It’s Time to Think About Tallinn

The annual European Capital of Culture Award has done wonders for tourism in cities across Europe including Istanbul which received the award last year.  This year’s winner, Tallinn, is particularly special, as Estonia celebrates its 20th anniversary of Soviet independence.  To celebrate both the award and the country’s independence Tallinn will be hosting daily art, music, literal and cultural exhibitions throughout the year.

During the year an impressive 251 different events are planned, with one large festival each month, including the Jazzkaar jazz festival in April, Tallinn Old Town Days in June, the Youth Song and Dance Celebration and Tallinn Maritime Days in July, the Birgitta Festival for opera in August and the Black Nights Film Festival in November.  This, the largest cultural event in the history of Estonia, will attract some of the world’s biggest names in art, literature, music, film and culture.

Tallinn Old Town

Tallinn has chosen for its Capital of Culture theme `Stories of the Seashore’, to tell the story of Tallinn and Estonia’s spiritual and cultural associations with the seashore, as the city continues to re-open the city to the sea.  As part of the seashore development the new Estonia Maritime Museum will open in July in the re-developed vast concrete sea-plane hangars, located on the coast to the west of Tallinn centre.  The route to the museum will be along a specially marked walkway, enabling visitors to walk the one kilometre route from the city to the Museum.

A full programme of events has been scheduled and information about the daily events in the city can be found at with a `What? When? Where?’ event planner and search engine to help visitors plan the date and itinerary of their visit to Tallinn.

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The International Festival Sarajevo – Sarajevo Winter 2011

This year the 27th Annual International Festival Sarajevo, “Sarajevo Winter”, a traditional cultural and artistic event will take place in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina between the 7 and 28 February.  The programme will consist of theatre plays, concerts, films, fine arts exhibitions, panel discussions, literary events, videos, programmes presenting cultural heritage and children programmes.

The first “Sarajevo Winter” Festival was held from 21 December, 1984 to 6th April, 1985.  In the course of twenty six years of its existence, the Festival has become an inseparable part of the city life.  More than 3,250 performances and exhibitions with over 30,000 participating artists from all parts of the world took place in the 1161 festival days.  Thee festival was attended by more than 3 million people.  The “Sarajevo Winter” Festival was not even prevented from taking place even in the times of war and has become a symbol of freedom of creativity and a place for familiarising with diverse cultures and civilisations.

For more information visit Sarajevo Winter 2011

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Baroque Music Festival in Tallinn, Estonia

This festival, which takes place this year between 28 January and 6 February, was originally initiated by an Estonian early music ensemble Hortus Musicus and its leader Andres Mustonen in 1989 as a series of winter baroque music concerts in the historical Tallinn Old Town and the Tartu University Hall.  It soon acquired international recognition, attracting many internationally famed performers including Gustav Leonhardt, Jordi Savall, Barthold Kuijken, Emma Kirkby, Patrick Gallois, Edward Parmentier as well as Liana Isakadze, Michel Lethiec, Natalia Gutman, ensembles Timedance, Consort of Musicke, The Tallis Scholars, Red Priest, Providence, Concerto’91, Kremerata Baltica with Gidon Kremer, Taganka Theatre with Yuri Lubimov.

Since 2002 the Festival has significantly widened its repertoire but visitors are always guaranteed the brilliance of the Hortus Musicus and its Academic Orchestra.  Most recently the festival has focused on the interaction between Eastern and Western music cultures.

Following the opening night’s Golden Bach, this year’s programme includes the works of Dufay, Monteverdi, Byrd, Händel and a new opus from Giya Kancheli.  The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Hortus Musicus, Ramin Bahrami, I Virtuosi Italiani, Stile Antico will all perform at the festival.

For more information visit Baroque Music Festival

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Battle for Belgrade Souvenir Collection

Today the new collection of souvenirs in Belgrade Window, based on illustrations of Dusan Petričić will be revealed to the public. The new souvenir programme was named after a well-known Petricic poster Battle for Belgrade, which was made in 1983, as a result of his collaboration with Dusko Radovic, in one hand, and the City Bureau of Environmental Protection, on the other side.  The centre of the painting revolves around the blue enemies of the city and its red defenders.  Petričić even used the image of the then mayor of Belgrade, Nenad Bogdanovic, who was kidnapped by the blues and taken in a boat down the muddy Sava river. Petričić main idea was to actually draft one recognisable and most frequently used theme in Belgrade – the view from Zemun and New Belgrade side and to add it little events.  The collection will be on view until 31 August 2011.

For more information visit

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Celebrate Christmas with Stravinsky in Budapest

This Christmas, on 27 December, head to the spectacular Palace of Arts and listen to the phenomenal National Festival Orchestra play Stravinsky’s Scherzo a la Russe, Tango, Firebird Suite and Rite of Spring.  Tango was the first work that Stravinsky wrote in its entirety in the USA, in 1940. Originally for piano, the first orchestral version was by Felix Guenther. Although Stravinsky endorsed it, in 1953 he decided to arrange it himself. Its première in 1953 was conducted by Robert Craft.

In his autobiography, My Life, Stravinsky wrote that he had the idea for The Rite of Spring while composing Firebird: in his imagination he saw a huge pagan folk ritual with two elders who sit kneeling as a young girl does a dance of death. She is then sacrificed to the God of Spring. It was premièred with choreography by Nijinsky in Paris in 1913, and it resulted in one of the most celebrated scandals in music and theatre history. The work calls for a vast array of instruments (five wood wind, eight horns, five trumpets etc.) and is in two sections: Adoration of the Earth and The Sacrifice.

Ticket Prices: 3950, 5100, 7300, 12000 Ft
27 December 2010, 7.45 pm – 10.00 pm
Bartók Béla National Concert Hall
Conductor: Ivan Fischer

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Karel Škréta Exhibition at National Gallery in Prague

Today the National Gallery in Prague has opened an exhibition celebrating Karel Škréta, his work and era (1610-1674).  The exhibition will be held until 10 April 2011 in the Wallenstein Riding School Gallery and the Prague Castle Riding School Gallery in Prague.

Karel Škréta (1610-1674): His Times and Work will be the largest exhibition ever of the work of this major artist and founder of Baroque painting in Bohemia. In addition to Škréta’s artworks, the exhibition will also present works by Škréta’s son Karel Škréta the Younger, his students and workshop collaborators, selected works by artists whom Škréta met during his stays in Germany and Italy, and paintings that inspired Škréta in his own work.

For more information visit the Prague National Gallery website

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100th Anniversary of Western Synagogue in Frankfurt

The Westend Synagogue was one of only a very few Jewish places of worship in Germany to survive the Second World War. This year, the renowned religious venue is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its establishment. The impressive Jugendstil structure continues to serve not only as the religious centre of the city’s Jewish community, but also as a place of remembrance and commemoration.

The origins of Frankfurt’s Jewish population can be traced back as far as the 11th century. Their settlement, protected by imperial decree, was originally located near the later Frankfurt Cathedral. A Jewish ghetto was established outside of the city in 1464, inhabited by up to 2,200 persons. In 1797, French artillery bombarded the ghetto, razing it to the ground. Only in 1864 did Frankfurt’s Jewish community achieve equality of treatment and full civil rights.

Western Synagogue Frankfurt

From this time on until the rise of fascism, Frankfurt’s Jewry enjoyed their most prosperous era. Numerous charitable foundations were established thanks to the social engagement of Frankfurt Jews. Many of the founders of Frankfurt’s Goethe University were of Jewish faith, the university also being the first in Germany to appoint Jewish professors.

Prior to 1933, Frankfurt’s Jewish community counted some 28,000 members, making it at that time the second largest in Germany after Berlin. Ludwig Börne, Max Beckmann, the Rothschilds, the Oppenheimers, Anne Frank, Paul Ehrlich, Theodor Adorno are all highly significant names in the long history of Frankfurt. Over the centuries, Frankfurt’s Jewish inhabitants have helped to shape the city into what it is today, while also playing an important part in Frankfurt’s social life. Today, Frankfurt’s Jewish community continues to be the second largest in all of Germany, with over 7,000 members.

A number of interesting sightseeing attractions highlighting Jewish life remains in Frankfurt am Main:

  • The Jewish Museum at the Lower Main Quay (Untermainkai) offers a highly interesting look at the turbulent history of Frankfurt’s Jewish community. At home in the monument-listed, classicistic Rothschild Palace on the banks of the River Main, the museum’s permanent exhibition informs not only on Jewish history, but also on religious practices at home and in the synagogue, on life as a Jewish individual and as a community, at work and on religious holidays. A variety of changing exhibitions, many featuring accompanying fringe programmes, lectures and special events round off the offer spectrum of the Jewish Museum.
  • During the construction of the new municipal works building at Börneplatz in 1987, workers uncovered the historic remains of several Jewish houses, ritual baths and wells. The workers had in fact come across the southern end of the Jewish ghetto’s “Judengasse”, or Jewish Alley. Significant portions of the findings were saved, thereby helping to preserve some 800 years of Jewish history. The discovered site was integrated into the main administrative building of Frankfurt’s municipal works department and today forms Museum Judengasse. Börne Gallery, part of Museum Judengasse, presents changing art and culture exhibitions of smaller scale, focusing on diverse topics of the Jewish past and present. There is also a special database here, which contains the names and biographies of the deported and murdered Jewry of Frankfurt, in supplementation of the memorial at Neuer Börneplatz.
  • At the Anne Frank Youth Centre, a permanent multimedia exhibition, entitled “Anne Frank. A Girl from Germany”, offers an interactive look at diverse “layers of history”. Here, the personal environment of Anne Frank is embedded amidst historical settings and supplemented by references to contemporary times. Anne Frank’s world-famous diary is at the centre of the exhibition, with various quotes guiding visitors through topics such as persecution, going underground, war, the holocaust and Anne’s own questions, such as “Who am I?”, “What is happening to me?” and “What’s important to me?”.
  • Various Jewish cemeteries pay a final tribute to well-known Frankfurt individuals of Jewish faith. These include, among others, the Old Jewish Cemetery (Alter Jüdischer Friedhof) and the Jewish Cemetery on Rat-Beil-Straße, where between 1828 and 1929 the vast majority of Jewish personalities of the past two centuries were laid to rest. In 1928, a further Jewish cemetery was founded on Eckenheimer Landstrasse, north of the Hauptfriedhof, the city’s main cemetery. This cemetery continues to be used today. It is open on Saturdays and all Jewish holidays.
  • Of the four main Frankfurt synagogues, only the Westend Synagogue escaped the carnage of World War II. It is still in use today. Frankfurt’s main synagogue (Hauptsynagoge), located at Börneplatz, was burned to the ground in 1938 on what is commonly known as “Reichkristallnacht”, or “The Night of Broken Glass”. Max Beckmann, the renowned artist, eternalised the synagogue in one of his most famous works, which today is on display at the Städel Museum at Frankfurt’s museum embankment.
  • The synagogue at Friedberger Anlage also fell prey to the Pogrom Night of 09th November 1938. In its place, the National Socialists erected an air-raid bunker. Today, the former shelter houses an exhibition entitled “The East End – Insights into a Jewish Quarter.” It tells many interesting stories of Jewish life in pre-1933 Frankfurt.
  • The Memorial at Neuer Börneplatz is without doubt one of the most impressive places of remembrance of Jewish persecution in Frankfurt. The memorial’s most imposing feature is the over 11,000 stone blocks, integrated into the cemetery wall and depicting the names of all the deported and murdered Jews of Frankfurt.
  • The “Jewish Community of Frankfurt am Main” was officially reformed in July of 1945. Today, it has its seat at the Ignatz Bubis Community Centre in Savignystrasse. The centre also includes two kindergartens, Isaak Emil Lichtigfeld Primary School, a youth centre, a community welfare department, a senior citizen’s club and a kosher restaurant, “Sohar’s”. An annual Jewish cultural festival, very popular amongst both Jewish and non-Jewish denizens of Frankfurt, has been held at the community centre since 1982. Together with the Jewish Museum, the Fritz Bauer Institute (Study and Documentation Centre on the History and Impact of the Holocaust) of Goethe University and the comprehensive Judaica Collection at the University Library, the Jewish Community of Frankfurt am Main have taken great strides in maintaining and expanding Jewish life and culture in the Main metropolis.

Guided city tours focusing on the subject of Jewish Frankfurt may be booked via the Frankfurt Tourist+Congress Board. For further information visit

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Why Not Have Your Wedding in the Czech Republic?

Of all the countries in the world that claim to be the most romantic the Czech Republic is one of the top places. The gas-lit cobbled streets of Prague are steeped in the past, while the walls of its elegantly-designed buildings echo with imagined voices from a romantic age and trumpeted fanfares from a castle balcony proclaim that age isn’t dead. Beyond the city, its outlying unassuming villages coexist in quiet deference to the Gothic castles dominating their landscapes – where kings, aristocrats and Teutonic knights once held domain. And so it goes on, far beyond the capital region to outlying provinces such as Moravia.

As if these surroundings are themselves not enough to cast an eternal love-spell, there’s more. Just imagine a couple, after a day soaking up scenery, returning to their honeymoon suite to find the bed strewn with rose petals, surrounded by flickering candles, champagne, chocolates and romantic music. Or discovering a balloon and bouquet left strategically on Prague’s grand Charles Bridge while walking back to the hotel. Perhaps even a fireworks display accompanied by a violin serenade. Either way, the fairytale needn´t end there. If there’s a wedding in the offing, this is the place to be.


The Czech Republic has carved out something of a niche for itself as a wedding venue, attracting an estimated 525 British couples in the past 10 years – quite an achievement for a destination once the haunt of Brits ‘stag’ breaks. The gap in the market since the pre-nuptial ‘rowdies’ moved on had been filled by a variety of romantic holidays, from short breaks in a palatial hotel, to pre-wedding inspection trips leading to the full works.

The most popular wedding venues include: Prague’s Old Town Square, for civil weddings in the Old Town Hall, and St Nicholas Church for religious ceremonies. The Old Town Hall is famous for its astronomical clock, and the Baroque St Nicholas Church is also a major venue for concerts. But for the full works in a fairytale castle setting, the most popular option is Konopiste Castle about 30 miles (30 minutes’ drive) south of Prague. The 13th-century fort – featured in the 2006 movie The Illusionist – has a beautiful castle chapel which can be used for the ceremony.

Find out more at Czech Tourism!

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The Cologne Fine Art & Antiques: From Antique to Modern

Cologne Fine Art & Antiques FairThis November the Cologne Fine Art & Antiques 2010 will meld modernism with tradition. It will bring together a rich mix of rare and exceptional objects spanning two thousand years of cultural and artistic history. Ninety leading international galleries and dealers have been selected to show highlights of European and non-European art from a broad range of collecting fields spanning classical antiquity to the 21st century. The Vintage Design sector, launched in 2009, will be expanded to include Contemporary Design.

The Fair’s sleek new design and elegant ambience provide a handsome setting for galleries and dealers to show high-end collectibles in all disciplines. It is a treasure trove for cognoscenti and collectors looking to invest in genuine quality and solid value.

The 2010 edition of the Fair is set to build on the success of its new formula. The exhibitor list features top dealers returning after the successful 2009 Fair. They are joined by an exciting mix of high-profile newcomers whose exhibits broaden the spectrum of disciplines and enhance cross-cultural interaction. Five unmissable, art-packed days for every collector’s November diary.

The Cologne Fine Art & Antiques Fair will run from 17 to 21 November 2010.  For more information visit

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From Russia with Nostalgia Exhibition in Turin

This winter has seen Turin’s Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo play host to Modernikon: From Russia with Nostalgia – an exhibition including installations, videos, performance and photographs by 20 artists, which recount the world of Russia.  In many of the exhibits modernity and the legacy of an era that still does not seem to have found its end have been reappraised. Both in “Post-post-modern” and the more recent “Altermodern” period, modernity has been seen from a Eurocentric perspective, excluding the realities that, although under a regime, had developed precise ideas and forms, among these, the former USSR.

What emerges from this early season exhibition at the Fondazione Sandretto is a geography of contemporary Russian art, which contemplates a rare vivacity for times of repression, considered by most as times of darkness. In Modernikon there is continuity with tradition, but in terms of a conceptual, formal and expressive re-evaluation of the past based on full awareness of history.

It’s not too late, take a trip to the exhibit now and explore Russian culture.

Modernikon. Contemporary art from Russia curated by Francesco Bonami and Irene Calderoni Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Via Modane, 16 (Borgo San Paolo) – 10141 Torino runs until 27 February 2011, Tuesday to Sunday 12 – 8pm; Thursday 12 – 11pm. Admission: € 5; concession € 3; free entrance Thursday from 8 – 11pm.  For more information visit

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