history Tag

napoleon museum, house, arenenberg, switzerland
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The house of Napoleon

Napoleon Museum, Switzerland There’s a house on the shores of Lake Constance in Switzerland that, albeit pretty, is quite unassuming from the outside. If you didn’t know what you were looking for, you might just mistake it for another residence of a wealthy Swiss citizen – of which there are many. But this house has a history that is revealed once you step through the doors.It was the refuge of Hortense de Beauharnais, the stepdaughter of Napoleon, who was forced to flee France and marry her stepuncle, Louis Bonaparte, who together were named King and Queen of The Netherlands.The house is called Arenenberg and in 1906 it became the property of the state. With the space, they created a museum in honour of Napoleon and his family.The museum has taken many forms in the years since it began but most recently it has been restored to resemble how it would have...

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22 November
riechenau island, germany, lake constance, world heritage site
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Why is Reichenau Island so important?

Reichenau Island, Germany At Lake Constance, four countries meet. The vast stretch of water borders Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, while Liechtenstein is just 30 kilometres away by road. France and Italy are also just short drives away. This is the confluence of Central Europe.In this lake, with its ferries and yachts and watersports, is a small island called Reichenau. More than a thousand years ago, it used its location and its talent to influence art and architecture across the continent. Although it’s located in present day Germany, it emerged at a time when borders seemed fluid.A monastery built on Reichenau Island in 724 – and churches built between the 9th and 11th centuries – were some of the first examples of medieval religious architecture in this part of the world. The wall paintings inside these structures also gave inspiration to artisans in the surrounding countries.What is on Reichenau Island? When I pop...

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21 November
hadrian's villa, tivoli, villa adriana, italy, world heritage site
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The old villa ruins of Tivoli

Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli, ItalyEarlier this week I wrote about Villa d’Este in the Italian city of Tivoli. Well, today I want to tell you about another villa in the city. A very different one.Like Villa d’Este, this one is a masterpiece, a World Heritage Site, and an easy day trip from Rome. But they don’t look the same at all. This one is in ruins.I’m talking about Hadrian’s Villa, on the outskirts of Tivoli. It was here that the great Roman Emperor Hadrian built his retreat from the bustle of Roman life in the second century. He built it so well that he decided he liked it more than his official residence and ruled the empire from here in his later years.The compound is huge, stretching out for at least one square kilometre. Pools, libraries, temples, palaces… it has it all. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people could comfortably have...

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15 November
villa d'este, tivoli, italy, world heritage site
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Tivoli’s masterpiece

Villa d'Este, Tivoli It’s not too hard to imagine what kind of man Ippolito II d’Este would have been. Born into a wealthy and influential Italian family in 1509, he was a lover of the finest things. Although he was made Archbishop of Milan when he was nine years old (the title was hereditary then), he saw the church as an instrument to be used to gain even more power. Vows of celibacy weren’t his thing. He would bring in musicians, prostitutes, feasts and wine to impress the people who needed impressing.When he was made the governor of Tivoli, he arrived in the town about 20 kilometres from Rome and did not like the look of the home that had been assigned to him. And so, in the style appropriate for someone who kept peacocks as pets, he decided to build a new and much grander residence.Nobody argued at the time...

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11 November