photographer Eitan Simanor
I give presentations on selected world destinations and on different aspects of Jerusalem.
These presentations focus on places and issues on which I have worked as a photographer.
Iran, a country at the far East end of the Middle East. it is home to the world oldest civilization... and the rather controversial Shiah Islamic Republic, leading the Khomeini Islamic Revolution since 1979.
Travelling through Iran for a month by public transport, as a solo tourist with a camera slanged around my neck was not always an easy matter... if only because of the wealth of sites to visit, the long distances, the aging and badly maintained public buses... and the fear of being identified as an Israeli.
In Teheran one mustn't miss the main bazar, the burial place of Imam Khomeini and the Azadi tower.
Kashan hosts the epitome of the traditional Persian garden, Bagh-e-Fin.
Isfahan is the nb one tourist destination in Iran, although I saw no foreign tourist there!
Yazd, a superb city in the desert.
Kerman: the home town of Qasem Soleimani, the famous El Quds commander, killed by an American strike.
From Kerman one can visit ancient sand citadels in the Dasht-e-Lut desert.
Shiraz is known as the hometown of Hafez, the most famous Persian poet of all times.
From shiraz one can visit Persepolis ancient city, an absolute marvel!
Ashura processions were everywhere during the entire month of my visit in Iran.
Finally, a 1200km ride through the desert leads you to Mashad, a major Shiah pilgrimage site, dedicated to imam Reza, seeing some 12 Millions pilgrims a year!
Pakistan is situated on the West side of the India peninsula.
Several major ancient cultures have developed on Pakistan territory, mainly along the Indus river, one of the longest rivers of Asia. Pakistan is the sixth most populated country in the world with more than 200 million pop. It is the only country to have been created in the name of Islam. It is also A declared Nuclear weapon state.
The Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist and jihadist political movement and military organization, mostly originated in Pakistan in 1994, with the active involvement of the Pakistani Intelligence Agency.
The Northern Part of Pakistan is a staggering mountainous region, at the junction between three major mountain ranges, the Hindu Kush, The Karakoram and the Himalayas.
The great plains, including the Punjab and Sindh, host fascinating cities and sites such as Peshawar, islamabad, lahore and the famous Sufi Mausoleum of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai in Bhit Shah, Sindh.
The Karakoram highway
The Karakoram Highway, which crosses the Pakistani-Chinese border at the Khunjerab Pass (4,714m), was started in 1959 and was completed and opened to the public in 1979.
The 806 kms of the Pakistani section cuts through the junction between three great mountain ranges: the Hindu Kush, the Himalayas, and the Karakoram. Some of the highest mountains and glaciers in Karakoram can be seen from the road, as well as Nanga Parbat, one of the famous peaks in the Himalayas.
The Karakoram Highway was part of a Chinese strategy to shift massive quantities of goods to the western world while reducing the lengthy and time consuming sea transportation paths.
The mountainous landscapes and the human reality through which the road takes us, on the way to Khunjerab pass, are breathtaking!
the Kingdom of Bhutan, known as "Druk Yul," or "Land of the Thunder Dragon", is a Buddhist nation in the Eastern Himalayas, next to Tibet. The country is landlocked between China and India.
Conservation of the natural environment and establishment of good governance is considered paramount values in Bhutan, as part of the Gross National Happiness, a unique concept based on four elements – Sustainable development, preservation & promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment and establishment of good governance.
Ethiopia is among the prime destinations in Eastern Africa. It offers a rich mix of cultures, a wealth of first class sites... and superb nature and landscapes, not to mention the human scene!
Its current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed received the Nobel Peace prize on the first year of his mandate, like Barak Obama. He was awarded the prize for his efforts to end the 20 years old conflict with Eritrea. Yet this eventually led to a civil war inside Ethiopia which is taking a heavy toll on civilians...
Among the top sites:
the Lalibela rock-hewn churches from the 13th century, as well as in Tigray.
The Fasiladas Royal enclosure in Gondar.
The stellas in aksum
The Semien mountains nature reserve
Lake Tana with Bahar Dar and the Dek Island
Adis Ababa, the capital city
This series of presentations takes us on a fascinating trip from Alexandria in Egypt, on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, all the way to Mozambique on the Indian Ocean, using public transport.
We travel across Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique.
Slow travel allows us to side trip to off the beaten track sites and destinations and to get better acquainted with the locals on the way. Get in gear cos' this is Africa!
Kyrgyzstan & Pamir
Burma is situated in SE Asia, between India, China and Thailand.
For most of its independent years, since 1947, the country’s myriad of ethnic groups have been involved in one of the world's longest-running ongoing civil wars. Since 1962 Burma has been under the cruel iron fist of successive military dictators. The country, although one of the richest in natural resources, has been crippled by war, corruption, bad management and the drug and diamants markets. In 2011, the military junta was officially dissolved following a 2010 general election. It took another 5 years for some form of democracy to prevail, yet a new military dictator recently took over and the country has plunged into darkness again.
All this does not prevent Burma from being one of the most fascinating destinations around the globe, its people are simply delightful! Infrastructures are basic and travelling is challenging, yet rewards are plenty, well worth the discomfort!
This series takes us through the remote regions and exceptional sites around the country. We also explore some of the most fascinating aspects of Burmese society.
Village life in South East Asia
This presentation deals with different aspects of the challenging daily life in villages and in remote countryside in Laos, Burma and Cambodia, such as:
life in floating villages
daily tasks and livelihood
travelling and transportation of goods
Bangladesh is almost entirely surrounded by India, apart from a short border with Burma in the South East.
The country's geography is dominated by the Bengal delta, the largest delta in the world. It also hosts the largest mangrove forest in the world. During the monsoon season more than one-fifth of the country can be flooded at once. Every year, an area larger than Manhattan washes away and this is getting worse as the country is already badly affected by climate change.
Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world. Dakka, its capital city, is vastly overcrowded and struggles with an array of serious issues.
Travelling across Bangladesh is an amazing lesson in human resilience. The people are great and there are some rewarding surprises on the way!
India, with 1.4 Billion inhabitants, is the second-most populous country in the world and the most populous democracy. It is vast and incredibly varied (some 447 languages are spoken in India!).
In these two presentations we shall concentrate on the Northern part of India, we shall visit the following:
- The Indian Himalayas: Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh (Kinnaur and Spiti valleys), then Darjeeling and Sikkim
- The Golden Temple in Amritsar
- Old Delhi
- Varanasi, Ayodhya, Bodhgaya and bihar, all pilgrimage sites
- Kolkata and Majuli Island on the Brahmaputra river
Japan spans an archipelago of a staggering 6852 islands!
The five main islands are Hokkaido in the North, Honshu, the "mainland“ with Tokyo, Shikoku and Kyushu in the South, and Okinawa further South.
Japan offers a fascinating blend of Eastern traditions and Western modernity that can be seen everywhere, so much so that it will largely affect the "visual signature" each Western visitor will take back with him/her on a visit to Japan.
Here is a short list of sites and cities which we shall visit:
- Kyoto, its temples and traditions
- Hiroshima and Miyajima floating tori
- Fukuoka on Kyushu island
- Osaka and kobe
- Tatara bridge, between Honshu Shikoku main islands
- Mount Fuji and Shizuoka tea country
- Takayama folk village open air museum
- Zenko ji temple in Nagano
- Sendai and Matsushima bay
- to get to these places we will make extensive use of the Shinkanzen (the famous Bullet train)
kyrgyzstan and Pamir
Kyrgyzstan is in Central Asia. It is geographically isolated by its highly mountainous terrain. Moreover, all 3 countries Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are deeply enclaved into one another, which makes matters even more complex.
Kyrgyzstan is above all a country of huge and breathtakingly beautiful open spaces. Many kyrgyz still live a traditional life, raising cattle and horses, taking advantage of vast areas covered with Jailoos or natural grazing grounds.
Some of the natural sites and cities we will be visiting:
Bishkek, capital city
Lake Song Köl
Lake Issik kul
The Pamir Highway in Tajikistan was started at the end of 19th century by Russia, as part of the "Great Game" which opposed Russia to the British Empire. It was completed in 1930s by the Soviet Union. it crosses a high and hostile desert plateau with amazing views and harsh human reality.
Armenia is situated in the Caucasus, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.
Armenia became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion, even before the Roman Empire and as we can expect this had an great influence on its destiny. Today monasteries are among the main attractions in Armenia, they play an important role in the country's cultural heritage. Many are located in slightly concealed and often stunning settings.
Mount Ararat is the principal national symbol of Armenia and is considered a sacred mountain by Armenians, yet today it is part of Turkey, the great enemy. Armenians can only admire snow capped Ararat from afar.
Yerevan, the capital city, has a fairly small and walkable city center which remains a unique model of urban planning and hosts some true architectural and urban gems.
Goris, a little town near the Iranian border has the most delightful surroundings.
The Republic of artsakh part of the previous Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, is a breakaway state supported by Armenia, whose territory is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. This geopolitical anomaly on Europe doorstep's is well worth a visit.
Georgia is situated in the Caucasus, between the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea.
The Kingdom of Georgia reached its zenith in the 12th to early 13th centuries, during early Georgian Renaissance. It preceded its Western European analogue by over 2.5 centuries! Most great cathedrals and fortresses in Georgia are from that period.
The Old city of Tbilisi, the capital city, and the areas around it, have undergone tremendous lift up over the last 10 years. Well worth a visit!
The ancient cave monastery of Vardzia, with its 500 m of multi-storey caves dug in the cliff, is unique.
The medieval village group of Ushguli in Svaneti region, with its defensive stone tower houses, is well worth the lengthy and rough trip. Chacha, the locally brewed booze, is a (strong) delight!
The Khaketi wine region offers great views and good wines, with fascinating historical background.
The stunning landscapes and monasteries in Davit Gareja are also rewarding. And there are myriads of other sites to be visited in Georgia.
Romania, located in Eastern Europe, was formed in 1859 through the union union of Moldavia and Wallachia. The new state gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1877. In the aftermath of WWI, Bukovina, Bessarabia, Transylvania, and the Maramures became part of the Kingdom of Romania.
the country’s history was shaped by major conflicts that swept through Europe, leaving behind unique architectural treasures, with several World Heritage Sites just waiting to be explored, such as the historical Old City of Sighisoara.
We shall also visit the home of Elie Wiesel in Sighet, on the Ukrainian border and reflect on the dreadful behavior of Romania against its Jewish population, during WWII, under the dictatorship of Ion Antonescu.
Paris au pas - France
Paris, the iconic tourist destination in France, seen through the eyes of a photographer who was born and grew up in Paris.
"Paris is where I took my first pictures and where I acquired a deep and durable fascination for street photography" - Eitan Simanor
Chicago has been voted the best large city in the U.S. for four years in a row by Condé Nast Traveler.
The city was rated second most beautiful city in the world (after Prague) in 2021.
Chicago hosted some 58 million tourists on the year previous to Covid 19.
Some of the premium sites in the city include:
The Chicago River Front
The Millennium Park
the Jay Pritzker Pavilion
The Maxwell street, a symbol of the Jazz and Blues which originated in Chicago
The beginning of Route 66
The Lakefront trail
Photographer Vivian Meyer...
Minnesota is a US state in the area of the Great Lakes, on the border with Canada. Roughly a third of the state is covered in forests, and it is known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes". Lake Itasca, one of them, is where the mighty Mississippi river takes its source. Travelling across Minnesota's stunning countryside one comes across old farms with traditional wooden barns, still standing.
The first Europeans to enter the region were French trappers and fur traders in the 17th century. The land belonged to Indian tribes but that did not deter the Europeans...
Minneapolis–Saint Paul is the main metropolitan area of the state, known as the "Twin Cities". The city of Minneapolis is blessed with a series of natural lakes which the original settlers took great care to conserve and maintain, creating a thick “Green belt” of lakes and woods at he heart of the city, all connected with an intricate network of walking paths and cycle ways.
Minnesota State Fair is one of the most famous in the US! It is much fun and a great opportunity for an informal anthropological study of the American people... which can be completed by attending a proper rodeo, such as the one in Fergus Falls.
The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis white policeman, Derek Chauvin, in the streets of Minneapolis, led to international protest, especially under the hashtag "Black Life Matters". Congresswoman for Minnesota Ihlan Omar is a member of the democratic party, she is part of the militant progressive wing. Her family emigrated from Somalia to Minneapolis in the 1990's.
Eilat, the iconic tourist resort, shares with Aqaba (Jordan) an outstanding natural setting at the far end of the Red Sea Gulf, by the Mounts of Eilat.
This presentation deals with some remarkable (and mostly unknown) aspects of the city of Eilat and its surroundings:
the amazing density of infrastructures along the 9 kms of available coastline
the conservation of one of a the most striking coral reef
Bird watching (some 500 Millions birds migrate each year through the Eilat corridor!)
hiking along the Israel Way, in the Mounts of Eilat
Water supply for the entire city and the tourist infrastructures in a region where water is so scarce
the history of the city since biblical times till today
challenges due to climate change
Hanukah Jewish festival and much more...
much of it
Christians in Jerusalem
a glance at the different christian communities in Jerusalem
A presentation aimed at deciphering some prominent aspects of the history of Jerusalem as a city, as a Holy Place... and as place to live in:
- the respective monotheistic narratives
- the Old City Walls
- the Western Wall
- the Jewish cemetery on Mount of Olives
- The city Line
- Jaffa road and the light train
- Mahane Yehuda market
- the Railway park
This presentation explores the complex political status of Jerusalem on the one hand and its sanctity as a fully recognized holy city on the other hand.
As a result of the UN partition plan in 1947 and during the struggle for independence, Jerusalem became central in the Zionist narrative. Yet, it took months, after the declaration of the Jewish State, before it was adopted as the capital city.
Since the end of the war of independence in 1949, much effort on the ground has been made by the Israeli authorities and by Jewish/Zionist institutions across the world to clearly and physically establish Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State.
This presentation focuses on symbols, on monuments, on places and on the Jerusalemites, all part of the struggle for the status of Jerusalem.