City trips: You can now travel virtually to these metropolises

Vienna: Fidelio and festivals

ÖAustria’s capital can also be traveled with your ears. The “Capital of Music” is currently celebrating Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday with many listening highlights that can also be experienced digitally.

For example, the new production of “Fidelio”, Beethoven’s only opera, staged by Oscar winner Christoph Waltz. The premiere in the Theater an der Wien is given up as a video stream.

A virtual city tour with the genius is made possible by the interactive radio play “Beethoven’s Vienna”, which is available as Alexa Skill and Google Action – with music by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra (

The Vienna State Opera in turn transforms your living room with streams into an exclusive box (, and the Homestage Festival makes it a happening for vibes by young Viennese artists. It rises from April 24th to 26th for the second time, there are also the highlights from the first festival to listen to.

Berlin: Dancing and “Supervised Drinking”

When bars and discos have to close, you just dance together in Berlin. Everyone in their own home, all to the live streamed beats of the DJs, who play every evening in well-known clubs such as the “Tresor”.

Under you can get into the “largest digital club” without a doorman. And up live performances are streamed daily from Berlin living rooms.

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Vincent van Gogh very close: The gig pixelated online exhibition from the Folkwang Museum in Essen shows every brushstroke and splash of color of the genius

Art in Corona times

A “taste of drinking” with Berlin beer sommelier Karsten Morschett is a taste of the capital. The tasting, bookable at beer, is by no means only virtual: six different beers are delivered to your home throughout Germany.

The expert from Berlin joins in via video chat and explains curiosities. For example, why Napoleon loved the “Champagne of the North” – Berliner Weisse, which of course is also tasted.

Paris: Exclusive to the Eiffel Tower

Enjoy the view from the Eiffel Tower without queuing – this can only be done digitally. Go on, scroll down to the little streetview male, click on “Explore” – and there you go are you there.

You have the viewing platform exclusively for you, it is deserted, nobody stands in your way. With the mouse you can go around click for click and enjoy the 360-degree panorama of the city of love.

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Art in Corona times

Couples have time for endless kisses, singles have their rest in front of the smooch tourists. Romantics listen to songs by Édith Piaf or Charles Aznavour (playlist at

London: Big Ben and giant lizard

who into his browser can be found high above the city – in the London Eye ferris wheel at 135 meters. The 360-degree technology enables views in all directions. Almost like in real life – only that you can change the panoramas in a split second: If you tap on the moon symbol, London shines in the sea of ​​lights at night, if you click on the sun, it is day again.

You can also beam directly to Big Ben and other major sights to look around – here too with an all-round panorama, often also inside. So if you always wanted to marvel at the ceiling of St. Paul’s Cathedral without stiff neck, but were afraid to lie down on the floor there, you now have the opportunity.

London’s empty streets

The world’s metropolises are standing still. London since March 23rd. WELT correspondent Stefanie Bolzen takes us on a bike tour through a deserted British capital.

Source: WELT / Stefanie Bolzen / Tanja Boldt

There are also other perspectives that IRL (in real life) would hardly be possible. In the zoo, for example, where you will find yourself face to face with a giant lizard – in its enclosure.

Venice: with and without tourists

Cheerful tourists populate St. Mark’s Square. They wave when you stroll past. Gondolas and excursion steamers meet you on a boat trip on the Grand Canal. Those who tour Venice with Google Street View travel back in time – in 2013, when the online service published the panoramas of the lagoon city.

In order to pick up the tangle of alleys and canals, tracking shots with cars were out of the question. The team filmed on foot and by boat, covering over 400 kilometers of walking and 180 kilometers of waterways. The result is an authentic and detailed tour with which you can explore icons such as the Bridge of Sighs, but you can also drift and get lost.

Because of Corona – Clear water in the canals of Venice

Venice is deserted. The corona virus has brought the Italian city to a standstill. This has positive consequences for Venice’s famous canals. Some even want to see dolphins.

A tool to jump directly to the place of longing is – just enter the destination in the search field. If you want to visit St. Mark’s Square live: With the webcam on you can see it – deserted as it is now.

New York: grandiose graffiti

Banksy, Kobra, Keith Haring: You can experience world famous artists in the streets of New York. Google Arts & Culture’s digital tour “9 Amazing Street Art Murals in New York” leads to impressive works, including the Graffiti Hall of Fame in Harlem.

New York celebrates its street art

New York celebrates its street art


You can look around with the mouse, go a few steps further, look at the pictures from other angles, stroll through the surrounding streets (on enter the search terms “new york street art”).

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Branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Cloisters in northern Manhattan (New York) was built with original parts of buildings from French monasteries

Or you can stroll through Central Park: a virtual tour ( starts from 72nd Street in the green heart of Manhattan. You are accompanied by an invisible guide who explains attractions such as the “Imagine” mosaic by Strawberry Fields.

Sydney: by ship through the harbor

Halfway around the world with one click: the digital tour at beams a non-stop in Australia’s largest city. Take a look around, you can use the mouse to choose the direction or hop to another attraction. “Welcome to Sydney” is just the first of a series of 360-degree views, the next awaits you on the ferry.

Go ashore at Circular Quay. You’ll see the famous Opera House, Harbor Bridge, Lunar Park, and Botanical Gardens.

If you are already in Sydney, you should definitely visit a place that is wrongly hardly known: Government House, a historic building with beautiful gardens and a dream view of the harbor (

And in the aquarium you can get to know real Aussis: under there are live streams from the pools of baby seahorses and sharks.

Hong Kong: appetizers for the eye

Dim Sum are Hong Kong for the palate – and for the eye. The traditional steamed snacks are typical of the southern Chinese metropolis, and it has long been a trend to make them crazy.

Even gourmet restaurants excel in this art, and even those wearing suits experience child-like joy when pork bites look like miniature goldfish and fish snacks like penguins. “Adorable Dim Sum” can be admired digitally (, there is a slightly bizarre online course for creative people:

He teaches how to make dim sum with crab stuffing – shaped like hedgehogs, fish and rabbits (plus carrots – as food for the crab rabbits).

Tokyo: This is everyday life in Japan

Several YouTube videos about Tokyo are dedicated to the phenomenon of Japanese toilets. With her many buttons, sensors and functions, a Youtuber calls her “more intelligent than I am” – for the uninitiated they are truly a challenge.

The five-minute “How to survive in Japanese toilets” is particularly vivid, which, for example, introduces you to the unwritten laws of toilet slippers (in the washroom, always switch from regular apartment slippers to toilet items!).

The 14-minute documentary “A Day in the Life of a Japanese Housewife in Tokyo” offers other insights into everyday life – including lighting candles on the house altar.

Petra: With Queen Rania to the treasure house

One of the best virtual tours is through the ancient rock city of Petra in Jordan ( World famous, also thanks to “Indiana Jones”, Khazne al-Firaun, the “Pharaoh’s Treasure House”, was carved in stone 2000 years ago when Petra was the capital of the Nabataean Empire.

Hike from the “Gate to Siq” through the narrow gorge and on through the spectacular Red City. There are 18 stations to explore, interesting things to hear, read and see from everyone. You can linger or jump forward.

Queen Rania of Jordan personally participated in the tour, and in a YouTube video – deserted to suit the current situation – she raves.

This text is from the WELT AM SONNTAG. We would be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

WELT AM SONNTAG from April 19, 2020



Rotterdam: In the water taxi to personal highlights of the city

DGetting to Rotterdam can be an experience even on a pitch-dark evening with pouring rain. You approach across the South Holland plain and suddenly there is this skyline: one skyscraper next to the other, thousands of lights.

We pass a luminous salad bowl, “de Kuip”, the stadium of Feyenoord Rotterdam. Then continue towards the city center. Cranes tower everywhere, construction is taking place everywhere. Water comes into view, port facilities. It keeps pounding outside.

And suddenly a huge, brightly lit hull appears. The steamer rises elegantly and majestically at the quay wall. This is how the “Titanic” must have worked. However, this luxury liner here is called like the city: “Rotterdam”.

A luxury liner became a spectacular hotel

From 1959 the steamship ran for the Holland-America line between Rotterdam and New York. Today it is arguably the most spectacular hotel in the Dutch port city. After an expensive renovation in Wilhelmshaven, the ship looks as it did in its heyday – inside and out.

After a comprehensive renovation at a shipyard in Wilhelmshaven in the port of her hometown, the “Rotterdam” has anchored permanently

Source: dpa-tmn

The restaurants in different price ranges are usually filled every evening. The only difference is that now no more sea travelers stay in the cabins, but Rotterdam visitors. On warm days, even the sun terrace with swimming pool is open again.

The next morning an SMS: “Goedemorgen! We are sitting on the main deck. See you soon, Ch & M. ”That stands for Chiem van Houweninge and his wife Marina de Vos.

Perfect city guides: Chiem van Houweninge and his wife, the screenwriter Marina de Vos, in front of the “Rotterdam”

Source: dpa-tmn

Chiem is an old acquaintance. And in Germany, many still remember his role as Dutch investigator Hänschen alongside Horst Schimanski, embodied by Götz George. He himself wrote six “Tatort” and “Schimanski” episodes, some of which even played in his hometown Rotterdam.

Can you ask for a better city guide? At most his wife, she knows Rotterdam inside out, was born and raised in the city center.

The water taxi races across the Nieuwe Maas

Marina wrote down her and Chiem’s ​​favorite places on a piece of paper – it’s a pretty long list. “There are so many great places,” she enthuses. “What do we start with?” The two advise for a while, then Chiem says: “Come on, let’s just go.” Driving? “Yes, drive. With the water taxi! “

Chiem walks through a passage in the ship, which he knows best because he wrote a novel about it. A door opens and we stand outside on the side of the steamer facing the water. There is a small jetty here and the yellow water taxi is already rocking on the waves.

Water taxi in Rotterdam: The metropolis in the Netherlands can be explored by boat

Water taxi in Rotterdam: The metropolis is easy to explore by boat

Source: dpa-tmn

The small speed boat whizzes across the Nieuwe Maas, a foothill of the Rhine, at a frantic pace. The broad stream divides Rotterdam in half. The journey is an enormous pleasure and at the same time everyday life for the residents of the city. Because water is omnipresent here, the boat taxi has become a normal form of transport.

The water of the Nieuwe Maas is so clean that a colony of seals and gray seals has settled at the mouth of the sea. They are lounging on an artificial island in the sun while huge container ships pass by. The animal idyll cannot hide the fact that the port – it is the largest in Europe – accounts for 17 percent of the total CO2ndEmissions of the Netherlands.

Rotterdam sets standards with modern architecture

Now we’re shooting past the high-rise silhouette. You won’t find pointed-gabled houses, as are so typical for Holland, here. “Rotterdam was bombed during the war,” says Chiem while driving. It was on May 14, 1940, when German bombers destroyed the center. “After that, a large part of the city was rebuilt.”

But unlike many bombed-out cities in Germany that were hastily rebuilt after the war, Rotterdam reinvented itself architecturally: in the 1980s, houses grew up on trees – Piet Blom’s cube apartments.

In the 90s, the architect duo Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos connected north and south with the swan-like Erasmus Bridge, the last crossing of the Rhine before the North Sea.

And in this century the star architect and native Rotterdam Rem Koolhaas created the “Vertical city”: Three interconnected towers, each with 44 floors, which look like toy blocks. It is the largest building in the Netherlands. It almost seems as if Rotterdam, the old seat of the Holland-America line, wants to reflect New York on the other side of the Atlantic.

Lower rents attract people from Amsterdam

“Rotterdam has always been a hard working city,” says Chiem. “There used to be nothing going on here after ten in the evening, but that has changed completely.” There are restaurants, theater, culture.

“In the meantime, a lot of people are moving from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, also because the prices here are still reasonably affordable. It is really a city on the rise. I am proud of Rotterdam. “

Arrival at the “Hotel New York”, the former headquarters of the Holland America Line from 1901. It is located at the top of the Wilhelmina Bridge. From here, countless families, especially from Eastern Europe, emigrated to the United States over the decades.

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When it opened in 1993, the hotel was still standing on a sandy promontory. Skyscrapers now tower over it and make it seem dainty in comparison.

Rotterdam is constantly changing. And although the second largest city in the Netherlands has no more than 650,000 inhabitants, it now has the appearance of a metropolis.

The “Hotel New York” was once the main administrative headquarters of the Holland-America Line – and now looks like it has fallen out of time in the middle of high-rise buildings

Source: dpa-tmn

Chiem combines many memories with the “Hotel New York”. His friend Götz George lived here when they were shooting in Rotterdam. At one point Chiem drew incredulous looks from the guests at lunch in the restaurant; he had forgotten to take off his pistol holster with the “service weapon” before eating.

A tunnel for cyclists only

Opposite the hotel, in the city’s former red light district, is the Fenix ​​Food Factory, the alternative market hall. Chiem and Marina like it better than the brightly colored new market hall in the city center – a gigantic food market that looks spectacular, but is overpriced in their eyes. Chiem has a Dutch stroopwafel, in German: syrup waffle.

And now? Just get back into the water taxi. Chiem and Marina definitely want to show something unusual: an almost 80-year-old tunnel under the Nieuwe Maas only for cyclists. There is probably only something like that in Holland.

The cyclist tunnel under the Nieuwe Maas is completely tiled and is therefore also called the “largest bathroom in the Netherlands”

Source: dpa-tmn

You get down into the tunnel via a wooden escalator, on which you simply place your bike next to yourself. The cogs of the stairs groan and rumble, it smells of lubricating oil. The tunnel – there is also one for pedestrians – is tiled over the full length of over a kilometer, which is why it is also called “the longest bathroom in the Netherlands”.

After the museum to the sailing ships in Veerhaven

Then we get in the car and off we go across the Erasmus Bridge to the museum district with the Boijmans Van Beuningen. There is a magical picture of Rembrandt’s son Titus doing his homework. A whale skeleton from the Natural History Museum peeks through the window.

On to the couple’s absolute favorite place, which has been together for 50 years and is now like a freshly in love in front of the old sailing ships in Veerhaven. Rotterdam still looks like it did before the bombing.

“And now I have an appetite for cheese,” Chiem announces. His favorite specialty shop is the “Kaashoeve” in the pedestrian zone Oude Binnenweg. Huge cheeses are cut by Takuhi Cekem in no time with a special wire.

In the extension of the street, the Nieuwe Binnenweg, is Chiem’s ​​barber “Schorem”, where everything looks like it did in the 1950s. In the course of this business model, the motto also applies to barbers: dogs allowed, women not.

After the cheese, Chiem and Marina are hungry for more. One option would now be one of the many good Indonesian restaurants. But Chiem finds his favorite place even better: “Bierhandel De Pijp” from 1898, a quaint traditional pub with a lot of praised and yet inexpensive cuisine.

At the end there is the pulsating nightlife, the Witte de Withstraat with its countless pubs, cafés and restaurants. What an unforgettable day! Rotterdam always surprises and delights even its residents.

Tips and information

Getting there: Usually, for example with Transavia, Eurowings or KLM to Schiphol / Amsterdam, from there by train to Rotterdam Central Station. You travel from Cologne with the ICE in three hours, with a change in Utrecht, to Rotterdam (

Accommodation: “Hotel New York” in the former headquarters of the Holland-America Line with authentic decoration and a view of the skyline, double rooms from 120 euros, The “Rotterdam” is one of the highlights of the port city as a museum ship – and as a hotel ship with 254 cabins one of the best in Europe, cabin from 80 euros, Alternatively: “CityHub Rotterdam”, original capsule hotel in the center, night from 36 euros,

Information desk:


Art deco in India: Mumbai easily takes on Miami

Z.u It feels strange at the beginning. Residential towers are almost swallowed up by the gray smog. A ball of rattling auto rickshaws clogs the street, nothing works anymore. Their horns mix with the Bollywood pop from the car radio. Welcome to Mumbai, India’s “City of Dreams”. At first glance, anything but a dream destination.

And the second? Maybe yes. Because all of a sudden the chaos clears. A turret with a bright red roof rises between the rows of houses; next to it are elegantly curved balconies and cast iron grilles, ornate verandas and windows that rise up like fountains frozen in ice.

At Bombay, as many residents of Mumbai call their home to this day, most people think of Bollywood’s dream factory. And immeasurable poverty that lives right next to immeasurable wealth. The city of millions on the west coast is often just a stopover for travelers before they take the train trip to Goa’s palm beaches or sail further south in Kerala through the backwaters.

Mumbai can easily compete with Miami

Tourists usually only take the most famous sights in Mumbai: the Gateway of India, for example, this 26-meter-high triumphal arch, next to it the legendary “Taj Mahal Palace Hotel”; the neo-Gothic train station Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or the cave temples on the upstream Elephanta Island.

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India: Mumbai Central Station is one of the most splendid legacies of British colonial rule

However, only a few know: Mumbai is also an art deco metropolis – angular, geometric, a mix of reinforced concrete and red agra sandstone, wood and cast iron, marble, glass blocks and porthole windows. It can easily compete with Miami, the best-known Art Deco city, since Mumbai offers the second largest number of Art Deco buildings worldwide.

These modernist residential buildings, hotels, cinemas and office buildings also tell a hopeful and daring story that began around 1930 and was long forgotten. It sounds like jazz music and plays in hotel ballrooms and bars, where an emerging Indian middle class dreamed of independence.

India’s cultural and commercial metropolis has never lost its hunger for progress. One only has to concentrate more on the walks through the architectural heritage due to the uninterrupted Mumbai symphony of horns and engine noise in order to still feel the “Bombay spirit”.

Art Deco in the south of the city

The best way to explore the unique Art Deco houses in southern Mumbai is along the palm-fringed green area of ​​Oval Maidan and the promenade Marine Drive. “This is extremely beautiful, you can watch it for hours. We call it the eyebrow queen, ”says Atul Kumar.

The architectural activist points to a streamlined building. The 15 “eyebrows” are semicircular window projections that stand out happily due to their green paint in contrast to the yellow of the facade.

Piano keys on the facade: the Art Deco Liberty cinema in Mumbai (India)

Piano keys on the facade: the Liberty Art Deco cinema

Source: Alexandra Eul

The neighboring houses are called “Moonlight”, “Sunshine” and “Palm Court”, designed with imaginative window grilles, magnificent marble and teak entrances as well as colorful terrazzo floors.

Students uncover hidden architectural treasures

Atul Kumar actually works in finance, but art deco is his passion. It is part of a citizens’ initiative that, together with the conservation architect Abha N. Lambah, fought to ensure that Mumbai’s unique architectural combination became a World Heritage Site: In the second half of the 19th century, the public buildings were built in the Victorian-Gothic style, at the beginning of the 20th The Art Deco buildings were added in the 19th century. The “spectacular ensemble” has been added to the World Heritage List, according to Unesco’s statement.

Atul Kumar is now running a second project: together with two architects and a designer, he tracks down other Art Deco buildings all over Mumbai and documents the finds 651 buildings have now been entered on an interactive map. “And we’re not even halfway through,” says Kumar happily.

In the meantime, he also goes to schools: The classes go through the metropolis as “deco detectives” and search for hidden architectural treasures. They have already found three more.

You can register for the guided tours that Kumar and his team offer along the Oval Maidan at the weekend on the Art Deco Mumbai website. However, the tours are currently suspended due to the corona pandemic.

Expression of the striving for a modern India

In the past, when Mumbai was still standing on seven islands, the Arabian Sea was still here. But an ambitious land reclamation measure was followed by a construction boom in the 1930s to meet the demands of the growing middle and upper classes.

It was young Indian architects who built the first Art Deco houses on the Oval Maidan under strict conditions from the British, inspired by their studies in Europe. The Indian “deco masters” created their very own style here, enriched with traditional and mythological motifs from India and Egypt – which is why there is often talk of Indo-Deco.

But above all, their modern buildings held a message to the colonial masters. Opposite, a few meters away on the other side of the Oval Maidan, the British had erected Victorian-Gothic symbols of their colonial power that were visible from afar for decades: the Bombay High Court, the university or the 85 meter high Rajabai Clock Tower in the style of Big Ben .

The contrast couldn’t be greater. “There was an effort for a modern India, for a free society. The first signs of this were evident in the new architecture. Freedom came later, however, ”says Atul Kumar. In 1947, the year of Indian independence.

Enthusiasm for films attracted people to the cinema

It was the same time that Mumbai’s elite lifestyle was fashionable. Enthusiasm for films attracted people to the new Art Deco film palaces such as the Regal Cinema in Colaba, Mumbai’s very first Art Deco building, or the imposing Eros Cinema in Churchgate.

Female figure in a niche: the Goodwill cinema on Grant Road in Mumbai (India)

A female figure in a niche: the Goodwill cinema on Grant Road

Source: The Image Bank Unreleased / Getty Images

The building resembles a wedding cake because it rises in rows topped by a tower. Or the Liberty Cinema in Marine Lines. Cinema films are still shown on the shelves and in the Liberty; a visit is definitely worthwhile.

At that time, the people of Mumbai were “caught” by their enthusiasm for “the streamlined, jazz-like style of Art Deco”, wrote the Indian author Naresh Fernandes in his book “Taj Mahal Foxtrot” (only in English).

Jazz conquered the ballrooms of the hotels

At the same time, jazz music conquered the city’s hotel ballrooms, especially in the “Taj Mahal Palace Hotel”. In the 1930s, the first African-American jazz musicians played in big bands and inspired Indian musicians to adapt their fast-paced swing.

Mumbai soon had its own jazz stars such as Goa-born Antonio Xavier Vaz aka Chic Chocolate, who is considered the “Indian Louis Armstrong”. Or the jazz trumpeter Frank Fernand, who was looking for ways to give “western” jazz an Indian touch.

“At its peak, jazz seemed to perfectly embody the spirit of Bombay,” writes Naresh Fernandes. “A slightly wild port city that knew that a melody sounds much better if there is room for instruments with very different timbre and sound.” But, Fernandes continues, “this era is over.”

Jazz in India: cool sessions are the order of the day in Mumbai's clubs and lounges

Everything jazzed: cool sessions are announced in Mumbai’s clubs and lounges

Credit: mauritius images / Dinodia Photo

Not quite. There are still shops where Bombay’s jazz spirit can be felt. Every Saturday from 10pm there is, for example, “Late Night Jazz” in the lounge restaurant “Veranda” in Bandra, with changing gigs, at least that was before the Corona crisis.

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PLUS PRINT Airen in India / Kultur Airen aka Marko Konstroffer

Further to the sea, right on Marine Drive, lined with Art Deco buildings, there are regular jazz concerts in the Tata Theater of the National Center for the Performing Arts – as well as the annual “NCPA International Jazz Festival”.

And in some bars and cafes like “Rodeo Drive” or “Bandra Vibes” couples are spinning on the dance floor. When asked why they love to dance to swing music, the answer is often: “I feel so free!”

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Palitana in India: The Jains wear masks to avoid accidentally inhaling and killing a mosquito

Tips and information

Getting there: For example, usually with Lufthansa or Air India non-stop from Frankfurt.

Accommodation: “Taj Mahal Palace” is considered the best address (, from 307 euros per double room. The neighboring “Hotel Harbor View” is an art deco hotel, from 101 euros per double room (

Art Deco Tours: Architectural walk “Gothic & Art Deco”, Five Senses Tours, from 46 euros,; Art deco tours of one and a half hours on weekends, from 35 euros,

Other tips:

The author is one of several media ambassadors India-Germany of the Robert Bosch Foundation, she has been reporting from Mumbai for two months.

This text is from the WELT AM SONNTAG. We would be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

WELT AM SONNTAG from March 22, 2020

Source: World on Sunday


World trip: pure happiness in Burma (Myanmar), the land of smiles

“I would like to thank all of you for visiting our country, because I know how we are reported abroad,” says the Burmese travel guide when he visits the World Heritage Site of Bagan with its around 2,000 pagodas. Even after the eviction of around 700,000 Rohingya who are now stuck in Bangladesh as refugees, I actually didn’t want to visit Burma – and I’m glad that I did in the end.

The pictures of the Muslim Rohingya that ran aground in Bangladesh went around the world and burned into my memory. An attack by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on Burmese targets resulted in an escalation of violence in August 2017.

Burma’s military are said to have used the attacks as justification for the systematic displacement of the stateless minority. “I don’t want to travel to a country where this happens,” I thought to myself.

Burma (Myanmar): The author on a boat tour on Inle Lake

Happy: the author on a boat tour on Inle Lake

Source: Martin Lewicki / p + o

A friend convinced me to do it anyway. He visited Burma almost ten years ago when the country began to get a taste of democracy while opening up to international tourism. His argument: Tourism is nowhere as virgin as here in Southeast Asia.

And there is another reason to visit Burma. If the tourists stay away with their foreign exchange, this only strengthens the militant groups and at the same time weakens the desire for democracy and the country’s already weak economy. In the end, it punishes the innocent.

The most important religious building in Burma is in Rangoon

And so I end up in Rangoon, Burma’s former capital, which had to cede the title to Naypyidaw in 2005. People have never adopted the new capital, which is eight times the size of Berlin.

Burma (Myanmar): More than two thousand brick religious buildings have been preserved in the historic royal city of Bagan

In the historic royal city of Bagan, over two thousand brick religious buildings have been preserved

Source: Martin Lewicki

Yangon is still the economic center and with a population of over five million it is the most populous city in the country. It is also home to Burma’s most important religious building: the Shwedagon Pagoda.

With an estimated 60 tons of gold, a 76-carat diamond on the tip and surrounded by countless other small pagodas, the temple complex is a kind of Vatican of Buddhism. The visitor imagines himself in a golden and white shimmering dream world while walking barefoot on 60,000 square meters of highly polished marble.

Surprise on a round trip by train

Burma is rarely dressed up like this, the country is rather rustic, but always charming. I feel good even in the metropolis of Yangon, because here I can already feel the legendary friendliness of the locals.

For example, on a three-hour train tour through the outskirts of the city. The “Circular Train” is comparable to the Berlin Ringbahn, but much more entertaining. And so locals use it for family outings on Sundays.

I sit between neatly dressed Burmese and their children, who decorate their faces with traditional Thanaka painting and protect them from the sun. In between, groceries bustle with mandarins, spicy cucumbers and freshly prepared tofu salads.

It is happily consumed and eaten, the locals also brought their own food. Completely unexpectedly, they start offering it to me too. So I can enjoy mini mandarins and hard-boiled eggs.

It is this openness of the Burmese that most impresses me and other foreign travelers. Here I am not seen as a walking bill, but as a guest. I have never been greeted so nicely without a financial interest.

Thousands of temples, clean beaches and the best seafood

The second surprise is the diversity of the country: thousands of Buddhist temples are spread across the country. The highlight is the ancient city of Bagan. There, in the mornings and evenings, you e-scoot around the pagodas in an environmentally friendly way to catch the perfect sunrise and sunset.

Beach vacationers get their money’s worth at Ngapali Beach. Crystal-clear water, clean beaches, beautiful hotel facilities and sensationally good seafood at reasonable prices make you happy. For active vacationers there are trekking tours, for example a three-day hike from Kalaw to Inle Lake with overnight stays with local families.

And at Inle Lake, the second largest inland water in the country, you can admire floating gardens and villages on the water. In the evening you can treat yourself to a glass of wine at a winery above the lake with a picturesque view. These are just a few of the attractions Burma has to offer.

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Thailand: Mothers with their children on a pedal boat in Bangkok. They wear mouthguards to protect against the corona virus

Until mid-March, the corona virus hardly affected my trip around the world, because I was lucky with my country selection. So I was able to spend three weeks in Burma until I was forced to change my plans. More on that in the next part.

Former parts of the “One Way Ticket” series

The “One Way Ticket” column appears every two weeks.


Paris, London, Berlin: Pay attention to the city’s furniture

Klein test for lovers of city trips: Imagine that you go to the subway. In London. New York. Paris. Shoo away all known buildings, all sightseeing highlights of these cities from your imagination, just try to visualize the way, the sidewalks, the pavement, the street signs, finally the entrance to the subway, down the stairs.

Every bet that you saw three different paths in front of you three times. To enter very differently designed subway entrances.

You probably imagined the last one as similar to the one in our photo: Curved cast iron with an exuberant “Métropolitain” sign, this is just as Paris as the Eiffel Tower. Today only 86 metro entrances look like this, but they act as landmarks in the city.

Stops, fountains, kiosks – everything shapes the city

Every big city that is self-respecting has its own design language, and this is not only evident in the big picture, in the monuments, palaces and squares. It is also the small things in the urban space that shape the face of a city, the stops, fountains, the kiosks, letter boxes and waste baskets.

The Italian architect and urban scientist Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani has dedicated a book to them: “Significant trivialities” examines European cities for what the author calls “furnishings”.

Public toilet on Rüdesheimer Platz in Berlin

Decorated in simple green but richly decorated: a public toilet on Rüdesheimer Platz in Berlin

Source: pa / Markus C. Hurek

Some of this street furniture has become famous: the red telephone booth with crowns above the lattice windows is as much a part of London as the advertising column of Berlin. Limestone and basalt pavement art brought Lisbon a reputation for being the “capital of black lace sidewalks”.

Lisbon is known for its limestone and basalt pavement

Lisbon is known for its limestone and basalt pavement art

Credit: picture alliance / imageBROKER

Other of these little things are not noticeable: bollards, fences, lights, the way the street names are marked. And yet they too are firmly anchored in the culture of a city and contribute to their flair.

Fierce debates over the London phone booth

Lampugnani shows how great the zeal for designing these “micro-architectures” could be in many historical reviews. The city became bigger and bigger as industrialization progressed, and the urban space as an “apartment of the collective”, as Walter Benjamin put it, became more and more important.

A necessary equipment included the public toilets, for which the city architects came up with all sorts of things. There were playful tin houses, massive pavilions, half-timbered buildings, even a combination of an advertising column and urinal was tried out – but the audience failed.

You don't need them anymore - and yet the red phone booths are very popular in London

You don’t need them anymore – and yet the red phone booths are very popular in London

Source: Getty Images

Until London’s red phone booth finally stood, there was a lot of experimentation with wood, concrete or cast iron and teak doors; British Telecom’s unfortunate idea of ​​having the houses sprayed yellow even led to a parliamentary debate.

France’s first telephone booths were made of oak wood, lined with oilcloth on the inside, they had armrests made of dark red velvet, in some of them there was even a seat, lamp and notepad. Comfortable places of discretion – “modern confessionals,” said the Paris press.

Today, since mankind has made more calls than ever before, the telephone booths have disappeared from the cityscape, and the public telephones that were last equipped with nasty glass covers were no longer decorative.

Well-known architects designed drinking halls

There are also hardly any drinking halls left. They became popular from the middle of the 19th century and were primarily used in Germany to popularize alcohol-free refreshments, sparkling water, tea and coffee.

Using these small architectures to give a street a special eye-catcher, to create a miniature structure that was functional, but at the same time beautiful, contemporary and possibly cosmopolitan, was a task that also attracted well-known names. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s drinking hall in Dessau has been in operation again for several years.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's drinking hall in Dessau

The drinking hall in Dessau, designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1932, was demolished in 1962. In the meantime, however, they are again available in a contemporary interpretation

Source: pa / dpa / Hendrik Schmidt

Martin Gropius designed drinking halls for both Berlin and Paris, with revealing differences: the Berlin kiosk stood on robust cast iron columns, which for the Parisians, on the other hand, was gracefully and richly ornamented – even the small pieces of furniture were supposed to contribute to the character of a city.

Very different solutions for the traffic lights

Even for simple functional objects, whose task is so clear that from today’s perspective there can only be one form for it, very different solutions were initially found: The world’s first electric traffic light was in Cleveland in 1914 – with only two colors.

Berlin only followed ten years later with a traffic tower, the horizontal lights of which were switched on by a policeman. A traffic light was set up in Milan, the four-color signal system with double lights was so complicated that it immediately led to a mega congestion.

Berlin - the traffic light at Potsdamer Platz

Germany’s first traffic light was created in 1924 at Potsdamer Platz. At the time, a security guard with a stopwatch was sitting in the signal tower, flipping the gearshift lever and lighting the lamps

Source: pa / ZB / Peer Grimm

The dry lecturer tone of Lampugnanis is a little tiring, but the many historical photos in the volume cheer up. In this way you learn a lot about the design of house numbers, manhole covers, border borders, park benches and sidewalk edges – all “indications from which you can read the development of the city as a whole by way of example”.

A book that opens your eyes, a win for your next city trip – when it will finally be possible again.

Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani: “Significant trivialities. Little things in the city ”, Wagenbach, 192 pages, 30 euros

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Geography quiz, part 6

This text is from the WELT AM SONNTAG. We would be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

WELT AM SONNTAG from March 29, 2020



Corruption in Mexico: trembling before the police traffic light trick

Long-distance travel corruption

Shivering before the police traffic light trick in Mexico

Our author actually thought he was relaxed about contact with police officers and border guards. But a visit to Mexico made him very unsettled. There the trap snapped shut just behind the airport.

| Reading time: 3 minutes

Police control in Mexico: Vacationers in Mexico City are asked to checkout quickly Police control in Mexico: Vacationers in Mexico City are asked to checkout quickly

Police control: In Mexico City, vacationers are asked to checkout quickly

Credit: picture alliance / AP Photo / Rebecca Blackwel

MNobody wants to get into conflict with the law. Especially not abroad. But how do you react when the worst comes to the worst? As a traveler, I look back on some encounters with the police – like back then in Mexico.

The trap snapped shut just behind Mexico City Airport. Still tired from the long haul, I drove the newly taken rental car through the traffic.

An eight-lane avenue, stop-and-go, wild honking, thick air, police officers with shrill whistles. I just wanted to get out of the juggernaut as quickly as possible, over a lonely country road towards the Mexican evening sky.

Corrupt police officers in Mexico

The traffic light turned red, but a policeman waved the traffic anyway. His colleague stopped me 50 meters away. “ID card! Driving license! ”He barked. “You ran a red light!”

What is the best tactic now, it shot through my head: Stupid and only speak German? Demand his superior in the same command tone? Or do it incredibly friendly and hope for mercy?

In short: tactic number three has failed. “But your colleague has …” I tried to justify myself. But the summoned policeman absolutely didn’t want to remember anything. My travel budget shrunk considerably.

They call it “Mordida” in Mexico: the “bite”. A cute paraphrase for the institutionalized corruption system. If you look at the Federal Foreign Office website according to the rules of conduct, it only says diplomatically: “Do not contest the requested travel expenses or discuss their legality.”

Fear of returning to Mexico City

I actually thought I was relaxed about the contact with police officers, customs officers and border guards. I know that one should swallow the barracks yard tone on US immigration as contradictively as possible. Or that Cuban police officers can be pretty cool – for example, if you ignore the speed limit on the empty highways.

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Incorrect parking in Croatia can be expensive if lawyers want to make a profit

In addition, funny police anecdotes always come out well at a dinner with friends, especially when you have felt quite queasy in the respective situation.

In Bolivia, for example, when a young police officer arrested me and presented me at the station because I had overlooked a weathered one-way street sign. I won’t forget his face when he was folded up by his superior.

But the Mexican traffic light trick unsettled me profoundly: from then on I sensed a policeman around every corner. And trembled even before returning to Mexico City.

In fact, the next challenge was already waiting there: “Our parking lot is just around the corner, you only have to drive ten meters back into the one-way street,” said the hotelier. “But if there is a police officer, you drive around the block once.”

Of course there was one! And the trip around the block turned into an one-hour odyssey through one-way streets, markets and poor areas – and that even without a navigation system or city map.

“You should actually be in the Tegel prison”

At least in Germany I’m sure. I thought so far. “Almost done, right at home,” I was always happy when I passed the passport control in Frankfurt. But the other day I was stopped: “Please follow me,” said one inspector and I found myself on the guard.

“You shouldn’t be here at all,” said the official, while his colleague posted himself broadly in front of the door. “You should actually be in the Tegel prison. Or at least someone with your name. ”

I wavered between horror and laughter. A call to Tegel clarified: my alter ego was not exhausted. I’ll meet him at some point – we definitely have a lot to tell each other.

Oliver Gerhard from Berlin blogs

Border guards discover the longest smuggler tunnel to date

The longest smuggler tunnel between Mexico and the USA, according to US border guards, has now been discovered. This is supposed to be luxuriously equipped with a rail system and elevator.

Source: WELT / Sebastian Struwe


From Frankfurt to Berlin: virtual tour of museums

Apostponed is not canceled. Next time. Most certainly. There is always something in between. No time. No opportunity. No more vacation day. There are so many great museums in this country, and each one delights visitors in a unique way.

But most travelers usually only manage to book a city museum trip for the major blockbuster exhibitions. Although so many museums are on the to-do lists of those who love to travel, all too often good will remains. Now there are new ways to conveniently work through the to-do list.

There are more than 6,800 museums in Germany, with around 114 million visitors a year. And now that they’re closed, museums are sorely missing. But: More and more houses have been digitizing their holdings for a long time and making them virtually accessible bit by bit.

The corona pandemic is accelerating the trend: many museum directors react flexibly, enable new online tours or present individual exhibits on the Internet. Stroll and be amazed from the living room.

also read

Art in Corona times

The museums communicate their offers on their websites, the digital tours can also be found on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, often tagged with #MuseumFromHome or #ClosedbutOpen – closed but open. So it is worth discovering the museums from a new perspective. Here we present the ten most ambitious virtual free vernissages in Germany.

Frankfurt: Great cinema near Schirn and Städel

It was planned for spring 2020: with my mother, I wanted the spectacular exhibition “Fantastische Frauen. Surreal worlds from Meret Oppenheim to Frida Kahlo ”at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, which actually runs until mid-May. But then Corona intervened.

Fortunately, it now turns out that the Schirn is actually showing the exhibition digitally, with pictures, stories and quotes by Frida Kahlo, Meret Oppenheim, Claude Cahun and Leonora Carrington. There is also a video tour, podcasts as “Art for the Ears” and knowledgeable “Schirn Shortcuts”, in which works are served as three-minute art nibbles (

Great! By the way, my 81-year-old mother discovered this virtual exhibition. Now I can take a tour with her, each in front of her screen, and enjoy art together.

Digital journey through time: The Städel Museum in Frankfurt offers a virtual reality tour through the reconstructed museum rooms from 1878

Digital journey through time: The Städel Museum in Frankfurt offers a virtual reality tour through the reconstructed museum rooms from 1878

Source: Städel Museum

A virtual leap further goes to the nearby Städel Museum in Frankfurt, which is considered a pioneer of digitization. There is a digital, well-curated collection from 700 years of art history and an online course on art from 1750 to the present day.

Exciting: The five-part podcast series “Finding van Gogh” embarks on the search for the last large portrait of Vincent van Gogh, the “Portrait of Dr. Gachet ”, which has been missing from the public eye for three decades (, then click “Digital”).

There is even a virtual journey through time through the museum, conveniently on the desktop, tablet or even on the smartphone with the free app for the virtual reality glasses Samsung Gear VR. You can stroll through the reconstructed museum rooms from 1878 on the Schaumainkai (

Munich: Round trips in the German Museum

Here you can spend days, oh what, weeks and feel smarter by the minute. The Deutsches Museum in Munich and its locations at the Schleißheim and Bonn flight yards are digitally “always open”, it says on its website.

The virtual offer is incredibly diverse. In one-hour videos “Science for everyone”, there are current topics from science and technology – such as “The discrete mathematics of democracy” or “Superfood from the 3D printer”.

The Deutsches Museum offers tours through space and lessons about Copernicus, Galilei and Kepler

The Deutsches Museum offers tours through space and lessons about Copernicus, Galilei and Kepler

Source: German Museum

Virtual tours through shipping, aviation and space travel can be seen with 360-degree photographs. Round trips through space are offered, as well as lessons on Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Earth satellites. The free app with science snacks has already 100,000 downloads.

Demonstrations also go digital: for example flash shows and experiments with nitrogen; and in the podcast as “Museum to Hear” there are contributions with insights behind the scenes of research on objects and exhibitions in the German Museum – from cryptology to particle physics. Particularly popular: a virtual walk on the moon (, click on “digital offers” there).

Essen: Van Gogh in the Folkwang Museum

Germany’s art critics have just voted the Folkwang Museum in Essen “Museum of the Year”. The German department of the International Association of Art Critics AICA justified the decision with the fact that the house always combines its important collection with works by Paul Cézanne, Gustave Courbet, Max Beckmann or Otto Dix “with thematically current special exhibitions”.

The Museum Folkwang is expanding its digital presence, launched its own app and expanded its partnership with the free cultural platform Google Art Project.

Vincent van Gogh very close: The gig pixelated online exhibition from the Folkwang Museum in Essen shows every brushstroke and splash of color of the genius

Vincent van Gogh very close: The gig pixelated online exhibition from the Folkwang Museum in Essen shows every brushstroke and splash of color of the genius

Source: Folkwang / googleandarts

The virtual exhibition “Vincent van Gogh very close” shows one of his icons: Consisting of over a billion pixels, the digital version of van Gogh’s “Rhonebarken” allows zooming in down to the smallest details of the painting. With the zoom function you can see even the smallest brushstrokes of the genius ( as well as about

Berlin: Nefertiti and T-Rex Tristan in the museum

The bust of Nefertiti, Schliemann’s Troja collection, Édouard Manet’s “Winter Garden” or Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker” are among the public’s favorites. The Museum Island normally attracts almost three million visitors from all over the world every year with its collections in the Old and New Museums, in the Old National Gallery, in the Pergamon and Bode Museum.

Looking Nefertiti in the eye: The Museum Island in Berlin shows virtual tours through its collections - from antiquity to modern times

Looking Nefertiti in the eye: The Museum Island in Berlin shows virtual tours through its collections – from antiquity to modern times

Source: State Museums of Berlin,

Those who are currently grieving to miss Raphael’s current grandiose Madonna exhibition in the Gemäldegalerie will have a surprising opportunity to catch up. “Even when our museums are currently closed, visitors do not have to do without the masterpieces of the great Raphael,” says Michael Eissenhauer, general director of the State Museums in Berlin and director of the picture gallery and sculpture collection. The catalog is in honor of the master of the Italian Renaissance “Raphael in Berlin” available for download on the website of the State Museums – free of charge (

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'Self portrait' by Italian Renaissance master Raphael displayed at the exhibition 'Raffaello' at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome, Italy on March 4, 2020. Rome hosts the biggest ever exhibition entirely devoted to Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, better known as Raphael, on the 500th anniversary of the death of the High Renaissance artist and architect. The exhibition, titled simply 'Raphael' is scheduled from 5 March until 2 June. Photo: Eric Vandeville / ABACAPRESS.COM |

All of the houses now offer virtual tours, including the Bode Museum: 61 of its rooms can be explored thanks to 360-degree panoramas (

In the Pergamon Museum you can enjoy an unexpected 3D view of the hall with the Pergamon Altar, which will remain closed until 2023 due to renovation (

A virtual tour is also worthwhile in the nearby Museum of Natural History in Berlin-Mitte. Because the best-preserved dinosaur skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex – with its 1.50 meter head – can still be admired online, although Tristan, like the T-Rex, was actually out of town. The rattling frame was dismantled and his bones lent to Copenhagen (

“In the picture gallery it looks like Hempels under the sofa”

There is simply too much praise! Not with Tilman Krause. We really don’t need the Museum of Modern Art, for example. In his video column, Krause explains why Berlin is overwhelmed with its art.

Source: WELT / Tilman Krause

This text is from the WELT AM SONNTAG. We would be happy to deliver them to your home regularly.

WELT AM SONNTAG from April 5, 2020



From Trier to London: trips with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Whe studied political science or German philology with a minor in economics in Frankfurt, Marburg or West Berlin in the 1970s, of course he had to buy a few “blue books”. The Emsigen traveled to the GDR for this, there was the blue-bound Marx-Engels edition at a ridiculously low price.

Most of the time you came back a bit confused, because the small diamond of the real existing state socialism did not match the fundamental insights that had been debated in the seminar on “Capital”. After all, when you were “over there” you could snap monumental Marx heads.

At 7.10 meters, the one in Karl-Marx-Stadt was the second tallest portrait bust in the world. Where was there such a thing in the west?

In the footsteps of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

The city of the Marxkopf record has long been called Chemnitz again. And “scientific socialism” is so much history that two years ago Trier dared to put up a statue of his famous son: Marx in bronze, 5.50 meters high, a gift from China for the philosopher’s 200th birthday.

In Trier there is also a Karl-Marx-Haus, Karl-Marx-Platz and Karl-Marx-Traffic lights. In the house in which he grew up there is now a one-euro shop. And Karl-Marx-Straße leads to the red light district.

Karl-Marx-Haus: the birthplace of the philosopher in Trier

Karl-Marx-Haus: the birthplace of the philosopher in Trier

Credit: picture alliance / imageBROKER

All this can be found in the travel guide “On the trail of Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels” by Michael Driever (Know-How Verlag), which does not trace the life of the two revolutionaries without a sense for the bizarre. You can find out where the two lived in Berlin, Cologne, Brussels, Manchester, London, what they wrote there, how they met – and how they are remembered today.

Cooperation in Paris and Brussels

The collaboration between Marx and Engels began in the “Café de la Régence” in Paris, which Rousseau and Voltaire had already visited. They took an aperitif, then another, and talked themselves into it. The café later moved, today there is a bookshop in those rooms, after all.

Most of the houses in Brussels no longer exist in which the Marx family, plagued by financial difficulties, and the wealthy Wuppertal factory son Engels lived very differently. But the Maison de Cygne on Grand Place is still standing.

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Friedrich Engels was the son of a textile entrepreneur and was therefore familiar with the reality of factory work at an early age

Today an upscale restaurant, then a pub and meeting place for the German Workers’ Association. Here Karl Marx had his big appearances, after the politics there was a party, sometimes Marx’s wife Jenny made a vocal performance.

Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto in a nondescript house on Rue Jean d’Ardenne. It was printed in London in February 1848, and shortly afterwards Marx was arrested and thrown out of the country.

A climbing wall is reminiscent of the communist leader

He went to London, where he sat on G7 for years. That was the name of the place in the British Library where his main work was written: “The Capital”.

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Contrary to what his desk suggests, Marx was not known for his order

Of course, there was also a breeding in London, as Wilhelm Liebknecht’s memory of a pub crawl testifies, on which a drunk Marx rioted, only to run away from the police with an “agility that I would never have expected him to do”.

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When Marx died in 1883, Engels made the funeral speech at Highgate Cemetery. There is no grave from Engels, the ashes were scattered in the sea at Eastburn in 1895, his favorite bathing place.

The most remarkable of all monuments in Salford near Manchester reminds of this man who managed to unite the existence of a manufacturer, communist leader and philosopher in one person: a climbing wall in the form of a bearded skull.

Friedrich Engels as a climbing wall in Salford

At the beard of the philosopher: Friedrich Engels as a climbing wall in Salford

Credit: picture alliance / empics

This text is from the WELT AM SONNTAG. We would be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

Packshot WamS S1 05_04_20[1]



Flanders in Belgium: Bruges and Ghent honor Jan van Eyck

EIt’s like time travel. You can have the best tourist guide, the best weather and the best attractions, but all too often the feeling of coming closer to the past does not want to arise. The magical moment when you think you can catch a glimpse of the past cannot be forced. A lot has to come together – like in Bruges.

On this cool afternoon, the otherwise crowded medieval old town is deserted. The way to the Beguinage leads over the cat-humped bridge that spans a lake called Minnewater. Swans glide across the water.

In the Beguinage, this jewel of world cultural heritage, previously unmarried women lived together who valued a self-determined life in the city. Today the refuge is inhabited by sisters of the Benedictine order and other single women.

The Beguinage in Bruges (Belgium): previously unmarried women lived here who wanted to live independently

The Beguinage in Bruges: previously unmarried women lived here who wanted to live independently

Credit: picture alliance / dpa / Visit Flanders

Whitewashed gables behind trees that cast long shadows. The sky turns red. A sister makes her way through rustling leaves. Otherwise it is silent.

At this moment you may really think everything is possible. Even that the painter Jan van Eyck, who lived in the West Flemish city in the first half of the 15th century, bends around the corner with his bordeaux-red headdress reminiscent of a turban and takes a critical look at time travelers from the 21st century.

Flanders honors the painter Jan van Eyck

2020 is Jan van Eyck’s year in Flanders. Bruges’ neighboring city of Ghent does not promise modestly “the largest Jan van Eyck exhibition that has ever existed”, although that Museum currently closed due to the corona virus is.

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The program planned in Gent in honor of Jan van Eyck bears the youthful motto “OMG! Van Eyck was here “, it is an allusion to the signature “Johannes de Eyck fuit hic” (Jan van Eyck was here). It is emblazoned on the famous painting “The Arnolfini Wedding”, which is exhibited today in the National Gallery in London. Van Eyck was the first artist to leave anonymity at the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.

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As realistic as color photography 500 years later: Jan van Eyck's portrait of a man with a blue chaperone, around 1428

Van Eyck died in Bruges in 1441. The West Flemish city keeps two of his paintings in its Groeninge Museum – and thus already owns ten percent of his total oeuvre, which consists of no more than 20 works.

Realistic painting styles arouse the interest of doctors

One of the two pictures is a portrait of Jan van Eyck’s wife Margareta at the age of 33. With a hint of a smile and a slightly mocking look, she looks down at the viewer.

She has plucked eyebrows and a very idiosyncratic hairstyle in which the hair has been stuffed into two wire horns. After the artist’s death, Margareta continued to run the studio with several students for years, reports city guide Pol Mulier. So she seems to have been very self-confident, and this is exactly what the portrait conveys.

Belgium: Jan van Eyck has left a manageable work of 20 works - here is the portrait of his wife Margareta, which can be seen in the Groeninge Museum in Bruges

Jan van Eyck has left a manageable work of 20 works – here the portrait of his wife Margareta, which can be seen in the Groeningemuseum in Bruges

Credit: picture alliance / dpa

The other picture is a major work of the painter, his largest painting after the Ghent Altarpiece: the “Madonna of the Canon Joris van der Paele”. It shows the client Joris van der Paele, a canon who is as old as he is full of stones, in a seemingly familiar chat with the Blessed Virgin Mary together with the baby Jesus, a guardian angel and a parish saint.

The fascinating thing about it is the extremely realistic way of painting, which has even aroused the interest of non-specialist researchers. “There are doctors who have examined what diseases van der Paele had,” says Mulier. “You have found five or six ailments.”

The most striking are a thick vein on the temple and a cramp-like finger position, which indicates rheumatism. In the armor of the patron saint, Jan van Eyck standing in front of himself is reflected very small.

The beauty of Bruges and Ghent lasted for centuries

The painter spent his life in a country that has long ceased to exist: the fairytale Duchy of Burgundy. It was one of the most powerful countries in Europe and ranged from the Dutch Wadden Islands to the French Alps in the 15th century.

The heart of this empire was today’s Belgium with the largest cities in Northern Europe after Paris. Ghent, for example, had 64,000 inhabitants, while the largest German city, Cologne, had only 40,000. While Cologne fell into ruins during the Second World War, the beauty of Bruges and Ghent lasted for centuries.

Ghent and Bruges in Flanders (Belgium)

Source: Infographic The World

Van Eyck’s main work, the Ghent Altarpiece, the Ghent Cathedral of St. Bavo is still in the church where it was inaugurated in 1432. The technology that Van Eyck used here was so revolutionary that the altar is sometimes celebrated as the founding act of modern painting. Van Eyck was a pioneer in many fields, making him one of the first – if not the first – landscape painter.

Albrecht Dürer visited the altar as a tourist

“One of the most delicious, very sensible consort,” said Albrecht Dürer, who visited the altar in 1521 as a normal tourist. The effect on people at that time has to be imagined as if they had suddenly been shown a high-resolution photo from the 21st century.

The closer you get to the altogether 20 picture panels that make up the altar, the smaller miniatures they dissolve. Around the fountain of life depicted on the main table, for example, 42 different plant species grow on a piece of meadow, including some subtropical ones, as Jan van Eyck might have seen them as emissary of the Prince of Burgundy Philip the Good on his trip to Portugal.

The complexity of the content comes to the stylistic mastery in the form of a theological picture program, which has not yet been completely deciphered – one of the great riddles of art history.

“When I was a little boy I used to sing in the choir,” says tourist guide Guido De Schrijver. “And when the sun was shining, we just ran in and looked at the work a few centimeters away.”

A new visitor center for the altar is currently being built in the back of the cathedral and is scheduled to open in October 2020. The cathedral and its masterpiece will then be brought to life with simulations and interactive modules. Visitors get virtual reality glasses and see everything like Jan van Eyck and his contemporaries, Astrid Van Ingelgom, project manager of the Van Eyck Year in Ghent, promises.

Napoleon and Hitler dragged the altar away

The biggest event of the theme year is the currently closed exhibition “Van Eyck. An Optical Revolution ”in the Museum of Fine Arts (MSK) in Ghent. It brings together ten paintings by the master, half of the entire work. There are also around 100 works from his studio, copies of lost works and those of his late medieval contemporaries.

The focus of the show is on the restored outer panels of the Ghent Altarpiece. At the start of the restoration project that started in 2012, the experts had determined that 70 percent of the altarpieces had been painted over during previous restorations.

Fortunately, the original color layer was still underneath, reports the head of the project, Hélène Dubois. The restoration of the original state not only made the colors appear much stronger and more radiant, but also revealed more details and resulted in a greater depth effect. As a result, the work can now be seen for the first time in centuries as van Eyck and his contemporaries presented it.

Flanders (Belgium): The main panel of the Ghent Altarpiece is being restored in the Ghent Museum of Fine Arts

The main panel of the Ghent Altarpiece is being restored in the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent

Credit: picture alliance / dpa

The “Lamb of God” itself, the main figure of the altar, suddenly has a much more human head after the painting has been removed, it finally symbolizes Jesus. Van Eyck’s original version was repainted in the 16th century, probably to meet the demands of radical Calvinists who considered the representation of God to be blasphemy – similar to today’s Islamic fundamentalists.

The Calvinists destroyed most of the church art in a “picture storm”, but the altar could be hidden in time in the town hall. He was later abducted by Napoleon and Hitler, among others, but miraculously found his way back to where he came from. Today it is a national shrine.

The city skyline in Belgium remains the same to this day

“Van Eyck had incredible powers of observation, he saw everything,” explains Frederica Van Dam, one of the curators of the exhibition. The reflection on the pearls of the Lamb of God is precisely tailored to the lighting conditions in the side chapel, which was intended as the location of the altar. “To do this, van Eyck had to come back to the chapel for months at the same time of day.”

The exhibition makes it clear that at the Burgundian court, van Eyck was in contact with other artists, but also with scientists, intellectuals and technicians from various disciplines, and that their know-how was incorporated into his pictures. “The farm was a cultural melting pot,” said Van Dam. “His environment was extremely important.”

The fascinating thing is that this environment has been largely preserved to this day. When Van Eyck returned, he would find his way around Bruges just as easily as in Ghent.

In the background the main panel of the altar with the “Lamb of God” shows the Ghent “skyline”. Visitors can see for themselves that it is virtually unchanged after almost 600 years. And that’s really quite unique.

Information desk:

Belgium: Tourist guide Pol Mulier in front of a painted reconstruction of Bruges in the time of Jan van Eyck in the 15th century

Tourist guide Pol Mulier in front of a painted reconstruction of Bruges in the time of Jan van Eyck in the 15th century

Credit: picture alliance / dpa


Virtual tour of museums from Paris to New York

HOther cracks run through the paint layer on the frayed canvas like the finest cobwebs. And yet this pearl earring shimmers, sparkles and shines like new. Painted over 355 years ago by the master of light, the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer.

With exactly three brushstrokes of white oil paint placed on a dark primer: one at the bottom of the pearl, one drop-shaped at the top, a swab next to it to reflect the light. It is his most famous painting: “The girl with the pearl earring”. A baroque blockbuster.

You can never get closer to this masterpiece and its genius than in the virtual museum: it is digitized in high resolution, with more than seven million pixels, so that you can also see the brushwork and patina on the screen.

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Zoom in on what is otherwise hidden from the naked eye. Touch. Read the curator’s clever comments – and visit the painting where it hangs: a virtual 3-D tour of the exhibition space in The Hague Mauritshuis Museum.

Relax from your sofa, with your smartphone, tablet or computer. An exclusive visit: as long as you want, as close as you want, when you want, and for free.

Museums offer virtual tours through exhibitions

Today Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) is something like the first virtual superstar among the artists – and thus a prime example of a completely digitized work show. From the “girl with the pearl earring” to the “maid with the milk jug”, all of his 36 surviving paintings are online.

This virtual tour was made possible a few years ago by the collaboration of 18 museums and private collections around the world with the Google Arts & Culture internet project. Since the Vermeer originals are fragile and precious, they have not been allowed to go to traveling exhibitions for a long time – even in their home locations they can only be viewed at a proper distance, if at all (

Only now, in Corona times, when all museums are closed for the time being, does it become clear that online museums with interactive exhibition spaces are also worth a trip for those who otherwise prefer the original. The virtual tour does not replace a real visit, but it is an exciting alternative.

Since Corona, the Google Group’s art project has recorded enormous access rates – and has put new digitized museums and vernissages online every day. In the meantime, more than 2500 worldwide museums and galleries with more than 100,000 works of art for virtual travel are online via this platform; the same digital technology is used that is used in Google Maps.

Even though many museums are cooperating with Google Arts for cost reasons, more and more of them are beginning to digitize their treasures themselves out of necessity or to accompany their curators via YouTube video with their work behind the scenes.

We have put together a selection of the best virtual tours in foreign museums, from Paris to New York.

Paris: Musée d’Orsay and Louvre

The former Gare d’Orsay station on the south bank of the Seine is home to the largest impressionist collection in the world. On 16,000 square meters, more than 4,000 exhibits from the period between 1848 and 1914 are shown.

A virtual visit to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris also leads viewers to Édouard Manet's “Breakfast in the Green” (right)

A virtual visit to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris also leads viewers to Édouard Manet’s “Breakfast in the Green” (right)

Source: Musée d’Orsay

The virtual tour leads through the empty halls, past marble sculptures and the famous station clock from 1900, to selected works – such as van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait”. The museum offers a lot of YouTube videos about special exhibitions (such as Degas), 900 work shows. You can spend hours here! ( such as

The Louvre, the third largest museum in the world, also has several virtual tours, for example through the Small Gallery (Rembrandt, Tintoretto), the Egyptian Pharaohs Collection and the Apollo Gallery with works by Delacroix. Only the “Mona Lisa” is guarded – and remains hidden from virtual visitors (

Vienna: Albertina

The Albertina’s collections include one million works from the 15th to the 21st centuries. They are housed in the Archduke Albrecht Palace, the residence of the Habsburgs. Master drawings – from Michelangelo’s male files to Albrecht Dürer’s “Brown Hare” – can be experienced virtually (

Albrecht Dürer’s “Feldhase” is also animated: The Albertina in Vienna makes the work available virtually via app

Source: Albertina

New: some paintings are animated, for example by Chagall and Matisse, and can be viewed with augmented reality via the app: simply hold your smartphone in the picture (

The Albertina in Vienna also shows Claude Monet's famous water lily ponds virtually

The Albertina in Vienna also shows Claude Monet’s famous water lily ponds virtually

Source: Albertina

London: British Museum and National Gallery

The British Museum in the heart of London allows you to virtually visit the Great Court, the ancient Rosetta Stone and the Egyptian mummies. A great street view visit through close Google collaboration (

The National Gallery collection is also online, offering classics such as Paul Cézanne, Jan van Eyck, Hans Holbein, Rembrandt and William Turner, one of the most important English Romantic painters ( and over

Florence: Uffizi Gallery

The Medici family’s treasury houses one of the oldest art collections in the world. Since 1580, the Uffizi Gallery has impressed with works of painting and sculpture from antiquity to late baroque.

Spread over 50 halls, you can find paintings from the 13th to 18th centuries, including classics by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Tizian or Caravaggio. The museum virtually offers its own highlights:

Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum

The best-known works from the Rijksmuseum collection include “Die Nachtwache” by Rembrandt or Vermeer’s “Maid with milk jug”. Visitors stroll virtually on a street view tour through the entrance hall and rooms ( as well as about

St. Petersburg: State Hermitage Museum

The most famous museum in Russia is also one of the largest in the world. It houses more than three million exhibits, sculptures, archaeological treasures, including 17,000 paintings, including those by Picasso, Leonardo and Rubens.

It is usually so crowded that you only see visitors instead of works of art. The virtual exclusive tour actually leads through the buildings and empty galleries – once alone in the Hermitage with tsar gold and tsar diamonds. Great! (

New York: Guggenheim Museum and MoMA

Here visitors can climb the iconic spiral staircase, also called snail, click for click instead of step by step. In the Guggenheim Museum you can discover works of art from the epochs of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Modernity and the Present. Public favorites are works by Wassily Kandinsky, Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger (

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has a sensational online magazine; 84,000 artworks are shown (

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This text is from the WELT AM SONNTAG. We would be happy to deliver them to your home regularly.

WELT AM SONNTAG from March 29, 2020