Big city lights

Article published on Jan. 16, 2008
Article published on Jan. 16, 2008

Once upon a time, goes an old Babelian legend, the light of the world was born in a small, serene corner of Europe. Cádiz – one of the poorest but happiest cities in Spain – and it's neighbouring bay concealed an important secret. This said corner of the world, blessed by the planets, is today known on the map as the 'Costa de la Luz' ('Coast of Light'). When you disembarked at the port, you needed to close your eyes from the blinding white light, which seemed to stream out from the walls of the city. The people decide to produce and capture light in used glass preserves.

Later, this light was flown over the Italian village of Santa Luce near Pisa, until Paris, the famous City of Lights. In the French capital, from the top of the Eiffel Tower, the light beamed round and round the city during every night of the year. The light hit the Austrian municipality of Lichtenberg in Upper Austria, and the same-named districts in Berlin and the Erzgebirge region in Saxony. It also shone from the village of San Jean de Luz in the Basque country, the tax haven of Liechtenstein and the Praia da Luz resort in Portugal's Algarves – a place which in Europe has paradoxically come to be known not for its light, but darkness, after young British child Madeleine McCann disappeared there in 2007.

If you ever get to Broadway and stand there swathed in its lights, you'll know that so much light can only come from Europe.