"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Canada Once Again, Oh My

Mahone Bay
The main thing I remember from my Canada New England cruise two years ago was how cold I was the whole time I was there. I did a repositioning cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Montreal, and I loved it. I especially loved the ports in Nova Scotia and Quebec. But in Gaspe for example, there was still snow on the ground and ice in the streams. I want to go back next year. But this time, I prefer to visit a little later in the spring, almost summer.

Needed hat and gloves
So the itinerary I want to do goes to many of the same ports, but I plan to do different tours. For example, at Quebec City, I plan to go to St. Anne de Beaupre shrine. It is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in the world. If you want to know more about it, click here

Statue in Old Montreal
I hope to stay at the same hotel in Montreal. It was one of my favorite hotels in all the world. Le Saint Sulpice located behind the Cathedral in Old Montreal.

A fabulous hotel in Old Montreal

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Great Architectural Features of Cathedral at Lucca

Lucca Cathedral
St. Martin Cathedral in Lucca, Italy is chock full of the most amazing architectural features. I could have stayed there for hours, but alas, we only had a little time there. Our guide was awesome, but we had a lot of ground to cover that day.

Holy Water font Lucca Cathedral
The entire Cathedral is done in marbles, including the floors, much of the walls and the ceiling is mosaic tiles. The Cathedral is both Gothic and Romanesque.

Interior of St. Martin Cathedral at Lucca
Floor of St. Martin Cathedral at Lucca

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

More on the Lucca Cathedral: A Gargoyle's Dream

St. Martin's Catheral at Lucca is a gargoyle's dream. From the gorgeous ceiling to the resting place for the Volto Santo (the Holy Face of Jesus), the Cathedral history goes back to Pope Alexander II, former Bishop of Lucca. The Pope built the Cathedral on the site of a former Church to accomodate the Holy Face of Jesus.

The Holy Face is now housed inside a very secure location shown here.

Holy Face at Lucca Cathedral

From the Sacred Destinations.com site Lucca Cathedral ... 

According to medieval legend, Nicodemus did all the carving work but the face, which he hesitated to complete for fear of not doing it justice. He fell asleep, and upon awaking found the face beautifully carved - the miraculous work of an angel. The Crucifix of the Holy Face was buried in a cave for safekeeping, where it remained for centuries.
It was rediscovered by Bishop Gualfredo, who was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land when its location was revealed to him in a dream. To allow God to decide where the Crucifix should be kept, the bishop set it adrift on an unmanned boat in the Mediterranean Sea. The Volto Santo arrived on the shores of northern Italy, where the Bishop of Lucca, also prompted by a dream, put it into a wagon with no driver to determine its final location. The two oxen pulling the wagon stopped of their own accord at Lucca in 782.
The Volto Santo was placed in the Church of San Frediano, but the next morning, it was found to have been miraculously transferred to San Martino. For this reason, the legend explains, San Martino was designated the cathedral of Lucca (an honor previously held by Santi Giovanni e Reparata).
As usual, the real story is probably a little less exciting. There is no known mention of the Volto Santo before the 11th century, and for stylistic reasons it seems to be a 13th-century copy of a 11th-century original, perhaps necessitated by pilgrims chipping away at it. The original may have itself been based on an earlier model, perhaps a Syrian work of the 8th century.
The Volto Santo of Lucca was highly revered in the Middle Ages and attracted pilgrims from across Europe. Many copies were made and distributed, Lucca produced coins stamped with its image, the medieval French invented a St. Vaudeluc from a corruption of its Latin name (vultum de Lucca), and King William II of England (d.1100) was said to have sworn oaths per Vultum de Lucca ("by the Holy Face of Lucca").
There are many more great architectural features of this beautiful Cathedral, which I will discuss in another post.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Lucca Revisited

Cathedral of St. Martin in Lucca
Lucca was a fairy tale place, a place that I not only loved to visit ... but also a place I could see myself moving to. It is just that special. We arrived on the Holland America Westerdam and there was a huge storm while we were in Lucca. Later that night, the rains continued after we left the port of Livorno. Unfortunately it caused landslides, which led to the death of seven people. Very sad situation. My condolences to the families.

St Martin's facade in Lucca

The walk around Lucca started out wonderful. Our guide was amazing. She was an Italian woman who had grown up in California, and then returned to her country of birth as an adult. Therefore both her English and Italian were impeccable. She was nice too. Just lovely.

our lovely guide in Lucca

Here she is again
The tour included the Cathedral, another Church and some statues honoring the opera singers, including Puccini. One guy from our group wandered off to try to locate the plaza where they honor him. I wasn't that brave, as the place was a bit of a maze and I am really glad I didn't. He got lost and we almost had to leave him behind. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Lucca: Everything I Thought It Would Be and More

Outer walls of the city of Lucca
The cruise I took on the Holland America Westerdam last month had its first stop in Livorno, which is the gateway for Florence and Pisa. I have been to Florence a few times, and even though I really love it, I wanted to explore and see something new. Pisa just didn't interest me. I am glad I decided on Lucca.

Column detail from St. Michael's in Lucca
We went to both a Church and the Cathedral when in Lucca. Our guide was great. She was born in Southern Italy, but had moved to the United States as a girl and returned to Italy with her son as an adult. Therefore, her English was perfect. 

More detail from St. Michael's Church
St. Michael's was absolutely beautiful, and we visted it from the outside. More information about this beautiful Basilica can be found here.

Lucca is an amazing place and the only town we went to on the entire cruise that I could actually picture myself living there. If only, right?

Photo of our Holland America tour group on our walking tour
This was definitely a gargoyle inspired tour.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Girona Part 2: Cathedral and Gargoyle Sentiments

Pigeon homes at Girona Cathedral
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary of Girona has some superb architectural features. The pigeons who live there agree. According to wikipedia, St. Mary of Girona was started in the 11th century in the Romanesque style, and later continued in the 13th century in the Gothic style. More great information on this great Cathedral can be found here on wikipedia. I always love the fascinating story of all the European Churches and Cathedrals.

Another pigeon home at Girona Cathedral
It is definitely a place where gargoyle-sentiment abounds. Note the following architectural details.

It is also a spiritual place. The aura is quite lovely!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Girona Part I

Girona from the bridge
I had anticipated my trip to Girona and Figueres for months before I went in April of this year, 2013. It has taken me all these months to actually want to sit down and write about it. I prefer to find the positive about a place, and so I waited until I could find something interesting and unique about Girona. In reality, now that I review the photos, it really is an amazing place. But the day I took the tour from Barcelona, it was raining and cold. Photos show Girona off better than how it looked on this dreary day. I saw all the crumbling and uncared for buildings, that I may not have seen on a sunny day. The first thing we all did when we arrived was buy umbrellas from the tourist office.

Young woman from our tour of Girona

Our rain-soaked tour group at Girona

It rained off and on throughout the tour. The highlight of Girona is the Jewish quarter and the Cathedral. Our guide never took us through the Jewish quarter that I know of. He instead walked us by the Cathedral and through a labyrinth of streets and then left us on our own to find our way back. That was especially nerve-wracking for me, as I was traveling alone and don't have a good sense of direction. I also was approached by a stranger and that was disconcerting. A very nice young student walked me back to where I needed to meet the bus, after I told her he was following me.

Girona Cathedral stairway

The Girona Cathedral was really beautiful. I didn't see it all, as there was an additional charge for the rest of the tour inside and for some reason, I decided not to continue. It escapes me now why I didn't continue the tour. But the outside of the Cathedral was really impressive. I loved all the architectural details and will do a few more posts on this wonderful structure.

Architectural details of the Cathedral at Girona