Rituals of the Russian Banya

By Vlad Chorazy

Steam baths are well-known in many European countries, but maybe only in Russia is the steam-bathing “banya” tradition such a subject of national pride and an attribute of Russianness, and rightly so.

 

Bismarck’s health insurance

By Stefan Bauernschuster, Anastasia Driva, Erik Hornung

The model for today’s health insurance systems was Otto von Bismarck’s compulsory health insurance, introduced in the German Empire in 1884. contemporary mortality data to show that, by extending access to healthcare, Bismarck’s health insurance significantly reduced mortality rates for blue-collar workers

Putin’s Patriarch

By Astrit Dakli

The Orthodox Church is filling a political void left by the collapse of the party system in Russia. Kirill I, the Patriarch of Moscow, is forging stronger links with the Kremlin, attacking what he ominously describes as “anti-Russian” behaviour, including homosexual propaganda, the all-female pop group “Pussy Riot” and even more bizarrely the works of Lenin.

Mud Brick Architecture of Yemen

By Howard Meadowcroft

Yemen has a unique architectural heritage.
The master builders and craftsmen have learnt how to build to suit geography, location, the climate and available materials.

Letters from Hanoi

By Beverly Blankenship

When the festivities for the 1000 Year Founding of Hanoi were being planned, the Goethe Institute commissioned a new Music Theatre piece for the occasion, to be performed in the Vietnamese capital’s Opera House. Director Beverly Blankenship spent three months in Hanoi preparing and staging the ambitious new piece based on the myth of Parzival. These are her letters home.