Riga Latvia Webcamera

July 4, 2016

Riga is the capital and the largest city of Latvia.
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Riga

Riga was founded in 1201 and is a former Hanseatic League member. Riga’s historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted for its Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture and 19th century wooden architecture. Riga was the European Capital of Culture during 2014, along with Umeå in Sweden. It is home to the European Union’s office of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). Riga is served by Riga International Airport, the largest airport in the Baltic states.

The river Daugava has been a trade route since antiquity, part of the Vikings’ Dvina-Dnieper navigation route to Byzantium.  A sheltered natural harbour 15 km (9.3 mi) upriver from the mouth of the Daugava — the site of today’s Riga — has been recorded, as Duna Urbs, as early as the 2nd century.  It was settled by the Livs, an ancient Finnic tribe.  The Livonian Chronicle of Henry testifies to Riga having long been a trading centre by the 12th century, referring to it as portus antiquus (ancient port), and describes dwellings and warehouses used to store mostly corn, flax, and hides.

It is generally recognized that Riga has the finest and the largest collection of art nouveau buildings in the world. This is due to the fact that at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, when Art Nouveau was at the height of its popularity, Riga experienced an unprecedented financial and demographic boom.

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Kiel, Germany Webcamera

December 26, 2015

Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

kielKiel

Kiel Fjord was probably first settled by Normans or Vikings who wanted to colonize the land which they had raided, and for many years they settled in German villages. This is evidenced by the geography and architecture of the fjord. The city of Kiel was originally founded in 1233 as Holstenstadt tom Kyle by Count Adolf IV of Holstein, and granted Lübeck city rights in 1242 by Adolf’s eldest son, John I of Schauenburg. Being a part of Holstein, Kiel belonged to the Holy Roman Empire and was situated only a few miles south of the Danish border.

Kiel, the capital of the county (later duchy) of Holstein, was a member of the Hanseatic League from 1284 until it was expelled in 1518 for harbouring pirates. In 1431, the Kieler Umschlag (trade fair) was first held, which became the central market for goods and money in Schleswig-Holstein, until it began to lose significance from 1850 on, being held for the last time in 1900, until recently, when it has been restarted.

Kiel was the site of the sailors’ mutiny which sparked the German Revolution in late 1918. Just before the end of World War I, the German fleet stationed at Kiel was ordered to be sent out on a last great battle with the Royal Navy. The sailors, who thought of this as a suicide mission which would have no effect on the outcome of the war, decided they had nothing to lose and refused to leave the safety of the port. The sailors’ actions and the lack of response of the government to them, fuelled by an increasingly critical view of the Kaiser, sparked a revolution which caused the abolition of the monarchy and the creation of the Weimar Republic.

Costa da Caparica  is a Portuguese civil parish, located in the municipality of Almada along the western coast of the district of Sétubal.

port5Costa da Caparica

 Human presence in the area of Almada dates to the end of the Neolithic period about 5000 years ago; archeological excavations performed in the municipality suggest that non-sedentary nomadic tribes may have occupied this location sporadically. The gradual development of settlement here made its greatest advance with the coming of Islamic civilization, when Muslims constructed a fort at Almada to defend and monitor the entrance to the Tagus River. Lying across the river from Lisbon, the area of Almada was a crossroads for a succession of various peoples who traded along the Tagus, including Phoenicians, Romans and Moors.

Legend suggests that, in 1800, the Costa da Caparica was the site for the Casa da Coroa (the first house of rock and limestone) which received its importance for a little-known fact.  It was believed that King John VI of Portugal in 1824 had eaten a delicious seafood stew, and for that reason, he ordered that the royal coat-of-arms be raised on the local fountain. Similarly, the site was the supposed way-point on journeys involving Queen Maria II of Portugal and King Pedro V of Portugal and his Royal Consort, who travelled through the Costa de Caparica on unrelated trips.

The Pointe du Raz is a promontory that extends into the Atlantic from western Brittany, in France.

Pointe du Raz

It is named after the Raz de Sein, the dangerous stretch of water between it and the island of Sein (Enez Sun in Breton). It is a dramatic place of crashing waves and strong winds. The word raz was borrowed from Norman by the Bretons and shares the same etymology as the English word race “strong current of water”, both are from Old Norse rás.

La Vieille is a lighthouse in the département of Finistère at the commune of Plogoff, on the northwest coast of France. It is among the small class of lighthouses around the coasts of France carrying the moniker “hell”, due to a remote position in rough seas.  La Vieille achieved notoriety in the 1920s when two disabled war veterans were stranded there for weeks by storms, their health deteriorating. They were employed under a new law reserving the job of lighthouse keeper to those who had served in the war. The tremendous difficulties experienced in getting them back to shore led to the repeal of the new law. In 1995 it was the penultimate French lighthouse to become automated, a process delayed due to the keepers on-site staging a protest against the task being carried out.

Great storm of 2014

St Ives, Cornwall Webcamera

October 18, 2015

St Ives is a seaside town, civil parish and port in Cornwall, England. 

ives4St Ives

The town lies north of Penzance and west of Camborne on the coast of the Celtic Sea. In former times it was commercially dependent on fishing. The decline in fishing, however, caused a shift in commercial emphasis, and the town is now primarily a popular holiday resort, notably achieving the title of Best UK Seaside Town from the British Travel Awards in both 2010 and 2011. St Ives was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1639. St Ives has become renowned for its number of artists.

The origin of St Ives is attributed in legend to the arrival of the Irish Saint Ia of Cornwall, in the 5th century. The parish church bears her name, and St Ives derives from it.

The Sloop Inn, which lies on the wharf was a fisherman’s pub for many centuries and is dated to “circa 1312”, making it one of the oldest inns in Cornwall. The town was the site of a particularly notable atrocity during the Prayer Book rebellion of 1549. The English Provost Marshal (Anthony Kingston) came to St Ives and invited the portreeve, John Payne, to lunch at an inn. He asked the portreeve to have the gallows erected during the course of the lunch. Afterwards the portreeve and the Provost Marshal walked down to the gallows; the Provost Marshal then ordered the portreeve to mount the gallows. The portreeve was then hanged for being a “busy rebel”.

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Vik is a municipality in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway.

stort2Vic i Sogn

The farms in Vik lie on old marine terraces, and many of the burial mounds lie on the edges of these.   The Hove mounds were built about 400-500 AD. At Hopperstad, finds have been made that prove Viking raids from Vik. These finds are bronze bowls and bronze dishes, things that probably found their way to Norway with the Viking raids.

In the latter half of the 12th century the Hopperstad Stave Church was built at Hopperstad and the stone Hove Church was built at Hove.  The Stave churches are constructions of high quality, richly decorated with carvings. In virtually all of them the door frames are decorated from top to bottom with carvings. This tradition of rich ornamentation appears to go back to the animal carvings of the Viking Age. The dragons are lovingly executed and transformed into long-limbed creatures of fantasy, here and there entwined with tendrils of vine, with winding stems and serrated leaves. The elaborate designs are executed with supreme artistic skill. The stave church doorways are, therefore, among the most distinctive works of art to be found in Norway. However, it is difficult to connect them with the Christian gospel.  The Hopperstad stave church was saved from demolition on the initiative of the architect Peter Andreas Blix.

The “West Norwegian Fjords of Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord” were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2005.  The two fjords are situated 120 kilometres (75 mi) from each other and they are separated by the Jostedalsbreen glacier.

Porto, Portugal Webcamera

September 6, 2015

Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal, after Lisbon.

portoPorto

Porto is one of the oldest European centres, and its historical core was proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. The western part of its urban area extends to the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean. Its settlement dates back many centuries, when it was an outpost of the Roman Empire. Its combined CelticLatin name, Portus Cale,  has been referred to as the origin of the name “Portugal”, based on transliteration and oral evolution from Latin.

The history of Porto dates back to around 300 BC with Proto-Celtic and Celtic people being the first known inhabitants. Ruins of that period have been discovered in several areas. During the Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninsula the city developed as an important commercial port, primarily in the trade between Olissipona (the modern Lisbon) and Bracara Augusta (the modern Braga).

One of Portugal’s internationally famous exports, port wine, is named for Porto, since the metropolitan area, and in particular the caves of Vila Nova de Gaia, were responsible for the packaging, transport and export of the fortified wine.