Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tallinn - The Old City part II

Tallinn - Bar on the St. Catherine's Passage
Bar on the St. Catherine's Passage

The history of Tallinn shows us different military powers holding the city due to its strategic point between Russia and Scandinavia and less then 50 years of independence. It was firstly mentioned in 1154 as Qalaven by cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi who called it: "a small town like a large castle". A quite similar name can be found in slavic writings: Kolyvan , name probably coming from the mythical hero Kalev. The Scandinavian where calling it Lindanisa during the Danish rule of Tallinn in 13th century. This name is actually coming from Linda, the name of the wife of Kalev who is supposed to be buried under Toompea hill. Later both Danes and the Teutonic Knights (who bought it from the Danes) called the city Reval. The city became a part of the Hanseatic League, an economical and military alliance of German dominated cities. In 1561 the owner has been changed again, becoming a dominion of Sweden. After Great Northern War, Tallinn became a part of Imperial Russia in 1710 and stayed like this for more than 2 centuries, until the country became independent in 1920. The modern name Tallinn, was adopted during this independence period; it seems to mean "Taani-linn(a)" ("Danish-castle/town"). The independence lasted only 20 years as in World War II Russians and Germans succeeded to occupy the city, the final outcome being an annexation to the mighty Soviet Republic. In 1991, the Tallinn was once again the capital of an independent country, the Republic of Estonia.

Tallinn - Painted clock on the Holy Spirit Church façade
Painted clock on the Holy Spirit Church façade

Tallinn - Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Tallinn - On the city wall
On the city wall

Tallinn - Lühike jalg street
Lühike jalg street

Tallinn - City Wall
City Wall

Tallinn - Estonian Corsair girls
Estonian Corsair girls

Tallinn - Restaurant on Vene Street
Restaurant on Vene Street

Tallinn - view from the city wall
View from the city wall

Tallinn - Old Tower and St. Nicholas´ Church in background
Old Tower and St. Nicholas´ Church in background

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tallinn - The Old City part I

Tallinn - Street merchants selling almonds
Street merchants selling almonds

Tallinn old town, the medieval city built from the 13th to 16th century is on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997. Very well preserved and with an extra touch of recent renovation due to being the European Culture Capital this year, Tallinn's old city immediately makes you fall in love with it. It is a charming mixture of cobblestone lanes, antique façades with lovely windows, colourful flowers, medieval squares, traditional markets and plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops. Everything is concentrated in walking distance and full of curious tourists. The downside is that everything is very commercial and you have to pay entrance fee for almost every church (a bit surprising comparing with other European capitals). We let you admire the charm of the city in a selection of images:

Tallinn - Grillhaus Daube on Rüütli street
Grillhaus Daube on Rüütli street

Tallinn - Window with summer flowers
Window with summer flowers

Tallinn - Restaurants on Raekoja plats (Raekoja square)
Restaurants on Raekoja plats

Tallinn - Town Hall
Town Hall

Tallinn - Pühavaimu street
Pühavaimu street

Tallinn - small street with St. Marys Toomkirik
Small street with St. Marys Toomkirik

Tallinn - St. Catherine's Passage
St. Catherine's Passage

Tallinn - Traditional Estonian Doll
Traditional Estonian Doll

Tallinn - Olde Hansa restaurant
Olde Hansa restaurant

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Copenhagen Pride

Copenhagen Pride - Candy Man

The Pride concept is that people should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The Pride movement has its origins in America where gay population was persecuted by the police. The whole thing started in New York, in the bar Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street where in 1969 the gay people fought back NYPD making a statement about their sexuality; this moment was later celebrated in US and many other countries.

Copenhagen Pride -

In Copenhagen, the first Pride was organized in 1996, when Danish capital was the European Capital of Culture. That year Copenhagen received the honour to organize the Europride. Since then, the event took place every year, having different names like Mermaid Pride or Copenhagen Pride.

Copenhagen Pride - It's not striptease

Copenhagen Pride - Mr Beer

Copenhagen Pride - Give me my lipstick back, girl!

Copenhagen Pride - Recycle lady

Copenhagen Pride - Serious

Copenhagen Pride - Let's rideeee

Copenhagen Pride - Christiania defenders

Copenhagen Pride - Navy Girl

Copenhagen Pride - Pinky

Copenhagen Pride - Parrot outfit

Copenhagen Pride - Gay Mermaid

Helsinki - stadiums in Töölö district

Sunset over Sonera Stadium (until August 2010 Finnair Stadium), Helsinki
Sonera Stadium (Finnair Stadium until August 2010)

Helsinki Olympic Stadium
Helsinki Olympic Stadium

The Helsinki Olympic Stadium is located in the Töölö district of Helsinki and it is the largest stadium in Finland. It was build in 1938 with the purpose to host the 1940 Summer Olympics, but because of the World War II the Olympics were moved to Tokyo. In 1952, Helsinki Olympic Stadium finally hosted Summer Olympics, in 1983 hosted first World Athletics Championships followed by another one in 2005. It is the home stadium of the Finland national football team and it is also used for hosting other sports events and big concerts.

Paavo Nurmi & Helsinki Olympic Stadium in background
Paavo Nurmi & Helsinki Olympic Stadium in background

In front of the stadium, the statue of Paavo Nurmi is dominating the parking area. Nurmi is a famous name in the history of Athletics discipline. He won 9 gold medals at the Olympic Games, being a very versatile runner. He was beating many world records for middle and long distances between 1500 m and 20 km, a performance completely inaccessible to our days athletes that are more specialized.

Sonera Stadium (Finnair Stadium until August 2010 )
Sonera Stadium (Finnair Stadium until August 2010)

Right close to the Olympic Stadium, one can find a smaller but quite modern arena called Sonera Stadium. It was opened in 2000 and has a capacity of 10,770 spectators. The stadium provided with artificial turf and warming system is the home of Helsingin Jalkapalloklubi (or HJK), the most succesful Finnish football club.

Sunset over Sonera Stadium (until August 2010 Finnair Stadium), Helsinki
Sonera Stadium (Finnair Stadium until August 2010)

Rain over Sonera Stadium (Finnair Stadium until August 2010 )
Sonera Stadium (Finnair Stadium until August 2010)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Helsinki - a tour in the spirituality of the city

The Helsinki Cathedral and Senate Square
Helsinki Cathedral and The Senate Square

Last weekend we visited Helsinki (and Tallinn); nice small city, harbour at the Baltic Sea and Finland Gulf. Everything is walking distance, if you are lazy you can just take a tram. Like in many other cities in the world, the cathedrals and churches are the main attractions. We visited three of them :
- Helsinki Cathedral (Helsingin tuomiokirkko) is an Evangelical Lutheran cathedral, located in the centre of the city, dedicated to Nicholas I, the Tsar of Russia whose name was taken until Finland became independent in 1917. The church was built in 1830–1852, in neoclassical style, designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, the architect who designed the other buildings in Senate square. Today the church is considered the main attraction of Helsinki.

The Helsinki Cathedral
Helsinki Cathedral

- Temppeliaukio Church( Temppeliaukion kirkko ) is a non-conventional church built into a rock, having a copper roof. The church is quite modern being designed by the brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen and opened in 1969. The church has excellent acoustics being a popular venue for various concerts. Half a million people visit Temppeliaukio Church annually.

Temppeliaukio Church - copper roof
Temppeliaukio Church

The organ of Temppeliaukio Church
The organ of Temppeliaukio Church

Candle - Temppeliaukio Church
Candle inside Temppeliaukio Church

- Uspenski Cathedral (Uspenskin katedraali) is the biggest Orthodox church in the Western Europe. It is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. The Cathedral was built between 1862-1868 after the plans of the Russian architect Alexey Gornostaev who died before the construction work even began. One weird thing happened to the Cathedral: the icon of St. Nicolas – The Wonder Maker, was stolen in the middle of the day on 16 August, 2007 and never found since then.

The Uspenski Orthodox cathedral
The Uspenski Orthodox cathedral

The Uspenski Orthodox cathedral
The Uspenski Orthodox cathedral

The Uspenski Orthodox cathedral
The Uspenski Orthodox cathedral