Rome, Italy I

Rome, the capital city of Italy.  It is the oldest continuous inhabited site in Europe even though history can only be traced back to the beginning of Rome around 753 BC.  It is the birthplace of western civilization and claims the be the “eternal city”.  This historic center is on the UNESCO list as the World Heritage Site.  Under the city of Rome has many layers of cities from pre-historic Roman times.  The city itself is a big archeology site. 

20180919_114212
The Castel Sant’Angelo (Castle of Holy Angel) in Parco Adriano was first built by Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. Since it was the tallest building at that time, the Popes took over and made it a fortress/residence. Ashes of the emperors were scattered and the valuable materials and decorations were removed and brought over for the use of building St. Peter’s Basilica. The building was also used as a prison. Executions were done at the inner courtyard. On top is the statue of Archangel Michael for ending the plague of 590. Today it is a museum.
20180919_115046
Ponte Saint’Angelo bridge, a Roman bridge built in 134 AD. This pedestrian bridge crosses over the Tiber River and leads into the Castel Sant’Angelo on the right bank of Tiber River. In 1669, Pope Clement IX commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini for the sculptures of Angels symbolizing the stories of the crucifixion sufferings of Jesus Christ.
20180919_115324-COLLAGE
The angels on the bridge were designed by Bernini but finished by his successor. He was able to finish two which is the angel with the Crown of Thorns and angel with the Superscription. These are the Angel with the Cross and Angel with the Superscription. This is a copy of the original by Bernini and his son Paolo. The original along with the Angel with the Crown of Thorns is in the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte.
20180919_112932
Via della Conciliazione heading away from St. Peter’s Basilica towards Ponte Sant’Angelo. This road is a major throughway ordered by Benita Mussolini to connect the Vatican to the heart of Rome.
20180919_114426-COLLAGE
Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II bridge designed in 1886 by Ennio De Rossi. The bridge crosses the Tiber, the river known as the birthplace of Rome, to connect the historic city of Rome to the Vatican City.
20180919_122148 (2)
In Piazza Navona the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers-the four figures represent the Niles, Ganges, Danube, and Rio della Plata) with the Egyptian obelisk in the middle. On top is a dove, a symbol of Pamphili’s family. 1651 by Gia Lorenzo Bernini
20180919_121814(0)
Fontana del Moro is a fountain located at the southern end of the Piazza Navona in Rome. The dolphin and the four Tritons were by Giacomo della Porta in 1575. The Moor or the Ethiopian out of the conch were added by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1653. 1874 during the restoration of the fountain, the original sculptures were removed to the Galleria Borghese. The building behind is Palazzo Pamphilj built in 1644 and 1650. In 1920 it was purchased by Brazil and became the Brazilian embassy in Italy.
20180919_122024
Sant’Agnese in Piazza Navona is a 17th-century Baroque church. This is where the early Christian Saint Agnese was martyred in the Roman Stadium Domitian upon which the Piazza Navona was built on.
mmexport1537421004822
Trevi Fountain designed by Nicola Salvi and completed by Giuseppe Pannini. It is the largest and most famous Baroque fountain found in Italy. The fountain was built at the end of the 19th-century, Aqua Virgo aqueduct to bring in water from the Salone Springs that is 14 miles away to supply the Roman Baths. The statue in the middle is Ocean on a chariot pulled by a docile horse and a restless horse indicating the ocean as sometimes peaceful and sometimes forceful. Guided by two Triton. One is young and the other elderly holding a horn announcing the arrival of Ocean. On Ocean’s left is the statue of Health and on his right is Abundance
mmexport1537421036656
The Spanish steps, a set of steps built in the 17th century to connect from the lower Piazza di Spagna to the Piazza Trinità dei Monti, on the top where we see the Trinità dei Monti church. Because the 135 steps were irregular consists of straight and curve flights as well as terraces were unique and elegant inspired many artists, painters, and poets. Many beautiful women gathered here in hopes to model for artists. They, in turn, attracted many rich Romans and travelers here. Eventually, it became a preferred meeting place.
mmexport1537421036625
Capitoline Museums, at Capitoline Hill. Designed by Michelangelo is the first museum in the world opened in 1734. The mounted rider in the front is Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
mmexport1537421005274
Vittorio Emanuele II Monument or Altare della Patria. monument in honor of Vittorio Emauele II, the first king of a unified Italy. The statues on the rooftop are goddess Victoria on a chariot pulled by 4 horses.
mmexport1537420886159
The Pantheon, a 2,000-year-old architectural wonder of the Romans. Was built to honor all Gods but later turned into a church dedicated to St. Mary and the Martyrs. The 16 Corinthian columns supporting the portico weights 60 tons each and was from a quarry in Egypt. It was floated on wooden barges down the River Nile in spring when the water level was high and then shipped across the Mediterranean to Roman port of Ostia then pulled up the Tiber River on wooden barges to Rome.
mmexport1537420932575-COLLAGE (1)
The dome of the Pantheon is the largest unsupported dome in the world for 1300 years. Its top has an opening, the “Oculus” which is the only opening to bring in natural light into the Pantheon. At mid-day on April 21st, the light will shine in and strike the metal grille above the door reflected light up the front courtyard. The tombs of many Italian kings and poets including the famous artist, Raphael is placed here.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Siem Reap and Angkor of Cambodia (II)(吴哥窟-柬埔寨)

Angkor Wat, one of the largest religious monuments in the world.  It occupies an area approximately 402 acres. This temple was built by King Suryavarman II of the Khmer Kingdom in the early 12th century dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu.  Later, during the reign of King Jayavarman VII, it was transformed into a Buddhist temple.  

20180216_161628
Approaching Angkor Wat Temple Area, one can feel the grandness of this place just like during the 12th century.

20180216_172924
Inside the main temple is even more spectacular. The four towers of each corner and the highest center tower (43 meters high) represents Mt. Meru which is believed to be the center of the universe by Buddhism and Hinduism. Cambodians are very proud of this temple building which even found a place on the Cambodian flag.

20180216_162724
Entrances to the temple grounds. The main entrance was for the royals and the side entrances were for the animals and entourages

IMAG0416
This used to be the library.

IMAG0418
This used to be the bathing area before entering the temple.

20180216_163238-COLLAGE
Carvings of Aspara dancers on the walls and decorative roofs surround the temple buildings

IMAG0432-COLLAGE
The walls of the corridor depicting battle stories

IMAG0423-COLLAGE
The top of the towers was the actual place where the praying practice occurs. The King needs to climb all the way to the top on hands and knees. Only the one with the handrails and re-enforced steps were opened for tourist.

Another temple in the area of Angkor is Banteay Srei.  This temple was first built in the 10th century by not of the royals but by the king’s counselor a scholar and philanthropist.  The temple used to be in the center of a Khmer village.  Therefore it is of the same size and height as the other Khmer dwellings.  The temple was dedicated to the Hindu God, “Shiva”.20180216_143456

IMAG0379 (1)
The temple was mainly built of red sandstones with elaborate decorative cravings as well as many cravings of devatas. So its modern name became Banteay Srei, meaning “Citadel of Women or Beauty”.

The temple not just suffered from natural erosion but also from looting and pilfering for its beautiful pieces. Attempts were being made to restore with as many of the original pieces as possible and made replicas of many pieces of artworks so that the original may be put in the National Museum for safekeeping.

20180216_143302-COLLAGE
close view of the temple and elaborate decorative cravings

Note:  In Cambodia, one can survive on fruits.  They are not just healthy and delicious.  They are also pleasing to the eyes.

Siem Reap and Angkor of Cambodia (I)(吴哥城-柬埔寨)

IMAG0450
Greeting dance,  Apsara Dancer

20180216_183152
Greeting dance -Apsara dancer

IMAG0468
Royal Residence

20180217_125557

20180217_124638-COLLAGE
An ornate Buddhist temple.

Siem Reap is a resort city of Cambodia, a gateway to Angkor, an important and largest UNESCO archeological site.  Angkor used to be the capital of the Khmer Kingdom during the 9th to 14th century.  The 400 sq. kilometers of Angkor area consists of monuments, temples,  residence, with features of different ancient urban plans, such as water reservoirs, hydraulic structures as basins, dykes, canals, and communication routes,  as well as its architectural and artistic significance, that can attest to an ancient civilization for several centuries unique to Southeast Asia.

Angkor Thom was the last capital of Khmer Kingdom built by King Jayavarman VII in the 12th century.

20180216_090727
Enter Angkor Thom via the causeway across the Siem Reap River and under the South Gate(Victory Gate)

20180216_085826-COLLAGE
One may also take an elephant ride to Angkor Thom. Aligned on both side of the causeway is a seven-headed Naga which is a celestial being with a snakelike body and human head. Riding on it are Devas along the left side of the causeway and Asuras along the right side of the causeway.

Bayon, the state temple of Angkor Thom, situated in the center of Angkor Thom.  It was first built by King  Jayavarman VII the first Mahayana Buddhism King, in the 12th century and late 13th century.  Bayon was first built as a Mahayana Buddhism Temple but later it was modified to accommodate Hinduism and Theravada Buddhism.  Most notable are the serene faces on top of all the pointed towers.

IMAG0316 (1)
The temple does not seem to have its own walls or moats to define its area. It is only surrounded by enclosures of three layer of galleries. Center tower rises 43 meters above ground.

IMAG0285-EFFECTS-COLLAGE
All towers have these faces carved on top, up to approximately 400. It has been said that these faces are of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara or Lokesvara or even King Jayavarman VII himself. People also noted that the most sincere smile is the picture of the lower right.

20180216_093237-COLLAGE
decorative carvings on the towers

IMAG0277-COLLAGE
Carvings on the columns and walls of the galleries are dancers and stories of life during the Khmer Kingdom.

IMAG0320
Within Angkor Thom is a Terrace of Elephants. The structures on it had all been degraded by nature except the platform which was used for the King to greet the returning victorious army.

IMAG0321
Another terrace used to have statues of animals and the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac animals. Unfortunately, they have been looted.

20180216_112521-COLLAGE
Ta Prohm was a monastery in Angkor Thom. It is the only place that was better preserved. In 1992 it was included in the UNESCO world heritage list.

20180216_111357-COLLAGE
Ta Prohm is much left to how it was found. The only work is to prop it up at certain places. It is also the best-preserved structure of this area due to the nature of the forest trees that had grown around it. There are 2 types of trees that cause the coverage. The large ones are of silk-cotton tree (Ceiba pentandra) or thitpok Tetrameles nudiflora and the smaller ones are of strangler fig (Ficus gibbosa).[12] or gold apple (Diospyros decandra).
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

20171101_113611-PANO
Docks for boats going up the Rhine River.

Amsterdam was a small fishing village in the 12th century that turned into a major port city in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age.  Amsterdam has many water canals, not just for easy transport but also because Amsterdam is mostly under sea level.  The canals are the result of the dams and dikes that was built to hold off the flood water from the sea. The well-known windmills were energy source used to pump water back into the sea to keep the land dry.  Having to constantly balance the level of waters, the Dutch has created the modern water management system of today which is continuously updating as the rising sea level of global warming.

IMAG1530-COLLAGE
canal scenes

IMAG1490-ANIMATION

IMAG1492-COLLAGE
Amsterdam city scenes

 

Rijksmuseum is the national museum dedicated to the arts and history of Amsterdam.

20171102_102427
Front of Rijksmuseum

Other scenes within the museum.

Some interesting paintings on display at the museum.  We can see the progression of paintings from still portraits on the simple life and still objects to intricate brushwork, using white to bring out the lace and fabric; and later paintings showing actions and motions.

20171102_104308
The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer (1631-1675)

20171102_104542
Woman with a Child a the Pantry by Peter de Hooch (1629-1683)

20171102_105210
Still Life with a Turkey Pie by Peiter Claesz (1597-1660)

20171102_110247
Portrait of a Man by Frans Hals (1582-1666)

20171102_110813
History Scene with a Self Portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) earlier work of Rembrandt and his head is to the right of the painting behind scepter.

IMAG1581
The Jewish Bride by Rembrandt in 1667

20171102_112106
Fishing for Souls by Adriaen Pietersz van de Venne (1589-1662) Catholics on the right and Protestants on the left of the painting.

20171102_113221
The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn in 1642 famous for its lighting and as in motion.

20171102_114325
Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild by Rembrandt in 1662 a great collective portrait

 

Cologne, Germany

Cologne is the 4th largest city in Germany and the most populated city of the Rhine River.  Cologne had been a major trading route between east and west Europe.  The city was built by the Romans, occupied by the Holy Roman Empire, by the French during Napoleonic Era, and by the British briefly, after World War I.  During World War II, about 61% of the city was destroyed.  The cities pre-war Jewish population were either deported or killed.  The city’s six synagogues were destroyed.

Today’s Cologne was the result of the 1945 Cologne urban planning and 1947 reconstruction of the city.  The constructions of streets and thoroughfares to the city center help to modernize the city.  Some old landmarks were chosen to be rebuilt.  Cologne is a modern city with reflections of the old.

The Kolner Dom (The Cathedral Church of St Peter) is the tallest building second to the Telecommunication tower of 1981.  It is the landmark of Cologne which can be seen all around town.  It can hold more than 20,000 people.  Because it holds the shrine of the Three Wise Men and has impressive stain-glass windows, it was included in the UNESCO world heritage site.

Cologne Cathedral (Kolner Dom) most loved Gothic church build between 1248 and 1880.

Inside the cathedral and the stain-glass windows.

20171103_142019
Great St. Martin Church a Romanesque Catholic church built on the foundation of a Roman chapel. Was rebuilt in 1985.

20171103_150204
Cologne City Hall

20171103_145148
The Famous Farina House Cologne Shop founded in 1709. Made the first Cologne Fragrance known worldwide.

The bridges of Cologne:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The interesting town center of Cologne:

Lastly a refreshing beer.  Salute!20171103_153040

The Rhine Gorge

The Rhine Gorge, the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites due to its unique historical, cultural, geographical, and industrial combination.  This 65 kilometers of the waterway between Koblenz and Bingen had been a very important trading route for a long time before the railroads.  Because it was a major trading route and the center of Holy Roman Empire small towns and castles built along its banks.  Due to wars, the castles fell into ruins, however, the small towns pretty much stayed the same.

The Rhine Gorge waterway

Stolzenfels Castle

The Marksburg Castle

Electorial Castle (or Alte Burg, meaning Old Castle) is a 13th-century relic

The 13th century Saint Severus’s Church in Boppard

Feindliche Bruder (Enemy Brothers) Sterrenberg and Liebenstein

Burg Maus

Burg Katz above St. Goarshausen

Lorelei Rock (lore means murmuring in Rhine dialect and ley means rock in Roman.) is a slate rock protruding around the bend on Rhine River.  This type of rock is typical of Rhine Gorge which contains sediments and fossils.

Because the area water currents and the sound of a small waterfall in this area at the time caused an echoing effect, people named it the murmuring rock.  Plus the position of Lorelei protruding around the bank caused many boating accidents.  Stories were spin around these odd phenomena, such as elves living in the rock.   In 1801, Clemens Brentano composed a ballad about a beautiful maiden betrayed by her love, was accused of bewitching men and causing their death.  On her way to the nunnery to serve her sentence, from the top of Lorelei Rock she thought she saw her lover and plunge to death.  The story inspired many poems, songs, folklore, and even in the works of symphonies.

Near Lorelei sits this statue of the pretty maiden combing her hair and singing song to distract the sailors to crash into the Lorelei rock. Taking her revenge on sailorman.

Oberwesel, Martinsberg (Saint Martin’s Parish Church)

Town of Oberwesel. The Schonburg on top of the hill. Underneath is the Liebfrauenstraße (Church of Our Lady) and in the middle with black rooftop doom is, Wernerstraße: “Saint” Werner’s Chapel

Burg Gutenfels (Gutenfels Castle) of 1220 in the town of Kaub. Used to be a toll castle. along with Pfalzgrafenstein Castle

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle on an island behind up on the hill is Burg Gutenfels

Burg Stahleck) (Stahleck Castle)

The towns along the Gore stayed the same due to its livelihood which did not change much from ancient times.  Its special gorge climate and geographic condition especially the slopes facing south are a very good condition for a kind of terraced vineyards.  The wines from these vineyards are very special.

Other scenes of the Rhine Gorge.  Artists are attracted to this region and often drew inspiration from here for their creations.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz came from the Latin words which mean the convergence of two rivers, the Rhine and the Moselle.   Because of its strategic position on a major waterway, it was in a prime location to collect tolls and levy taxes on goods that were on the merchant ships passing by.  For this reason only, Koblenz had different occupants throughout its history.  With this, of course, came the largest fortress built between 1817 and 1828 and it is the best-preserved fortress in Europe on the Unesco World Heritage List of 2002. Ehrenbreitstein Fortress located on the hilltop east of the Rhine across from Koblenz.  It overlooks the old town of Koblenz and at the same time monitor the waterways of Rhine and Moselle.

The Fortress Ehrenbreitstein on the hilltop. and The Dikasterialgebaude at the foot of the hill, built in the mid 18th century in baroque castle style. Now it is used for offices.

The grounds of the fortress now houses several museums, exhibition halls, pubs, and a youth hostel.

View from the fort Ehrenbreitstein and the cable car ride.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The German Corner (Deutsche Eck) at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle

This Statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I is a reconstruction of the old one which was destroyed during World War II.  This is his memorial in honor of his Unification of Germany after three years of war. The original one was erected in 1897 and this replacement was erected in 1993.  This has been a part of UNESCO world heritage “Upper Middle Rhine Valley” site since 2002

The Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) built-in the 5th century on the highest point in the town of Koblenz on a Roman foundation.  Since that time it had been rebuilt and expanded on its original foundation.  For a time from late middle age to the French Revolution, it served as the church of Koblenz.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A walk around in the old town.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some other interesting tidbits about Koblenz.

Schangel a symbol of Koblenz. on a manhole cover. It is a child born in the period when Koblenz was in allegiance with France or the German-France child. Designed in 1940 dedicated to the poet, Josef Cornelius who wrote the lyrics to the anthem of Koblenz

The Schangelbrunn fountain stands in Willi-HorterPlatz. It will pit out water at odd intervals to spray at the passer-bys.

Old Kauf und Danzhaus stands in St. Florin’s Market. It housed the Middle Rhine Museum until 2012. The head below the clock will roll its eyes to the beat of the pendulum and sticks out its tongue every 1/2 hour. It is a reminder of robber baron Lutter von Kobern”s execution in 1536

The New Koblenzer beer brewery. Koblenzer was first brewed in 1689 in the Historic center of Koblenz. But it has become a part of a brewery conglomerate.