague basis of international law for Norway’s military contribution to Iraq therefore represents challenges on three levels:

1 Around notoriety – it is difficult to prove purpose, document or control who has done what and when. There is neither a UN mandate nor a self-defense authority for the contribution. No defense agreement or SOFA (agreements on forces’ legal status status of forces agreements, SOFA) has been negotiated that can clarify the purpose of the mission.

Why has Norway sent troops to Iraq? At home, it can be important to clarify what Norwegian soldiers do on land far away, including with atypical, perhaps dubious, partners. To other countries, it may be appropriate to clarify why troops have been sent to Baghdad to help a coalition that works closely with the military in Tehran, Damascus and Russia. Also: Can soldiers we train in Baghdad want to use their new military skills to fight soldiers we train in Erbil?

2 Norwegian soldiers’ legal security . Norwegian soldiers in Iraq are so-called administrative employees at a diplomatic post (embassy) Norway does not have. The agreement between Norway and Iraq is not very specific. Diplomatic immunity does not include the right to engage in military activity practiced by soldiers. The legal protection of Norwegian soldiers in Iraq does not match the tasks they have or the conflict landscape in which they operate.

3 Efficiency of the operation . How effectively can Norwegian soldiers carry out their mission when assisting security forces that have reportedly been involved in many and serious violations of international law? How effectively can they operate in one of the world’s most corrupt countries, which is also struggling with major disciplinary challenges in the security apparatus?

According to THEMAKEUPEXPLORER, a small country like Norway will always have a strategic interest in respecting international law. Then it is important that the use of military force in foreign operations appears – at home and abroad – as predictable, predictable and even principled.

Why are Norwegian soldiers in Iraq

Russia Recent History

Russia Recent History

Gorbachev’s reforms and the extinction of the USSR

After the death of Leonid Brezhnev and after the rapid succession of Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko, Mikhail Gorbachev was appointed leader of the USSR. Gorbachev began to implement significant changes in the economy, Perestroikaand Glásnost politics, unleashing opportunistic forces that with the encouragement of the West worked to disintegrate the USSR and the return of its members – especially Russia – to capitalism. The distancing of the Communist Party and its leadership from the workers favored this process.

The movement that definitely brought down the USSR came from Russia, the nation that had built the Tsarist empire, predecessor of the Soviet state. In May 1990, Borís Yeltsin, who had been expelled from the CPSU in 1987, was elected president of the Russian Parliament. From that position of power, Yeltsin promoted measures that precipitated the end of the Soviet Union.

Powerless and abandoned by almost everyone, Gorbachev resigned as President of the USSR on December 25, 1991. The Soviet red flag was lowered in the Moscow Kremlin, the Russian flag replaced it.

Russia took over from the USSR on the international scene: embassies, permanent post on the Security Council, and control of Soviet nuclear weapons. The end of the Cold War was announced, but the United States took advantage of it to impose its hegemony in a unipolar world.

Russian Federation

Although Yeltsin was applauded abroad for showing himself as a democrat to weaken Gorvachev, his conception of the presidency was very autocratic, acting either as his own prime minister (until June 1992) or appointing people he trusted to that position., regardless of parliament.

Meanwhile, the excessive presence of tiny parties and their refusal to form coherent alliances left the legislature ungovernable. During 1993, the dispute between Yeltsin and the parliament culminated in the constitutional crisis of October.

This reached its critical point when, on October 3, Yeltsin commanded the tanks to bombard the Russian parliament. With this momentous (and unconstitutional) step of dissolving parliament by gunfire, Russia had not been so close to civil strife since the 1917 revolution.

From then on, Yeltsin was completely free to impose a constitution with strong presidential powers, which was approved in a referendum in December 1993. However, the December vote also marked an important advance by communists and nationalists, reflecting the growing disenchantment of the population with neoliberal economic reforms.

Despite coming to power in a general atmosphere of optimism, Yeltsin would never regain his popularity after supporting Yegor Gaidar’s economic “shock therapy”: end of Soviet-era price controls, drastic cuts in public spending and openness to the economy. foreign trade in 1992.

The reforms immediately devastated the quality of life of the vast majority of the population, especially in those sectors benefited by controlled wages and prices, subsidies and the welfare state of the Soviet era. Russia suffered an economic recession in the 1990s more severe than the Great Depression that hit the United States or Germany in the early 1930s.

On the advice of Western governments, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, Russia would embark on the largest and fastest privatization ever carried out by a government in all of history. By the middle of the decade, commerce, services and small industry were already in private hands.

Almost all large companies were acquired by their former directors, spawning a class of nouveau riche close to various mafias or Western investors. At the base of the system, due to inflation or unemployment, many workers ended up in poverty, prostitution or crime.

According to, the Russian economy began a recovery from 1999 in part thanks to the rise in oil prices, its main export even though Soviet production levels are far behind.

After the financial crisis of 1998, Yeltsin was in the twilight of his career. Just hours before the first day of 2000, he resigned by surprise leaving the government in the hands of his prime minister, Vladimir Putin, a former KGB official and head of his successor agency after the fall of the USSR.

In the presidential elections of March 26, 2000, the new president easily defeated his opponents, winning in the first round. In 2004 he was reelected with 71% of the votes and his allies won the legislative elections.

In the Russian legislative elections of 2007, the United Russia party won 64.3% of the votes, which was seen as support from the Russians for the aforementioned political and economic course.

In Russia’s 2008 presidential elections, United Russia party candidate Dmitry Medvedev, supported by then-President Vladimir Putin, won by a wide margin over his opponents at the polls. Medvedev took office in May 2008.

Vladimir Putin again won the 2012 elections, and on his return to presidential power he appointed Medvedev as prime minister.

Russia Recent History

Ireland in the 21st Century

Ireland in the 21st Century

In a referendum on June 7, 2001 (in which only 33.7% of those eligible to vote took part), the Irish surprisingly rejected the Treaty of Nice, adopted by the EU states in December 2000, with 54%. In a new referendum on October 19, 2002, however, the Irish people approved the agreement with 63% of the votes, paving the way for EU enlargement. After several years of economic boom, the coalition cabinet formed by Fianna Fáil and Progressive Democrats under Bartholemew P. Ahern became clearly confirmed in office in the parliamentary elections on May 17, 2002 (first re-election of a coalition government in the history of Ireland). The opposition Fine Gael lost 23 of its previous 54 seats (and thus much of its political influence).

The governing coalition of Fianna Fáil and Progressive Democrats suffered a drastic drop in popularity in 2003. Fianna Fáil, in particular, was accused of misleading voters about the true state of public finances. In addition, the budgetary situation forced the government to take drastic and sometimes unpopular austerity measures against the opposition of influential interest groups (especially the public service unions). The referendum on changing citizenship law in 2004 was particularly controversial. With 79.1% of the vote, the citizens adopted a constitutional amendment that abolished the previously automatic right to Irish citizenship for every child born on the island. Regardless of this, Fianna Fáil again asserted itself as the strongest political party in the parliamentary elections on May 24, 2007. However, the great losses suffered by coalition partner Progressive Democrats (PD) made it necessary to expand the governing coalition. After successful coalition negotiations, the Green Party also took part in the new Ahern cabinet.

After a long phase of growth, in which GDP growth of 6% was achieved in 2007, the country plunged into a severe economic crisis in 2007/08. Worn down by a financial affair that had lasted for months, Ahern announced his resignation in April 2008. On May 7, 2008, the previous Finance Minister Brian Cowen was elected as the new head of government. He continued the coalition with the Greens and Progressive Democrats.

According to allcitycodes, the Lisbon Treaty negotiated by the EU member states was initially rejected in a referendum in June 2008, but was approved by a clear majority in a second referendum in October 2009. At the end of September 2008, several major Irish banks came to the brink of insolvency. As a result, the government was the first in Europe to issue a state guarantee for all savings deposits; on December 15, 2008 it announced a rescue package for the banks of € 10 billion. In January 2009, the government was forced to nationalize the Anglo Irish Bank, which was ailing by speculative real estate deals.

To overcome the budget crisis, the Cowen government relied on drastic cuts in the social network and income cuts for employees in the public sector. The extensive austerity measures, which provoked sharp protests in the population and in the trade unions, were aimed at v. a. looking to maintain the country’s credit rating after rating agencies downgraded Ireland’s credit rating. After the self-dissolution of the Progressive Democrats, the government lost its majority in parliament. Because of the ongoing crisis in the banking system, threatening the stability of the euro zone, Ireland went under the euro rescue package in November 2010 and applied for aid totaling € 85 billion.

On January 23, 2011, the Green Party also withdrew from the coalition. Early parliamentary elections became necessary, in which Fianna Fáil suffered a dramatic drop in votes on February 25, 2011 and only won 19 seats (2007: 77). The Fine Gael party, led by Enda Kenny , was the strongest party with 76 seats, but missed an absolute majority. The Labor Party won 37 seats, and on March 9, 2011, Kenny became Prime Minister of a strong Fine Gael-Labor ruling coalition. For the first time in 100 years, a British head of state, Queen Elizabeth II , visited the country again in May 2011. On November 11, 2011, Labor Party politician Michael D. Higgins succeeded Mary McAleese sworn in as the 9th President of the Republic of Ireland.

A referendum on the European Fiscal Compact took place on May 31, 2012, in which 60.3% of those who voted were in favor of ratification. Ireland thus fulfilled a necessary condition for the later use of funds from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

After it was discovered in the 1990s that girls and women in Catholic reformatory institutions for prostitutes, rape victims and socially or psychologically conspicuous people, so-called »Magdalenenheimen«, as well as in so-called industrial schools (state and church institutions for orphaned and neglected children) had been exploited and mentally and physically abused for years, a committee of inquiry presented its report in February 2013. This also demonstrated the involvement of state institutions in the scandal. Between 1922 and 1996 there were a total of around 10,000 women and girls in Magdalenenheimen. The government then apologized to the victims and promised compensation. The passage of a law in July 2013,

The Kenny administration’s plans to abolish the Senate in order to save costs were rejected by a majority of the Irish in a referendum in October 2013. In the course of 2013, the general economic conditions improved slightly. On December 15, 2013, Ireland was the first country to leave the euro rescue package. In April 2014, an Irish head of state, President Higgins, visited Great Britain for the first time. In the European elections on May 23, 2014, the governing parties suffered heavy losses. Fine Gael lost 6.8% and was only able to win 22.3% of the votes, and the co-ruling Labor Party fell from 13.9% to 5.3%. Fianna Fáil came to 22.3% of the vote, a loss of only 1.8%. On May 22, 2015, a majority of 62.1% voted in a referendum for a constitutional amendment to introduce same-sex marriage. In the same month, the British heir to the throne, Prince Charles, met Sinn Féin President Gerard Adams on his visit to Ireland.

The meeting in Galway was interpreted by political observers as a signal of reconciliation between the British Crown and the Irish Republican movement.

In the parliamentary elections on February 26, 2016, the governing parties suffered another devastating defeat. Fine Gael only won 25.5% of the vote and 50 seats (2011: 36.1% and 76 seats). Your coalition partner Labor Party received 6.6% of the vote and 7 seats (2011: 19.5% and 37 seats). In contrast, Fianna Fáil improved from 17.5% of the vote to 24.3% and moved into parliament with 44 members (2011: 20). Sinn Féin also increased significantly with 13.8% of the votes and 23 seats (2011: 9.9% and 14 seats). Negotiations on the formation of a coalition government were unsuccessful. Finally, Enda Kenny came to an agreement with Fianna Fáil on the tolerance of a minority cabinet he had formed, made up of members of his party and independent politicians. On May 6, 2016, parliament confirmed him as head of government. The poor election result brought Kenny a loss of reputation in his party. Although he was able to win a vote of confidence in parliament on February 15, 2017, he finally announced his resignation from the party leadership and his resignation from the office of prime minister in May 2017. Successor in both functions became on 2.6. and June 14, 2017 Leo Varadkar . He vehemently advocated the legalization of abortion.

In the referendum on May 25, 2018, a clear majority of 66.4% of voters spoke out in favor of the right to abortion (turnout: two-thirds of those eligible to vote). Since then, abortion has been legal and not a crime. (The strict law in force since 1865 threatened women with up to 14 years imprisonment in the event of an abortion, even if the fetus was rape, incest or deformed.)

On October 26, 2018, President Michael D. Higgins became Presidentre-elected for a second term with 55.8% of the vote. On January 14, 2020, he dissolved parliament on the initiative of the Prime Minister. Varadkar justified this, among other things, with the changed majority in parliament and the near Brexit. In the early parliamentary elections on February 20, 2020, Sinn Féin achieved a surprisingly high victory (24.5% and 37 seats plus 1 seat due to a change of party). Fianna Fáil was the second strongest party with 22.2% and – due to the extremely complicated electoral system – 38 seats. Fine Gáil received 20.9% of the vote (35 seats) and Labor a minuscule 4.4%. The unexpected election results came about because the voters wanted to punish the government, among other things, for the health system, which is in dire need of reform, the unresolved housing issue and the abnormally high level of homelessness. Brexit, Sinn Féin, on the other hand, focused on social issues such as the housing crisis. Faced with this situation, Varadkar offered to resign. After the parliamentary elections in 2020, an unprecedented coalition of the bourgeois parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael with the Greens formed the government. On June 27, 2020, Fianna Fáil boss Micheál Martin (* 1960) was elected as the new prime minister.

On January 31, 2020, Great Britain under Boris Johnson declared the United Kingdom to leave the EU. The problems associated with this for the Republic of Ireland were not resolved, in particular the question of whether Brexit will take place with or without an agreement between Great Britain and the EU. A key issue for particularly hard hit Ireland was to politically redefine the border with Northern Ireland and to mitigate the economic and other consequences of this. This also includes the so-called backstop clause, which is intended to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in order to avoid the Good Friday Agreement put in danger. In addition, the handling of the EU Free Trade Agreement in relation to Ireland and the UK and the general reorganization of political, economic and cultural relations between the Republic of Ireland and the UK had to be clarified.

Ireland in the 21st Century

Austria Architecture and Design

Austria Architecture and Design

Before 1945: Based on historicism, and subsequently also committed to the Secession style, O. Wagner became a pioneer as an architect, urban planner (Viennese Stadtbahn with station buildings, 1894–1900) and furniture designer of a functional aesthetic that incorporated new materials. His opponent C. Sitte provided essential knowledge about modern urban planning. O. Wagner’s students, JM Olbrich and J. Hoffmann , were the leading representatives of Art Nouveau, both of whom were also intensively active in the field of applied art. J. Hoffmann founded the Wiener Werkstätte in 1903 with K. Moser whose products were made by leading artists and artisans (Carl Otto Czeschka, * 1878, † 1960; D. Peche; E. J. Wimmer-Wisgrill). Ceramists include Michael Powolny (* 1871, † 1954) and Berthold Löffler (* 1874, † 1960). The buildings and writings by A. Loos (including Vienna, Haus am Michaelerplatz, 1909–11) mark the dawn of objective, functionalist architecture. According to allcitycodes, Austria is a country located in western Europe.

After the First World War, C. Holzmeister oriented himself towards expressionist styles when building the Vienna crematorium (1921–22). A. Loos and F. Schuster worked for the Viennese settlement and garden city movement; Under the direction of Josef Frank (* 1885, † 1967) the Werkbundsiedlung (1930–32) was built in Vienna-Hietzing with 70 single-family houses by 30 well-known domestic and foreign architects. Among the numerous blocks of flats that were built by the Viennese city administration in 1923–34, including social facilities, the facilities according to plans by Hubert Gessner (* 1871, † 1943) and especially the Karl-Marx-Hof (1927–30) by Karl Ehn (* 1884, † 1959) emerged. The employment office in Vienna-Liesing (1930–31) by Ernst Anton Plischke (* 1903, † 1992), a transparent skeleton structure, is considered the main work of international modernism in Austria. Among the few private buildings, Lois Welzenbacher’s (* 1889, † 1955) houses integrated into the landscape in Tyrol, Salzburg and Upper Austria should be emphasized. The corporate state, the Nazi regime and World War II as well as the mostly final emigration of important architects (Frank; F. Kiesler; Ernst Lichtblau, * 1883, † 1963; R. Neutra, Plischke, R. M. Schindler and others) brought Austria’s progressive architectural creation to a standstill.

After 1945: In the early phase of the reconstruction, a pragmatism dominated the questions of architectural design. Before and after the war, C. Holzmeister was of great importance as a representative of moderately modern, more traditionalist architecture, but also as a teacher. R. Rainer, who also works as a Viennese city planner, realized future-oriented buildings and socially relevant concepts. Karl Schwanzer’s (* 1918, † 1975) Austria Pavilion for the World Exhibition in Brussels (1958; used as a 20th century museum in Vienna from 1962 ) is an important building of post-war modernism. The Holzmeister student G. Peichl (including Bonn, Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, 1989–92; Vienna, Millennium Tower, 1997–99, together with Boris Podrecca, * 1941), W. Holzbauer (including church in Salzburg-Parsch, 1953–56; Bregenz, Landtag building, 1975–80; Linz, Hauptbahnhof, 2000–04) and H. Hollein (including Mönchengladbach, Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, 1972–82; Vienna, Haas-Haus, 1986–90) also achieved great international recognition.

In the spirit of the student movement of 1968, visionary-actionist groups of architects formed in Vienna. Haus-Rucker-Co, Coop Himmelb (l) au, Zünd Up, Missing Link. Around 1970 Ernst Hiesmayr (* 1920, † 2006; Vienna, Juridicum, 1968–84), Anton Schweighofer (* 1930, † 2019; Vienna, City of the Child, 1969–74) and Harry Glück (* 1925, † 2016; Vienna, Alt-Erlaa residential park, 1968–74) construct innovative buildings for public clients. The wide range of architectural possibilities is illustrated by the sculptural model by F. Wotruba built church on the Georgenberg in Vienna-Liesing (1974–76) and the “Haus Hundertwasser” (1983–86), a residential complex in Vienna designed according to populist-ecological ideas.

Josef Lackner (* 1931, † 2000) built functional church and school buildings in Tyrol. An independent scene also established itself in Graz in the 1970s and 1980s. Especially Günther Domenig (* 1934, † 2012; Vienna favorites, Central Savings Bank, 1975-79; Steindorf / Kärtnen, stone house, 1986 et seq.; Nuremberg, documentation center at the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds, 1999-2001) came forward with unconventional expressive buildings. The team Michael Szyszkowitz (* 1944, † 2016)and Karla Kowalski (* 1941) built schools and residential complexes; Florian Riegler (* 1954) and Roger Riewe (* 1959) built Graz Airport (1989–94) and Innsbruck Central Station (2001–03). The members of the »Vorarlberger Baukünstler Group« (Roland Gnaiger, * 1951; Karl Baumschlager, * 1956; Dietmar Eberle, * 1952) found autonomous achievements. In a culturally open climate in Vienna, numerous architects were able to distinguish themselves from the 1980s on in residential buildings and schools (Hermann Czech, * 1936; Carl Pruscha, * 1936; Roland Hagmüller, * 1941, † 2011; Helmut Richter, * 1941, † 2014; Luigi Blau, * 1945; Adolf Krischanitz, * 1946; Rudolf Prohazka, * 1947, † 2011; Elsa Prochazka, * 1948 and others). Coop Himmelb (l) au secured a leading position in the field of deconstructivist architecture (Munich, Academy of Fine Arts, 2002–05; Aalborg, Musikhaus, 2003 ff.). The government district in Sankt Pölten (1990-97), built according to a basic concept by Ernst Hoffmann (* 1949), set new standards in the 1990s with the cultural buildings built with the participation of various architects. Adaptations and new museum buildings have gained in importance since the late 1980s. Peter Noever (* 1941) and W. Pichler set striking accents in the restructuring of the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna (1989–92). Laurids (* 1941) and Manfred Ortner (* 1943), former members of Haus-Rucker-Co, realized one of the largest European cultural complexes (1990–2001) with the Vienna Museum Quarter in the area of ​​the baroque court stables. In Klosterneuburg, Heinz Tesar (* 1939) built a private art house for the Essl Collection (1996–99). In addition, important exhibition buildings were built by foreign architects: Kunsthaus in Bregenz (1990–97) by P. Zumthor, Kunsthaus in Graz (2000–03) by Colin Fournier (* 1944) and Peter Cook (* 1936), Lentos Art Museum in Linz (2000–03) by Weber + Hofer, Museum der Moderne in Salzburg (2002–04) by Friedrich Hoff Zwick. The new building of the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York (1998–2002) by Raimund Abraham (* 1933, † 2010) attracted a lot of attention.

Austria Architecture

Georgian Literature

Georgian Literature

Georgian literature. Within the Caucasian culture, Georgian literature is the only surviving ancient literature. It has been tangible since the 5th century and initially dealt with religious issues. After Persian and Turkish rule in the 15th to 18th centuries, it was under Russian influence from the 19th century. Since Georgia regained independence in 1991, literature has played a key role in social and cultural discovery processes. According to Countryaah, Georgia is among countries that starting with letter G.


From the 5th century onwards, hagiographic works can be traced back to Jakob Zurtaweli’s »The Sorrows of Saint Shushanik«. Nonetheless, their design suggests narrative traditions that go back further. In these and subsequent works, religious, but also historical, national and philosophical questions are raised, human fates are described and descriptions of nature are provided. The 12th century shows a mature secular literature with high ideals. The economic boom accompanied by a lively literary translator activity was in the 13./14. Aborted in the 19th century by the invasion of the Mongols. Many works of Georgian literature were lost during this time, five writings from the 12th century alone have survived: inter alia. works by Mose Chonelis (12th century) and Sargis Tmogwelis (12th century) as well as by Schota Rustaweli “The Recke in the Tiger Skin” (around 1200; German).

15th to 18th century

From the 15th to the 18th century, Georgian literature developed in the context of Persian or Turkish rule. Your influence will include visible in the works of King Teimura I (* 1589, † 1663). King Artschil II (* 1647, † 1713), who also worked as a poet, already polemicized against the orientation towards Persian culture. S. S. Orbeliani published a Georgian dictionary and wrote the collection of fairy tales and fables “The Wisdom of Lies” (German) from 1686–95 with educational content. Dawit Guramishvili’s (* 1705, † 1792) compilation »Davitiani« contains poems and poems in which he addresses the deportation he personally suffered from his homeland and formulates the writer’s tasks. Besiki (actually Bessarion Gabashvili; * 1750, † 1791) was v. a. known as the author of love poetry.

19th century

After Georgia was forcibly incorporated into Tsarist Russia (from 1801), Georgian literature came into contact with Russian and, through this, with Western European literature. Aleksandre Tschawtschawadses (* 1786, † 1848) poems are oriental formulaic in the traditional sense and are characterized by the love of life and the melancholy of Romanticism. With N. Baratashvili, the most famous of the Georgian Romantics, Georgian literature finally broke away from exclusively Eastern influences. Baratashvili dealt with v. a. with questions of national identity. Giorgi Eristawi (* 1811, † 1864) revived Georgian theatrical art in the 1840s. I. Chavtschawadze and the poet Akaki Tsereteli (* 1840, † 1915) rekindled Georgian self-confidence in society and literature with, among other things, criticism of serfdom. In the 1880s, with the works of Aleksandre Qasbegis (* 1848, † 1893) and Wascha Pschawelas (* 1861, † 1915)a realistic literary current that, among other things, poetically generalized the life of Georgian mountain dwellers (so-called Georgian “mountain school”). In the course of this, the socially critical tendency of Georgian literature was further strengthened, especially since the Russian revolutionary movement raised hopes for national liberation.

Early 20th century

Galaktion Tabidze (* 1892, † 1959) became the most prominent poet among Georgian writers of the 20th century. In his poetry he sang, among other things. the ideas of the October Revolution. The different literary currents of this time combined with diverging political positions and found themselves in groups of writers such as the so-called Academic Association, in the union of proletarian writers as well as in the groups of the symbolists (who came to be known as the “blue drinking horns”) and the futurists again. From the mid-1920s, prose gained popularity while poetry lost its influence. Michail Dschawachischwili (* 1880, † 1937), K. Gamsachurdia and G. Robakidze In their novels they deal with coming to terms with the past and the preservation of national values.

After 1945

During the Second World War, many Georgian writers served on the front lines. They processed their experiences of violence and death v. a. in lyric. From the end of the 1950s, the literary topics expanded again. The narrative was increasingly discovered as a prose form, just as prose became the leading genre again from the 1960s onwards. Became known inter alia. the humorous works of Nodar Dumbadze (* 1928, † 1984) as well as the novels by Tschabua Amiredshibi (* 1921, † 2013) and Otar Tschiladze (* 1933, † 2009), which are created through the individual focus on their characters and excluding specific historical events describe social living environments.

After Georgia gained independence, novels appeared in the 1990s that deal with the Soviet era – for example in Chiladse’s »Awelum« (1995; German). At the same time, younger authors began including accompanied by the founding of her own publishing houses to print her poems and stories.

Georgian Literature

Denmark Literature

Denmark Literature

In Danish literature, runic inscriptions and legal books are the oldest surviving vernacular sources. The first literary references are in Latin.

The “Gesta Danorum” (around 1200) by Saxo Grammaticus offers a genealogical description of Danish history from its mythical beginnings to the time the book was written. In contrast, Anders Sunesen’s (* around 1167, † 1228) theological-allegorical didactic poem “Hexaëmeron” (circa 1200–28) provides an example of the international level of monastic literature of the Danish Middle Ages. The oldest book printed in Danish (1495) is the “Rimkroniken” (“Reimchronik”, finished in 1477).

Early modern age

Latin literature and handwritten records continued into the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. At the same time, printing and the Reformation marked a turning point. In Bible translations (New Testament of 1524 and the complete Bible “Christian III. Bible”, 1550) and the scientific examination of one’s own language, an increased appreciation of the vernacular was expressed. The interest in vernacular literature resulted in an early recording of medieval ballad poetry (Folkeviser). In addition to grammars and metrics, the first poetics appeared in Danish. With a rhetorically versed poetry, which was devoted to religious and secular subjects, attempts were made to tie in with European standards. So justified T. Kingo an independent Danish psalm poem. Leonora Christina Ulfeldt’s autobiography stands out from the memoir literature, which was still heavily influenced by Christian rhetoric.


In the 18th century, Danish literature emerged as the recipient of European enlightenment ideas. Impulses from French, English and German explanatory pamphlets were taken up in particular by L. Holberg. The historian, state theorist and moral philosopher wrote comedies from 1722-28 and institutionalized theater in Denmark. The satirical tradition of Holberg was continued by Charlotte Dorothea Biehl (* 1731, † 1788) and J. Wessel. In contrast, H. A. Brorson’s pietistic psalm poetry stands for an emancipation of subjective feeling that shaped the sentimental literature of the late 18th century. Next to Klopstock other central figures of German sensibility stayed in Copenhagen. Their influence made a. noticeable in the poetry and drama of J. Ewald and J. Baggesen. Both authors also contributed significantly to the final establishment of the novel in Denmark.

Romanticism – Biedermeier – Realism

In 1802/03, H. Steffens brought the ideas of German Romanticism to Denmark through lectures. The philosophical appreciation of art led to a new understanding of authors and art, which already shaped the early collections of poetry by A. Oehlenschläger and A. W. Schack von Staffeldt. The propagated aestheticization of the nation was expressed in the use of materials and forms from Norse, Old Danish and popular Danish literature, which reflected the poetry and drama of Oehlenschläger, N. F. S. Grundtvigs, C. Winthers and B. S. Ingemanns excels. The latter made a name for himself with extensive historical novels on Danish history. The second generation of Danish Romanticism was formed around the aesthetician and playwright J. L. Heiberg, who sought to reform Danish theater based on G. W. F. Hegel and French vaudeville. Henrik Hertz and Jens Christian Hostrup (* 1818, † 1892) followed this program. Like Heiberg, F. Paludan-Müller sought a philosophically inspired poetry of ideas. In contrast, E. Aarestrup anticipated modernist forms of symbolist poetry with his erotic poetry. With Thomasine Gyllembourg, S. S. Blicher, M. Goldschmidt, H. E. Schack and Vilhelm Bergsøe (* 1835, † 1911), who are considered representatives of poetic realism, an accomplished and ironic narrative art first blossomed. The philosopher S. Kierkegaard and the fairy tale poet H. C. Andersen also acted as novelists in this environment.

Modern breakthrough and decadence literature (1870–1910)

With his lectures on the “mainstreams of 19th century literature”, which began in 1871, G. Brandes (* 1842, † 1927) revised the concept of literature and literary criticism in Denmark. The literary program developed in close connection with the industrialization and urbanization processes. What was called for was a (political) tendency literature that critically deals with a bourgeois double standard (especially sexual morality). The reception of French naturalism coincided with the nihilistic and linguistically reflective radicalism of F. Nietzsche, the Brandes discovered for European literature. With the authors of the »Modern Breakthrough«, Danish literature gained European relevance. This is true v. a. for J. P. Jacobsen, H. Bang, H. Drachmann and H. Pontoppidan, who in their novels took up the problem posed by Brandes. The claim to modernity was also formally reflected in that these authors were guided by impressionistic methods. In addition to Amalie Skram, Thit Jensen and Agnes Henningsen (* 1868, † 1962), many female authors took part in the debates on emancipation and sexual morality.

At the same time as French symbolist poetry, as a country starting with letter D according to Countryaah, Denmark experienced a lyrical renaissance in the 1880s and 90s. J. Jørgensen, S. Claussen and V. Stuckenberg grouped authors around the magazine “Taarnet” (tower) who translated classical French modernism into Danish. They attempted to counter the depicted suffering from the loss of meaning in modernity and its social and industrial upheavals with exaggerated aestheticism and religious reorientation.

Ernesto Dalgas (* 1871, † 1899), J. V. Jensen (* 1873, † 1950) and M. A. Nexø wrote real decadence fantasies with doom scenarios. Jensen and Nexø  - like Marie Bregendahl, J. Aakjær and Johan Skjoldborg (* 1861, † 1936)  - later made a name for themselves as authors of popular breakthroughs and workers’ literature.

Interwar and wartime (1910-45)

Avant-garde tendencies were found among others. in the poetry and novels Emil Bønnelyckes (* 1893, † 1953) and A. T. Kristensens (* 1893, † 1974). Overall, however, traditional, realistic modes of representation prevailed, ranging from the bourgeois, naturalistic novels of J. Paludan (* 1896, † 1975) to the socially critical collective novels of H. R. Kirk to the psychoanalytic descriptions of H. C. Branner influenced by S. Freud. The 1930s were characterized by the dichotomy between a socialist-inspired cultural radicalism and conservative-bourgeois currents (including K. Munk) embossed. The main figure of the cultural radical wing was the architect, lighting designer and revue author P. Henningsen. For the concept he formulated of everyday poetry inspired by (proletarian) popular culture, prosaic (M. Klitgaard; Hans Scherfig, * 1905, † 1979) and dramatic implementations (K. Abell) can be found. Tania Blixen held an exceptional position, whose subtle narratives, written in English and Danish, are devoted to philosophical-aesthetic questions that raise fundamental political and religious problems (gender roles, power structures, etc.).

Post-war literature (1945-60)

The breakthrough of modernism only began with post-war literature. Authors, the aesthetic and v. a. ethical questions were taken up in a poetry that was at times hermetic and rich in metaphors. As a source of inspiration for the lyricists of this generation – i.a. T. Bjørnvig, O. Wivel, O. Sarvig and F. Jæger  - acted by P. La Cour. With his subtle short stories, M. J. A. Hansen provided the prosaic counterpart to this poetry. It was only V. Sørensen who founded a really modernist prose with his linguistically reflective and seemingly absurd stories. Also in the poetry and short stories of the boy Benny Andersens (* 1929, † 2018), the poetry of Ivan Malinowski (* 1926, † 1989), the prose of P. Seeberg and in the dramas and television plays of L. Panduros, language criticism stands alongside the thematization of an existence that is perceived as absurd.

Postmodern and Political Engagement (1960-70)

An overcoming of the symbolistically inspired post-war modernism was already indicated in the early, experimental poetry of K. Rifbjerg, who has shaped the literary life of Denmark as a novelist to the present day. It was only the representatives of system poetry (analysis of language material, text generation based on mathematical processes), inspired by French structuralism and post-structuralism, who finally turned away from modernist art concepts by turning against subject, authorship and the concept of the work in their autopoetically generated texts. Authors as diverse as Hans-Jørgen Nielsen (* 1941, † 1991), Klaus Høeck (* 1938), Peter Laugesen (* 1942), Dan Turèll (* 1946, † 1993) and v. a. Per Højholt and Inger Christensen contributed to the international reputation of the Danish post-war avant-garde. Corresponding prosaic experiments were provided by S. Å. Madsen, Vagn Lundbye (* 1933) and Henrik Bjelke (* 1937, † 1993). In contrast, T. Hansen and T. Skou-Hansen represent  the European documentary novel. In addition to experimental trends, the 1960s and 70s were characterized by political commitment. With (auto) biographical descriptions or confessional novels, Tove Ditlevsen (* 1917, † 1976), Jette Drewsen (* 1943), Vita Andersen (* 1942, † 2021), Dea Trier Mørch (* 1941, † 2001) and Suzanne Brøgger (* 1944) use literature for emancipatory purposes.

Contemporary literature (since 1980)

The 1980s were marked by a return to aesthetic issues and large narrative forms. The classic modern novel was linked, inter alia, to Poul Vad (* 1927, † 2003) and Peer Hultberg (* 1935, † 2007). P. Høeg celebrates European successes with his novels, which combine philosophical and ethical questions with popular forms of depiction of crime literature.

The youngest generation of Danish authors – i.a. Peter Adolphsen (* 1974), Solvej Balle (* 1962), Kirsten Hammann (* 1965), Helle Helle (* 1965) and Christina Hesselholdt (* 1962)  - is characterized by minimalist art concepts (mostly concentrated short prose). Whereas in the 1980s, with Henrik Nordbrandt (* 1945) and Pia Tafdrup, poetry found its way back to a metaphor-rich modernism or addressed the big city experiences (Søren Ulrik Thomsen, * 1956; Michael Strunge, * 1958, † 1986), contemporary poets are more concerned with philosophically distant language experiments (including Niels Lyngsø, * 1968; Simon Grotrian, * 1961).

So far, three Danish writers have received the Nobel Prize for Literature: K. Gjellerup, H. Pontoppidan (both 1917) and J. V. Jensen (1944).

Denmark Literature

Emigration to Russia

Emigration to Russia

Area: 17,075,400 km² (excluding Crimea)
17,102,344 km² (including Crimea)
Population: 144,526,636 (excluding Crimea)
146,877,088 (including Crimea) in 2018
Population density: 8 E / km² (excluding Crimea)
8.6 E / km² (with Crimea)
Form of government: Federal Republic
System of Government: Semi-presidential system
Neighboring countries: Norway, FinlandEstoniaLatvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, ChinaLithuania and Poland (neighbors of the Kaliningrad exclave)
Capital: Moscow National
language: Russian
51% Russian Orthodox,
7% Muslims,
0.1% Jehovah’s Witnesses
Currency: Ruble (RUB)
1 ruble = 100 kopecks
Exchange rates:
1 EUR = 88.306 RUB
100 RUB = 1, 13 EUR
1 CHF = 81.349 RUB
100 RUB = 1.228 CHF
(rate from 13.07.2021)
Telephone area code: +7
Time zone: CET +1 to +11

In 2020, 1,475 Germans officially emigrated to the Russian Federation and 3,194 came back to their homeland. Within the 10 years from 2010 to 2019, 22,534 Germans officially emigrated to Russia and 40,203 moved back to Germany. Over 400,000 Germans or Russian Germans still live in Russia, many in Moscow and St. Petersburg and the majority (Russian Germans) in Siberia. In Moscow there is even a residential area for Germans only.

The population in Russia is declining, which, according to UN estimates, will require two million foreign workers annually over the next few years (more information on the increasing trend towards emigration of young Russians). In 2017, 8.1% of the population were migrants, most of whom came from the former Soviet republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus, but some also from Africa and Southeast Asia. According to Countryaah, Russia is one of countries starting with R.

Russian is the only official language. At the same time, however, the respective vernacular is often used and promoted as the second official language in the individual autonomous republics.

Travel and Visa

Changed travel regulations during and after the corona pandemic

Entry is permitted for German nationals and for citizens of other countries with an unlimited residence permit for Germany (original submission required) as well as diplomatic and service passport holders arriving by direct flight from Germany and certain other countries, including Finland, Greece and Switzerland. In addition, travelers must be in possession of a valid Russian visa.

Entry restrictions apply to entry by other means, in particular across the land border and by air from other countries. Entry on these routes is only possible for accredited employees of diplomatic missions and consular institutions of foreign countries and their family members, drivers in international road traffic, the crews of aircraft, sea and inland vessels, train crews in international rail traffic, employees of the courier service between the governments and members official delegations, as well as persons with diplomatic, official or regular private visas issued in connection with the death of a close relative.

Also exempt from the entry ban are people who enter the country as family members (spouses, parents, children, adoptive parents or children), guardians or carers of Russian nationals with identity documents recognized in this capacity with visas, people who enter for medical treatment and people who Have a permanent residence in the Russian Federation.

Even technicians who want to enter the country for the commissioning and maintenance of systems manufactured abroad are not subject to the entry ban. Highly qualified specialists with work permits and their family members can re-enter. The website of the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce in Moscow provides further information on the approval procedure required for these last two groups.

Emigration to Russia

Foreigners must provide proof of a negative PCR test when boarding a plane destined for Russia, even if they only want to travel through in transit. This also applies to those who have recovered and who have been vaccinated. The test must not have been taken earlier than three calendar days prior to the arrival of the aircraft in Russia. The test result must be printed out in Russian or English and presented at the border control. Foreigners can be obliged to take random COVID-19 tests when entering the Russian airport.

For other types of entry, the test result must be presented to the border control. Foreigners who travel to Russia for gainful purposes are then obliged to self-isolate in their home for 14 days. This also applies to people who live in the same household. The responsible Russian diplomatic mission abroad can provide more information on the entry requirements.

Travel across the land border of the Russian Federation, including the border to Belarus, is restricted for travelers. There are some exceptions. Germans are generally allowed to travel to Germany through EstoniaFinlandLithuania and Poland in transit with their own vehicle or organized collective transport. The land border between Latvia and Russia is currently closed. In individual cases, foreigners with a permanent residence permit in Russia were refused permission to cross the Russian land border.

General provisions for travel and residence

All EU citizens need a visa to enter Russia, which must be applied for at the Russian embassy before entering the country. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months when applying for the visa. The most important types of visas are listed below.

Business visa (up to a maximum of 3 months)

This visa is issued for business trips to Russia and is also mandatory for attending commercial events. As a rule, the first application for this visa is issued for a period of three months. Thereafter, multiple-entry visas are also possible for up to twelve months.

A business visa is only issued on the basis of an invitation from a natural or legal person from Russia. With this visa you cannot pursue regular employment (there is also the work visa). A business visa cannot be converted into a work visa, unless you leave the country for a short period of time.

A business visa is required for the following activities:

  • Business meetings or conducting negotiations
  • Extension or conclusion of business contracts
  • Market research
  • Participation in auctions, exhibitions and similar events
  • Installation, maintenance or repair of imported equipment in Russia

Business visa holders cannot stay in Russia for more than 90 days within a 180-day period.

Work visa (up to a maximum of 3 years)

This visa is mainly suitable for workers who want to work in Russia. The regular work visa is valid for one year. In the case of highly qualified foreign experts, the validity can be extended up to 3 years.

The number of entries and exits is unlimited for holders of a work visa within the period of its validity. An extension of the work visa can be obtained during the stay in Russia. The employer will apply for a work visa.

The following documents are required:

  • Invitation from the employer
  • Visa application form
  • Biometric passport photos
  • Valid international health insurance

Health insurance is compulsory in Russia. Accordingly, proof of health insurance coverage must be presented when applying for a visa. An unlimited possibility HERE.

Other types of visas are described in more detail on the website of the Russian Embassy.

Finland Travel Overview

Finland Travel Overview


Official name of the state

Republic of Finland.




As a country starting with F defined by Countryaah, Finland, the seventh largest country in Europe, borders Sweden to the northwest, Norway to the north and the Russian Federation to the east. The Gulf of Bothnia (west coast of Finland) and the Gulf of Finland (south coast) belong to the Baltic Sea. There are around 80,000 islands off the coast (most of them on the south and south-west coast), inland there are 188,000 lakes with a further 98,000 islands, the largest lake district in Europe.

10% of the land consists of water, 69% are forest areas and 8% are used for agriculture. Pine, fir and birch forests predominate in the south and south-west of the country. In the far north, in Lapland, the trees are sparser and dwarf birches predominate. In the center of the country you will find mountainous regions, here is the 1328 m high Haltiatunturi – the highest mountain in Finland.


Republic since 1919. Constitution from 1919, last amendment 1999. Unicameral parliament (Eduskunta / Riksdag) with 200 members. Direct election of the head of state every 6 years. Independent since 1917 (separation from Russia). Finland is a member of the EU.

Head of state

Sauli Niinistö, since March 2012.

Head of government

Juha Sipilä, since May 2015.


230 V, 50 Hz. No adapter required.

Time zone

Eastern European Time: CET +3 (CET +4 from March 26 to October 29, 2017)

Finland Travel Overview



The official languages are Finnish (91.2%), Swedish (5.5%) and in some parts of northern Finland also Sami. A minority speak Russian. English and German are widely spoken.



Jewelry, Ryijy hand-woven carpets, furniture, glass, porcelain, ceramics and fabrics are just some of the handicrafts Finland is known for. The shopping center in the basement of Helsinki Central Station is open Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-10 p.m. (Sundays and public holidays 12 p.m.-10 p.m.). In the port of Katajanokka you can buy glassware, porcelain, natural wood articles and fabrics. Duty-free shopping: Travelers who do not live in Scandinavia or EU countries can claim VAT back when they leave the country. The shops issue special vouchers that can be redeemed at the following customs offices: Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Mariehamn, Vaasa and Rovaniemi airports; on the ferries of the Silja Line, Viking Line, Vaasaferries and Polferriesand at the border crossings to Sweden, Norway and Russia.

Shop opening times:
Mon-Fri 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat 9 a.m.-3 p.m. From June to August most shops are open Mon-Fri 9 am-9pm, Sat 9 am-6pm and also on Sundays.




Most hotels and motels are modernly equipped, all usually have saunas and many also have a swimming pool. Room prices vary from region to region, hotels are the most expensive in Helsinki and Lapland. The service is usually included in the hotel bill (15%). Advance booking is recommended in summer. The tourist office can provide detailed information. With Finncheque-Hotel vouchers, which are available from certain travel agencies outside Finland, can be used to travel from hotel to hotel during the summer (May 12th – September 30th). They are particularly recommended for those traveling by car and can be redeemed in over 100 hotels. There are three different categories (see below). Only the first night can be booked in advance, the next hotel room can be booked free of charge in the hotel of the previous day. Less comprehensive hotel check systems from other providers offer similar discounts. Numerous hotels offer discounts for weekend guests or groups. Details from the Tourist Office or the Association of Finnish Hotels and Restaurants, Merimiehenkatu 29, SF-00150 Helsinki. Tel: (09) 622 02 00. For hotel reservations in Helsinki and the surrounding area: Helsinki Expert,Lönnrotinkatu 7 B, SF-00120 Helsinki. Tel: (09) 22 88 12 00. (Internet:

There is a surcharge for extra beds. Young people under the age of 15 who do not need an extra bed stay for free.

Summer hotels:
During the university summer holidays (June 1 – Aug 31), rooms in student residences are rented to vacationers. These modern and clean quarters are called »summer hotels«. They are cheaper than hotels and are available in all major cities.

The standard is generally high, the categories are based on the Finncheque system. Category I (high prices) and Category IIoffer accommodation in double rooms with breakfast (mostly buffet) and room service. In category III there is a packed meal available that you can put together yourself. Information from: Finnish Hotel and Restaurant Association, Merimiehenkatu 29, SF-00150 Helsinki. Tel: (09) 622 02 00.


There are around 350 campsites, around 200 of which are affiliated with the Finnish Tourism Association (blue and white sign with a tent in a C). The best time for a camping holiday is between May / June and August / September, depending on whether you are in the south or north of the country. Many campsites also rent huts for 2-6 people with cooking facilities and refrigerators, some with heating, washing facilities and toilet. Campsites are divided into five categories. The prices depend on the respective category and are calculated per family. Cooking and washing facilities are also included in the price. There are around 300 campsites with electrical power available for caravans. Top camping spotsare leisure centers and amusement parks for the whole family with attractive children’s entertainment programs for the high season in July.

Camping outside of campsites is only permitted with special permission from the property owner. Holders of an international camping card (FICC) do not need a Finnish camping card. A list of all campsites is available in bookstores and R-kiosks in Finland. The Camping & Hostels brochure can be requested free of charge from the Finnish National Tourist Board. The Finnish Campers Association can be reached at the following address: Tulppatie 14, SF-00880 Helsinki. Tel: (09) 47 74 07 40. (Internet:

Other accommodation options

There are around 105 youth hostels (Finnhostels). Some of them are only open in summer. Approx. 50 youth hostels are available all year round. Some of the hostels serve as student dormitories during the semester. There are four categories depending on the equipment. In addition to dormitories, there are also »family rooms« (2-4 beds). Meals are generally not served, but refreshments and coffee are available, and some hostels also have cooking facilities. There is no age limit. Bed linen can be borrowed. Discounts for holders of the international youth hostel card. The Camping & Hostels brochure with a list of all Finnhostels is available free of charge from the Finnish National Tourist Board. Further information from the Finnish Youth Hostel Association:Suomen Retkeily Magagärgestö (SRM RY), Yrjönkatu 38B-15, SF-00100 Helsinki. Tel: (09) 565 71 50. (Internet:
Rooms with breakfast, half board or full board are available on over 500 farms. Most of the farms are near lakes or rivers; the guest rooms are often simple but clean, and a family bathroom is available. Full board, half board or bed and breakfast are possible. Some farms offer guest houses or holiday apartments with refrigerators and cooking facilities for self-catering.
Full board consists of two main meals, coffee twice a day and a sauna twice a week; Children receive a 50-75% discount. Most of the farms are in central and eastern Finland, some are also on the coast and on the Åland Islands. Categories: 1-5 stars.



82.5% Lutherans, 1.1% Russian Orthodox, other Christian denominations (1.1%) as well as Jewish and Muslim minorities.

Social rules of conduct

Manners: Shake hands to greet you. The forms of politeness hardly differ from those in the rest of Europe. On formal occasions, guests should wait for the host’s kippis or skol (“cheers”) before drinking. Casual clothing is appropriate in most cases.

Tip: The hotel bill already includes 15% service charge. Restaurants and bars charge 14% service charge on weekdays and 15% on weekends and public holidays. A tip of 1-2 € is appropriate for hotel porters and cloakroom storage. Taxi drivers, hairdressers and toilet staff do not expect tips.

Smoking: There is an absolute ban on smoking in restaurants. Smoking is only permitted on terraces and in rooms in which no food and drinks are served. Smoking is also prohibited on public transport and in the vicinity of minors.


Best travel time

Moderate climate, but strong temperature fluctuations. Warm in summer; mild weather in spring and autumn. Very cold winter (November – mid-March). In the north, snowfall from mid-October to mid-May, during the short arctic summer the sun shines for up to 16 hours a day. Heavy snowfall in winter. July is the warmest month in Helsinki with an average of 17.7 ° C. In the north it stays dark for two months in winter. The best travel time for summer vacationers is in the months of June and July and winter sports enthusiasts will find the best conditions for their favorite winter sports in Finland from February to mid-April.


Area code +358 Area (square km) 338 145 Population 5476922 Population density (per square km) 16 Population in 2015 Member of the EU Yes main emergency number 112

Places to Visit in Ireland

Places to Visit in Ireland

You must experience these in Ireland


Powerscourt is high on the list for many of the visitors who travel to Ireland – and for good reason. Powerscourt Townhouse is an enchanting English-style country house with an absolutely stunning garden that was voted the world’s third most beautiful by National Geographic.

When visiting Powerscourt Townhouse on trips to Ireland, you can explore the site’s 47 acres of land, which consists of a mix of gardens, lakes, waterfalls and historic buildings. Here you will find, for example, Ireland’s highest waterfall, which is named after the area.

Powerscourt is located south of Dublin and can be experienced on the way to the Wicklow Mountains on trips to Ireland. The area is huge so you can easily get a whole day to go in the gardens. If you do not have a whole day for the purpose, then it may be a good idea to prioritize what you want to see.

JB Malon Memorial

The JB Malon Memorial is a memorial stone erected in honor of the man behind the Wicklow route, John James Bernard (‘JB’) Malone. JB Malon was an officer who, as a young man, began exploring the Wicklow Mountains and is responsible for many of the routes that exist today.

From the JB Malon Memorial you can enjoy some of Ireland’s most spectacular views. From the memorial stone you can, among other things, enjoy the view of Lough Tay, which is one of Ireland’s most enchanting and popular mountain lakes.

The JB Malon Memorial can also serve as a good starting point if you want to venture out on the Wicklow route. On trips to Ireland, the memorial stone can also be reached by car, where it is only 300 meters from the nearest car park.

Wicklow windows

South of Dublin you will find the Wicklow route, which is one of Ireland’s most popular walking routes. The route covers the largest highland area in Ireland and offers an abundance of beautiful scenery that takes you through local villages, mountains and mountain lakes.

The route was opened back in 1980 and is therefore one of Ireland’s oldest marked hiking routes. The route stretches over 132 km, where you pass some of the most beautiful and best preserved Irish nature – including the waterfall at Powerscourt Townhouse and the mountain lake Lough Tay.

On trips to Ireland, the starting point of the route can be reached in just 1.5 hours from Dublin Airport, and is, along with the enchanting scenery, the reason for its popularity. The strategic location of the route therefore makes it easy to combine a city break with hiking on trips to Ireland.

Lough Tay

Lough Tay is probably one of the most photographed places in the Wicklow region – and with good reason: the magnificent mountain lake with the cliffs behind it is a fantastic sight that you must not deceive yourself on when traveling to Ireland.

Lough Tay Lake is also known as “Guinness Lake” as the area is owned by the Guinness family. The approximate black waters of the mountain lake can almost lead the thirsty hiker to believe that the lake is filled with Guinness.

The lake is located on private territory and therefore it is not possible to experience it up close on trips to Ireland. On the other hand, on Ireland trips you can enjoy the view of the lake from, among other things, the JB Malon memorial stone, which you will find along the Wicklow route.

Temple Bar

As you travel through the vibrant streets of Dublin on your travels to Ireland, do not deceive yourself into visiting Temple Bar. Temple Bar is highlighted as Dublin’s cultural district and is packed with pubs, galleries and niche shops.

In the Temple Bar district you can get an insight into Ireland’s vibrant pub culture, which you should experience on your Ireland trip. In the neighborhood you will find a number of Dublin’s most popular pubs, where you can sample hundreds of different whiskeys.

Even if you are not into the Irish pub scene, you should still make your way past Temple Bar on trips to Ireland. The neighborhood is a gathering place for Dublin’s culture, and you will therefore find street musicians, markets, exhibitions and galleries.

Temple Bar

Travel to Hiking in Italy

Travel to Hiking in Italy

Hiking in Italy is possibly one of the most varied hiking experiences you can find. Perfect routes are planned and ready. Some take you through majestic mountain passes and impressive Alps with snow on top. Others lead you off winding streets of Rome, Florence or Tuscany.

The experiences range widely; get to the top of an active volcano, visit historic medieval towns or make your way past classic Italian wineries. Hiking in Italy can be a bit of each and it is up to you what you want to get out of the journey. We are ready to guide you.

Great places for hiking in Italy

Hiking in Sicily

The ball outside Italy’s boot tip is an obvious destination if you want to hike in Italy. Sicily, Italy’s probably most famous island, is packed with beautiful, challenging and extremely unique hiking routes.

You set the course yourself – maybe it points to the top of exploding Etna. The aggressive volcano tends to erupt every few years, so you can not get closer to the top than 500 meters.

The volcanic island of Stramboli, which belongs to Sicily, is also an obvious day trip for those who want to strap on their hiking boots. Up to 10 times an hour, a column of golden red magma sprays up from the top of the volcano. Nature shows itself from its most spectacular side, but one must of course approach the area carefully.

Hiking around Mont Blanc

There are many opinions about which mountain is the highest in Europe. But if Mont Blanc does not take this prize, with its 4,810 meters to the top, it can in any case turn out to be Western Europe’s highest mountain. With us you can experience hiking in Italy at the foot of stunning Mont Blanc.

This hike takes you not only to Italy but also to romantic France and beautiful Switzerland . Throughout the route, we are surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks and a nature worth writing home about. Waterfalls, mountain lakes and sparkling glaciers are constantly replacing each other in the landscape.

We move from high mountain passes to deep valleys and cross green meadows and blueberry fields. Along the way we spend the night in charming mountain villages. Hiking in Italy can be amazingly adventurous!

Hiking in the Cinque Terre

The Italian National Park, Cinque Terre, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and with good reason. Hiking in Italy is extremely visual and appealing here, with hiking trails creeping along the mountainside. From here there is a view of the Mediterranean as far as the eye can see.

Hiking in Italy’s Cinque Terre takes you through one cozy village after another. Here the colorful little houses appear in a row. Some balance on the edge of the ocean, while others cling to the steep mountain sides.

Visit the fishing villages of Camogli or Portofino, experience the Gothic monastery of San Fruttuoso, or visit the 14-meter-high statue of Neptune in Monerosso. On the hike between the cities, we move through fragrant lemon groves, olive groves and pine forests.

Hiking in the Dolomites

Winding paths through the majestic Dolomites, give you good conditions for a fantastic hike in South Tyrolean Italy. From Pustertal, where the population is German-speaking, the trip goes south of the Falzarego Pass to Fanes.

New routes take over, and you get past the Dolomites’ “Pearl Lake”. Natural phenomena such as the Pragser Wildsee make hiking in Italy very special. The inner pictures you get from here are confusingly reminiscent of the postcards you can buy in any souvenir shop.

Hiking in the Italian Dolomites takes you through dense pine forests, out into open meadows and into the shade of leaning rock walls. We take the cable car up the steepest rock walls and visit the cozy mountain restaurant, Capanna Alpina. Here is so much to experience.

Hiking in Tuscany

Hiking in Italy is not only reserved for the many mountain passes. City walks in the streets of Italy are a charming and ornate experience. Start your hike in romantic Florence and continue through picturesque Tuscany.

The routes take you across vineyards, lush forests and golden cornfields. We are located past incredible medieval towns such as Castellina in Chianti, here the huge city wall robs a lot of the history that has unfolded exactly where your feet are now planted.

We cross rushing rivers at San Gimignano – the city that also goes under “Tuscany’s Manhattan”. However, the modern skyscrapers have been replaced with impressive medieval buildings and stunning scenery. Hiking in Italy is a varied experience.

Hiking in Tuscany

Questions and answers

When is the best time to go hiking in Italy?

It is possible to hike in Italy at any time of the year. During the summer, it can be just as legally hot to hike for many hours through the dense streets of Italy. Likewise, winter can be bitterly cold and sometimes even impossible if you move from far up in the Alps. Therefore, choose your route according to when you travel – or when you travel according to your route. Feel free to ask us for advice! Read more about weather and climate in Italy .

Does it require equipment to hike in Italy?

It depends on which route you want to go. Most of our routes require only the basic equipment such as a good pair of hiking boots. Feel free to check out our packing lists for trekking and mountaineering , where you can hopefully get smarter.

Can I go hiking in Italy without being accompanied by a guide?

Yes. Some of our routes are self-guided. Here we seek that you are well equipped from home and have the full overview of the route. Likewise, you always have us at Tourist Travel to call if something should arise. Other routes are with guide. You can read more about this when you click on the journey of your dreams.

The Most Beautiful Ice Rinks in Austria

The Most Beautiful Ice Rinks in Austria

Ice skating is one of the most beautiful winter sports activities and is suitable for both young and old. Fortunately, there are numerous ice rinks in Austria that offer a great backdrop and romantic ambience. From the Lunzer See to the famous Viennese Ice Dream, I’ll show you the most beautiful ice rinks our country has to offer.

Anyone who wants to do a few pirouettes on the ice this winter will be spoiled for choice in Austria. Our beautiful country offers numerous ice rinks that are reminiscent of a winter wonderland. Whether in Vienna, Salzburg or Carinthia – I’ll show you the coolest ice rinks that are perfect for a romantic date or a fun family outing.

The most beautiful ice rinks in Austria

Lunzer See, Lower Austria

According to computerdo, the Lunzer See in Lower Austria is not only worth a visit in summer – you can also have a wonderful time here in winter. When the temperatures drop below zero, the natural lake turns into an ingenious ice rink. While you glide over the ice here, you can enjoy the view of the breathtaking landscape and let the great winter scenery work its magic on you. Incidentally, the small Maiszinken ski area is located above Lake Lunzer See and is particularly suitable for family outings. There are a total of three runs of all levels of difficulty as well as a magic carpet for children.

Vienna Ice Skating Club, Heumarkt

In the middle of Vienna’s city center, you can do your pirouettes on one of the world’s oldest ice rinks. The Vienna Ice Skating Club was founded in 1867 and since then has attracted both locals and numerous tourists who can put their ice skating skills to the test. Regardless of whether you want to glide comfortably over the ice, try a few daring turns or play ice hockey – everyone gets their money’s worth here. With 6,000m2, the ice rink is also one of the largest open-air artificial ice rinks in Europe.

Mozartplatz, Salzburg

The Mozartplatz in Salzburg is a popular destination for ice princes and princesses every winter. Between November and January there is an ice skating rink that inspires young and old alike. A special highlight is the winter lounge, which is also accessible to non-ice skaters and has a cozy atmosphere. Here you can warm up in between and toast with a delicious punch from Treml.

Rathausplatz, Vienna

One of the most beautiful ice rinks in Austria is located in the capital and everyone should be familiar with it. The Vienna Ice Dream on Rathausplatz attracts with an impressive backdrop and a distinctive atmosphere. On the approximately 3,000 m² ice rink, you can show off your dance skills to chart songs and enjoy the view of the festively illuminated town hall. In contrast to many other ice rinks, which are only open until January, the ice rink on Rathausplatz is open to visitors until March.

Weissensee, Carinthia

Weissensee, Carinthia

The Weissensee in Carinthia is the largest, permanently frozen natural ice surface in Europe and is perfect for ice skating from December to March. On the 40 cm thick layer of ice you will not only meet ice sports enthusiasts – horse-drawn sleighs also do their laps here. The ice rinks, curling rinks and ice hockey rinks are regularly maintained and prepared by a special team of employees. For those who do not feel so safe on the ice, there is even a natural ice skating school, where you can be trained by professionals. Those who are particularly brave can also try ice diving.

What do you think of my favorite ice rinks in Austria ? Which is your favorite? You are of course also welcome to leave me a comment with your personal tips!

Sightseeing in Cyprus

Sightseeing in Cyprus

Cyprus is an island in the eastern Mediterranean with a long and eventful history. From here you can quickly get to Turkey by ship, and trips to Greece and Egypt are also possible. The capital, Nicosia, is today the only European capital that is divided into two parts: the southern part belongs to the Republic of Cyprus and the northern part belongs to the Turkish Republic of Cyprus.

Likewise, the country is divided into two parts, the north and south. Hence, the people on the island speak Greek and Turkish. In addition to the idyllic nature and beautiful beaches, there are many historical sights, monasteries, castles and Roman ruins on the Mediterranean island.

In the following we present you the most exciting tours, most beautiful attractions and best sights in Cyprus.

Aphrodite's Rock (Rum Bucolic Ape)

1. Roman ruins of Kourion

Kourion was once the city of the ancient kingdom of the same name. The remains that are still preserved today all date from Roman times. The Roman ruins of Kourion are among the most impressive archaeological sites on the island of Cyprus. One of the most important testimonies of the Roman city is the Greco-Roman amphitheater, built in the 2nd century BC.

The theater is still used for open-air events, especially in summer. In addition, some houses have been excavated in the city, in which well-preserved floor mosaics have been found. In the house of Achilles, for example, mythological scenes are shown and in the house of the gladiators the bloody games are depicted. There is also a thermal bath, a Roman agora and an early Christian basilica.

2. Salamis and the royal tombs

The ruins of Salamis offer further archaeological sights. Most of the ruins in Northern Cyprus date from the late Roman and Byzantine periods. The city is said to have been founded by heroes of the Trojan War. Over time, it became an important center in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Here, too, there is a theater that once had space for 15,000 people, a thermal high school with magnificent marble columns and the remains of two early Christian basilicas. The necropolises represent a special find. It was already known about them, why the area was combed by looters. At the beginning of the excavation in 1957, however, a “royal grave” that had not been plundered was found.

3. Cyprus Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is a bathing bay between Polis and Paphos. The name comes from the crystal clear water and the pure, white sand. The bay is about ten kilometers from the town of Latchi and can only be reached on foot or by boat. The water should turn into a dark blue at certain times and then into a bright turquoise, depending on the sunlight.

The average depth of the water is one to one and a half meters, and you can wade through the water up to 80 meters in a relaxed manner. The Blue Lagoon is one of the most popular sights of Cyprus, there are always boats from Latchi to the beach. The idyllic Latchi is also worth a visit.

4. Ómodos in the Tróodos Mountains

Ómodos is a tranquil little village with only a few hundred inhabitants, located on the southern slope of the Tróodos Mountains. The village is one of the most beautiful sights in Cyprus. Ómodos is surrounded by numerous vines and is also famous for its knitting.

In the center there is an old and beautifully designed monastery. Incidentally, it is worth taking a hike through the entire Tróodos Mountains. In the many small towns there are traditional and beautifully decorated churches. It’s a great opportunity to explore the interior of Cyprus.

5. Kolóssi Castle

Kolóssi is a medieval castle near the village of the same name. It was built in 1210 by the Knights of the Order of St. John and served as the Grand Master’s quarters. The current shape is based on the reconstruction by the Grand Master Louis de Magnac. The square castle is 23 meters high and the walls are 2.5 meters thick. The castle is entered via a drawbridge, an ornamental cast bay window protects the entrance to the interior.

The entrance leads directly to the dining room. From there you can inspect the rest of the Kolóssi rooms: the dining room, the living rooms, the kitchen. A staircase leads to the flat roof. There is an old mill and a sugar factory nearby, as well as a small church that used to serve as a castle chapel for the knight.

Aphrodite's Rocks, Cyprus

6. St. Hilarion Castle

The Byzantines also built their castles on Cyprus. First a hermit settled here in Northern Cyprus. Then a church was built here, finally a monastery and in 10/11. In the 19th century, the Byzantines built a fortress here. The complex, which was popularly known as the “Castle of 1000 chambers”, was supposed to guard the pass road from Kyrenia to Nicosia.

In 1191 St. Hilarion was conquered by the crusaders and finally handed over to the Franks. In the 13th century it was converted into a summer residence. The castle offers an excellent view over the sea. When the weather is good, the ships can be seen leaving the Turkish side. In addition to the view and the historical ruins, there is also a museum up here.

7. Karpaz Peninsula

The Karpaz peninsula in northern Cyprus is an insider tip for nature lovers. Here you can hike extensively in largely untouched nature. Then there are the peaceful beaches. The peninsula is still largely undecided in terms of tourism, but to explore the peninsula you have to bring some initiative and a thirst for adventure yourself.

Karpaz is a very sparsely populated area with a varied landscape. A highlight is the “Golden Beach” of Karpaz, one of the most picturesque sights of Northern Cyprus and at the same time the most beautiful bathing beach in the northern half. In addition to the largest population of turtles, there is also a breeding facility for the endangered animals, which can be visited.

8. Akámas Peninsula

If you want to go to the west of Cyprus and still want to roam through nature, you should visit the Akámas Peninsula. For a long time this part of the country was almost untouched. Almost no buildings were built here, and no tourists visited the area. 186 species of birds, 16 species of butterflies, monk seals, snakes and other species of reptiles cavort on the Akámas Peninsula.

Many species are not found anywhere else in Cyprus. The flora is also more than interesting, especially cypress and eucalyptus trees grow here. The Akámas peninsula is above all a popular destination for hikers and mountain bikers who want to enjoy nature far from the beaten tourist paths.

9. Paphos – City of Culture

The city of Paphos can look back on a long history. Supposedly here, near the rock of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love rose from the sea. Since the 15th century BC The city was settled, later captured by the Romans, plundered by the Arabs and finally conquered again by the Crusaders. Then it withered into a sleepy fishing village.

Until once Roman mosaics were found in the ground. Due to the restructuring of Cyprus after the division, the country’s second largest airport was built here. Today Paphos is the island’s first capital of culture. Many relics from Roman times could be found, the Ptolemaic royal tombs of Nea Paphos are among the exciting sights.

10. Kýkko Monastery in the Tróodos Mountains

The Kýkkos Monastery is located at an altitude of 1100 meters in the Tróodos Mountains. The monastery was founded in the 11th century by the hermit Isaias after this hermit cured the then governor Manuel Voutoumetes of gout. As a thank you, the hermit received an icon of Mary from Constantinople, which is said to have been made by the Evangelist Luke himself.

The icon is still in the monastery today, covered by a wooden board with silver and gold fittings. This jewelry was a gift from the Byzantine emperor himself. Even today, the magnificent monastery attracts pilgrims from the Orthodox world. At the same time, the complex and the museum, in which many religious artefacts are exhibited, can also be visited as a tourist.

Touching sunset (Tobias Van Der Elst)





A trip from Finland to Poznan

There are no direct flights from Finland to Poznan, but the Polish airline LOT offers a daily connection to Poznan from Warsaw. Exchange flights can be obtained quite cheaply, for about one hundred euros one way. A combination of separate flights can also work, as LOT often sells domestic flights in Poland at a special price.

A practical way to travel to Poznan is by train. The city is a train hub to Berlin and halfway between Warsaw. From both metropolises, the city can be reached by train several times a day. The journey takes about three hours. There is also a direct train connection from Gdansk. An internal Polish train ticket costs about 10-30 euros, depending on the type of train.

Accommodation in Poznan

Accommodation in Poznan is quite comprehensive, from hostels to five-star hotels. Many of the accommodations are fairly new, and most of the offerings are from mid-range hotels. Usually, the accommodation is located either in the city center or in its immediate vicinity.

The city’s comprehensive tram network works well, and ticket machines can be used in English. In particular, it should be noted that drivers do not sell tickets in Poznan.



Historic Poznan has two hearts

The historical sights of Poznań are largely located in the area of ​​the smaller Old Town. Historic Poznan has two hearts: the Old Town Square Stary Rynek and the Cathedral Island Ostrów Tomski, located a few kilometers from the square.

The center is also dominated by German architecture, home to many important sights, such as the university and the castle built in the early 20th century for the visit of the German emperor. The main attractions of the city center are explored on foot during the day.

The two-tower cathedral on the Cathedral Island is the oldest in Poland. The building was originally completed as early as the 9th century, but the layout has been modified several times. The current, Gothic façade dates from a post-war repair.

The cathedral is at its best in the evening, when the east side of the island offers a stunning view towards the spectacularly lit church building.

Renaissance-style square Stary Rynek

Poznan’s most famous landmark, the Town Hall Ratusz is the heart of the Old Town. The building dominates the Old Town Square, which represents the Italian Renaissance style from the 16th century and is one of the most beautiful in northern Central Europe.

Every day at 12 noon, a group of tourists gather in front of the town hall to watch a special tradition: two mechanical goats step out of the front wall, accompanied by a trumpet, knocking their heads together several times.

Traces of the war in Poznan

The Germans built one of the largest fortification systems in Europe in Poznan in the 19th century. During World War II, the forts were largely destroyed, but here and there are restored parts of the fortress left.

The main remains of the fortress are Fort VII, which served as the Gestapo prison and concentration camp, and Cytadela Park, where the strongest part of the German fortress was located. Today, Cytadela has a war museum, monuments to Soviet soldiers, and military cemeteries, among others. Fort VII, on the other hand, serves as a concentration camp museum.

Relax and shop in Poznan

As a major student city, Poznan’s nightlife is lively. The numerous clubs and bars in the Old Town area are filled with banquets in the evenings. Especially on Wrocławska Street, there is plenty of choice from cheap shot bars to elegant clubs.

Nightclubs are worth a visit because Polish young people are uninhibited and skilled dancers. Even if you don’t dare go along yourself, following it can be an experience.

A must-see in the city’s numerous shopping malls is the Old Brewery in the city center, Stary Browar, housed on the premises of a former brewery and offering a special setting for shopping. In 2005, the center was voted the best medium-sized shopping center in the world. Shoes and clothes are often cheap for Finns.

Beer lovers will be attracted by a visit to the Lech Brewery on the east side of the city. An English-language tour can be booked for a small group, there is no minimum. The tour lasts about two hours, and finally we taste the beers.

Moscow Travel Guide

Moscow Travel Guide

A major city in the heart of Russia

Moscow is the historical, cultural, religious and political center of Russia. The heart of the wild capital is the Kremlin, which dates back to the 15th century, and the Red Square. The rest of the city is built around the Kremlin in Europe on the basis of a rare circular pattern.

The center of Moscow is a diverse, vast and varied area with a considerable number of theaters, museums, restaurants, nightclubs and shopping malls. There is plenty to go around the clock, and there is certainly no stopping the traveler in between.


Also outside the city center, Moscow offers a variety of attractions. The city’s parks and monasteries in particular are well worth a visit. Likewise, the Ostankino TV tower, one of the tallest structures in the world, and the All-Russian Exhibition Center, originally built to showcase the achievements of the Soviet Union, are great places to visit.

Moscow’s various attractions are reached by metro, whose stations are famous for their beauty. The stations, built during the Soviet era, are incredibly decorative and full of art, like the little sights themselves.

The Moskva River, which crosses Moscow, brings a distinctive atmosphere to the city.

Summer is the best time to travel

Moscow is a great destination all year round, but at its best the city is in the summer, when temperatures are approaching heat readings. The best weather is from June to August, but in spring and autumn, for example, in Moscow you can enjoy a heat of almost 20 degrees.

Winters are cold in Moscow. The thermometer will sink to the side of the frost in December at the latest, and in January the frost may be as high as ten degrees.

Book a reasonable budget

Moscow is an expensive tourist city, the price level of which is visible to the tourist especially in accommodation. A budget holiday is also successful in Moscow, but a traveler looking for quality must prepare with a plush budget for a city holiday.

The diverse city offers almost endless possibilities. Stunning cultural sites are at the heart of the city, but Moscow is also a great shopping destination, a great food city, and full of interesting architectural details. The city also hosts numerous sporting events.

A diverse cultural destination

Moscow’s cultural life is especially known for its legendary Bolshoi Theater. The Bolshoi is housed in a building dating back to 1824, whose ornate interiors lead visitors to a different world.

Bolshoi’s ballet or opera performances in particular, which can be followed even without proficiency in the Russian language, are a must-have experience for anyone culturally hungry.

Due to the great popularity of the Bolshoi Theater, tickets should be purchased well in advance, either through a travel agency or through ticket sales on the Bolshoi website. Teatralnaya Kassa ticket kiosks sell theater tickets on site in Moscow.

Museums and history

Like St. Petersburg, Moscow is a city of museums.

Of the museums, especially the Tretyakov Gallery, one of the largest art museums in Europe, and the Pushkin Art Museum are interesting places to visit. The Bulgakov Home Museum, on the other hand, serves friends of literature and history.

Of the other museums in Moscow, many different museums of literature and theater, as well as museums presenting the history of Russia and Moscow, are excellent.

Unfortunately, in many museums, the signs are only in Russian.

The Moskva River

Sports, music and circus

Moscow’s cultural offer is enhanced by a good music offer.

Friends of the classical are pampered by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, for example. Light music listeners, on the other hand, find various concerts every day in bars and music clubs. The city’s concert offerings are comprehensively listed weekly in The English Times.

Another circus suitable for tourists in Moscow is represented by, for example, two circuses and the city’s internationally high-quality football and hockey teams.

Shopping and gifts

Moscow is a diverse but in many places expensive shopping city. An absolute must-see is the traditional and expensive GUM department store on the edge of the Red Square.

Particularly good places for shopping are the versatile Tverskaya Street with its side streets and the Old Arbat pedestrian street. Typical Russian gift items, such as Maatuska dolls, fur caps or samovars, can be obtained from Old Arbat. Tverskaya, on the other hand, is of more interest to fashion shoppers.

If you have enough time in Moscow, it’s a good idea to research and compare the selections and prices of different stores carefully – the differences can be huge. Especially in Old Tea gift shops, the comparison is worthwhile.

The city of parks

Lively and congested Moscow surprises the tourist with the abundance of parks: in total there are more than a hundred parks and gardens.

Moscow parks are located in different parts of the city. Many of them are not only nice places to relax but also major sights with their value buildings. The parks are good places to visit because you can see local life at its most authentic.

Moscow’s most famous parks include Izmailov Park, which is many times larger than New York’s Central Park, and Kolomenskoye Park, whose historic church from the 16th century is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Those more interested in plants can visit the city’s botanical garden, founded by Peter the Great in the 18th century.

A tremendous All-Russian exhibition center

The VDNH Exhibition Center, or All-Russian Exhibition Center, is a huge area in the northern part of Moscow and is especially suitable for tourists looking for Soviet nostalgia.

The region was established to showcase the country’s finest achievements in various fields during the Soviet era. In all, there are about 400 buildings in the area, many of which are pavilions dedicated to certain things.

Buildings that have previously showcased the achievements of socialism have ironically been put to use by the market economy. Most of the buildings have shops. Today’s Russians are happy to head to the exhibition center for a picnic.

The exhibition center is located in the Ostankino area, which also houses a huge monument to the conquest of space and the Museum of Cosmonautics dedicated to the conquest of space, a TV tower of more than 500 meters and the massive Kosmos Hotel built for the 1980 Olympics.


Estonia Major Cities

Estonia Major Cities



The university city of Tartu was mentioned in a document as early as 1030, making it the oldest city in the Baltic countries. The second largest city in Estonia is located on the banks of the Emajõgi. Tartu, formerly also called Dorpat, is the spiritual center of Estonia and offers a wide range of cultural activities. Museums, theaters, concerts and festivals can be visited here. In 1869 the first Estonian song festival took place in Tartu. Art and science are omnipresent.

The University of Tartu was founded in 1632, making it one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe. Numerous students still shape the cityscape today. The magnificent, classicist main building of the university was built at the beginning of the 19th century. In the auditorium there are conferences and, thanks to the very good acoustics, concerts.

The early classicist town hall from 1786 is located on the market square, the center of the city. It is already the third building; its predecessors were destroyed by fires. Here is also the fountain where you have met the kissing students since 1998 – the sculpture has meanwhile become a Tartu landmark. Restaurants and cafes are lined up along the market square. Here you can stop and fortify yourself for the further tour. The Café Pierre Chocolaterie, for example, offers a wonderful ambience and delicious (chocolate) cakes. Those who like to experiment can try a hot chocolate with Gorgonzola and grappa.

Toompea is on the back of the university and town hall. The ruins of the cathedral now house the History Museum of the University of Tartu. In the surrounding park there are monuments of famous citizens. Via the Angel’s Bridge or the Devil’s Bridge you can continue to the observatory and the anatomical theater. The Domberg allows a wonderful view of the lower town.


The city of Rakvere is especially famous for its order castle. It is located in northern Estonia, only 20 kilometers from the sea and close to the Lahemaa National Park. The first settlements can be traced back to the 2nd to 5th centuries AD. A wooden castle was first mentioned in 1226, which stood on a mountain near the settlement. The ruins of the fortress have expanded throughout history and replaced with a mighty stone castle after the Livonian War. Wesenberg Castle is definitely worth a visit: Here visitors can immerse themselves in the Middle Ages, visit the torture chamber, try their hand at archery and crossbow, try historical dishes, blacksmithing and pottery. An adventure for the whole family!

The sculpture of the aurochs Tarvas is the symbol of the city, it was created by the Estonian sculptor Tauno Kangro. According to legend, it brings happiness to those who touch the animal’s testicles.

Rakvere is also contemporary, as punk and rock music festivals have been held here for some time. The Baltoscandal theater festival is also held here every two years. The central square Rakveres has had its modern appearance since 2004. There is also a sculpture in honor of the citizen Arvo Pärt, an important Estonian composer.



The small town of Viljandi is located in southern Estonia, nestled in a beautiful hilly landscape with old trees and a lake. Viljandi is characterized by the mighty Ordensburg, of which only a ruin remains today. From here you have a wonderful view of the lake. The stone fortress was built in 1224, but was finally completed in the 16th century. It was the largest fortress in Livonia, but was largely destroyed by war. In the old town is the St. John’s Church, which was destroyed in the Livonian War and then rebuilt.

Viljandi is the capital of folk music. A festival is celebrated on the last weekend of July: more than 100 concerts take place in the castle ruins, churches and other places around Viljandi. Other events include the puppet theater festival “Theater im Koffer”, the Hanseatic Days, the Festival for Early Music – there is a lot to experience here for festival fans.

The Olustvere manor is a few kilometers north of Viljandi. The main building is built in Art Nouveau style. The outbuildings offer opportunities to visit: You can see the wool and craft room, the forge and a brandy factory. The mansion complex is embedded in an English-style park.


Pärnu, on the west coast, is the summer capital of Estonia, one of 7 countries starting with E listed on Countryaah. Pretty wooden villas, well-tended parks, picturesque alleys and the long sandy beach characterize the picture and make the seaside resort a popular tourist destination.

Pärnu is known as a place to relax. Since the discovery of healing mud and the opening of the first bathing establishment in the 19th century, spa guests have come to relax here, mainly from Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Germany. The Second World War left its mark on the seaside resort. After the reconstruction, mainly Russians used the advantages of Parnu for recreational purposes.

As for a health resort, the atmosphere in the city is calm and dignified – especially of course in the health resort district along the coast. Among other things, the old Kursaal (built in 1880) – today a restaurant – and the mud baths are located here.

In the city center you can visit the classicist town hall, the baroque Katharinenkirche and the Red Tower, a prison tower built in the 15th century. The Rüütli is the Pärnus shopping street, a pedestrian zone that is wonderful to stroll through.



The coastal resort of Haapsalu is the ideal destination for those looking for relaxation: spa hotels, fresh sea air, a small old town with winding streets and a beautiful, spacious beach. The first medicinal mud bath was opened in Haapsalu as early as 1825, and since then the place has also been valued as a spa by the Russian tsars. Colorful wooden houses, Art Nouveau villas, a peculiar, historic train station, the beautiful Kursaal from 1898 – all of this contributes to Haapsalu’s nostalgic atmosphere.

You can visit the massive cathedral from 1279, the largest single-nave church in the Baltic States. During the Soviet era it was used as a granary. It is located on the site of the old bishop’s castle, which is enclosed by a total of 800 meters of massive wall. The ensemble is located in the middle of the old town.

Anyone who would like to have a souvenir from Haapsalu can purchase a “lace miracle”. The handmade Haapsalus shawls are known under this name. By the way, the illustrator of children’s books Astrid Lindgren, Ilon Wikland, spent her childhood in Haapsalu. In 1944 she emigrated to Sweden.



Narva is the north-eastern outpost of Estonia, it is the border town with Russia and thus also the EU’s external border. In Narva, the ethnic conflicts of Estonia become clear, around 90 percent of the population here are Russians, many of whom do not speak Estonian. If they used to live on a lifeline within the Soviet Union, on the bridge over the Narva River, today their city is cut off from Russia.

The Hermannsfeste is Narva’s most important attraction. It was built by the Danes in the 13th century and later served as an order castle. The fortress is very well preserved and can be visited daily. Inside there is a museum about the history of Narva and the fortress. Vis-à-vis the Hermannsfeste, on the right bank of the Narva, is the Russian fortress of Ivangorod from the 15th century.

Saaremaa island

Saaremaa 2

The largest island in Estonia is called Saaremaa and is located in the west of the country. She is also known under the German name Ösel. Stone walls made of boulders, thatched roof houses and post windmills characterize the appearance.

Saaremaa has around 35,000 inhabitants, most of them Estonians. Due to the isolated situation, the Russification policy of the Soviets hardly had any effect here. In addition, Saaremaa was a restricted area during the Soviet era.

The capital of the island, Kuressaare (formerly Arensburg), presents itself with a medieval castle. The almost intact bishop’s castle is located in today’s city park. Towards the end of the 13th century, the “Lange Hermann”, the central tower of the complex, was built. It is believed that there was a first wooden fortress on this site as early as the 11th century. The bishop’s castle now houses a museum on the history of the island.

There are many more interesting places to discover. Angla is in the north of the island. Five of Saaremaa’s famous windmills are located here in a location exposed to the wind. They are a typical image on the island, there should have been several hundred of them once. The Kaali meteorite crater is believed to have formed 4,000 years ago. There are numerous myths surrounding him. And at Viki you can visit the Mihkli farm: an old farm with a forge, windmill and village swing gives an insight into rural life in the past.

Saaremaa and the capital Kuressaare, like so many places on the west coast, are also known for spa stays. The first spa was opened here as early as 1840. Even today it is a popular place for spa and relaxation holidays. If you want to relax a little after an eventful city trip to Tallinn, this is the right place for you.

Nature is characterized by a mild maritime climate and a calcareous soil. This leads to a unique flora and fauna. Many of the plant species found here are under protection, including the rare Saaremaa rattle pot. The animal world is dominated by birds, many migratory birds stop here. In addition to other nature reserves, Saaremaa also has the Vilsandi National Park – a paradise for bird watching.

The journey to Saaremaa is usually made by ferry from the Estonian mainland, but flights from Tallinn are also possible. If you want to use the ferry by car, you should reserve this in advance, especially in the high season, for cultural events and on St. John’s Day. Saaremaa is connected to the neighboring island of Muhu by a dam, which allows you to pass by on foot, by bike or by car.

Hiiumaa Island


With less than 1,000 square kilometers, Hiiumaa is the second largest island in Estonia. It has a long history: Hiiumaa was formed by a meteorite explosion around 455 million years ago, making it one of the oldest islands in the world.

Kärdla is the largest town and capital of Hiiumaa. The green appearance and the calm atmosphere make Kärdla an excellent place for a relaxing holiday. It can best be explored on foot or by bike. The beautiful wooden architecture in the old town, the simple style church and the Pikk Maja museum on the history of Hiiumaas are particularly worth seeing.

Hiiumaa is known for its lighthouses. In Köpu, Ristna and Tahkuna there are three specimens that can be viewed. The massive, stone-built lighthouse of Köpu looks back on 500 years of history.

A visit to the Määvli high moor gives an insight into the island’s nature. The Nuutri River, which flows into the sea near Kärdla, also has its source here. In addition to the wetlands, forests and of course the coast with its long sandy beaches characterize Hiiumaa. Lots of space for relaxation and nature experience! Because of the flat topography and the beautiful landscape, Hiiumaa is ideal for cycling tours. There are various signposted tours all over the island.

The offshore island of Kassari Hiiumaa has developed into a popular holiday area. Hiiumaa can be reached by ferry from Rohuküla on the Estonian mainland or by flight. There is also a ferry connection to Saaremaa. During particularly cold winters, the island is even connected to the mainland by an ice road.

Muhu Island

Only about 2,000 people live on Muhu, the small island wedged between Saaremaa and mainland Estonia. Muhu is known for (art) craft. Many residents used to move across the mainland as traveling craftsmen and helped shape Estonian architecture. In addition, a lot has been and is woven here. Duvets and traditional costumes are the most famous products, they are nicely embroidered after weaving. The local tradition of painting wooden doors in bright colors and adding symbols to them is interesting.


Top 10 Sights in Poland

Top 10 Sights in Poland

You can discover our neighboring country Poland in many ways and immerse yourself in the culture, history and wonderful nature – on a varied round trip, a classic bus trip or individually on a car trip or motorcycle trip along the lonely avenues. You can experience the most important cities in Poland such as Gdansk, Krakow, Warsaw or Wroclaw on one of our city ​​trips . We also offer cycling and hiking tours so that you can actively approach the country. According to Countryaah, Poland is one of the largest countries in Europe continent.

Our Top 10 Sights in Poland

Deep forests and lonely lakes in Masuria meet historical pearls such as Krakow, Warsaw or Gdansk. Poland stands for diversity! We introduce you to the most beautiful national parks, the most beautiful Baltic Sea beaches and the most famous sights in our neighboring country – here are our TOP 10 for Poland.



This imposing cathedral, which was completed in 2004 after ten years of construction and can be seen from afar, is a famous place of pilgrimage throughout Poland that has some superlatives. Not only is it the largest church in Poland and the eighth largest in Europe; At 141.5 m, the cathedral also has the highest tower in Poland and, with 20,000 pipes, the largest organ in the country.



The call of nature beckons here. You can go on a voyage of discovery in one of the last primeval forests in Europe, which was declared Poland’s first national park in 1932 and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you can experience the lowland forest without human intervention, which is why the biological diversity is overwhelming, and with a little luck you can encounter the gentle giants of the forest – the bison – in their original environment.



Szczecin – today Szczecin – has, like many Polish cities, an eventful past. The university town offers some historical highlights and landmarks, such as the Greifenschloss of the Pomeranian princes. But the hooked terraces also invite you to take a walk along the Oder with a wonderful view of the silhouette of the former Hanseatic city. If you still have some time, you should take a short detour to the Crooked Forest – Krzywy las -, which exudes a mystical atmosphere with its unconventionally shaped pines.



So many landscapes in the smallest of spaces – that is what the Slowinski National Park offers. Whether open Baltic Sea, desert-like sand dunes or secluded forests and calm lagoon lakes. This region leaves no one unimpressed. Take your time and go or let a beach buggy take you to the dunes and let the unadulterated nature work its magic on you. After an eventful day you can strengthen yourself here in the restaurant with delicious Polish dishes.



Warsaw is known for the coexistence of western and eastern cultural influences. The architecture also reflects both the modern and the historical of Warsaw. The special sights of the city include the palace square with the Sigismund column, the royal palace as well as the market square and the churches of the old town. One of the most impressive photo opportunities is the mighty Palace of Culture. The view of the city from here is simply fantastic!



Masuria – the wonderful lake landscape of Poland! In addition to the beautiful nature, the region also offers a lot of culture: In Lötzen (Gizycko), for example, the Boyen fortress and the swing bridge, which is rare in Europe, are worth a visit. Heiligelinde (Swieta Lipka) is a famous pilgrimage site with a baroque Jesuit church. We recommend a visit to the church and especially the organ concert, during which you can admire the moving figures on the organ prospect. Rastenburg (Ketrzyn) or Dönhoffstädt Castle could also be on your program.



After the war damage, the old town of the old Hanseatic city was extensively reconstructed. The imposing Marienkirche, the crane gate on the Mottlau, the Neptune fountain and the right town hall with its splendid interior are worth seeing. The Frauengasse, lined with pretty town houses, leads from St. Mary’s Church to Motlawa. After the tour, enjoy a coffee at the Long Market or on the banks of the Motława River. But also the area with the fashionable Baltic Sea resort of Sopot or the historic Marienburg make Gdansk a perfect starting point for a stopover of several days.



Breslau – today Wroclaw. The city is crossed by numerous arms of the Oder and is therefore often referred to as “Silesian Venice”. The cathedral, the city palace, the ring with its colorful house facades and the Centennial Hall are among the most important sights. But what is unique are the Wroclaw dwarfs. These bronze ones Figures are scattered all over the city and the number is increasing – so go on an exciting and amusing tour of discovery.



Perhaps you dedicate yourself to the wonderful old town and the Wawel Castle, which towers over the historic old town. The Krakow Royal Castle, located on Wawel Hill, is still a silent witness of the splendor of bygone days. With architectural styles from four different epochs, a tour is like a journey through time. The Cloth Hall and St. Mary’s Church with its high altar are located on the medieval market square of Krakow, this is where Krakow’s heart beats. The Jewish quarter of Kazimierz with the old synagogue is also worth exploring. Krakow is the best place to visit our number 1 tourist attraction in Poland:



Zakopane and the High Tatras are not only known for world cup ski jumping. Take advantage of the beautiful mountain scenery for long hikes and walks. Designated hiking trails offer breathtaking views. Zakopane and the surrounding area are also known for the thermal springs. The Zakopane house style typical of the region is unusual. Cozy and artistically decorated wooden architecture give the place a homely atmosphere, which comes into its own especially in the evenings on the Krupowki promenade.