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Houses of God: Sacral Architecture in the Alps

The tradition of sacral buildings in the Alps is far-reaching. The oldest churches in the region date from the 7th and 8th century, but the heyday for building activities was the 18th century. A time in the history of the region when grandiose architecture with rich decoration was built to combat the rivalling religious ideology of protestantism coming from the north. While protestant churches tended to be more plain and unpretentious, Catholicism went in the other direction. Churches became palaces for God, becoming ever more impressive with marvellous wall paintings and detailed glass windows. Another important element of Baroque sacral architecture were organs larger than life, richly decorated and with an impressive sound range. Some impressions from the region.

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A Tale of two Cathedrals

The cathedrals of Salisbury and Winchester are masterpieces of Gothic architecture in England. Usually I don’t mix styles within one series of photographies, though for this one I decided otherwise because some of these shots need the contrast and clarity of black and white while others demand for colour and light. As these buildings themselves offer stark contrasts to the modern world they are situated in today so do this pictures with one another highlighting different perspectives of this wonderful architecture.

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Bath: The Abbey of Light

The Abbey of bath is a prime example of the Pendicular Style of Gothic architecture in England. Another would be the Cathedral of Gloucester. Medieval churches tend to be very dark and somewhat sinister. The Abbey of Bath though is different. The light coming through the beautiful stained glass windows is flowing through the building, giving interesting accents and tones.

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The Church of Peace

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.

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A Masterpiece in Gothic Architecture: The 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.

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