Spain: 350,000 protesters flood Barcelona for separatist ‘freedom’ rally

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

350,000 protesters flood Barcelona for separatist ‘freedom’ rally

Shouting: “Occupation forces, out!” and “The Spanish flag, out!” they hurled hundreds of multicolored plastic balls and marbles at the riot police guarding the building, who did not respond despite the rising tension.

WORLD Updated: Oct 27, 2019 07:02 IST

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Barcelona
Catalan pro-independence demonstrators attend a protest against police action in Barcelona, Spain on Saturday.
Catalan pro-independence demonstrators attend a protest against police action in Barcelona, Spain on Saturday. (Reuters Photo )

Around 350,000 people rallied in downtown Barcelona on Saturday, turning the streets into a sea of independence flags in the latest mass protest against Spain’s jailing of nine separatist leaders.

The turnout figure was given by the local police as vast crowds packed into a wide avenue running between the waterfront and the city’s towering Sagrada Familia basilica, which was closed to visitors.

But as night fell, thousands joined a separate demonstration called by the radical CDR, massing along Via Laeitana outside police headquarters, whose windows were shuttered and the main entrance sealed off with plastic sheeting.

Shouting: “Occupation forces, out!” and “The Spanish flag, out!” they hurled hundreds of multicolored plastic balls and marbles at the riot police guarding the building, who did not respond despite the rising tension.

Catalonia has been gripped by unrest since the October 14 Supreme Court verdict which unleashed a wave of protest that quickly turned violent, with masked demonstrators clashing nightly with riot police.

More than 600 people have been injured in the protests, 367 of them civilians and 289 police, official figures show.

The crisis began two years ago when the region staged a banned referendum on October 1 that was marred by police violence, then issued a short-lived declaration of independence, triggering Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.

Saturday’s main rally was called by the ANC and Omnium Cultural, the region’s two biggest grassroots pro-independence groups that have organised some of the largest separatist protests in recent years.

Marching down the spacious boulevard, demonstrators chanted “October 1, we won’t forgive, we won’t forget”, breaking into loud boos and whistling as a police helicopter flew overhead, an AFP correspondent said.

“I feel really angry,” said computer technician Marc, 26, who did not give his surname.

“The violence doesn’t sit well with me but it’s normal to have a bit of upheaval like we’ve seen in Chile and Ecuador,” he said of a wave of mass protests in Latin America.

“There are different ways of protesting but we have one objective: independence.”

‘Not an option’

But Catalans remain sharply divided over the question of separating from Spain, with polls showing 44 percent in favour and 48.3 percent against.

Speaking to reporters at the rally, Catalonia’s separatist president Quim Torra said his government was with the people “because it is what they want. We will go as far as they want”.

He had earlier pledged to push ahead with the controversial independence drive after meeting 800 local mayors who expressed support for secession.

“The show of unity we’ve seen this week shows the next step that we all must follow… We must all push ahead and exercise the right to self-determination.”

Torra has made repeated appeals for dialogue with the Socialist government of Pedro Sanchez with the aim of securing Madrid’s agreement for a referendum on independence, but they have fallen on deaf ears.

“What we will not talk about is the right to self-determination,” Carmen Calvo, Sanchez’s deputy, told journalists on Saturday.

“If.. the aim is to break up Spain’s territorial unity and separate Catalonia from Spain, we simply cannot talk,” she said. “Unilaterally breaking the rules of the game is not an option.”

Counter rally on Sunday

On Sunday, Catalans who want to remain part of Spain are planning a massive counter-demonstration to raise the voice of the region’s so-called “silent majority”.

“Those who oppose independence are a majority,” said Fernando Sanchez Costa, head of Catalan Civil Society (SCC), telling AFP the unrest was causing a lot of damage to Catalan society.

Earlier, thousands gathered in Madrid in defense of Spain’s unity at a rally organised by the far-right Vox party, which has taken a very tough line on Catalan separatism and wants all regional pro-independence parties banned.

Although the faction only entered parliament in April, polls indicate it might become the third-largest party following the November 10 election.

First Published: Oct 27, 2019 07:01 IST

7 Healthiest Countries in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Healthiest Countries in the World

When deciding where to live, most people consider the weather, job opportunities, and proximity to friends and family. One thing that might not be at the front of your mind is how healthy a particular location is. Health is a complicated analysis, taking into account physical and mental well-being. Fortunately, the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index has done the heavy lifting. They’ve analyzed countries based on reliable indicators of good health such as life expectancy, and penalizing based on indicators of poor health, such as tobacco usage.

Read on to learn more about the seven healthiest countries in the world and what really sets them apart.

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Australia

Australia

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Australia is often thought of as an ideal place to live, from its beautiful beaches to the rustic outback. What isn’t immediately obvious is that Australia is also one of the healthiest places to live. In fact, it is one of the only English-speaking countries to rate in the top seven.

Australia has high marks for physical health. The Global Burden of Disease study ranked it 10th out of 188 countries, based on 33 health-related indicators. It received perfect scores for several indicators including war, malnutrition, water access, sanitation, and malaria.

In addition to several perfect scores, Australia also focuses on providing services for those who need them. Australia has one of the best health systems in the world. Australia also has effective tobacco control measures and a low infant mortality rate. All these factors combined lead to an impressive life expectancy – 80 years for men and 84.6 years for women. That leaves a lot of time for enjoying those beautiful beaches.

Sweden

Sweden

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It is easier for a country to come out on top of health rankings when the government makes healthcare a priority. This is definitely the case for Sweden, which was rated as the most health-conscious country in the world.  Healthcare is virtually free for all citizens until the age of 20.

In addition to great healthcare, Sweden prioritizes family. This begins before the baby is born, with free or subsidized courses for mothers to help them prepare for delivery. Sweden ensures that families can prioritize work and childcare by providing 16 months of parental leave for moms and dads. Even when parents go back to work, Sweden caps child care costs at approximately $150 a month for the first child.

Switzerland

Switzerland

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Similar to other healthy countries, Switzerland has a healthcare system that is highly accessible. Basic healthcare coverage is mandatory in Switzerland and is structured so that everybody living in Switzerland has access to medical care.

A few things that set the Swiss healthcare system apart include:

  • Pre-existing conditions are not a basis for denying coverage
  • Coverage is subsidized by the government for individuals with low income
  • Patients get to choose their providers and do not need referrals to access specialists
  • The health of expectant mothers is prioritized, including prenatal care, delivery, and coverage for postpartum hospital stays and house calls

Switzerland’s prioritization on healthcare also allows it to boast the second highest life expectancy in the world — that’s something worth bragging about.

Japan

Japan

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Only one country can tout a life expectancy higher than Switzerland, and that country is Japan. One factor that may contribute to this longevity is the Japanese diet.

One staple of the Japanese diet is seafood. The consumption of fish has been shown to lower risks associated with heart disease and to increase life span by 2.2 years. To accompany the physical benefits, diets filled with fish also promote mental well-being. Consumption of fatty fish has been shown to elevate mood.

Japan is also one of the top 10 tea drinking countries in the world. Tea, and green tea in particular, provides a multitude of health benefits. It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer while also producing higher levels of cognitive function.

Iceland

Iceland

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Iceland is another country that has a diet heavy in fish, meaning the population reaps benefits similar to the Japanese. Where Iceland really shines is in its environment. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development rates Iceland as the top performance in environmental quality, with the best air quality and high levels of satisfaction with water quality.

The beauty of the physical environment also contributes to the health of Icelanders. They are motivated to get outdoors and exercise in such a gorgeous setting. While the citizens of Iceland regularly hit the gym, they also list ice climbing, rock climbing, mountain climbing, and kayaking as popular activities.

Italy

Italy

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When people think of Italy, one of the first things that come to mind might be delicious pizza and pasta. It may come as a surprise, then, that diet is one big contributor to Italy’s status as second healthiest country in the world. The Mediterranean diet is primarily composed of fish, fresh vegetables, fruit, and olive oil. The emphasis on olive oil leads to lower risk of heart attacks and strokes. Another element of the Italian diet with similar benefits is garlic. Garlic has also been tied to prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

While the Italian diet doesn’t include much meat, lean meats are the most popular. Even when Italians are consuming dishes that aren’t considered healthy, such as pizza, they prepare it in a more health conscious way. Their pizzas have less toppings and incorporate more fresh, healthy ingredients.

The Italian style of eating also contributes to mental health. Italian meals are focused on bringing families and friends together. Italians are known for maintaining large and healthy social networks. This emphasis on community helps reduce stress and promotes mental well-being.

Spain

Spain

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Spain has the honor of being named the healthiest country in the world. Like Italy, Spaniards follow the Mediterranean diet, with its focus on vegetables, lean meats, and olive oil.

Like Iceland, Spaniards live in a beautiful location, which likely promotes a natural inclination towards healthy, outdoor activity. One thing is for sure, it contributes to mental health, with 84% of Spaniards reporting that they are happy.

All these factors together also lead to the longest life expectancy of any country in the European Union. Even if you can’t move to Spain any time soon, perhaps it’s time to plan a vacation to celebrate this happy and healthy country.

4 Places You Must See While in Spain

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

4 Places You Must See While in Spain

Near the western edge of Europe, tucked between Portugal and France, you’ll find the Kingdom of Spain. Established centuries ago, when kings and queens ruled the world’s greatest territories, Spain has become a destination for tourists from all over. Centuries-old history is scattered throughout the coastal plains and inland deserts.

When it comes to visiting Spain, there is plenty to see, but you would be remiss if you didn’t engage the rich history and beautiful landscapes. To do that, you’ll have to set aside some time in your itinerary to visit these five must-see places.

The Guggenheim, Bilbao

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Travel to New York City, and you’ll be told to head up to East 89th Street to see the impressive architecture and vast collection of art of the Guggenheim Museum. Cross the Atlantic Ocean, and you’ll be told very similar directions. The Guggenheim in Bilbao is a visual treat the moment you walk up to its golden facade. The structure itself is a work of art, an indication that what’s housed inside is among some of the most fascinating pieces of art you’ll ever see.

Maybe you didn’t come to Spain to look at art, but the Guggenheim is an exception to whatever rule you may have against museums. It’s an iconic destination, a must-see location that captures a bit of the local culture while sharing the incredible talents of the artists contained within rotating exhibits.

Segovia

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Trying to fit everything Spain has to see in one trip is madness, but if you can squeeze in a stop at Segovia, it makes up for the bounty of things you will have to miss. Located not far from Madrid, Segovia feels like the old Spanish cities you’ve likely seen portrayed in movies. Contained within the World Heritage City are artifacts that date back to the 14th century.

Signs of a Roman presence can be seen at the aqueduct, a towering structure made up of 166 arches that span more than 10 miles of the structure. There’s a legend surrounding the aqueduct that claims it was the product of a pact between the devil and a girl who sold her soul for water.

Along with the aqueduct, Segovia is home to a 16th-century cathedral, a 13th-century castle, the antiquated wall that was built to enclose the city and keep it protected, and an abundance of churches. There is a ton of history waiting in Segovia, so long as you take the time to explore it.

Monte Perdido National Park

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Not every visit has to be somewhere man-made or historical. The Monte Perdido National Park offers enough beauty and expansive lands to fill an entire day’s worth of activities, should you want to escape the cities. In 1997, the park was declared a World Heritage Site, which automatically increases its appeal.

Within Monte Perdido National Park, nature-lovers will find a diverse assortment of fauna to marvel at as they go about their daily routine uninterrupted. Though it’s the natural beauty of Monte Perdido that draws visitors, there is a touch of manmade history scattered about in the form of nearby castles, shrines, and fortresses. The mountainous landscape may keep some of these wondrous sites out of immediate view, making them treasures as you explore the 15.6-acre park.

Alcazaba

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Jutting out of facing of a grassy cliff, Alcazaba was constructed between 1057 and 1063 at the behest of the King of the Berber Taifa of Granada, Badis. Its foundation was pulled from the remains of a nearby Roman theater, which were repurposed into a defensive structure.

After the region of Malaga was conquered by Muhammed II Ben al-Ahmar in 1279, Alcazaba underwent renovations that gave it an appearance similar to buildings found in the kingdom of Nasrid. Despite its ornate appearance, Alcazaba, which is Arabic for “citadel,” served as a defense for Malaga. Turrets, battlements, machicolations, and arrow slits indicate the true purpose of the otherwise decorative structure was to protect the city’s people from incoming invaders.

Several restorations have kept the building intact, providing visitors to Spain yet another fascinating piece of history to experience and explore.

With no shortage of unforgettable locations to visit in Spain, it’s a safe bet that you won’t be able to see even a fraction of them in one visit. There are many fascinating places to visit all over the globe, but don’t rob yourself of the stunning Kingdom of Spain by visiting once and never returning. Five places only scratch the surface of Spain’s greatest sites, structures, and cities, so be prepared to be enticed into returning at least one more time.

5 Most Useful Second Languages For Travelers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Most Useful Second Languages For Travelers

In addition to the world’s most influential and widely spoken language of English, understanding a second language is key to unlocking authentic experiences on your travels and making and maintaining global connections. It’s a way of displaying respect to the people of the country as a traveler, and it will allow you to feel more comfortable in foreign destinations and ease the process of adopting a new culture. Before taking off on your next journey, consider picking up one of these useful second languages to better engage with locals.

Russian

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Outside of tourist hotspots in Eurasia, navigating the public transportation systems and ordering food can pose a challenge. Though the official Russian speaking nations of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Belarus don’t regularly top bucket lists for many travelers, its Soviet Union legacy solidified Russian as a recognized second language in its 15 former countries, allowing Russian speaking travelers to move through Armenia, Estonia, Georgia and Uzbekistan with ease. Based on the 33 letters of the Cyrillic alphabet, a grasp of the Russian language is pertinent to Eurasian adventures of traveling on the Trans-Siberian and hiking the rugged paths of Lake Baikal.

Arabic

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As one of the United Nations’ six official languages, Arabic is a useful second language for exploring the Middle East and North Africa. Comprised of 30 modern types, Modern Standard Arabic is officially used in politics, books and news channels, while Classical Arabic is the language of the Quran and is used in Islamic literature dating between the 7th and 9th centuries. The squiggly lines of Arabic script written from right to left may seem intimidating and foreign to English speakers at first, but the biggest challenge of learning Arabic is deciding on which dialect to study, as these regional variations are the basis for daily interactions.

Mandarin

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Widely used in Asia and beyond, Mandarin is the world’s most spoken language, with over one billion native speakers. Because few residents speak a language other than Mandarin, navigating China and Taiwan can prove difficult for foreigners. The most challenging aspect of learning the language is mastering its tonal component, as the meaning of the word changes depending on which of its four tones you use. But grasping the language means being able to engage in daily interactions with locals in the markets of Malaysia, with street food vendors in Singapore, and can also prove useful in the sizable Chinese communities of Indonesia and Thailand.

French

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A native language of France, French is also one of Canada’s two official languages. It remains a popular second language across Europe and is also widely spoken on islands of the Caribbean and parts of Africa. France consistently tops surveys as the most visited country in the world and is one of few places where tourists outnumber locals. Immerse yourself in the French culture by ordering delectable crepes from street vendors in Nice and sailing the sparkling blue waters of Corsica in the Mediterranean, all in French. Travelers fluent in the language can also lay on the sugary white sand beaches of Martinique, explore Montreal’s Old Port, or navigate the souks of Morocco without a hitch.

Spanish

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America’s second most spoken language, Spanish, also dominates Central and South America, allowing Spanish speaking travelers to easily navigate their way through the region’s most popular destinations of Mexico, Guatemala and Peru. Aside from its high geographic coverage in the Americas, Spanish is also a native language of Spain, and its commonalities with Portuguese and Italian assist travelers in communicating across southern Europe and Brazil. Due to regional accents, Spanish is spoken differently in countries around the world, but Guatemala’s neutral accent has been recognized by travelers as a favorite place to learn, resulting in a high number of Spanish language schools in the nation’s colonial city of Antigua.

10 Cities All Architecture Lovers Need to Visit Before They Die

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

Cities All Architecture Lovers Need to Visit Before They Die

From towering skyscrapers to the ancient Colosseum, the world is filled with architectural marvels. And since architecture is best enjoyed in person, here are 10 cities that architecture lovers simply must visit.

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

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It’s called the “City of Big Shoulders” for a reason. Chicago is home to some of the oldest skyscrapers, such as the Manhattan Building, built in 1891; the Reliance Building, built in 1895; and Chicago Savings Bank Building, completed in 1905. Most of Downtown Chicago was destroyed in the Chicago Fire of 1871, but the iconic Chicago Water Tower, built in 1869, was left standing. Built solely of yellow Lemont limestone, seeing the 182-foot tower firsthand should be on every architecture lovers bucket list.

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

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Rome is home to some of the world’s most photographed structures, including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Trajan’s Market. Had it not been for the Romans, designs like the arch and the dome would never have come to be. Rome’s classical structures are a must see. That’s a given. But the city’s Baroque style buildings, which were mostly constructed during the 17th century, are also well worth your time. The sheer grandness of structures like St. Peter’s Basilicaand the Trevi Fountain can’t be captured in a photograph. Few things in life will leave you as awestruck as taking a stroll inside St. Peter’s, with its massive dome, and looking up. You may never want to look down again.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

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Influenced by the legendary 19th century Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona’s architecture, much like the city itself, is imaginative and colorful. One sight that’s a must see is Gaudi’s Casa Batllo. The façade of the building is constructed of broken ceramic tiles, thus creating an eye-popping mosaic that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Other structures that are inspired by Gaudi’s vivid imagination include Jean Nouvel’s Tower, which is designed to resemble a geyser of water shooting through the air, and Frank Gehry’s Fish.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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In addition to being home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai skyline is filled with twisty-turny steel buildings. If you find yourself wandering in this desert city, be sure to check out the Burj al Arab, which is designed to look like an Arabian dhow ship, as well as the curving Cayan, with its seemingly impossible 90-degree twist. There’s also the famed underwater zoo located in the Dubai Mall, which features 300 different species of aquatic life, including all types of fish, sting rays and sharks.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

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Fueled by government investment, Shanghai has grown rapidly in recent years. It’s almost as if a glossy new structure pops up each month. The architecture in Shanghai is modernistic, and best represented in buildings like the Hongkou Soho office building, with its pleated exterior. Shanghai is also home to the second tallest building in the world, the Shanghai Tower, which features a twisted, glass façade that stretches upward for 2,073 feet.

Paris, France

Paris, France

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The birthplace of Art Deco and Gothic architecture, Paris is a city whose rich architectural history stretches back centuries. Gothic style, which is marked by colorful stained glass windows and flying buttresses, can be seen in a number of Paris cathedrals, including the Sainte-Chapelle, the St-Gervais-et-St-Protais and, most famously, Notre-Dame, which was in the news earlier this year after sustaining serious damage during a 15-hour fire. Paris’s famed Art Deco buildings, with their notable exteriors that feature numerous horizontal lines, began popping up shortly before World War I and were dominant in the ’20s and ’30s. Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and the Grand Rex movie palace are two prominent structures that exhibit this style. This is a small sample of the numerous architectural wonders in the City of Light.

Moscow, Russia

Moscow, Russia

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The Russian capital is home to some of the most recognizable architecture in the world with a style known simply as Russian architecture. Arguably the most renown structure in the Russian style is Moscow’s Saint Basil’s Cathedral. Constructed in the 16th century during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the cathedral is known for its vibrant, onion-shaped domes. Moscow is also home to more recent architectural wonders like the Ostankino Tower, which was completed in 1967 and was for a period of time the tallest building in the world, and a group of Moscow skyscrapers known as the Seven Sisters. The seven buildings, which were built during the reign of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, are wide and blocky, and scattered throughout Moscow. They were constructed in the Stalinist style of Russian architecture, which borrows elements of the Russian baroque.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

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Several ancient monuments from Athens’s classical era are still standing, most notably the Parthenon, with its enormous stone columns. There is also the Theatre of Dionysus, which was the birthplace of Greek tragedy and the first theater ever constructed. And what would a historically rich city like Athens be without its ancient temples? During its heyday, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which was completed around the 2nd century, had an unthinkable 104 columns, although only a few remain standing today.

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

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The most populous city in Turkey is known for two distinct styles of architecture: Byzantine and Ottoman. The Hagia Sophia, which was constructed in the 6th century, is a church that is emblematic of the Byzantine style, with its massive dome and elegiac mosaics depicting Christ and other biblical figures. The Ottoman style of architecture also flourished in Istanbul. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries a number of imperial mosques were constructed throughout the city, including Faith Mosque, Yeni Mosque\ and Bayezid Mosque. The mosques all have the key features of the Ottoman style, with extensive use of domes and columns, and are an absolute marvel to experience in person.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

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From the Art Deco masterpiece that is the Chrysler Building (1930), to the Gothic Revival design of the Woolworth Building (1913), to the more recent green design of the Conde Nast Building, New York City’s skyscrapers employ a wide range of stylistic elements. The character of the city can also be seen in the architectural designs used in its residential neighborhoods. From the brownstones in Brooklyn to the tenements on the Lower East Side, New York’s five boroughs are an architectural cornucopia whose styles are as diverse as the city itself.

3 Amazing Spanish Buildings You Need to See in Person

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3 Amazing Spanish Buildings You Need to See in Person

Mention Spanish architecture and the name Antoni Gaudí immediately springs to mind. He was responsible for iconic landmarks such as the incomplete La Sagrada Familia and colorful Park Güell. But from Santiago Calatrava to Jose Rafael Moneo, Spain was, and still is, the birthplace of many great architects. Since the Roman era people have been carving a spectacular architectural landscape the length and breadth of the country. They’ve been influenced by the Romanesque, Gothic, Mudéjar, and Baroque styles, among many artistic movements such as Catalan modernism and surrealism. The following three buildings have to been seen in person to fully appreciate them.

Casa Botines, León

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While Gaudí spent most of his working life decorating Catalunya, he did venture outside of the region on three occasions. In the heart of the city of León is his Neo-Gothic masterpiece called Casa Botines. For this mixed business and residential building, Gaudí wanted to honor the architectonic composition of the city and thus spent time studying the local cathedral, churches, and palaces. Work began in 1891 and it took just 10 months to complete. The beautiful exposed-stone building features an inclined roof and towers situated on all corners, which enhance the Gothic effect. It has 365 windows, one to represent each day of the year, and a statue of St. George slaying the dragon stands above the main entrance.

Museum exhibits spread throughout the floors of Casa Botines and showcase everything from the life of Gaudí to the history of the building and centuries-old art. See works by Ramon Casas i Carbó, Joaquín Sorolla, José Navarro Llorens and other Spanish painters.

City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia

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The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is the late-20th century creation of Santiago Calatrava set around a man-made lake in the Turia Gardens. Described as a city within a city, it’s a collection of futuristic buildings that were used as an inspiration for Disney’s fantasy movie Tomorrowland. At the head of the complex is the Palau de les Artes Reina Sofia opera house, where panoramic elevators and stairways travel to platforms at varying heights. The L’Hemisfèric represents a giant eyeball that reflects in the pool and houses an IMAX theater and planetarium. Note the similarities between the structure of the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum and a whale skeleton. Running along the west side of the complex, the L’Umbracle features a sculpture park and landscaped gardens beneath modern arches.

If you fancy some energetic fun then rent a water bike to cruise across the lake and around the exterior of the buildings.

Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Barcelona

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There’s no shortage of fascinating churches in Barcelona, and Spain for that matter, and this one atop Mount Tibidabo is among the city’s finest. Often known simply as the Temple of Tibidabo, the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor dates back to 1902, although wasn’t finished until 1961. Barcelona local Enric Sagnier i Villavecchia designed the church and his son, Josep Maria Sagnier i Vidal, completed it. A Neo-Gothic church rises up from a Romanesque fortress-like platform and evokes reminders of Paris’s Sacré-Cœur basilica. Statues of the 12 Apostles stand on the towers that mark the church’s four corners and a bronze Jesus lords over the entire building. At the lower level, an allegory with the patron saints of Spain decorates an arched entrance. Inside, stained-glass windows portray Marian devotions, saints and scenes from the life of Jesus. Take the lift to the rooftop for splendid views over the city and Parc Natural de la Serra de Collserola.

3 Stunning Palaces You Should See

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3 Stunning Palaces You Should See

More often than not the homes of emperors, heads of states, monarchs and other important dignitaries, palaces, are some of the world’s most spectacular works of architecture. Here’s three magnificent examples that you should definitely see in your lifetime. While the dignitaries may not reside there anymore, you can still experience the opulent lifestyles they once lived.

Alhambra, Spain

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Perched on a hilltop above the Andalusian city of Granada, the Alhambra is among Spain’s most exquisite Islamic monuments. Designed by the Nasrid sultans and built in the 1400s, it blends a fortress with Moorish palaces and landscaped gardens. Once the royal palace of Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada, it became the royal court of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I in 1492 and was later redeveloped by kings Charles I, Charles V and Philip V. Today this UNESCO-protected monument welcomes over 8,000 visitors on a daily basis.

With so much to see and understand it could be worth booking a guided tour of the Alhambra. There’s the exquisite Moorish-style courtyards and living quarters of the Nasrid Palaces. See the Renaissance Palace of Charles V, home to the thematic exhibitions of the Museum of the Alhambra. Inside the ruins of the Alcazaba citadel, the Torre de la Vela watchtower offers sublime views of Granada and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Wander amid the gardens of the Generalife summer palace, complete with Baroque courtyards, flowerbeds, fountains and ponds.

Plan your visit to the Alhambra.

Château de Chambord, France

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Blending medieval designs with classical Renaissance features, the Château de Chambord is arguably the finest example of French Renaissance architecture on the planet. King François I established the chateau in 1519 as a hunting lodge in the Loire Valley; however, he only stayed here for about 40 days. All-but abandoned for over a century, it wasn’t until the reign of Louis XIV that construction was completed. The sumptuous royal residence features over 400 rooms and 282 fireplaces. Of its 84 staircases, the double-helix staircase was allegedly inspired by Leonardo da Vinci.

Over 60 rooms are open to the public, spread throughout which is a permanent exhibition of 4,500 artifacts and art pieces. Don’t miss the bedchambers, 18th-century kitchens and vaults. The double helix staircase leads to the rooftop and a panoramic view of the cupolas, domes, turrets and surrounding woodland. Drive an electric boat around the chateau’s canal, watch a bird of prey show and attend a joust. Explore the formal gardens along 14 miles of trails on foot, by bike and via horse-drawn carriage rides.

Plan your visit to the Château de Chambord.

The Grand Palace, Thailand

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One of Bangkok’s most recognizable landmarks dates back to 1782, when King Rama I made the city Thailand’s capital and built his royal residence. Until 1925 The Grand Palace was the home of the Thai monarch, the royal court and government. Today it is a location for royal ceremonies, a place of worship and popular tourist attraction. The walled palace sits on the banks of the Chao Phraya River with a majestic fusion of Thai, Asian and European architectural styles.

Follow monks in red-colored robes to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew), where worshippers pray at a revered Buddha statue. See opulent royal thrones in the Amarind Hall and Dusit Maha Prasat audience hall. The Boromabiman Hall displays French influences and the Chakri Maha Prasat Hall is a neoclassical royal residence. Don’t miss the model of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, the imposing Demon Guardians and the statue of Cheewok Komaraphat, who was the father of Thai herbal medicine.

Global Leaders Snub The Jerk Trump At Meeting Of World Leaders

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO NEWS AGENCY)

 

WHITE HOUSE

Global leaders snub Trump and his nationalistic vision

Amid Armistice Day events in France, the president stands at the outskirts of the world stage.

SURESNES, France — President Donald Trump looked very much alone in Paris this weekend, isolated from European leaders and longtime U.S. allies as he continued to pursue his “America First” agenda.

He seemed most at ease late Sunday afternoon, on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, as he visited the Suresnes American Cemetery and memorial just outside Paris, where the stage and star power were his alone.

There, standing before rows upon rows of simple white crosses with a view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance, he commemorated Americans killed in “The Great War” and paid tribute to the way the U.S. fought alongside European nations.

“Earlier this year, President Macron presented an oak sapling from Belleau Wood as a gift to our nation — an enduring reminder of our friendship sealed in battle,” Trump told the audience, referring to the French president’s state visit in April. “We fought well together. You could not fight better than we fought together.”

He called Suresnes the “highlight” of his trip during his roughly 10-minute speech, and joked to the six World War II veterans in attendance that he hoped “I look like that someday.”

It was the rare moment in Paris, an event where Trump was in control and could try to shine, coming off a weekend in which European leaders rebuked him both implicitly and explicitly. From Macron to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the message seemed clear: Trump is taking the U.S. in a more isolated direction, while former allies band together to reject him.

Before roughly 70 world leaders, Macron, for instance, criticized the nationalist movement that Trump has embraced and made a cornerstone of his two-year-old presidency.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” Macron said earlier Sunday at a ceremony in Paris. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying, ‘Our interest first, who cares about the others?’”

Even the optics of that Armistice Day event showed Trump on the outskirts. European leaders took buses to the event and proceeded toward the Arc de Triomphe as church bells rang, while the president and first lady Melania Trump entered once the European leaders had already taken their places on risers. The only person who arrived after Trump was President Vladimir Putin of Russia, who made his own grand entrance.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump arrived after the group of Europeans because of “security protocols.”

The White House’s decision to scrap a planned visit to the Aisne-Marne memorial because of rainy and overcast weather on Saturday caused its own backlash online and in Europe. Aisne-Marne is the burial site of 2,289 veterans. The monument at an adjacent site, Belleau Wood, celebrates U.S. Marines who fought there in a pivotal battle in 1918.

Winston Churchill’s grandson Nicholas Soames wrote on Twitter: “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen.”

European leaders piled on, too, with Macron posting a photo to social media of him and Merkel clasping hands at Compiègne, the site of the signing of the ceasefire agreement that stopped World War I.

The two-day trip provided moment after moment of this pattern: Trump holding himself apart from European leaders as they, in turn, refused to abide by his actions and rhetoric. For foreign policy experts, it was a long-anticipated moment in which Macron showed the limits of his like-fest with Trump and sought to assert himself as a strong leader on a continent where the alliances are rapidly shifting.

Later Sunday afternoon, Macron again distanced himself from the American president shortly before Air Force One took off for the U.S.

“I’m a strong believer in cooperation between the different peoples, and I’m a strong believer of the fact that this cooperation is good for everybody, where the nationalists are sometimes much more based on a unilateral approach,” Macron said during a CNN interview, one coda to the weekend.

Gibraltar: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Gateway To The Mediterranean

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Gibraltar

Introduction Strategically important, Gibraltar was reluctantly ceded to Great Britain by Spain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht; the British garrison was formally declared a colony in 1830. In a referendum held in 1967, Gibraltarians voted overwhelmingly to remain a British dependency. The subsequent granting of autonomy in 1969 by the UK led to Spain closing the border and severing all communication links. A series of talks were held by the UK and Spain between 1997 and 2002 on establishing temporary joint sovereignty over Gibraltar. In response to these talks, the Gibraltar Government called a referendum in late 2002 in which the majority of citizens voted overwhelmingly against any sharing of sovereignty with Spain. Since the referendum, tripartite talks on other issues have been held with Spain, the UK, and Gibraltar, and in September 2006 a three-way agreement was signed. Spain agreed to remove restrictions on air movements, to speed up customs procedures, to implement international telephone dialing, and to allow mobile roaming agreements. Britain agreed to pay increased pensions to Spaniards who had been employed in Gibraltar before the border closed. Spain will be allowed to open a cultural institute from which the Spanish flag will fly. A new non-colonial constitution came into effect in 2007, but the UK retains responsibility for defense, foreign relations, internal security, and financial stability.
History There is evidence of human habitation in Gibraltar going as far back as Neanderthal man, an extinct species of the Homo genus. The first historical people known to have settled there were the Phoenicians around 950 BC. Semi-permanent settlements were later established by the Carthaginians and Romans. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Gibraltar came briefly under the control of the Vandals, and would later form part of the Visigothic Kingdom of Hispania until its collapse due to the Muslim conquest in 711 AD. At that time, Gibraltar was named as one of the Pillars of Hercules, after the legend of the creation of the Straits of Gibraltar.

On April 30, 711, the Umayyad general Tariq ibn Ziyad led a Berber-dominated army across the Strait from Ceuta. He first attempted to land at Algeciras but failed. Subsequently, he landed undetected at the southern point of the Rock from present-day Morocco in his quest for Spain. Little was built during the first four centuries of Moorish control.

The first permanent settlement was built by the Almohad Sultan Abd al-Mu’min, who ordered the construction of a fortification on the Rock, the remains of which are still present. Gibraltar would later become part of the Kingdom of Granada until 1309, when it would be briefly occupied by Castilian troops. In 1333, it was conquered by the Marinids who had invaded Muslim Spain. The Marinids ceded Gibraltar to the Kingdom of Granada in 1374. Finally, it was reconquered definitively by the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1462, ending 750 years of Moorish control.

In the initial years under Medina Sidonia, Gibraltar was granted sovereignty as a home to a population of exiled Sephardic Jews. Pedro de Herrera, a Jewish converso from Córdoba who had led the conquest of Gibraltar, led a group of 4,350 Jews from Córdoba and Seville to establish themselves in the town. A community was built and a garrison established to defend the peninsula. However, this lasted only three years. In 1476, the Duke of Medina Sidonia realigned with the Spanish Crown; the Sefardim were then forced back to Córdoba and the Spanish Inquisition. In 1501 Gibraltar passed under the hands of the Spanish Crown, which had been established in 1479. Gibraltar was granted its coat of arms by a Royal Warrant passed in Toledo by Isabella of Castile in 1501.

The naval Battle of Gibraltar took place on April 25, 1607 during the Eighty Years’ War when a Dutch fleet surprised and engaged a Spanish fleet anchored at the Bay of Gibraltar. During the four-hour action, the entire Spanish fleet was destroyed.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, British and Dutch troops, allies of Archduke Charles, the Austrian pretender to the Spanish Crown, formed a confederate fleet and attacked various towns on the southern coast of Spain. On 4 August 1704, after six hours of bombardment starting at 5 a.m., the confederate fleet, commanded by Admiral Sir George Rooke assisted by Field Marshal Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt comprising some 1800 Dutch and British marines captured the town of Gibraltar and claimed it in the name of the Archduke Charles. Terms of surrender [5] were agreed upon, after which much of the population chose to leave Gibraltar peacefully.

Franco-Spanish troops failed to retake the town, and British sovereignty over Gibraltar was subsequently recognised by the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the war. In this treaty, Spain ceded Gibraltar (Article X) and Minorca (article XI) to the United Kingdom in perpetuity. Great Britain has since retained sovereignty over the former ever since, despite all attempts by Spain to recapture it.

Due to military incursions by Spain various fortifications were established and occupied by British troops in the area which came to be known as “the British Neutral Ground.” This was the area to the north of Gibraltar, militarily conquered and continuously occupied by the British except during time of war. (The sovereignty of this area, which today contains the airport, cemetery, a number of housing estates and the sports centre, is separately disputed by Spain.)

During the American Revolution, the Spanish, who had entered the conflict against the British, imposed a stringent blockade against Gibraltar as part of an unsuccessful siege (the Great Siege of Gibraltar) that lasted for more than three years, from 1779 to 1783. On 14 September 1782, the British destroyed the floating batteries of the French and Spanish besiegers, and in February 1783 the signing of peace preliminaries ended the siege.[6]

Gibraltar subsequently became an important naval base for the Royal Navy and played an important part in the Battle of Trafalgar. Its strategic value increased with the opening of the Suez Canal, as it controlled the important sea route between the UK and colonies such as India and Australia. During World War II, the civilian residents of Gibraltar were evacuated, and the Rock was turned into a fortress. An airfield was built over the civilian racecourse. Guns on Gibraltar controlled the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, but plans by Nazi Germany to capture the Rock, codenamed Operation Felix, later named Llona, were frustrated by Spain’s reluctance to allow the German Army onto Spanish soil and the excessive price Franco placed on his aid. Germany’s Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr, also helped by filing a pointedly negative assessment of the options. Canaris was a leader of the German high command resistance to Hitler, and tipped off Franco who erected concrete barriers on roads leading to the Pyrenees.[7]

In the 1950s, Spain, then under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, renewed its claim to sovereignty over Gibraltar, sparked in part by the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1954 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Rock’s capture. For the next thirty years, Spain restricted movement between Gibraltar and Spain, in application of one of the articles of the Treaty. A referendum was held on September 10, 1967, in which Gibraltar’s voters were asked whether they wished to either pass under Spanish sovereignty, or remain under British sovereignty, with institutions of self-government. The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of continuance of British sovereignty, with 12,138 to 44 voting to reject Spanish sovereignty. This led to the granting of autonomous status in May 1969 , which the Government of Spain strongly opposed. In response, the following month Spain completely closed the border with Gibraltar and severed all communication links.

The border with Spain was partially reopened in 1982, and fully reopened in 1985 prior to Spain’s accession into the European Community. Joint talks on the future of the Rock held between Spain and the United Kingdom have occurred since the late 1980s, with various proposals for joint sovereignty discussed. However, another referendum organised in Gibraltar in 2002 rejected the idea of joint sovereignty by 17,900 (98.97%) votes to 187 (1.03%). The British Government restated that, in accordance with the preamble of the constitution of Gibraltar, the “UK will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their freely and democratically expressed wishes.” The question of Gibraltar continues to affect Anglo-Spanish relations.

In 1981 it was announced that the honeymoon for the royal wedding between prince Charles and Diana Spencer would start from Gibraltar. The Spanish Government responded that King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia had declined their invitation to the ceremony as an act of protest.[9]

In 1988, SAS troops shot and killed three members of the IRA who were planning an attack on the British Army band. The ensuing “Death on the Rock” controversy prompted a major political row in the UK.

2006 saw representatives of the United Kingdom, Gibraltar and Spain conclude talks in Córdoba, Spain, a landmark agreement on a range of cross-cutting issues affecting the Rock and the Campo de Gibraltar removing many of the restrictions imposed by Spain.[10] This agreement resolved a number of long standing issues; improved flow of traffic at the frontier, use of the airport by other carriers, recognition of the 350 telephone code and the settlement of the long-running dispute regarding the pensions of former Spanish workers in Gibraltar, who lost their jobs when Spain closed its border in 1969.

Geography Location: Southwestern Europe, bordering the Strait of Gibraltar, which links the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, on the southern coast of Spain
Geographic coordinates: 36 08 N, 5 21 W
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 6.5 sq km
land: 6.5 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: a little less than one half the size of Rhode Island
Land boundaries: total: 1.2 km
border countries: Spain 1.2 km
Coastline: 12 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 3 nm
Climate: Mediterranean with mild winters and warm summers
Terrain: a narrow coastal lowland borders the Rock of Gibraltar
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Rock of Gibraltar 426 m
Natural resources: none
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: limited natural freshwater resources: large concrete or natural rock water catchments collect rainwater (no longer used for drinking water) and adequate desalination plant
Geography – note: strategic location on Strait of Gibraltar that links the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Se
Politics As Gibraltar is an overseas territory of the UK, the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented by the Governor of Gibraltar. The UK retains responsibility for defence, foreign relations, internal security, and financial stability. The Governor is not involved in the day-to-day administration of Gibraltar, and his role is largely as a ceremonial representative of the head of state. The Governor officially appoints the Chief Minister and government ministers after an election. He is responsible for matters of defence, and security. On 17 July 2006, Governor Sir Francis Richards left Gibraltar on HMS Monmouth leaving the symbolic keys of the fortress of Gibraltar with the Deputy Governor. A new governor, Lt General Sir Robert Fulton KBE, replaced Sir Francis in September 2006.[11]

The Government of Gibraltar is elected for a term of four years. The unicameral Parliament presently consists of seventeen elected members. The speaker is appointed by a resolution of the Parliament.

The head of Government is the Chief Minister, currently Peter Caruana. There are three political parties currently represented in the Parliament: the Gibraltar Social Democrats, the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party, and the Gibraltar Liberal Party.

New Gibraltar Democracy and the Progressive Democratic Party have been formed since the 2003 election. The Reform Party was wound up and Gibraltar Labour Party absorbed into the GSD in a merger in 2005. A new party the Progressive Democratic Party PDP was formed in 2006.

The 2007 election was contested by the GSD, GSLP/LIBS, the PDP and two independents.

Gibraltar is a part of the European Union, having joined under the British Treaty of Accession (1973), with exemption from some areas such as the Customs Union and Common Agricultural Policy.

After a ten-year campaign[12] to exercise the right to vote in European Elections, from 2004, the people of Gibraltar participated in elections for the European Parliament as part of the South West England constituency.[13]

As a result of the continued Spanish claim, the issue of sovereignty features strongly in Gibraltar politics. All local political parties are opposed to any transfer of sovereignty to Spain. They instead support self-determination for the Rock. This policy is supported by the main UK opposition parties.

In March 2006, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw announced that a new Gibraltar constitution had been agreed upon and would be published prior to a referendum on its acceptance in Gibraltar that year.[14] In July, in a statement to the UK Parliament, Geoff Hoon, the Minister for Europe, confirmed that the new Constitution confirms the right of self-determination of the Gibraltarian people.[15]

On 30 November 2006, a referendum was held for a new constitution. The turnout was 60.4% of eligible voters of which 60.24% voted to approve the constitution and 37.75% against. The remainder returned blank votes. The acceptance was welcomed by the Chief Minister, Peter Caruana, as a step forward for Gibraltar’s political development.

People Population: 27,967 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 17.2% (male 2,460/female 2,343)
15-64 years: 66.3% (male 9,470/female 9,070)
65 years and over: 16.5% (male 2,090/female 2,534) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 40.1 years
male: 39.6 years
female: 40.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.129% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 10.69 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 9.4 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.044 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.825 male(s)/female
total population: 1.005 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.98 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.54 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.39 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.93 years
male: 77.05 years
female: 82.96 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.65 children born/woman

Hurricane Leslie rams into Portugal with 109mph winds: Lisbon devastated by storm

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SUNDAY EXPRESS)

 

Hurricane Leslie rams into Portugal with 109 mph winds: Lisbon devastated by storm

HURRICANE Leslie has devastated Lisbon as it batters Portugal with 109 mph winds leaving 27 people injured.

Heavy rain causes deadly mudslide in Sierra Leone

Authorities urged people to stay indoors and to stay away from coastal areas as the storm brought heavy rain, strong winds and surging seas.

At least 27 people have suffered minor injuries, according to civil defense officials.

The storm was the most intense overnight bringing localized flooding and uprooting thousands of trees.

Civil defense commander Luis Belo Costa said after Saturday night that “the greatest danger has passed”.

More than 300,000 homes have lost power, the commander at the Civil Protection Agency said.

Power authority EDP said more than 200 power lines were affected by the storm.

Over 60 people were forced to leave their homes.

Lisbon was the worst affected and Figueira da Foz, Averio, Viseu and Porto also suffered damage.

Hurricane Leslie has battered the Iberian peninsula

Hurricane Leslie has battered the Iberian peninsula (Image: REUTERS)

Portugal’s weather service had issued red warnings or dangerous coastal conditions for 13 of its 18 mainland districts.

A resident of Figueira da Foz described the storm like a war zone.

They told SIC television: “I have never seen anything like it, The town seemed to be in a state of war, with cars smashed by fallen trees. People were very worried.”

The main motorway in Portugal was blocked by a fallen tree preventing services from traveling.

Hurricane Leslie causes widespread damage in Portugal

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Thousands of trees have been uprooted

The latest forecast for the storm (Image: ACCU-WEATHER)

Hurricane Leslie was downgraded to a tropical storm and by Sunday morning most of the powerful winds and heave rains had subsided.

Spain and southern France have also been affected by the powerful storm.

Winds uprooted trees in the center of Spain early Sunday morning.

Flood warnings have also been issued in the north and northwest of the country for today.

More than 300,000 people have lost power

More than 300,000 people have lost power (Image: REUTERS)

Parts of southern France have also been put on alert for storms and flooding.

The storm formed on September 23 and spent weeks in the Atlantic Ocean before coming to the Iberian peninsula.

It was hovering over the Atlantic for so long because it didn’t encounter a strong enough weather system to force it towards land, according to Accu-weather.

It is rare for an Atlantic hurricane to hit the Iberian peninsula as only five have been recorded.

The last tropical system to follow in Leslie’s path was Vince in 2005.

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