Friday, April 17, 2020

Friday, April 17, 2020

favorite cathedrals, churches and monasteries

Posted by Hippobean at 8:53 PM
In Hippo's travels:

1. St Isaac's Cathedral (Исаакиевский собор),
St Petersburg, Russia -
Neoclassical exterior, the cathedral's façades decorated with sculptures and massive single pieces of red granite columns with corinthian capitals. Interior adorned with detailed mosaic icons and paintings. Gilded crystal chandeliers. Malachite and lapis lazuli columns. Gilded interior great dome with 12 statues of angels. Internal columns, pilasters, floor, and statue of Montferrand are of multicolored granites and marbles from russia. Didnt care much for the outside, but absolutely adored the interior, the colors, the lighting, the chandeliers offered a calm peaceful heavenly ambience. It felt like, if god wanted to meet with us in one of his houses on earth, this would be the one.

2. Duomo di San Gimignano,
San Gimignano, Toscana, Italia -
The outside of the duomo Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta looked rather plain. But the inside of the cathedral had voussoirs arcade on both sides of the nave, that were painted alternately in grey and black, creating stripes. Behind them, floor to ceiling frescoes that just totally blew the Hippo away. She loves frescoes and these were vivid and ginormous. Beautiful stainglass above the altar and round stainglass on the sides. the ceiling decorated with arches and frescoes. Absolutely blew me away with all that beauty. So much but not overwhelming. Especially when the unadorned outside did not give away any hint of the beauty inside. tricky but absolutely marvellous. Adored it!

3. Mosteiro dos Jerónimos,
Lisboa, Portugal -
Late gothic manueline style, inside and out with pure golden white limestone, the calcário de lioz, quarried from Ajuda, the valley of Alcántara, Laveiras, Rio Seco and Tercena. highly ornate entrances, multitude of gables and pinnacles of the santa maria church. 2 stories decorated cloister arches surrounding a vast inner courtyard of the Hieronymites monks monastery. Tomb of Vasco da Gama. So much history of the Descobrimentos and the Navigators. Loved it to the max.

4. Truro Cathedral, Cornwall, UK -
First anglican cathedral in cornwall, perpendicular style, 39m tall spire on a square central tower as viewed from the side street towards the cathedral it was stunning. the façade was no great beauty nor excessively ornate, however the cathedral stole my heart. Intimate feel. Imposing but not threatening in the small town. Loved the town and loved the cathedral.

5. San Giovanni degli Eremiti,
Palermo, Sicilia, Italia -
The red domes are absolutely unique and striking. Originally a Benedictine hermitage then a moslem mosque, and later back to Christian, it has both arab-norman features which made this monastery very unique. Modest but beautiful bell tower with a red dome. Luscious garden of citrus trees, towering palms, and prickly pears next to the church walls. Remains of Norman era cloisters with double columns with capitals decorated with vegetable motifs supporting ogival arches. It also contained an Arab cistern. Gorgeously unique. Sicily has many highly decorated churches but none as beautifully tranquil as this one. Totally Hippo's no 1 in Sicily.

6. Duomo di Siena, Siena, Italia -
The Gothic cathedral de Santa Maria Assunta (built on an ancient temple of the cult of Minerva) absolutely demanded your total attention. So elaborately decorated on the outside, it stunned your eyes when you came upon it. The massive tower. The eye catching dome. Its grandeur blew my mind! I didnt know where to start looking first. The entire floor filled with marble mosaic inlay and graffito, Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, Duccio di Buoninsegna, Donatello, Michelangelo, Pinturicchio, Domenico Beccafumi and Bernini's masterpieces. The arches, the frescoes, the ornate vaulted ceilings, the Sculptures, the Rose Garden oculus stainglass , where to begin? The Porta del Cielo, the attic of the cathedral with peeks of the inside of the cathedral from above, closer views of the statues, the arches and the stainglass. Awesome! The Cripta with 1 fresco filling an entire wall depicting the story of the Passion, and the glorious colors in the columns, pilasters, capitals and corbels with geometric or phytomorphic beautifications. The Battistero with an enormous marble baptismal font by Giovanni di Turino, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Donatello and Jacopo della Quercia. Lorenzo di Pietro's vaults and apse frescoes. Again, everywhere you looked, you see brilliant colors and exquisite art and you couldnt but to bow down and be humbled by all this grandeur and beauty that reached into the heavens.

7. Matthias Church, Budapest, Hungary-
The Church of the Assumption of the Buda Castle is colorful, ornate but not exaggerated. Originally Romanesque, later gothic with a tall bell tower with 7 bells. Beautifully located in front of the Fisherman's Bastion on the Buda hill, with great views of the Danube below and Pest across the river. Hippo likes ornate churches but not overly, and this church was just that.

8. Sé Catedral, Évora, Portugal -
Like a fortified medieval Gothic fortress, it is the largest cathedral in Portugal. A monument to showcase the transition from Gothic to Romanesque with Manueline and baroque featuers on the inside. Rose granite façade with 2 medieval towers, one with a blue tiled coned spire, the other a clock and bell tower. main portico with gothic portals with sculptures of apostles. Cloistered courtyard. Terrace accessble from the round tower above the altar. This fortress cathedral is expansive, imposing, and intimidating on the outside, while the soft colors of the painted arches and the chandelier above the altar on the inside offered a dramatic contrast. Beautiful!

9. Dohány Street Synagogue,
Budapest, Magyarorszåg (Hungary)
Largest in Europe, so beautiful inside and out, it blew the Hippo away. Moorish style with Byzantine, Romantic and Gothic elements. Rose stainglass on main entrance, towers with onion domes. Windows with the star of David. The interior, like a church, has 2 sides of sittings and balconies on both sides. Torah-ark with colorful frescoes in golden geometric shapes. NCY's replica cannot compare as the torah-ark of Dohany is much more intricate and the frescoes much more colorful. The colors, the façade towers and domes, the magnificent sparkling interior with light and darker brown and mahogany. Wow!

"And they built me a temple and I lived among them."

10. Noravank Monastery, Armenia -
Situated in a gorge made by the Amaghu River, with tall, sheer, brick-red cliffs, the monastery consisted of 2 churches and a chapel. Two-storey Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) church, with a narrow stone staircase on the face of the building in cantilever architecture. Surb Karapet (St. John the Baptist) Church and the modest Surb Grigor Chapel. Many many churches in Armenia but this one stood out as uniquely situated in a valley with Hippo's beloved ochre cliffs. Truely loved it.

Runner up:

Gergeti Trinity Church,
Gergeti, Georgia -
Modest in appearance with a cross-cupola church and a separate bell tower, it is its simplicity while perched on top of a green hill at 2170 meters below Mount Kazbek, one of the highest in the caucasus, that took your breath away. An awesome sight and reward after an hour of steep climbing from the town below. Suddenly like in the Sound of Music, "the hills are alive". Awesome sight made this church a runner-up.


Rock Cut Churches,
Lalibela/Tigray, Ethiopia -
The most iconic Bete Giyorgis cut into the shape of a cross. Carved out of monolithic red volcanic rock, built from top down, the famous churches were built in different styles. Some of them were cut into the rock. Others, like the famous st george, are completely free-standing structures, attached to their mother rock only at their bases. And some are semi-detached. the rock and location determined the style in which the church was constructed. Complex and extensive tunnels connected the underground structures. There are 2 groups, one north of the river Jordan and the second east of the river. Another older and more isolated group is in the Tigray area. Most of these required a few days of hiking and treacherous climbing as they were built deep in the mountains. The Hippo saw all the ones in Lalibela but saw only 3 accessable ones in Tigray. The special uniqueness made the rock cut churches of lalibela and tigray the bonus of Hippo's favorites.



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