Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week challenge has the topic signs.
Here are some signs taken at Open House Chicago on Saturday. Open House Chicago is an annual event that takes place on a weekend in mid-October, in which over 300 buildings around the city open their doors to the public. Docents inside answer questions about the architecture, the place and its function, etc. This is the second year we have attended, visiting places we never could or even think about in the city of Chicago.
I hope to write more about these places in future posts!
Cologne Cathedral is the most noticeable building as you approach this city on the north Rhine River, with its Gothic spires soaring high above the landscape. At 157 meters (515 ft.) ir the third tallest twin-spired church in the world. The towers for its spires make its façade the tallest in the world.
From the river it is quite imposing, close as it is to the riverfront.
This Catholic cathedral is the most visited landmark in Germany, with 20,000 visitors average per day.
It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and of the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
Details above front door:
The cathedral’s official name in English is the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter (in German, Hohe Domkirche Sankt Petrus).
Inside the main transept:
Construction of the cathedral was begun in 1248 but was halted, unfinished, in 1473. Work did not recommence until the 1840s (!) and was completed according to its Medieval plan in 1880.
When construction began in 1248, the site had been occupied by several previous structures; from the 4th century CE (AD) on, these were Christian buildings.
Legend has it that Kris Kringle (Germany’s Santa Claus) would take naughty kids to the cathedral, where he would punish them and if they resisted, he would drop them off the South Tower! That must have been a great incentive for children to be good! Visitors can go up the South Tower today – that is, when Kris Kringle is not around!!
In the 19th century, there was a resurgence of romantic interest in the Middle Ages, and with the original plan for the façade having been discovered, the Protestant Prussian Court gave its approval for the cathedral’s completion. The Court provided a 3rd of its cost to improve relations with its growing number of Catholic subjects.
On August 14, 1880, the completion of the cathedral was celebrated as a national event, 632 years after it had been begun! It was the tallest building in the world until the completion of the Washington Monument four years later.
As in most large cathedrals, there are relics and burials. Many graves were discovered during the excavations in the 19th century.
Although the cathedral suffered 14 hits by Allied aerial bombings during World War II, and was badly damaged, it nevertheless remained standing in a city which was mostly destroyed.
Repairs of the war damage were completed in 1956. Repair and maintenance work is constant due to wind, rain and pollution which eat away at the stone, so there is almost always scaffolding on some part of the cathedral.*
As we were leaving, I saw this most unusual door on one side of the cathedral.
Both inside and out, the Cologne Cathedral is the most impressive and magnificent cathedral I have ever seen!
While in Caen, after touring the Chateau, we had lunch, then went to see the cathedral. Or at least, we THOUGHT it was the cathedral, but this is a mistake by tourists due to its size and soaring Gothic elements. It is actually called the Church of St. Peter (St. Pierre) and known as Saint-Pierre of Darnetal, Saint-Pierre-sous-Caen, Saint-Pierre-du-Châtel, and Saint-Pierre-en-Rive.
Even though it isn’t the official cathedral, St. Pierre is an imposing structure.
It was built between the 13th and 16th centuries. During the Middle Ages, most public ceremonies took place in this church. The spire of the church was destroyed by a British navy shell in 1944, meant for the German forces, and it was rebuilt in the same style. Remarkably, although 75% of Caen was in ruins at the end of WWII, the Church of Saint-Pierre remained mostly intact.
Architecturally, the church represents the transition from Gothic to Renaissance style. It ceased to be a church building in 1793, to become the Temple of Reason. From 1795 to 1933, the building was used for Catholic worship services.
I’m pretty sure I have posted these photos before, but this time I am posting them for today’s Blue Square entry. Dome of the Rock is such a beautiful building, known mostly for its golden dome that stands out among the whitish buildings of Jerusalem’s skyline. However, close up, it is covered with Arabic mosaic tile designs.
Disappointing was the fact that we could not enter this building, which is a sacred site for the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Inside the building is a rock on which Abraham allegedly stood, ready to slay his son Isaac as a fulfillment of God’s test, but God stopped him. It is also allegedly where Adam, and later Cain and Abel, offered sacrifices to God. We cannot enter because only Muslims are allowed inside. The building is actually owned by the King of Jordan, but Jerusalem’s Muslims maintain and care for it. It is part of a complex of buildings on Temple Mount, the other being the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Dome of the Rock is the first monument we saw on our tour, in January 2019, of Old Jerusalem beginning at Temple Mount, the square where the First and Second Temples once stood. All that remains of the Second Temple (which was destroyed by the Romans during the Jewish revolt in 70 AD) is the Western Wall, known also as the “Wailing Wall.”
Blue predominates in the mosaics of Dome of the Rock’s façades. A stripe of Arabic writing, white on blue, runs around the entire exterior walls of the building. Underneath are a number of different designs, including more Arabic writing, as can be seen in this close-up photo of one section. Each of the arched sections has a different pattern.
Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the theme of HANDS. Looking through my photos, I found hands in various positions and engaging in various tasks – hands are seldom idle!
Some hands are meant to scare…
like on Halloween!
Sometimes hands are helpful, pointing out things of interest…
Hands demonstrate how to make things…
like this man showing us how to make papyrus. He owns a shop that sells paintings made on papyrus “paper.”
Some hands have painted fingernails.
Hands can be used as perspective to show how (in this case) deeply ancient Egyptians carved their images in rock.
Little hands are very busy! My grand-niece makes “buttered popcorn bagels”…
A 4-year old’s hands are always busy exploring! Here my grand-niece (the same one) tried on some big yellow gloves and held something in one of them.
Sometimes to get a photo of the inside of a flower, I have to hold it up…
Hands can spoil your photo when they reach up to take a photo and their shadow falls on your subject!
Sometimes hands are used for sacred acts…
such as prayer;
or when Mary Magdalene touched Jesus’ robe and felt the power of his spirit;
or when a man’s hands protected the children of the Warsaw Ghetto, while their hands could do nothing in their sadness and fear but hang at their sides.
Hands are essential in the evolution of the human species: they grasp tools, they work, they perform intricate surgery, they play music, they embrace, they pet animals*, they are used to show emotion, or to use sign language – they are used in all kinds of expression and communication. Without the development of our hands, we would not have evolved into who we are today.
*I wanted to include photos of hands petting my cat, Hazel, but she jumped on my computer, which I took to mean that I will have to create a separate post on my cat-centered blog of hands petting her!
Frank Jansen at Dutch Goes the Photo has selected worship as his photo challenge theme for Holy Week. I share the sadness of the world for the devastating fire at Notre-Dame de Paris. But there are many holy places around the world that inspire awe where people worship.
Below are photos of worship from Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and the ancient Egyptian religion.
The ancient Egyptians had a pantheon of gods that they worshipped, and many of their temples contain images of pharaohs and others worshipping the gods.
On January 13, our Maranatha tour group visited the Church of All Nations, which is right next to the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem. The Garden of Gethsemane has several olive trees that are thousands of years old – that is to say, they were already there when Jesus went there to pray before his crucifixion.
The church was built in 1919-1920, using funds from many nations, which is how it got its name. Officially, it is called Basilica of the Agony.
The church has an interesting history. The current building stands on the foundations of two other churches – one a small chapel from the time of the Crusades, and the other a 4th century Byzantine church. While doing excavations for the current church, parts of this ancient church were found – a pillar and fragments of a beautiful mosaic. Upon discovery of the Byzantine church which had been destroyed in an earthquake in 746 CE, the architect immediately removed the foundations of the new church and began excavating the old one.
The main entry to the church:
When excavations were complete, work was resumed on the current church, using plans that were altered to encompass the ruins of the Byzantine church. In June of 1924, the Catholic basilica was consecrated.
The exit door encompasses a metal sculpture of an olive tree and beautiful metalwork around the door.
The main altar
Here is the exit door from the inside.
The coat of arms of many of the countries who funded the building of the church are incorporated on the ceiling, each in a separate dome, and also in the gorgeous mosaic floor designs.
Looking up toward the central dome
There were several lovely windows like this one.
When we exited onto a walkway that leads to the garden, we passed this side door.
In the garden, the word “peace” is spelled out in stones.
Detail from the front gate from outside, incorporating many symbols: a dove, a chalice, the sun and several Jerusalem crosses.
Of all the churches we visited in Israel, this one was my favorite.
Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is Murals.
The word mural comes from the Latin word for wall. It is defined by Bing as: a painting or other work of art executed directly on a wall. Wikipedia goes into further detail: A mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface. A distinguishing characteristic of mural painting is that the architectural elements of the given space are harmoniously incorporated into the picture.
We usually think of murals as paintings on a wall, especially when it covers a large space. At our public library, I was surprised to encounter some new murals that had been painted in a hallway:
I am posting it here in black & white because that’s what this challenge is all about, but the artist used very vivid colors. The wall across from this one has another mural; here are two close-ups of part of it:
Here is a mural advertising Coco-Cola in Lexington, Illinois.
If mural art can be any type of artwork, certainly ancient Egyptian carvings on walls qualify. They built temples to kings and gods, creating friezes and carvings on a grandiose scale which exalted the king’s victory in battle, his offerings to the gods, or the gods’ protection of him. This is an especially beautiful example from Karnak, which after 3500 years is still clearly visible, of the gods Thoth (left – with the head of an ibis) and Horus (right – with a falcon’s head) pouring water over the king from two jars. The king stands in the middle, with several symbols above his head signifying protection and long life.
In the ancient past, these carvings would have been painted but the color has been lost to millenia of exposure of exterior walls.
In Israel, which we toured after Egypt, I particularly liked this mural painted on a curved wall in Magdala, the home town of Mary Magdalene. In the Bible it describes how she felt Jesus’ spirit enter her when she touched his robe at their first meeting. The mural shows the bottom of Jesus’ robe and Mary Magdalene’s outstretched hand, with her finger reaching out to touch the hem of his robe.
We left the Egyptian Museum ready for lunch. We boarded our bus and headed to Old Cairo, where we would go to a restaurant for lunch and to the Christian Quarter of Old Cairo.
At Felfela Restaurant we were greeted by this hookah-smoking dwarf.
The restaurant had interesting décor.
Our tummies satisfied, we boarded our bus again and headed to the Christian Quarter. Here are some scenes taken from the bus.
Near the Marriott Hotel:
Seen on the street near the restaurant – we would see many more stray cats.
St. Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church, also known as the Hanging Church, is one of the oldest Christian churches in Egypt; its history dates to the 3rd century CE (AD), when there was first built a church on the site.
The name “Hanging Church” comes from its location above a gatehouse of the Roman fortress, Babylon Fortress – its nave is suspended above a passageway.
The ruins of Babylon fortress
This doorway leads into the courtyard shown in the next picture.
Mosaics on the walls of the courtyard
The church was built in Basilican style (rectangular buildings with a central nave and aisles, and a raised platform for the altar in front) and is meant to resemble the shape of Noah’s Ark. The church was mostly rebuilt in the 10th century and many restorations have occurred since then, major repairs and restoration most recently made in 2011.
In 1047 Cairo became the official and fixed residence of the Coptic pope at the Hanging Church.
Entering the church proper
Church interior, influenced by Arabic design and patterns
Orthodox churches do not have statues (which they consider to be idolatry), so Christian symbols and pictures are represented by icons. The Hanging Church has 110 icons, most of them dating to the 18th century.
The main altar design is made of ebony with inlaid ivory.
Over the altar is a row of seven icons, with Christ seated on a throne in the center.
Chapels: note the designs of Coptic crosses above and along the sides of the central icons.
View of Babylon Fortress from inside the church
From the Hanging Church, we went next door to the Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus, known as Abu Serga. It is also referred to as the Cavern Church, and is believed to be where the Holy Family rested at the end of their voyage into Egypt.
Sergius and Bacchus were soldier-saints martyred in the 4th century in Syria by the Roman emperor Maximium.
This church is where many of the early Patriarchs of the Coptic Church were elected, the first being Patriarch Isaac (681-692).
The church was built in the 4th century and finished in the 5th century. It was burned in the 8th century and restored in the 9th century. It has been continuously restored since that time.
The most interesting part of the church is the crypt in which Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus were to have lived for three months, possibly when Joseph worked at the fortress (he was a carpenter).
This is the room where the Holy family spent three months. It is 10 meters deep and when the Nile River rises, it often floods.
I was very moved by this place, picturing Mary and Joseph with their small child trying to keep warm in this space. Below is the well used by the family.
It is always significant to stand in the place where one’s ancestors or in this case, where Jesus, lived, sharing that space with the spirit of those from long ago.
We were not allowed to take any photographs inside the synagogue, so my photos are only from the outside. It is famous for the fact that it is believed to be the spot where baby Moses was found, and later where Moses prayed.
There are very few Jews left in Egypt; tens of thousands left at the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948. Now there are less than a dozen Jews left, yet a few dedicated individuals preserve this holy place.
The synagogue is not used as a place of worship or study today; it is instead primarily a museum.
It is believed the synagogue predates 882 CE, based on documents found in a store room (see below), and probably was built prior to Islamic rule. However, little is known about the original building. In about 1012 Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ordered the destruction of all Jewish and Christian places of worship.
In this synagogue, a store room was found in the 19th century that contained a treasure trove of ancient secular and religious manuscripts written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Judeo-Arabic. The collection is known as the Cairo Geniza and is now divided among several academic libraries.
This is the location of a well on the spot where Moses was said to be found floating in a basket on the Nile River.