Friday, April 26, 2019

Notre Dame Cathedral, 2018

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France, October 2018

Last October we stopped in Paris for a couple days on our way home from Spain and Italy.  The small hotel where we stayed was located just a few blocks from Notre Dame and we walked over to the cathedral and along the Seine several times.  

 View of Notre Dame from along the river

We walked all around the grounds of Notre Dame admiring the gargoyles and the carvings on the exterior, the river and the gardens.  Like hundreds of other people we also waited in the long line to enter and enjoy the interior of this magnificent historical church.  I had visited there in the Spring of 2012 when the cherry trees were in bloom, this time it was Autumn and the trees were starting to turn color.  

Looking up at some of the gargoyles

These statues on the roof had been removed for cleaning just prior to the fire

Carvings and relief statues 

The door on the left is the Virgin Mary doorway, the center door is the Judgement doorway, and the door on the right is the St. Anne  doorway.  The St. Anne doorway is the visitor entry into the cathedral.

When the news with accompanying videos and photos of Notre Dame in flames were shown it was shocking and so terribly sad.   Fire is one of the major dangers for old churches and one can only imagine how dry those ancient wooden timbers in the attics and spire must have been.  

 Approximate English translation of the plaque, "in the year 1163
under the pontificate of the Pope Alexandre III and the reign of King Louis VII,  Maurice, born Sully sur Loire, Bishop of Paris 1160-1196 undertook the construction of this cathedral in the honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Notre Dame de Paris"

Bas-relief on the choir perimeter on the north side showing scenes from the life of Jesus

 Known as the Virgin of the Students, 17th century

It appears now that most of the items of religious significance and the interior artwork, organ and the stunning glass windows survived the fire.  Also, there is enough money to rebuild.  

 We walked down the south aisle and across the front of the main altar and the choir stalls.  This is looking back toward the South Rose Window.   There is another rose window on the north wall opposite this one.  The south rose window is also known as the Rose du Midi and was a gift from King St. Louis. 

 One of many stained or leaded glass windows

 Chandelier designed to look like the crown of thorns.  What is said to be fragments of the crown of thorns are preserved in a crystal ring and displayed on religious holidays and the first Friday of the month.

Close view of ceiling

The organ and vaulted ceiling. The ceiling was mostly destroyed in the fire but the organ was saved.

Closer view of organ and West Rose Window

It is mind boggling to think how many people have visited or worshipped in this cathedral and all the candles lit, the prayers said, the masses performed in 850 years. 

One of several side chapels

 The cross of glory and the Pietà

Many people poor in spirit, hope, money, and health have found solace and hope in Notre Dame.  Tourists have marveled at the size of the structure and the artistic works.  Over the centuries it has become a symbol of Paris and welcomes millions of visitors every year.  It is comforting to know that it will be rebuilt.

The backside of the building, showing some of the scaffolding that was being used during renovation.

Evening view 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 398

Knossos, Crete, Greece

While on a cycling trip our friend sent this beautiful postcard from Knossos, Crete.  At the lower left corner on the reverse credits are given to Stefanakis studio photography of Heraklion, Crete, Greece.  Also on the reverse side of the card was a map where the places to be visited during the cycling tour were underlined.  At the back wall of the ruins, not easily discernible on the card, is a fresco of a charging bull.  

Map on reverse of card showing the cycling destinations

The name Knossos comes from ancient Greek references to the major city of Crete a ceremonial and political center of the Minoan civilization.  Around 2000 BC the urban area had a population of about 18,000 and at its peak after 1700 BC there were100,000 people living here. 

Even earlier there was a Neolithic settlement of between 200 and 600 persons.  Excavations of ruins provide insights in how these groups of people lived.  The houses were one or two rooms mostly built of fieldstone with inner walls covered in plaster.  The flat roofs were made from sticks and mud.  Dug in hearths were found in various locations most located in the center of the main room.  One building, under the West Court, had 8 rooms suggesting that it was used for storage.  

Minoan palaces began to be constructed soon after 2000 BC and are evidence of greater wealth.  The main building of the palace of Knossos covered 3 acres that extended to 5 acres when including the separate outbuildings.  The upper floor with state rooms was reached by a monumental staircase.  Storage jars that contained things like oil, wool, wine and grain were up to 5 feet tall occupied 16 rooms.  Lead-lined boxes called cists were used to house smaller valuable items.  Minoan pottery has been found in widespread areas from Egypt, Syria, Anatolia, Rhodes, Sicily and mainland Greece.  The link between Athens and Knossos is evident from both tradition and archaeological finds.  The Minotaur story is the main legend of has Athens a subject and paying tribute to Knossos.

Trivia:  Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes have caused much destruction from time to time on this small islet.  Roman coins inscribed with Knosion or Knos found scattered over fields also have images of the Minotaur or Labyrinth.  Excavations begun in 1900 and lasting 35 years far exceeded expectations.  The palace contained rooms suitable for a monarch and family but most rooms were used for civic, religious and economic purposes.  

The Greek stamp 

As always, thank you our friend who continues to send interesting, beautiful postcards.

For more information, see:

Thursday, April 18, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 397

Spinaloga, Crete

The postcard this week was sent by our friend while he was with a group of cyclists touring Crete.  The used card is a Michalis Toubis S.A. Editions and has a picture of Spinaloga or Spinalonga in English. 

As depicted on the postcard Spinaloga is a separate island; however, originally it was a peninsula connected to the larger island of Crete.  For defense purpose Spinaloga was separated by cutting down a portion of the peninsula in 1526 and the round fort, seen in the center of the islet with a wall also visible on the coastline, was also built in the 1500s.   The ancient port of Olous became a ghost town in the 7th century due to constant raids by Arab pirates.  When the Venetians began harvesting the salt pans along the coast of Spinaloga the port of Olous was rebuilt to facilitate the salt trade.

Today the island is a popular tourist attraction but no longer has a resident population.  The island was also home to a leper colony that is now abandoned.  There are tourist boats that depart from the towns of Plaka, Elounda and Agio Nikolaos daily for Spinaloga but there are no accommodations on the islet.  All tours last only a few hours before returning to Crete. 

Thanks to our friend for sending the card.

For additional information, see:

Thursday, April 11, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 396

Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy

This is another postcard in the series of Europa commemoratives.  It features the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice with the stamp as a 150th anniversary issue.

The university is a public university located on the Grand Canal of Venice in the palace of Ca’ Foscari.  Founded in 1868 it has 8 departments; Economics, Philosophy and cultural heritage, Management, Environment science, computer science and statistics, Molecular science and nanosystems, Linguistic and comparative cultural studies, Humanities and Asian and Mediterranean African studies.  Today there are approximately 21,000 students.  It ranks 5th out of 89 universities in Italy.  

 150th anniversary commemorative stamp

The stamp and the illustration both show the gateway to the campus.

Thanks as always to our friend who shares the postcards.

For additional information, see:’_Foscari_University_of_Venice

Thursday, April 4, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 395

Ponte Pietra (Stone Bridge), Verona, Italy

The postcard shared this week is as much about the card as about the stamp. The card is a Posteitaliane issue and the stamp is a Europa 2018 commemorative featuring the stone bridge or Ponte Pietra in Verona Italy.  The cancellation mark also has the image of the bridge.  A collector's item that I was surprised and delighted to receive.

Ponte Pietra crosses the Adige River in Verona, Italy and was built around 100 BC.  It is the oldest bridge in Verona and was once known as the Roman arch bridge.  Originally there were two bridges crossing the river and providing access to the Roman theater on the east bank.  Alberto I della Scala who commissioned the Castelvecchio (last week’s postcard) also rebuilt the bridge in 1298.  Four of the five arches of the bridge were destroyed during the German retreat of World War II and later rebuilt in 1957 using original materials. 

It is just incredible to see ancient structures still standing and still in use.  Le Pont du Gard in France is also about this same age and although it no longer functions as an aqueduct it is also still standing and can be walked across.  

Ponte Pietra - Verona, commemorative Europa stamp

Once again thanks go to our friend for sharing the unused card and its stamp.

For additional information, see: