For many a foreign traveler Australia is an intriguing destination. A remote outpost with many weird and wonderful sights and experiences. Being so far away from Europe and North America, many people experience the wonders of down under from the comfort of their lounge room. Although Australia’s two biggest cities, Melbourne and Sydney, are the focus of the majority of urban tourism media, neither of these are the capital. Virtually half way between these two cities sits the often forgotten about city of Canberra.
Canberra was selected as the location of Australia’s capital city in 1908 after a long dispute between Melbourne and Sydney over which should be the capital. To settle the disagreement a compromise was reached to build a new capital as long as it was at least 160 km from Sydney and Melbourne was to be the temporary seat of government while Canberra was being built. Construction began in 1913, but due to bureaucracy and World Wars it wasn’t until the 1950’s that Canberra really came into its own as Australia’s capital.
Canberra is home to many of Australia’s national attractions such as Parliament House, Australian War Memorial, and the Australian Institute of Sport, and is a great educational destination for the whole family. It is also known as the bush capital due it’s large expanses of native parks which can be easily be explored by foot or on two wheels. If you’re visiting during the winter months; Canberra is a great base to venture out to Australia’s best ski fields.
A vast land, Canada has always been a favourite for travelers who enjoy getting in touch with nature and experiencing extreme wilderness. A common start and/or end point for Canadian journeys are one of it’s major cities. The most populous and also well known are Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto, but none of these are the capital. Having both hosted the Olympics; Vancouver or Montreal would be most people’s guess. But tucked away between Montreal and Toronto is Ottawa, one of the Canada’s most livable cities.
Originally established in the 1820’s due to the construction of the Rideau Canal, it was not selected as Canada’s capital until 1857. Before this time Kingston and Montreal had the honors but in 1857 Queen Victoria was asked to select a capital and she chose Ottawa. This was due to many reasons including it’s central location, easy river access, and it’s smaller size was less prone to political uprising.
Ottawa has developed into a modern cosmopolitan city that is known for its cleanliness and it’s high quality of living. There is plenty to do during the warmer months such as exploring its historical architecture that contain a number of museums and galleries, or cruise on one of its main attractions; the Rideau Canal. It is the oldest canal system in North America and also a World Heritage Site. During the winter months Ottawa really comes to life. The Canal becomes the worlds largest naturally frozen skating rink and there are plenty of events and activities for the whole family.
As a Christmas present for my parents I decided to create a Journey Map. I have seen plenty of people use world maps as a wall feature in their house or office. I love world maps and I think it always looks great, but I thought it would look even better if it displayed all of their journeys. It would add another element to the map and provide a great opportunity for them to reflect on their travels.
I found a map store and checked out the wide variety of maps available. There are plenty to choose from but I found the older ‘antique’ style always looks good. The size of the map was 180 x 100 and I got the map store to place it on a foam backing and frame it.
I had a list of journeys and destinations they had traveled to and slowly started to put pins in the capital city of those countries. With the foam backing the pins went in easily and stayed stable. Although they had sometimes traveled to numerous places in the one country, I found just one pin is suffice especially for countries in Europe otherwise it gets too busy and loses the effect. For larger countries like China I did use multiple pins. I put a larger pin in Melbourne as it was the origin for all their journeys and would need to have multiple pieces of string tied to it.
For the string I just used a thin twine which is not too think but is strong. I tied an end of the string to the Melbourne pin and then branched out to the destination of the trip. If it was just one destination I would cut the string and tie it off at that pin. If there were multiple destinations I twisted the string around the pin and continued on to the next pin until I reached the last one and would tie it off. I did this for every journey.
It can be a bit time consuming but the effort is definitely worth it. It looks great and can easily be updated for future journeys.
Morocco has always been a one of those destinations that travelers have ticked off their list or hope to get to one day. With a fusion of cultures and an abundance of natural and man made sights, it is hard to resist. Many of it’s cities are well known across the world; Casablanca for it’s economic importance in Africa and it’s Hollywood romanticism, Marrakech for it’s traditional markets, and Fez for it’s historical medina. You will find all of these cities on many a standard Moroccan itinerary.
The city that is often unfairly bypassed is the capital Rabat. From the 9th century right up until 1912, the capital moved between Rabat, Marrakech, Meknes and Fez depending on who was in control of the empire at the time. It wasn’t until the French invaded in 1912 that Rabat was made the permanent capital. When Morooco became independent in 1956, the King chose to keep the capital at Rabat.
Although long forgotten, Rabat is fast becoming a top travel destination. Although not as big as other cities in the country, this is working in Rabat’s favour. It is fast developing a reputation as a cosmopolitan and laid back city that is more pleasant and less frantic then it’s bigger neighbours. Whilst not packed with a long list amazing sights, there is some great shopping and dining opportunities and as with any Moroccan city the souqs and medinas are a must to explore. There is some fantastic architecture and history to be experienced which can be refreshingly done at your own leisurely pace.
When you’re thinking about Brazilian cities, Rio de Janeiro would spring to most people’s mind. It is one of the most visited cities in the southern hemisphere and is famous for its sights, events and natural attractions. It features in every Brazilian travel itinerary, but it is not the capital. Nor is São Paulo, which is an important cultural and economic hub and Brazil’s largest city.
The title of capital falls to Brasília which is an often forgotten about city and not yet embraced by the large numbers of tourists flocking to the Brazilian coastal cities. If you thought Rio de Janeiro was the capital, well you get half points for that. For nearly 200 years, from 1763 to 1960, Rio was the capital. In the 1820’s a plan was put forward to move the capital inland to the west, away from the heavily populated Rio region. It was widely agreed that a more central and neutral location would be beneficial. It was not until the late 1950’s that the President ordered the construction of Brasília along the Brazilian Highlands. A contest to plan and build the new city was won by an urban planner and the city was completed in 1960.
Although largely a government center, Brasília is an important business tourism destination and a cosmopolitan city that has grown into Brazil’s 4th largest. The main feature of the city is its modern architecture. It is considered a landmark in town planning and a lot of the buildings are innovative and imaginative in their design. Due to the many accolades received, Brasília has been listed as a World Heritage Site.
There are plenty of countries that have famous capital cities. Often they are the biggest and most popular city. Think of France and Paris comes straight to mind. Others include England and London, Thailand and Bangkok, Japan and Tokyo….. and the list goes on.
Although there are some countries where the capital sits up the back of class and goes unnoticed. You may not even know it’s there. Let’s take a look at these lost capitals and try and get to know them a bit better.
Bern is a picturesque city in Switzerland and although only the fifth most populous city, is also the capital. The old medieval city center (a World Heritage Site) was built between the 12th and 15th century and remains basically unchanged. The official language is German although the main spoken language is a dialect called Bernese German.
The origin of ‘Bern’ is uncertain and although there are some ‘likely’ scenarios, I prefer the local legend which is based on folk etymology. Bern was founded in 1191 by Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen, who was part of the Zähringen ruling family. The Duke decided to name the city after the first animal he came across when he went out hunting. Unfortunately for the bear that was cruising the forest that day, it was spotted by the Duke and killed. Therefore the name was derived from the German word ‘Bär’ which means bear.