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World at a Glance: Flemish béguinages, a 13th century women’s movement

A béguinage, what is that? Well, let’s begin with a béguine (come on, that was funny…) A béguine is, or rather was, a woman who dedicated her life to her god – but didn’t necessarily want to take a vow, or withdraw from the world. Who were these women? According to one theory, wars and […]

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Belgian Belfries

We’ve covered many serial world heritage sites here on Sophie’s World. Some are within the same country, such as the mining landscapes of Cornwall and Devon, while others are transnational: Struve’s Geodetic Arc, Europe’s ancient beech forests, and even transcontinental, like le Corbusier’s buildings. Today, we’re in Belgium, taking a look at a transnational property, comprising 56 belfries scattered throughout this […]

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The Palmyra Hotel in Baalbek: Wacky, Weird and Wonderful

We don’t write heaps of accommodation reviews here on Sophie’s World. Can’t be just any boring old accoms, you see. It has to be unique, like a lighthouse, say. Or a shipping container. Or an exceptionally beautiful hotel. Or a combination hotel/refuge for asylum seekers/artists’ workshops. Or haunted. Every once in a while, something special […]

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The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

It’s a warm afternoon in June. I’m walking along a narrow path in a park in the town of Dessau. In the state of Saxony-Anhalt, once part of the now defunct country DDR, the German Democratic Republic, better known as East Germany. This is not just any park, though. This is Georgium, an 18th century […]

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11 things you’ll love about Geneva – in 60 snaps

If a picture paints a thousand words, prepare for 60,000 words. That’s in addition to the actual words, ca 2,500. In fact, this could easily be loads of separate posts, but I’m in the mood to do one massive one. So here we go, all in one place. What do you think of when you […]

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Plantin-Moretus publishing house: a 16th century amazon.com.

In Belgium’s second city, you’ll find the Plantin-Moretus Museum, a fascinating 16th century printing shop, publishing house and residence. Antwerp, then a city of 100 000 residents, was one of Europe’s leading cities for printing and typography, with 140 bookshops, printers and publishers. Among these, Christophe Plantin was the most famous – a 16th century Amazon.com, you might […]

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On Damascus. And trust.

As I’m scribbling this, I’m sat at FRA, probably my least favourite airport. Doesn’t help that I’ve had 3 hours sleep, and that my fave Eurovision tune (Ireland) ended up at 16th place, right behind my second favourite at 15th (I’m Norwegian, after all). But – I’ll give you a proper look-over another time, FRA. […]

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