King Abdullah Mosque, Amman

I am home in Sitka and will have the pleasure of looking out my window across Jamestown Bay and to the Gulf of Alaska or a little to the westward toward our volcano, Mt. Edgecumbe.  We have had two consecutive glorious sunrises.  The last two mornings the sunrise has reminded me exactly why I live here.  But for the past two weeks the view from … Continue reading King Abdullah Mosque, Amman

Merry Christmas !! Pictures from Bethlehem.

Christmas Day — a good day to post pictures of Bethlehem.  The focal point of any visit to Bethlehem is Manger Square.  It is a pedestrian zone bordered by the Church of the Nativity, the Mosque of Omar, the Palestinian Peace Center and a wonderful falafel shop which also serves freshly squeezed orange juice.  Star Street, Nativity Street and Manger Street converge on the square. … Continue reading Merry Christmas !! Pictures from Bethlehem.

Christmas Eve, Shepherds’ Fields outside Bethlehem.

It’s Christmas Eve.  In the news we have constant reminders that “Peace on Earth” is still a hope not a fact.  This is evident at Shepherds’ Field outside Bethlehem where you can easily see the security apparatus that meanders around the hilltop where shepherds first heard “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” (assuming the angels sang in Latin).  The Franciscans control this hilltop and when we were … Continue reading Christmas Eve, Shepherds’ Fields outside Bethlehem.

Barcelona Nouveau and Gaudi

I became interested in Art Nouveau living in Bratislava and within an hour of Vienna where Nouveau and Secession buildings captured my fancy.  Having seen them I needed to see some of the buildings of Antoni Gaudí .  The first 8 pics here are Gaudi buildings, including the Holy Family Cathedral, Sagrada Família, a must see in Barcelona and Casa Batilo and Casa Mila. I took … Continue reading Barcelona Nouveau and Gaudi

Crucifixion and Resurrection in Jerusalem.

You need a lot of faith to visit holy sites in the Holy Land.  The “upper room” where Jerusalem tells you the Last Supper took place was built by crusaders in 1099.  The gate the tour guide tells you Jesus entered on Palm Sunday was built by Suleiman the Magnificent in the 1500s.  There are three sites that claim to be the Jesus baptism site.  … Continue reading Crucifixion and Resurrection in Jerusalem.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Metz

Modernist Marc Chagall, cubist Jacques Villon, and tachist Roger Bissière are all there, mixed with art from the Gothic, Renaissance and Romantic periods.  It’s the play of light on the works that I find so fascinating.  They are the stained glass windows in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Metz.  Gothic does away with the need for structural walls, allowing artists to work in walls of glass.  The … Continue reading St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Metz

King Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco

The only way to get into the King Hassan II Mosque, if you are not a Moslem, is on a guided tour.  It’s worth it.   The mosque is more than two football fields long and one wide.  I think St. Peters in Rome could easily fit inside if the roof were retracted for the dome.  It has a carved wooden roof of cyprus that is … Continue reading King Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco

Salt Pope, Krakow, Poland

I’m not sure of the theological meaning, but Pope John Paul II has been turned into a pillar of salt.  In Genesis it was Lot’s wife who became a saline pillar.  Her sin was looking back at Sodom, the home from which she was being evacuated by angels before its destruction. The Wieliczka mines in Krakow Poland are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We took … Continue reading Salt Pope, Krakow, Poland

Festa in Malta

Each town in Malta has its Festa, dedicated to the town’s patron and church.  Festa season runs from April to September.  Festa starts on Saturday with booths, food stands, fireworks and brass band concerts (a tradition carried over from the British Military) and lasts the weekend.  Zurrieq (Maltese is a language derived from Arabic) honored St. Catherine and it had its Festa while we were … Continue reading Festa in Malta

Bethany Beyond the Jordan.

This is the first of my posts on Holy Land sites.  Over the months there will be more.  We cannot be sure where most things in the Bible actually happened because, at the time, people didn’t put down GPS markers.  For instance, there are two competing sites of the crucifixion in Jerusalem.  The Via Dolorosa has changed routes several times.  The upper room touted as … Continue reading Bethany Beyond the Jordan.

Khor Virap Monastery, Armenia

Khor Virap is the Armenian monastery closest to the sacred Mt. Ararat.  Because of a combination of fog and cloud we were only graced with fleeting glimpses of the mountain and never got its picture.  But when we got to the Monastery a man pushed pigeons into our hands (he said they were doves) and told us to release them with our fondest dreams so … Continue reading Khor Virap Monastery, Armenia

Sacré Coeur in Casablanca.

The French Cathedral Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart Cathedral) is at the heart of French Colonial Art Deco Casablanca.  It was built in 1930, abandoned for Catholic worship in 1956 on Morocco’s independence.  It sat derelict for years and reopened as an art gallery just before I got there in 2005.  It is built in a mix of Gothic and Art Deco styles with Islamic touches.  … Continue reading Sacré Coeur in Casablanca.

The Evolution of Egyptian Pyramids.

Egyptian pyramids evolved.  They did not just pop out of the ground at Giza.  A series of mistakes litter the desert.  In a short space of miles you can see those mistakes and follow that evolution. Saqqara has a stepped pyramid (and rubble of a step pyramid that didn’t hold up so well.)  It was an early incarnation of Pharaonic funeral monuments.  Then the builders … Continue reading The Evolution of Egyptian Pyramids.

“A Mighty Fortress” The fortified churches of Thierache, France.

In Eastern France there are several war related “roads” to follow, the “road of the fortified towns,” “The road of the battlefields” linking battlefields of the two world wars, and “The road of the military cemeteries.” Wars happened here with alarming regularity.   The road I found most fascinating was the “The Road of the Fortified Churches” celebrating about 65 churches (God’s castles someone called them) … Continue reading “A Mighty Fortress” The fortified churches of Thierache, France.

Monasteries and MiGs, Sanahin Side.

The Drive from Yerevan to Tbilisi is through the Debed Canyon that runs north from Vanadzor to the border.  The canyon has decaying industrial towns at its base and soaring monasteries, surrounded by traditional villages, on its peaks.  Armenia has beautiful countryside, rugged mountains and ancient historic monasteries interspersed with industrial wastelands of pervasive ugliness. You can take it all in by just turning your … Continue reading Monasteries and MiGs, Sanahin Side.

Monasteries and MiGs, Haghpat Side.

Haghpat Monastery looks across the Debed Valley at the Sanahin Monastery.  In the valley in the middle sits the industrial town of Alaverdi.  The Alaverdi region is famous for its monasteries and its Soviet heroes.   It is the home of the Mikoyan Brothers.   There’s a museum dedicated to the Mikoyan brothers in Sanahin.  One brother, Anastas, was a politburo member for 60 years who served … Continue reading Monasteries and MiGs, Haghpat Side.

Rila Monastery, Bulgaria, 1997

These pictures are faded.  We scanned them to put on this website.   March 1997 There are fine monasteries, isolated in the mountains, and of only passing interest to the Turks, so they remain.  We went to Rila.  It is a four story arcaded and fortified place with fine frescos that have the faces of donors to the monastery depicted as saints, and demons.  I … Continue reading Rila Monastery, Bulgaria, 1997

Rakoivishki Monastery, Bulgaria.

This is from October 2011. We drove back to Serbia by back roads.  The main attraction was to be Belogradchik, an Ottoman fort built around a series of natural red rock monoliths.  In pictures they look spectacular, but we had fog down to the deck so I really can’t testify to them first hand.  Now I know how cruise ship passengers arriving in Sitka must … Continue reading Rakoivishki Monastery, Bulgaria.

Bodbe Monastery (St. Nino’s Convent), Georgia

Bodbe, about two km from Sighnaghi, has a 5th century convent that shelters the remains of St. Nino, who converted the King and Queen to Christianity in the 4th Century.  The convent was rebuilt between the 9th and 11th centuries.  George tells me that all that remains from the 5th century is the foundation.  It, and St. Nino’s spring, a constant source of holy water … Continue reading Bodbe Monastery (St. Nino’s Convent), Georgia

Alaverdi Monastery and Cathedral, Georgia

At Alaverdi, on the other side of the pass we visited a monastery that has a cathedral within its walls.  Until the new Tbilisi Cathedral it was the tallest Georgian church.  It, like the Tbilisi church, has a soaring feeling of light even though the walls are decorated with frescoes.  These frescoes were covered with whitewash or plaster by Moslem invaders, restored, and covered again … Continue reading Alaverdi Monastery and Cathedral, Georgia