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Revisiting Lisbon: Convento Di Carmo

Having lived in Lisbon, Portugal for a couple of months I still missed out on some things. Revisiting the city in October of this year gave me the chance to catch up on these experiences. High on my bucket list was a visit of the ruins of the Convento Di Carmo, a former Catholic convent, which was destroyed in the infamous earthquake of 1755 leaving it in a state of decay for the next centuries. Today it’s open for visitors and offers a fascinating perspectives on Gothic architecture and evanescence.

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Undredal at the Nærøyfjord

Undredal is a small village situated at the majestic Nærøyfjord in Western Norway. Up until 1988 the remote settlement was accessible solely by water. Nonetheless people used to live here for centuries, cultivating the rich soil and living off sheep herding. It is famous for a delicious kind of cheese named Geinost, consisting of goat milk. Also in Undredal you can find the smallest Viking church in whole of Norway, it has only forty seats (picture 6).

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Discovering Cyprus

Last time Cyprus was featured it was all about a divided island. Though the political situation is complicated for sure, I recommend to visit both parts of the island. So I won’t differentiate between the Turkish and the Greek parts in the following gallery. The pictures 5, 6 and 7 need some background: After the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus former Gothic Cathedrals were converted into Mosques. Interestingly some where not destroyed and just minor changes were made (like the destruction of angel figures due to the ban of images in Islam) and the altar was displaced within the church, so the believers would be able to pray in the direction of Mekka. According to Ottoman traditions the former Cathedrals were equipped with carpets and the inner church was painted white. Though inside as well as outside you still see the Christian heritage. The clean and bright style of Islamic religious decoration combined with the dark and serious Gothic style makes for a thouroghly fascinating combination.

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The Churches of Georgia

It’s been a while. I have been on the road for the last couple of months, so there was no time to update the blog. On the plus side though I got to shoot plenty of photography. So the place here will get more lively again in the upcoming weeks and months. Big news first: There is a new web address! Now the blog can be reached (also) via michaelhoffman.at

In June I got the opportunity to visit Georgia and Armenia. These are two rather small countries south of the Caucasus mountain range, equipped with long and dramatic histories. They have distinct cultures with own alphabets and Christian traditions. While Armenia is a landlocked country, a mountainous place, historically living of trade, Georgia lies inbetween the northern and southern Cacasasus, mostly within a fertile lowland. Georgian are predominantly peasants, many of them cultivate wine. As the grape is one of the most important export products of the country. The urban centre of Georgia lies also within it’s geographic centre. Tbilisi is an interesting place, modern on the one hand, while still maintaining a very traditional and almost oriental flair. But no matter where you are in the country: Chances are high you will spot a church, a very distinctive looking church. Many of these date back as far as to the mid of the 1 Century AC and are still important centers of religious and civic life.

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Greek Series: Blue Santorini

This post is part of the so called “Greek Series”, consisting of photographies I shot while backpacking Greece in September 2013. You’ll find a basic introduction to the series here and the last post featuring Santorini can be accessed here.

The last entry featured the mysterious red tones of Santorini. While the color indeed is very special to the island, Santorini is also part of Greece. And so it is a blue island after all.

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