Germany: Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Germany: Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Berlin is notable for its greenery (only one-third of its area is built up) and East Berlin for its old historical center with the Royal Palace and museums. Kurfürstendamm (Ku’damm), with its Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church is the main thoroughfare of West Berlin, lined with luxury hotels, shops, cafes and cinemas. Behind the church is the Zoo (Tiergarten).

Of the few surviving old buildings, the most notable are Charlottenburg Castle, the 18th century Brandenburg Gate, the reconstructed Reichstag and the Rathaus, seat of the Senate, where the Liberty Bell is rung at noon. Important museums include the Egyptian Museum with the famous bust of Nefertiti; Museum Dahlem with 13 -16th century paintings including famous Rembrandts and Vermeers, the Berlin Museum where the collection depicts the development of the city and the New National Gallery designed by Mies van der Rohe.

The Olympic Stadium constructed for the 1936 games, holds 100,000 people. In the western suburbs are the forest and lake areas of the Grünewald and the Havel inlets which open out into the Wannsee, crowded with bathers in summer. Excursion parties go to Frederick the Great’s Palace of Sanssouci in the East zone with its great art treasures and to the ancient Palace of the Crown Prince, Cecilienhof where the Four-Power Aggreement was signed in 1945.

All About Santorini Island in Greece

All About Santorini Island in Greece

Santorini, classically Thera, and officially Thira, is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast of Greece’s mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera.

It forms the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands, with an area of approximately 73 km2 (28 sq mi) and a 2011 census population of 15,550. The municipality of Santorini includes the inhabited islands of Santorini and Therasia and the uninhabited islands of Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi, and Christiana. The total land area is 90.623 km2 (34.990 sq mi). Santorini is part of the Thira regional unit.

Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera. A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 12 by 7 km (7.5 by 4.3 mi), is surrounded by 300 m (980 ft) high, steep cliffs on three sides. The main island slopes downward to the Aegean Sea. On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia; the lagoon is connected to the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest.

The depth of the caldera, at 400m, makes it impossible for any but the largest ships to anchor anywhere in the protected bay; there is also a fisherman’s harbour at Vlychada, on the southwestern coast. The island’s principal port is Athinias. The capital, Fira, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon. The volcanic rocks present from the prior eruptions feature olivine and have a small presence of hornblende.

It is the most active volcanic centre in the South Aegean Volcanic Arc, though what remains today is chiefly a water-filled caldera. The volcanic arc is approximately 500 km (310 mi) long and 20 to 40 km (12 to 25 mi) wide. The region first became volcanically active around 3–4 million years ago, though volcanism on Thera began around 2 million years ago with the extrusion of dacitic lavas from vents around the Akrotiri.

The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred some 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of metres deep and may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, 110 km (68 mi) to the south, through a gigantic tsunami. Another popular theory holds that the Thera eruption is the source of the legend of Atlantis.

Partheon Temple in Athens, Greece

Partheon Temple in Athens, Greece

The Parthenon is a temple in the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their protector. Its construction began in 447 BCE and was completed in 438 BCE, although decorations of the Parthenon continued until 432 BCE. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered to be the culmination of the development of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art.

The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece and of Athenian democracy and one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments. The Greek Ministry of Culture is currently carrying out a programme of selective restoration and reconstruction to ensure the stability of the partially ruined structure.

The Home of Anne Frank in Amsterdam

The Home of Anne Frank in Amsterdam

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. If I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.” -From The Diary of Anne Frank

Those words were written in Amsterdam by a 14-year-old girl who had just spent two years hiding in the secret annex of a building at 263 Prinsengracht. With her were her parents, an older sister, two family friends-the Van Daans-and their teen-age son, Peter and a dentist named Dussel. On August 4, 1944, the Gestapo broke into their secret hiding place, and sent the entire group, along with other Dutch Jews, to extermination camps at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Only Otto Frank, Anne’s father, survived. When he returned to Amsterdam after the war, he found a diary that Anne had maintained throughout the two years of the family’s concealment.

It is one of the classic volumes of literature produced in this century, and it has made a shrine out of the building at 263 Prinsengracht (around the corner from the West Church-the “Westerkerk”), to which thousands of tourists now pay visits of tribute each year. None of us should ever pass through Amsterdam without making a similar pilgrimage-both to recall the terrible events of World War II, and also to gain inspiration from Anne’s immortal and unflagging spirit.