Saturday, May 17, 2008

Italy - Venice

(Above Image from a Travel Brochure)
I was told that some of the buildings I saw there as 1st storey was actually the 3rd of fourth storey of the buildings!!!
Because the 1st few storeys of the buildings were already been submerged into waters.
The people famous transport is of course the Gondola.
Upon arrival at Venice, everyone has to stop at Piazzale Roma.
The Piazzale is built in 1933.
A water transport would them bring is into the heart of Venice - Grand Canal.
Venice is made up of 118 islands, intersected by 160 canals and connected by 400 bridges.

This Rialto Bridge is the oldest one within the canal.
Suprising, it was originally made of wood but it collapsed in 1440.
Then it was rebuilt again...wood again!!!
Only in the 16th century it was then properly built by Antonio da Ponte.
He completed it in 1592.
Rialto is a single span bridge, 28 m in length and with a maximum height of 7.5 meters in the middle.
It has two rows of shophouses on it!

The view opposite the Rialto bridge - Grand Canal.
It's a very beautiful place.

We walked into the small alleys in the busy streets of Venice.
The distance between the houses apart were mostly builted very closely to each other, about a full arm length apart.

In the photo, you can see the "BRIDGE OF SIGHS"
The bridge was designed by Antonio Contini in a 17th century Baroque style.
Joins the Doges Palace to the Prigioni Nuove (New Prisons).
The name is derived from the fact that the prisoners were being taken across it before being sentenced by the judge.

The mortal remains of St. Mark was brought into Venice in 828.
Thus a church was built to house this precious relics.
Built between 11th and 15th century by many different people but the result is a harmonious blend.
Standing in the middle of PIAZZA SAN MARCO
An open space where pigeons fly around, people enjoying art works, relax...etc.
Can also buy seeds to feed the pigeons when I was there.
But recently I've heard that this practice is banned!

At the Side of Basilica of St. Mark's

Venice In High Water!
Sometimes San Marco will be flooded...
Image from a Postcard.

Streets of Venice.
People are able to take Gondolas from here.
If you are there, I would highly recommend you to try a Gondola ride.

A magnificent example of 14th century architecture.
It is a great museum containing works by many famous artists.

Venice... A place that I like very much beside Bavaria, Germany.
Surrounded with waters.
It a place where it is able to give one a romantic, exciting and yet also quiet and calm feelings...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Italy - Florence & Pisa Tower

An Overview of the City of Florence up on the hills.
Florence is also known as "Cradle of the Renaissance" or "Athens of Italy"
We arrived in the morning hours still feeling rather sleepy.

A place with very good view of the city.

Piazzale Michelangelo
Here in the centre of the square is Michelangelo's David
One of the world's most reproduced statue.

Giotto's Belltower and Cathedral
This belltower started it's construction in 1334 by Giotto but was completed only after his death by Andrea Pisano and Francesco Talenti.
This tower is 85 metres tall.
The Cathedral construction started in 1289 and since many alterations have been added.

At the bell tower!
The streets around it is also quite busy, full of people walking around...

Piazza Della Signoria
This is a lively square and have many statues on display.
A very artistic place.

At the south side of the square that has three great arches of Loggia Della Signoria.
Built in 1380s by Benci Di Cione and Simone Talenti for public ceremonies and later became an open air sculpture museum.

Streets in Florence, Italy

The Leaning Tower of PISA
Construction begun in 1174 by Bonanno Pisano and completed only in 99 years later by Giovanni di Simone.
This monument is 55.863 meter high.
Has 8 floors and a slope of 4.500mt.

Pizza del Duomo
The "Square of Miracles" consist os the Cathedral, the Tower, the Baptistry and the Monument Cemetery. Built by different people over a time span of more than 300 years from the 11th to 14th century.

The Cathedral at Pisa Tower was built from 1063 by Buscheto.
Consecrated in 1118 by Pope Jealaus II and only finished in the late 18th century by Rainaldo.

Picture from a Postcard

Friday, May 9, 2008

Italy - Rome and The Vatican

When I was in Italy in 1999 before year 2000.
Many of their historical buildings were under going some repairs and renovation works.
I was always interested in the history of Rome... anicent Rome!
Their medival times soliders and armors!
It's a pity I didn't take much pictures on the ancient ruins.
Especially the Roman Forum, I just managed to caught a glimpse of it as the tour bus passed!

Rome, named as Capital of the World or Eternal City
It is Italy's capital and largest city.
As the legend says, Rome was founded in 753 B.C.
A republic was declared in Rome in 509 B.B.

The COLOSSEUM (Colosseo)
Built in A.D. 72 by Vespasian and later in A.D. 80 by his son, Titus.
Once the Colosseum was able to seat 50,000 people.
A place where men combats with men or with the animals.
Its area is 188 x 156 meters and 57 meters tall.

I did not enter the Colosseum.
There were lots of people there.
Street vendors, Food carts, people dressing up as Roman soliders for photography...etc.
The place was rather lively.

A Triumph Arches.
It was erected in honor of Constantine's for defeat of the pagan Maxentius (A.D. 306).
It is 21 metres tall with 25 meters long triple arches.

Located just east of Vatican City. Built in 130 A.D. as a tomb for Hadrian Emperor.
Was used as a fortress in the middle ages
Now an Art Museum, display the history of Rome, their ancient weapons and armors.

Vatican is an independent state from 8th century.
It is the world's smallest independent state of approx. half a square kilometer of territory.

ST. PETER'S (San Pietro)
Greatest Church build it 324 as a shrine for the mortal remains of St. Peter.
The Circus of Nero is where St. Peter was crucified.
This building took hundreds of years to complete.

Standing in the the middle of St. Peter's Square (Piazza San Pietro).
The doric-pillared colonnade reaches out surrounding the square was built in 1937.
It is 240 meter wide open. Composed of 284 pillars with 140 statues and martyrs.
The St. Peter's Square is able to hold 300,000 people!!!

The exteriors was going through extensive repairs to prepare for the 2000 year!
Luckily, the inside were still open to visitors.
I took many photos inside but many came out of focus and dark.
That's the cons of using film camera.
I should have brought along a camera stand.
It's a pity because the interior of the church and it's statues were all so grand and well maintain!
I especially like the ceilling works! Mostly it's all beautifully painted.

Designed & built in 1723 by Francesco de Sanctis.
Located in Piazza Di Spagna.
The steps got it's name from a Spanish Embassy that was built nearby in the 19th century.

See how it the steps were flooded by people there, no wonder it's one of the city's favourite spots!
When I was there, I was quite surprised to see Horse carriages there for hire.
The carriages were all very nicely decorated.
I think it romantic to sit in the horse carriage to go round these places near sunset...
There were many cafe opposite the Spanish Steps.
Even though there were lots of people sitting and eating on the steps, the entire place was very clean. No litter bugs!

This enormous fountain occupies most of Piazza di Trevi, a charming place off Via Del Corso.
Built in 19 B.C. by Agrippa but was abandon.
In the 1400s, Pope Nicholas V requested to design it to have its waters be collected.
Decorative elements were added in the 18th century by Niccolo Salvi.
This fountain has drawn many tourists there to Make A Wish.
Not sure why but it seems like a custom to stand with your back facing the fountain, make a wish and then throw the coin backwards!!!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Germany - Neuschwanstein Castle

One day, I went passed a jigsaw puzzle shop. I saw a "Glow in the Dark" jigsaw puzzle. I was captivated by the look of the castle. Never seen anything this beautiful. Thus, I brought it, fixed it and framed the jigsaw up beside my bed. Every night, when lights are off, the castle would come to life! I wished I could travel through time. Time where I could visit the castle at it's glory, where the king was still alive! Where people are still living inside the castle. Sometimes, the silly me would imagined myself as the castle guard standing near the bridge. "A castle guard!" maybe you would ask? I don't know why too! It just kept coming into my mind.LOL!!!

A castle that I've dreamed of visiting for ten years before I finally was able to visit. The day was 23 March 1999... A dream come true!

A horse carriage. I took this carriage up to the castle. First time, so I quite excited about it! I sat at the front of the carriage, very near to the horses. Halfway up the hill, one of the horse started to shit!!! OMG!!! It's like right in front of my face and the smell is so strong. Everyone on the carriage started laughing!!!

The orange brick in front of the castle entrance.

Castle view at the entrance doorway.

Side view of the castle. It was quite misty up there but I like the coldness.

Up on the hill is the "Schloss Hohenschwangau". A castle rebuilt by King Maximilian II (Father of King Ludwig II). Ludwig II spent his childhood at this castle.

Image from a postcard. You can see from here that the Schloss Hohenschwangau is very near to Neuschwanstein Castle. I've written the castle name in Red.

A painting of King Ludwig II in 1865 by F. Piloty
King Ludwig II was born on 25 August 1845.
He is the King of Bavaria from 1864 - 1886.
In 1886, The King was found drowned in Lake Starnberg. How he died is still a mystery.

"Do not disturb the idyllic solitude of this romantic setting, whose picturesque is even greater in winter than in summer, by building factories and railroads. For there will come a time when many other people will yearn, as I do, for such a piece of land where they can find refuge, a place left unspoiled by modern culture and technology, greed and haste, as place far from the noise and turmoil, the soot and dust of the cities."
(King Ludwig II)

Image from a Postcard I brought from Neuschwanstein Castle. There's a swan logo stamp chop on the back of the card. The view around the castle is simply fantastically Beautiful!

Entrance Ticket into the Castle.The guided tour around the castle is great and informative.

The following three images are captured from my book, as photography is not allowed inside the castle!
This is the Throne Hall, one of the most impressive room in the Castle. Except that the throne is missing because when the King died, his family cancelled all uncompleted orders from contractors and the work on throne was never started!

The bedroom that King Ludwig II has a fondness.
It is designed in a late Gothic style.

At the village below the castle, there are also lots of stores selling souvenirs.
I like the mini wine bottle very much as it has the King picture printed on it!

These are some of the books at I brought at the castle or the village near the castle. Many of these have about the same informations. It contains lots of beautiful pictures of Neuschwanstein Castle and it's history.
I've also got some slides of the interior photos of the castle.
I'm not sure if they are still selling the Castle's photo slides now. Since it's the digital age now! I think slides are nice and when I projected it on the wall, I feel I'm at the castle again!

1868 - Preliminary draft of Neuschwanstein Castle by Count V. Pocci
1869 - A draft of the castle by Christian Jank found the King's approval
1869 - 5th September,cfoundation stone was laid for Neuschwanstein Castle!
1886 - When King Ludwig died, the castle was still under construction. The interior of the 3rd floor was not completed.

Construction of the castle requires enormous amount of materials.
465 tons of Salzburg
4550 tons of sandstone from Nuerting
400,000 bricks
600 tons of cement
50 tons of hard coal
2050 cubic meters of wooden scaffolding
The cost of building Neuschwanstein amounted to $6,180,047 marks even though the King intial plan on spending was 600,000 marks!!!