German Scientists Engineer Low-Nicotine Tobacco

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

German Scientists Engineer Low-Nicotine Tobacco

Friday, 20 September, 2019 – 10:30
A tobacco flower waves in a dew-covered field outside Rolesville, N.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Allen G.Breed)
London- Asharq Al-Awsat
German researchers have engineered new low-nicotine tobacco. For this purpose, scientists at the Technical University of Dortmund applied the gene-editing technique on the Virginia tobacco plant and managed to reduce nicotine in it from 400 percent to one percent.

“While each gram of regular tobacco contains 16 milligrams of nicotine, the newly edited version contains only 0.04 percent,” said the study’s lead author Felix Stehle.

“No one in the world has ever managed to reduce nicotine to this level,” he added.

The researchers published their study in the Plant Biotechnology journal.

The tobacco plant is not used to make cigarettes only, but also as a living sample in main research fields.

The researchers explained they used gene cutting to alter the genetic characteristics of this plant. They omitted six genes that play a major role in nicotine production. Although the plant regrouped these genes, it did so in a wrong way, which stopped the production of nicotine. The researchers assured that this process can be used with almost all types of tobacco.

Nicotine is the substance that leads to smoking addiction, in addition to the 4800 substances found in cigarettes, of which 70 substances cause cancer, or suspected to develop cancer.

German theologian says Israel is part of the holocaust — Tapfer im Nirgendwo

“Western Christianity’s guilt-ridden anti-Judaism and Western anti-Semitism resulted in two catastrophes,” explains Protestant theologian, Ulrich Duchrow. One catastrophe is the murder of six million Jews. So, what was the other catastrophe? The theologian is very specific: “The silence of the West concerning Israel’s efforts, made possible through the United Nations (UN), to divide up Palestine”. […]

via German theologian says Israel is part of the holocaust — Tapfer im Nirgendwo

Britain, Germany Slam Attack on Saudi Oil Plants, US Again Blames Iran

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Britain, Germany Slam Attack on Saudi Oil Plants, US Again Blames Iran

Monday, 16 September, 2019 – 11:45
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Britain and Germany condemned on Monday the attacks against Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stands in support of his Saudi Arabian allies following an attack on its oil facilities which marked a “wanton violation of international law”, his spokesman said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas slammed the attack, saying “the situation is exceedingly worrisome.”

He added that Berlin is currently evaluating with its partners, “who is responsible for this attack, how it could happen.”

Washington has blamed Iran for the attack.

The Tehran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen claimed Saturday’s strikes on the plants.

US President Donald Trump said Sunday the United States is “locked and loaded” to respond to the attack.

His accusations were echoed Monday by US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who said: “The United States wholeheartedly condemns Iran’s attack on Saudi Arabia and we call on other nations to do the same.”

In an address to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s general conference in Vienna, he said “this behavior is unacceptable” and that Iran “must be held responsible.”

“Make no mistake about it, this was a deliberate attack on the global economy and the global energy market,” he stressed.

He said Trump has authorized the release of strategic oil reserves should the US need them, and that his “department stands ready” to proceed if necessary.

Perry also added that “despite Iran’s malign efforts we are very confident that the market is resilient and will respond.”

Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since May last year, when Trump pulled the US out of a 2015 deal with world powers that promised Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

China firmly opposes German FM’s meeting with HK Separatist

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

China firmly opposes German FM’s meeting with HK separatist: spokesperson

Xinhua

China on Tuesday expressed strong dissatisfaction with and firm opposition to Germany over its allowing a Hong Kong separatist to enter the country to engage in anti-China separatist activities and its foreign minister’s contact with him there.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made the remarks at a press briefing when responding to media reports that German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has welcomed the bail granted to Hong Kong separatist Joshua Wong Chi-fung who is the leader of a Hong Kong political group advocating the so-called “independence” and met with him on Monday evening in Berlin.

“China has lodged stern representations with the German side,” Hua said.

Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs, and no foreign government, organization or individual has the right to interfere, Hua said. “Any words, acts or plots that attempt to build oneself up by pulling in foreign forces and to split the country are doomed to failure.”

It is also extremely wrong for some German media outlets and politicians to grab a share of limelight to “put on political shows” using anti-China separatists, she said. “This constitutes disrespect for China’s sovereignty and interference with China’s internal affairs.”

During her visit to China last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed clearly her support to the “one country, two systems” principle and opposition to violence, Hua said. “We cannot help but ask what is the purpose of Germany allowing Wong to visit the country at this time and meet with Maas.”

“We urge the German side to keep its promises and avoid sending wrong signals to Hong Kong radical separatists,” Hua said.

Hua also urged Maas as the German foreign minister to abide by international laws and basic norms governing international relations and contribute to rather than undermine the development of China-Germany ties.

Saudi: Boat with 356 Migrants Docks in Malta 6 Countries Accept to Welcome them

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Boat with 356 Migrants Docks in Malta as 6 Countries Accept to Welcome them

Friday, 23 August, 2019 – 12:00
Rescued migrants rest aboard the Ocean Viking ship at the Mediterranean Sea, August 21, 2019 in this still image taken from a social media video. MSF via REUTERS
Asharq Al-Awsat
France said Friday it will take 150 of the 356 migrants disembarking from a humanitarian ship in the Mediterranean Sea after six European countries agreed to accept all of them.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner tweeted that the 150 will be welcomed in France “in the coming days.”

He added: “Together, we managed to build a European solution.”

The Norwegian-flagged rescue ship Ocean Viking, with a stated passenger capacity of around 200, picked up the people in four rescue efforts off Libya from Aug. 9-12.

The migrants are being disembarked in Malta from the vessel and distributed to France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Romania.

Requests for a safe port were previously denied by Malta and ignored by Italy, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and SOS Mediterranee, the two charities running the ship.

MSF welcomed Malta’s decision to take ashore the migrants rescued. But the group also questioned why it took so long, calling for permanent European solutions.

Jay Berger, operations manager for Doctors Without Borders on board the Ocean Viking, said: “We are relieved that the long ordeal for the 356 people on board with us if finally over but was it necessary to keep them waiting for two weeks of torment?”

In a statement, he added: “This is about people who have fled desperate conditions in their homelands and have survived the horrific violence in Libya.”

He said once the rescued migrants have left the ship, the Ocean Viking will continue with its mission after restocking supplies and refueling.

The European Union also welcomed Malta’s decision and the pledges made by the European countries to welcome the migrants.

EU Migration Commissioner Dmitris Avramopoulos said in a statement that “these commitments must now be honored and materialized swiftly.”

The EU’s border and asylum agencies will help screen people before they are relocated.

5 Old Olympics Facilities You Can Still Visit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Old Olympics Facilities You Can Still Visit

The Olympic Games are the leading international sporting events that still bring the world together. Thousands of athletic competitors from more than 200 nations participate and compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals. Media coverage is intense, sports records are broken, and stories of hope, despair, and triumph generate both empathy and world acclaim.

Since the ancient Olympics games held in Olympia, Greece, the winter and summer Olympics evolved into the modern versions we know today, which have taken place at elaborate facilities across the globe. Here are a few you can still visit to relive the glory.

Olympia, Greece: Ancient Olympic Games

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The roots of the Olympic Games are religious and athletic festivals held in honor of Zeus in Olympia on the Peloponnese Peninsula. During classical times, athletics and combat sports such as wrestling, javelin, and horse and chariot racing events were common.

Starting in 776 BC, they continued every four years through Greek and Roman rule until AD 393 when Theodosius suspended them to enforce Christianity. You can immerse yourself in ancient history by exploring the remnants of the once-grand Stadium at Olympia.

Olympia is located a 3.5-hour drive from Athens. Now transformed into a tourist destination, there is plenty to see and do. The archaeological site itself is surrounded by the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games in Antiquity, the Museum of the History of Excavations in Olympia, and the Archaeological Museum of Olympia.

The ancient site lies a brief five-minute walk from the main entrance. The sanctuary includes the gymnasium, the Temple of Hera, the Philippeion, and other fragments of buildings, statues, and monuments.

Berlin, Germany: Olympic Village (1936)

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This is where the Jews were barred from participating in 1936 during the Nazi rule. Berlin was awarded the Olympic contract two years before being taken over by the Nazis. They were the first Olympic games to be broadcast worldwide, and the competitions were not just for athletes but political messages, as well.

The Olympic village was built approximately 20 miles from the western edge of Berlin. The venue includes training facilities, a swimming pool, and low-level dormitories. The 1936 Olympics saw African-American Jesse Owens make history, earning four gold medals in the track and field events and setting three world records in the process. After the Olympics, the facility underwent renovations and became a hospital, then a Soviet military camp. Tours are available; however, be aware that the center is in decay.

Beijing, China: Birds Nest Stadium (2008)

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Designed for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, the National Stadium—perhaps better known as the Bird’s Nest—was the largest facility created for the games. The one-of-a-kind architecture interprets nature in its rendering of a bird’s nest.

The specifications were daunting: The structure needed to be earthquake-proof, with 111,000 tons of steel and struts, yet visually lightweight, airy, and inspiring. As one of Beijing’s top landmarks, it has hosted many competitions and events. Weight throw, discus, track and field, football, and other sporting events were held at the Bird’s Nest.

For the full visual impact, plan your trip at night to see the artistic illumination. Currently, it is used as a soccer stadium but is open for visitors and will host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Athens, Greece: Panathenaic Stadium (2004)

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Located on an ancient stadium site from the fourth century, the Panathenaic Stadium is a famous cultural and historic landmark in Athens, Greece. It is built entirely of marble and shaped as a parallelogram. It hosted the first modern games in 1896, and more recently, the 2004 games in Athens. This is where the iconic Olympic flame begins its trek to the new host city for every winter, summer, and youth games.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee owns, operates and manages the Panathenaic Stadium. Its mission is to advance, sponsor, and guard the Olympic Movement day and night, and to encourage the sporting spirit among the next generations. The modern-day stadium accommodates multi-purpose events for conferences, seminars, and athletics. You can take in classical history on a breathtaking tour with a certified guide, audio guide, or interactive nature journey.

Vancouver, Canada: Olympic Village Condos (2010)

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In 2010, Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The Millennium Development Group built one thousand units to accommodate close to 3,000 athletes and visitors. It is touted as the greenest, most environmentally-friendly complex in the world. The structures use natural solar heating, green roof practices, and other sustainable advances.

Do not expect to see artifacts of the 2010 Olympic Games as the property was re-purposed into a mixed-use community and open-space development. This compound is located on the southeast corner of False Creek, which has hiking, biking, shopping, and dog walking paths in a park near the Olympic Village. Vancouver’s famous (and protected) beaver community has taken up residence in the area.

3 Landmarks From Around the World with Odd Nicknames

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Landmarks From Around the World with Odd Nicknames

Most buildings have memorable features about them, even more so the architectural landmarks that decorate the world’s major cities. Whether it be their designs, extortionate budgets, history or residents, there’s usually something of interest to the general public. There are also landmarks that have inspired curious and affectionate nicknames. Once a new building is unveiled, city and town folk are forever eager to come up with an informal moniker. Here’s three landmarks with odd nicknames and one that triggered a presidential campaign to end the construction of strange-looking designs.

House of World Cultures, Berlin

Credit: Claudio Divizia/Shutterstock

On the banks of the river Spree and in the northeastern corner of Tiergarten park is the House of World Cultures (Haus der Kulturen Der Welt), lovingly called The Pregnant Oyster (Die Suchwangere Auster). American architect Hugh Stubbins designed the building in 1957 as the Kongresshalle conference center. Looking at it across the basin from the southern side, it is easy to note the similarities between the parabolic roof and the shell of an oyster. Henry Moore’s sculpture the Living Divided Oval: Butterfly, which is characterized by accentuated curves, stands in the basin. Could it be the oyster’s offspring? Probably not, but perhaps worth pondering.

While you are here, check out the venue’s year-round schedule of art exhibitions, concerts, educational programs, lectures and performing arts. There’s even an aptly named Auster (Oyster) restaurant, which has a menu packed with seafood dishes and traditional German fare.

Centre Pompidou Metz, Metz

Credit: repistu/Shutterstock

Modern buildings often evoke imaginative nicknames, which is true for the Centre Pompidou Metz.  The Chinese Hat is a hexagonal-shaped building with irregular geometric aspects and a spire rising out of its center, which stands 77 meters tall to commemorate the 1977 year of inauguration. Apparently the Japanese and French architects were fascinated with the technical details of the cane-work pattern of Chinese and Japanese hats. In order to recreate this pattern style, they used almost 10 miles of glued laminated timber. Upon seeing the whitewashed facade for the first time, the then mayor of Metz lobbied to call it The Smurf House. The architects’ wish prevailed.

The building is a venue for modern and contemporary art exhibitions and is a sister institute of Paris’s Centre Pompidou. It draws on a catalogue of some 76,000 works to curate rotating expositions. There’s also guided tours, movie screenings, performing arts and talks.

China Central Television (CCTV) Headquarters, Beijing

Credit: bingdian/Shutterstock

It’s nigh impossible to not turn your attention to the Big Pants Building when wandering through the Beijing Central Business District. That’s because, to an imaginative mind, the 768-feet-tall CCTV Headquarters does resemble a pair of boxer shorts. Breaking from the traditional tower, this glass-fronted landmark is made up of a series of horizontal and vertical sections that produce a contorted 3D facade. A local critic once claimed that the tower replicates a naked woman on her hands and knees, although the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaus profusely denied it.

Ironically, this isn’t the only landmark in China that has been compared to underwear. Featuring twin spires that converge at the top, the British-designed Oriental Arc has an uncanny resemblance to a pair of pants. Both landmarks played a part in Chinese president Xi Jinping calling for an end to weird architecture in 2014.

3 Small German Towns Worth Exploring

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Small German Towns Worth Exploring

Germany is an urban travelers dream. Metropolises like Berlin, Munich, and Frankfurt offer enough world-class shopping centers, history, and nightlife to keep anyone busy for days, if not weeks. But Berlin isn’t for everyone, and if you want to escape the bustle of the big city on your next trip to Germany, there are many wonderful small towns you can visit. Here are three unique German towns that are worth exploring the next time you travel through the Fatherland.

Idstein

Credit: ollo / iStock

A wonderful destination for history, Idstein’s first recorded mention was at the turn of the 12th century, and the oldest building still standing in the town was constructed in 1410. Idstein features an impressive collection of vibrant, painted timber-framed buildings in classic medieval style.

One of the highlights of the town is the Idstein Castle, whose foundations were first constructed in 1170and is flanked by the famous Witch’s Tower. The castle was updated, rebuilt, and renovated over the centuries that followed until it was redesigned in its current baroque style in 1714.

Another place in Idstein of note is the Union Church. This 14th century church may look nondescript from the outside but features a stunning interior, the highlight of which is a set of 40 paintings by Flemish artist Michael Angelo Immenraet.

Quedlingburg

Credit: bbsferrari / iStock

Nestled in the Harz mountains between Hanover and Berlin, Quedlingburg is another superb small-town destination. Even more history is to be found on the cobblestone streets of Quedlingburg, which has been occupied since the 800s. The town is even referred to as the birthplace of Germany because Heinrich I was named the first king of Germany here in 919.

The entire city sits under the stoic Quedlingburg Abbey. Founded in 936, the abbey is a beautiful example of Romanesque architecture, with stately stone walls topped with a vibrant red roof. Inside the church is a museum displaying many artifacts of ancient humans who lived in the region and fossils from the Ice Age.

Also on display is the Quedlingburg treasure, a collection of lavish manuscripts, weapons, chests and vases, many fitted with valuable jewelry. Pilfered from the abbey during the Second World War, the artifacts have returned and make the abbey a must-see stop on your next trip through the heartland of Germany.

Rothenburg

Credit: Juergen Sack / iStock

Journey back in time with a trip to Rothenburg, the best-preserved walled town in Germany. The town is one of the most visited in Germany, receiving more than 2.5 million visitors per year.

Begin your journey through Rothenburg by strolling along the famous wall that surrounds the oldest parts of the town. Stunning views are offered of both the town and the surrounding countryside, and the wall also gives access to the many towers built into the structure.

Stroll to St. James Church to admire the dual sweeping spires and tall windows decorated with biblical scenes that date back to the 1500s. The church has been standing since 1485 and took almost 200 years to complete. You can also visit the marketplace to find unique gifts and explore the Town Hall, Councilors Tavern, and visit the Christmas Market, if you are traveling during the holidays.

7 Things You Never Knew About Daylight Saving Time

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Things You Never Knew About Daylight Saving Time

Daylight saving time is the biannual event that gives us an extra hour of daylight during the summer evenings but inevitably interrupts our sleep schedule. We all know to “spring forward” our clocks in March and “fall back” in November — but what about the origins of this practice?

Read on to discover how daylight saving time was first adopted in the U.S. and how other countries utilize it.

Germany Was the First Country to Adopt Daylight Saving Time

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Germany started the daylight saving time trend on April 30, 1916, according to Date and Time, when they turned their clocks ahead by one hour in an attempt to save fuel during World War I. Losing an hour cut back on the amount of artificial light that was consumed. Many countries followed suit quickly but then reverted back to standard time after the war. Daylight saving time temporarily returned to most of Europe during World War II as well.

The U.S. Waited Until 1966 to Make Daylight Saving Time Official

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The United States also adopted daylight saving time during both world wars and allowed states to decide on their own to continue it after World War II, according to the History Channel. This caused confusion and the federal government decided that things should be standard throughout the country. Daylight saving time wasn’t actually put into law until 1966 with the passage of the Uniform Time Act, which also defined the current time zones, according to National Geographic.

Not All U.S. States Participate

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The entire state of Hawaii does not have daylight saving time, because the amount of daylight throughout the year doesn’t vary much due to the state’s proximity to the equator, according to World Atlas. Along with Hawaii, most of Arizona does not practice daylight saving time due to its extremely hot temperatures during the summer. Residents would rather enjoy cool evenings when the sun is down. However, according to National Geographic, the Navajo Nation in northeast Arizona does observe daylight saving time, causing it to have a one-hour time difference from the rest of the state for part of the year.

Daylight Saving Time Technically Begins at 2 A.M. EST in the U.S.

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Although most of us set our clocks forward or back before going to sleep, the official time to make the change in the U.S. is at 2 a.m. EST on the selected date, according to Time and Date. The selected time of 2 a.m. was originally perceived as the easiest, least disruptive option because most people were thought to be asleep.

Countries Begin Daylight Saving Time on Different Dates

Credit: Fernando Gutierrez Ortega/Shutterstock

Currently, only 40% of countries use daylight saving time, according to Time and Date, and many do not begin and end on the same dates. For example, the U.S. begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. In most parts of Mexico, it begins on the first Sunday in April and ends on the last Sunday in October. Check out a detailed chart of what countries observe daylight saving time and when.

Countries Near the Equator Don’t Need It

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Countries near the equator, like Colombia and Uganda, experience almost the same amount of daylight hours no matter the season, so the need to maximize daylight isn’t necessary in those locations, according to the National Sleep Foundation. However, some countries near the equator do choose to participate anyway, like Chile and sections of Brazil.

More U.S. States Are Trying to Get Rid of Daylight Saving Time

Credit: sara_winter/iStock

Is your state next? Following Hawaii and Arizona, more U.S. states are asking to do away with daylight saving time. According to ABC News, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine and possibly New Hampshire are all on the list. Florida is the closest state to completing this process, passing the Sunshine Protection Act in 2018 — but Congress still needs to approve it, according to Spectrum News 13.

3 Small German Towns Worth Exploring

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Small German Towns Worth Exploring

Germany is an urban travelers dream. Metropolises like Berlin, Munich, and Frankfurt offer enough world-class shopping centers, history, and nightlife to keep anyone busy for days, if not weeks. But Berlin isn’t for everyone, and if you want to escape the bustle of the big city on your next trip to Germany, there are many wonderful small towns you can visit. Here are three unique German towns that are worth exploring the next time you travel through the Fatherland.

Idstein

Credit: ollo / iStock

A wonderful destination for history, Idstein’s first recorded mention was at the turn of the 12th century, and the oldest building still standing in the town was constructed in 1410. Idstein features an impressive collection of vibrant, painted timber-framed buildings in classic medieval style.

One of the highlights of the town is the Idstein Castle, whose foundations were first constructed in 1170and is flanked by the famous Witch’s Tower. The castle was updated, rebuilt, and renovated over the centuries that followed until it was redesigned in its current baroque style in 1714.

Another place in Idstein of note is the Union Church. This 14th century church may look nondescript from the outside but features a stunning interior, the highlight of which is a set of 40 paintings by Flemish artist Michael Angelo Immenraet.

Quedlingburg

Credit: bbsferrari / iStock

Nestled in the Harz mountains between Hanover and Berlin, Quedlingburg is another superb small-town destination. Even more history is to be found on the cobblestone streets of Quedlingburg, which has been occupied since the 800s. The town is even referred to as the birthplace of Germany because Heinrich I was named the first king of Germany here in 919.

The entire city sits under the stoic Quedlingburg Abbey. Founded in 936, the abbey is a beautiful example of Romanesque architecture, with stately stone walls topped with a vibrant red roof. Inside the church is a museum displaying many artifacts of ancient humans who lived in the region and fossils from the Ice Age.

Also on display is the Quedlingburg treasure, a collection of lavish manuscripts, weapons, chests and vases, many fitted with valuable jewelry. Pilfered from the abbey during the Second World War, the artifacts have returned and make the abbey a must-see stop on your next trip through the heartland of Germany.

Rothenburg

Credit: Juergen Sack / iStock

Journey back in time with a trip to Rothenburg, the best-preserved walled town in Germany. The town is one of the most visited in Germany, receiving more than 2.5 million visitors per year.

Begin your journey through Rothenburg by strolling along the famous wall that surrounds the oldest parts of the town. Stunning views are offered of both the town and the surrounding countryside, and the wall also gives access to the many towers built into the structure.

Stroll to St. James Church to admire the dual sweeping spires and tall windows decorated with biblical scenes that date back to the 1500s. The church has been standing since 1485 and took almost 200 years to complete. You can also visit the marketplace to find unique gifts and explore the Town Hall, Councilors Tavern, and visit the Christmas Market, if you are traveling during the holidays.