Sightseeing in European, Israeli cities, pictures, information, photo tours, attractions in Europa and Israel. Tips and tools for travelling in blog.

Christmas time photos in Minsk and street video. Belarus.

Pictures of Minsk Christmas photo album taken at 28 of December, 2007 till 14 of January, 2008.

Mozyr, also Mazyr (Belarusian: Мазыр, pronounced [maˈzɨr]; Polish: Mozyrz; Russian: Мозырь, pronounced [ˈmozɨrʲ]) is a big town in the Homiel Province of Belarus on the Pripyat River and 100 km northwest of Chernobyl. The population is 111,770 (2004 estimate). Mazyr is known as a center of oil refining, machine building, and food processing in Belarus. It is home to one of the largest oil refineries in Belarus, pumping out 18 million metric tons per year. The Druzhba pipeline carries crude oil from Russia splitting in two at Mozyr. One pipeline branch is directed into Poland and the other one to Ukraine.

The right bank of the Pripyat River, where the city is located, is elevated above the left bank at substantial heights (up to 80 m). The overfall of surface of that scale is assumed to be a consequence of a glaciation: the Pripyat River is running right along the edge where an ancient glacier was located. Since both banks of the river are sandy, the right bank is cut through by a number of great ravines (more than 2.5 km length, up to 200 m width). The city is also located on the ravines, so its streets look much like streets of a mountain town. One of the ravines is proclaimed a reserve. Some of the nearby ravines are currently also equipped with ski lifts and transformed into skiing winter resorts. This is unique landscape for tourism business development.

  • History

Mozyr is one of the oldest cities of historical Ruthenia. First mentioned in mid-12th century as part of Duchy of Vladimir, and then the Duchy of Kiev. In 13th century it was conquered by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Initially a small settlement, in 15th century it was donated to Duke Michał Gliński, who converted it into a town. The city received town rights (Magdeburg Law) first from king Stefan Batory in 1577 and then from king Sigismund III of Poland in 1609. Despite having been destroyed by Russian forces twice (in 1525 and 1654), the city continued to grow and following the Union of Lublin it became a major administrative and trade centre, as well as a seat of a powiat (“county” office and court). In 1648 there was a conflict during the Khmelnytsky Uprising. Between 1723 and 1726 the Jesuits created a school in Mozyr under auspice of the Academy of Vilna. Following the suppression of the order in 1773 the school was secularised and continued to exist as a gymnasium. Among its most famous graduates are Edward Piekarski (linguist) and Władysław Mazurkiewicz (physician).

In 1793, following the Partitions of Poland, the town was annexed by Russia and its town rights were again confirmed in 1795. In 19th century the town grew rapidly, mostly because of the Russian Pale of Settlement policy that allowed Jews to settle only in the lands once held by the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Because of that Mozyr grew to over 10 thousand inhabitants by the end of the century, most of them Jewish.

During the Polish-Soviet War of 1920 the town was captured by the Polish Army in the so-called Mozyr Operation. Polish 9th Infantry Division captured the city in a swift and daring manoeuvre that earned its commanding officer, Col. Władysław Sikorski (later Prime Minister of Poland) a promotion to general. In the course of the war the town was briefly recaptured by the Bolshevists, but in the aftermath of the battle of Warsaw it was again recaptured by the Polish forces of Gen. Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz, who proclaimed a short-lived Belarusian People’s Republic on November 12, 1920. However, in the Riga Peace Treaty it was assigned to Bolshevist Russia and became part of the Belarussian SSR. Since 1938 the town was a seat of Polesie region, however in 1954 it lost that status and was administratively attached to the region of Homyel.

See photos of Mozyr town in this travel photo gallery from Verde Wanderer. Pictures have been taken on 04-06 January, 2013.

wikipedia.org

 

 

 

 

Minsk in winter. Taken on January 2, 2017.

The Belarus introduces five-day visa-free regime for citizens of 80 countries from 12 February 2017.
The document introduces the visa-free entry through the border checkpoint at the Minsk National Airport  and the visa-free stay in Belarus for up to 5 days for the citizens of 80 states. These are 39 countries of Europe, including the entire European Union, Brazil, Indonesia, the USA, Japan, and other countries.

History of Minsk started when Early East Slavs settled the forested hills of today’s Minsk by the 9th century. They had been migrating from further south and pushing the preceding Balts northwards. The valley of Svislach river was settlement boundary between two Early East Slavs’ tribal unions – Krivich and Dregovichs. By 980 the area was incorporated into the early medieval Principality of Polatsk, one of the earliest East Slav states alongside with the principalities of Kiev and Novgorod. There is no exact historical record for the date when Minsk was founded. It was first mentioned (as Mensk) in the Primary Chronicle in 1067. Minsk was hosted the 2014 IIHF World Championship. By the by, the visa requirements for the entry to Belarus during the 2014 Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships: (on 25 April – 31 May 2014) was visa-free.

26 Places to visit in Minsk or things to see:
  1. The Minsk upper town, Nemiga: the cathedral, church, Town Hall.
  2. Kilometer Zero.
  3. Circus.
  4. Opera house.
  5. Troitskoye Predmestye (Trinity Suburb).
  6. Niezaliežnasci Square (Independence Square).
  7. The Parliament building.
  8. Church of St. Simon and St. Helena (Red Church).
  9. Church of the Holy Trinity (St.Roch) on the Golden Jam.
  10. Gorky Park.
  11. Independence Avenue (praspiekt Niezaliežnasci).
  12. Building of KGB Headquarters is a historical landmark in the heart of the capital city.
  13. The National Museum.
  14. Passenger Railway Station and the Railway station (Pryvakzalnaja) square.
  15. Orthodox Elisavetinsky Monastery.
  16. Cemetery. Calvary Chapel.
  17. Yakub Kolas Square.
  18. Children’s Railroad
  19. Palats Mastatsva (Art Palace) – opens from 10 am until 7 pm Tuesdays through Sundays and offers FREE admission sometimes.
  20. The National Library.
  21. Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War
  22. The Komsomolskoye lake.
  23. Pischalovsky Castle – Prison.
  24. Belarusian State Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Lifestyle.
  25. Prushinsky’s country estate in Loshica.
  26. Osmolovka is the first luxury neighborhood after 1945, probably, will soon be demolished.

We also recommend walk around city at night till 24:00h.: The buildings are highlighted. Here’s another travel tips.

Where to eat cheaply in Minsk? Recommended ‘budget’ place in center of city for lunch, save money on food.
  1. Cheap Eats: Central Department Store (ЦУМ: Belarussian, TSUM),  Olymp сafe on the second floor. There you can eat dense for 4-7 Euro. Attention! There is no WC. Addess of TSUM: praspiekt Niezaliežnasci 54 (Independence Avenue, 54). Plošča Jakuba Kolasa underground station.
  2. Near the Central Department Store, on the opposite side of the Independence Avenue (praspiekt Niezaliežnasci) located Lido restaurant fastfood. There lunch will be more expensive, but the interior is modern than interior of epoch of the Soviet Union at the TSUM cafe. There is free WC. Address of LIDO: praspiekt Niezaliežnasci 49/1 (Independence Avenue, 49/1). Plošča Jakuba Kolasa underground station.

 

Scheme of lines Minsk underground.

Scheme of lines Minsk undergroun

 

360 panoramic tour – Yakub Kolas Square


 

Tips and Warnings for traveling to Minsk and Belarus.

Have to say the Belarus retains the flavor of the old Soviet Union a still. English is not widely spoken here. The official languages are Belarusian and Russian.

Best free things to do today in Minsk.

Hmm… 😉 I have not found still. And you?

Where is the watercloset here, please?

To see waterclosets in Minsk on a map of the big size.
And furthermore, WC are located at metro stations.

 

A pictures to photo gallery added 17 of September, 2006 and a new updating from 13 of September, 2010; 06 of October, 2012; 18 of October, 2012; 24 of October, 2013; 22 of March, 2014;  01 of December 2014.

 

I wrote a few words, my reviews, about this wonderful city of Lourdes, about nature,  in my blog. There are several videos of Lourdes:

 

A now about History
During the 8th century, Lourdes and its fortress became the focus of skirmishes between Mirat, the local leader, and Charlemagne, King of the Franks. Charlemagne had been laying siege to Mirat in the fortress for some time, but the Moor had so far refused to surrender. According to legend, an eagle unexpectedly appeared and dropped an enormous trout at the feet of Mirat. It was seen as such a bad omen that Mirat was persuaded to surrender to the Queen of the sky by the local bishop. He visited the Black Virgin of Puy to offer gifts, so he could make sure this was the best course of action and, astounded by its exceptional beauty, he decided to surrender the fort and converted to Christianity. On the day of his baptism, Mirat took on the name of Lorus, which was given to the town, now known as Lourdes.

After being the residency of the Bigorre counts, Lourdes was given to England by the Brétigny Treaty which bought a temporary peace to France during the course of the Hundred Years War with the result that the French lost the town to the English, from 1360. In 1405, Charles VI laid siege to the castle during the course of the Hundred Years War and eventually captured the town from the English following the 18-month siege. Later, during the late 16th century, France was ravaged with the Wars of Religion between the Roman Catholics and the Huguenots. In 1569, Count Gabriel de Montgomery attacked the nearby town of Tarbes when Queen Jeanne d’Albret of Navarre established Protestantism there. The town was overrun, in 1592, by forces of the Catholic League and the Catholic faith was re-established in the area. In 1607, Lourdes finally became part of the Kingdom of France.

The castle became a jail under Louis XV but, in 1789, the General Estates Assembly ordered the liberation of prisoners. Following the rise of Napoleon in 1803, he again made the Castle an Estate jail. Towards the end of the Peninsular War between France, Spain, Portugal, and Britain in 1814, British and Allied forces, under the Duke of Wellington, entered France and took control of the region and followed Marshall Soult’s army, defeating the French near the adjoining town of Tarbes before the final battle took place outside Toulouse on 10 April 1814 which brought the war to an end.

Up until 1858, Lourdes was a quiet, modest, county-town with a population of only some 4,000 inhabitants. The castle was occupied by an infantry garrison. The town was a place people passed through on their way to the waters at Barèges, Cauterets, Luz-Saint-Sauveur and Bagnères-de-Bigorre, and for the first mountaineers on their way to Gavarnie, when the events which were to change its history took place.

On 11 February 1858, a 14-year-old local girl, Bernadette Soubirous, claimed a beautiful lady appeared to her in the remote Grotto of Massabielle. The lady later identified herself as “the Immaculate Conception” and the faithful believe her to be the Blessed Virgin Mary. The lady appeared 18 times, and by 1859 thousands of pilgrims were visiting Lourdes. A statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was erected at the site in 1864.

Sanctuary of Lourdes

On 11 February 1858, Bernadette Soubirous went with her sisters Toinette and Jeanne Abadie to collect some firewood and bones in order to be able to buy some bread. When she took off her shoes and stockings to wade through the water near the Grotto of Massabielle, she said she heard the sound of two gusts of wind (coups de vent) but the trees and bushes nearby did not move. She said she saw a light in the grotto and a girl, as small as she was, dressed all in white, apart from the blue belt fastened around her waist and the golden yellow roses, one on each foot, the colour of her rosary. Bernadette tried to keep this a secret, but Toinette told her mother. After parental cross-examination, she and her sister received corporal punishment for their story.

Three days later, Bernadette returned to the Grotto with the two other girls. She had brought holy water as a test that the apparition was not of evil provenance; however, she said, the vision only inclined her head gratefully when the water was thrown.

Bernadette’s companions reportedly became afraid when they saw her in ecstasy. Bernadette remained ecstatic when they returned to the village. On 18 February, she said she was told by the Lady to return to the Grotto over a period of two weeks. She quoted the apparition: I promise to make you happy not in this world but in the next.

After the news spread, the police and city authorities began to take an interest. Bernadette was prohibited by her parents and police commissioner Jacomet to ever go there again, but she went anyway. On 24 February, Bernadette said, the apparition asked for prayer and penitence for the conversion of sinners. The next day, she said she was asked to dig in the ground and drink the water of the spring she found there. This made her disheveled and caused dismay among her supporters, but revealed the stream that soon became a focal point of pilgrimage.

At first muddy, the stream became increasingly clean. As word spread, this water was given to medical patients of all kinds, and numerous miracle cures were reported. Seven of these cures were confirmed as lacking any medical explanations by Professor Verges in 1860. The first person with a “certified miracle” was a woman whose right hand had been deformed as a consequence of an accident. Several miracles turned out to be short-term improvement or even hoaxes, and Church and government officials became increasingly concerned. The government fenced off the Grotto and issued stiff penalties for anybody trying to get near the off-limits area. In the process, Lourdes became a national issue in France, resulting in the intervention of emperor Napoleon III with an order to reopen the grotto on 4 October 1858. The Church had decided to stay away from the controversy altogether.

Bernadette, knowing the localities rather well, managed to visit the barricaded grotto under the protection of darkness. There, on March 25, she said she was told: “I am the Immaculate Conception” (“que soy era immaculada concepciou”). On Easter Sunday, 7 April, her examining doctor stated that Bernadette, in ecstasy, was observed to have held her hands over a lit candle without receiving any burns. On 16 July, Bernadette went for the last time to the Grotto. I have never seen her so beautiful before, she reported.

The Church, faced with nationwide questions, decided to institute an investigative commission on 17 November 1858. On 18 January 1860, the local bishop finally declared that: The Virgin Mary did appear indeed to Bernadette Soubirous. These events established the Marian veneration in Lourdes, which together with Fátima, is one of the most frequented Marian shrines in the world, and to which between 4 and 6 million pilgrims travel annually.

The verity of the apparitions of Lourdes is not an article of faith for Catholics. Nevertheless, all recent Popes visited the Marian shine. Benedict XV, Pius XI, and John XXIII went there as bishops, Pius XII as papal delegate. He also issued, with Le Pelerinage de Lourdes, an encyclical on the hundredth anniversary of the apparitions in 1958. John Paul II visited Lourdes three times and Pope Benedict XVI completed a visit there on 15 September 2008 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the apparitions in 1858.

See Lourdes photos, France (including Our Lady Sanctuary photos, Grotto photo, Lourdes street photos, Lourdes railway photos and more) in this travel photo gallery from Verde Wanderer. Pictures taken at 9 of October, 2010 and added to Lourdes photo gallery.

Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua. Piazza of Prato della Valle. Palazzo della Ragione and etc. Padova, Italia.
Pictures of Padua photo gallery taken at 12 of October, 2010.

 

Antiquity

Padua claims to be the oldest city in northern Italy. According to a tradition dated at least to Virgil’s Aeneid, and rediscovered by the medieval commune, it was founded in 1183 BC by the Trojan prince Antenor, who was supposed to have led the people of Eneti or Veneti from Paphlagonia to Italy. The city exhumed a large stone sarcophagus in the year 1274 and declared these to represent Antenor’s relics.
Patavium, as Padua was known by the Romans, was inhabited by (Adriatic) Veneti. They were reputed for their excellent breed of horses and the wool of their sheep. Its men fought for the Romans at Cannae. The city was a Roman municipium since 45 BC (os 43. It became so powerful that it was reportedly able to raise two hundred thousand fighting men. Abano, which is nearby, is the birthplace of the reputed historian Livy. Padua was also the birthplace of Valerius Flaccus, Asconius Pedianus and Thrasea Paetus.

The area is said to have been Christianized by Saint Prosdocimus. He is venerated as the first bishop of the city.

Late Antiquity

The history of Padua after Late Antiquity follows the course of events common to most cities of north-eastern Italy.

Padua, in common with north-eastern Italy, suffered severely from the invasion of the Huns under Attila (452). It then passed under the Gothic kings Odoacer and Theodoric the Great. However during the Gothic War it submitted to the Greeks in 540. The city was seized again by the Goths under Totila, but was restored to the Eastern Empire by Narses in 568.

Then it fell under the control of the Lombards. In 601, the city rose in revolt, against Agilulf, the Lombard king. After suffering a long (12 years) and bloody siege, it was stormed and burned by him. The antiquity of Padua was annihilated: the remains of an amphitheater (the Arena) and some bridge foundations are all that remain of Roman Padua today. The townspeople fled to the hills and returned to eke out a living among the ruins; the ruling class abandoned the city for Venetian Lagoon, according to a chronicle. The city did not easily recover from this blow, and Padua was still weak when the Franks succeeded the Lombards as masters of northern Italy.

Frankish and episcopal supremacy

At the Diet of Aix-la-Chapelle (828), the duchy and march of Friuli, in which Padua lay, was divided into four counties, one of which took its title from the city of Padua.

The end of the early Middle Ages at Padua was marked by the sack of the city by the Magyars in 899. It was many years before Padua recovered from this ravage.

During the period of episcopal supremacy over the cities of northern Italy, Padua does not appear to have been either very important or very active. The general tendency of its policy throughout the war of investitures was Imperial and not Roman; and its bishops were, for the most part, Germans.

Emergence of the commune

Under the surface, several important movements were taking place that were to prove formative for the later development of Padua.

At the beginning of the 11th century the citizens established a constitution, composed of a general council or legislative assembly and a credenza or executive body.

During the next century they were engaged in wars with Venice and Vicenza for the right of water-way on the Bacchiglione and the Brenta. This meant that the city grew in power and self-reliance.

The great families of Camposampiero, Este and Da Romano began to emerge and to divide the Paduan district among themselves. The citizens, in order to protect their liberties, were obliged to elect a podestà. Their choice first fell on one of the Este family.

A fire devastated Padua in 1174. This required the virtual rebuilding of the city.

The temporary success of the Lombard League helped to strengthen the towns. However their civic jealousy soon reduced them to weakness again. As a result, in 1236 Frederick II found little difficulty in establishing his vicar Ezzelino III da Romano in Padua and the neighbouring cities, where he practised frightful cruelties on the inhabitants. Ezzelino was unseated in June 1256 without civilian bloodshed, thanks to Pope Alexander IV.

Padua then enjoyed a period of calm and prosperity: the basilica of the saint was begun; and the Paduans became masters of Vicenza. The University of Padua (the second in Italy, after Bologna) was founded in 1222, and as it flourished in the 13th century Padua outpaced Bologna, where no effort had been made to expand the revival of classical precedents beyond the field of jurisprudence, to become a center of early humanist researches,with a first-hand knowledge of Roman poets that was unrivalled in Italy or beyond the Alps.

However the advances of Padua in the 13th century finally brought the commune into conflict with Can Grande della Scala, lord of Verona. In 1311 Padua had to yield to Verona.

Jacopo da Carrara was elected lord of Padua in 1318. From then till 1405, nine members of the moderately enlightened Carraresi family succeeded one another as lords of the city, with the exception of a brief period of Scaligeri overlordship between 1328 and 1337 and two years (1388–1390) when Giangaleazzo Visconti held the town. The Carraresi period was a long period of restlessness, for the Carraresi were constantly at war. Under Carrarese rule the early humanist circles in the university were effectively disbanded: Albertino Mussato, the first modern poet laureate, died in exile at Chiogga in 1329, and the eventual heir of the Paduan tradition was the Tuscan Petrarch.[3]

In 1387 John Hawkwood won the Battle of Castagnaro for Padua, against Giovanni Ordelaffi, for Verona. The Carraresi period finally came to an end as the power of the Visconti and of Venice grew in importance.

Venetian rule

Padua passed under Venetian rule in 1405, and so mostly remained until the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797.

There was just a brief period when the city changed hands (in 1509) during the wars of the League of Cambray. On 10 December 1508, representatives of the Papacy, France, the Holy Roman Empire, and Ferdinand I of Spain concluded the League of Cambrai against the Republic. The agreement provided for the complete dismemberment of Venice’s territory in Italy and for its partition among the signatories: Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I of the Habsburg, was to receive Padua in addition to Verona and other territories. In 1509 Padua was taken for just a few weeks by Imperial supporters. Venetian troops quickly recovered it and successfully defended Padua during siege by Imperial troops. (Siege of Padua (1509)). The city was governed by two Venetian nobles, a podestà for civil and a captain for military affairs. Each was elected for sixteen months. Under these governors, the great and small councils continued to discharge municipal business and to administer the Paduan law, contained in the statutes of 1276 and 1362. The treasury was managed by two chamberlains; and every five years the Paduans sent one of their nobles to reside as nuncio in Venice, and to watch the interests of his native town.

Venice fortified Padua with new walls, built between 1507 and 1544, with a series of monumental gates.

Austrian rule

In 1797 the Venetian Republic was wiped off the map by the Treaty of Campo Formio, and Padua was ceded to the Austrian Empire. After the fall of Napoleon, in 1814, the city became part of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia.

The Austrians were unpopular with progressive circles in northern Italy. In Padua, the year of revolutions of 1848 saw a student revolt which on February 8 turned the University and the Caffè Pedrocchi into battlegrounds in which students and ordinary Paduans fought side by side.

Under Austrian rule, Padua began its industrial development; one of the first Italian rail tracks, Padua-Venice, was built in 1845.

In 1866 the battle of Koniggratz gave Italy the opportunity to push the Austrians out of the old Venetian republic as Padua and the rest of the Veneto were annexed to the recently united Kingdom of Italy.

Italian rule

Annexed to Italy during 1866, Padua was at the centre of the poorest area of Northern Italy, as Veneto was until 1960s. Despite this, the city flourished in the following decades both economically and socially, developing its industry, being an important agricultural market and having a very important cultural and technological centre as the University. The city hosted also a major military command and many regiments.

The 20th century

When Italy entered the Great War on 24 May 1915, Padua was chosen as the main command of the Italian Army. The king, Vittorio Emanuele III, and the commander in chief Cadorna went to live in Padua for the war period. After the defeat of Italy in the battle of Caporetto in autumn 1917, the front line was situated on the river Piave. This was just 50–60 km from Padua, and the city was now in range from the Austrian artillery. However the Italian military command did not withdraw. The city was bombed several times (about 100 civilian deaths). A memorable feat was Gabriele D’Annunzio’s flight to Vienna from the nearby San Pelagio Castle air field.

A year later, the danger to Padua was removed. In late October 1918, the Italian Army won the decisive battle of Vittorio Veneto (exactly a year after Caporetto), and the Austrian forces collapsed. The armistice was signed in Padua, at Villa Giusti, on 3 November 1918, with Austria-Hungary surrendering to Italy.

During the war, industry progressed strongly, and this gave Padua a base for further post-war development. In the years immediately following the Great War, Padua developed outside the historical town, enlarging and growing in population. even if labor and social strife was rampant at the time.

As in many other areas in Italy and abroad, Padua experienced great social turmoil in the years immediately following the Great War. The city was swept by strikes and clashes, factories and fields were subject to occupation, and war veterans struggled to re-enter civilian life. Many supported a new political way: Fascism. As in other parts of Italy, the fascist party in Padua soon came to be seen as the defender of property and order against revolution. The city was also the site of one of the largest fascist mass rallies, with some 300,000 people reportedly attending one Mussolini speech.

New buildings, in typical fascist architecture, sprang up in the city. Examples can be found today in the buildings surrounding Piazza Spalato (today Piazza Insurrezione), the railway station, the new part of City Hall, and part of the Bo Palace hosting the University.

Following Italy’s defeat in the Second World War on 8 September 1943, Padua became part of the Italian Social Republic, i.e., the puppet state of the Nazi occupiers. The city hosted the Ministry of Public Instruction of the new state, as well as military and militia commands and a military airport. The Resistenza, the Italian partisans, was very active against both the new fascist rule and the Nazis. One of the main leaders was the University vice-chancellor Concetto Marchesi.

Padua was bombed several times by Allied planes. The worst hit areas were the railway station and the northern district of Arcella. During one of these bombings, the beautiful Eremitani church, with Mantegna frescoes, was destroyed (considered by some art historians to be Italy’s biggest wartime cultural loss).

The city was finally liberated by partisans and New Zealand troops on 28 April 1945. A small Commonwealth War Cemetery is in the west part of the city, to remember the sacrifice of these troops.

After the war, the city developed rapidly, reflecting Veneto’s rise from being the poorest region in northern Italy to one of the richest and most active regions of modern Italy.