Sunday, February 22, 2015

Another "St. Louis Cathedral"

Last Sunday I featured the Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.  This Sunday I'm featuring the St. Louis Cathedral in St. Louis Missouri.  This one was designated a Basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1997.  Dedication for this church took place in 1914.

This church is know for its large installation of mosaics, the largest in the Western Hemisphere.

Installation of the mosaics began way back in 1912 before the church was even dedicated and continued until 1988.  That's a very long time to be completing the task but, if you step inside the church, you might understand why.

The entire church is covered with beautiful mosaics containing 41.5 million glass pieces in more than 7,000 colors and covering 83,000 square feet of space.

The mosaics in the side chapels and sanctuary were designed and installed by Tiffany Studios.  Those inside the main church were designed by August Oetken.

When you walk inside the church, it seems like every where you look it sparkles and shines.

I've seen spectacular churches in Europe but the St. Louis Cathedral can stand up against any of those grand churches.  It's well worth a peek inside.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A French Quarter Landmark

Located next to Jackson Square and facing the Mississippi River stands this grand church building.  It's official name is the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France but everyone just calls it the Saint Louis Cathedral.  It is actually one of the oldest cathedrals in the United States.

A church was built on this site in 1718 and a third church built in the same spot in 1789.  It was designated a cathedral in 1793 and was enlarged and substantially rebuilt in 1850.  Only fragments of the 1789 structure remain.

I took this photo around 18 years ago.  It's been that long since I've been to New Orleans.  I guess I need to go back again.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Florence's Best

I recently found a web site called "10 Most Today" that makes posts with a list of the 10 most.....whatever the subject of the day is.  A few days ago it was the 10 Best Attractions in Florence and it made me happy that I actually got to visit all but just one of them.  I decided to dedicate this post to the ones I got to visit. In reading the order of them, I have to say that I probably would have put them in a different order but I'll follow their pattern.

Number 1:  The Florence Cathedral or Santa Maria del Fiore.  It looms over the city with its tall dome and beautiful walls like a giant exclamation point.  My first glimpse of it was from a hotel window just after I had checked in.

Number 2:  The Uffizi Gallery.  I don't have a photo of this one but I did spend hours inside viewing the world's finest collections of Renaissance art.  Weaving through the gallery rooms is a bit overwhelming.  The next time I visit this place, I'll make a list of what I want to see and stick to it.

Number 3:  Michelangelo's David.  I would have put this as number 1 in my list.  Although the Academia Gallery where it is located is very nondescript it certainly houses the most magnificent statue I've ever seen.  I think my friend who was with me got tired of waiting for me while I walked around and around it in awe of its perfection.

It will be the first place I go when I return to Florence one day.

Number 4:  The Ponte Vecchio.  I got my first glimpse of this amazing structure from a window inside the Uffizi Gallery.  It is an impressive sight when first viewed from the gallery window with the bright Italian sun lighting it up.  Strolling across the bridge with its many jewelry vendors, I could easily imagine it full of butchers, fish mongers and fruit and vegetable vendors from its past all shouting out for attention.

Number 5:  Piazza della Signoria.  This piazza feels like the heart of the city.  It's a perfect place for visitors and residents alike to meet up with friends.  We stopped into a wonderful pastry shop for a quick bite to eat before out scheduled visit to the Uffizi Gallery.

Number 6:  Basilica di San Lorenzo.  This church was built in the 15th century and is one of the city's oldest churches.

The courtyard garden was particularly inviting.

Number 7:  Loggia del Porcelain (Mercado Nuovo).  I thought I had a photo of this place but apparently not.  I do have clear memory of it.  It's a 16th century building that accommodates an indoor market.  I remember it because I bought a beautiful handbag from one of the vendors.

Number 8:  Piazzale Michelangelo.  This is the one I missed.  It's a park that overlooks the city of Florence.  If I had known about it, I can assure you that I would have been there.  I've seen photos taken from there and they are stunning.

Number 9:  Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace).  This was once the home of the powerful Medici family.  It's a 12th century structure that dominates the Piazza dell Signoria.  It now houses a museum and acts as the town hall.

Number 10:  The Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens.  This beautiful place once housed the ruling families of Florence.  It is now a museum you can tour.  The tour is divided into two tickets, the house tour and the garden tour.  The view of the garden above gives you an idea of its beauty.

The house was huge with wonderful antique furnishings and striking chandeliers.

I found the look of the carriage house (to the right) quite unique.

So that is the list of the 10 best attractions in Florence in the opinion of the authors of the web site I mentioned above.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Egyptian Temple in New York

Whenever I go to New York, the first place I visit is the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the first place inside that museum that I visit is the Temple of Dendur.  It is a real Egyptian Temple that was a gift from the Egyptian Government to the United States in 1965 and awarded to the museum in 1967.  There it was reconstructed in a room in the museum that was added specifically for the temple.

Years ago I read a book called "Making the Mummies Dance" by Thomas Hoving, the somewhat controversial Director of the museum at that time.  It's an interesting read that can be summed up by this cover quote from Louis Auchincloss "A fascinating, appalling and ultimately sobering account of genius, toadyism and guile required to amass and house a great public collection of art."  One of the many things that I remember from that book is what it took to get the temple awarded to the museum and what it took to build the room it sits in.

Regardless of all that recent history, the history of the temple is of course far grander.  It dates back to 15 BC and was built by Egyptian governor Petronius and commissioned by Emperor Augustus of Rome.  If those walls could talk, I wonder what tales they would tell.