Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sheen Falls Lodge

Executive summary by darmansjah

"La Cascade" is the restaurant of Sheen Falls Lodge, a hotel outside the town of Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland. It is a fine dining restaurant that was awarded one Michelin star in the period 1993-1998.

During the period the restaurant was awarded the Michelin star, the head chef was Fergus Moore.

The site of the present day hotel "Sheen Falls Lodge" and its restaurant "La Cascade" was originally occupied by an old farm house, Sheen Cottage, which stood on this site since at least as early as 1764. It belonged to the Irish estate of the Marquess of Lansdowne.

In 1777 a still existing bridge was built over the falls next to the house. During the nineteenth century, the house and the grounds surrounding it were leased by different gentlemen. In 1854 Frederick Trench, 2nd Baron Ashtown purchased the lease from George Woodhouse. Ashtown invested £ 1.000 in building a new fishing lodge, which incorporated the walls of the smaller Sheen Cottage as its southern part. Himself Ashtown spent little time there but sublet to various tenants.

In 1879 Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne bought the residue of his lease. Thereafter the Lansdowne family used it themselves as a hunting and fishing lodge. In 1948, Lord Bruntisfield bought the site and largely rebuilt the house before selling it again in 1962.

In 1966 the estate passed into the ownership of a Manchester business man, who tried to turn Sheen Falls into a commercial fishery.[9] Without success, he sold the property to an international corporation from which it was purchased by the Danish born entrepreneur Bent Christian Høyer (*1927) in 1988. He started with the construction of the 5 star hotel "Sheen Falls Lodge", which was opened in 1991.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Snowdonia National Park

Executive summary by darmansjah

Snowdonia is a region in north Wales and a national park of 823 square miles (2,130 km2) in area. It was the first to be designated of the three National Parks in Wales.

Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park was established in 1951 as the third National Park in Britain, following the Peak District and the Lake District. It covers 827 square miles (2,140 km2), and has 37 miles (60 km) of coastline.

The Park is governed by the Snowdonia National Park Authority, which is made up of local government and Welsh representatives, and its main offices are at Penrhyndeudraeth. Unlike national parks in other countries, Snowdonia (and other such parks in Britain) are made up of both public and private lands under central planning authority. The makeup of land ownership at Snowdonia is as follows:

More than 26,000 people live within the Park, of whom about 62% can speak at least some Welsh. The Park attracts over 6 million visitors annually, split almost equally between day and staying visitors, making it the third most visited National Park in England and Wales.

Whilst most of the land is either open or mountainous land, there is a significant amount of agricultural activity within the Park.

Since the local government re-organisation of 1998, the Park lies partly in the county of Gwynedd, and partly in the county borough of Conwy. It is governed by the 18-member Snowdonia National Park Authority; 9 members are appointed by Gwynedd, 3 by Conwy, and the remaining 6 by the National Assembly for Wales to represent the national interest.

Unusually, Snowdonia National Park has a hole in the middle, around the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, a slate quarrying centre. This was deliberately excluded from the Park when it was set up to allow the development of new light industry to replace the decimated slate industry. (There is a similar situation in the Peak District National Park where the boundaries were drawn to exclude large built-up areas and industrial sites from the park with the town of Buxton and the adjacent quarries outside but surrounded on three sides by the Park.)

The Snowdonia Society is a registered charity formed in 1967. It is a voluntary group of people with an interest in the area and its protection.

Mountain ranges

Snowdonia may be divided into four areas:

The northernmost area is the most popular with tourists, and includes (from west to east) Moel Hebog, Mynydd Mawr and the Nantlle Ridge; the Snowdon Massif; the Glyderau; and the Carneddau. These last three groups are the highest mountains in Wales, and include all Wales' 3000-foot mountains.

The second area includes peaks such as Moel Siabod, Cnicht, the Moelwynion, and the mountains around Blaenau Ffestiniog.

The third area includes the Rhinogydd in the west as well as the Arenig and the Migneint (this last being an area of bog), and Rhobell Fawr. This area is not as popular with tourists as the other areas, due to its remoteness.

The southernmost area includes Cadair Idris, the Tarren range, the Dyfi hills, and the Aran group, including Aran Fawddwy, the highest mountain in the United Kingdom south of Snowdon.

Mountain walking

Southern edge. Waymarked path near Llyn Barfog in Gwynedd

Many of the hikers in the area concentrate on Snowdon itself. It is regarded as a fine mountain, but can become quite crowded, particularly with the Snowdon Mountain Railway running to the summit.

The other high mountains with their boulder-strewn summits—as well as Tryfan, one of the few mountains in the UK south of Scotland whose ascent needs hands as well as feet—are also very popular. However, there are also some spectacular walks in Snowdonia on the lower mountains, and they tend to be relatively unfrequented. Among hikers' favourites are Y Garn (east of Llanberis) along the ridge to Elidir Fawr; Mynydd Tal-y-Mignedd (west of Snowdon) along the Nantlle Ridge to Mynydd Drws-y-Coed; Moelwyn Mawr (west of Blaenau Ffestiniog); and Pen Llithrig y Wrach north of Capel Curig. Further south are Y Llethr in the Rhinogydd, and Cadair Idris near Dolgellau.

The Park has 1,479 miles (2,380 km) of public footpaths, 164 miles (264 km) of public bridleways, and 46 miles (74 km) of other public rights of way. A large part of the Park is also covered by Right to Roam laws.

Nature, landscape and the environment

The Park's entire coastline is a Special Area of Conservation, which runs from the Llŷn Peninsula down the mid-Wales coast, the latter containing valuable sand dune systems.

The Park's natural forests are of the mixed deciduous type, the commonest tree being the Welsh Oak. Birch, ash, mountain-ash and hazel are also common. The Park also contains some large (planted) coniferous forested areas such as Gwydir Forest near Betws-y-Coed, although some areas, once harvested, are now increasingly being allowed to regrow naturally.

Northern Snowdonia is the only place in Britain where the Snowdon lily, an Arctic–alpine plant, and the rainbow-coloured Snowdon beetle (Chrysolina cerealis) are found, and the only place in the world where the Snowdonia hawkweed Hieracium snowdoniense grows.

A large proportion of the Park is today under designation (or under consideration for designation) as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserves, Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Biosphere and Ramsar sites.

One of the major problems facing the Park in recent years has been the growth of Rhododendron ponticum. This fast-growing invasive species has a tendency to take over and stifle native species. It can form massive towering growths and has a companion fungus that grows on its roots producing toxins that are poisonous to any local flora and fauna for a seven-year period after the Rhododendron infestations have been eradicated. As a result there are a number of desolate landscapes.

Wildlife

Snowdonia's importance in the conservation of habitat and wildlife in the region reflects in the fact that nearly 20% of its total area is protected by UK and European law. Half of that area was set aside by the government under the European Habitats Directive as a Special Area of Conservation. Rare mammals in the park include otters, polecats, and the feral goat, although the pine marten has not been seen for many years. Rare birds include raven, peregrine, osprey, merlin and the red kite. Another of Snowdonia's famous inhabitants is the Snowdon or Rainbow Beetle. The park has three RAMSAR Sites: the Dyfi Estuary Biosphere Reserve, Cwm Idwal and Llyn Tegid.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Santiago de Compostela

executive summary by darmansjah

Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia in northwestern Spain.

The city has its origin in the shrine of Saint James the Great, now the city's cathedral, as destination of the Way of St. James, a leading Catholic pilgrimage route originated in the 9th century. In 1985 the city's Old Town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Santiago is the local Galician evolution of Vulgar Latin Sanctu Iacobu "Saint James". According to legend, Compostela derives from the Latin Campus Stellae (i.e., "field of the star"); it seems unlikely however that this could yield the modern Compostela under normal evolution from Latin to Medieval Galician. Other etymologies derive the name from Latin compositum, local Vulgar Latin Composita Tella, meaning "burial ground"; or simply from Latin compositellam, meaning "the well-composed one". Other sites in Galicia share this toponym, akin to Compostilla in the province of León.

The city

The cathedral borders the main plaza of the old and well-preserved city. Legend has it that the remains of the apostle James were brought to Galicia for burial. In 813, according to medieval legend, the light of a bright star guided a shepherd who was watching his flock at night to the burial site in Santiago de Compostela. The shepherd quickly reported his discovery to the bishop of Iria, Bishop Teodomiro. The bishop declared that the remains were those of the apostle James and immediately notified King Alfonso II in Oviedo. To honour St. James, the cathedral was built on the spot where his remains were said to have been found. The legend, which included numerous miraculous events, enabled the Catholic faithful to not only maintain their stronghold in northern Spain during the Christian crusades against the Moors, but also led to the growth and development of the city.

Along the western side of the Praza do Obradoiro is the elegant 18th century Pazo de Raxoi, now the city hall. Across the square is the Pazo de Raxoi (Raxoi's Palace), the town hall and seat of the Galician Xunta, and on the right from the cathedral steps is the Hostal dos Reis Católicos, founded in 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand II of Aragon, as a pilgrims' hospice (now a parador). The Obradoiro façade of the cathedral, the best known, is depicted on the Spanish euro coins of 1 cent, 2 cents, and 5 cents (€0.01, €0.02, and €0.05).

Santiago is the site of the University of Santiago de Compostela, established in the early 16th century. The main campus can be seen best from an alcove in the large municipal park in the centre of the city.

Within the old town there are many narrow winding streets full of historic buildings. The new town all around it has less character though some of the older parts of the new town have some big flats in them.

Santiago de Compostela has a substantial nightlife. Divided between the new town (a zona nova in Galician, la zona nueva in Spanish or ensanche) and the old town (a zona vella in Galician or la zona vieja in Spanish, trade-branded as zona monumental), a mix of middle-aged residents and younger students running throughout the city until the early hours of the morning can often be found. Radiating from the centre of the city, the historic cathedral is surrounded by paved granite streets, tucked away in the old town, and separated from the newer part of the city by the largest of many parks throughout the city, Parque da Alameda. Whether in the old town or the new town, party-goers will often find themselves following their tapas by dancing the night away.

Santiago gives its name to one of the four military orders of Spain: Santiago, Calatrava, Alcántara and Montesa.

One of the most important economic centres in Galicia, Santiago is the seat for organisations like Association for Equal and Fair Trade Pangaea.

History

The area of Santiago de Compostela was a Roman cemetery by the 4th century, being occupied by the Suebi in the early 400s, during the initial collapse of the Roman Empire when they settled in Galicia and Portugal. The area was later attributed to the bishopric of Iria Flavia in the 6th century, in the partition usually known as Parochiale Suevorum, ordered by king Theodemar. In 585 the whole settlement together with the rest of Suebi Kingdom was annexed by Leovigild into the Visigothic kingdom of Spain as the sixth province of the realm.

Possibly raided from 711 to 739 by the Arabs,[citation needed] the bishopric of Iria was incorporated into the Kingdom of Asturias c. 750; some tens of years later. At some point between 818 and 842, bishop Theodemar of Iria (d. 847) claimed to have found some remains which were attributed to Saint James the Greater, during the reign of Alfonso II of Asturias. Allegedly, the Pope and Charlemagne—who anyway was dead by 814—may have had an important role in the discovery and acceptance of this finding. It was actually these political and religious figures who acknowledged Alfonso II's reign and Asturias as a kingdom altogether, besides starting close political and ecclesiastic ties Around the place of the discovery emerged a new settlement and centre of pilgrimage, which was already known by Usuard in 865, and that was called Compostella at least from the 10th century.

However, during the 10 and 11th centuries, the cult of Saint James of Compostela was but one of many arising at the time in different political regions of northern Iberia, whose rulers didn´t doubt to encourage their own region-specific cults—Saint Eulalia in Oviedo, Saint Aemilian in Castile. Since the early 10th century, Compostela started to become a politically more relevant site after the centre of Asturian political power moved from Oviedo to León, and several kings of Galicia and of León were acclaimed by the Galician noblemen, and crowned and anointed by the local bishop at the cathedral, among them Ordoño IV in 958, Bermudo II in 982, and Alfonso VII in 1111, so Compostela becoming capital of the Kingdom of Galicia. Later, 12th-century kings were also sepulchered in the cathedral, namely Fernando II and Alfonso IX, last of the Kings of León and Galicia before both kingdoms were united with the Kingdom of Castile.

During this same 10th century and in the first years of the 11th century Viking raiders tried to assault it—Galicia is known in the Nordic sagas as Jackobsland or Gallizaland—and bishop Sisenand II, who was killed in battle against them in 968, ordered the construction of a walled fortress to protect the sacred place. In 997 Compostela was assaulted and partially destroyed by Ibn Abi Aamir (known as al-Mansur), Andalusian leader accompanied in his raid by Christian lords, who all received a share of the loot. However, the Andalusian commander showed no interest for the alleged relics of St James. In response to these challenges bishop Cresconio, in the mid11th century, fortified the entire town, building walls and defensive towers.

According to some authors, by the middle years of the 11th century the site became a pan-European place of peregrination, second only to Rome and Jerusalem, and others make it clear that the cult to Saint James was before 11-12th centuries an essentially Galician affair, supported by Asturian and Leonese kings to earn faltering Galician loyalties. In the 12th century, under the impulse of bishop Diego Gelmírez, Compostela became an archbishopric, attracting a large and multinational population. Under the rule of this prelate, the townspeople rebelled, headed by the local council, beginning a secular tradition of confrontation of the people of the city—who fought for self-government—with the local bishop, the secular and jurisdictional lord of the city and of its fief, the semi-independent Terra de Santiago ("land of Saint James"). The peak of this confrontation was reached in the 14th century, when the new prelate, the Frenchman Bérenger de Landore, treacherously executed the counselors of the city in his castle of A Rocha Forte ("the strong rock, castle"), after attracting them for talks.

Santiago de Compostela was captured and sacked by the French during the Napoleonic Wars; as a result, the remains attributed to the apostle were lost for near a century, hidden inside a cist in the crypts of the cathedral of the city.

The excavations conducted in the cathedral during the 19th and 20th centuries uncovered a Roman cella memoriae or martyrium, around which grew a small cemetery in Roman and Suevi times which was later abandoned. This martyrium, which proves the existence of an old Christian holy place, has been sometimes attributed to Priscillian, although without further proof.

Main sights

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

12th century Colegiata de Santa María del Sar

16th century Baroque Abbey of San Martín Pinario


 
University of Santiago de Compostela


Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea (Galician Center for Contemporary Art), designed by Alvaro Siza Vieira



Parque de San Domingos de Bonaval, redesigned by Eduardo Chillida and Alvaro Siza Vieira



City of Culture of Galicia (will be completed in 2012), designed by Peter Eisenman

Transport

Santiago de Compostela is served by Santiago de Compostela Airport and a rail service. The town is linked to the Spanish High Speed Railway Network. On 24 July 2013 there was a serious rail accident near the city in which 79 people died and at least 130 were injured when a train derailed on a bend as it approached Compostela station