Europe’s Most Culturally-Significant Cities
|February 14, 2012||Posted by under Places|
Vacations provide us with great opportunities to see different parts of the world, enjoy new sights and meet new people. Many travelers make the main purpose of their annual vacation to enjoy the culture that is available in other countries; many of the countries richest in history and culture are in Europe. The continent of Europe has many unique destinations with a rich cultural heritage, and visiting the more unusual culturally significant cities can be particularly rewarding. Given below are details of a few such cities.
Derry, Northern Ireland
Many tourists travel to Ireland to visit Dublin, the capital of the ‘Emerald Isle’, or to visit Belfast in Northern Ireland; however, the historic walled city of Derry is the second largest in Northern Ireland and is certainly worth visiting. It has earned the title UK City of Culture 2013 and this should attract more tourists to this interesting town.
The name Derry was originally derived from the Irish word for an oak grove. In 1613 Derry became Londonderry as a result of a royal charter bestowed by King James I of England, and both names are now used. This beautiful city on the shores of Lough Foyle has a rich cultural heritage. It is the birthplace of the Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney, the playwright Brian Friel, popular band The Undertones and artist Willie Doherty. The writer and music critic Nik Cohn also grew up in Derry.
The city is bursting with cultural performances and exhibitions all year round, including a host of festivals and special artistic events across all genres throughout 2013. The Dalai Lama is due to visit in April 2013 as part of the City of Culture celebrations.
Tallinn, the beautiful Estonian capital, is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Northern Europe, with a fascinating mix of contemporary flair and old-fashioned elegance and charm. The fusion of architectural styles is stunning, taking the visitor on a journey through time from the Middle Ages to the modern day. Although remains of the harsh Soviet past are in evidence everywhere, Tallinn seems to have embraced life in the 21st century with the same gracefulness with which it has preserved its historic past. The main attractions are in the two old town areas of Toompea and Lower Town, which can be easily explored on foot. Aspects of Estonian rural culture and architecture are preserved in the Estonian Open Air Museum at Rocca al Mare, which is in the west of the city.
San Sebastian, Spain
The Spanish jewel of the Basque country, San Sebastian, is on the Bay of Biscay. It is unusual in that it has one of the loveliest in-city beaches in Europe, which is known as La Concha. The cultural scene here is amazingly dynamic, with events ranging from traditional city festivals to music, theater and cinema. Various events take place all the year round; there is always something to see. San Sebastian, with its decorative art nouveau architecture, is very busy in the summer at the height of the tourist season.
A major jazz festival takes place during the last week in July. This is the longest continuously running jazz festival in the whole of Europe. During the next few years San Sebastian will be gearing up to become European Capital of Culture in 2016, which is a title it will share with Wroclaw in Poland.
A number of airlines have regular flights to each of the above locations and make them increasingly accessible.
Road links to Derry from other parts of Ireland are excellent, while the train journey from Belfast is along a beautiful scenic route.
Ferries operate from England, Scotland and Wales to various parts of Ireland.
A catamaran or ferry also operates to Tallinn from Finland, and San Sebastian can be reached by road, rail or air.
CC Mariusz Kluzniak