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In the Shadow of Ararat: Armenia

This one is a continuation to the last entry “The Churches of Georgia“, which I posted a couple of days ago. After leaving Georgia in southern direction the scenery changes quite suddenly. Georgia is a country consisting mostly of fertile lowlands and highlands rich in vegetation. Armenia in contrast is situated on a higher altitude, laying within a geological high plateau, which is much older then the hills in Georgia and much more rocky. In many places these rocks tend to shine in a red color, giving the landscape an astonishing look (see pictures three and six). Even the capital Yerevan seems to fit perfectly into the landscape, being build mostly out of reddish stone gathered from the surrounding areas (pictures one and two). There is no denial Armenia is a beautiful place. But the most breathtaking feature is the view on something actually situated outside of the borders of the country. The mountain of Ararat lies like a guardian upon the land and the view on the snow covered giant (5.137 m or 16,854 ft) is one of the most beautiful things you can see in your life (picture five). Being the supposed landing sight of Noahs ark, for the Armenians it is a spiritual place and deeply embedded within the national soul. Today the Ararat is situated in Turkey, making it an always visible reminder of the painful and complicated history in relation to the western neighbor.

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The City of Augsburg Pt. 2

For an introduction to the series please see Part 1. In this one the focus is on architecture. I took a special interest in the civic hall of the city (pictures 3 – 6), the Golden Hall is just marvelous. It was completely destroyed during World War II and rebuild entirely. If you get the chance to visit Augusburg pay a couple of euro and don’t miss it, it’s worth it.

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The Silk Road: The Grand Market in the Mountains Pt. 1

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.

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