Dipping into my archives, five years ago this month, we were in Brazil. These photos are of the new museum Museu do Amanha (Museum of Tomorrow) in Rio de Janeiro. Designed by the renowned Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, this science museum is very interesting, with many interactive exhibits that pose questions about our planet’s future.
The city of Sao Paulo has a variety of interesting architectural structures, dating from colonial times to futuristic modern buildings. The first images were taken along Avenida Paulista, which is closed to vehicle traffic on Sundays, so that pedestrians and bicyclists can enjoy the many interesting places along this avenue in the downtown area. First are several modern buildings and facades, followed by details of a Victorian era house called Casa das Rosas because of its rose gardens in front. The Instituto Tomie Ohtake complex is another example of modern architecture. Finally, in central Sao Paulo is the cathedral, built in neo-Gothic style topped by a Renaissance type dome. Downtown Sao Paulo is a good place to see Portuguese colonial style buildings, such as the Anchieta History Museum (closed the day we were there!). Farther out from the city center is Luz Railway Station, a hub of subway lines crisscrossing the city, as well as trains for travel outside the city. It was built to serve the British-owned Sao Paulo Railway and was built with influences of classic late-Victorian architectural style. Its most iconic feature is its clock tower. We took a subway line back to our Airbnb from Luz after visiting the Pinacoteca, one of Brazil’s most important art museums.
We also visited the capital city of the state of Parana, Curitiba, where we stayed with good friends. One of the most interesting structures is the ultra-modern Museu Oscar Niemeyer (MON) named for the architect who designed it. Its 17 thousand square meters of art exhibit space is now the largest in Latin America.
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!)
The Dohany St. Synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue, in Budapest, Hungary, is the largest synagogue in Europe and the 4th largest in the world. It can accommodate close to 3,000 worshippers.
The synagogue was built between 1854 and 1859 in the Moorish Revival style, incorporating decoration based on Islamic models from North Africa and laAlhambra in Granada, Spain. The Viennese architect reasoned that no distinctive Jewish style of architecture could be identified, so he used elements from the people most closely related to the Israelites, most particularly the Arabs.
The synagogue constituted the border of the Jewish Ghetto in Budapest during the Nazi occupation of Hungary, and the complex includes the Jewish Museum, Heroes’ Temple, the graveyard and Holocaust Memorial.
The Dohany St. Synagogue is the center of the Reform Jewish denomination in Budapest. From there, you can take a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter, an interesting historic area in the Pest part of the city.
A castle on a hill…sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? And to us modern tourists, seeing one castle after another on the Rhine River is a dream come true – we admire their beauty and their history. Castles were built not just as residences for royalty, but fortifications against invading enemies. Positioning them on hilltops above a river (which would have been the main form of transportation in medieval times) was meant to be imposing; they were symbols of power and strength; a hilltop position provided a view up and down the river, to spot adversaries from afar. (Although note that one of the castles in this gallery is actually right ON the river, not far above it.) Many castles were dark, damp places, fires burning for warmth in only a few rooms.
Thinking about these castles from that perspective takes some of the glamor away. Even so, they are worthy of admiration. One of them – Marksburg Castle (the white one with red trim – 2nd and 3rd photos) – we were able to tour, but I would have loved to explore some of the others. What is amazing is that these structures have been standing for centuries – they were built to last and of course many of them have undergone significant renovations.
Although Americans are amazed to see and visit these representations of centuries of European history (since we have nothing either as old or as symbolic of feudal society), I suppose people who are used to seeing them all the time don’t think about their history and probably take them for granted. Another perspective, I guess.
During the lockdown, we took a little jaunt out of metro Chicago and found ourselves in the town of Woodstock, IL. Woodstock is most famous for its historical square in the center of town, dominated by the imposing Woodstock Opera House. It is now used as a theatre and arts center. Here are 2 perspectives of a long stairway that stretches up one side of the building; in the one taken from the side across the street, you can see the two landings, where there are access doors on different floors.
Which photo do you think makes the stairway look longer and harder to climb? Which do you find more aesthetically interesting?
Amy of Lens-Artists invites us this week to show old and new with our photos and stories.
On our last trip to Brazil, we spent our first week staying with friends in the southern city of Curitiba, which has well over 1 million inhabitants. The city has grown a lot since I was last there in 1979! In this photo, the juxtaposition between old and new can be seen in the Centro Histórico (historical center), with Portuguese-style buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries dwarfed by modern skyscrapers.
We then spent about a week in São Paulo. Every Sunday, a major avenue, Avenida Paulista, is closed to motorized traffic; pedestrians and bicyclists have the street to themselves on that day. Being a major street, Avenida Paulista is lined with ultra modern architecture, but there are historical monuments there also, which visitors can explore. At the far end of this avenue is the Casa das Rosas, named for its rose gardens, a Victorian mansion that has become part of Brazil’s historic patrimony. Behind this partial view of the house, a glass blue skyscraper rises high.
In São Paulo’s downtown, old and new live side by side, above and below. These 19th century buildings, which can be admired for their colors nd wrought-iron balconies, now house modern stores on their lower levels.
Two years later, we were in Egypt, where we saw many monuments of its 3500 year old civilization. The Egyptians are both proud of their heritage and dependent economically on tourism. This modern apartment building is decorated with motifs of ancient Egypt.
While visiting the ancient pyramids in Giza, just outside the city of Cairo, we also took in a museum housing a restored ancient boat belonging to one of the first pharaohs. These boats were buried in pits next to the king’s tomb because the ancient Egyptians believed he would need his boat to travel to the afterworld. While the pyramids and the boat are ancient, the hexagonal Giza Solar Boat Museum which houses the ancient boat is quite modern looking on the outside, in contrast with the 3,500 year old pyramid behind it!
We visited the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut, a woman who ruled as pharaoh for nearly 20 years during Egypt’s 18th dynasty. I took this photo of my silly husband with his Nikon camera hanging down over his chest, posing with two Egyptian guards dressed in traditional garb in one of the temple’s sanctuaries.
Every one of the monuments was swarming with cellphone-toting tourists snapping photos.
South of Aswan is the city and monument of Abu Simbel, which is less touristy, because many people do not want to take the two-plus journey there to see the twin temples built by Ramses II. When the Aswan High Dam was built in the 1960s, it caused a lake to form south of the dam, which flooded previously inhabited areas. Because of its historical value, a huge effort was made, before the dam could be built, to remove the ancient monuments that would otherwise end up underwater. Ramses II’s temple and the smaller temple next to it he had built for his beloved wife Nefertari were divided painstakingly into sections and lifted 200 meters higher where a cliff had been carved out for its placement to look at much like the original location as possible. In the old position, Ramses II’s architects had cleverly created an inner chamber in which there were statues of the pharaoh and two gods, which received direct sunlight for 45 minutes on only two days of the year – his birthday and his coronation date – February 22 and October 22. One of the gods, Ptah, remained always in shadow, for he was the god of darkness. When the monuments were raised up to the higher cliff in the 1960s, the sun’s rays no longer illuminated the statues on those two dates, but close – they now shine upon the statues for fewer minutes on Feb. 21 and Oct. 21, only a day earlier.
Several of Egypt’s ancient monuments, including the temples at Abu Simbel, now have a special light show for tourists, which project colorful images onto the outer face of the monuments starting at twilight. As the images are shown, there is narration to accompany them in several languages that you listen to with an earbud attached to a small transmitter. New technology is juxtaposed with ancient buildings by using them as a “movie screen” for the images. During the projection of the images, it is difficult to make out the shapes and features of the statues behind them.
In Israel, where we traveled after our tour of Egypt, there are also many ancient places. Much of the original wall of Jerusalem and its gates still exists; millions of tourists and residents enter those gates on a daily basis. Here are some young Israelis dressed in their military uniforms about to enter this ancient gate.
In Gethsemane, there is a garden with ancient olive trees. One of them is exceptionally old – dating from the time of Jesus and is believed to possibly have been a young tree when he leaned against it to pray on the eve of his crucifixion. In order to protect it, a fence now surrounds it.
Finally, while on a boat tour of the canals and harbor of Amsterdam, I took this photo of Amsterdammers in a boat shaped like a Heineken barrel, about to pass under a medieval bridge.
My husband and I had to get away from the quarantine for awhile, so in April we drove out of town and ended up in Woodstock, Illinois. It has a historic downtown, including an opera house! Here are some of its historic district’s windows, for Ludwig’s Monday Window challenge.
The Iowa state capitol in Des Moines is atop a hill and offers a panoramic view of the city’s downtown. The exterior is entirely of stone with elaborate columns, cornices and capitals.
Looking up inside toward the top of the dome
Posted for Becky’s April Squares with the topic TOP.
The Iowa state capitol building is one of the prettiest I have seen, so I am including more photos highlighting the decorative tile floors and ceilings. The interior is constructed with several types of Iowan wood as well as 29 types of imported marble.
The House of Representatives, looking down:
and above, elaborate decor.
Colorful designs mark the floors, stairways and ceilings.
Looking toward the center of the building, the rotunda below
The library is a real gem!
If you are ever in Des Moines, the state capitol is worth a visit – bring your camera!
Thursday of last week (is that all? It seems longer!), we were going stir crazy from being stuck at home, and decided to take a ride into the countryside. No harm if there’s no one around, right?
We were also looking for hand sanitizer and after going into three stores, we went to Walgreens. They are keeping hand sanitizer under the counter at the check-out, and rationing it so everyone has a chance to get some. They were just two small bottles, but I think they’ll be enough for now! And they have aloe!
In our quest for hand sanitizer, we ended up going straight up Hwy 14 (Northwest Hwy) and passed through a lot of little towns.
So we ended up, not in the country, but in Woodstock, Illinois! Woodstock is a historic town and was the site for filming of the movie Groundhog Day. As we walked the streets of downtown Woodstock, we did see a few references to this claim to fame.
Almost all the stores were closed, of course, and we only saw a few other people pass by. One had a dog on a long leash and Dale stopped to pet it. But what I was really interested in was the Woodstock Opera House! An opera house is probably the last thing I would expect to see in Woodstock, so I was eager to have a look.
The opera house is the largest building in Woodstock. Of course, I had to get a few close-ups of its doors!
Side view of the building:
In Groundhog Day, the building was featured as the Pennsylvanian Hotel. It was built in 1889, designed to be a multi-purpose facility and also housed some city administrative offices, police and fire departments. It became McHenry County’s center for entertainment by traveling vaudeville, minstrel and drama companies.
There have been several renovations to the building. The interior has been fully modernized, including the technology used in modern entertainment shows, yet it retains its historic character.
The City of Woodstock owns the building but it is now used solely as a performance venue and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Perpendicular to the opera house on the historic square in downtown Woodstock is the old County Courthouse and Jail.
The old courthouse was built in 1857, to closely resemble the Cook Co. Courthouse, built four years earlier, but the Cook Co. Courthouse was eventually destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This building is also on the National Register of Historic Places and now houses various private businesses as well as a restaurant and art gallery.
Next to the old courthouse is the old county jail, famous for holding labor leader Eugene Debs, who organized the Pullman strike, which was ruled illegal. He spent six months in the jail and he became good friends with the warden and his family. The old courthouse functioned as a courthouse until 1973.
This structure was built in 1887 as the Sheriff’s House and Jail.
We walked around the mostly deserted historic square, where I took these photos of doors and other sights.
A lot of doorways had signs on them saying the business was closed for quarantine.
I think this used to be a door – from the markings on the bricks below, there might have been a stairway up to it at one time.
Even the little library (left) had a sign that it was closed due to the quarantine!