I think I am late for this one, but I’m participating anyway! Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge #146 is to focus on the details.
In 2019, we took a Viking river cruise, which started in Amsterdam and took us down part of the Rhine River. Our first stop in Germany was in Cologne, with its fabulous cathedral. Its imposing towers can be seen rising above the rest of Cologne’s buildings, this photo taken from our cruise ship as we arrived in the morning.
Officially named the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, this Gothic architectural wonder took centuries to build. Construction began in 1268 but was halted around the middle of the 16th century. It was finally finished in 1880, remaining true to its medieval plan, and at 157 meters (515 ft) it is the third tallest church in the world. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
Its façade contains a dizzying number of carved details, none of which are the same. (And these are all on its exterior!)
A couple of weeks ago we went to the Chicago Art Institute. There were three special exhibits I wanted to see: El Greco (16th century), Monet (19th century), and Malangatana (contemporary). There are many kinds of art and these artists illustrate how art has changed throughout history.
Doménikos Theotokópoulos, better known today by his Spanish moniker El Greco, was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. He usually signed his paintings with his name in the Greek alphabet. He moved to Toledo, Spain in 1577, where he received several commissions. He worked there until his death and it was there that he painted his best known works. His dramatic style was not well understood nor well accepted by his contemporaries, but has found appreciation in recent times. On at least one occasion, his patron was displeased with the painting El Greco had produced according to his commission, and while the painting was accepted and hung in a church, he only received half the amount he was supposed to have been paid. His most common subjects were religious themes. (Information obtained from Wikipedia.)
Claude Monet is one of the most famous and beloved impressionist painters; in fact, he was one of the founders of the French Impressionist movement. His interest was to capture the natural environment of the French countryside, and he would often make several versions of the same scene in order to capture the changing light and passing of the seasons. In fact, the term “impressionism” comes from the title of his painting, Impression, soleil levant which was in the first exhibition mounted by Monet and his associates as an alternative to the traditional Salon de Paris. (Information obtained at the Chicago Art Institute and Wikipedia.)
Malangatana Ngwenya (1936-2011) was an artist and national hero in his native Mozambique. His paintings depicted vivid and colorful allegorical scenes, drawing from traditional religious practices, his cultural background, and life under Portuguese colonial rule. The paintings in the Art Institute’s exhibition were completed between 1959 and 1975, coinciding with Mozambique’s liberation struggle against Portuguese colonial rule.
I am finding photos in my archives that I have never blogged about before, some suitable for Norm’s Thursday Doors challenge. We were on our own our last day in Cairo, because we were going to Israel to join up with a tour group there. On recommendation, we decided to go to the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA).
The MIA in Cairo is considered one of the greatest in the world. It has an extensive collection of rare wood and plaster artifacts, as well as metal, ceramic, glass, crystal, and textile objects of all periods, from all over the Islamic world and representing different periods in Islamic history ranging from the 7th to the 19th centuries CE. The collection occupies 25 halls in 2 wings, one wing organized by period and the other organized by category. The MIA displays about 4,500 objects, but their total collection equals approximately 100,000 artifacts.
These photos represent only a small fraction of the items on display, but they were ones I found especially beautiful or significant. And, of course, featuring doors!
Mind Over Memory has a weekly invitation for sculpture photos. Last year, when we got home from our trip to the Middle East, we visited the Egyptian exhibit at The Field Museum in Chicago. These are sculptures – or sculpted wooden mummy cases. Royalty in ancient Egypt would encase their mummified loved ones in several of these cases. The wooden ones might be painted, while others were made of bronze or glass.
Small sculptures of gods would also be buried in the tomb to offer protection in the afterlife.
Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week begins a series exploring the five senses. This week is sight. She says: As the saying goes, a picture worth a thousand words. Think of photos you can take or have already taken that remind you of a fabulous sight. I like to call it “Eye Candy”. Several of the photos I picked out are of animals, which is conveniently the topic of Dutch Goes the Photo’s Tuesday Photo Challenge.
A romantic couple: Swans make a “heart” after mating, in one of our community ponds.
Cheetah mom and cub frolic in Tanzania:
After watching these two gamboling for about half an hour, I decided the cheetah is now my favorite wild animal!
In a close second place are these adorable genets, who reside at Ndutu Safari Lodge. They looked down at us with such curious faces, and sat up there so quietly observing the humans down below.
My youngest “grandcat” Freddie – how can I help falling in love with this guy??
Here is my own beautiful cat, Hazel! This is an early photo of her, but it has always been my favorite.
This is a more recent photo of her, taken in our new house.
I guess it’s clear that I just love cats in general! (Genets are not cats, but they sort of look like cats.)
More eye candy is to be found in the beauty of nature.
A sunset in Tanzania
Cathedral Rock as seen from the campus of Verde Valley School, Sedona, Arizona
Flowers: at Chicago Botanic Gardens
Dahlia at Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, WA
I love to look at beautiful works of humankind as well.
In St. Matthias Church, Budapest
If I had to lose either my sight or my hearing, I think I would choose being deaf than missing out on the beauties of our world.
While I’m stuck at home, I’m making a photo book on Shutterfly of our trip to Israel last year. Going through the photos, I noticed some interesting doors I don’t think I’ve posted before, like these in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity. So I will tell the story of our visit forNorm’s Thursday Doors.
Bethlehem is located in the West Bank and we took a bus there from Jerusalem. When we arrived, I was gob smacked at how large the church was! It couldn’t all fit in one picture.
More remarkable is that this church was built in 530 CE by Justinian, on the site of a 4th century church over the cave in which Jesus is said to have been born.
The first church was commissioned in 326 CE by Constantine and his mother, St. Helena, directly over the cave. In the center was a large hole, surrounded by a railing, which provided a view of the cave. Portions of the floor mosaics from this earliest church are visible in the main sanctuary today.
Door named for St. Helena
The Door of Humility, a small rectangular entrance to the church, was put in by the Ottomans to prevent the carts of looters from being able to enter. It is called this because one has to duck to enter the church. I was unable to get a photo of the outside of the door because a lot of people were lined up to get in, which took some people more
But back to Justinian…who was responsible for the much larger church that still stands today. Remarkably, it was never destroyed by the Persians when they invaded in 614CE nor by the Muslims who followed them. In 1009 CE, the Crusaders took over, while the Franks and Byzantines, in the 12th century, fully redecorated the interior of the church. In the centuries that followed, the church was neglected but not destroyed, and the building also survived an earthquake (1834) and a fire (1869) which destroyed the furnishings of the cave.
In 1852, the Roman Catholic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox secured joint custody of Church of the Nativity. The Greeks maintain the grotto (where the cave is).
I am not sure if the above photo is the inside of the Door of Humility or it is the one below, with beautiful woodworked panels above it.
In the cavernous nave, there are 44 pillars, 30 of which are painted with images of saints or the Virgin & Child. The columns are made of pink, polished limestone and most of them date – incredibly – from the first, 4th century Constantinian church!
On the walls on both sides of the nave are fragments of beautiful mosaics, from the 1160s, created by the Franks and ‘Byzantines.
Visitors were lined up on two sides of the wide nave, waiting to get into the grotto to see the site where Jesus was born.
Our guide inquired and found out it would be at least 45 minutes, probably more, to get in. The consensus among us was to do the alternative: go to the church next door (St. Catherine) where we could peer through a peephole into the Chapel of the Manger.
We then went next door to St. Catherine Church. In front of the main entrance is a statue of St. Jerome (Hieronymus in Greek), who lived and worked in Bethlehem from 386 CE and is buried in a cave under Church of the Nativity. He is depicted with one foot on a skull.
St. Jerome always had a skull within his sight when he was working, to remind him that time was limited, so he should not waste time but instead use his precious time wisely.
Behind the statue is this lovely front door to St. Catherine, with a stunning stained glass window depicting the holy family.
Close-up of the panels on the door
The sanctuary of St. Catherine Catholic Church
We proceeded downstairs to the Chapel of the Grotto.
To see into the Chapel of the Manger, where there is a star on the spot where Jesus allegedly was born, we had to look through this peephole! (The people we could see through there were most likely looking down at the star.)
Church of the Nativity was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012.
Today we docked at Melk, a town on the Danube known for its abbey, which sits on a cliff overlooking the town. A bus drove us up the hill to tour the abbey.
The Benedictine abbey was founded in 1089. A monastic school was established in the 12th century and the library soon became renowned for its extensive collection of manuscripts.
The Baroque abbey seen today was built between 1702 and 1736. Particularly noteworthy are the frescoes painted by Austrian artist Johann Michael Rottmayr and the medieval manuscript collection which includes a famous collection of music manuscripts.
Frescoes in the library were painted by Paul Troger, distinguished by their pastel colors and dramatic sense of movement. We could not take photos inside the abbey but I took many of the exterior, with its views of the town and beautiful gardens.
The abbey managed to escape a series of threats, such as dissolution under Emperor Joseph II when many other abbeys were seized and dissolved between 1780 and 1790, because of its fame and academic stature; and during the Napoleonic Wars. When Austria was incorporated into Nazi Germany in 1938, the school and a large part of the abbey were taken over by the state.
The school was returned to the jurisdiction of the abbey after World War II and it continues in operation to this day, with an enrollment of 900 students of both genders.
Melk Abbey has been mentioned or featured in several works of literature and films.
Entryways (aka doorways)…
Looking down on the entrance to the abbey…
Views from the upper patio of the abbey
Scattered around the gardens were whimsical sculptures of animals.
Abbey mascot? I found this friendly Manx cat just chillin’ in the front courtyard of the abbey. She didn’t appear at all fazed by the crowds of tourists. I speculated that her home was one of the houses that are located on the hill just below the abbey.
By the time I saw this cat, I had determined to walk back to the ship – it was all downhill and I could use the exercise. Dale didn’t want to walk, however, so I left him to take the bus back.
I was looking forward to taking a lot of photos of the town, which I did, but in the end, I got lost and ended up having to ask for directions and backtrack to get back to the ship.
On my way downhill, meanwhile, I saw restaurants and small patios wedged between houses on the hillside.
As I descended, I passed through the main commercial area, lined with restaurants and tourist shops. And one shop that sold lederhosen!
And there were a few interesting doors, to satisfy Norm’s Thursday Doors aficionados…
Sculptures and installations…
Close-up of Bioblo blocks (including Bioblo doors! 😉 )
Finally, I reached the bar/restaurant/souvenir shop where we had gathered to get on the bus at the beginning of the tour. (When I saw it, I remembered it…”Oh, yeah!!”)
From behind this building, it was a short hike along the river dock back to the ship! What a relief!