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Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Saint Basil’s Cathedral a central point of Moscow

St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow was built under the commission of Ivan the Terrible in order to commemorate the capture of Astrakhan and Kazan. It has been marking the city’s geometric center ever since the 14th century. Until 1600 when Ivan the Great Bell Tower was completed, it was considered to be the tallest building in Moscow.

Known as either the “Trinity Church” or the “Trinity Cathedral”, the initial building was made of 8 side churches that were arranged around the ninth church. In 1588 the 10th church was raised in order to venerate a local saint called Vasily (Basil). Because it was perceived later on, i.e. in the 16th and 17th centuries, as an earthly image from the Heavenly Jerusalem, it was also known as the allegorical image of the Jerusalem Temple. The building was designed into the shape of bonfire flames rising towards the sky. There is no other such building in Russian architecture. There can be found no other similar building throughout the whole millennium of Byzantine traditions.

During the time of the Soviet Union, the cathedral has fallen prey to state atheism. Thus, it was confiscated from the Russian Orthodox community and it was used as a division of the State Historical Museum starting from 1928. The cathedral was forcefully and entirely secularized later on, in 1929. Nowadays, it is still a Russian Federation property, and has become part of the Red Square UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.

The Trinity Church marked the center of the marketplace, and it was built of the same type of white stone as Dmitry Donskoy’s Kremlin and its cathedrals. To celebrate each victory of the Russo-Kazan War, Tsar Ivan IV built a wooden memorial church next to Trinity Church’s walls. There is a sketch report in the Chronicle of Nikon, saying that during the autumn of 1554, Ivan the Terrible gave order to erect a wooden Church of Intercession on the very same site. Then in 1555, Ivan commissioned the construction of another stone cathedral on the Trinity Church’s site, which was meant to commemorate his war campaigns. At that time, it was a huge novelty to dedicate a church to a military victory. The church was placed outside the Kremlin walls in order to make a political statement favoring posada commoners and directed against hereditary boyars.

The name of “Red Square” comes from the Russian word “krasnaya”, which means both “red” and “beautiful”. It was firstly used for designating St. Basil’s Cathedral, and then the name extended to the whole square. Moscow is not the only Russian city owning a “red square”. There are several other Russian cities in which the main squares are also called “Red Square”. The architecture of the building and the multitude of its colors make it a universally valuable monument, unique and without equivalent in the whole world. The cathedral astonishes the viewers by its vivid colors which can shine so bright, despite the hard times Russian people went through across their troubled history. This strongly Eastern project which is represented by the St Basil’s Cathedral reflects both its localization between Europe and Asia, and also its historical origins.

Some Tatar scholars sustain certain speculations according to which the Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow may contain elements of the Qolşärif mosque. These elements include a central cupola and eight minarets, which are atypical for the Russian architecture in general. The possible justification for such theories maybe Ivan’s desire to celebrate his great victory over the Kazan. The mosque has been rebuilt in Kazan Kremlin since 1996. Nonetheless, its appearance is significantly modern. The mosque was inaugurated in July 24th 2005. This event was a mark of a series of celebrations which were dedicated to the Kazan Millennium.

The towers and domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral seem to be placed randomly, chaotically. However, their arrangement does have a certain logic and strong symbolism. The cathedral is covered with eight domes which may in fact symbolize the tsar’s eight attacks of the Kazan Empire. Four of these domes are octagonal and wide and the other four are smaller and square. In their center there is a spire covered by a small golden dome. This cathedral is worth visiting.

The Interesting Festivities in Spain

Spain, located in the southwestern part of Europe, is a home to people from different cultures. These different people have brought with them many diverse traditions and festivities, which take place all through the year. Every festival comes with a story and when it comes to Spanish festivities, it is even more interesting to know about them. Every event in Spain, is a big deal and celebrated with great pomp and show. Here are some festivities in Spain, which are worth being a part of.

Carnival
February is the month, to witness the crazy carnivals. It is celebrated in different parts of the country, which follow different ways to make these carnivals enjoyable. It’s the best time, where many people socialize and get together, with an intention of having fun. Canary Islands, Cadiz and Stiges are the cities, which conduct one of the most amazing and wild carnivals. A lot of people are dressed in unusual and beautiful costumes, and sing and dance all through the night. The streets are occupied with many people as they watch and participate in many events and parties. The carnival in Spain is filled with many wonderful and interesting events such as, beauty pageants, music shows and various forms of dances. Every citizen of Spain actively participate in these carnivals. In case, these competitions do not interest you, then you can always book your villas and throw a great party or instead head to open air parties. Carnivals, is a reflection of art, where many artistes get a chance to display their skills. This fun filled spectacle takes place just before Lent, which involves 40 days of fasting and as per old traditions no parties were permitted. Origin of carnival is under many speculations, but masquerading and parades were observed in Italy and soon spread to other European countries.

San Fermin – Running of the Bulls
San Fermin is among the popularly celebrated events in Spain. Saint Fermin was dragged by the bulls on the streets of Pampola, which is an event of great significance. The festivities take place from 6th July from noon and goes on till 14th July. The event is inaugurated with the launch of a rocket, an act popularly known as Chupinazo. As the day proceeds, the city council members, parade from City Hall to the Saint Fermin chapel, while many young people block the streets by performing various art forms. Each day involves certain events for which this festival is famous. The event of bulls running begins at 8 in the morning, when the firecracker is launched, indicating the release of the bulls. This event takes place from the 7th to 14th July. After the bull run, the bulls come back to the bullring of Pamplona, where they are killed in the bullfight. This is the most dangerous and yet intriguing part. Many bulls get killed and people or bullfighters who participate in this event also pay with their lives. Irrespective of the bull run and fights, there are many sports such as stone lifting, hay bale lifting and wood cutting are organized. San Fermin, is among the most awaited events of the year, where many Spanish and even people from all around the world visit to witness the great bullfights.

Easter
Easter begins with Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and comes to end with Easter Monday (Lune de Pascua). A lot of people carry palm leaves and visit the church to get it blessed by the priest. Many churches also organize a parade mark the arrival of Jesus. On Easter Sunday, many dummies are made, which are ultimately torn into pieces and thrown into the air. The Easter Sunday meal is a special one, as the godfather presents the cake, La Mona to his godchild. These cake come in many shapes and designs, which are served by wine or honey syrup.

Tomato Festival
Known as Tomatina, this big tomato fight event takes place in Bunyol. This festival takes place on the last Wednesday of August. Many people from different parts of Spain gather at Bunyol and throw around 240,000 pounds of tomato at each other. The tomatoes are specially grown for this event and are smashed before the fight to avoid injury. Many participants protect themselves by wearing goggles and gloves and continue to fight up to 1 hour.

Christmas in Spain
Christmas is celebrated all around the world. However, in Spain it is a little different. At the time of Christmas eve, 24th December, people light up bonfires, while candles are placed outside every house. Many people attend the Christmas mass and enjoy various Christmas recipes cooked on that day. The next day is spend in family reunions and exchanging gifts among friends, family and neighbors. In Spain, Christmas does not end on the eve of 25th December. It is followed by Days of Innocent, which is celebrated on 28th December. The story of this day goes way back in history, which marks a huge massacre, where many innocent people were killed. However, in present times, the Spanish play pranks and consider this as a Fool’s Day.

Best Honeymoon Destinations in Central America

Central America, called a subcontinent under some definitions, can be roughly described as the region between the two continents, namely North and South America. It includes the states of Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Panama, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic as well. All these destinations have in turn, multiple spots for you to visit. On the west of Central America lies the North Pacific Ocean, while on the east lies the Caribbean Sea, giving you some great options in respect to beaches.

Destinations in Costa Rica
Undoubtedly, you will find some of the best honeymoon destinations here, as the main industry of the Republic of Costa Rica is tourism, which also gives us an idea about the number of options we have here. The first thing you need to do, if you’re on a long holiday, is to visit all the 7 natural wonders of Costa Rica, which are Cocos Island, Arenal Volcano (Alajuela), Chirripo Mountain, Light Blue River, Tortuguero Canals, Poás Volcano and the Monteverde Reserve. At the Poás Volcano, the main attraction is the crater. Other attractions that make Costa Rica one of the best honeymoon destinations are the coffee plantations at Orosi Valley, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels, and Manuel Antonio National Park. The Cocos Island is an eco-tourism spot, nominated for the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Destinations in El Salvador
El Salvador is the smallest country by area in Central America, but has some of the top honeymoon destinations. A country famous for its nightlife and numerous beaches, this should be your choice if you are looking for some absolute fun and nothing else. Every year, the country hosts a number of European and North American tourists. Some of the attractions you should visit together include the Coatepeque Lake, Laguna de Alegria and Moncagua (San Miguel). The beaches in El Salvador are renowned as Surfers Paradise, as they are among the top ten beaches globally, and have the best waves for surfing. Some of the best beaches here are La Libertad, Suchitoto, Playa Las Flores, Ruta Las Flores, Santa Ana, and La Palma. Also make sure you visit the village of Concepcion de Ataco and the San Diego Volcano.

Destinations in Belize
This is another nation were you will find some of the best honeymoon destinations in Central America. Although it is the northern most nation in Central America, Belize doesn’t get too many tourists as compared to its neighbor nations. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, you should finalize coming down to this nation. It is the least populated country in all of Central America. Two major attractions here that you can’t afford to miss are the Great Blue Hole (Ambergris Caye) and the Ruins of Xunantunich (San Ignacio Town). Other places worth a visit are Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Reserve and Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Temple of the Masonry Altars, the highest temple pyramid of Altun Ha, is another wonderful tourist spot along with the archaeological site of Lamanai. While at Belize, don’t forget the Placencia Peninsula in Stann Creek District.

Facts on Honduras and History

These Honduras facts at a glance, should get you to visualize and take your imagination with you, as you delve deeper into what makes Honduras the way it is, and how it has seen years of historic events that have been recorded over time.

  1. Christopher Columbus set foot in Northern Honduras, in a place called Trujillo, where he named the country ‘Honduras’, translating into ‘depths’, because of the deep waters of the Caribbean coast.
  2. The government structure of Honduras, is a democratic constitutional republic.
  3. It has 3000 years of rich cultural backing, that show evidence of Mayan archeology in sites of Spanish colonies.
  4. Hondurans are welcoming people, and tourists find them very congenial in nature.
  5. The currency in Honduras is ‘lempira’
  6. The language spoken primarily is Spanish, with English as well.
  7. Honduras’s mining ventures were lucrative to foreign investors that came down from the United States, where a much-loved fruit that was rich in the Honduras, which was the banana, was taken as export as well.
  8. Scuba diving presently is a large attraction for tourists with not to mention, an endless list of places for sight-seeing..
  9. The Mayan ruins and archaeological set ups, are the must see hotspots of the country.
  10. It has a barrier reef, that is the second longest length wise in the world, when compared to that of Australia’s.
  11. Bass fishing is another much-loved hobby to indulge in, in Honduras.
  12. The motto of Honduras is, ‘Libre, soberana e independiente’, meaning ‘Free, sovereign and independent’.
  13. Miskito is another language that the Hondurans still speak, besides the previously mentioned dialects of Spanish and English.
  14. The official name for Honduras is – the Republic of Honduras.

Interesting Facts About Honduras for Kids

These facts about Honduras, should interest little ones to know briefly about the country, that has a historical past of sorts. It’s had its share of political crisis, and has emerged an independent country, free from the reign of outsiders and rulers.

Capital of Honduras
– Tegucigalpa

Constitution
– Jan 11, 1982

Independence Day
– Sept 15, 1821

Official Dialect
– Divish

Race
– Mestizo with a mix of European Amerindian

Population Count
– 7,737,000

Religion Minority
– Roman Catholic

National Anthem
– Himno Nacional de Honduras

Flag
– Consists of three parts of (in order) blue, white and again blue. The five stars that are grouped in the center, represent the union formed by five Central American republics. The coat of arms is a symbol of Honduras’s free, sovereign and independent message. The date of their independence is given on the flag as well.

Weather
– Humid and hot near the coast

These facts make you want to go out there and walk the streets of Tegucigalpa, meeting the friendly locals, and indulging in a cuisine you’ve never sunk your teeth into. I hope that many of you have a future set on vacationing in Honduras, and if you’ve been there already, let us know about it!