European miniguide

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Comenius Multilateral Project

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Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides POLAND GREECE ROMANIA LATVIA TURKEY SLOVENIA BULGARIA Short introduction PORTUGAL LITHUANIA DISCLAMER ITALY

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Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Short introduction POLAND GREECE ROMANIA LATVIA TURKEY SLOVENIA BULGARIA LITHUANIA Short introduction DISCLAMER ITALY PORTUGAL

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Short introduction These mini-guides contain descriptions of the representative historical, cultural and touristic objectives from partners’ countries. The images used in mini-guides were integrated in e-puzzles and solved by mixed teams (students and seniors). Also, the mini-guides were valued as didactical resources for the mixed teams (students and seniors ) who studied them during the e-puzzles workshop s .

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Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Short introduction POLAND GREECE ROMANIA LATVIA TURKEY SLOVENIA BULGARIA ROMANIA PORTUGAL

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ROMANIA Medieval Towns Central Romania encompasses what is popularly known as Transylvania – a place that immediately brings to our mind the legend of Count Dracula. Even the legend is intriguing and a genuine tourist attraction, the region Transylvania has much more to offer. Some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns, most notably Sighi ș oara , Bra ș ov or Sibiu , are located here.

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ROMANIA Old Town Sibiu Designated European Capital of Culture in 2007, Sibiu retains the grandeur of its earlier days when rich and powerful guilds dominated regional trade.   We invite you to explore the old city center with its upper town, home to most of Sibiu's historic sites, and lower town, lined with colorful houses on cobblestone streets and bounded by imposing city walls and defense towers overlooking the river Cibin .

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ROMANIA The Monasteries in Bucovina Bucovina (in the north-eastern province of Romania ) is renowned for the vivid, beautiful exterior frescoes on the walls of its monasteries. These triumphs of Byzantine - influenced art reflect a development of Moldavian civilization in the 15th and 16th centuries, under the patronage of Stephen the Great (1457-1504). The latter depict Biblical and other religious scenes, designed in segments almost like strip cartoons to stir the imagination of the local people and so educate them in the Orthodox spirit.

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ROMANIA The Monasteries in Bucovina The churches stand in the center of the monastery complex and all of them have high pitched roofs and little sunlight comes inside. There are five main monasteries of this kind: Moldovi ț a , Humor, Putna , Bogdana , Vorone ț .

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ROMANIA The Voroneț Monastery The Vorone ț Monastery is a medieval monastery and it is one of the famous painted monasteries from southern Bucovina, in Suceava County. The monastery was constructed by Stephen the Great of Moldavia in 1488 over a period of 3 months and 3 weeks to commemorate the victory at Battle of Vaslui . Often known as the "Sistine Chapel of the East", the frescoes at Voroneț feature an intense shade of blue known in Romania as " Vorone ț blue ” . The katholikon (main church) of Saint George at Voroneț Monastery is possibly the most famous church in Romania.

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ROMANIA The Voroneț Monastery It is known throughout the world for its exterior frescoes of bright and intense colours , and for the hundreds of well-preserved figures placed against the renowned azurite background. The small windows, their rectangular frames of crossed rods and the receding pointed or shouldered arches of the interior doorframes are Gothic. The south and north doors of the exonarthex of 1547 have rectangular frames, which indicate a transition period from Gothic to Renaissance. But, above them, on each wall is a tall window with a flamboyant Gothic arch .

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ROMANIA The Voroneț Monastery The whole west façade is without any openings, which indicates that the intention was from the beginning to reserve it for frescoes. The church is one of the Painted churches of northern Moldavia listed in UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites .

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ROMANIA Castles and fortresses of Romania Romania's collection of castles and fortresses perhaps best illustrates the rich medieval heritage of the country. While castles built from the 14th to the 18th centuries are strong and austere fortresses built mainly for defense against invaders, those erected beginning in the late 1800s are imposing and luxurious. The most popular include the 14th century Corvinesti Castle, built on the site of a former Roman camp, the elegant 19th century Peles Castle with its 160 rooms filled with priceless European art and, of course, the Bran Castle, built in the mid-1300s and legendary home to Bram Stoker's Count Dracula. 

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ROMANIA Bran castle Bran Castle , situated near Bran and in the immediate vicinity of Braşov , is a national monument and landmark in Romania. Commonly known as "Dracula's Castle, it is marketed as the home of the titular character in Bram Stoker's Dracula. There is, however, no evidence that Stoker knew anything about this castle, which has only tangential associations with Vlad Ț epeș , voivode of Wallachia, the putative inspiration for Dracula. Bran Castle was originally a fortress built by the Knights of the Teutonic Order in the year 1212.

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ROMANIA Bran castle It was known by the name of Dietrichstein at the time. Later on, towards the end of the 13th century, it was taken over by the Saxons in that region in order to protect the City of Bra ș ov , an important trade center. Vlad Tepe ș used Bran Castle as headquarters for his incursions into Transylvania.

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ROMANIA The Carpathian Mountains - National Parks Romania’s national and natural parks, displaying a unique variety of landscapes, vegetation and wildlife, protect some of the largest remaining areas of pristine forest in Europe. Grasslands, gorges, subterranean caves, volcanic lakes, and extensive river network add to the richness of the national park system. There are seven main national parks of this kind in the Romanian mountains - Bicaz , H ăș ma ș , C ă limani , Ceahl ă u , Piatra Craiului , Retezat .

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ROMANIA Ceahl ă u National Park Surrounded by watercourses and dam lakes, Ceahlau Mountain, the Olympus of Romania, displays an incredible concentration of flora - over 2,000 flower species, and wildlife. Fossil limestone, the rock formations Dochia , Cu ș ma Dorobantului , and the Duruitoarea waterfall are just some of the main attractions in the park. The park is bounded to the east by the Bistrita River and Lake Bicaz , and to the south by the Bicaz River. Some of the most exciting Romanian legends refer to the strange stone shapes spread around the peaks in the park.

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ROMANIA Ceahl ă u National Park The Dochia rock formations are said to represent a mean old woman (“baba”) who came on Ceah l ă u to feed her sheep. Deceived by the sunny days of early spring, she took off, one by one, all her nine-sheepskin waistcoats. When the frost came, it turned both her and her animals into ice, which over the years transformed into the stones we see now .

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ROMANIA The Danube Delta The Danube Delta is the 2nd largest river delta in Europe, after Volga Delta, and is the best preserved on the continent. The greater part of the Danube Delta lies in Romania, while its northern part, on the left bank of the Chilia arm, is situated in Ucraine . The approximate surface is 4,152 km², 3,446 km² are in Romania. Formed over a period of more than 10,000 years, the Danube Delta continues to grow due to the 67 million tons of alluvia deposited every year by the Danube River. The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve has the third largest biodiversity in the

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ROMANIA The Danube Delta world (over 5,500 flora and fauna species), exceeded only by the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Galapagos Archipelago in Ecuador. The Danube Delta is home to over 60% of the world’s population of pygmy cormorants, 50% of red-breasted and the largest number of white pelicans and Dalmatian pelicans ( pelecanus crispus ) in Europe. It also is home to the world’s largest reed bed expanse. More then half of the Delta Biosphere Reserve is virtually intact.

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ROMANIA Horezu ceramics Horezu ceramics reflects many generations of knowledge and skills development of pottery, which is why the craftsmanship of Horezu pottery was inscribed on UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists in December 2012. Horezu ceramics are decorated in a unique, easily recognizable style marked by the recurrence of specific elements such as: roosters, stars, snakes, trees, the double helix, the undulating line, circular strings of folk motives, the tree leaf, the sun, the tree of life. Production is divided into male and female fabrication processes.

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ROMANIA Horezu ceramics Therefore, men extract the earth, which is then cleaned, cut, watered, kneaded, trampled and mixed – transforming it into red clay that potters form in a special finger technique requiring concentration, strength and agility. Each potter has his own technique of shaping, but each respects the sequence of the process. The women decorate the shaped ceramics before firing with special techniques and tools in order to draw traditional motifs. Colors are bright shades of brown, red, green, blue and so called " Horezu ivory".

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ROMANIA Decorating Easter eggs Decorating Easter eggs is an old tradition throughout Central and Eastern Europe. The custom of Easter egg painting is very old,  began with Christianity, and is a symbol of spring and the rebirth of nature. Romanian Exquisite Eggs are hand-made, painted with traditional geometric motifs, usually in red, white, yellow, blue and black. The same colors and geometric patterns appear on Romanian Ethnic Costumes, traditional fabrics and carpets. White is the symbol of purity, red is the symbol of life (blood color) and black is the symbol of fertility,

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ROMANIA Decorating Easter eggs representing good land for agriculture. Eggs have man lines painted on them - symbols of eternity. Yellow is the color of the sun and gold. Blue is the symbol of the sky and water. Often eggs are painted with crosses, the image of St. Mary – symbol of Christianity - and others are painted with birds and animals – symbols of good health.

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ROMANIA Romanian Traditional Food - Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with polenta Stuffed Cabbage Rolls consists of ground meat, rice and spices rolled in cabbage leaves. Every major holiday finds Romanians with this dish on their tables. Boiled in a mixture of water and tomato paste and accompanied by soft pieces of pork fat, " sarmale " are generally served with a big scoop of sour cream on top. Depending on the region, the rolls may be smaller or larger. If you decide to eat them with polenta (a sort of cornmeal mush that is usually served warm) instead of bread, you will feast on a 100% traditional Romanian dish. Romanians often see pol enta (" mamaliga ")

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ROMANIA Romanian Traditional Food - Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with polenta as a traditional bread replacement. It serves as a great flavor enhancement for your stew or soup. You can pair it with sausages, or eat it with cold milk from a bowl. Another popular way of eating it is the " mamaliga cu branza " (polenta and cheese) dish, where layers of polenta alternate with layers of homemade cheese, and are then cooked in the oven. When in Romania, just ask for polenta. They will find a way to serve it.

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Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Short introduction POLAND GREECE ROMANIA LATVIA TURKEY SLOVENIA BULGARIA POLAND PORTUGAL LITHUANIA DISCLAMER ITALY

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POLAND The old town Warsaw It’s here that most tourists will choose to start their tour of Warsaw. It is the oldest historic place of the capital city. The heart of the area is the Old Town Market Place, with the restaurants, cafés and shops. Surrounding streets feature medieval architecture such as the city walls, Barbican and St. John's Cathedral .

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POLAND The Palace of Culture and Science The Palace of Culture and Science is the tallest building in Poland, the sixth tallest building in the European Union. The building was originally known as the Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science, but in the wake of destalinization the dedication to Stalin was revoked. The building currently serves as an exhibition center and office complex. It is 231 meters tall . There are 3288 rooms on 42 floors, with an overall area of 123,000 m², containing cinemas, theatres, museums, offices, bookshops, a large conference hall for 3000 people, and an accredited university, Collegium Civitas .

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POLAND Wawel in Cracow The complex consists of many buildings and fortifications; the largest and best known of these are Royal Castle and Wawel Cathedral which is the Basilica of St Stanisław and St Wacław . Some of the Wawel's oldest stone buildings, such as the Rotunda of the Virgin Mary can be dated to 970AD. There are also wooden parts of the complex which date to about the 9th century.The castle itself has been described as "one of the most fascinating of all European castles."

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POLAND The Cloth Hall Sukiennice The Cloth Hall Sukiennice in Krakow dates to the Renaissance and is one of the city's most recognizable icons. It is the central feature of the main market square in the Krakow Old Town (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978).

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POLAND The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork is the largest castle in the world by surface area, and the largest brick building in Europe. It was built in Prussia by the Teutonic Knights, a German Roman Catholic religious order of crusaders, in a form of an Ordensburg fortress. The castle is a n example of a medieval fortress and, on its completion in 1406, was the world's largest brick castle. UNESCO designated the "Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork " and the Malbork Castle Museum as the World Heritage Site in December 1997.

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POLAND The Tatra Mountains The Tatra Mountains are a mountain range that form a natural border between Slovakia and Poland. They are the highest mountain range in the Carpathian Mountains. The highest peak called Gerlach , at 2,655 m (8710  ft ) is located north of Poprad . The highest point in Poland, Rysy , at 2,499 m (8200  ft ) is located south of Zakopane .

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POLAND The Łańcut Castle The Ła ń cut Castle is a 17th-century palace in Ła ń cut , Poland. During its history, it has been the home of the noble Polish families. The palace is currently a museum particularly well known for its large collection of historic carriages. In the castle grounds there is a park with the little romantic castle, a coach house with a collection of carriages and a guest-house in the English style.

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Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Short introduction POLAND GREECE ROMANIA LATVIA TURKEY SLOVENIA BULGARIA GREECE PORTUGAL LITHUANIA DISCLAMER ITALY

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The Acropolis of Athens The history of the Acropolis of Athens is long, with moments when democracy, philosophy and art flourished, leading to its creation. Then, there were times when its best standing pieces were removed and shipped away from the city, dividing the monument in two. The Acropolis and the Parthenon, is the most characteristic monument of the ancient Greek civilization. It continues to stand as a symbol in many ways: it is the symbol of democracy and the Greek civilization. It also symbolizes the beginning of the Western civilization and stands as the icon of European culture . GREECE

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The Acropolis of Athens The Parthenon was dedicated to Athena Parthenos , the patron goddess of the city of Athens and goddess of wisdom. It was built under the instructions of Pericles, the political leader of Athens in the 5th century BC. The Parthenon was constructed between 447 and 438 BC and its sculptural decoration was completed in 432 BC. Despite the unique symbolic and cultural value of the monument, the issue of the removal of the sculptures from the Athenian Acropolis by Elgin continues to shadow their history . Today, more than half of the Parthenon sculptures are in the British M useum GREECE

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The Acropolis of Athens in London and their return to Athens, for their display in the Acropolis Museum together with the other originals, is a cultural issue awaiting to be settled. GREECE

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Epidaurus theatre Epidaurus was built around the 3d Century BC and it is adorned with a multitude of buildings most famous of which is the ancient Theater of Epidaurus. Epidaurus is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. It is located near Nafplio in Peloponnesus. The most important attraction of the site is the well preserved ancient Theatre that is considered to be the most beautiful in the world for its perfect visual proportions and spectacular acoustic response of its space. The view from the theatron is breathtaking as a result of GREECE

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Epidaurus theatre the way the sweeping architectural geometry merges with the beautiful hilly landscape surrounding the scene. This is one of the very few theaters that retains its original circular "Orchestra" and it is a rare aesthetic sight. During Roman occupation of Greece, most theater "Orchestras" were changed from a circle to a semicircle , but luckily The Epidaurus Theater escaped intact. When you visit, don't forget to stand in the center of the circular orchestra (right on the square marble that marks it), and speak as softly as you can. You will be amazed how your voice returns in a stereophonic fashion , GREECE

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Epidaurus theatre and how even the farthest seating spectators can hear you in the stands! The theater is still in use today with frequent plays, concerts, and festivals, most of which take place during the summer months. GREECE

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Knossos Minoan Palace Knossos, the famous Minoan Palace lies 5 kilometers southeast of Heraklion , in the valley of the river Kairatos . Constant habitation for 9,000 years has brought about great changes to the natural environment, so it is hard to imagine what the Minoan landscape was like. The first settlement in the Knossos area was established around the 7000 BC, during the Neolithic Period. The economic, social and political development of this settlement led to the construction of the majestic Palace of Knossos towards the end of the second millennium BC . Knossos was the palace of the legendary GREECE

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Knossos Minoan Palace King Minos and the main center of power in Crete. This first Palace was destroyed around 1700 BC. It was rebuilt and destroyed again by fire, this time definitively, in 1350 BC. The environs of the Palace were transformed into a sacred grove of the goddess Rhea, but never inhabited again. The Palace of Knossos is the monumental symbol of Minoan civilization, due to its construction, use of luxury materials, architectural plan, advanced building techniques and impressive size. GREECE

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Olympia The site of Olympia, in a valley in Peloponnesus, has been inhabited since prehistoric times. In the 10th century B.C., Olympia became a center for the worship of Zeus. The Altis – the sanctuary to the gods – has one of the highest concentrations of masterpieces from the ancient Greek world. In addition to temples, there are the remains of all the sports structures erected for the Olympic Games, which were held in Olympia every four years beginning in 776 B.C. Olympia is directly and tangibly associated with an event of universal significance. The Olympic Games GREECE

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Olympia were celebrated regularly beginning in 776 BC. The Olympiad - the four-year period between two successive celebrations falling every fifth year - became a chronological measurement and system of dating used in the Greek world. Moreover the Olympic Flame is alight for the very first time by the Greek sun at the sacred and historic site of Ancient Olympia. GREECE

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Olympia The significance of the Olympic Games demonstrates the ideals of Hellenic humanism: peaceful and loyal competition between free and equal men, who are prepared to surpass their physical strength in a supreme effort, with their only ambition being the symbolic reward of an olive wreath. Ever since, the unique event of the Flame Lighting Ceremony has acted as herald for the Olympic Games worldwide. The Sacred Flame travels the country where the games are to be held and burns for as long as the Olympic Games last, as a strong reminder of the land that gave GREECE

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Olympia birth to them. The ritual of the Lighting starts with the procession of the priestesses from the Altar of Hera, in front of the goddess’ temple. Dressed in archaic-style clothing, priestesses surround the Altar while the High-priestess, invoking god Apollo, lights the torch, using a concave mirror. According to the Myth of Prometheus, the fire is the symbol of life, rationalism and freedom as well as inventiveness. GREECE

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Rotonda The monument was built by Galerius Caesar in ca. 300 A.D. This is the oldest structure still in use in the city. It was converted to a Christian church in ca. 390. It is well known for its mosaic decoration, one of the best samples of early Christian art. The Christians decorated the walls of Rotunda with a mosaic of unbelievable variety of colors, while the figure of Christ was depicted in the center of the cupola in a shining sphere, in the colors of the rainbow. Unfortunately, only little can be seen nowadays of this composition. However, below the cupola, GREECE

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Rotonda bands of angels, martyrs and the saints of early Christian times are depicted and preserved in a significantly better condition. The church was dedicated to Christ or the Archangels and during the 10th-12th centuries was the cathedral of Thessaloniki. Finally, the name Rotunda prevailed due to the cylindrical shape of the monument . GREECE

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The National Park of Dadia The National Park of Dadia – Lefkimi – Soufli Forest is situated on the southeast end of the mountain range of Rodopi , in Evros . It constitutes the geophysical space where many species of flora and fauna of the Balkan peninsula, Asia and Europe thrive. The location of the Forest makes this forest one of the few regions in Europe habituated by so many and different species of birds of prey and where three of the four European species of vultures can be simultaneously found : the Eurasian Black Vulture, the Egyptian Vulture ( Neophron Percnopterus ) and the Eurasian Griffon Vulture. GREECE

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The National Park of Dadia The proposed Biogenetic Reserve is a mountainous hilly area with intense and diverse landscapes, and contains some of the most natural ecosystems in Greece. It has a recognized high value for the conservation of birds, at the European and Mediterranean levels, with 229 species present. This site has a unique value for the conservation of birds of prey with the impressive presence of 36 species of diurnal raptors in a total of 38 species found in Europe. This peculiarity is due to the fact that the forest, being in a border area with few inhabitants, has not undergone excessive destructive GREECE

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The National Park of Dadia human intervention . On the contrary, the few farmers involuntarily provided the food for the birds of prey, leaving the carcasses of their dead animals. The loggers, in addition, thinning the forest and opening up small clearings, created the ideal habitat for these birds. Unfortunately, in recent years there are fewer and fewer farmers. Consequently, this will lead to a change in the fauna in the near future . GREECE

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Alonissos Alonissos is the third member of the Sporades group of islands, after Skiathos and Skopelos . It is surrounded by 25 uninhabited islets which all together consist the National Marine Park (NMPANS), first established in 1992 in order to protect the Mediterranean monk seals Monachus monachus . The waters of Alonissos are the cleanest of the Aegean Sea and have been declared a marine park because they are a breeding ground for rare species of seal which seek refuge in the numerous submarine caves and are considered as endangered and protected . Alonissos is still quite untouched by GREECE

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Alonissos tourism which is growing slowly. The extreme beauty of the island is also due to its dense forests of pine covering a great part of the island. It is an island of an incredible natural beauty and amazing beaches. Because of the richness of the soil and the mild climate, a wide range of herbs are growing in Alonissos which is the reason why the island is the centre for the International Academy of Classic homeopathy. GREECE

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Santorini The island of Santorini is probably the most intriguing island of Greece. The active volcano of Santorini erupted in the 50's and ruined many towns of the island. Approaching the island by boat, the immediate impression obtained is of a Greek island unlike any other. The island of Santorini was formed out of the lava from the volcanic eruption in 1660 BC. The central part of the volcano sank into the sea leading to the emergence of Santorini itself and the tiny neighbouring islands of Thirasia , Palaia and Nea Kameni close by. Today, Santorini is the only inhabited Caldera GREECE

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Santorini (volcano cauldron) in the world. The coloured strata of the volcanic rock of these cliffs are spectacular in themselves: chocolate brown, rust red, yellow ochre, white and cream. The geological uniqueness however is not the only thing that makes Santorini a special holiday destination. Everyone has read about the spectacular sunsets that occur on this island and the skeptics may question whether the setting sun can really appear differently here than from the neighbouring islands of Naxos or Ios . The sunsets at Santorini , viewed from the Caldera , are so beautiful GREECE

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Santorini when are seen as a backdrop to the volcano. The eastern slopes of the island are green and fertile, even in October. This is due to the copious vineyards that grow so well in the fertile volcanic soil. The terraced slopes of the mountains use every available part of this fertile land. The island suffers from water scarcity, because it has few natural water reserves, but the nature of the dry soil produces grapes that make up one of the best wines of Greece ( vinsando ). The climate, though damp is healthy and perfect for producing wine, fava beans and tomatoes. GREECE

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Meteora In a region of almost inaccessible sandstone peaks, monks settled on these 'columns of the sky' from the 11th century onwards. 'Suspended in the air' is the meaning of Meteora in Greek. These monasteries represent a unique artistic achievement and are one of the most powerful examples of the architectural transformation of a site into a place of retreat, meditation and prayer. Meteora provide an outstanding example of the types of monastic construction which illustrate a significant stage in history, that of the 14th and 15th centuries when the eremitic ideals of early Christianity GREECE

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Meteora were restored to a place of honour by monastic communities, both in the Western world (in Tuscany, for example) and in the Orthodox Church. The monasteries are built on rock pinnacles of deltaic origin which rise starkly over 400 m above the Peneas valley and the small town of Kalambaka . Chemical analysis suggests that the pinnacles were created some 60 million years ago in the Tertiary period, emerging from the cone of a river and further transformed by earthquakes. During the fearsome time of political instability in 14th century, monasteries GREECE

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Meteora were systematically built on top of the inaccessible peaks so that by the end of the 15th century there were 24 of them. They continued to flourish until the 17th century. Today, only four monasteries still house religious communities. GREECE

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Chios mastic The mastic trees are the trademark of Chios and a main source of income for many residents of the island. Its cultivation started in the ancient times and they produce a rare resin that is largely exported. This resin is used for the elaboration of different products, especially a very unique chewing gum, as well as quality spices, alcoholic beverages and sweets. An interesting detail about the mastic trees is that they grow in many parts of the world but the only place where they elaborate its resin is in Chios. It is not very clear when the cultivation of these trees on the island GREECE

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Chios mastic started, but it is known that Herodotus was the first to notice their resin, around the 5th century BC. The mastic trees of Chios were so important from economical view that it provoked invasions of conquerors and pirates. This fact determined the architecture of the island, as many fortresses were built in the villages around the mastic trees. In our days, the mastic trees are still exploited. Although they live more than 100 years, they provide resin from their 5th year until their 70th. The care of the mastic groves extends over the whole year. Today the mastic is the main source GREECE

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Chios mastic of income for about 5,000 families in southern Chios and 90% of the product is exported. Another thing to mention is that the Chios Mastic Gum has been established by the European Union as an exclusively Greek product and only Greece has the right to produce it. GREECE

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Pozar baths Pozar Hot springs with sparkling therapeutically waters along their length and the forest that circles them as if it guards them, can charm even the most incredulous guests. The water that sparkles from the curative springs is called savior by many as it heals many diseases and is proper for thermal bath therapy and drink therapy. The temperature among the 6 main hot springs is 37 degrees Celsius. You can enjoy the water into one of the special formed swimming pools at the interior hamams or at one of the 40 thermal bath tubes. For the daring ones there is GREECE

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Pozar baths the big exterior pool with sparkling warm water and next to it there is a waterfall with cold water . For the even more daring ones there are the countless waterfalls with the 5 small natural thermal lakes where the warm waters steam from the ground creating unique images. Precipice rocks, natural waterfalls, wild vegetation with high trees and the famous gorge of the Baths with the 16 caves is another image of the Pozar Baths . GREECE

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Nafplio The city of Nafplio was the first capital of the modern Greek state. It is one of the loveliest towns in Greece. The old city with its neoclassic houses, picturesque streets, wooden balconies with cascading flowers is like a fairyland. A lot of important historical events took place there. In Nafplio there is also the house of Regent Mauer , the Military Academy, which operates as a military Museum, the Army Ministry, the first Greek high school, Parliament House, and St. Spyridon church where Kapodistrias , the first governor of Greece, was assassinated . GREECE

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Nafplio After the capital of Greece has moved to Athens, the city of Nafplio became of less importance. But it still continues to attract visitors to this very day because its history is virtually the history of modern Greece and because every occupying power has left its mark.  The city of Nafplio is like a living museum. It's also as lively as any city in Greece. GREECE

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The oracle of Delphi Delphi was inhabited since Mycenaean times (14th - 11th c. B.C.). Slowly over the next 5 centuries the sanctuary grew in size and importance. During the 8th c. B.C. Delphi became internationally known for the Oracular powers of Pythia --the priestess who sat on a tripod, inhaled ethylene gasses , and muttered incomprehensible words that foretold the future. The oracle at Delphi is a figure of great historical importance that was, and still is, shrouded in mystery.  She spoke for the god Apollo and answered questions for the Greeks and foreign inquirers about colonization, religion GREECE

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The oracle of Delphi and power.  Her answers could be direct, conditional on some particular thing, or entirely ambiguous. The ancient people had such faith in Pythia's view of the future that no major decision was made without consulting the Oracle of Delphi first. Greek and foreign dignitaries and common folk made the pilgrimage to the Delphi sanctuary, and paid great sums for Pythia's oracles. Since the sanctuary only served the public a few days over nine months out of the year, great sums were paid by the more affluent ones in order to bypass the long line of pilgrims. GREECE

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Carnival in Skyros From the beginning of the Triodion (the three-week Greek Carnival period) and each weekend during carnival, the island's customs require the " Yeros " (old man) and the " Kopela " (girl) to go out in the streets. The "old man" wears a thick black cloak, white woven breeches and has two or three rows of bells tied round his waist, which together can weigh up to 50 kilos. His face is covered with a goat fleece and he dances in the street, so that the bells he is wearing jangle melodiously. The " Kopela ", the old man's partner, is dressed in the traditional white costume of Skyros, in striking GREECE

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Carnival in Skyros contrast with the Yeros ' black clothes . She also has her face covered. She dances round the old man, opening the way for him or attempting to help him or get him to rest. The most skilled "old men" leave the streets for a while and climb up to the Castle of the island, where everyone is waiting and they ring the bells of the old Saint George Monastery. Then , while the Yeros is taking a rest, the Kopela sings a song of Skyros, praising his virtues and qualities. Later on, both the Yeros and the Kopela will be accompanied by a third figure, the Frank. The Frank wears GREECE

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Carnival in Skyros a traditional costume of the island of Skyros, as well as trousers. This disguise had the intention to make fun of all those islanders who abandoned the traditional outfit and preferred western trousers ( Frankika ). The origins of this custom are lost in the mists of time and many scholars believe that it has Dionysian roots, a relic of ancient Bacchic celebrations. Older inhabitants of the island insist that the Yeros and the Kopela come every year to remind the islanders of a natural disaster which destroyed all the flocks of Skyros, whereupon a shepherd girded GREECE

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Carnival in Skyros himself with the bells of his sheep and goats and went to the village to warn the others about the disaster. GREECE

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Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Short introduction POLAND GREECE ROMANIA LATVIA TURKEY SLOVENIA BULGARIA LATVIA PORTUGAL LITHUANIA DISCLAMER ITALY

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Aglona Church Aglona Basilica is one of the best known sacred places in the world. It was built in 1768 -1780. In 1993, Pope John Paul II visited Aglona .  Every year on August 15th , thousands of pilgrims come to Aglona to mark the day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven. In 2012 the number of people was 120 000, in 2013 100 000 pilgrims were reported. LATVIA

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Old town Riga Old Riga is a masterpiece of architecture which has retained the atmosphere of old times. During medieval times, Riga was a member city of the Hanseatic League which joined the traders of the Baltic Region and North Germany. Old Riga represents unique monuments of 13-18th century architecture. LATVIA

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Freedom Monument The  Freedom Monument is a memorial located in the centre of Riga. It is an important symbol of the freedom, independence, and sovereignty of Latvia. The Monument was built in 1930s by Latvian sculptor Karlis Zale. LATVIA

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Gauja National Park LATVIA The Gauja National Park is the largest national park in Latvia with an area of 917.45 km² along the river Gauja . In the national park, there are over 500 monuments of history and culture – hill forts, stone castles, churches, manors, water and windmills, as well as other archaeological, architectural and art monuments.

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Rundale Palace LATVIA The Rundale Palace and its gardens is one of the most outstanding monuments of Baroque and Rococo architecture in Latvia. It was built between 1736 and 1740 by F. B. Rastrelli as a summer residence for E. Biron , Duke of Courland and a favourite of the Russian Empress Anna.

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Turaida Castle LATVIA Turaida Castle is a recently reconstructed medieval castle on the Gauja river. Building of the castle was started in 1214 according to directions given by Albert, archbishop of Riga. In 17th century the castle lost its strategic importance and fell into ruins. From 1976 restoration works were carried out, as a result the castle has regained part of its earlier shape.

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The Venta waterfall LATVIA The Venta waterfall ( Ventas rumba) is 249 meter wide naturally formed waterfall, the widest waterfall in Europe. In spring and autumn fish try to get over the waterfall by jumping through the air. In old times Duke Jacob invented the device for catching salmon in the air. The Venta waterfall is associated with a number of legends and historic events.

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Ventspils LATVIA The city's name literally means "Castle on the Venta " referring to the Venta River. Ventspils developed around the Livonian Order Ventspils Castle in 1300s and became an important city of the Hanseatic League. Nowadays Ventspils is famous for its port, modern architecture and usual sculptures all around the city. Ventspils is also called „The City of Flowers”.

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Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Short introduction POLAND GREECE ROMANIA LATVIA TURKEY SLOVENIA BULGARIA TURKEY PORTUGAL LITHUANIA DISCLAMER ITALY

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Çanakkale Çanakkale   (pronounced [tʃaˈnakkaˌle]) is a town and seaport in  Turkey, in Çanakkale Province, on the southern (Asian) coast of the   Dardanelle at their narrowest point. Çanakkale Province, like Istanbul Province, has territory in both Europe and  Asia. Ferries cross here to the northern (European) side of the strait. The city is the nearest major town to the site of ancient Troy. The "wooden horse" from the 2004 movie Troy is exhibited on the seafront. Çanakkale is the 2 nd city to be situated on two continents after Istanbul. TURKEY

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Çanakkale However Çanakkale is closer to mid-division than Istanbul. In 1915, during the  1 st World War, Great Britain and  France attempted to capture the Ottoman capital of  Constantinople and secure a sea route to Russia . Known as Gallipoli Campaign, or Dardanelles Campaign, in Turkey it is referred to as the Battle of Çanakkale (Turkish: Çanakkale Savaşı), in particular the sea battle which took place on March 1915 where the Royal Navy was repulsed by Turkish forces. TURKEY

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Noah's Ark  Noah's Ark is the vessel in the Genesis flood narrative by which the Patriarch  Noah saves himself, his family, and a remnant of all the world's animals when God decides to destroy the world because of humanity's evil deeds. God gives Noah detailed instructions for building the ark: it is to be of gopher wood, smeared inside and out with pitch, with 3 decks and internal compartments; it will be 300 cubits long, 50 wide, and 30 high; it will have a roof "finished to a cubit upward", and an entrance on the side. Noah spent 5 or 6 months aboard the ark, at the end of TURKEY

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Noah's Ark  which he sent out a raven . But the raven stopped to feast on carrion, and so Noah cursed it and sent out the dove, which has been known ever since as the friend of humanity. Allah commanded the Earth to absorb the water, and certain portions which were slow in obeying received salt water in punishment and so became dry and arid. The water which was not absorbed formed the seas, so that the waters of the flood still exist . Before finally traveling to Mount Judi, which surah 11:44 states was its final resting place. This mountain is identified by tradition with a hill near the city of Ağrı. TURKEY

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Mustafa Kemal Atatürk m ausoleum   Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881–1938) was the founder of the Turkish republic. Following his graduation from military academy he participated in numerous battles during which he displayed his military acumen and became victorious on many occasions. In addition to his early gallantry in Tripoli and the Balkans, his achievements in the Gallipoli Campaign in Çanakkale , proved to be an epic saga . Following the Mondros Armistice, when the Allies’ invasion of the Ottoman lands started, Mustafa Kemal went to Anatolia and began the War of Independence. TURKEY

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Mustafa Kemal Atatürk m ausoleum In the meantime he was involved in the activities which would lead to the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. When the War of Independence was successful and the invasion had ended, he unveiled a series of revolutionary reforms in the political, social, judicial, educational, cultural and economical areas, “in order to raise Turkey to a modern level of civilisation ”. Diyarbakır is one of the largest c i t ies  in south eastern Turkey. Situated on the banks of the River Tigris . TURKEY

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I t is the administrative capital of the Diyarbakır Province and with a population of about 843 460 , it is the 2 nd largest city in Turkey's  South - eastern Anatolia   region , after Gaziantep . Diyarbakır is surrounded by an almost intact, dramatic set of high walls of black basalt forming a 5.5 km (3.4 mi) circle around the old city. There are four gates into the old city and 82 watch-towers on the walls, which were built in antiquity, restored and extended by the Roman emperor Constantius II in 349. In addition, the walls of Diyarbakır in the world after the Great Wall of China is the second largest city walls. TURKEY Diyarbakır

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Ephesus was one the most important centres of the world of antiquity, with a history stretching back to 4th millennium BC, and has always played an important role in civilisation, science, culture and the arts. Ephesus was an important harbour city, and served as the principal gateway between East and the West (Asia and Europe). Its location enabled Ephesus to develop as the most important political and trade centre of its era and to become the capital of the Asia province in the Roman period. Ephesus houses many marvels from different periods of various civilisations. TURKEY Efes-Selçuk

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One of the grandest temples of the Artemis cult, which was continuation of the most ancient tradition of the mother goddess of Anatolia ( Kybele ), is also situated in Ephesus. The Temple of Artemis is considered to be one of the 7 Wonders of the World. The ancient city of Ephesus is a must see, with its splendid frescoes, villas on terraced slopes, the House of Virgin Mary where she spent her last years, and the Museum of Efes where the best works of the history of Ephesus are displayed. TURKEY Efes-Selçuk

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On 19 May 1919, Mustafa Kemal Pasha and his entourage reached Samsun by “ Bandırma Steamship”. His first goal was the establishment of an organized national movement against the occupying forces. A replica of the Bandırma Steamship serves as a museum and is open to the visitors in Samsun city. It accurately replicates the Arrival Hall, Bridge, Exhibition Hall, Upper Deck and Guests’ Cabin, all embellished with original artefacts. Surrounded with Milli Mücadele Parkı (National Struggle Park) it also displays life-size wax figures of Atatürk and his retinue. TURKEY Bandırma Steamship

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The  Bosphorus is a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. The Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles strait to the southwest together form the Turkish Straits. The world's narrowest strait used for international navigation, the Bosphorus connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara (which is connected by the Dardanelles to the Aegean Sea, and thereby to the Mediterranean Sea ). As part of the only passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Bosphorus has always been of great commercial and strategic importance. TURKEY The  Bosphorus 

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The Bosphorus remains strategically important. It is a major sea access route for Russia and the Ukraine. Control over it has been an objective of a number of hostilities in modern history, notably the Russo–Turkish War, 1877–1878, as well as of the attack of the Allied Powers on the Dardanelles during the 1915 Battle of Gallipoli in the course of World War I. TURKEY The Bosphorus 

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Sema , the whirling ritual, is a part of Turkish custom, belief and history. It was created and developed with inspiration from the Sufi saint Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi (1207-1273). It represents the spiritual ascension towards perfection ( Miraj ), a journey to and from God. It consists of seven parts. Each part has a separate meaning . Sema represents the soul of the believer turning towards the truth, leaving the body and rising through reason and love. It dissolves into the highest spirit, and returns as a matured, perfected human believer . It is a return into a new TURKEY Whirling dervishes  

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spirit which is solely devoted to love and service all souls and creatures. When a Semazen , a believer taking part in Sema , takes off his overcoat, he is born spiritually into the eternal world, to the truth, and he starts his travels there. The headgear represents the tombstone of his body, and his long tunic represents the burial robe of his body. When he crosses his arms over his chest he represents the number “one” in order to stand witness to the uniqueness of God. When he starts whirling with outstretched arms, his right hand is turned towards the heavens to praise TURKEY Whirling dervishes

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them, and his left hand, where his gaze is fixed, is turned to the earth. He scatters to the earth whatever he is granted from the heavens. By whirling from left to right on the axis of his heart, he embraces all mankind and all creation with the love and affection in his heart. TURKEY Whirling dervishes

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The  Sumela Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery dedicated to theVirgin Mary (Panagia, meaning "All Holy" in Greek) at Melá mountain, in the region of Maçka in the Trabzon Province of modern Turkey. Nestled in a steep cliff at an altitude of about 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) facing the Altındere valley, it is a site of great historical and cultural significance, as well as a major tourist attraction of Altındere National Park. TURKEY The Sumela Monastery

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Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Short introduction POLAND GREECE ROMANIA LATVIA TURKEY SLOVENIA BULGARIA PORTUGAL LITHUANIA DISCLAMER ITALY SLOVENIA

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Martin Krpan is one of the most popular stories in our country. The story was written by Fran Levstik . Martin Krpan is a robust man who is smuggling salt from the Adriatic coast to his home village not far from Ljubljana. Once, during a very cold winter, returning from the coast, he meets the emperor. He talks to him but Martin Krpan , without recognizing the emperor, lies about the nature of his load, claiming that he carries whetstones and tinder. One year later a terrible giant comes to Vienna and starts to challenge knights to a duel. Martin Krpan SLOVENIA

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When the members of Habsburg nobility are killed one after another, including the emperor's son, the desperate emperor is reminded of the witty peasant from Carniola who easily removed his heavily loaded mare from the narrow path in order to allow his carriage to pass. So he sends for him.   Martin Krpan comes to Vienna and starts to prepare for the duel. As all weapons from the court armoury are crushed into bits the moment he takes them in his strong hands, he decides to make his own weapons . He makes a weapon which looks similar to butcher's axe. Martin Krpan SLOVENIA

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After that he goes into the Emperor's garden and cuts down a young lime tree above the stone table where the lords and ladies used to sit in hot summer. Then he carves a huge club out of it. He also asks that his small mare be brought to him from his home, as no other horse from the court is strong enough to be able to carrry him. When Brdavs sees him, he assumes that the yokel is an easy prey and starts to make fun of Krpan . Krpan responds in a self-assured manner and parries the first stroke of Brdavs's scimitar with his club so that the scimitar cuts deep into the soft lime wood. Martin Krpan SLOVENIA

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Thus he is able to pull him down from his horse, and with final remarks choppe s his head off. The Viennese are much relieved and the emperor is happy and grateful, but the empress is still angry because of the lime tree. Instead of accepting the compensation in food proposed by her, Krpan confesses to the emperor that he lied to him about his load and asks him for the licence to traffic in salt. The emperor agrees and orders the ill-tempered minister to issue the letter. Martin Krpan SLOVENIA

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Lake Bled is a lake in the Julian Alps in north-western Slovenia. The beauty of the mountains reflected on the lake, the sun, the serenity and the fresh air arouse pleasant feelings in visitors throughout the year, guaranteeing an ideal base , a relaxing break or an active holiday. Lake Bled is the only lake in Slovenia with an island. It is 2,120 m long and 1,380 m wide, with a maximum depth of 30.6 m. The lake surrounds Bled Island . The island is crowned by the 55-metre tower of the Baroque Church of the Assumption. Lake Bled SLOVENIA

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The backdrop of mountains makes this view especially irresistible. Visitors can take a boat tour to the island on characteristic “ pletna ”. Lake Bled SLOVENIA

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Pust or Carnival is the time for tomfoolery. It is common to all the nations of Central and Western Europe. A great variety of carnival customs and costumes can be found throughout Slovenia. This is also true of Styria where the most famous carnival figure is “ kurent ”, which is not only known in Slovenia, but throughout the world. Kurent (also known as korant ) is the central traditional carnival figure in this part of the world, and the most popular and widespread traditional carnival figure in the areas of Ptujsko and Dravsko polje and Haloze . Kurent SLOVENIA

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The Ptuj carnival, called “ Kurentovanje ”, which is the largest carnival festival in Slovenia, with a long tradition, was named after it. Kurentovanje , which is one of the most important traditional events in Slovenia and Central Europe, originates from a hundred-year-old tradition. The present day kurent stems from folk tradition. In the old days, only unmarried men were allowed to put on the kurent costume, while today anyone, even women, married men or children, can wear it. The main role that kurents have today is the preservation of carnival cultural heritage and tradition. Kurent SLOVENIA

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It is possible to say that a kurent is a mascot, a symbol and an ambassador of Ptuj , as well as the Ptuj region and the whole Slovenia. Kurentovanje in Ptuj is not just another festival, but an experience which one remembers forever. Kurent SLOVENIA

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The Triglav National Park is the only National Park in Slovenia. It was named after the highest mountain in the heart of the park. The park covers 880 square kilometres . It was named after its characteristic shape as it is seen from the south-east side. It extends along the Italian border and close to Austrian border. The mountain is a true natural symbol. The principal task of Triglav National Park Public Institution is to protect the park and to carry out specialist and research tasks. Triglav National Park SLOVENIA

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Prekmurska gibanica is one of the most famous Slovenian dishes. The unique sweetmeat shows the variety of agriculture in this region. The name “ gibanica ” comes from dialectical expression “ güba ” and in this case refers to a fold. It comes from our most eastern region Prekmurje , whose cousine is inspired by Hungarian and Austrian traditions. The recipe is very old and varies a bit from family to family . Gibanica is stuffed with poppy seeds, cottage cheese, walnuts and apples. It is trademarked as a foodstuff with an indication of traditional reputation and Prekmurska gibanica SLOVENIA

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therefore can only be made under this name if the original protected recipe is respected in full. The preparation takes quite some time but it is worth it. Prekmurska gibanica SLOVENIA

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The oldest and most popular cottage industry in Slovenia is the making of wooden objects, daily used in individual households. The part of the Dolenjska region around the towns of Ribnica and Kočevje is home to traditional wooden ware, also known locally under the name of “ suha roba ” (‘dry ware’). The wood was an important source for survival of small framers on arid lands. However, not in the sense of today´s tree falling and processing, but in investing so much working capital ingenuity, that the value of the wooded surfaces is raised to the highest possible worth. Suha roba SLOVENIA

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The making of wooden ware is uniformly divided among all family members, the farmer, wife and children, as well as old women, turning the knife and making toothpicks. The well known diligence and ingenuity were not present only at home, but also at the sales far across the boundaries of the country, as wooden were is closely connected with peddlery . Besides the traditional objects, today the cottage wood industry makes wooden packings and pallets for industrial use, as well as many miniature articles for the ever growing tourism. Suha roba SLOVENIA

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A fantastic web of tunnels, passages, galleries and halls, the astonishing diversity of Karst features as well as easy access are certainly the main reasons for such popularity of the cave and a large number of visitors, which has already reached 35 million in 200 years. Postojna Cave is the best-known cave in the world. It is also the greatest tourist attraction in Slovenia and one of the world's largest Karst monuments. The human fish or olm is a neotenic animal. In simple words, this means that an adult keeps most of its juvenile features. This means all human fish are babies that have Postonjska jama SLOVENIA

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taken on adult functions. Apart from human fish, 99 other animal species live here permanently and 150 occasionally. This includes tiny spiders, the fascinating tiny-neck beetle, the cave water louse, grasshoppers, butterflies, water snails, bats, etc. Postonjska jama SLOVENIA

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At Sečovlje Soline Nature Park, the past and present still walk hand in hand. The ancient method of salt-making, learnt ages ago by the Piran salt-workers from their teachers, the salters from Pag Island, is still something special, even in the entire Mediterranean. Not only that the traditional manual gathering of salt in salt fields is a special feature of the cultural heritage of the Mediterranean Slovenia, but it also provides for conditions that enable conservation of the most significant natural heritage of the Sečovlje Soline . According to the available written records, the Sečovlje Soline Nature Park SLOVENIA

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salt-pans are more than 700 years old, and even much older according to some other sources. As salt-pans are unique biodiversity-rich lands, it is no coincidence that many of them have been included in the NATURA 2000 network. Soline Nature Park SLOVENIA

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The Lipica Stud Farm is the cradle of all Lipizzaner horses in the world. Nowadays, it is one of the most beautiful cultural and historical monuments of Slovenia, its rich history dating back to 1580s. It has been boasting of the tradition of breeding and selecting pure-breed horses. In the 1960s the Lipica Stud Farm established the Classic Riding School which still participates in worldwide equestrian events. The Lipica Stud Farm SLOVENIA

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For centuries, Idrija lace has been a synonym for quality, prestige and an established reputation. It came to work in the Idrija mine ; is not known precisely when and from where lacemaking skills came to Idrija ; however, it is probably true that the lacemaking craft was brought to our parts by the wives of miners and mining experts from German and Czech lands, who came to work in the Idrija mine. Through the decades, the Idrija Lace School has trained many excellent lace-makers. Idrija lace SLOVENIA

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Many became lacemaking teachers in the local environment, while others travelled far across Europe, and so the lacemaking skills and model of the Idrija Lace School spread to many other countries. Idrija lace SLOVENIA

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Celje is the third-largest town in Slovenia. The town of Celje is located below the Upper Celje Castle (407 m) at the confluence of the Savinja , Hudinja , Ložnica , and Voglajna rivers in the lower Savinja Valley. It lies 241 m above the sea level. Celje has a population of almost 49,000. The city prides in its rich history. The Celts, and later the Romans, laid the foundations of the ancient Celje , bestowing beauty and glory on it. In the medieval times, the town drew its power and pride from the Counts of Celje SLOVENIA

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Celje , who spread the splendour of the three stars of Celje across Europe. But the desire to reach for the stars did not fade away along with the dynasty of the Counts. It is also town of many popular citizens , such asJolanda Čeplak , Oto Pesner , Lucija Polavder , Urška Žolnir , Beno Udrih . Celje SLOVENIA

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Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Short introduction POLAND GREECE ROMANIA LATVIA TURKEY SLOVENIA BULGARIA SLOVENIA PORTUGAL LITHUANIA DISCLAMER ITALY BULGARIA

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Cathedral is a Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Built in Neo-Byzantine style, it serves as the cathedral church of the Patriarch of Bulgaria and is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world, as well as one of Sofia's symbols and primary tourist attractions. The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia occupies an area of 3,170 square metres and can hold 10,000 people inside. It is the second-largest cathedral located on the Balkan Peninsula, after the Cathedral of Saint Sava in Belgrade. The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral BULGARIA

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The  Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila , better known as the  Rila Monastery  is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria . It is situated in the southwestern  Rila Mountains, 117 km (73 mi) south of the capital Sofia in the deep valley of the  Rilska River at an elevation of 1,147 m above sea level. The monastery is named after its founder, the hermit Ivan of Rila (876 - 946 AD ). Founded in the 10th century, the Rila Monastery is regarded as one of Bulgaria's most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments is a key tourist attraction for Rila Monastery  BULGARIA

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both Bulgaria and Southern Europe. The monastery complex, regarded as one of the foremost masterpieces of Bulgarian National Revival architecture, was declared a national historical monument in 1976 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Since 1991 it has been entirely subordinate to the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. On 25 May 2002, Pope John Paul II visited Rila monastery during his pilgrimage to Bulgaria. He was greeted by the Monastery's  igumen , Bishop Ioan , who had been an observer at the Second Vatican Council . Rila Monastery  BULGARIA

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The   Belogradchik Rocks  are a group of strange shaped   sandstone and conglomerate rock formations located on the western slopes of the Balkan Mountains ( Stara Planina ) near the town of  Belogradchik in northwest Bulgari a . The rocks vary in color from primarily red to yellow; some of the rocks reach up to 200 m in height. Many rocks have fantastic shapes and are associated with interesting legends. They are often named for people or objects they are thought to resemble. The Bulgarian Committee of the Natural Environment declared the rocks as The  Belogradchik Rocks  BULGARIA

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a natural monument in 1949, and the rocks were listed in the Bulgarian National Register of Natural Landmarks in 1987. The Belogradchik Rocks are under consideration as a  Geopark  in the European Geoparks Network and the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network. In September 2008, Belogradchik was named as one of twenty finalists by the European Commission as a “European Destination of Excellence.” In January 2009, the Belogradchik Rocks were named as Bulgaria’s nomination in the campaign for the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The  Belogradchik Rocks  BULGARIA

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Celje Vladimir Dimitrov  - Maystora   was a b ulgarian painter . He is considered one of the most talented 20th century Bulgarian painters and probably the most remarkable stylist in Bulgarian painting in the post-Russo-Turkish War era. His portraits and compositions have expressive and vivid color, idealistic quality of the image, profound symbolic strength and originality. The main topic which he explores is the relation between Man and Nature. The main purpose of his paintings is to elevate man and humanity, to bring it closer to harmony , represented by this omnipresent spirit. Vladimir Dimitrov   BULGARIA

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He was an outstanding artist who included bright colors within his art and today we consider his artwork a fauvist type rather than an expressionist set . He uses as well a wide range of post-impressionist techniques, but his works always keep a strong bound with reality and he tries to simplify many of the figures and compositions to make them accessible for a wider public. The main expressive strength does not come from the clarity of the images but from the colors. More than 700 of his oil paintings are exhibited in the "Vladimir Dimitrov Art Gallery" in  Kyustendil . Vladimir Dimitrov   BULGARIA

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The whole development of Bulgarian national architectural tradition can be traced out in the Old Town of Plovdiv. It begins with the older houses, bearing the characteristics of the Bulgarian mountain-house with its open porch, assymetrical plan and more humble decoration. Gradually this type of house develops. The open porch is replaced by a covered parlour , the size growing larger.This type of symmetric houses have painted walls - lively, multi-coloured patterns, enriched with elaborate ornaments and landscapes. An interesting spot in the painted interior is Houses of the Bulgarian Revival Period BULGARIA

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the decorative niches, the so called alaphrangas , richly decorated with flowers or landscapes . The ceilings of the Plovdiv houses represent a rich variety of wooden-carved geometric pattern ornaments. Very often they are complemented with a multicoloured decoration of painted ornaments. Houses of the Bulgarian Revival Period BULGARIA

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The Panagyurishte Treasure is a Thracian treasure excavated on December 8, 1949 by three brothers, Pavel, Petko and Michail Deikov who worked together at the region of “ Merul ” tile factory near the town of  Panagyuristhe , Bulgaria. It consists of a  phiale , an amphora and seven  rhytons  with total weight of 6.164 kg of 24-karat gold. All of the objects are richly and skilfully decorated with scenes of Thracian myths, customs and life. It is dated from the 4th-3rd centuries BC, and is thought to have been used as a royal ceremonial set by the Thracian king  Seuthes III. As one of the best The  Panagyurishte Treasure  BULGARIA

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known surviving artifacts of Thracian culture, the treasure has been displayed at various museums around the world. When not on a tour, the treasure is the centerpiece of the Thracian art collection of the National Museum of History in Sofia. The items may have been buried to hide them during 4th century BC invasions of the area by the Celts or Macedonians. The phiale carries inscriptions giving its weight in Greek drachmae and Persian darics. The  Panagyurishte Treasure  BULGARIA

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Burgas or Bourgas is the second-largest city on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and the fourth-largest in Bulgaria after Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna, with a population of 200,271, according to the 2011 census. It's the capital of Burgas Province and an important industrial, transport, cultural and tourist centre . The city is surrounded by the Burgas Lakes and located at the westernmost point of the Black Sea, at the large Burgas Bay. The LUKOIL Neftochim Burgas is the largest oil refinery in south-eastern Europe and the largest industrial enterprise. The Port of Burgas is the Burgas or Bourgas BULGARIA

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largest port in Bulgaria, and Burgas Airport is the second-most important in the country. Burgas is the centre of the Bulgarian fishing and fish processing industry. Burgas also holds annual national exhibitions of flowers and sand figures; international festivals and open-air museums at Beglik Tash and Develtum . Several countries have consulates in Burgas , among them Greece, Turkey, Belarus, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. Burgas or Bourgas BULGARIA

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Nesebar is an ancient town and one of the major seaside resorts on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, located in Burgas Province. Often referred to as the "Pearl of the Black Sea" and "Bulgaria's Dubrovnik", Nesebar is a rich city-museum defined by more than three millennia of ever-changing history. It is a one of the most prominent tourist destinations and seaports on the Black Sea, in what has become a popular area with several large resorts—the largest, Sunny Beach, is situated immediately to the north of Nesebar . Nesebar has on several occasions found Nesebar BULGARIA

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itself on the frontier of a threatened empire, and as such it is a town with a rich history. The ancient part of the town is situated on a peninsula (previously an island) connected to the mainland by a narrow man-made isthmus, and it bears evidence of occupation by a variety of different civilisations over the course of its existence. Its abundance of historic buildings prompted UNESCO to include Nesebar in its list of World Heritage Sites in 1983. Nesebar BULGARIA

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The Rose Valley is a region in Bulgaria located just south of the Balkan Mountains and the eastern part of the lower Sredna Gora chain to the south. Geologically, it consists of two river valleys, those of the Stryama to the west and the Tundzha to the east. The valley is famous for its rose-growing industry which have been cultivated there for centuries, and which produces 85% of the world's rose oil. The centre of the rose oil industry is Kazanlak , while other towns of importance include Karlovo , Sopot , Kalofer and Pavel banya . Each year, festivals are held celebrating The Rose Valley BULGARIA

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roses and rose oil. The picking season lasts from May to June. During this period, the area gives off a pleasant scent and is covered with multi-coloured flowers. The gathering p rocess , traditionally a woman's task, requires great dexterity and patience. The flowers are carefully cut one by one and laid in willow-baskets which are then sent to the distilleries . The Rose Valley BULGARIA

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The Marvelous Bridges or Wonderful Bridges are natural arches in the Rhodope Mountains of southern Bulgaria. They are located in the karst valley of the Erkyupriya River in the Western Rhodopes at 1,450 metres above sea level, at the foot of Persenk Peak. The "bridges" were formed by the erosive activity of the once larger Erkyupryia River. It transformed the marble clefts into a deep-water cave, the ceiling of which eroded through time and collapsed, possibly during an earthquake. Geologists suggest that the water carried the debris away . . The Marvelous Bridges BULGARIA

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As a result, the two remaining bridge-shaped outcrops remained. The larger one (upstream) is 15 metres at its widest and 96 metres long, and shaped by three vaulted arches, the largest of which is 45 metres high and 40 metres wide. The river flows under the middle-sized arch. The larger Wonderful Bridge is passable under the vaults, where birds nest in the marble clefts. The smaller bridge is 200 metres downstream. It is impassable to tourists, 60 metres in length, with a total height of 50 metres . The Marvelous Bridges BULGARIA

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Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Short introduction POLAND GREECE ROMANIA LATVIA TURKEY SLOVENIA BULGARIA LITHUANIA SLOVENIA LITHUANIA PORTUGAL DISCLAMER ITALY

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Trakai is a historic city and lake resort in Lithuania. It lies 28 kilometers west of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Because of its proximity to Vilnius, Trakai is a popular tourist destination. A notable feature of Trakai is that the town was built and preserved by people of different nationalities. Historically, communities of Karaims , Tatars, Lithuanians, Russians, Jews and Poles lived here. Trakai Island Castle is sometimes referred to as "Little Marienburg ". The construction of the stone castle was begun in the 14th century by Kęstutis Trakai Island Castle LITHUANIA

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and around 1409 major works were completed by his son Vytautas the Great, who died in this castle in 1430. Trakai was one of the main centre of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the castle held great strategic importance . Trakai Island Castle LITHUANIA

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The Old Town of Vilnius , one of the largest surviving medieval old towns in Northern Europe. The oldest part of the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, it has developed over the course of many centuries, and has been shaped by the city's history and a constantly changing cultural influence. It is a place where some of Europe's greatest architectural styles - gothic, renaissance, baroque and neoclassical - stand side by side and complement each other. In 1994 it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List (No. 541) in recognition of its universal value and originality . The Old Town Vilnius LITHUANIA

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Elektrenai is the most beautiful place in the world  . It is one of the newest towns of Lithuania, having been established during the Soviet times as the living space for workers of the nearby power plant. The name was derived from word " elektrin ė " (English: electric plant). Most of the buildings are large monolith housing projects built during the Soviet times ; there are no historical buildings. The town , is close to Elektr e nai Lagoon, an artificial lake that was created in order to cool down the power plant. The water is several degrees warmer than water at the other nearby lakes. Elektrenai LITHUANIA

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According to a legend, there was a pagan shrine at the foot of a hill in Palanga where a beautiful priestess named Birutė used to tend the ceremonial fires. Having heard of Birutė's beauty, Kęstutis , the Grand Duke of Lithuania, came to make her his wife. It is written in the Lithuanian Bychowiec Chronicle that Birutė "did not consent, and answered that she had promised the gods to remain a virgin as long as she lived. Kęstutis then resorted to take her by force, and with great pomp brought her back to his capital, Trakai , where he invited his kinsmen Palanga LITHUANIA

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and celebrated with a lavish wedding . K ę stutis was later murdered and Birut ė returned to Palanga and resumed serving at the shrine until her death. The legend claimed that she was buried in the hill which is now named after her . Palanga is a resort town with beautiful sand beaches (18 km long and in some places about 300 m wide), dunes and an unspoilt natural environment. Amber has been found here since the oldest times. A great number of amber craftsmen live here. There is a unique Amber Musuem and the Count Tiskevicius Park in Palanga . Palanga LITHUANIA

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Vent ė Cape is a headland in Nemunas Delta, located in Šilutė district, Lithuania. It is known as a rest place for many birds during their migrations, particularly the autumn migration. One of the first bird ringing stations in Europe, still in operation, was opened here by Tadas Ivanauskas in 1929. The Cape, being in the former Memel Territory, was part of Germany until 1919. The Teutonic Knights erected a castle here, called Windenburg , but it no longer exists. There is an 11-metre-high lighthouse, built in 1863 during the Prussian period, though currently it is not in use . Ventes ragas LITHUANIA

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The Hill of Crosses is a site of pilgrimage about 12 km north of the city of Šiauliai , in northern Lithuania. The precise origin of the practice of leaving crosses on the hill is uncertain, but it is believed that the first crosses were placed on the former Jurgai č iai or Domantai hill fort after the 1831 Uprising . Over the centuries, not only crosses, but giant crucifixes, carvings of Lithuanian patriots, statues of the Virgin Mary and thousands of tiny effigies and rosaries have been brought here by Catholic pilgrims. The exact number of crosses is unknown, but estimates put it at about 55,000 in 1990 and 100,000 in 2006 . Kryziu kalnas LITHUANIA

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K ū lgrinda is a hidden underwater stony road or ford across swamps and swampy areas used for defense in the history of Lithuania. Similar secret roads made primarily of wood and ground were known as medgrinda and žemgrinda respectively. Undetectable from the surface, these roads were usually known only to the locals, and as such were an important element of the defense against various invaders, including the Teutonic Knights in the 13–14th centuries. K ū lgrindas provided a safe shortcut between villages, hillforts , and other defensive structures. Kulgrinda LITHUANIA

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They were built by bringing stones, wood, or gravel over frozen swamps in the winter and letting them sink once the ice melted. Such procedure would be repeated several times. Sometimes wooden posts were inserted to protect the elevated area from washing away. Kulgrinda LITHUANIA

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The area of Kernav ė was sparingly inhabited at the end of the Paleolithic era, with the number of settlements significantly increasing in the Mesolithic and Neolithic eras.   The town was first mentioned in 1279, when, as the capital of the Grand Duke Traidenis , it was besieged by the Teutonic Knights. In 1390, during the Lithuanian Civil War (1389–1392), the knights burned the town and its buildings in the Pajauta valley, including the castle. After this raid, the town wasn't rebuilt, and the remaining residents moved to the top of the hill instead of staying in the valley . Kernave LITHUANIA

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Grūtas Park (unofficially known as Stalin's World) is a sculpture garden of Soviet-era statues and an exposition of other Soviet ideological relics from the times of the Lithuanian SSR. Park founded after Lithuania regained its independence in 1990, various Soviet statues were taken down and dumped in different places. Malinauskas requested the Lithuanian authorities to grant him the possession of the sculptures, so that he could build a privately financed museum. This Soviet-theme park was created in the Grūtas Park LITHUANIA

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wetlands of the Dz ū kija National Park. The park also contains playgrounds, a mini-zoo and cafes, all containing relics of the Soviet era. On special occasions actors stage reenactments of various Soviet sponsored festivals . Grūtas Park LITHUANIA

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Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Short introduction POLAND GREECE ROMANIA LATVIA TURKEY SLOVENIA BULGARIA LITHUANIA SLOVENIA PORTUGAL DISCLAMER ITALY PORTUGAL

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During the 15th and 16th century Portugal gave “new worlds to the world”. Through intensive maritime explorations, Portugal discovered new continents and mapped the shape of many of them. This supremacy was sustained by the will of knowledge, curiosity and economic superiority. Portuguese sailors and scholars developed new vessels (the Caravel, in the picture) and new navigation instruments and techniques. The cartography developed by Portuguese contained detailed information on winds and currents, and Portuguese cartographers were the best The sea – its past and present importance in Portugal PORTUGAL

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in Europe in those days. In addition, on their returns the ships brought with them new products, unknown to the Europeans. During those days the sea was the source of wealth to many families. Portuguese society lived for many years from trading the richness of land overseas: spices and silk-textiles from India, gold from Brazil, wood from Africa are just some examples. In the main-land, the sea was also very important for Portugal as we are a country of fisherman. It’s interesting that our main dish is cod-fish from the North Sea, but that we’ll talk about later. Nowadays, mainly because of European The sea – its past and present importance in Portugal PORTUGAL

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Union economic policies, fisheries are not as important as they once were, but the sea remains a source of richness. The beaches in Portugal are among the most beautiful in the World, and who has not heard about Garrett McNamara and the biggest wave ever surfed? This took place in Nazaré , a fisherman village in the center of Portugal. The sea – its past and present importance in Portugal PORTUGAL

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The Portuguese coast is almost 1900 Km long and most are sandy beaches. Along these 1900 Km of beaches Portugal offers a huge variety of beaches. Algarve (the southern coast) is most known for its warmer temperatures and smooth sea waves; Travelling north, through Alentejo beaches, they are a bit cooler than Algarve, but the sea remains very friendly; North of Lisbon (the capital), the picture is a bit different, the sea is no longer as friendly and good surfing places can be found. This variety of landscapes and natural and man-made amenities in the coast, and also the Tourism and beaches in Portugal PORTUGAL

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amazing landscapes in the mountains and valleys, has for many years sustained Tourism as an important economic sector. Tourism represents about 3.5% of national gross product (GDP), and constitutes a very significant part of Portuguese exports. Most revenues are generated in the summer and are closely related with the beaches Portugal offers. Tourism and beaches in Portugal PORTUGAL

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The Portuguese governmental organization in charge of managing Tourism in Portugal published a study in September 2013 on Tourism satisfaction and found that 92% of tourists were satisfied with their visit and 91% had an intention of returning in the near future. The factors that most significantly contributed to the positive evaluation of the experience were: Cultural and natural assets including landscapes, beaches, food and wine. With regard to food, fish is outstanding, as previously referred, codfish is a National dish and it is said that there are more than a thousand ways Tourism and gastronomy in Portugal PORTUGAL

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of cooking it. Sardines in the summer are served fresh from the sea, as are so many other fishes and sea-food. But Portuguese gastronomy is not only fish, the meat and the cheeses as well as the traditional sausages are exceptionally famous and rely on ancient production processes and recipes. It goes without mention that traditional agriculture provides the freshness to vegetables and fruits that complement any meal or snack. Accompanying any meal or desert, Portugal offers a variety of wines, many of which have received medals in international competitions. Tourism and gastronomy in Portugal PORTUGAL

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Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal. It has 550.000 inhabitants within its administrative limits, but the urban population is about 3 million. Lisbon is located on the Atlantic coast and close to river Tagus. Lisbon is one of the major economic centers in Europe, with a growing financial sector and the largest/second largest container port on Europe's Atlantic coast. Lisbon has the highest GDP (gross national product) per capita in Portugal, and it is 4.6% above the EU per capita GDP. Most political, financial and international trade institutions are located in Lisbon. Lisbon, the capital city The old town PORTUGAL

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Lisbon is the oldest city in western Europe, it was ruled by German tribes since the 5th century and conquered by the Moors in the 8th century, becoming part of Portugal in 1147 ( Mouraria , a typical barrio in Lisbon preserves the architecture from the Moors settlement). Most Portuguese sea expeditions departed from Lisbon in the 15th to the 17th century. During this period Lisbon was the center of trade between Africa, India, the Far East and later Brazil. The richness acquired during this period are visible in the Manueline architecture in many sites. Two of these sites are listed by UNESCO Lisbon, the capital city The old town PORTUGAL

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as a World Heritage site: Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery. In 1755 Lisbon suffered one of the most catastrophic natural events, an earthquake followed by a tsunami and widespread fires. After this, a large part of the city ( Baixa Pombalina ) was rebuilt in a very distinct style by Marquês de Pombal (the prime minister). Lisbon, the capital city The old town PORTUGAL

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Modern architecture is present in many sites in Lisbon: we can find Art nouveau in several buildings, and the most recent architectural event is Parque Expo built for Expo 98. Siza Vieira, one of the most well-known Portuguese architect designed one of the building; Santiago Calatrava design the train station Oriente , also a reference in world contemporary architecture. Lisbon is truly an European capital in its fullness. Being the capital, Lisbon is a rich city in terms of cultural events, architectural projects and research facilities, for example. Among the cultural events Lisbon, the capital city The modern town PORTUGAL

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periodically hosted in Lisbon we have the International Indie film festival, International Art fair, and many concerts in all areas of music: Rock in Rio, Oeiras Cool Jazz Festival, Symphonic exhibitions, Opera, Ballet are just a few examples. Lisbon, the capital city The modern town PORTUGAL

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The Douro valley extends east from Porto, up the Douro River until the border with Spain. Part of this landscape (about 10%) was nominated a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2001 . The most significant distinguishing characteristic of the area is the fact that the landscape is manmade and shows the history of the people that worked on the vines. It shows different periods of cultivation, different techniques, and it also shows the effects of a devastating disease of the vines. Wine is produced in the region for over 2000 years. The region produces a variety of table wines Alto Douro wine region PORTUGAL

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and also the world famous Oporto wine, cultivated in these vineyards and shipped to Porto in small boats, Rabelos , in ancient times. The Douro region now offers a variety of touristic activities. Several vineyards are open to the public, a number of classy hotels and more affordable but comfortable hotels were built. It is also possible to take a cruise in the river, for a day or just a few hours, or even a week. Alto Douro wine region PORTUGAL

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Portugal , apart from mainland, counts with two archipelagos, Azores and Madeira. Azores, is composed of nine volcanic islands located on the Atlantic ocean about 1300 km west of Portugal. Population living in Azores is about 250.000, and it’s among the poorest region in Portugal, although the standard of living significantly varies among the islands. Azores have attracted tourism due to its still quite unaltered nature. Landscapes in Azores can be breathtaking by the variety of colors. Azores is also known for its fisheries, cattle and cheeses . The Azores PORTUGAL

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Madeira , the other archipelago is composed of only two islands and is located just under 400 km north of Tenerife, about 1000km from the coast of Morocco. Madeira was an important builder of ships during the Portuguese discoveries. Now it is a world vacation resort. It offers magnificent gold sand beaches in Porto Santo, and a variety of amenities in the main island, Madeira. It is known by its wine, flowers, landscapes, gastronomy, and by the overwhelming, and registered in the Guinness book of world records, firework for new years’ eve. Madeira is presently the second wealthiest region in Portugal, just after Lisbon . Madeira PORTUGAL

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Porto is the second largest city in Portugal. Located 300 Km north of Lisbon, Porto has 230.000 inhabitants within its administrative limits, the urban area has about 1.3 million. Porto is among the oldest European urban centers and its city center is, since 1996, a World Heritage site by UNESCO. It is said that its former Roman Empire name Portus Cale is the root of the name Portugal. The city was an important port during Portuguese discoveries, for example, the expedition that conquered Ceuta departed from Porto. It is said that the name by which the Porto residents are known, tripeiros , comes from these times, Porto PORTUGAL

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as people from Porto shipped the good cuts of meat for sailors and were left with just the chitterlings (inner parts of pigs) for feeding themselves. The city of Porto is closely related to the river (Douro) and the Porto wine. Porto wine, produced in the Douro valley, was already transported to Porto in boats in the 13th century. In 1703 Portugal and England signed a trade treaty by which Portuguese sold wine and the English would sell textiles in return. In time, the wine cellars in Porto were all acquired by a few British firms. During the 18th and 19th century Porto increased its wealth and industrial power. Porto PORTUGAL

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In the 19th century Porto was unsuccessfully invaded by the French troops. Porto has many bridges crossing the river: D. Maria Bridge was designed by Gustave Eiffel, later D. Luis I bridge was designed by a colleague of Eiffel. Porto has rivalled with Lisbon for economic power. Being the largest city in the North many industrial and service companies have their headquarters in Porto. In 2001 Porto was European capital of cultural, and within this period built a very unique House of music designed by the German architect Rem Koolhaas , in 2005. Porto currently hosts several periodic cultural Porto PORTUGAL

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events , in the areas of music, films and arts in general. Also in the area of research and higher education, Porto is a reference in Europe. The University of Porto and Catholic University consistently show in high positions within European and world higher education institutions rankings. Porto PORTUGAL

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Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Short introduction POLAND GREECE ROMANIA LATVIA TURKEY SLOVENIA BULGARIA LITHUANIA SLOVENIA PORTUGAL DISCLAMER ITALY ITALY

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Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Cultural, historical and touristic miniguides Short introduction POLAND GREECE ROMANIA LATVIA TURKEY SLOVENIA BULGARIA LITHUANIA SLOVENIA PORTUGAL DISCLAMER ITALY DISCLAMER

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DISCLAMER This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein .

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