A Travellerspoint blog

Corfu, Kerkira


Corfu is built in the middle of the east side of the island. It has developed on a narrow strip of land that advances into the sea. The old town is the largest "Living" town in Greece, preserved in its original form from the middle ages. The streets are laid with no particular order and its narrow streets (Kantounia) can only be crossed on foot. The Kantounia are often interrupted by monuments, Byzantine churches, Venetian stairs and stone fountains.

The new part of Corfu is not separated from the old town, so next to the Kantounia there are wide streets with large squares. One that stands out is Spianada which is considered one of Greece's most beautiful squares.

The houses are two storeyed or more. Some of them are built in the Anglican order, some carry a strong French influence and others preserve in its totallity the island's tradition. They are decorated with arcades, arches and balconies with elaborate railings.

Corfu is a proper Fortress City. It is surrounded by the Old Fortress (or Sea Fortress) which although based on an earlier Byzantine fortress was fortified and added upon with the help of the Venetians in 1546. It is separated from the city with a moat, named Contra Fosa, above which there was a wooden draw bridge. Inside the Fortress you will find the church of Saint George. It was built by the British in Basilica order with Doric columns in its front.

The New Fortress (or Land Fortress) near the old harbor was built between 1572 and 1645 on the hill of Saint Mark to protect the city from the possibility of a Turkish invasion.

The road that runs along the coast line and the medieval walls is called Mouragia and it is very picturesque with beautiful street lamps.

Posted by airwolf09 14:02 Archived in Greece Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Venice, Venneto


Venice (Italian: Venezia), the "city of canals", is the capital of the region of Veneto and of the province of Venice, 45°26′ N 12°19′ E, population 271,663 (census estimate 2004-01-01). The city is included, with Padua (Padova), in the Padua-Venice Metropolitan Area, population 1,600,000. The city stretches across numerous small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy. The saltwater lagoon stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po (south) and the Piave (north) Rivers.

The Venetian Republic was a major sea power and a staging area for the Crusades, as well as a very important centre of commerce (especially the spice trade) and art in the Renaissance.

The city was founded as a result of the influx of refugees into the marshes of the Po estuary following the invasion of northern Italy by the Lombards in 568. In the mid-8th century, the Venetians resisted the empire-building efforts of Pepin III and remained subject to the Byzantine Empire, at least theoretically. As the community continued to develop and as Byzantine power waned, however, an increasingly anti-Eastern character emerged, leading to the growth of autonomy and eventual independence. Venice was a city state (an Italian thalassocracy or Repubblica Marinara, the other three being Genoa, Pisa, and Amalfi). Its strategic position at head of the Adriatic made Venetian naval and commercial power almost invulnerable.

In the 12th century the essentials for the power of Venice were laid: the Venetian Arsenal was under construction in 1104; Venice wrested control of the Brenner pass from Verona in 1178, opening a lifeline to silver from Germany; the last autocratic doge, Vitale Michiele, died in 1172.

The Republic of Venice seized the eastern shores of the Adriatic before 1200, mostly for commercial reasons, because pirates based there were a menace to trade. The Doge already carried the titles Duke of Dalmatia and Duke of Istria. Later mainland possessions, which extended across Lake Garda as far west as the Adda River, were known as "Terrafirma", and were acquired partly as a buffer against belligerent neighbors, partly to guarantee Alpine trade routes, and partly to ensure the supply of mainland wheat, on which the city depended. In building its maritime commercial empire, the Republic acquired control of most of the islands in the Aegean, including Cyprus and Crete, and became a major power-broker in the Near East. By the standards of the time, Venice's stewardship of its mainland territories was relatively enlightened and the citizens of such towns as Bergamo, Brescia, and Verona rallied to the defence of Venetian sovereignty when it was threatened by invaders.

Venice became an imperial power following the Fourth Crusade, which (with Venetian aid) seized Constantinople in 1204 and established the Latin Empire. Considerable plunder was brought back to Venice, including the Winged Lion of St. Mark, symbol of Venice. Only Venetian ships could efficiently transport the men, supplies, and (especially) war horses.

The Venetian governmental structure was a mix of Byzantine and Islamic systems, but the social order was entirely feudal. Church and various private properties were tied to military service, though there was no knight tenure within the city itself. The Cavalieri di San Marco was the only order of chivalry ever instituted in Venice, and no citizen could accept or join a foreign order without the government’s consent. Venice remained a republic throughout its independent period and politics and the military were kept completely separate. War was regarded as a continuation of commerce by other means (hence, the city's early production of large numbers of mercenaries for service elsewhere).

The chief executive was the Doge (duke), who, theoretically, held his elective office for life. In practice, a number of Doges were forced by pressure from their oligarchical peers to resign the office and retire into monastic seclusion when they were felt to have been discredited by perceived political failure.

Though the people of Venice generally remained orthodox Roman Catholics, the state of Venice was notable for its freedom from religious fanaticism and it enacted not a single execution for religious heresy during the Counter-Reformation. This apparent lack of zeal contributed to its frequently coming into conflict with the Papacy. Venice was threatened with the interdict on a number of occasions and twice suffered its imposition. The second, more famous, occasion was on April 27, 1509, by order of Pope Julius II (see League of Cambrai).

Venetian ambassadors sent home still-extant secret reports of the politics and rumours of European courts, providing fascinating information to modern historians.

After 1070 years, the Republic lost its independence when Napoleon Bonaparte on May 12, 1797, conquered Venice during the First Coalition. The French conqueror brought to an end the most fascinating century of its history: It was during the "Settecento" that Venice became perhaps the most elegant and refined city in Europe, greatly influencing art, architecture, and literature. Napoleon was seen as something of a liberator by the city's Jewish population. He removed the gates of the Ghetto and ended the restrictions on when and where Jews could live and travel in the city.

Venice became part of the Austrian-held Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia when Napoleon signed the Treaty of Campo Formio on October 12 1797. The Austrians took control of the city on January 18, 1798. It was taken from Austria by the Treaty of Pressburg in 1805 and became part of Napoleon's Kingdom of Italy, but was returned to Austria following Napoleon's defeat in 1814. In 1866, along with the rest of Venetia, Venice became part of Italy. After 1797, the city fell into a serious decline, with many of the old palaces and other buildings abandoned and falling into disrepair, although the Lido became a popular beach resort in the late 19th century.

Naval and military affairs
By 1450, more than 3,000 Venetian merchant ships were in operation, and most of these could be converted when necessary into either warships or transports. The government required each merchant ship to carry a specified number of weapons (mostly crossbows and javelins) and armor; merchant passengers were also expected to be armed and to fight when necessary. A reserve of some 25 (later 100) war-galleys was maintained in the Arsenal. Galley slaves did not exist in medieval Venice, the oarsmen coming from the city itself or from its possessions, especially Dalmatia. Those from the city were chosen by lot from each parish, their families being supported by the remainder of the parish while the rowers were away. Debtors generally worked off their obligations rowing the galleys. Rowing skills were encouraged through races and regattas.

By 1303, crossbow practice had become compulsory in the city, with citizens training in groups. As weapons became more expensive and complex to operate, professional soldiers were assigned to help work merchant sailing ships and as rowers in galleys. The company of "Noble Bowmen" was recruited in the later 14th century from among the younger aristocracy and served aboard both war-galleys and armed merchantmen, with the privilege of sharing the captain's cabin.

Though Venice was famous for its navy, its army was equally effective. In the 13th century, most Italian city states already were hiring mercenaries, but Venetian troops were still recruited from the lagoon, plus feudal levies from Dalmatia and Istria. In times of emergency, all males between seventeen and sixty years were registered and their weapons were surveyed, with those called to actually fight being organized into companies of twelve. The register of 1338 estimated that 30,000 Venetian men were capable of bearing arms; many of these were skilled crossbowmen. As in other Italian cities, aristocrats and other wealthy men were cavalrymen while the city's conscripts fought as infantry.

Early in the 15th century, as new mainland territories were expanded, the first standing army was organized, consisting of condottieri on contract. In its alliance with Florence in 1426, Venice agreed to supply 8,000 cavalry and 3,000 infantry in time of war, and 3,000 and 1,000 in peacetime. Later in that century, uniforms were adopted that featured red-and-white stripes, and a system of honors and pensions developed. Throughout the 15th century, Venetian land forces were almost always on the offensive and were regarded as the most effective in Italy, largely because of the tradition of all classes carrying arms in defense of the city and official encouragement of general military training.

The command structure in the army was different from that in the fleet. By ancient law, no nobleman could command more than twenty-five men (to prevent against sedition by private armies), and while the position of Captain General was introduced in the mid-14th century, he still had to answer to a civilian panel of twenty "wise men". Not only was efficiency not degraded, this policy saved Venice from the military takeovers that other Italian city states so often experienced. A civilian commissioner (not unlike a commissar) accompanied each army to keep an eye on things, especially the mercenaries. The Venetian military tradition also was notably cautious; they were more interested in achieving success with a minimum expense of lives and money than in the pursuit of glory.


Venice is famous for its canals. It is built on an archipelago of more than 100 islands in a shallow lagoon. In the old center, the canals serve the function of roads, and every form of transport is on water or on foot. In the 19th century a causeway to the mainland brought a railroad station to Venice, and an automobile causeway and parking lot was added in the 20th century. Beyond these land entrances at the northern edge of the city, transportation within the city remains, as it was in centuries past, entirely on water or on foot. Venice is Europe's largest carfree area, unique in Europe in remaining a sizable functioning city in the 21st century entirely without motorcars or trucks.

The classical Venetian boat is the gondola, although it is now mostly used for tourists, or for weddings, funerals, or other ceremonies, due to its cost. Most Venetians now travel by motorised waterbuses ("vaporetti") which ply regular routes along the major canals and between the city's islands. The city also has many private boats. The only unmotorized gondolas still in common use by Venetians are the traghetti, foot passenger ferries crossing the Grand Canal at certain points without bridges.

Venice is served by the newly rebuilt Marco Polo International Airport, or Aeroporto di Venezia Marco Polo, named in honor of its famous citizen. The airport is on the mainland and was rebuilt away from the coast so that visitors now need to get a bus to the pier, from which watertaxi or Aliliguna waterbus can be used.

Places of note

The sestieri are the primary traditional divisions of Venice. The city is divided into the six districts of Cannaregio, San Polo, Dorsoduro (including the Giudecca), Santa Croce, San Marco and Castello (including San Pietro di Castello and Santa Elena).

Piazzas and Campi of Venice
Piazza San Marco

Doge's Palace
Palazzo Grassi
Ca' d'Oro
Ca' Rezzonico
Peggy Guggenheim Collection museum

Basilica di San Marco
Other churches

Other buildings
The Arsenal
La Fenice opera house

Bridges and channels
Rialto Bridge
The Bridge of Sighs
Accademia Bridge

The Venetian Lagoon
San Lazzaro degli Armeni
San Michele

Sinking of Venice
The buildings of Venice are constructed on closely spaced wood piles (under water, in the absence of oxygen, wood does not decay) which penetrate alternating layers of clay and sand. Most of these piles are still intact after centuries of submersion. The foundations rest on the piles, and buildings of brick or stone sit above these footings. The buildings are often threatened by flood tides pushing in from the Adriatic between autumn and early spring.

Six hundred years ago, Venetians protected themselves from land-based attacks by diverting all the major rivers flowing into the lagoon and thus preventing sediment from filling the area around the city. This created an ever-deeper lagoon environment.

During the 20th century, when many artesian wells were sunk into the periphery of the lagoon to draw water for local industry, Venice began to subside. It was realised that extraction of the aquifer was the cause. This sinking process has slowed markedly since artesian wells were banned in the 1960s. However, the city is still threatened by more frequent low-level floods (so-called Acqua alta, "high water") that creep to a height of several centimeters over its quays, regularly following certain tides. In many old houses the ground floor is unoccupied due to the periodic floods, but people continue to live and work in the upper stories.

Some recent studies have suggested that the city is no longer sinking, but this is not yet certain; therefore, a state of alert has not been revoked. In May 2003, Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, inaugurated the "Moses" project, which will lay a series of 79 inflatable pontoons across the sea bed at the three entrances to the lagoon. When tides are predicted to rise above 110 centimetres, the pontoons will be filled with air and block the incoming water from the Adriatic sea. This challenging engineering work is due to be completed by 2011.

Venice in culture, the arts, and fiction
In the 14th century, many young Venetian men began wearing tight-fitting multicolored hose, the designs on which indicated the Compagnie della Calza ("Trouser Club") to which they belonged. The Senate passed sumptuary laws, but these merely resulted in changes in fashion in order to circumvent the law. Dull garments were worn over colorful ones, which then were cut to show the hidden colors -- which resulted in the wide spread of men's "slashed" fashions in the 15th century.

During the 16th century, Venice became one of the most important musical centers of Europe, with the development of the Venetian polychoral style under composers such as Adrian Willaert, who worked at San Marco. Venice was the early center of music printing; Ottaviano Petrucci began publishing music almost as soon as this technology was available, and his publishing enterprise helped to attract composers from all over Europe, especially from France and Flanders. By the end of the century, Venice was famous for the splendor of its music, as exemplified in the "colossal style" of Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli, which used multiple choruses and instrumental groups.

Canvases (the now almost universal surface for painting) originated in Venice during the early renaissance. They were generally rough.

Other major works involving Venice include:

William Shakespeare's Othello and The Merchant of Venice
Death in Venice, a 1912 novel by Thomas Mann
Nicolas Roeg's 1973 film Don't Look Now, based on a story by Daphne du Maurier
Film: The Italian Job

Famous Venetians
Marco Polo (1254-1324), traveller.
Titian (1477–1576), painter.
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), composer, musician.
Canaletto (1697-1768), painter.
Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798), legendary womanizer.
Hugo Pratt (1927-1995), cartoonist and creator of Corto Maltese.
Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793), writer
Veronica Franco (1546-1591), poet and courtesan during the Renaissance
Foreign words of Venetian origin
arsenal, ciao, ghetto, gondola, lagoon, lido, Montenegro.
"Venezuela" means "little Venice".

Posted by airwolf09 14:19 Archived in Italy Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Trieste, Fruili Venezia Giulia


Trieste (Latin Tergeste, Italian Trieste, Slovenian and Croatian Trst, German and Friulian Triest) is a city in northeastern Italy, capital of Friuli-Venezia Giulia region and Trieste province, population 211,184 (2001). It is located 600 kilometers south-southwest of Vienna at the head of the Gulf of Trieste, an arm of the Gulf of Venice.

The sights in Trieste include Miramare, a romantic castle built in the 19th century for Austrian Archduke Maximilian and his wife. On the coastal road to Trieste is the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, operating under the aegis of UNESCO and IAEA.

Through a long period of time, Trieste was seen as being peripheral to the centers of Italian commerce and culture, and lost influence—however lately it has been gaining influence as Italy's window to the east (former Yugoslavia). The Kosovo War saw large numbers of refugees passing through the city, which is now negotiating cooperation with Slovenian ports and expanding business with former Yugoslavia.

The local Venetian dialect of Trieste is called "Triestino" in Italian and "Triestin" (pronounced /tri.e.stin/) in the local language itself. Italian and the local venetian dialect are spoken in the city center while Slovenian is spoken in many of the immediate suburbs. This linguistic division is historical and cultural and dates back hundreds of years. Italian-speaking and Slovenian-speaking locals are considered autochthonous into the border region of Trieste, eastern Friuli and Istria.

By 177 BC, Trieste was under the governance of the Roman republic. Trieste was granted the status of a colony under Julius Caesar. It was also he that recorded its name as Tergeste in his Comentarii de bello Gallico in 51 BC.

After the end of the Western Roman Empire (in 476) Trieste was first under the authority of their count-bishop, then (from the year 1081) loosely under the Aquileia's patriarchy, then (from the year 1369) under the Venetian Republic, then (from the year 1372) a free commune and then, (from the year 1382) to free themselves from Venice, the Triestins donated the city to Leopold III von Habsburg, duke of Austria. (External link: The original Latin version of the Dedication)

During the Middle Ages, Trieste grew into an important port and trade hub. It was constituted a free port by Emperor Charles VI and remained a free port from 1719 till July 1, 1891. Its role as the principal Austrian commercial port and shipbuilding center was emphasized by the construction of the Vienna-Trieste railway, completed in 1857.

By the end of the 19th century, Trieste was a buzzing cosmopolitan city frequented by artists such as James Joyce, and Italo Svevo. The city was a very real part of Mitteleuropa, with a cosmopolitan mix of Italian (75%), Germanic (5%), and Slavic (18%) elements (along with others), as well as a border-town feeling that it retains even today.

The thought of an Italian population under Austrian domination was offensive for many Italian nationalists, who considered Trieste Italy's main "unredeemed" territory; whence the term "irredentism" for the movement pleading for incorporation to the Italian state of every Italian population. After World War One ended Trieste was transferred to Italy.

On May 1, 1945 (only days before the official end of World War Two in Europe) soldiers from the Yugoslav 4th Army and the Slovenian 9th Corpus NLA liberated Trieste ahead of regular Allied armies. The German Army surrendered to Allied forces the next day, but the Yugoslavs were forced to leave shortly thereafter.

In 1947 Trieste became the capital of the Free Territory of Trieste. When that state was de facto dissolved in 1954, the city of Trieste reverted back to Italy, while the southern part of the territory went to Yugoslavia.

Many famous writers lived and created their major works in Trieste.

Italian writers:

Italo Svevo
Umberto Saba
Scipio Slataper
Enzo Bettizza
Fulvio Tomizza
Claudio Magris
Pino Roveredo
Susanna Tamaro
Slovenian writers:

Vladimir Bartol
Boris Pahor
Alojz Rebula
Other writers:

Richard Francis Burton
Rainer Maria Rilke
James Joyce

Posted by airwolf09 14:33 Archived in Italy Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Roosevelt Roads, Ceiba


Future U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, toured Puerto Rico in 1919, visiting Ceiba. When he returned to Washington, D.C., he expressed a liking for the terrain where the base now sits. This was during the World War I era, and the United States could benefit from an air field in Ceiba. While Puerto Rico is a sub nation, its territorial rights belong to the United States, which made it perfectly feasible, and ideal, for the American government to build an airplane base in Ceiba.

It took many years, however, for the United States Government to become convinced of the need for an air base to be constructed in Ceiba. It was not until Adolf Hitler and Nazi-led Germany began to invade other European countries, that the United States Government, led by then President Roosevelt, let the thought of a Naval air station in Ceiba being a necessity, cross their minds. But with warfare going on in the European and Pacific theatres, they saw an airbase in the Caribbean area as an unneccesary commodity, if at least only for the period being.

The base had been inaugurated, but scaled down to a maintenance status with a public works office in 1944; from that moment on and until 1957, the base went through many shifts, being opened seven times and closed eight times. Meanwhile, it continued on being a source of work for the citizens of Ceiba as well as for American military pilots and soldiers, because Ceiba's citizens gained jobs around town doing different things, such as working for the Puerto Rican Electric company's Ceiba branch, as a consequence of the airbase's operations, when it was operating.

In 1957, it was upgraded to Naval Station status. Fort Bundy was set there, but it crossed over to parts of Vieques, a fact which would later become important in the history of the base. An American military mission, the M3, was also set there. It was part of the "Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station, Puerto Rico Base Communication Department". "N3" had a fleet center, a technical control facility and a Tactical support communications department, among other things. The "M3" was designated to help Puerto Rico, the United States and other Caribbean and Latin American countries that were members of NATO to deal with drug trafficking, illegal immigration and other, much more complex subjects such as enemy airplanes during war, terrorism, etc.

For the next 47 years, the base would be utilized by military airplanes for landings and take-offs, as well as for other missions and control of the area's air-space. In 2001, a Hercules C-130 airplane carrying seven soldiers, including a Mexican-American woman, crashed in the town of Caguas, while en route from Roosevelt Roads to Rafael Hernandez Airport in Aguadilla. All seven soldiers perished, in the largest air tragedy ever to happen in Caguas. Shortly after the base was closed in 2004, a 71-year-old pilot decided to take a hobby flight in a one-passenger airplane from Fajardo Airport in nearby Fajardo, to the already abandoned Roosevelt Roads Naval Station. Before landing, however, his airplane stalled and crashed in a baseball field nearby. The man was able to escape without injury.

Posted by airwolf09 14:42 Archived in Puerto Rico Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

El Yunque, Rio Grande


The Caribbean National Forest located on the island of Puerto Rico, and commonly known as El Yunque (named after the Taíno Indian spirit Yuquiyú, and meaning "Forest of Clouds") is the only tropical forest in the United States National Forest System.

The forest is located on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains in Puerto Rico, and encompasses over 28,000 acres (113 km²) of land; making it the largest block of public land on the Island of Puerto Rico. The highest portion of the mountain rises 1074 meters (3494 ft) above sea level.

The forest covers lands of the municipalities of Canovanas, Las Piedras, Luquillo, Fajardo, Ceiba, Naguabo, and Rio Grande.

The forest region was set aside in 1876 by the Spanish Crown, and represents one of the oldest reserves in the Western Hemisphere. It is home to over 240 species of trees and plants, 26 of which are found nowhere else.

Typical yearly rainfall can be up to 240 inches (6 m) per year. More than 100 billion US gallons (380,000,000 m³) of rainwater fall on the forest per year.

El Yunque is composed of four different forest ecosystems

Tabonuco Forest
Palo Colorado Forest
Palma Sierra Forest
Dwarf Forest

Posted by airwolf09 14:45 Archived in Puerto Rico Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

San Juan, San Juan


San Juan is the capital city of Puerto Rico. The city is located in the northeastern part of the island of Puerto Rico.

San Juan was founded by Spanish colonists in 1521 and is regarded as the oldest city in the United States of America (the oldest city in the continental United States is St. Augustine, Florida). Today, San Juan serves as Puerto Rico's most important seaport, as well as the main manufacturing, financial, cultural, and tourist center of the island. The population of the metropolitan area, including San Juan and the municipalities of Bayamón, Carolina, Guaynabo, Cataño, and Trujillo Alto is about 1.1 million inhabitants, hence about 1 in 4 Puerto Ricans now lives in this area. The main airports serving the city is Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, located in Carolina and Isla Grande Airport.

In 1508 Juan Ponce de León founded the original settlement, Caparra, today known as Pueblo Viejo, behind the almost land-locked harbor just to the west of the present San Juan metropolitan area. A year later, the settlement was abandoned and moved to a site which was called at the time Puerto Rico, meaning "rich port" or "good port". In 1521, the name of the settlement name was switched with the name "San Juan", the name which Christopher Columbus had originally given the island in honor of John the Baptist.

Old San Juan
In Spanish colonial times, most of the urban population resided in what is known now as Old San Juan. The old city is the main cultural tourist attraction for the island, and the bay side is lined by slips for large cruise ships. Old San Juan is located on the western half of a small island connected to the mainland by bridges and a causeway. The core old city is characterized by its narrow cobblestone streets and colonial buildings, and encompasses less than a mile by a mile and a half. The buildings in Old San Juan date back to the 16th and 17th century. Parts of the old city remain partly enclosed by massive walls and contains several defensive structures and notable forts, such as Fort San Felipe del Morro (begun 1539) and Fort San Cristóbal (17th century), both part of San Juan National Historic Site, and El Palacio de Santa Catalina, also known as La Fortaleza (begun in 1533), which serves as the governor's mansion. Other buildings of interest predating the nineteenth century are the Ayuntamiento or Alcaldia (City Hall), the San Jose Church (1523) and the adjacent former Dominican monastery; and the former house of the Ponce de Leon family known as Casa Blanca. Other buildings of interest from Spanish colonial times, among many, are the Teatro Tapia, the Ayuntamiento (City Hall), the former Spanish barracks (now museum de Ballaja), La Princesa (former municipal jail, now a history museum), the municipal cemetery just outside the city walls. Also on the island where Old San Juan is situated is the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista (begun in the 1520s), which contains the tomb of the Spanish explorer and settlement founder Juan Ponce de León. Strict building codes enforce restoration.

Subjected to attacks

San Juan was used as a stopover for ships returning from Spain, making it an important port in the Spanish system. However, this also made it the target of the foreign powers of the time. The Spanish built a network of fortifications to protect the transportation of gold and silver from the New World to Europe.

The city saw attacks from the English in 1595 by Sir Francis Drake and 1598 led by George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland. The artillery from the fortification of El Morro repelled Drake, however Clifford managed to land troops and lay siege to the city. A few months into the British occupation, Clifford was forced to abandon his expedition when his troops began to suffer from exhaustion and sickness. Later, the city was sacked by the Dutch in 1625, but Fort San Felipe del Morro withstood the assault and was never taken. The English returned in 1797, during the French Revolutionary Wars, led by Sir Ralph Abercromby, who had just conquered Trinidad. His army laid siege to the city but was forced to withdraw in defeat as the Puerto Rican defenses proved more resilient than those of Trinidad. Various events and circumstances, including liberalized commerce with Spain, opening of the island to immigrants, and the colonial revolutions, led to an expansion of the island and city in the late 18th and early 19th century.

In 1898, United States troops bombed, shelled and subsequently occupied the city during the Spanish-American War. Spanish rule ended after 1898 and the island became a territory of the United States of America.

In 1951 the Municipalities of San Juan and Rio Piedras were merged to form what is is today as the munipality of San Juan.

During the 20th century, the main population centers surged well beyond the walls of the old city, on to the mainland of the island. The city has a diversity of neighborhoods. East of Old San Juan lies the hotel and condominium filled district of Condado. Beaches popular with swimmers and surfers are present all along the Atlantic coastline. Nearby, are two separate business districts, Santurce, where The "Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico" (Art Museum of Puerto Rico) is located. Miramar is mainly a residential area rising south of the Condado Lagoon. Hato Rey, which at the beginning of the 20th century was grazing ground for cattle, is now considered the financial center of the island. A section of this district is often referred to as the "Golden Mile", due in part to the many banks and businesses located there. In the southern part of the city is the residential area of Río Piedras, where the main campus of the University of Puerto Rico is located.

San Juan made an unsuccessful bid for hosting the 2004 Summer Olympics. As with many large metropolitan areas, automobile traffic congestion has been a growing concern in the city which prompted city planners to build a train system dubbed "Tren Urbano" (The Urban Train) which is now in operation.

Posted by airwolf09 14:56 Archived in Puerto Rico Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Charlotte Amelie, St Thomas


Charlotte Amalie is the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, a territory of the United States of America. Its 2004 population (estimated) was 19,000. Charlotte Amalie is located on the southern side of the island of St. Thomas. Charlotte Amalie is also the name of the deep water harbor that was once a pirates haven and is now the famed cruise ship port. About 1.5 million cruise ship passengers landed on St. Thomas in 2004. Charlotte Amalie has many buildings of historical importance and is home to the second oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. The St. Thomas Historical Trust is a civic minded organization that is dedicated to the preservation of Charlotte Amalie's architecture and cultural heritage.

The city was named after Queen Charlotte Amalie (1650-1714), consort of King Christian V of Denmark.

Posted by airwolf09 05:53 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Orange Park, Florida


Orange Park is a town located in Clay County, Florida, USA. As of the 2000 census, the town had a total population of 9,081. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2004 estimates, the town had grew to 9,243.

The name reflects the hope of its founders for a fruit-growing industry, but their crops were destroyed in the Great Freeze of 1894-95. Despite recovery elsewhere, the crops never came back to Orange Park.

Founded in 1877 by the Florida Winter Home and Improvement Company. Following the Civil War, the company purchased several thousand acres of the McIntosh plantation at Laurel Grove, for the purpose of creating a southern retreat and small farming community. The town was incorporated in 1879 by a special act of the Florida Legislature.

Orange Park was the home of the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, one of ten regional centers for primate research. The Orange Park center, established in 1930 by psychologist Robert Yerkes and Yale University, was the first laboratory in the United States for the study of non-human primates. In 1956, Emory University took over operation of the Center. In 1965, the center was relocated to the campus of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2002, the Center was renamed the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, though officially the "Regional" name still applies.

Posted by airwolf09 04:57 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Jacksonville, Florida


Jacksonville is a city located in Duval County, Florida, USA. It is the county seat of Duval County 6. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 777,704 [1].

Geographically, it is the largest city in the contiguous 48 states of the United States in terms of land area. It is also the largest city in Florida in terms of population in the city proper (ultimately ranking 13th in the country). The Jacksonville metropolitan area reached over one million residents in 1996. Jacksonville also has the distinction of being the largest city in the South outside of Texas.

Jacksonville and Duval County are consolidated. All areas of Duval County are considered to be part of Jacksonville, but the communities of Baldwin, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville Beach have their own municipal governments as well.

The total area of Jacksonville is 874.3 square miles (2,264.5 km²). Jacksonville was originally named Cowford because the St. Johns River is narrow there, allowing cattlemen to ford (herd cows across the river). The city was renamed in 1822 for the first territorial governor of Florida and the future 7th U.S. President, Andrew Jackson. Jacksonville is sometimes abbreviated as Jax, which comes from the acronym on luggage tags attached to baggage entering Jacksonville International Airport.

Pre Colonial
Archaeological evidence indicates 6,000 years of human habitation in the area. The Timucua Indians were the predominate local tribe when European explorers arrived. The largest Timucua town in the region was Ossachite, which stood approximately where the courthouse stands today. Its name is the earliest recorded name for the area.

Colonial and territorial history

Cowford, early 1800'sIn 1513, Spanish explorers landed in Florida and claimed their discovery for Spain. In 1562, the French Huguenot explorer Jean Ribault explored the St. Johns River area and in 1564 the French established Fort Caroline. Spanish troops, led by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, from nearby St. Augustine attacked the fort and drove off the French in 1565. Spain ceded Florida to the British in 1763, who then gave control back to Spain in 1783. The first permanent settlement was founded as "Cow Ford" in 1791 and Florida became a United States territory in 1821. On June 15th, 1822 settlers sent a petition to the U.S. Secretary of State asking that Jacksonville be named a port of entry; this is the first recorded use of the name. The charter for a town government was approved by the Florida Legislative Council on February 9, 1832.

Civil War
During the Civil War, Jacksonville was a key supply point for hogs and cattle leaving Florida and aiding the Confederate cause. Throughout most of the war, the US Navy maintained a blockade around Florida's ports, including Jacksonville. In October 1862 Union forces captured a Confederate battery at St. Johns Bluff and occupied Jacksonville. Throughout the war Jacksonville would change hands several times, though never with a battle. On February 20, 1864 Union soldiers from Jacksonville marched inland and confronted the Confederate Army at the Battle of Olustee which resulted in a Confederate victory. By the end of the war in 1865, a Union commander commented that Jacksonville had become "pathetically dilapidated, a mere skeleton of its former self, a victim of war."

Winter Resort Era

1893 birds eye view of Jacksonville, with steamboats moving throughout the St. Johns RiverFollowing the Civil War, during Reconstruction and afterward, Jacksonville and nearby St. Augustine became popular winter resorts for the rich and famous of the Gilded Age. Visitors arrived by steamboat and (beginning in the 1880s) by railroad, and wintered at dozens of hotels and boarding houses. The area declined in importance as a resort destination when Henry Flagler extended the Florida East Coast Railroad to the south, arriving in Palm Beach in 1894 and in the Miami area in 1896. Not even hosting the Subtropical Exposition, a Florida-style world's fair attended by President Grover Cleveland in 1888, served to provide a lasting boost for tourism in Jacksonville.

Yellow Fever Epidemics
Jacksonville's prominence as a winter resort was dealt another blow by major yellow fever outbreaks in 1886 and 1888, during the latter of which nearly ten percent of the more than 4,000 victims, including the city's mayor, died. In the absence of scientific knowledge concerning the cause of yellow fever, nearly half of the city's panicked residents fled, despite the imposition of quarantines and the (ineffectual) fumigation of inbound and outbound mail. Not surprisingly, Jacksonville's reputation as a healthful tourist destination suffered.

Spanish American War
During the Spanish American War, gunrunners helping the Cuban rebels used Jacksonville as the center for smuggling illegal arms and supplies to Cuba. Duval county sheriff, and future state governor, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward was one of many gunrunners operating out of the city. Author Stephen Crane travelled to Jacksonville to cover the war.

Great Fire of 1901
On May 2, 1901 hot ash from a shantyhouse's chimney landed on the drying moss at Cleaveland's Fiber Factory. At half past noon most of the Cleaveland workers were at lunch, but by the time they returned the entire city block was engulfed in flames. The fire destroyed the business district and rendered 10,000 residents homeless in the course of eight hours. Florida Governor William S. Jennings declared a state of martial law in Jacksonville and dispatched several state militia units to Jacksonville. Reconstruction started immediately, and the city was returned to civil authority on May 17. Famed New York architect Henry Klutho helped rebuild the city. Klutho and other architects, enamored of the "Prairie Style" of architecture then being popularized by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago and other Midwestern cities, designed exuberant local buildings with a Florida flair. While many of Klutho's buildings were demolished by the 1980s, a number of his creations remain, including the St. James Building from 1911 (a former department store that is now Jacksonville's City Hall) and the Morocco Temple from 1910. The Klutho Apartments, in Springfield, were recently restored and converted into office space by local charity Fresh Ministries. Despite the losses of the last several decades, Jacksonville still has one of the largest collections of Prairie Style buildings (particularly residences) outside the Midwest.

Motion Picture Industry
In the early 1900s, Jacksonville was a center of the fledgling motion picture industry. The city's warm climate, excellent rail access, and low costs all helped to make Jacksonville the "Winter Film Capital of the World". By the early 1910s, Jacksonville hosted over 30 studios employing over 1000 actors. However, some residents objected to the hallmarks of the early movie industry, such as car chases in the streets, simulated bank robberies and fire alarms in public places, and even the occasional riot scene. In 1917, a conservative mayor was elected on the platform of taming the city's movie industry. Subsequently the film studios opted to move to a more hospitable political climate in California.

"Gateway to Florida"
The 1920s brought significant real estate development and speculation to the city during the great Florida land boom (and bust). Hordes of train passengers passed through Jacksonville on their way south to the new tourist destinations of South Florida, as most of the passenger trains arriving from the population centers of the North were routed through Jacksonville. Completion of the Dixie Highway (portions of which became U.S. Highway 1) in the 1920s began to draw significant automobile traffic as well. An important entry point to the state since the 1870s, Jacksonville now justifiably billed itself as the "Gateway to Florida."

US Navy
A significant part of Jacksonville's growth in the 20th century came from the presence of navy bases in the region. October 15, 1940, Naval Air Station Jacksonville ("NAS Jax") on the westside became the first navy installation in the city. This base was a major training center during World War II, with over 20,000 pilots and aircrewmen being trained there. After the war, the Navy's elite Blue Angels were established at NAS Jax. Today NAS Jax is the third largest navy installation in the country and employs over 23,000 civilian and active-duty personnel.

In June 1941, land in the westernmost side of Duval County was earmarked for a second naval air facility. This became NAS Cecil Field, which during the Cold War was designated a Master Jet Base, the only one in the South. RF-8 Crusaders out of Cecil Field detected missiles in Cuba, precipitating the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1993 the Navy decided to close NAS Cecil Field and in 1999 this was completed. The land once occupied by this installation is now known as the "Cecil Commerce Center" and contains one of the campuses of Florida Community College which now offers civil aeronautics classes.

December 1942 saw the addition of a third naval installation to Jacksonville: Naval Station Mayport at the mouth of the St. Johns River. This port developed through World War II and today is the home port for many types of navy ships, most notably the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy. NS Mayport current employs about 14,000 personnel.

Jacksonville is also not far from Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in St. Marys, Georgia, which is home to part of the US Navy's nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) fleet.

The naval base became a key training ground in the 1950s and 1960s and as such, the population of the city rose dramatically. More than half of the residents in Jacksonville had some tie to the naval base, whether it be a relative stationed there, or due to employment opportunities, by 1970, necessitating the opening of an international airport in the area. While the city is more independent from the Navy today, it is still a strong influence in the community.

Racial tension
Jacksonville has a history of racial segregation and violence. This came to a head on "Ax Handle Saturday", August 27, 1960. A group of white men (allegedly some were also members of the Ku Klux Klan) armed with baseball bats and ax handles attacked civil rights protesters conducting sit-ins at segregated downtown restaurants. The violence spread, and the white mob started attacking all African-Americans in sight. Rumors were rampant on both sides that the unrest was spreading around the county (in reality, the violence stayed in relatively the same location, and did not spill over into the mostly-white, upper-class Cedar Hills neighborhood, for example). The police did not make an attempt to stop the violence until the "blacks started holding their own."

Before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, African-Americans in Jacksonville were denied healthcare services at every hospital except the all-black Brewster Hospital, even when their condition was critical or life-threatening.

In the aftermath of the Civil Rights Act and Ax Handle Saturday, the previously segregated black and white communities worked together in open dialog, integration, and participatory government.

Despite the progress, racial tension was very evident when the public schools in Jacksonville were integrated in 1967. The black students attending integrated schools endured racial epithets, being spit on and, in some extreme cases, being stoned by their white classmates.

On June 1, 2003, John Peyton became Mayor of Jacksonville after defeating African-American Sheriff Nat Glover. Matt Carlucci, a white Republican endorsed Glover (a Democrat) after being defeated in the open primary. Afterwards, Carlucci's business was vandalized with the words "NIGGER LOVER", and Glover's campaign headquarters was vandalized with "NO NIGGER MAYOR". The only witness to the crime said he saw two black males running from the scene.

It should be noted that Nat Glover was the first (and only) African-American sheriff in the state of Florida since Reconstruction, winning two elections before running for mayor. Before he joined the police force, he was one of the youths who were involved in the axe handle riots.

After World War II, the government of the City of Jacksonville began to increase spending to fund new building projects in the boom that occurred after the war. Mayor Haydon Burns' "Jacksonville Story" resulted in the construction of a new city hall, civic auditorium, public library and other projects that created a dynamic sense of civic pride. However, the development of suburbs and a subsequent wave of "white flight" left Jacksonville with a much poorer population than before. Much of the city's tax base dissipated, leading to problems with funding education, sanitation, and traffic control within the city limits. In addition, residents in unincorporated suburbs had difficulty obtaining municipal services such as sewage and building code enforcement. In 1958, a study recommended that the City of Jacksonville begin annexing outlying communities in order to create the needed tax base to improve services throughout the county. Voters outside the city limits rejected annexation plans in six referendums between 1960 and 1965.

In the mid 1960s, corruption scandals began to arise among many of the city's officials, who were mainly elected through the traditional good ol' boy network. After a grand jury was convened to investigate, several officials were indicted and more were forced to resign. Consolidation, led by Sheriff Dale Carson, began to win more support during this period, from both inner city blacks (who wanted more involvement in government) and whites in the suburbs (who wanted more services and more control over the center city). Lower taxes, increased economic development, unification of the community, better public spending and effective administration by a more central authority were all cited as reasons for a new consolidated government.

A consolidation referendum was held in 1967, and voters approved the plan. On October 1, 1968, the governments merged to create the Consolidated City of Jacksonville.

Jacksonville uses the Mayor-Council form of city government. The mayor is the Chief Executive and Administrative officer, called the Strong-Mayor form. He holds veto power over all resolutions and ordinances made by the city council. He also has the power to hire and fire the head of various city departments. The city council has nineteen members, fourteen of whom are elected from districts, and five who are elected at-large. Four municipalities within Duval County voted not to join the consolidated government. These communities consist of only 6% of the total population within the county. The municipalities are Baldwin, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville Beach. Not all city services were merged, making for a less-than-full consolidation of the city-county. Several authorities remain independent of the combined city-county government, including the school board, electric authority, port authority, and airport authority. Fire, police, health and welfare, recreation, public works, and housing and urban development were all combined under the new government. The four separate communities provide their own services, while maintaining the right to contract the consolidated government to provide services for them. Under the new government structure, anyone living in Duval County is eligible to run for Mayor of the City of Jacksonville, even those living in the four separate municipalities.

Jacksonville is home to a number of professional sports teams:

Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League
Jacksonville Suns, a Southern League minor league baseball affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers
Jacksonville Barracudas of the SPHL ice hockey league
Jacksonville was named as the site for Super Bowl XXXIX, becoming the third city in the state of Florida (Miami and Tampa being the others) to host the event. The game was held on February 6, 2005 and featured halftime entertainment by former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney. Due to the milder climate and lesser amount of hotel space, many media critics decried Jacksonville as a sub-standard host for a Super Bowl, although local leaders felt the criticism was unwarranted. The game itself was played under ideal football weather (about 55 degrees Fahrenheit), and the New England Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 24-21.

The Jacksonville area also boasts many excellent golf courses. In Ponte Vedra lies the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass, one of the most famous golf courses in the world and home to the annual PGA TPC (The Player's Championship) tournament. Nearby St. Augustine is home to the World Golf Village and World Golf Hall of Fame.

Professional tennis is in town each year when the WTA holds the Bausch & Lomb Championships at Amelia Island Plantation near Fernandina Beach, just north of Jacksonville. Other sports events include the annual Kingfish Tournament held in July, the Florida-Georgia football game, commonly known as "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" held every October, the ACC Championship, and the Gator Bowl held in early January. University of North Florida, Jacksonville University and Edward Waters College also field athletic teams in a number of sports.

The city's biggest cultural event is the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, an annual event featuring many of the biggest names in jazz. Jacksonville also features two art museums, the Cummer Gallery of Art and the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art. The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra makes regular performances at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts near downtown. The newly built Veterans Memorial Arena has quickly grown in popularity with many acts as within the two years since it has been built KISS, Aerosmith, Elton John, Green Day, Metallica, Britney Spears, and many other acts have performed there.

Jacksonville also host an annual concert event known as "Come Together Day" which is held every spring at Metro Park (located adjacent to ALLTEL Stadium)on the banks of the St. John's River. The largest names in the Hip Hop/R&B genre make their way to Jacksonville to perform in front of thousands of spectators. The event is sponsored by local radio stations. Past performers include: Monica, Ying Yang Twins, Master P, Trina, David Banner, Trick Daddy,Destiny's Child and a large host of other prominent hip-hop legends. Crowds from all across the region converge on Jacksonville for one of the largest hip hop events of the year. The event was originally created as a way of drawing the black community together in the sense of a family reunion. Come Together Day has since grown to a major event welcoming tourist from all across the southeast.

Citizens of Jacksonville and surronding counties make their the way to the Jacksonville Riverwalk to be dazzled by fireworks.On the Fourth of July when weather permitting the city is the site of one of the largest fireworks displays in the nation. Tens of thousands gather at Metro park, which is also the site of a Happy Birthday America Concert. Also on the night of New Years' Eve Jacksonville puts on a major fireworks-concert on the banks of the River to usher in the new year.The cities' urban core is jammed pack with crowds and partiers who are poised to attend the Gator Bowl the next day. These fireworks shows makes use of Jacksonville's beautiful downtown skyscrapers and its numerous colorful lit bridges as barges to create a festive atomosphere.

Jacksonville also has significant natural beauty from the St. Johns River and Atlantic Ocean. The city center includes the Jacksonville Landing shopping center and the Riverwalk. Downtown Jacksonville has a memorable skyline with the tallest building being the Bank of America Building, constructed in 1990 with a height of 617ft (188m). Other notable structures include the Modis Building (once the defining building in the Jacksonville skyline, owned by Independent Life) with its distinctive flared base and the Riverplace Tower, which is the tallest pre-cast, post-tension concrete structure in the world.

In addition, the Jacksonville Zoological Gardens boast the second largest animal collection in the state, only behind Disney's Animal Kingdom. The zoo features Elephants, Lions, Jaguars (which the local NFL team are named for), a multitude of Reptiles houses and free flight aviaries, and many other animals.

Posted by airwolf09 13:30 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Trenton, New Jersey


Trenton is the capital of New Jersey, a state of the United States of America. As of the 2000 census, it has a population of 85,403. Trenton is located in almost the exact center of the north-south axis of the state. Due to this, it is sometimes included as part of North Jersey and as the southernmost city of the New York metropolitan area. Others consider it part of South Jersey and as the northernmost city of the Delaware Valley metropolitan area. Locals consider it to be a part of Central Jersey, and thus part of neither region, though in truth the city has more communication and transportation links with the Delaware Valley than it does with New York. It is the county seat of Mercer County. The City of Trenton is governed under the Faulkner Act (Mayor-Council) system of municipal government.

Trenton is the home of the Trenton Thunder minor league baseball team, which is affiliated with the New York Yankees, and the Trenton Titans minor league hockey team, an affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. The New Jersey State Prison, which has two maximum security units and houses the state's most dangerous criminals, is also located in Trenton.

This city is an anchor city for the Delaware Valley metropolitan area. Trenton and its immediate suburbs are often lumped together and referred to as "Greater Trenton" by locals.

The first settlement which would become Trenton was established by Quakers in 1679, in the region then called the Falls of the Delaware, led by Mahlon Stacy from Handsworth, Sheffield, UK. Quakers were being persecuted in England at this time and North America provided the perfect opportunity to exercise their religious freedom.

By 1719, the town adopted the name "Trent-towne", after William Trent, one of its leading landholders who purchased much of the surrounding land from Stacy's family. This name later was shortened to "Trenton".

During the American Revolution, the city was the site of George Washington's first military victory. On December 26, 1776, Washington and his army, after crossing the icy Delaware River to Trenton, defeated the Hessian troops garrisoned there (see Battle of Trenton). After the war, Trenton was briefly the national capital of the United States in November and December of 1784. The city was considered as a permanent capital for the new country, but the southern states favored a location south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Trenton became the state capital in 1790, but prior to that year the Legislature often met here. The town was incorporated in 1792.

In 1896 the first professional basketball game was played in Trenton between the Trenton Basketball Team and the Brooklyn YMCA.

Trenton was a major manufacturing center in the late 1800s and early 1900s; one relic of that era is the slogan "Trenton Makes, the World Takes" displayed on the Lower Free Bridge just north of the Trenton-Morrisville Toll Bridge (the "Trenton Makes Bridge"). The city adopted the slogan in the 1920s to represent Trenton's then-leading role as a major manufacturing center for steel, rubber, wire, rope, linoleum and ceramics.

Trenton's current mayor, Douglas Palmer, has been in office for 15 years.

Some well-known Americans born in Trenton include comedian Ernie Kovacs, football Pro Bowlers Troy Vincent,Gary Stills and Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea, basketball star Dennis Rodman, Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis, former New York City mayor David Dinkins, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, General Norman Schwarzkopf and former Mobil Oil executive William Granville.

Posted by airwolf09 06:05 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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