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Ordubad: a Cradle of Religious Tolerance in the Caucasus



Religious architecture in the region of Ordubad, Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan (Azerbaijan), has established new paradigms in the shaping of Azerbaijani Islamic culture, interfaith dialogue, and has reflected a deep sense of conviction within its citizens and a unique enrichment of religious tolerance, cultural dialogue, and multicultural coexistence.

The Region of Ordubad is the symbol of a religious harmony, unique architectural treasures that enshrine the superior values of the architecture school founded by Ajami Ibn Abubakr Nakhchivani, the city displays to the world a great sense of Azerbaijani patriotism and is home of many beautiful mosques that ought to be visited by religious scholars, international university researchers and be given a special international status by UNESCO; during the upcoming commemorations that will take place in Nakhchivan in 2018, as this region of Azerbaijan will become the World’s capital of Islamic Culture and Art. The Region of Ordubad is known for its famous apricots that were exported regularly to Moscow and other parts of the Soviet Union; however its religious treasures, mosques and archeological sites are not well known internationally, they must acquire a wider presence abroad. The city of Ordubad has distinguished itself for having seven principal avenues, on each one of these avenues it has: a mosque without a minaret; an underground fresh water creek; traditional, rare Caucasian homes equipped with a main entrance door that has two types of ancient knocking metal rings that produce two different types of sounds (one of them is used by men and the other used by women). Some of the most important mosques in Ordubad region are: Dilbar Mosque, Dirnis Mosque, Haji Huseyngulu Mosque.

In Ordubad City is located Dilbar Mosque, a historical and architectural monument that provide some unique features to foreign visitors and theologians. In Ordubad City there are a number of buildings that embody special values of Nakhchivan architectural school and Dilbar Mosque is one of them. The mosque is open to the public for religious ceremonies. The structure is right angled, has a square shape and equipped with columns.   Many of the mosque’s features are a representation of Nakhchivan’s school of architecture. Dilbar Mosque is an example of an architectural composition that intertwines style and structure that was typical in the 1700s. This Mosque is furnished with its altar, latticed windows; the entrance gate is on its main façade. The main entrance and its sides have incorporated big windows and sections that are latticed, with asymmetric installation of the head span and other marvelous features. This uniqueness shows that Dilbar Mosque embodies a perfect harmony with Ordubad’s architecture and urban – rural landscape.

According to the history of Ordubad, preserved by its residents, Dilbar Mosque was built to honor a woman named Dilbar and it has emerged as a center of Islamic faith established to honor the valuable role of women in the Muslim faith and its emblematic communities across the Caucasus region.

Another religious landmark is Dirnis Mosque, located on Mirza Street in Yukhari, Dirnis Village, and Region of Ordubad. It has a large size and the local people call it with the name ‘Boyuk Masjid’ meaning a large Mosque (Jame Mosque). Its main entrance is from the western side and for women is on the east side. Its ceiling stands on five poles on each side, totaling ten poles or columns. In front of the East – North wall there was built a balcony on the first floor to host women. The Mosque has: three big windows in the east wall, two windows on the western wall; and three windows on the southern wall. According to the inscription located at the head of one of the columns, written in black color, it is very clear that the Mosque was repaired in 1920-1921 and it was Architect Hasan from Ordubad who had repaired this cultural monument. Once again, this religious monument was renovated in 1999 at the expense of the local people and a balcony had been assembled in front of the entrance door on the west side, where a minaret was also erected. According to its architectural features, the Dirnis Mosque was first built and erected in the XVII Century.

In the village of Ganza, Region of Ordubad, stands tall the historic Haji Huseyngulu Mosque, located right at the center of the village. Its size is 23 meters by 14 meters, according to the local community, this Mosque was built by Haji Huseyngulu, an influential man who was active in promoting various shapes and construction styles from the Ajami Nakhchivani Architecture School. When Haji Huseyngulu passed away, he was buried in front of the southern wall of this gorgeous creamy white-brick mosque. At a later stage, the renovation team of this Mosque placed a head stone above the tomb of Haji Huseyngulu, the words of the late “Haji Huseyngulu of the XVI century,” are carved in Arabic language, on the head stone. This is considered to be one of the oldest mosques of Nakhchivan and throughout Azerbaijan, it is a unique religious monument, inside it has a big hall. According to the local builders, in the beginning of the XX Century there was built an additional hall that was joined with the hallway of males that is located in the western part of the old Mosque. The old part of the mosque and its main hall sits on three big columns and walls built of stones.   Its inner-columns and its sections between the columns and walls are connected through a span shape and its walls reach one meter of thickness. Five wall recesses have been placed inside of the mosque. A balcony is in front of the entrance; its façade consists of 12 spans. Near the mosque there is a guest house, when this object was restored there were written colorful religion words on its limed walls.

During its restoration project a wonderful minaret was added to this cultural monument on the South Western side of the structure. On the minaret is written an inscription that says: “this minaret of the mosque was built by Haji Israfil Sadigli in 2000; architects Karbalayi Sayid, Karbalayi Gurban.”

There are always held mourning events and religious ceremonies during the months of Muharram and Ramadan that take place in this Mosque; certainly during the commemoration events of Nakhchivan Region becoming the World’s Capital of Islamic Culture in 2018, there will be taking place memorable events in the Haji Huseyngulu Mosque.

The area on the southern side of the mosque at one time belonged to Haji Huseyngulu who donated this land to be the Mosque’s cemetery. Based on the grave inscriptions of this cemetery it is ascertained that Haji Huseyngulu lived during the XV century and this Mosque was built in that time.

The 2018 World celebrations of Islamic Culture in Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic are approaching; foreign visitors, tourists and scholars must visit the Region of Ordubad in order to appreciate a series of unique architectural features tailored by Ajami Nakhchivani that are melted together with: an ancient Islamic Culture, attractive religious tolerance practices, deeply rooted historical awareness within the context of Azerbaijani historiography.

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Entrepreneurs in unexpected places: How one Midwest city promotes diverse local innovation

MD Staff



In September of 2017, thousands of people from around the world congregated in an unlikely place: Wausau, Wisconsin.

This diverse crowd was gathered for the first International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival. While many may be surprised that such an event would be held in the middle of Wisconsin’s rolling hills and scenic lakes, it is locally a $50 million industry with a long history. In the mid-1970s Hmong immigrants, primarily from Vietnam, brought their entrepreneurial skills and revitalized the local ginseng industry. Welcomed by a friendly community that continues to foster an entrepreneurial spirit, Hsu’s Ginseng, now under the leadership of the original founder’s son Will Hsu, has grown to be the largest integrated ginseng growing and retailing operation in the U.S. Wausau’s industrious self-starters and newcomers grew a multimillion-dollar industry, and the region continues to incubate entrepreneurs across a diverse array of business sectors.

Local innovation

Wausau, ranked recently by ZipRecruiter as a Top 10 Job Market for 2018, has a track record of successful public-private development partnerships and hosts a thriving incubator — the Wausau Entrepreneurial and Education Center — to help local entrepreneurs get started and help established businesses grow. For instance, Wausau-based Resilient Technologies, now a business of Bridgestone Americas, was approached by the U.S. government to develop puncture-resistant tires. In an effort to make military vehicles more safe, they used strong local manufacturing ties to develop a first-of-its-kind non-pneumatic tire in Wausau’s incubator. Bridgestone is now looking for ways to apply the technology to its consumer and commercial portfolio, and develop next-generation tires that offer extended mobility.

“A lot of people don’t know these types of projects are happening here, but the city of Wausau is a great partner and the city provides our team with a wonderful place to call home,” says Louis Stark, operations manager, Resilient Technologies, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations.

The availability of an experienced workforce that can develop these specialized tires for the U.S. military is the same workforce that has made an impact on other areas of Wausau’s economy.

Entrepreneurial workforce

Sometimes entrepreneurial opportunities spring from unusual skills. Some residents in Wausau have deep connections to artistic traditions, including sewing. Bob Jacquart, chief executive officer of Stormy Kromer, makers of iconic hats and rugged outerwear, says he now relies on the sewing skills of Wausau’s residents to create one of the Midwest’s most storied brands.

Stormy Kromer’s operations in Wausau have been successful, outpacing production in the company’s headquarters in Ironwood, Michigan.

“I could not have felt more welcome and city leaders could not have been more accommodating in helping Stormy Kromer find a suitable space as well as skilled workers in Wausau,” says Jacquart. “Our business found exactly what it needed and the support from leaders was exceptional.”

Incubating community

The local economic conditions and support environment that allowed these Wausau-based companies to thrive are the very conditions that led Time Magazine to label Wausau a “middle-class paradise” last year.

A combination of affordability, welcoming atmosphere and economic diversity is attracting young people, new industries and incubating unlikely entrepreneurs. Aiming to make the most out of these trends, the city is responding in kind. New growth and development hit record levels in 2017 across diverse sectors of growing businesses in Wausau. The city’s warm attitude toward entrepreneurs and diversity further complement its traditional economic base in metals manufacturing, building materials, insurance, informational technology and health care.

To learn more about how the city of Wausau is attracting entrepreneurs and gaining an international reputation, visit

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Shumbrat, Mordovia! The Land of Finno-Ugric nation and the host city of the World Cup 2018

Elena Kubantseva



What is common between Finland, Estonia, Hungary, and the Republic of Mordovia?

In 2007, Saransk, Mordovia, the 1st Festival of the Finno-Ugric Peoples was hosted by President Vladimir Putin of Russia, and visited by Finnish President, TarjaHalonen, and Hungarian Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsány. There are about 200 nationalities live in Russia and 13 of them are Finno-Ugric people. The nations that communicate in Finno-Ugric languages live in Finland, Estonia, Russia and Hungary. However, the nationalities have not lost their desire to share their cultural and historical heritage. The festival that was opened 10 years ago established the cultural development of Finno-Ugric peoples. Numerous festivals, events, shows and conferences that focused on protection its common traditions and pass them on to future generations were organized by the Finno-Ugric nations in Estonia, Finland, Hungary and russian regions for these years.

Interesting fact, The Mordovians are divided into two main ethnic subgroups and three further subgroups. The Erzya and Moksha are the main groups:

The Erzya or Erzyans, (Erzya: Эрзят/Erzyat), speakers of the Erzya language. Less than half of the Erzyans live in the autonomous republic of Mordovia, Russian Federation, SuraRiver and Volga River.

The Moksha or Mokshans, (Moksha: Мокшет/Mokshet), speakers of the Moksha language. Less than half of the Moksha population live in the autonomous republic of Mordovia, Russian Federation, in the basin of the Volga River.

Only 1/3 of all Mordovian live in Mordovia, the rest are scattered over the Russia as well as Far East, Armenia,Europe and USA.

5 top destinations to visit Mordovia

The Stepan Erzya Museum of Fine Arts is one of the major cultural centers of the Republic. The museum contains the works of the great sculptor, as well as collections of the folk artist of Mordovia F. Sychkov and Academician of Portrait-painting I. Makarov.

The Museum and ethnographic complex «Mordovian Podvorie» was opened in 2012  Here is a wooden house with national interior design and picturesque yard entourage: household outbuildings, Russian sauna, old farm tools. The restaurant «Mordovian Podvorie» is situated on the territory of the village. It presents the dishes of Mordovian and Russian cuisine.

The Museum of Mordovian Folk Culture was opened in 1999. The museum funds have over 3000 exhibits. Visitors can see Mordovian folk clothing, ceramics, icons, household utensils, as well as the products of folk art craftsmen

The St. John the Teologian Makarovsky Mostery was founded as a churchyard in 1702 by the landowner Makar Artemyevitch Polyansky on his own land. The historical part of the monastery, the Makarovsky churchyard, represents an architectural ensemble in baroque of 18th century.

State Natural reserve of  P.G. Smidovich is the area of untouched nature occupies 32,142 hectares. It is located in the far north-west of Mordovia. The reserve is one of the oldest in Russia. The reserve offers the services of the Museum of Nature, cordons “Pavlovsk” and “Inorsky”, nature trails “Understanding the nature reserve” and “observation of the animals”.

The host of the World Cup 2018

Four group stage games of the world Cup FIFA 2018 in Russia will be held on 45-thousand stadium “arena Mordovia”. According to the designers, the shape and color of the “Mordovia Arena” symbolize the sun!

Saransk 2018

Mordovia tourism portal

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Take a pre-cruise vacation and ‘live like a local’ on Florida’s Space Coast

MD Staff



There’s something magical about taking a cruise. Is it the open ocean? The indescribable feeling of warm sea air blowing through your hair? The endless access to world-class food, drinks and entertainment? Whatever the reason, each year millions of people around the world set their sights on the fun, adventure and luxury that cruise ships have become known to deliver.

Located on Florida’s Space Coast, bustling Port Canaveral is one of the largest and busiest cruise ports in the U.S. As the home port to some of the most-innovative players in the cruise world, there’s a good chance that your next cruise might depart from this vibrant east coast venue.

With so much to see and do on the Space Coast, many cruise passengers extend their vacation by a day or two in this fun-filled port city, so they can settle in before their departure and bypass any last-minute travel challenges. It’s called taking a “pre-cruise,” and it’s a perfect way to immerse yourself into the rhythm of your vacation and ensure you’re well-rested and prepared for your cruise adventure. To truly experience and get an intimate feel for the special way of life on the Space Coast during your pre-cruise, you’ll need to explore the area like a local, starting with these five must-do activities:

Treetop Trek Located at the Brevard Zoo, the Treetop Trek allows visitors to climb, crab walk and zipline through different animal habitats and have an up-close experience with wildlife. With three different aerial obstacle courses, this heart-racing activity provides something fun for everyone.

Duran Golf Club What would a trip to Florida be without a few rounds of golf? And we’re not just talking about any old kind of golf. No, we’re talking a world-class course that attracts pros, beginners and everyone in between. A favorite among locals and nationally recognized players, Duran has been voted “Best Public Course” and ranked as one of the top 50 courses in the country for practice ranges.

Riverfront Park — Once you experience Riverfront Park in historic Cocoa Village, you’ll quickly understand why this is a favorite place for locals to hang out. With public access to nearly 10 acres of prime riverfront land, you’ll see plenty of people jogging, playing, relaxing and loving the sun, as good Floridians do. The park includes a playground, amphitheater, boardwalk, spacious covered pavilions and areas for fishing.

Ossorio Bakery & Cafe We could write pages about how delicious the food here is, but this handful of words usually will suffice: hand-rolled pastries and homemade ice cream. Caught your interest yet? Located in historic downtown Cocoa Village, Ossorio has been providing locals with unforgettable meals and treats in a relaxed and friendly setting for the past 15 years.

Superb FishingYou know how they say there are plenty of fish in the sea? Here, that’s literally true. Along the Space Coast, there are something like 500 different species of fish inhabiting the local waters. From deep-sea fishing to surf casting to quietly angling along a peaceful river or lagoon, there are numerous guides and outfitters who can take you on a fishing adventure like no other.

You’ve spent months, maybe even years, planning your dream cruise vacation. Take an extra day or two and make it even more special by exploring the Space Coast. You deserve it.

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