The evangelical Church of Świdnica in southern Poland is truly something extraordinary. It was built after the Peace of Westfalen (hence called Church of Peace), which followed a long battle between Catholics and Evangelicals in the german speaking countries. The catholic emperor Ferdinand II. won, but he had to make some concessions to the evangelical communities. Some of the reformed communities were allowed to build own churches, but only outside the city walls and they had to be built almost entirely by wood and within one year. Three communities rose to the occasion and two of these churches from the early 18th century still exist, the one in Świdnica being the largest and most opulent one. Since 2001 the sacral building is a UNESCO world heritage sight.
With 175.000 inhabitants Burgos is not a small town. Despite this fact it feels like a compact city, where all public life, typical for Europe, is condensed in the historic city centre. The city centre on the other hand lies in the shadow of a grandiose building, the medieval Gothic cathedral of Burgos.
I am fortunate enough to have a job which enables me to travel around Europe a lot. In respect to architecture and different architectural styles it is an immensely rich and interesting continent. There are two historic architectural styles in particular which are very distinct and closely linked to European history: The styles of Baroque and Gothic. While the baroque style is very opulent, colourful, and somewhat playful, being the style of the French Sun King in the 17th century and the glorious Catholic church of its time, Gothic on the other hand is very different. It is a somewhat dark style, with a lot of goblins and not much color. Everything reaches high as to touch God himself. The light is filtered and restricted through beautiful stained glass as the only source of energy being the Almighty. One of the most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture must be the grandiose Cathedral of Burgos, Spain, consecrated in 1260 and still as impressive as it must have been to the people living almost 800 years ago. A masterpiece.
The Cathedral of Gloucester was built in the 7th century and is well known, among other things, for being a filming location for the Harry Potter movies. It is also famous as being very mysterious and even strange. The reason is the architectural style of the church which is called “perpendicular style”, a more grotesque version of the medieval Gothic style. Also very peculiar and interesting are the glass windows, there is even one depiction of a medieval Golf player! All in all a fascinatingly grim but beautiful cathedral.
In September 2012 I went for a trip to Sicily and Southern Italy with friends. On the way there I had also a chance to visit Milano. I already posted some of these impressions on this blog but thought it would be nice to cramp them all into one entry. Also as I mentioned there are some new pictures as well 🙂
A view over the Bay of Naples.
The world famous cathedral of Milano. A beautiful piece of Gothic architecture in black and white.
Catania is an amazing city. Build on the foot of a massive volcano (Etna) it was destroyed and rebuild a couple of times. A fitting alternative name for the city would be Phoenix, as it has risen from the ashes like the legendary bird. In Catania the streets and many buildings are made out of lavastone (basalt) and it may happen very well, that you end in the cellar of a bar in which there are still traces of old lava flows under your table (Agora Hostel Bar). If you are on the main square (Piazza del Duomo) be sure to visit the Cathedral and enjoy this magnificent view from the rooftop.
Actually this shot is not from 2012. But it fit’s quite well so here it be 🙂 Personally I adore Vespas. And a beautiful turquoise Vespa in Rome must be a win, no?
The train station was build by the Fascists under Mussolini. It is colossal in size and displays various sceneries of Italian life and culture. Today large commercial ads dominate. It is still a fascinating piece of 20th century architecture and a prominent showcase for totalitarian gigantism.
It was the beginning of a warm day in late summer, sailing on board of a ferry into the natural Bay of Naples. As we came on deck we had the privilege to witness this beautiful sunrise over the Vesuvio volcano. The view was stunning and we watched with a humbled AAW. Although we didn’t sleep much on the ferry this night and we had a long program ahead of us in Naples, this sunrise was enough to carry us through the day.
Some weeks went by since I visited Portugal in mid of February and started to share my impressions with you in a series of posts. This one will be the last one for now. But I will be back in April with new pictures of a new city (hopefully :))! Enjoy.
What is truly great about Lisboa and Porto and what I didn’t mention before is the great choice of hostels here. Portuguese hostels win competitions on hostelworld and hostelbookers almost every year and they definitely deserve the prices! A lisboan hostel I can recommend from own experience is the Good Morning Hostel on the Praca dos Restauradores in the city centre. The people there were lovely and very helpful. We cooked together and had a great time. If you go to Lisboa check it out
Honestly I can’t remember the name of the church, but it was most certainly in Porto. The city has many magnificent churches, some of them made of pure gold. They are remains of a colonial era in which Porto became on of the richest cities on the Iberian peninsula thanks to trade and the importance of the local harbor. + I miss the blue sky terribly.
Number 28 again as seen on a rainy day in Alfama. My favorite part of the old town. Especially the surroundings of the Castello are beautiful and very charming. A nice part of the town for a walk, but you shouldn’t mind steep hights 😉 In case there is always a tram to bring you up & back.
A panorama picture of Porto. One day was definitively not enough for Porto. Although there are not many traditional “tourist sights” here the city doesn’t need them at all. It is the maritime flair, the port wine and last but not least the architecture and the small streets which are selling Porto and making it so attractive (especially for Britons we were told because there is a cheap connection from London introduced recently).
There had to be a cat picture at some point 😉 I get her anger, probably wouldn’t enjoy it either if someone would point a camera on me 10 cm in front of my face. So I was a bit of a cat paparazzi here. Guilty as charged. Still cute 🙂
The end of the world. Almost. The end of the European continent at Capo da Roca 3000 km from home. An amazing, almost spiritual place. But unfortunately we had bad luck with the weather, the wind was awful and cold as ice so we had to return rather quickly. Our hope to see the sunset stayed unfulfilled either. It was beautiful nontheless.