If you want to see one of the richest church treasuries in the world, then Paris should be your destination. Since March 14 and until June 16, the Louvre Museum presents the treasury of the Abbey of Saint Maurice in Valais, Switzerland (also called Abbey of Saint Maurice in Augaunum). The exhibition is a one of and not likely to be repeated within our lifetime.
In 1967, the Swiss city of Basel was rocked by student protests. Their protest slogan was: "All You Need Is Pablo." The students were not protesting against something or everything, they were protesting for the acquisition of two pictures painted by Pablo Picasso. The protests were a turning point and moved voters in Basel to spend more than six million Swiss francs in public money. This legendary ballot led to a miraculous propagation of pictures by Pablo Picasso.
Switzerland is an odd little country in Central Europe bordering Germany, France, Italy, Austria, and Liechtenstein. It contains more oddities than people, I think, and I want to present a few of these weird peculiarities to you. They might also give you some ideas as to what is going wrong in other, larger, countries.
When planning to take your car into The Alps in winter, proper preparation might be worth your life. It might also be worth a lot of money as most countries may hand out hefty fines if you aren’t ready for snow and icy conditions on the roads.
If ever you wanted to go on a holiday to the South of France, this mystery novel is an ideal way to take yourself on a spin through all its best parts. And when you go there on a holiday, don’t forget to take this book along, Mary Stewart’s Madam, Will You Talk serves as a guidebook as well.
Books with a certain patina aren’t always the worst ones to read. If you are going on a holiday to the French or Spanish Pyrenees Mountains (or if you never considered doing that), Thunder On The Right by Mary Stewart should be part of the reading stuff to take along. Consider it a guidebook extraordinary when you do so.
Like San Marino, Monaco was a neutral state during World War II. It was fiercely contested by Germany and Italy who had mutually exclusive ideas as to its future. Prince Louis II had been brought up in Germany and was a general in the French army. He played his connections for all they were worth in trying to keep the country afloat.
Tucked away in a south-eastern corner of Switzerland, a valley offers a rest to travellers going from the Engadin to the Valtellina Valley. The Valley is dominated by Poschiavo and its lake of the same name. If you want a holiday away from all hustle and bustle this is the place to go to.
Besides many other jobs assigned to him by God, St. Michael is the foremost door warden. As such, his churches and chapels may often be found on doorways to the Otherworld. Therefore, whenever you find some building dedicated to St. Michael, it is worth while investigating its history. It might stand on one of the doorways to the Otherworld.
The Principality of Monaco is situated on the Mediterranean and borders onto France. The second smallest country in the world, it is also one of the richest. But it started out as a fort on an embattled coast.
The Devil and the Russians both have a place in the heart of Switzerland. The bridge was the start of the St. Gotthard pass as we know it today. And just beside it is a plot of Russian territory, perpetually flying the Russian flag.
Neuchatel is a beautiful little town in Switzerland situated on Lake Neuchatel. It managed to become an anachronistic holdover from the middle ages into the 19th century and thereby almost brought Switzerland and Prussia to declare war on each other. Today, it has a university and is a centre for tourists visiting the beautiful countryside and the Jura Mountains.
Stirling Castle was once a Royal residence of the Scottish kings. But being situated near the border to England, it was a castle of strategic importance before that. When the Scots started to convert it into a residence, the builders included a curious code into the ceiling of the king’s bedchamber. The code was recently cracked to reveal the music hidden within.
Geneva is mostly seen as the seat of the United Nations in Europe. This is highly unjust, as it is a city full of history and unique international charm. At some time or another, it was capital to three kingdoms and a home to saints and many less saintly.
Basel is not only a cultural centre. Its special situation bordering both Germany and France has brought forth other peculiarities, like three railway stations in town centre and a tri-national airport. It is also a city steeped in legend, most of which is fervently believed by its inhabitants.
Andorra is an old country. It was established in 1278 after a long and costly war between France and Spain over the territory which is not valuable in itself but strategically placed on major medieval routes through the Pyrenees. It was already then established as a Principality with two reigning Princes, the Bishop of Seu d’Urgell in Spain and the Count of Foix in France to represent the interests of both powers. This condominium endured for 500 years until the French revolutionary government rescinded all contracts signed by the kings of France at any time.
It takes a special town to have a festival dedicated to a mythical beast, but in a city where you stumble over basilisks with almost every other step you take, it has to be expected. Vogel Gryff, the Festival of the Griffin is held every January in the city of Basel.