Underrated Tourist Spots – Bourtange, Netherlands | Fort Bourtange is a star shaped military fort near Groningen, Netherlands. It was built in 1593 under the orders of William the Silent, leader of the Netherlands. Its purpose was to control the only road between Germany and the city of Groningen, which was unfortunately patrolled by the Spaniards at that time. During the 80-Years-War from 1568 to 1648, the Spaniards had full control over Groningen and the road leading from there to Germany. William the Silent wanted to break off trade between Spanish occupied Groningen and Germany. He decided that it would be optimal to build a fortification on the Bourtange passage, which was the main road leading to Germany.
The star shaped fort was completed in 1593 with a network of canals and lakes used as moats. The fort then housed five garrisons. Soon after its construction, Spanish forces from Groningen battled it. Their attack failed.
Fort Bourtange faced another battle in 1672 against military forces of Prince-Bishop of Münster. This guy really demanded the Fort to surrender! The fort’s governor, Captain Protts, refused. The Münsters replied with a frontal assault. But again the invading army was repelled successfully.
Bourtange was converted into a village in 1851. 110 years later the local government decided to combat the growing problem of decline. Fort Bourtange would be restored and made into a historical museum.
Underrated Tourist Spots – Shirakawa-Go, Japan | Japan is not famous for preserving historic buildings. But there are exceptions. The villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama are a Japanese UNESCO World Heritage Site. These villages are known for their houses constructed in the architectural style “gasshō-zukuri” (合掌造り, prayer-hands construction) Outstanding feature: thatched and steeply slanting roofs resembling two hands joined in prayer. The design is exceptionally strong and allows the houses to withstand the weight of the region’s heavy snowfalls in winter. Houses are quite large for Japanese proportions, with three to four stories encompassed between the low eaves. The densely forested mountains of the region still occupy 95% of all land in the area. Narrow bands of flat lands running the length of the river valley limit the area available for agriculture and homestead development.
The upper storeys of these traditional gasshō-style houses were often set aside for sericulture. Areas below the ground floor were often used for the production of nitre, a raw material for gunpowder.
Underrated Tourist Spots – Bibury, England | This spot is featured on the inside cover of all United Kingdom passports! Bibury is not just a village in Gloucestershire. It is a nationally notable architectural conservation area of the UK. Located on both banks of the River Coln, the village recently became a major destination for tourists visiting the traditional rural Britain. You find tea houses and many historic buildings of the Cotswold District. Bibury even shows up as one of six places in the country featured in Mini-Europe, Brussels. The most outstanding attraction in Bibury is Arlington Row. The picturesque cottages at Artlington Row were built around about 1380 as a monastic wool store. In the 17th century this was converted into cottages for weavers. Bibury has been used as a film and TV location, e.g. for Stardust and Bridget Jones’s Diary.
Funny episode: in 2017 BBC reported that an “ugly” yellow Vauxhall Corsa car parked by an elderly man had been vandalised by tourists, who had earlier complained that it spoilt their photographs. Those tourists I tell you …
Underrated Tourist Spots – Popeye Village, Malta | Popeye Village – also known as Sweethaven Village – has never been a real village. It was built in 1979, and it’s just a group of 19 ramshackle wooden buildings located at Anchor Bay in Malta. That’s 2 miles away from a real village called Melliena. Popeye Village was built as a film set for the production of the 1980 film Popeye (Paramount Pictures / Walt Disney) main actor: Robin Williams. Fortunately the buildings were not de-constructed after the production. Today Popeye Village is open to the public as an open-air museum and family entertainment complex. Veeerry nice :)
Underrated Tourist Spots – Meteora, Greece | Today’s blog post is all about Meteora – spectacular rock formations topped with Greek Orthodox monasteries. ‘Metéora’ means “middle of the sky”. And that really nails it. A formation of immense monolithic pillars and hills-like huge rounded boulders dominates the reason half way between Thessaloniki and Athens. Some of them were chosen to be topped with Eastern Orthodox monasteries in the 14th century. Six monasteries are built on natural conglomerate pillars. But the construction was only a logical consequence of incredible 23,000 years of constant and violent inhabitation of the Meteora region. The oldest known example of a man-made structure here is a stone wall that blocked parts of the entrance to the nearby Theopetra cave. It was constructed as a barrier against cold winds. Don’t forget: by then the Earth was experiencing an ice age. Many old artifacts have been found within the caves near Meteora. No need to say: this underrated tourist spot is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.