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Ordubad: a Cradle of Religious Tolerance in the Caucasus

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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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Hangzhou: Let the Beauty of West Lake Float Your Boat

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From its rich history and healthy cuisine to Longjing tea and silk products, Hangzhou has a lot to be proud of, but all its myriad wonders fade in comparison to West Lake, the stunning crown jewel of the city. Beloved by locals and visitors for centuries, West Lake has been a muse to poets and painters alike as well as a favourite imperial retreat for ancient royals. The cycle of seasons gives it an ever-changing look, yet whether in the exuberant bloom of summer or the frosty winds of winter, this watery gem remains a timeless beauty, never ceasing to amaze. In 2011, the West Lake Cultural Landscape was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, acknowledged for being not only the quintessence of Hangzhou’s classic charm, but also a major carrier of the city’s cultural and historical legacy.

While there are countless ways to appreciate West Lake, when it comes to fully revelling in its bewitching allure, nothing compares to a good old fashioned boat ride. After all, it was the preferred way of world’s most famous traveller, Marco Polo, who declared that “a voyage on this lake offers more refreshment and delectation than any other experience on earth.” So why not join one of the many barges skimming the surface of the lake as soon as you arrive in town? And better yet, make it your grand entrance to your hotel? At Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake, we have designed an extraordinary check-in experience that guarantees to float your boat.

Upon your arrival, the Hotel limo will pick you up from the airport or train stations and take you straight to the West Lake Pier. There, get on board a petite, traditional Chinese style wooden boat, and rest is total relaxation. Slowly cruising through the willow-fringed waters, you will be treated with a panoramic view of the scenic landscape while the modern city hustle and bustle melts away in a fresh pot of Longjing tea. Don’t miss the chance to learn about local legends from your boatman, who will tell you all about the folklore of West Lake. Before you know it, the check-in process is underway and the boat has reached the hotel pier, where a welcome tea ceremony marks a perfect start of your stay with us. If once isn’t enough, no worries—you are most welcome to come back for more. Simply pick a fine day and bring a bottle of bubbly to the Hotel pier, and we will arrange a boat that takes you into the peaceful embrace of West Lake.

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Welcome to Boston’s Newest Destination for Innovative Meetings & Events

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Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, Boston is located within the brand new, 61-storey skyscraper in Boston’s Back Bay neighbourhood and offers more than 10,000 square feet (930 square metres) of total event space. The newest in the Four Seasons family of hotels and resorts for meetings and events is ideally located in the heart of the Back Bay, home to Boston’s best shopping and dining.

Planners of high profile meetings, breakout sessions or private dining events have the option to choose from two ballrooms on level 3, each with adjoining foyers, and five additional event rooms on level 6. Floor-to-ceiling windows create beautiful, sunlit rooms that will provide a gorgeous backdrop to any event, with two meeting spaces featuring unique outdoor areas with sweeping city views for a refreshing break.

“It is our goal to ensure every event experience is one of unparalleled sophistication and quality that define the Four Seasons experience,” says Reed Kandalaft, General Manager. “Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, Boston is scheduled to open in spring 2019 and we are so excited to show off this gorgeous space to all event planners, local and national, corporate and social.”

Created by legendary architect Harry Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed, the new Four Seasons is a uniquely shaped soft triangle, a thin glass spire of soaring height in the Back Bay. As a result, the function spaces are one-of-a-kind, offer modern design inspired by contemporary, leading edge style. Interior designer Bill Rooney created an elegant and warm atmosphere with the use of cream-coloured walls, muted grey palette and a hint of metallic.

Next generation technology in all meeting space includes Xfinity Wi-Fi along with Comcast X1 Platform, audiovisual services and technical support from PSAV. All event spaces have easy elevator access for event guests.

The Four Seasons team will enhance every event moment and will work closely with planners and hosts to create a dynamic itinerary including time for relaxation in the Hotel’s spa featuring a 64 foot (19.5 metre) curved indoor pool and complete fitness centre, and unforgettable dining at ZUMA, the world-renowned Japanese izakaya.

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DiscoverEU gives 14,500 more young people the chance to explore Europe

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More than 14,500 18-year-olds have been selected from almost 80,000 applications to receive a DiscoverEU travel pass. Participants will be able to travel between 15 April and 31 October 2019 for up to 30 days.

The second round of the European Commission’s DiscoverEU initiative attracted applications from almost 80,000 young people from all EU Member States during a two-week period that closed on 11 December 2018. 14,536 young Europeans were selected based on the award criteria and taking into account the quota set for each EU Member State.

Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport,said: “It is wonderful to see how young Europeans are using DiscoverEU to get to know their continent. In total, almost 180,000 young people from all over Europe have applied during the two rounds in 2018; and thanks to this initiative, we will have so far given around 30,000 young people the chance to explore Europe’s cultures and traditions and connect with other travellers, as well as the communities they are visiting. It is inspiring to see how young people are exploring Europe through a personal journey. DiscoverEU allows them to plan their own trips, share their stories on social media and make new friends.”

The winners of the second round will now be contacted so that they can book their trips. They will be able to travel, alone or in groups of maximum five people, between 15 April and 31 October 2019 for up to 30 days. Most of them will travel by rail with alternative modes of transport used in exceptional cases.

As well as the travel pass, the young people will receive pre-departure guidance, and they will be able to get in touch with each other on social media. They will also be informed of special opportunities available to them, for example price reductions on entry tickets for museums or cultural sites, participation in learning activities or welcome events organised by locals in the cities they will visit.

Background

DiscoverEU is an informal travel experience for young individuals or small groups, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, which is accessible and simple. It gives 18-year-olds a chance to learn about European cultural heritage and diversity, to connect with other young people and to explore their European identity. The initiative was launched in June 2018, following a proposal from the European Parliament for a Preparatory Action with a budget of €12 million in 2018. The first application round gave around 15,000 young people the opportunity to travel around Europe. For 2019, the European Parliament has approved €16 million for DiscoverEU. The Commission is planning to launch the next application round in summer 2019. Specific dates and further information will be announced on the European Youth Portal in due course.

In May 2018, the Commission proposed €700 million for DiscoverEU as part of the future Erasmus+ programme under the EU’s next long-term budget for 2021-2027. If the European Parliament and the Council agree to this, an additional 1.5 million 18-year-olds would be able to travel over those seven years.

The Commission is working to develop DiscoverEU into an even more valuable and inclusive learning experience for young Europeans. To this end, the Commission aims to increase the impact of the action and improve it further based on the interests shown by young travellers and on feedback from both travellers and key stakeholders.

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