For centuries Scotland used to be the land of the Clansmen. The country was divided and governed by families like the MacDonalds, Camerons or MacKenzies. All of which had their own tartans, traditions and allegiances and were interlocked in a fight for influence and wealth. What they had in common was a deep connection and history with the land they occupied and an immense pride to be fierce fighters and survivors of the north. It was seldom though that they agreed on anything politically, it needed an outside force – a common enemy – to gather the concurring clans like in the wars led by national heroes like William Wallace (his monument is seen in the last picture), Robert the Bruce or lastly Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 18th century. That enemy of course was England. After the shattering battle of Culloden in which the Scottish forces lost against the English king the history of the clan-ships ended. Though their traditions and history can be seen all over the country – the spirit of fierce warriors and the deep connection to their native land can be felt and is still there.
This one is a follow up to a series I did last year about the (in)famous Hill of Crosses in Lithuania. You can read it up here. To be honest, not much changed since then. I guess the hill grew a little bit and there are some more crosses now, as they seem to mulitply on a daily rate. It remains a mysterious place, strangly alluring yet somewhat creepy. It makes for interesting pictures, that’s for sure.
These were shot in Malaga and Sevilla in the month of April this year.
While Eastern Usbekistan (about 70% of the country) largely consists of deserts, with green spots along the river of Amudjaria, the west looks much different. Getting closer to the Tajik border large mountains begin to arise, soon occupying the whole horizon. They are part of the Pamir mountain range, a vast plateau which connects the Tian Shan in China with the Hindukusch and the Himalayas in India. Combined it is the largest mountain range of the world. At the western end of this plateau, already in the hills but still reachable from the fertile lowlands at the bottom of the mountains, there lies the town of Urgut. For centuries it was a transshipment point for goods on the Silk Road, where travelers from China sold their goods to Central Asian merchants, who in turn transported them on camels through the desert and brought them closer to their final destination – Europe. Therefor the Grand Market of Urgut (the largest of Usbekistan, of course) is what it must be and always was: A transitional space for people and ideas from the Orient and Oxident. Probably one of the few early melting points of human civilization still in existence, looking not much different then centuries ago. Except.. the iPhone cases and pirated Gucci handbags, the new luxury goods of the 21th century coming from China to Europe. A new kind of silk one could certainly argue.
The Hill of Crosses is a sacred place in Northern Lithuania close to the city of Silauliai. Basically it consists of two small artificial hills (maybe 5 to 6 meters high) in the midst of vast farming land. The origins of the crosses are largely unknown though there are many legends speaking of soldiers finding their last rest in the ground beneath. In the 19th century the place became regarded as mystical and holy. First crosses were erected in honor of fallen soldiers and in remembrance of deceased family members, later also to celebrate happy occasions like weddings and baptisms. The Soviets saw the hill as a place of fanatic cultism and closed it down. Despite the repressions they were not able to stop the tradition and after 1990 the Hill of Crosses grew even more becoming a national symbol of religion and endurance. Today crosses can be seen from around the world and not only catholic crosses but also orthodox and evangelical ones. If religious or not the place definitely doesn’t leave the visitor cold.