Last Saturday, April 3, 2021, Egypt celebrated in a big way the transferring of 22 mummies from the old Museum of Egyptian Antiquities to the new museum, The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, located in Fustat (part of Old Cairo), which was the first capital of Islamic Egypt. Egypt’s president and other dignitaries were witness to the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade which included an extravaganza of music, dance, and light show to celebrate the event. Some of the performances were projected on a screen behind the orchestra and chorus, because they had been pre-recorded at three important sites of ancient Egypt: the plateau of Giza (which is the site of the three large, most famous pyramids, constructed in the 25th century BCE, as well as The Sphinx); Saqqara (site of the step pyramid of Djoser, a first dynasty pharaoh – a few centuries older than the pyramids of Giza); and Deir al-Bahri (site of the beautiful temple of female pharaoh Hatshepsut).
The event began at 6:30 pm local time in Tahrir Square, recently renovated for the event, including the erection of a broken obelisk built by King Ramses II in the middle of the square, surrounded by four ram-headed sphinxes brought from Karnak Temple in Luxor.
The mummies of pharaohs and a few well-known queens were transported in specially made vehicles meant to resemble the boats on which pharaohs (who were considered gods) traveled to the afterlife.
The entire event can be viewed on YouTube and it is quite spectacular. Watching it, I was struck by the look of pride on the faces of the Egyptian children, who started the program, and of the Egyptian president (once he took off his mask).
I am including here a video of TheHymn of Isis, sung by Egyptian soprano Amira Selim, backed by a choir and orchestra, which was part of the program. I like this particular video because the words being sung in the ancient Egyptian language are displayed, followed by their English translation. The words are taken from inscriptions on a temple to the goddess Isis, from the Greco-Roman period. More information can be found at Wikipedia: Pharaohs’ Golden Parade.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear of this event, because when we were in Egypt 2 years ago, we were told that the new museum probably would take another 10 years to complete! We drove past the building, which was pointed out to us. Now I have another reason to revisit Egypt!
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.
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.
Obelisks were built throughout ancient Egyptian history, but they became more common during the New Kingdom. The top of an obelisk is pyramid shaped and is called pyramidion, referring to the uppermost piece or capstone of an Egyptian obelisk.
For Becky’s April Squares with the subject top, here are some obelisk tops.
One of the two Luxor obelisks, that originally stood on either side of the entrance to the temple. Both are made from yellow granite and were erected by Pharaoh Ramesses II.
The 2nd of the Luxor obelisks, now at the Place de la Concorde in Paris. It was given to France from Mohammed Ali Pasha, ruler of Ottoman Egypt, in 1833. In 1836, it was placed in its current location. Its pyramidion was missing (believed stolen in 6th century BCE) so the French government added a gold leaf cap.
This obelisk is at the large temple complex Karnak, where there originally were six obelisks. Only two remain. This one was constructed by Pharaoh Thutmose I.
This is what remains of one of the obelisks of Pharaoh Hatshepsut – she had two constructed at Karnak. One still stands. This one is interesting because you can see the top in detail; its pyramidion is still at least partially intact.
Amy at Lens-Artists this week invites us to explore the topic of narrow.
In my travels to “old” places – places built when there were no cars or crowds of tourists -I explored (or declined to explore) many narrow streets and other passageways.
Places like Old Town Tallinn, Estonia (where I got lost due to sidewalks and streets so narrow that I lost sight of our guide!)…
A van that is nearly as wide as this street in Old Town forces all pedestrians to the narrow sidewalk on the left.
There were also narrow witches!
In Stockholm, Sweden, I tried to imagine returning home to one of these narrow alleys on a dark afternoon in winter!
Dale ends our bike ride through Stockholm coasting down a narrow cobblestone street.
Stockholm, like many European countries, also has tall, narrow buildings.
Even older is Old Jerusalem, Israel…Like elsewhere, vehicles have the right of way, squeezing pedestrians to the wall.
Some of these climbing narrow streets are divided between steps and ramps.
Watch out for motorcycles coming through!
In ancient Egypt, clearly people were smaller to fit into narrow passageways into pyramids and tombs.
Dale and a few other adventurous souls (such as this woman from our group emerging from a pyramid) did go down these narrow steps into a now empty room in the Queen’s tomb in Giza. I took one look and decided to wait outside!
Tourists descend a long narrow hallway covered with inscriptions and paintings to reach the tomb of Ramses IX in Valley of the Kings. These hieroglyphics declaim the deeds of the king during his reign, and there are also symbols of gods to accompany him to the afterlife.
At the Chateau of Caen, France, a narrow stairway leads down to…where??
On Omaha Beach, in Normandy, are the remains of WWII German bunkers, which I declined to enter, also reached through narrow passages and stairways. (I’m glad I didn’t go in – my son’s photos show empty rooms with an inch of rainwater covering the floors!)
On the way back to our Airbnb farmhouse through the Normandy countryside, we drove down the narrow roads of villages, flanked by houses on both sides.
A car in front of us navigates a sharp corner into another narrow street.
A lot of traffic in Amsterdam travels its canals, which narrow on approach to bridges.
Floating traffic jam!
Bridges have these traffic signals indicating when it is safe and permissible to proceed (or not!).
The day after our tour of the canals, we went to the “red light district” where we were told not to take photos of the sex workers who lived on either side of these narrow alleyways. Probably also not a good idea to photograph potential clients – good thing this one came out blurry!
In Amsterdam, we stayed in an Airbnb 2nd floor flat, with a narrow stairway winding up to it. That was one of our son’s obligations to us for paying for his trip – carry our suitcases up and down! The stairway was so narrow and windy that he had to carry the suitcases one by one in his arms!
On our second day in Vienna (and 2nd to last day of our Grand European Tour cruise!), we visited Schönbrunn Palace. This 1,441-room palace was the summer residence of the Habsburg rulers and is a major tourist attraction in Vienna. The palace in its current form was built in the 1740s-1750s during the reign of empress Maria Theresa who received the estate as a wedding present. Her husband, Franz, had the exterior of the palace redecorated in neoclassical style as it is today.
The only female Habsburg ruler, Maria Theresa ruled for 40 years. She and Francis (Franz) I, the Holy Roman Emperor, had sixteen (!) children – eleven daughters, including the Queens of France and Naples, and five sons, two of which were Holy Roman Emperors. Thirteen of her children survived infancy. There is a portrait of her in the palace and when it was pointed out to us, the guide told us the story of Austria’s female empress. We gasped when she told us the empress had 16 children!
The longest reigning emperor of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Franz Joseph I, was born at Schönbrunn Palace in 1830 and spent much of his life there. He reigned from the end of 1848 until his death in 1916. The end of World War I saw the fall of the Habsburg empire so the palace was given to the Austrian Republic and preserved as a museum.
As with all the palaces we visited in Europe, photography was not allowed inside, so all my photos are of the palace’s exterior and its extensive gardens.
Being able to take pictures on the outside, I managed to photograph several doors and gates for today’s Thursday Doors challenge!
The ornate entrance gate
Another “gate” or archway, within the gardens
Balcony shuttered door
This one is my favorite!
More doors with shutters
For a fee, one can take a horse and carriage ride. I was intrigued by the horses’ “hats”!
Schönbrunn Palace and its gardens were recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage Foundation in 1996 as a remarkable Baroque estate. Many beautiful white marble statues flank its gardens; I posted a few of these a couple of weeks ago for Sculpture Saturday.
Wait…this guy isn’t a real statue, although he remains motionless until you get close! Perhaps he can sing a few bars of a Mozart symphony!
In spite of the summer crowds and the heat of the day, I enjoyed our visit to this former summer home of the Habsburgs. Here’s a vase of flowers for Cee’s FOTD 2/13/20.
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.
Bad Ischl clock (c. 1810), made entirely from 10 kinds of wood, including pear, walnut, beech, linder, maple, ash, oak, Scotch pine, larch, and European spindle tree. After repairs in 1970, some metal parts were installed, such as the middle spring and middle bar.
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…
The Tower of Babel at the Sommerspiele Melk, made of approximately 30,000 Bioblo building blocks.
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!
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #80 is about leading lines. Leading lines are one of the “rules” of composition: There are indeed “rules” of photographic composition, which like many other rules, are made to be broken. Whatever their skill level or experience though, understanding and knowing when to use the “rules” of composition can be helpful for any photographer. This week, our challenge will explore a key compositional element, Leading Lines. …Leading lines carry our eye through a photograph. They help to tell a story, to place emphasis, and to draw a connection between objects. They create a visual journey from one part of an image to another and can be helpful for creating depth as well.
This is how I spent the last two Junes, 2018 and 2019.
Our road trip (mostly) on Route 66: Sedona and Winslow, AZ
We visited the Painted Desert, too: first, horizontal lines.
Undulating formations which slope downward.
In Santa Fe, colorful pillars…
and a souvenir shop with paintings lined up along a counter.
When on Route 66, here’s a sight not to miss: Cadillac Ranch. It had rained the night before.
A year later, we were on a river cruise in Europe. One of the first ports of call was Cologne, Germany with its famed cathedral, with stained glass windows reaching toward heaven…
…and soaring arches decorated with sculptures of saints.
Later we crossed the bridge to return to our ship. The inner side of the bridge is covered with “love locks” – padlocks people leave in honor of their sweethearts. They stretch on as far as the eye can see!
Next stop was Marksburg Castle, which afforded beautiful views of the Rhein River and town below (I wish I could photoshop that pole out, but I don’t have the software).
And here’s a different view: a steeple rises up as seen through a turret.
Marksburg is definitely a “must” on any Rhine River cruise. It’s like a fairy tale castle!
Farther on down the river, a swan swam over near our ship.
We were passing through a lowland area.
I loved the small town of Miltenberg, which was so picturesque!
Inside a church, hymnals were stacked neatly in the narthex. One is drawn to the word Gotteslob, which perhaps means hymnal.
Our final stop on the cruise was Budapest, Hungary. A memorable part of the day we were there was a walking tour through the old Jewish Quarter.