Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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Vardø harbour in the Barents Sea, Norway (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Lenten cod

  • 28 Feb 2021
Across southern Europe, and most particularly in Portugal, it is the season for bacalhau - the salted, dried cod which is a staple in the Portuguese diet. This much sought after version of cod is a strong Lenten tradition in many Catholic ...
The caldera of Sete Cidades on the Azorean island of São Miguel (photo © Lukasz Janyst).
Letter from Europe

A Tale of Two Lakes

  • 26 Sep 2019
Last year, the Azorean authorities reminded residents of the hazards of living in an archipelago where three great tectonic plates meet. This is where Eurasia meets Africa and the Americas. We recall a royal visit to the volcanic caldera of Sete ...
Master cowbell craftsman José Louís Reis Maia at the Chocalhos Pardalinho workshop, in the village of Alcácovas, Alentejo, Portugal (photo © Rudolf Abraham).
Magazine article

And to the Bells, a Voice

The Portuguese tradition of making cowbells is an endangered rural craft. Rudolf Abraham travels to the Alentejo region of Portugal to visit a workshop where cowbells are still crafted in the traditional ...
Lisbon’s Praca do Comércio, with the prominent statue of King José I on his charger and the triumphal arch and arcades behind. The restaurant-café Martinho da Arcada is to the right of the arch (photo © Iain Bamforth).
Magazine article

Exploring Lisbon with Pessoa

Think of writers who are intimately associated with a particular city: Kafka and Prague, Joyce and Dublin, Svevo and Trieste... or Pessoa and Lisbon. Pessoa did for Lisbon something which few other leading writers have done for their home city. He ...
Letter from Europe

A Rhino called Ganda

  • 17 May 2015
We revisit the story of Ganda, the rhinoceros made famous in Dürer's woodcut, and look at it in the context of Renaissance royal ...
Elvas in Portugal has just been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List (photo © Inacio Pires).
Magazine article

Mining heritage

A new crop of European heritage has just been added to UNESCO's celebrated list of notable heritage. The newcomers to the World Heritage List include remarkable industrial villages in Flanders and Wallonie, a German opera house and a clutch of ...
Magazine article

Sharing sacred space

The clean lines that we think divide religions often become very blurred in the Balkan region. Thus shrines may be claimed as sacred by adherents of more than one religion. We look at the phenomenon of syncretic ...
Beach at Porto Santo, the second largest island in the Madeira archipelago (photo © Luisafonso / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Porto Santo: a desert island?

The North Atlantic island that was once home to Christopher Columbus is a mainstream tourist destination. But that did not stop Europe's media from inventively recreating it as a remote desert island to make a good news ...
Letter from Europe

Gerês (Portugal)

  • 6 Mar 2011
It is an odd experience to arrive in a small town before noon and find a local restaurant full of folk eating lunch. Vila do Gerês, the town where spa clients eat before noon, comes as a surprise. It is a little town in northern Portugal — faded, ...
Magazine article


Bang in the middle of the Atlantic, equidistant from Lisbon and Newfoundland, the island of Corvo is one of the most isolated European ...
Magazine article

Europe's lost synagogues

Shoah survivors and their descendants come and stand silent in the synagogue where once an entire kehillah worshiped together. hidden europe finds out what has become of some of Europe's former ...
Magazine article

New Jerusalems: European sacri monti

With Eastertide in mind, we explore some devotional itineraries that led to New Jerusalems all over Europe. From Portugal to Poland, sacri monti (sacred mountains or calvaries) often offer very local interpretations of classic religious ...
Letter from Europe

Tykocin (Poland) - Belmonte (Portugal)

  • 4 Aug 2008
Tykocin is a gem, a town that graciously captures the awful history of a thousand former Jewish shtetls across central Europe. This was a community, like so many in the region, that was Jewish to the core. Tykocin had its heart ripped out in August ...
Letter from Europe

Alentejo (Portugal)

  • 3 Dec 2006
Alentejo is an area of Portugal which attracts few tourists. Travellers bound for the Algarve coast zip through the region on the motorway, and scarcely give Alentejo a second look. But Alentejo is home to some of Europe's largest forests of cork ...
Letter from Europe

Jan Mayen (Norway) - scrimshaw and more in the Azores

  • 4 May 2006
Jan Mayen has no indigenous population, and the twenty or so souls who are on the island at any one time are generally staff of the Norwegian meteorological service or military personnel. This onetime whaling station became a regular stop off point ...