Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Seven European Cities to Visit in 2012

From the TMO Italy Travel Guide

Bergen – Norway

Dating back to at least the 1020s, Bergen has a rich and varied history, and was one of the most important of the Hanseatic League cities. From the time that the Vikings had learned to salt cod to preserve it for long voyages (in the 800s), trade in this Northern fish flourished throughout Europe – so much so that if you travel around Italian cities like Venice or Rome you’ll find traditional dishes of Baccalà or salted cod on the menu. Bergen was one of the cities that benefited from this trade, and for much of its history was actually Norway’s biggest city.

Set against seven mountains (de syv fjell), and facing into the fjord of Byfjorden, Bergen has the most beautiful setting of the cities on our list, and probably one of the most beautiful settings full stop. It’s celebrated as the gateway city to the famous fjords, and with a University and several third-level education institutions (including the Bergen National Academy of the Arts) it’s always lively. But it must be freezing? Well, actually no – while it never gets particularly hot, thanks to the Gulf Stream the city rarely goes below zero in terms of temperature, despite being further North than St. Petersburg!

The city is noted also for its music – and what a scope of artists it is associated with, from the celebrated composer Edvard Grieg (1843=1907), and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (one of the oldest Philarmonics in the world), through to singer songwriter Ane Brun (who started her career in Bergen) and the Bergen Wave of Black Metal acts from the late 1990’s. There’s something for everyone in this beautiful city.

Things to see

Check out the Bryggen, the historic Harbourside which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Take the Ulriken643 cable car to the top of the highest nearby mountain, Mt Ulriken (643 meters) for spectacular views.
If you’re travelling as a family, the VilVite, Bergen Science Centre is perfect for you, with wonderful interactive exhibits

Annual Festivals

The Borealis festival – an international festival of contemporary music.
The Bergen International festival – Over 150 events every year in the fields of music, ballet, opera, theatre, dance and the performing arts.

Useful Links

Visit Bergen
Visit Norway
Explore the Fjords Norway

Nicosia – Cyprus

Nicosia, or Lefkosia as it is called in Greek, has the advantage of being a beautiful city in its own right, but also the capital of an island state that is small enough to mean that you can take in much of the Cypriot countryside and culture on a trip there.

Cyprus has been both lucky and unfortunate to have always been an important crossroads between east and west. It’s been fought over time and time again, passing variously through the hands of the Assyrians, the Persians, the Romans, the Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, Venetians and more recently the British (you’ll find many Cypriots speak excellent English). That rich and tragic history continues today, with Nicosia one of the only divided cities left in the world – as a result of the Turkish invasion of 1974 and parition of the Island; you can visit the so-called ‘green line’, which cuts through the city, though nowadays EU citizens can cross back and forth between the two sides of the Island (sensitivity here is required obviously – remember, this is a dispute which still remains unresolved).

Nicosia isn’t just about history though, in recent years Cyprus has had a booming economy, which has left its mark on the city; there’s world famous cuisine (you haven’t lived until you’ve tried a Cypriot Meze), a thriving football culture (the city hosts 3 first division clubs, APOEL,Olympiakos, and Omonia) and all types of music ranging from traditional Greek through to Cypriot Heavy Metal (and the world famous dance music culture of coastal resort Ayia Napa is just an hour away).

Things to see

Faneromeni Church, in the central Faneromeni Square – a wonderful mixture of Neoclassical, Byzantine and Medieval Latin architectural styles.
The Leventis municipal museum – this prize-winning museum has Frankish, Byzantine,Ottoman, and British permanent collections illustrating the city’s past
The Famagusta gate – one of the three original gates protecting access to the city, the Famagusta gate nowadays acts as a buzzing cultural centre playing host to concerts, exhibitions, and theatre during the summer months.

Annual Festivals

Cyprus Film Days – this international film festival celebrates it’s tenth anniversary this year, and is held at the end of April
Independence Day – On October 1st every year Cyprus celebrates its independence from the British, hard won in 1960 after years of struggle. The day is marked in Nicosia with a large parade.
Ancient Greek Drama Festival held every summer, this world-famous festival takes place in amphitheatres throughout Cyprus.

Useful Links

Visit Cyprus
Wiki travel Nicosia

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