Pictures, Images & Photos of The Chora or Kariye Museum.
Pictures images and photos of the late Roman Byzantine Chora Church, Holy Saviour, mosaics 1315-1321 ( now Kariye Museum ). Originally outside the original city walls built by Emperor Constantine The Chora Monastery derives its name from the Greek Kariye meaning country or suburban area. In 413 AD Emperor Theodosius built new land walls and the Chora monastery lies just inside these. Devastated by an earthquake on October 6 557 a new basilica was built for the monastery by Emperor Justinian. The occupation and sacking of Constantinople by the notorious Forth Crusade in 1204 lucky left the Chora untouched but due to neglect under the Latin occupiers it fell into poor repair.
Theodore Metochites ( 1270–1332 ) was a poet and humanist scholar during the reign of Andronicus II. Son of the archdeacon George Metochites who was condemned to exile for his fervent support of the union of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic church. Theodore Metochites was an academic being versed in literature & science, writing poetry in high Greek that is still difficult for academics to translate. Metochites' political career culminated in 1321, when he was invested as Grand Logothete. He was then at the summit of his power, and also one of the richest men of his age.
Metochites restored the Chora adding an outer Narthex and adorning the ceilings with sumptuous mosaics and frescos between 1315-1321. Being an early Humanist the style of the frescos introduces Human emotions and depictions of "real" people over the purely spiritual rules of depiction adhered to by the Orthodox Icon painters of the time. In 1332 in the west Giotto was still painting static unemotional frescos at the same time as the Anastasis ( resurrection) fresco of the Parecclesion chapel in the Chora was being painted. It depicts Christ saving Adam and Eve by resurrecting them from their sarcophagi. The fresco is full of movement with Christ all powerful in a pool of light at its centre. It has often been asked how western art went from the two dimensional lifeless paintings of Giotto to the full glory of Renaissance painting and sculpture in such a short time. The art of the Chora shows the conduit that saw Byzantine academics reveal Humanist ideas and the sciences of the old Greek Classical world to a Western Europe that had forgotten them after the fall of the Roman Empire and a period when academic pursuits stopped. The art of the Chora still has to conform to Orthodox beliefs of iconography of the time so could not go as far as later western Renaissance religious painting. How far the Byzantines would have gone will never be known because Constantinople fell and the Empire was extinguished in 1453. Under the rule of Andronicus III Metochites fell out of favour and spent the last years of his life as a monk in his beloved Chora Monastery.
Pictures of the Acropolis and its Parthenon temple & the icon statues of the Erechtheion. The Acropolis was the ancient citadel of Athens sitting on a rock with steep cliffs 150m above the city of Athens, Greece. The Acropolis was inhabited from Neolithic times and in Archaic times around the mid 6th cent BC a temple was built there.
During the Golden Age of Athens under Pericles, 460-430 BC, many major Greek Temples were built. During this period the Acropolis became the fortified treasury of the Delian League and its funds were used to build the Parthenon which was intended a symbol of the might of Athens. The Parthenon is considered to be the pinnacle of development of the Doric order. Greek architects used optical illusions to make the Parthenon look symmetrical. The columns bulge as they rise and lean slightly inwards. The west front is built slightly higher than the east front to increase perspective and counter the visual effect of curvature between two parallel lines of columns. The architects of the Parthenon used endless devices to bring the building close to the mathematical Golden Ratio, an algebraic equation used for geometric relationships by artists and architects, so creating and aesthetically pleasing proportion to the building and its art.
The sculpted friezes and statues of the Parthenon are also thought to be the pinnacle of Greek classical art. The sculptures from the Pediment of the Parthenon depicted scenes from the birth and life of the goddess Athena. The Metope panels depicted scenes of a battle between the Lapiths & Centaurs ( see these in our Elgin Marble picture gallery : http://bit.ly/I318LD ). The friezes depict the annual procession to the Parthenon to make sacrifice to Athena.
The other great icon of the Acropolis is the "Porch of the Maidens" on the Erechtheion temple. Built between 421 and 405 BC the temple was dedicated to the Greek hero Erichthonius. The sculptor and mason of the structure was Phidias, who was employed by Pericles to build both the Erechtheum and the Parthenon. The "Porch of the Maidens" uses caryatids which are female figures used as supports instead of columns.
Today attempts are being made to restore the Parthenon but it has been so abused over the centuries that little remains. When the Roman Empire converted to Christianity the Parthenon became a church. Its pagan artworks were damaged and cult images of Athena were taken to Constantinople. In 1456 Athens fell to the Ottomans are became part of the Ottoman Empire. The Parthenon then became a mosque with a minaret. In 1687 the Venetians attacked Athens. The Acropolis was fortified by the Ottomans and the Parthenon was used as an arsenal. A Venetian mortar made a direct hit on the Parthenon and the arsenal exploded destroying the internal building, the columns of the south side and damaging its sculptures. In 1801 the British Ambassador at Constantinople, Lord Elgin, obtained permission to make casts of what was left of the sculptures on the Acropolis and remove them. Controversy still runs high about this act today.
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Pictures, Images & Photos of The Monemvasia, Greece.
Pictures, images & photos of Monemvasia (Μονεμβασία) nicknamed the Gibraltar of the East or The Rock. The island of Monemvasia is linked to the east coast of the Peloponnese by a bridge built in 1971. It is 300 m wide and 1 km long with steep cliffs rising to a plateau 100 meters above the sea. Ancient walls ring the plateau making a powerful medieval fortification.
In 583 when the Slavs & Avars invaded northern Greece refugees founded a settlement at Monemvasia. Its natural defences and harbour meant that by by the 10th century Monemvasia was an important trading town for the Peloponnese. Its defences held against the Arab and Norman invasions until 12 48 when it fell after a 3 year siege to William II of Villehardouin. When William was captured at the Battle of Pelegonia by the Byzantines in 1259, Monemvasia retroceded to Michael VIII Palaiologos as part of William's ransom.
Apart from its natural fortifications the strength of Monemvasia lay in field that grew corn on the plateau making it very hard to take by siege. Monemvasia also made Malmsey wine. It remained part of the Byzantine empire until 1460, becoming the seat of an Imperial governor, a landing place for Imperial operations against the Franks and the main port of shipment for Malmsey wine.
Monemvasia held out against the Ottomans becoming the only domain of the Despot of Morea, Thomas Palaiologos and one of the last towns of the Eastern Byzantine Empire. Thomas Palaiologos had no forces to defend Monemvasia and finally sold it to the Pope who in turn was unable to defend the island so allowed it to be garrisoned by the Venetians.
Although Monemvasia was a prosperous town for a while as the Ottomans took the Peloponnese it lost its source of wine and food and in 1540 when a treaty between the Ottomans and the Venetians saw Monemvasia come under Ottoman rule. The Venetians recovered Monemvasia in 1690, then again from 1715 to 1821. On July 23, 1821 the town was liberated from Ottoman rule by Tzannetakis Grigorakis during the Greek War of Independence.
The commercial importance of Monemvasia had declined and the buildings on the plateau fell into ruins leaving a medieval fishing village at the foot of the cliffs. Its picturesque medieval houses and Byzantine churches became its saviour and today it is an important and thriving tourist destination with boutique hotels and tiny squares with cafes.
Pictures, images & photos of ancient Assyrian relief sculptures. The Assyrians existed as an independent state fro 2400 B.C to the end of the 7th cent. B.C in Mesopotamia, present day Iraq The Assyrians became a power rich empire that showed its great conquests in exquisitely intricate relief sculptures on its palace walls. Assyrian art was designed to overwhelm the viewer. Huge mythical beasts stood either side of its palace and city gates pronouncing the wealth and prestige of the Assyrian rulers.
The detail in the relief sculptures is sumptuous and gives a very clear understanding of the intricately woven cloth that made up the nobilities clothes. Scenes of hunting are popular with the rulers killing lions with bow & arrow and spears from their chariots. These hunting scene are not for the faint hearted with lions shown graphically dying or dead. The relief sculptures of the rulers great victories are equally revealing. The victorious Assyrians humble the defeated and scenes of refugees and executions show the fate of many from the ancient world.
The scale and craftsmanship of Assyrian sculpture is compelling and the narrative content is still quite understandable to the modern eye giving a clear view of the ancient world of the Assyrian rulers.
Pictures, images & photos of the iconic Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii ) or Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey. Built from 1609 to 1616 commissioned by Sultan Ahmed I when he was 19. the Blue Mosque draws the inspiration for its design from Hagia Sophia that stands opposite it. The design of the Blue Mosque is a high point of the classical period being a fusion of Ottoman & Byzantine elements. It was designed by Mehmet Aga, its second architect as the first was executed because his skills were found wanting.
Normally mosques have a maximum of 4 minarets, the exception being the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the focal point of the Islamic world. It shows grand designs of Sultan Ahmet that the Blue Mosque was controversially designed with 6 minarets also. The sixth minaret of the Blue Mosque though was built when Sultan Ahmet built a seventh minaret on the mosque in Mecca. The high central dome of the Mosque is surrounded by 8 smaller domes creating cascading tiers running down to a central courtyard, the biggest of any Ottoman mosque.
The interior of the mosque is lined with 20,000 Iznik tiles with more than 50 tulip designs as well as fruit, flowers & cypresses. Over 250 stained glass windows with intricate designs light the interior.
Sultan Ahmet lived long enough to see the splendour of the Blue Mosque and his Mausoleum is just outside the walls.
Pictures of The Bridestones, North Yorkshire England.
Pictures of the Bridestones nature reserve, Dalby forest in the North Yorks Moors National Park. The Bridestones are weathered Jurassic sandstone outcrops that stand on the edge of a valley of ancient woodland in Dalby forest. Some of the Bridestones are cylindrical towers whilst others have been weathered at their bases to create rocks formations that look like they may topple at any moment. There are many so called Bridestones across the neolithic landscape of Britain, some man made and some natural formations like those in Dalby. Many of the Bridestone sites are associated with pagan rituals and their purpose is unknown yet the name Bridestones have been passed down to us from antiquity. These ancient Bridestones and set in Site of Scientific Interest with rare plants like the insect catching sundew.
Pictures, images & photos of The Parthenon Marbles, known as The Elgin Marbles exhibited in the British Museum, London. Dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, the construction of the Parthenon Temple began in 447 BC with its decorations being completed in 432 BC. The Parthenon has become the great iconic symbol of Ancient Greece and the Athenian democracy being the high point in the development of the Doric Order. The friezes, Metopes and sculptures of the Parthenon are also considered to be one of the high points of Greek art.
Between 1801 and 1812 Lord Elgin, British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, paid for the removal and shipping to London of 75 m of the original frieze, 15 of the Metope panels and 17 of the pediment figures. These were bought by the British Government and a purpose built gallery was built in the British Museum.
The pediment is the triangular end of the Parthenon in which sculptures were set. Below the ledge of the pediment is a lintel that runs over the top of the Doric columns on which were placed sculpted marble panels known as Metopes. The Parthenon had a double row of columns and on the lintel above the inner row of columns was a sculpted frieze.
The Pediment sculptures in the British Museum show scenes from the life, including her birth, of the goddess Athena accompanied by her father Zeus and her brother Hephaistos. Athena was the goddess of goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilisation, law and justice, just warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill.
The metope panels of the Parthenon in the British Museum show scenes of the Lapiths, a pre-Hellenic mythological people from Thessaly, battling with the Centaurs, a mythological creature half man half horse. The scene is probably from the wedding of the king of the Lapiths, Perithoos. The story tells that the Centaurs, who were guests at the wedding, became drunk and a fight broke out during which they tried to carry off the Lapith women. The Centaurs would have represented the Persians to the Athenian viewer of the time. Athens had a long and bitter struggle against the Persian Empire and the Parthenon was built on an earlier unfinished temple that had been destroyed when the Persian sacked Athens in 480 BC.
The Parthenon Ionic frieze sculptures show bas-relief carvings of the Panathenaic procession. This annual procession of Athenians and foreigners ended in the ritual sacrifice of cattle at the Parthenon to honour the goddess Athena. The north and south frieze both show a procession of sixty riders in ranks of 10 men. The south frieze also shows cattle being led to be sacrificed and the east frieze shows Athena watching the procession with her father Zeus. The West frieze shows the preparation of the riders for the procession and, apart from two blocks, these are moulds made for Lord Elgin in 1802 of the blocks that would remain in Athens.
Pictures, Images & Photos of The Wooden Churches of Maramures, Romania.
Pictures, images & photos of Maramures, Northern Transylvania, Romania. Maramureș is a region in north eastern Romania hemmed in by the Ukraine border to the north and mountains to the south, west & east that are inaccessible in the winter. Many of the valleys within Maramures have small villages with wooden houses & churches that are linked together by dirt roads as they have been for millennia.
The Maramures is a remote and atmospheric area with villages that modernity still has not reached, The horse & cart is still the main form of transport and families go daily to their fields with scythes to cut hay to keep their animal alive through extremely cold winters.
The remoteness of Maramures has created a community that sits between the Orthodox Christianity of the East & The Roman Church of the West. Add to this the underlying pagan traditions that have survived in such a remote area and you are left with a rich folk and religious art that has a place for all the beliefs. Wooden churches are a political statement of independent beliefs as the Austro Hungarian rulers allowed only Roman Catholic Churches to be built out of stone. As the people of Maramures are predominately Orthodox, Greco Catholics or Uniate, this meant that they could only build what were seen as temporary churches out of wood. Today over 150 survive in various states of repair and the best 8 are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Pictures, images and photos of Konya, Turkey. Konya is a holy Islamic city where the Persian Sufi poet & ascetic Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī known as Mevlana or Rumi lived and is buried. Mevlana was "not a prophet — but surely, he has brought a scripture". He believed in the use of music, poetry and dance as a path for reaching God which allowed devotees to focus their whole being on the divine. Dervishes are Sufi Muslim ascetics and the Mevlevi order of Dervishes in Konya developed under Melvana's teachings. It was Mevlanas belief in dance and music that created the whirling Dervish as a form of devotion. Following his death, his followers and his son Sultan Walad founded the Mevlevi Order, also known as the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, famous for its Sufi dance known as the Sama ceremony.
In the 1920's when the modern Turkish state was formed under the rule of Ataturk, Dervish's were banned as part of the Ataturks move to make Turkey a secular country. The Mausaloeum of Mevlana was made into a museum where his sarcophagus and those of his family are a major shrine for Islamic pilgrims.