Tag Archives: history

Czech Republic – UNESCO WHS – Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc

This memorial column, erected in the early years of the 18th century, is the most outstanding example of a type of monument specific to central Europe. In the characteristic regional style known as Olomouc Baroque and rising to a height of 35 m, it is decorated with many fine religious sculptures, the work of the distinguished Moravian artist Ondrej Zahner.


Cyprus – Paphos – Tombs of the Kings

The Tombs of the Kings is a large necropolis lying about two kilometres (little over a mile) north-west of Paphos harbour in Cyprus.

The underground tombs, many of which date back to the 4th century BCE, are carved out of the solid rock, and are thought to have been the burial sites of Paphitic aristocrats and high officials up to the third century CE (the name comes from the magnificence of the tombs; no kings were in fact buried here). Some of the tombs feature Doric columns and frescoed walls. Archaeological excavations are still being carried out at the site. The tombs are cut into the native rock, and at times imitated the houses of the living.

Cyprus – Lemesos – Temple of Apollo

Limassol, lying between the ancient kingdoms of Kourion to the west and Amathus to the east, is the second largest town in Cyprus. Together with the suburbs surrounding it, it is already a large town, and is continually expanding in a coastal zone. It is a modern town, with fine residences, modern buildings, shops, luxury hotel complexes, countless restaurants & Taverns, and entertainment places to cater for all tastes.
The Apollo Temple, Near Limassol, is part of the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates, the ancient god protector of forests.

Bulgaria – Nessebar

The city of Nessebar and the resorts on its territory are located in the southeastern part of Bulgaria.

The present-day town is the successor of a Thracian fishermen’s settlement named Menabryia (meaning literally ‘the town of Mena’), the foundation of which dates back to the 2nd century BC. Later it remained the only Doric colony along the Black Sea coast, as the rest were typical Ionic settlements. The Greeks named it Messembria (which was later transformed into Nessabar by the Slavs), and it grew into a big and well-fortified town-state. The town benefited from natural protection from both the land and the sea. Remains suggest the existence of aqueducts, a sewerage system, fortified wails, an amphitheatre and numerous cult edifices (including an impressive temple of Apollo) at that time. The town became a popular commercial centre as a variety of goods from the Aegean and the Mediterranean regions were traded there and it also minted its own coins in the 5th century BC. Two centuries later, it founded its own colony called Navlohos near Obzor. The whole land between Nessebar and Obzor used to be a granary that supplied the two colonies with food as well as goods of exchange. In the 1st century BC the town surrendered to Marcus Lukulus’ legions and was subjected top Roman domination, during which the construction of a second colony of Messembria began and was finished. The second colony, built to the south of Nessebar, was named Anhialo (present-day Pomorie).

In the early Middle Ages the town rebuilt its fortress walls and stayed part of the Byzantine Empire until 812 when the protobulgarian Khan Kroum conquered it, including it in the territory of Bulgaria. During the reign of Ivan Alexander the town went thorough a cultural and economic boom, and occupied substantial territories beyond the stretch of the peninsula. It was around that period when most of the churches of Nessebar, remains of which are to be found in the present-day town, were built. In 1366 the knights of Amadeus of Savoy conquered the town, and then sold it to Byzantium for 15,000 golden ducats. In 1453, shortly after Constantinople fell under Turkish domination the town was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and went through a period of decay. The Liberation found Nessabar as a small fishermen’s settlement, with well-developed viticulture on the hills above the town.

Due to the unique natural surroundings and the well-preserved monuments from various historic periods, at the 7th session of the World Heritage Committee in Florence in 1983, the Old Town of Nessebar became the only Bulgarian town included in the World Cultural Heritage list of UNESCO.

Bulgaria – Vidin – Baba Vida Fortress

Baba Vida fortress in the town of Vidin on the river Danube in Northwesternmost Bulgaria is the only medieval fortress that has survived to this day in this country.

A portulan, a travel guide of sorts, from the Roman times first mentioned the fortress under the name Ad Malum (probably of Celtic origin). The Romans later changed the name to Bononia, which the Slavs pronounced as Budin, and the Proto Bulgarians as Bdin. The present-day name Vidin appeared for the first time in Ottoman registers as early as the XV century.

Baba Vida is a medieval fortress built on the foundation of the Roman Bononia fortification that existed for five centuries till the mid sixth century A.D. It was part of the Danubian frontier of the Roman Empire. The citadel had two parts, a housing and economic part, and a defensive part. The castle represented a square building encircled by two walls, an inner wall and an outer wall, forming a courtyard in between. The castle towers were built on the inner wall. Four of them occupied the four corners pointing to the four directions north, south, east, west. There were also five lateral towers, and of course the main entrance tower, built on the outer wall. The fosse in front of the castle was filled with water from the river Danube. It had a wooden bridge that went up and down. The principal construction works date from the period of the Second Bulgarian kingdom, the late XII –early XIV century. During that time Hungarian and Bulgarian rulers took turns to hold the possession of the fortress. The last dynasty of Bulgarian kings before the country fell under Ottoman domination, the Shishman dynasty, originated from there. The building technique combined stone and brick bound by mortar. After the fall to Ottoman domination the castle was turned into a fortification and served that purpose right till the early XIX century. Baba Vida fortress underwent rebuilding to allow for fire from small-calibre rifles and canons from the outer wall.

The inner courtyard was home to the guards and also housed the many warehouses. There used to be a chapel in the XIII-XIV century unearthed during excavations and researchers assume that the fortress was also home to the feudal lord of the region. In the XVII-XVIII century the Ottomans built stone quarters for the garrison.

Bulgaria – Madara Rider

The Madara Rider or Madara Horseman is an early medieval large rock relief carved on the Madara Plateau east of Shumen in northeastern Bulgaria, near the village of Madara.

The monument is dated back to circa 710 AD and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979. The dating means the monument was created during the rule of Bulgar Khan Tervel, and supports the thesis that it is a portrayal of the khan himself and a work of the Bulgars, a nomadic tribe of warriors which settled in northeastern Bulgaria at the end of the 7th century AD and after merging with the local Slavs gave origin to the modern Bulgarians. Other theories connect the relief with the ancient Thracians, claiming it portrays a Thracian god.

Belarus – Brest Fortress-Hero – Memorial Complex

Brest Fortress was built in the 1830s-early 1840s at the meeting-point of the rivers Bug and Mukhavyets.

During construction, the entire town was relocated to a new position 2km away. St Nicolas Church was built in 1851-1876. Much of it was severely damaged during World War 2.

The site occupies more than four square km, although many of the outer defences were damaged or destroyed during the wars of the 20th century.

There is a citadel at the centre of the fortress, linked to three artificial island fortifications by bridgeheads:

  • Kobrin fortification (north-eastern side)
  • Terespol fortification (western island)
  • Volyn fortification (south-eastern island)

The fortress was captured by the German army in 1915 and after World War 1 remained within Polish territory. In 1930 it became infamous as a prison in Poland in the aftermath of the Brest Elections.

In 1939 Brest Fortress was assigned to the Soviet Union. It earned the title of Hero Fortress for the courage demonstrated by Soviet soldiers when they fought against the German army in 1941. Whilst the Nazis took the town of Brest – 90% of which was destroyed in the fighting – the two regiments garrisoned inside the fortress held out.

For the people of Belarus, Brest Fortress remains a famous symbol of the Soviet resistance during World war 2.