Tag

hidden-gems

Browsing

Protestant Cemetery history

As indicated by its name, this is the final resting place for Protestants and other non-catholic people. Protestant Cemetery, officially known as the Non-Catholic Cemetery, has a rich history.

Records have shown that the history of this place dates back to at least year 1738. It was the year when the papal state dedicated this land to bury the remains of non-Catholics. Many of them were foreigner, mostly Protestants from northern Europe who could not be buried the consecrated land in Rome. According to Catholic Church law, Protestants can be buried neither in Catholic churches nor in consecrated ground.

Burials

The first person to have been interred at this cemetery was an Oxford graduate named George Langton, who came from an aristocratic British family. Between the years 1738 and 1822, around sixty people were buried in the cemetery.

The need for the non-catholic cemetery increased in the mid 19th century. Over the next hundred years, more than 4000 people were interred here. Almost one quarter was North Americans while the rest were mostly Europeans.

Expansion

The cemetery was not walled of as it is today during the earlier stages of its history. The first wall surrounding the area was built in the early 19th century. The wall of today was built during the unification of Italy, in year 1870. The cemetery was also expanded in size and a small chapel was added. With this, the cemetery looked much like it does today.

Why visit Protestant Cemetery ?

It is hard to think of another urban site so wonderfully peaceful. The cemetery’s many tall cypress tress, together with abundant flowers, creates a green shelter where one can escape the city. The cemetery has always had this romantic style, inspired by the Romantic English gardens of the 18th and 19th century. It’s hardly surprising that many poets and artists fell in love with this place and that many are in fact buried here.

In love with death

“It might make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place,” wrote Percy Bysshe Shelley – the famous English poet. Shelley died during a sailing accident not long afterwards. He’s ashes are interred here at the Protestant Cemetery.

John Keats

Another famous English poet buried here is John Keats, who died in Rome of tuberculosis. Keats lies buried in a quiet corner in an old part of the Cemetery. His simple oval tombstone is graced by a sad and bitter inscription, not mentioning him by name. The inscription reads;

“This grave contains all that was mortal, of a YOUNG ENGLISH POET, Who on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart, at the Malicious Power of his Enemies, Desired these Words to be engraven on his Tomb Stone: Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water. Feb 24th 1821”

The English Cemetery

Next to Keats grave lies the tomb of his friend, the English artist Jospeh Severn. Severn is actually the one responsible for the design of his friend’s grave. The cemetery is sometimes called “The English Cemetery” due to the many famous Englishmen interred here.

A diverse mix

However, the cemetery population is exceptionally diverse when it comes to nationality and religion. Here you can find Protestant and Orthodox as well as Islam and Buddhist graves. The inscriptions on the tombstones are in more than 15 languages ranging from Lithuanian and Bulgarian to Japanese and Russian.

The cemetery also possibly contains the highest density of famous and important graves anywhere in the world. In addition to the famous Englishmen, several other noted writers, painters, sculptors, historians, archaeologists, diplomats and scientists lies buried here.

An enchanting place

The cemetery is defined as of cultural importance to Rome and is thus under special protection. It is also regarded as an Italian monument of national interest. Today, the Protestant Cemetery ranks as one of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries.

Protestant Cemetery location

The Protestant Cemetery is located in RomeItaly. The cemetery is situated in southern parts of the city, next to the Aurelian Wall and the Pyramid of Cestius. For the exact location of the Protestant Cemetery, check out the location map to the right.

Protestant Cemetery Video

The Palace of Fine Arts history

The Palace of Fine Arts was originally built for the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition which was held in San Francisco in year 1915. The purpose of the exhibition was partly to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal as well as the city’s recovery from the 1906 earthquake and fires.The expo lasted for almost 300 days and the exhibition buildings extended about a mile along the shore. The buildings consisted of 11 exhibit palaces, showcasing objects from all corners of the world.

Allowed to remain

Just like many other exhibition projects, the majority of these buildings were not meant to last, but to be dismantled after the exhibition had ended. The Palace of Fine Arts was one of them, together with two other buildings.

However, the palace was widely considered the most beautiful structure and the star attraction of the exhibition and was allowed to remain. The original plan was to keep using the palace through continuing art exhibits, even after the exhibitions closure.

Closure of the palace

However, maintenance costs proved to be too high and the funding for its use fell short. As a result, the loved building was covered up and the area was used for other purposes. Light tennis courts were placed on the site in the early 30ies. Later, during the Second World War, the area served as a motor pool of jeeps and other Army vehicles.

Palace decay

After the war had ended, the Army returned the building to the city. From this point, the palace suffered steady decay. In the early ’50s, the palace hosted a few art exhibitions and served partly as a storehouse, but it was to a large extent abandoned. The building and the surrounding grounds were declared unsafe for public use a couple of years later, due to lack of maintenance.

Both the local government, as well as San Francisco citizens, realized that a Palace of Fine Arts in decay was a big loss to the whole city. In order to save the palace, a major restoration project needed to be carried out.

Renovations

A newly created Palace of Fine Arts committee, together with private donators, made it happen. Together with some state money, they invested several million dollars into the restoration of the palace. This resulted in the demolition and reconstruction of the palace in 1964. One of the largest donators was Walter Johnson.

After his death, he was called “the patron who rebuilt the Palace of Fine Arts”, as he alone donated more than 4.5 million dollars into the project. The palace was fully restored in the 1970ies and thus brought it back to its former glory.

Why visit the Palace of Fine Arts ?

Set in an idyllic park, the Palace of Fine together with its rich history is today an important part of San Francisco’s image.

An enchanting site

The Palace of Fine Arts is one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco and is definitely worth a visit. The Palace of Fine Arts was designed by Bernard R. Maybeck. He chose to theme the palace around Roman ruins, with the intention of showing “the mortality of grandeur and the vanity of human wishes ….”

The many beautiful pillars and columns also clearly show that he was inspired by ancient Greek architecture. The lagoon surrounding the rotunda and the colonnades added to its beauty.

An illuminated wonder

There has been some minor restoration project since the large one, initiated in the 60ies. These projects have included restoring the interior of the dome and surrounding walkways. The Palace of Fine Arts is now also illuminated during night, which makes a stroll at the palace during the evening something extra special.

The palace of today

Today the Palace of Fine Arts is host to both a theatre and a science museum. It is also a reminder of a great exhibition of 1915, which welcomed the world back to San Francisco. It has served as backdrop for several movies and has become one of San Francisco’s most loved landmarks.

Palace of Fine Arts location

The Palace of Fine Arts is located in western United States, in San Francisco, California. The palaces lies situated in the Marina District, close to the San Francisco Bay. For the exact location of the Palace of Fine Arts, check out the location map to the right!

Palace of Fine Arts Video

Sleeping Beauty Castle history

The Sleeping Beauty Castle or Dornröschenschloss as its known in German, has a long history by itself. However, one cannot talk about the Sleeping Beauty Castle without talking about the Brothers Grimm. The two famous German fairy tales writers Wilhem and Jakob Grimm are the ones who created the classical stories about Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel and many more. They also wrote the story about the Sleeping Beauty.

An inspiring site

Since many of the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales was inspired by their own lives and their surroundings, people started to wonder where the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty came from. Already in the 19th century after the publication of the Brothers Grimm’s Fairy Tales, people imagined this very castle to be the place where the Sleeping Beauty tale must have come from. Partly because the Grimm Brothers spent time in the surrounding areas and also due to the ivy-covered castle’s sleeping look with its magnificent past and its hedges of thorns.

The castle was said to be sleeping as it was partly a ruin at the time the Grimm bothers lived. In the early 19th century, the castle was abandoned as a residence and it rapidly fell into disrepair, converting the castle to a wild romantic old ruin.

Founding of the castle

But lets wind back time a bit more and talk about the castle’s history some more.  Once upon a time, the nearby village of Gottsbüren was seen as a holy site for Christians during the early 14th century. This drew many pilgrimages to the place which rapidly increased the city’s fame. In order to protect the village and the pilgrimages, the archbishop of Mainz founded the castle known as “Zapfenburg” in year 1334.

The castle also goes by the name Sababurg Castle. “Sababurg” comes from the legendary goddess of Saba – a name which was adopted at the end of the 16th century. The castle soon became the object of territorial disputes between the regions Mainz, Paderborn, Braunschweig and Hessen. The castle eventually split between Mains and Hessen, and later passed on to the local land lords in 1429. However, the castle quickly lost its political and military importance, and thus it fell more and more into ruins.

A new role

In the late 15th- and early 16th century, the castle was used as a base for the local foresters and as a place to keep wild horses. Later, Philipp I had the castle reconstructed in 1522 into a hunting lodge which he used frequently for hunts and festivals. An area outside of the castle, around one square kilometer, was laid out in 1571 and surrounded by a long wall. Inside were a vast range of northern “wild” animals. This served as a hunting ground for rich land owners and their friends.

Later stages

During the Thirty Years War, the castle was badly damaged, but later rebuilt between 1649 and 1651.The so called “Welsch” domes that crowns the top of the two towers dates back to this period.

In the 18th century, the castle interior was embellished considerably and it was later refurnished in splendid fashion. However, as mentioned earlier, the castle was later abandoned as a residence. Also, during parts of the 19th century, some areas of the castle was demolished and the material used for other building projects. This gave the castle the ruinous and wild which inspired the Grimm Brothers to write their story of Sleeping Beauty.

Around 100 years later, during the early 20th century, the long sleep was over and the castle was kissed awake and restored for visitors.

Why visit the Sleeping Beauty Castle ?

The first word that comes to mind for a lot of people when looking at the Sleeping Beauty Castle is simply “enchanting”. No wonder..

Wildlife.. literally!

Today, the surrounding wildlife area which once started as a hunting ground for the local landlords, has now grown into a full fledged zoo with focus on northern wild animals. Visitors can now observe a multitude of different animals at Sababurg’s Zoological Garden.

The over 650 year old castle itself is not only a site for visitors who want to experience the enchanting beauty of the real fairytale castle, but it also houses a romantic hotel, a theater  and a restaurant.

Castle garden

The Sleeping Beauty Castle also has a stunning medieval castle garden. The garden grows herbs, vegetables, flowers and of course; roses. This garden is a must see – especially during the rose season.

Fairy tale route

The Sleeping Beauty Castle is one of the highlights of the scenic Fairy Tale Route in Germany, a route which takes you along the origins of many of the Brothers Grimms fairytales. You can easily understand why the brothers were captivated by the enchanting beauty the Sleeping Beauty Castle holds.

Just like in the story of the Sleeping Beauty, or “The beauty in the Forest” as the story is sometimes called, the wild returns to take over the castle which is exactly what happened to the castle here in Sababurg.

Sleeping Beauty Castle location

The Sleeping Beauty Castle is located in northern Hessen, Germany. The castle is hidden deep within the Reinhardswald forest, next to the small town of Sababurg. For the exact location of the Sleeping Beauty Castle, check out the location map to the right.

Sleeping Beauty Castle Video

les invalides churchLes Invalides is a building complex with three major parts. This guide deals with the church of Les Invalides.

In order to get the full story, make sure you also check out the other two Les Invalides guides which tells the gerenal story of Les Invalides and the Dome of Les Invalides.

For the complete history of Hôpital des Invalides, first check out the Les Invalides guide!

Church of Les Invalides history

Soon after the main Hôpital des Invalides had been completed, Louis XIV decided that the veterans also required a chapel to pray in.  The soldiers’ chapel opened in 1677 – only one year after the completion of the main Hôpital des Invalides. The chapel was officially finished later, in 1679. The chapel is known as “Église Saint-Louis des Invalides”. After it had been completed, daily attendance was required for all the veterans staying at Les Invalides.

Revolution

les invalides churchDuring the French Revolution, buildings and symbols of the monarchy and the Catholic Church were often attacked and damaged. The Église Saint-Louis was no exception and the church was ransacked during the revolution. As a result, it lost many of its treasures.

During a period after the revolution, the church was unofficially said to have lost its religious purpose and it was unofficially renamed to “The temple of Mars” after the Roman god of War.

Napoleon era

les invalides church organAfter the Revolution, all French orders of chivalry were abolished. Later when Napoleon Bonaparte came to power, he wanted to reward civilians and soldiers for their brave deeds and not for their nobility rankings.

This led to the formation of a new Order called Légion d’Honneur; the Legion of Honor. The Order’s very first decoration ceremony took place here in this church on July 15th, 1804.

Lost banners

The troublesome times of the Revolution was not the only time the church lost some of its valuable treasures. The church also lost many of its flags and banners when the Governor of Les Invalides burned them in 1814. He didn’t burn them without a reason though.

les invalides church bannerDuring this time France had lost the Napoleonic Wars and the enemy Coalition forces were surrounding Paris, so it was simply an act to prevent the enemy from capturing all flags and banners.

Chapel separation

In 1837, the chapel area of Église Saint-Louis was separated from dome area by a large glass wall. From that date and on, the chapel area is considered to be the Église Saint-Louis des Invalides and the dome area has been given a new name; Église du Dôme.

Why visit Church of Les Invalides ?

Église Saint-Louis is truly one of a kind. When entering this church, visitors say it is unlike any other church in Paris. In contrast to many of the Gothic churches in Paris, the Saint-Louis church is very light and the much of the interior consists of white shining marble.

les invalides church organAnother thing which distinguishes the church is its connection to the Les Invalides with its military background.

Strong military background

This background is embraced throughout the church, as visitors can see a multitude of different banners and flags hanging from the walls. The church is also unique in the fact that it is still rather unknown, despite being located on a major tourist site.

Many of the people who visit the church never heard of it prior to their Paris visit, so it is still somewhat of a hidden gem inside the Les Invalides. Another evidence of the church’s military connection can be found under it, in its crypt. Under Les Invalides and Église Saint-Louis lie a large number of French 19th and 20th century officers and generals interred.

The soliders church

les invalides church shrine“The Soldiers Church”, as it is sometimes called, is not only known for its military background. The church also houses one of the largest instruments in France; its beautiful organ. The organ is located at the back of the chapel, above the entrance.

Anyone who has seen it will tell you it is not only large, but also very beautiful. The original organ was built during year 1686, but has throughout the year received many restorations. There are still however, some original stops from the 17th century left in the organ.

Church of Les Invalides location

Les Invalides is located in central ParisFrance. Les Invalides is located in central Paris, in the 7th arrondissement, and thereby easily accessed by foot. If you want travel by metro, the best stations to get off at is La Tour-Maubourg (8) or Varenne (13).

For the exact location of Les Invalides, check out the location map provided to the right.

Church of Les Invalides Video

Mendut history

Mendut is one of several temples in the area which all date back to around 8th and 9th century. Mendut is often mentioned together with two other nearby Buddhist temples; Pawon and Borobudur. Out of these three temples, Mendut is the oldest one.

More precisely, inscriptions have shown that Candi Mendut was built by King Indra in 824 during the Sailendra dynasty – one of two mighty kingdoms in ancient Java. It was the same dynasty who built the famous Borobudur and many other Buddhist temples in the region.

Over the course of history, Candi Mendut fell into a ruinous state. In 1836, it was rediscovered as a ruin covered with bushes and vegetation. The restoration of Mendut started at 1897 and was finished around 30 years later.

Why visit Mendut ?

The main feature of Mendut is, in contrast to many other temples, not its outside but its inside. The inside holds three great statues.

The statues

The main statue depicts Sakyamuni, more commonly known as Gautama Buddha or simply Buddha. Visitors paying extra attention to the way he is holding his hands will be able to spot a very typical Buddhist gesture. Forming your hands in a specific way as a religious symbol is within Hinduism and Buddhism known as a “Mudra”. The one depicted in this statue is called the “Dharmacakra mudrā” – also known as “the turning of the Dharma Wheel.”

This represents a central moment in the life of Buddha when he preached his first sermon after his Enlightenment, in Deer Park in Sarnath. Gautama Buddha is generally the only one who performs this mudra, as it is seen as a symbol of the teacher.

On either side sits two Bodhisattvas – divinities who have been blessed with enlightenment. One of them, Avalokitesvara, is said to liberate devotees from the karma of speech while the other one, Vajrapani,  liberates from the karma of thought. The Buddha statue itself is said to liberate its devotees from bodily karma.

Sadly, many Buddhist statues on the surrounding temples have been damaged, destroyed or looted. However, these three statues are well persevered, making them one of the greatest examples of Buddhist art in Java.

Jataka tales

While the statues are the temples main features, one shouldn’t forget about the rest the temple can offer. Candi Mendut is stacked with beautiful carvings and reliefs.
Some of the more notable ones are the detailed fairy tales, known as Jataka tales.

Visitors can find these on the outer side of each of the balustrades leading up towards the temple entrance. When the building was restored, some of the stones were missing, which lead to difficulties in identifying the different stories. Now that the pieces are back in place, reading the stories is much easier.

There are a total of four tales; one of them is about Brahmin and a crab, another one about Swans and turtles. The third one is about two friends, whose friendship gets destroyed by greed and the final story is about two parrots.

Religious use

Even to this day, Mendut is used as a religious temple. When Buddhist pilgrims visit Borobudur, they always visit Mendut first. They then walk to the nearby temple Pawon and end their pilgrimage with a climb to the top of Borobudur. While Mendut is not as famous as its bigger cousin, Borobudur, it still stands strong as one of the greatest Buddhist temples on ancient Java.

Mendut location

Candi Mendut is located some 45 minutes northeast of Yogyakarta, Indonesia It sits on a hill in the town of Muntilan in the Magelang District. Most travel agents in Yogyakarta offer the day-trip excursion to this temple as part of the tour to Candi Borobudur located nearby.

Candi Mendut is located some 2 miles east of its more popular cousin, Candi Borobudur. Mendut Temple is another temple, much bigger then Pawon temple and is located on the road to Yogyakarta. For the exact location of Mendut, check out the Location Map to the right.

Candi Mendut Video