Città di Verona, Repubblica italiana

Verona (Italian pronunciation: [veˈroːna] ( listen); Venetian Verona (pron. Veròna); German Bern, Dietrichsbern or Welschbern) is a city in the Veneto, northern Italy, with approx. 265,000 inhabitants and one of the seven chef-lieus of the region. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third of North-Eastern Italy. The metropolitan area of Verona covers an area of 1,426 km2(550.58 sq mi) and has a population of 714,274 inhabitants. It is one of the main tourist destinations in northern Italy, owing to its artistic heritage, several annual fairs, shows, and operas, such as the lyrical season in the Arena, the ancient amphitheatre built by the Romans.

The city has been awarded world heritage site status by UNESCO because of its urban structure and architecture.


The precise details of Verona's early history remain a mystery. The origin of the name Verona is also unknown. One theory is it was a city of the Euganei, who were obliged to give it up to the Cenomani (550 BC). With the conquest of the Vaecame Roman (about 300 BC) Verona became a Roman colonia in 89 BC, and then a municipium in 49 BC; Verona had the franchise in 59.

The city became important because it was at the intersection of several roads. Stilicho defeated Alaric and his Visigoths here in 403. But, after Verona was conquered in (489 AD) the Gothic domination of Italy began; Theodoric built his palace there, and according to Irish legends that's what Verona was named after. It remained under the power of the Goths throughout the Gothic War (535–552), except for of a single day in 541, when the Armenian officer Artabazes made an entrance. The defections that took place among the Byzantine generals with regard to the booty made it possible for the Goths to regain possession of the city. In 552 Valerian vainly endeavoured to enter it, but only when they were fully overthrown, the Goths surrendered it.

In 569 it was taken by Alboin, King of the Lombards, in whose kingdom it was, in a sense, the second most important city. There, Alboin himself was killed by his own wife in 572. The dukes of Treviso often resided there. At Verona Adalgisus, son of Desiderius, in 774 made his last desperate resistance to Charlemagne, who had destroyed the Lombard kingdom. Verona was then the ordinary residence of the kings of Italy, the government of the city becoming hereditary in the family of Count Milo, progenitor of the counts ofSan Bonifacio. From 880 to 951 the two Berengarii resided there. Otto I ceded to Verona the marquisate dependent on the Duchy ofBavaria.

The splendour of the city in those days, dominated by its forty-eight towers, is described in a Latin ode we shall speak of later. The increasing wealth of the burgher families eclipsed the power of the counts, and in 1100 Verona organised itself as a commune. The San Bonifacio could at most hold the office of podestà of the city now and then. Verona, at first undecided, was forced by Vicenza to join the Lombard League. This, however, gave rise to the factions of Guelphs and Ghibellines in Verona. When Ezzelino IV was elected podestà, in 1226, he was able to convert the office into a permanent lordship, and in 1257 he caused the slaughter of 11,000Paduans on the plain of Verona (Campi di Verona). Upon his death the Great Council elected as podestà Mastino della Scala, and he converted the "signoria" into a family possession, though leaving the burghers a share in the government. Failing to be re-elected podestà in 1262, he effected a coup d'état, and was acclaimed capitano del popolo, with the command of the communal troops. It was not without long internal discord that he succeeded in establishing this new office, to which was attached the function of confirming the podestà. In 1272 Mastino was killed by the faction of the nobles.

The reign of his son Alberto as capitano (1277–1302) was one incessant war against the counts of San Bonifacio, who were aided by the House of Este. Of his sons, Bartolomeo, Alboino and Cangrande I, only the last shared the government (1308); he was great as warrior, prince, and patron of the arts; he protected Dante, Petrarch, and Giotto. By war or treaty he brought under his control the cities of Padua (1328), Treviso (1308) and Vicenza.

Alberto was succeeded by Mastino II (1329–1351) and Alberto, sons of Alboino. Mastino continued his uncle's policy, conqueringBrescia in 1332 and carrying his power beyond the Po. He purchased Parma (1335) and Lucca (1339). After the King of France, he was the richest prince of his time. But a powerful league was formed against him in 1337 – Florence, Venice, the Visconti, the Este, and the Gonzaga. After a three years war, the Scaliger dominions were reduced to Verona and Vicenza (Mastino's daughter Regina-Beatrice della Scala married to Barnabò Visconti). Mastino's son Cangrande II (1351–1359) was a cruel, dissolute, and suspicious tyrant; not trusting his own subjects, he surrounded himself with Brandenburg mercenaries. He was killed by his brother Cansignorio (1359–1375), who beautified the city with palaces, provided it with aqueducts and bridges, and founded the state treasury. He also killed his other brother, Paolo Alboino. Fratricide seems to have become a family custom, for Antonio (1375–87), Cansignorio's natural brother, slew his brother Bartolomeo, thereby arousing the indignation of the people, who deserted him when Gian Galeazzo Visconti of Milanmade war on him. Having exhausted all his resources, he fled from Verona at midnight (19 October 1387), thus putting an end to the Scaliger domination, which, however, survived in its monuments.

The year 1387 is also the year of the famous Battle of Castagnaro, between Giovanni Ordelaffi, for Verona, and John Hawkwood, forPadua, who was the winner.

Antonio's son Canfrancesco in vain attempted to recover Verona (1390).

Guglielmo (1404), natural son of Cangrande II, was more fortunate; with the support of the people, he drove out the Milanese, but he died ten days after, and Verona then submitted to Venice (1405). The last representatives of the Scaligeri lived at the imperial court and repeatedly attempted to recover Verona by the aid of popular risings.

From 1508 to 1517 the city was in the power of the Emperor Maximilian I. There were numerous outbreaks of the plague, and in 1629–33Italy was struck by its worst outbreak in modern times. In Verona an estimated 33,000 people (of a total of 54,000) died in 1630–1631.[2]

Verona was occupied by Napoleon in 1797, but on Easter Monday the populace rose and drove out the French. It was then that Napoleonmade an end of the Venetian Republic. Verona became Austrian territory when Napoleon signed the Treaty of Campo Formio in October, 1797. The Austrians took control of the city on January 18, 1798. It was taken from Austria by the Treaty of Pressburg in 1805 and became part of Napoleon's Kingdom of Italy, but was returned to Austria following Napoleon's defeat in 1814, when it became part of the Austrian-held Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia. In 1866, following the Six Weeks War, Verona, along with the rest of Venetia, became part of Italy.

In 1866, on the anniversary of the defeat of Königrätz, the Austrians evacuated Verona, their strongest fortress in Venetia, which thus became Italian.

The advent of fascism added another dark chapter to the annals of Verona. As throughout Italy, the Jewish population was hit by the anti-Semitic laws (1938), and after the invasion byNazi Germany in 1943, deportations to Nazi concentration camps. An Austrian Fort (now a church, the Santuario della Madonna di Lourdes), was used to incarcerate and torture allied troops, Jews and anti-fascist suspects especially after 1943, when Verona became part of the Repubblica di Salò or "Social Republic".

As in Austrian times, Verona became of great strategic importance to the regime. Galeazzo Ciano, Benito Mussolini's son in law was accused of plotting against the republic during amock trial staged by the Nazi and fascist hierarchy in Castelvecchio. Ciano was executed on the banks of the Adige with many other officers on what is today Via Colombo. This marked another turning point in the escalation of violence that would only end with the final liberation by allied troops and partisans in 1945.

After World War II, as Italy entered into NATO, Verona acquired once again its strategic importance, due to its closeness to the iron curtain. The city became the seat of SETAF (South European Allied Terrestrial Forces) and had during the whole duration of the Cold War period a strong military presence, especially American, which is decreasing only in these recent years. Now Verona is an important and dynamic city, very active in terms of economy, and also a very important tourist attraction because of its history, where the Roman past lives side by side with the Middle Age Verona, which in some senses brings about its architectural and artistic motifs.


The play Romeo and Juliet written by William Shakespeare was based in Verona. One of Shakespeare's early comedies was titled The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The play "Taming of the Shrew", also by Shakespeare, is based in Verona.

Main sights

Because of the value and importance of its many historical buildings, Verona has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Verona preserved many ancient Roman monuments, no longer in use, in the early Middle Ages, but much of this and much of its early medieval edifices were destroyed or heavily damaged by the earthquake of 3 January 1117, which led to a massive Romanesque rebuilding. The Carolingian period Versus de Verona contains an important description of Verona in the early medieval era.

Roman edifices

Verona Arena

The Roman military settlement in what is now the centre of the city was to expand through the cardi and decumani that intersect at right angles. This structure has been kept to the present day and is clearly visible from the air. Further development has not reshaped the original map. Though the Roman city with its basalt-paved roads is mostly hidden from view it stands virtually intact about 6 m below the surface. Most palazzi and houses have cellars built on Roman artifacts that are rarely accessible to visitors. Piazza delle Erbe, near the Roman forum was rebuilt by Cangrande I and Cansignorio della Scala I, lords of Verona, using material (such as marble blocks and statues) from Roman spas and villas.

Verona is famous for its Roman amphitheatre, the Arena found in the city's largest piazza, the Piazza Bra. Completed around 30 AD, it is the third largest in Italy after Rome's Colosseum and the arena at Capua. It measures 139 metres long and 110 metres wide, and could seat some 25,000 spectators in its 44 tiers of marble seats. The ludi (shows and gladiator games) performed within its walls were so famous that they attracted spectators from far beyond the city. The current two-story façade is actually the internal support for the tiers; only a fragment of the original outer perimeter wall in white and pink limestone from Valpolicella, with three stories remains.The interior is very impressive and is virtually intact, and has remained in use even today for public events, fairs, theatre and open-aired opera during warm summer nights.

There is also a variety of other Roman monuments to be found in the town, such as the Roman theatre of Verona. This theatre was built in the 1st century BC, but through the ages had fallen in disuse and had been built upon to provide housing. In the 18th century Andrea Monga, a wealthy Veronese, bought all the houses that in time had been built over the theatre, demolished them, and saved the monument. Not far from it is the Ponte di Pietra ("Stone Wall Bridge"), another Roman landmark that has survived to this day.


Porta Borsari

The Arco dei Gavi (Gavi Arch) was built in the 1st century AD, and is famous for having the name of the builder (architect Lucius Vitruvius Cordone) engraved on it, a really rare case in the architecture of the epoque. It originally straddled the main Roman road into the city, now the Corso Cavour. It had been demolished by the French troops in 1805 and was rebuilt in 1932.

Nearby is the Porta Borsari, an archway at the end of Corso Porta Borsari. This is the façade of a 3rd century gate in the original Roman city walls. The inscription is dated 245 AD and gives the city name as Colonia Verona Augusta. Corso Porta Borsari, the road passing through the gate is the original Via Sacra of the Roman city. Today, it is lined with several Renaissance palazzi and the ancient Church of SS. Apostoli (left), a few metres from Piazza delle Erbe.

Porta Leoni is the 1st century BC ruin of what was once part of the Roman city gate. A substantial portion is still standing as part of the wall of a medieval building. The street itself is an open archaeological site, and the remains of the original Roman street and gateway foundations can be seen a few feet below the present street level. As can be seen from there, the gate contains a small court guarded by towers. Here, carriages and travelers were inspected before entering or leaving the city.

Medieval architecture

Piazza dei Signori.


San Zeno Basilica, like many other Veronese churches, is built with alternating layers of white stone and bricks.


The Ponte Scaligero, completed in 1356.

Statue of Dante Alighieri in Verona.

The Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore is considered one of the great achievements of Romanesque architecture . The present structure is the 3rd on this site, built from 1123–1135, over the 4th century shrine to Verona's patron saint, St. Zeno (died 380). The façade dominates the large square, and is flanked with a beautiful 72 metres tall bell tower, which is mentioned by Dante in Canto 18 of Purgatory in the Divine Comedy. The weathered Veronese stone gives a warm golden glow and the restrained lines of the pillars, columns, cornices and the gallery with its double windows give the façade an air of harmonious elegance. The huge rose window is decorated as aWheel of Fortune. The lintels above the portal have carvings of the months of the year. Each side of the doorway is embellished with 18 bas-relief panels of biblical scenes, and the inner bronze door has panels have 48 primitive but forceful Biblical scenes and depictions from the life of St Zeno. The meaning of some of the scenes is now unknown, but the extraordinarily vivid, barbaric energy of the figures is a superb blend of traditional and Ottonian influences. The interior of the church is divided into a Lower Church, occupying about 2/3 of the structure, and the Upper Church, occupying the remainder. The walls are covered with 12th and 14th century frescos and the ceiling of the nave is a magnificent example of a ship's keel ceiling. The vaulted crypt contains the tomb of St. Zeno, the first Bishop of Verona, as well as the tombs of several other saints. North of the church is a pleasant cloister. The church also houses the tomb of King Pippin of Italy (777–810).


The small Romanesque Basilica of San Lorenzo is one of the finest and most important in the city. Its dates from around 1177, but is built on the site of a Paleochristian church, some fragments of which remain. The church is built of alternating tracks of brick and stone, and has two cylindrical towers, housing spiral staircases to the women's galleries. Inside, the atmosphere is rather severe, but is still quiet and peaceful. The striped bands of stone and brick and the graceful arches complement the setting.

With a span length of 48.70 m (159.78 ft), the 1356 completed segmental arch bridge Ponte Scaligero featured at the time the world's largest bridge arch.

Santa Maria Antica is a huge Romanesque church was the parish church of the Scaligeri clan, and is famous for the Gothic Scaliger Tombs. The Duomo is also a notable Romanesque church.

Sant'Anastasia is a huge and lofty church built from 1290–1481 by the Dominicans to hold the massive congregations attracted by their rousing fundamentalist sermons. The Pellegrini chapel houses the famous fresco St. George and the Princess of Trebizond by Pisanello as well as thegrave of Wilhelm von Bibra. The famous square also holds its art festival in May.



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Country: Belgium

Distance: 1,307 km

Travel time:  9 days

On postcard: Brugges Town Hall

Bruges Town Hall dates from 1376, making it one of the oldest town halls in all of the Low Countries. It is from this building that the city has been governed and administered for more than 700 years. The Gothic Chamber, with its magnificent 19th-century wall paintings and its polychrome ceiling, is a work of art in its own right. The painted figures illustrate stories from the city’s glorious past. Under the theme of ‘Governors and Governed,’ you will be able to follow the exciting power struggle between the aristocracy, the city administration and the citizens of Bruges.



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Country: Bularia

Distance: 1,390 km

Travel time:  29 days

On postcard: Pleven

Pleven is the seventh most populous city in Bulgaria. Located in the northern part of the country, it is the administrative centre of Pleven Province, as well as of the subordinate Pleven municipality. As of February 2011, the city has a population of 106,011 inhabitants.

Internationally known for the Siege of Plevna of 1877, it is today a major economic centre of the Bulgarian Northwest and Central North and the third largest city of Northern Bulgaria after Varna aand Rousse.


Pleven is located in an agricultural region in the very heart of the Danubian Plain, the historical region of Moesia, surrounded by low limestone hills, the Pleven Heights. The city's central location in Northern Bulgaria defines its importance as a big administrative, economic, political, cultural and transport centre. Pleven is located 170 km away from the capital city of Sofia, 320 km west of the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and 50 km south of the Danube.

The river Vit flows near the town and the tiny Tuchenitsa river (commonly known in Pleven as Barata, literally "The Streamlet") crosses it.


Prehistory and antiquity

The earliest traces of human settlement in the area date from the 5th millennium BC, the Neolithic.

Numerous archaeological findings, among them the Nikolaevo treasure found in Bulgaria, evidence for the rich culture of the Thracians, who inhabited the area for thousands of years.

In the beginning of the new era, the region became part of the Roman province of Moesia, and a road station called Storgosia arose near present-day Pleven on the road from Oescus (near modern Gigen) to Philippopolis (now Plovdiv). It later evolved into a fortress. One of the most valued archaeological monuments in Bulgaria from the period is the Early Christian basilica from the 4th century discovered near the modern city.

Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, Pleven was a well-developed stronghold of the First and the Second Bulgarian Empire. When Slavs populated the region, they gave the settlement its contemporary name (Pleven is derived either from the Slavic word "plevnya" ("barn") or from "plevel", meaning"weed", which share the same root). The name was first mentioned in a charter by Hungarian kingStephen V in 1270 in connection to a military campaign in the Bulgarian lands.

Ottoman rule

During the Ottoman rule, Pleven, known as Plevne in Ottoman Turkish, preserved its Bulgarian appearance and culture. Many churches, schools and bridges were built at the time of the Bulgarian National Revival. In 1825, the first secular school in the town was opened, followed by the first girls' school in Bulgaria in 1840, as well as the first boys' school a year later. Pleven was the place where the Bulgarian national hero Vasil Levskiestablished the first revolutionary committee in 1869, part of his national revolutionary network.

Siege of Plevna

The city (then mostly known as Plevna outside Bulgaria) was a major battle scene during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 that Russian Tsar Alexander II held for the purpose of the liberation of Bulgaria. The joint Russian and Romanian army paid dearly for the victory, but it paved the path to the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in this war, the restoration of Bulgaria as a state and the independence of Romania from Ottoman Empire. It cost the Russians and Romanians 5 months and 38,000 casualties to take the town after four assaults in what was one of the decisive battles of the war. The siege is remembered as a landmark victory of the Romanian War of Independence as on 28 November 1877 the Plevna citadel capitulated, and Osman Pasha surrendered the city, the garrison and his sword to the Romanian Colonel Mihail Cerchez.

The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition of 1911 concluded its lengthy entry on Pleven (transcribed as Plevna) with the memorable dictum: “Plevna is a striking example of the futility of the purely passive defence, which is doomed to failure however tenaciously carried out... Victories which are not followed up are useless. War without strategy is mere butchery.”

On the other hand, Siege of Plevna stands out among other countless sieges and military actions in the region because of its significance. Without this fortress slowing the Russian onslaught, which gave the Great Powers time to intercede, Constantinople would have been repossessed by a Christian army once more. “Plevna is one of the few engagements that changed the course of history”.

Modern history

The events of the Russo-Turkish War proved crucial for the development of Pleven as a key town of central northern Bulgaria. The town experienced significant demographic and economic growth in the following years, gradually establishing itself as a cultural centre of the region.

The Bulgarian Agrarian National Union, a leading interwar party representing the Bulgarian peasantry, was founded in the town in December 1899.

Prior to the Bulgarian orthographic reform of 1945, the name of the town was spelled Плѣвенъ (with yat) in Cyrillic.



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Country: China

Distance: 7,799 km

Travel time:  20 days

On postcard: Hong Village

Hong Village (hóng cūn 宏村) is located on the southwest of the foot of Huangshan Mountain(huáng shān 黄山), 11 miles from Yi County (yī xiàn 黟县) in Anhui Province (ān huī shěng 安徽省). The name of the village which is a bull-shaped antique one belonging to the Land of Peach Blossom (táo huā yuán 桃花源) of old Yi County symbolizes expansion and prosperity. It has a long history of more than 900 years featuring green hills and limpid river. Therefore, people always call it "A Village In Chinese Painting (zhōng guó huà lǐ de xiāng cūn 中国画里的乡村)".



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Country: Brazil

Distance: 10,845 km

Travel time:  20 days

On postcard: The global spending on education exceeds 138 % of spending on arms.



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Country: USA

Distance: 8,029 km

Travel time:  10 days



110 лет медведю Тедди!

Медведь фирмы Steiff, 1902 год.
Из собрания Кукольной Галереи Вахтановъ Ирины Мазыниной.



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Country: Netherlands

Distance: 1,114 km

Travel time:  5 days



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Country: Russia

Distance: 719 km

Travel time:  10 days

On postcard: Вид на набережную Обводного канала с семью мостами с высоты птичьего полёта.

Обво́дный кана́л — самый крупный канал в Санкт-Петербурге. Берёт начало от реки Невы в районе Александро-Невской лавры и доходит до реки Екатерингофки.


Первоначально канал был прорыт в 17691780 по проекту инженера Л. Л. Карбонье между рекой Екатерингофкой и Лиговским каналом. Со стороны города как оборонительный объект был укреплён валом. В 1805 инженером И. К. Герардом начата прокладка восточного участка Обводного канала, а также углублено и расширено существующее русло. Работы продолжены в 18161833 годах под руководством инженеров П. П. Базена и Б. П. Э. Клапейрона. К 30-м годам XIX века Обводный канал стал южной границей города.

Канал строился как судоходный. В настоящее время он сильно обмелел: судоходство затруднено, могут проходить небольшие суда с малой осадкой. Во второй половине XIX века Обводный канал стал местом скопления промышленных предприятий, служа как источником воды, так и открытым коллектором, собиравшим сточные воды окрестных заводов и фабрик. Канал являлся дешёвой и удобной транспортной артерией для перевозки сырья и готовых изделий. В середине XIX века к заводским постройкам добавились здания Варшавского (18521853) и Балтийского (18551858) железнодорожных вокзалов. Сейчас Обводный канал пересекают 17 автомобильных и 6 железнодорожных мостов, а сам канал утратил своё значение водной транспортной магистрали, превратившись со временем в автотранспортную. Новую жизнь получают промышленные здания.

Географические сведения

Длина канала составляет 8,08 км, ширина — 21,3 м (в восточной части — до 42,6 м), глубина — до 2 м. В Обводный канал впадают реки Монастырка (справа) и Волковка (слева).



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Country: Belarus

Distance: 458 km

Travel time:  5 days

On postcard: Murmansk

Murmansk (Russian: Му́рманск; Kildin Sami: Мурман ланнҍ; Northern Sami: Murmánska; Skolt Sami: Muurman) is a city and the administrative center of Murmansk Oblast, Russia. It serves as a seaport and is located in the extreme northwest part of Russia, on the Kola Bay, 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) from the Barents Sea on the northern shore of the Kola Peninsula, not far from Russia's borders with Norway and Finland. Population: 307,664 (2010 Census preliminary results); 336,137 (2002 Census); 468,039 (1989 Census). Despite its rapidly declining population, Murmansk remains the largest city north of the Arctic Circle.


Murmansk was the last city founded in the Russian Empire. In 1915, World War I needs led to the construction of the railroad from Petrozavodsk to an ice-free location on the Murman Coast in the Russian Arctic, to which Russia's allies shipped military supplies. The terminus became known as the Murman station, and soon boasted a port, a naval base, and an adjacent settlement with a population which quickly grew in size and soon surpassed the nearby towns of Alexandrovsk and Kola.

On June 29 [O.S. July 12], 1916, Russian Transport Minister Alexander Trepov petitioned to grant urban status to the railway settlement. On July 6 [O.S. July 19], 1916, the petition was approved, and the town was named Romanov-on-Murman (Рома́нов-на-Му́рмане, Romanov-na-Murmane), after the royal Russian dynasty of Romanovs. On September 21 [O.S. October 4], 1916, the official ceremony was performed, and the date is now considered the official date of the city's foundation. After the February Revolution of 1917, on April 3 [O.S. April 16], 1917, the town was given its present name.

From 1918 to 1920, during the Russian Civil War, the town was occupied by the Western powers, who had been allied in World War I, and by the White Army forces.

On February 13, 1926, local self-government was for the first time organized in Murmansk during a plenary session of the Murmansk City Soviet, which elected a Presidium. Prior to this, the city was governed by the authorities of Alexandrovsky Uyezd and later of Murmansk Governorate. On August 1, 1927, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (VTsIK) issued two Resolutions: "On the Establishment of Leningrad Oblast" and "On the Borders and Composition of the Okrugs of Leningrad Oblast", which transformed Murmansk Governorate into Murmansk Okrug within Leningrad Oblast and made Murmansk the administrative center of Murmansk Okrug.

In 1934, the Murmansk Okrug Executive Committee developed a redistricting proposal, which included a plan to enlarge the city by merging the surrounding territories in the north, south, and west into Murmansk. While this plan was not confirmed by the Leningrad Oblast Executive Committee, in 1935–1937 several rural localities of Kolsky and Polyarny Districts were merged into Murmansk anyway.

Per the Presidium of the Leningrad Oblast Executive Committee resolution of February 26, 1935, the administrative center of Polyarny District was moved from Polyarnoye to Sayda-Guba. However, the provisions of the were not fully implemented, and due to military construction in Polyarnoye, the administrative center was instead moved to Murmansk in the beginning of 1935. In addition to being the administrative center of Murmansk Okrug, Murmansk also continued to serve as the administrative center of Polyarny District until September 11, 1938. On February 10, 1938, when the VTsIK adopted a Resolution changing the administrative-territorial structure of Murmansk Okrug, the city of Murmansk became a separate administrative division of the okrug equal in status to that of the districts. This status was retained when Murmansk Okrug was transformed into Murmansk Oblast on May 28, 1938.

During World War II, Murmansk was a link with the Western world for Russia, with large quantities of goods important to the respective military efforts traded with the Allies: primarily manufactured goods and raw materials into the Soviet Union. The supplies were brought to the city in the Arctic convoys.

German forces in Finnish territory launched an offensive against the city in 1941 as part of Operation Silver Fox, and Murmansk suffered extensive destruction, the magnitude of which was rivaled only by the destruction of Leningrad and Stalingrad. However, fierce Soviet resistance and harsh geography prevented the Germans from capturing the city and cutting off the vital Karelian railway line and the ice-free harbor. For the rest of the war, it served as transit point for weapons and other supplies entering the Soviet Union from other Allied nations. This unyielding resistance was commemorated at the 40th anniversary of the victory over the Germans in the formal designation of Murmansk as a Hero City on May 6, 1985. During the Cold War Murmansk was a center of Soviet submarine and icebreaker activity and, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the nearby city and naval base of Severomorsk remains the headquarters of the Russian Northern Fleet.

In 1974, a massive 35.5-meter-tall statue Alyosha, depicting a Russian World War II soldier, was installed on a 7-meter (23 ft) high foundation. In 1984, the Hotel Arctic, the tallest building above the Arctic Circle, opened.

To commemorate the 85th anniversary of the city's foundation, the snow-white church of the Savior-on-the-Waters was modeled after the White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal and built on the shore for the sailors of Murmansk.

The port of Murmansk remains ice-free year round due to the warm North Atlantic Current and is an important fishing and shipping destination. It is home port to Atomflot, the world's only fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers.

The port is the headquarters of Sevmorput (Northern Sea Route), and the administration of Russian Arctic maritime transport.

Murmansk is linked by the Murman Railway to St. Petersburg and is also linked to the rest of Russia by the M18 Kola Motorway. Murmansk Airport provides air links to Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as an international connection to Tromsø, Norway.


Murmansk is set to be the Russian terminus of the Arctic Bridge (or Arctic Sea Bridge), a sea route linking it to the Canadian port of Churchill, Manitoba. The passage has not been fully tested for commercial shipping yet but Russia has shown interest in it. It is believed that, once developed (along with the Northwest Passage), the bridge will serve as major trade route between Europe and Asia.


Murmansk features a subarctic climate, with long and cold winters and short but relatively mild summers. In the city, sub-freezing temperatures are routinely experienced from October through May. Average temperatures exceed 0 degrees Celsius only from May through October. The average low during the coldest part of the year in Murmansk is approximately −14 °C (7 °F). However temperatures routinely plunge below −20 °C (−4 °F) during the winter. Murmansk's brief summer is mild, with average highs in July exceeding +17 °C (63 °F). Murmansk is slightly wetter during the summer than the winter, seeing on average roughly 470 millimeters (19 in) of precipitation each year.



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Country: Romania

Distance: 1,303 km

Travel time:  6 days

On postcard: Lifeless is the mountain without us

Cries for herds and cries for white flocks

The valley’s under smoke and fog, so dark

There is no man, no light, no spark.



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Country: Portugal

Distance: 2,930 km

Travel time:  9 days

On postcard: Lisboa



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Country: USA

Distance: 7,895 km

Travel time:  34 days

On postcard: This view from Apollo 11 spacecraft shows the Earth rising above the Moon.

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Country: Poland

Distance: 422 km

Travel time:  18 days

On postcard: Gdynia, Sopot, Gdansk

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Country: Germany

Distance: 1,074 km

Travel time:  33 days

On postcard: "mama" to me....

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Country: Canada

Distance: 6,719 km

Travel time:  15 days

On postcard: Mount Rundle

Mount Rundle is a mountain in Banff National Park overlooking the towns of Banff and Canmore, Alberta. The mountain was named by John Palliser in 1858 after Reverend Robert Rundle, who had visited the Banff area during the 1840s.

Mount Rundle is formed of outcrops of massive limestones of the Rundle Group, which was named for the mountain and defined here in 1953 by R.J.W. Douglas.

Mt. Rundle is one of the most popular scrambles in the area, and is relatively straightforward for experienced hikers. However, one must be careful not to follow the huge watercourse encountered about halfway up, even though a well-worn path coaxes the hiker up. There is no scrambling route along this route, as the cliffs get higher and more vertical. The real route crosses the watercourse and then immediately turns left (watch for markings). As one passes the treeline, the hiker ventures onto a feature called the "Dragon's back", where the route narrows between two steep gullies. The only real obstacle at this point is perseverance at the tread-mill like scree which slows progress to a two steps forward, one step back pattern.

Mt. Rundle could actually be considered a small mountain range as the mountain extends for over 12 kilometres (7.5 mi), with many high points along the way, ending at Whiteman's Gap above the town of Canmore. Another scramble, East End of Rundle, is accessible from its starting point at Goat Creek.



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Country: Belarus

Distance: 458 km

Travel time:  5 days

On postcard: Енотовидная собака, Беловежская пуща

Родина енотовидной собаки — Дальний Восток, по Амуру, Шилке, Аргуни, Уссури и побережью Японского моря. С целью акклиматизации в нашей зоне впервые 50 енотовидных собак были привезены в Белоруссию в 1936 г. и выпущены в Чечерском и Паричском районах Гомельской области. До 1953 г. енотовидная собака завозилась еще восемь раз в Любанский, Ганцевичский, Слонимский, Жостовский, Логишинский, Березинский, Полоцкий, Вилейский и Борисовский районы нашей республики. С 1950 г. численность ее увеличилась настолько, что она стала объектом охоты. Акклиматизация этого зверя в Белоруссии произведена ради его меха.

В пуще енотовидная собака впервые встречена и добыта в 1948 г.

Это животное среднего размера, с длиной тела до 80 см, приземистое, на коротких ногах, с коротким, до 25 см, лохматым хвостом. Голова небольшая, мордочка острая, с характерным рисунком в виде темной маски, это придает животному внешнее сходство с американским енотом-полоскуном. Уши короткие, слабо выдающиеся. Волосяной покров длинный и пушистый, но грубый, образует по бокам головы баки. Общая окраска буровато-серая с более светлой полосой на спине. Вес тела летом до 6 кг, к началу зимы до 10 кг. Такая разница в весе по сезонам года объясняется накоплением жировых запасов в теле для зимнего сна, что для семейства собачьих является необычным.

Енотовидная собака обладает хорошим обонянием и несколько худшими слухом и зрением. Деятельна в сумеречные и ночные часы. Очень подвижна, хорошо плавает, но из-за коротких ног бегает очень медленно. В отличие от лисицыидет обычно не по прямой линии, а то и дело сворачивает в сторону, не спеша обследует всевозможные укромные места, где есть надежда чем-либо поживиться.

Летом питается лягушками, мышевидными грызунами, моллюсками, пресмыкающимися, насекомыми, рыбой, плодами, ягодами. Осенью, кроме этого, разнообразной растительной пищей. В самое голодное для нее время — весной — различными отбросами и падалью. Может поедать кладки яиц и птенцов гнездящихся на земле птиц.

Придерживается сырых участков преимущественно в лиственных и частично в смешанных лесах, в поймах рек и по опушкам болот.

Убежища для выводка, дневного отдыха и зимнего сна енотовидная собака может устраивать под корнями буреломных деревьев, под стогами сена, в кучах валежника, дуплах. Иногда занимает заброшенные норы лисиц и барсуков. Если же она выкапывает нору сама, то очень несложную. Большую часть жизни енотовидные собаки живут парами, которые образуют осенью, в октябре — ноябре. Парами залегают и в зимний сон. От спячки он отличается тем, что может прерываться в теплые, с оттепелью дни, и животные выходят ненадолго на поверхность в поисках пищи. Спаривание происходит с наступлением теплых дней, в конце февраля — марте, и в отличие от других собачьих в большинстве случаев спокойно, так как пары образованы заранее, поэтому драки среди самцов — явление редкое. Через 60— 64 дня самки приносят 5—7 щенков, но часто после богатого кормом года — до 15 и даже 18 штук. Рождаются они совершенно слепыми и глухими, прозревают на 10 — 12-й день. Вскоре начинают выходить из убежища. Молоком кормятся до двух месяцев, но уже в возрасте около 30 дней получают подкормку. Самец помогает выкармливать молодых, и если они уже способны принимать другую пищу, кроме молока, в случае гибели самки может сам воспитать многочисленное потомство. Стай енотовидные собаки не образуют. Молодые через 5 месяцев после рождения начинают вести самостоятельный образ жизни. Половозрелость наступает в 9—11 месяцев. Врагами енотовидной собаки являются волки, рыси и бродячие собаки. Спастись, к примеру, от собаки из-за медленного бега она не может, поэтому, не защищаясь, ложится и притворяется мертвой и только в зубах терзающего ее врага громко верещит.

Количество енотовидных собак в пуще определить трудно. Зимой они погружаются в сон и произвести учет их по следам невозможно. Другими методами учета их невозможно охватить. Существует глубоко укоренившееся мнение об исключительно большом вреде, наносимом енотовидной собакой всем гнездящимся на земле птицам, зайчатам и даже косулятам, из-за чего в отдельных охотничьих хозяйствах она уничтожается. Отрицать роли енотовидной собаки как хищника невозможно, но степень наносимого ею вреда, очевидно, требует подтверждения основательными исследованиями.



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Country: Netherlands

Distance: 1,041 km

Travel time:  8 days

On postcard: Achterhoek

The Achterhoek is a region in the eastern part of the Netherlands, Europe.

Its name (meaning "rear-corner") is geographically appropriate because the area lies in the Eastern-most part of Gelderland, and therefore of the Netherlands, protruding into Germany. The Achterhoek area lies between the rivers IJssel and Oude IJssel, and the borders with the province of Overijssel and Germany the former region of Zutphen County. The region is predominantly rural, with lots of free space, forests and farms. The area around the town of Winterswijk is regarded as very beautiful. A well-known beer originates from this region: Grolsch beer was first brewed in Groenlo in 1615.


The original language of the Achterhoek is Achterhooks, a variety of Low Saxon. The language can also differ per municipality/town, even in such a way that a person speaking the 'Grols' variant will probably not be understood by a person from Winterswijk which is merely 10km to the east. The number of inhabitants whose sole language is Achterhooks has greatly declined over the last 60 years, inhabitants are raised with the Dutch at school and the dialect is only spoken (sometimes) at home. Partly due to immigration from outside the Achterhoek region and the effects of national government, the Dutch language is having a significant impact on the dialect. Many old words have been forgotten and replaced by their Dutch-derived equivalents.



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Country: Russia

Distance: 989 km

Travel time:  10 days

On postcard: Соляной купол, "Гора Большое Богдо", Астраханская область

Астраханская область известна не только своим необычным соленым озером Баскунчак, но и горой Большое Богдо, расположенной неподалеку от знаменитого соленого озера.

Гора Большое Богдо – единственная настоящая гора в Прикаспийской низменности. Подножие Богдо лежит на два десятка метров ниже уровня моря, а вершина — примерно на 150 выше. С каждым годом гора Большое Богдо становится выше. Дело в том, что внутри горы находится соляной купол, который за год увеличивается примерно на 1 мм. Высота  Большого Богдо над уровнем моря составляет 149,6 м, а над окружающей местностью и того больше.

Гора Богдо имеет развитые наземные и подземные формы карстового рельефа — балки, воронки, пещеры, гроты и т. п. На сегодняшний день окрестности горы Большое Богдо и озера Баскунчак насчитывают более 30 пещер, самая крупная из которых – Баскунчакская – достигает 1,5 км.

Гора Большое Богдо донесла до нас остатки мезозойской эры. В обрывах горы находится морской триас с окаменелыми останками животных, живших 200-250 млн. лет назад – это делает Большое Богдо настоящим геологическим раем. Кроме того, гора Большое Богдо – это единственное место в Европе, где триасовые осадочные породы, богатые скелетными останками, выходят на поверхность.

Необычно Большое Богдо и своей окраской – одна из его сторон имеет красный оттенок. Это объясняется большой концентрацией различных металлов. Однако, несмотря на подтвержденный научный факт, бытует легенда, объясняющая столь необычную окраску горы Большое Богдо: по преданию, гора Богдо стояла прежде на берегах реки Урала, но двое святых калмыков задумали перенести ее на берега Волги. После долгих постов и молитв, калмыки взвалили гору Большое Богдо себе на плечи и понесли по нескончаемым знойным степям, но один из них упал под тяжестью ноши в ту минуту, когда он увидел прекрасную местную жительницу, и в его голове мелькнула греховная мысль. Гора придавила его и оросилась кровью, отчего одна её сторона красна до сих пор.

Богдо у монголов и калмыков означает нечто возвышенное и величественное, так же, как в этом смысле китайский обладатель называется Богдо-хан, "высочайший хан". Местное население верит, что гора Большое Богдо освящена Далай-Ламой и приходят ей поклоняться. По другому преданию гора Богдо образовалась из священного камня, который принесли калмыки-пилигримы с далеких гор Тянь-Шаня.

Подножие горы Большое Богдо скрыто шлейфом осыпей, которые сформировались в процессе выветривания. На скалистых обрывах юго-западного склона Богдо можно видеть эффектные формы выветривания песчаников и других пород палеозойского возраста. Наличие неглубоких пещер, каменных ниш и столбов, карнизов и многочисленных углублений, похожих на гигантские соты, сделало Большое Богдо звучащей горой. Явление объясняется колебаниями воздуха между каменными столбами, сквозняками в сообщающихся пещерах. Поэтому в народе юго-западный склон горы называют "Поющие скалы".



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Country: France

Distance: 1,589 km

Travel time: 5 days

On postcard: Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower (French: La Tour Eiffel, nickname La dame de fer, the iron lady) is a puddle iron lattice tower located on theChamp de Mars in Paris. Built in 1889, it has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest building in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; millions of people ascend it every year. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair.

The tower stands 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. However, due to the addition, in 1957, of the antenna atop the Eiffel Tower, it is now taller than the Chrysler Building. Not including broadcast antennas, it is the second-tallest structure in France, after the Millau Viaduct.

The tower has three levels for visitors. Tickets can be purchased to ascend, by stairs or lift, to the first and second levels. The walk from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. The third and highest level is accessible only by elevator. Both the first and second levels feature restaurants.

The tower has become the most prominent symbol of both Paris and France, often in the establishing shot of films set in the city.


Eiffel Tower under construction in July 1888

The structure was built between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a World's Fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. Three hundred workers joined together 18,038 pieces of puddle iron (a very pure form of structural iron), using two and a half million rivets, in a structural design by Maurice Koechlin. Eiffel was assisted in the design by engineers Émile Nouguier and Maurice Koechlin and architect Stephen Sauvestre. The risk of accident was great as, unlike modern skyscrapers, the tower is an open frame without any intermediate floors except the two platforms. However, because Eiffel took safety precautions, including the use of movable stagings, guard-rails and screens, only one man died. The tower was inaugurated on 31 March 1889, and opened on 6 May.

The tower was much criticised by the public when it was built, with many calling it an eyesore. Newspapers of the day were filled with angry letters from the arts community of Paris. One is quoted extensively in William Watson's US Government Printing Office publication of 1892Paris Universal Exposition: Civil Engineering, Public Works, and Architecture: "And during twenty years we shall see, stretching over the entire city, still thrilling with the genius of so many centuries, we shall see stretching out like a black blot the odious shadow of the odious column built up of riveted iron plates." Signers of this letter included Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier, Charles Gounod, Charles Garnier, Jean-Léon Gérôme, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, and Alexandre Dumas.

Novelist Guy de Maupassant—who claimed to hate the tower—supposedly ate lunch in the Tower's restaurant every day. When asked why, he answered that it was the one place in Paris where one could not see the structure. Today, the Tower is widely considered to be a striking piece of structural art.

One of the great Hollywood movie clichés is that the view from a Parisian window always includes the tower. In reality, since zoning restrictions limit the height of most buildings in Paris to 7 stories, only a very few of the taller buildings have a clear view of the tower.

Eiffel had a permit for the tower to stand for 20 years; it was to be dismantled in 1909, when its ownership would revert to the City of Paris. The City had planned to tear it down (part of the original contest rules for designing a tower was that it could be easily demolished) but as the tower proved valuable for communication purposes, it was allowed to remain after the expiry of the permit. The military used it to dispatch Parisian taxis to the front line during the First Battle of the Marne.

Timeline of events

10 September 1889

Thomas Edison visited the tower. He signed the guestbook with the following message—

To M Eiffel the Engineer the brave builder of so gigantic and original specimen of modern Engineering from one who has the greatest respect and admiration for all Engineers including the Great Engineer the Bon Dieu, Thomas Edison.

Father Theodor Wulf measured radiant energy at the top and bottom of the tower, discovering at the top more than was expected, and thereby detecting what are today known as cosmic rays.
4 February 1912
Austrian tailor Franz Reichelt died after jumping 60 metres from the first deck of Eiffel tower with his home-made parachute.
A radio transmitter located in the tower jammed German radio communications during the lead-up to the First Battle of the Marne.
The con artist Victor Lustig "sold" the tower for scrap metal on two separate, but related occasions.
1930 The tower lost the title of the world's tallest structure when the Chrysler Building was completed in New York City.
1925 to 1934
Illuminated signs for Citroën adorned three of the tower's four sides, making it the tallest advertising space in the world at the time.
Upon the German occupation of Paris in 1940, the lift cables were cut by the French so that Adolf Hitler would have to climb the steps to the summit. The parts to repair them were allegedly impossible to obtain because of the war. In 1940 German soldiers had to climb to the top to hoist the swastika, but the flag was so large it blew away just a few hours later, and was replaced by a smaller one. When visiting Paris, Hitler chose to stay on the ground. It was said that Hitler conquered France, but did not conquer the Eiffel Tower. A Frenchman scaled the tower during the German occupation to hang the French flag. In August 1944, when the Allies were nearing Paris, Hitler ordered General Dietrich von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris, to demolish the tower along with the rest of the city. Von Choltitz disobeyed the order. Some say Hitler was later persuaded to keep the tower intact so it could later be used for communications. The lifts of the Tower were working normally within hours of the Liberation of Paris.
3 January 1956
A fire damaged the top of the tower.
The present radio antenna was added to the top.
A restaurant and its supporting iron scaffolding midway up the tower was dismantled; it was purchased and reconstructed on St. Charles Avenue and Josephine Street in the Garden District of New Orleans, Louisiana, by entrepreneurs John Onorio and Daniel Bonnot, originally as the Tour Eiffel Restaurant, later as the Red Room and now as the Cricket Club (owned by the New Orleans Culinary Institute). The restaurant was re-assembled from 11,000 pieces that crossed the Atlantic in a 40-foot (12 m) cargo container.
31 March 1984
Robert Moriarty flew a Beechcraft Bonanza through the arches of the tower.
A.J. Hackett made one of his first bungee jumps from the top of the Eiffel Tower, using a special cord he had helped develop. Hackett was arrested by the Paris police upon reaching the ground.
27 October 1991
Thierry Devaux, along with mountain guide Hervé Calvayrac, performed a series of acrobatic figures of bungee jump (not allowed) from the second floor of the Tower. Facing the Champ de Mars, Thierry Devaux was using an electric winch between each figure to go back up. When firemen arrived, he stopped after the sixth bungee jump.
New Year's Eve
The Eiffel Tower played host to Paris' Millennium Celebration. On this occasion, flashing lights and four high-power searchlights were installed on the tower, and fireworks were set off all over it. An exhibition above a cafeteria on the first floor commemorates this event. Since then, the light show has become a nightly event. The searchlights on top of the tower make it a beacon in Paris' night sky, and the 20,000 flash bulbs give the tower a sparkly appearance every hour on the hour.
28 November 2002
The tower received its 200,000,000th guest.
2004 T
he Eiffel Tower began hosting an ice skating rink on the first floor each winter.
Engraved names
Gustave Eiffel engraved on the tower seventy-two names of French scientists, engineers and other notable people. This engraving was painted over at the beginning of the twentieth century but restored in 1986–1987 by the Société Nouvelle d'exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, a company contracted to operate business related to the Tower.
Design of the tower
The pig iron structure of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tonnes, while the entire structure, including non-metal components, is approximately 10,000 tonnes. As a demonstration of the economy of design, if the 7,300 tonnes of the metal structure were melted down it would fill the 125-metre-square base to a depth of only 6 cm (2.36 in), assuming the density of the metal to be 7.8 tonnes per cubic metre. Depending on the ambient temperature, the top of the tower may shift away from the sun by up to 18 cm (7.1 in) because of thermal expansion of the metal on the side facing the sun.
Wind considerations
At the time the tower was built many people were shocked by its daring shape. Eiffel was criticised for the design and accused of trying to create something artistic, or inartistic according to the viewer, without regard to engineering. Eiffel and his engineers, however, as experienced bridge builders, understood the importance of wind forces and knew that if they were going to build the tallest structure in the world they had to be certain it would withstand the wind. In an interview reported in the newspaper Le Temps, Eiffel said:
Now to what phenomenon did I give primary concern in designing the Tower? It was wind resistance. Well then! I hold that the curvature of the monument's four outer edges, which is as mathematical calculation dictated it should be [...] will give a great impression of strength and beauty, for it will reveal to the eyes of the observer the boldness of the design as a whole.
Researchers have found that Eiffel used empirical and graphical methods accounting for the effects of wind rather than a specific mathematical formula. Careful examination of the tower shows a basically exponential shape; actually two different exponentials, the lower section overdesigned to ensure resistance to wind forces. Several mathematical explanations have been proposed over the years for the success of the design; the most recent is described as a nonlinear integral equation based on counterbalancing the wind pressure on any point on the tower with the tension between the construction elements at that point. As a demonstration of the tower's effectiveness in wind resistance, it sways only 6–7 cm (2–3 in) in the wind.
Maintenance of the tower includes applying 50 to 60 tonnes of paint every seven years to protect it from rust. The height of the Eiffel Tower varies by 15 cm due to temperature.
Aesthetic considerations
In order to maintain a uniform appearance to an observer on the ground, three separate colours of paint are used on the tower, with the darkest on the bottom and the lightest at the top. On occasion the colour of the paint is changed; the tower is currently painted a shade of bronze.On the first floor there are interactive consoles hosting a poll for the colour to use for a future session of painting.
The only non-structural elements are the four decorative grillwork arches, added in Stephen Sauvestre's sketches, which served to reassure visitors that the structure was safe, and to frame views of other nearby architecture.