Posted by inka on May 19, 2013 in art
, Day trips
, Travel tips
, Turkey Travel
The mausoleum of Halicarnassus certainly belongs in my mini series of buildings and monuments the construction of which was inspired by love or fantasy. Although, in this case, a distinct touch of vanity can be added.
Considered as one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, the mausoleum was conceived and designed by Queen Artemisia II, wife and sister of King Mausolos. He ruled as a Persian satrap in the region known as Caria which is today the area around Bodrum on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast in the 3rd century BC.
Not much is known about his life or achievements other than that he moved his capital to Halicarnassus and expanded the city with many buildings and walls. However, after his death, his heartbroken widow decided to erect a tomb for him which surpassed any known structure of this kind.
In five years his mausoleum (the term as used today derives from the king’s name) was built and embellished by the best Greek architects, stone masons and sculptors of the time. No effort or money was spared to create a memorial to an otherwise not very significant ruler.
More than 50 meters high, the tomb started with a platform out of which soared 36 columns ending in a pyramid shaped roof adorned with life sized statues and crowned with a massive marble chariot.
The marble and gold sarcophagus was entombed in the burial chamber which also had room for the queen.
When Alexander the Great conquered Halicarnassus in 334 BC, the mausoleum was intact and in fact remained so until a massive earthquake brought it down in 1304.
The Knights of Malta got permission to built a castle which today is the landmark of Bodrum. Not above looting, they made good use of the massive and richly decorated ruins of the mausoleum and incorporated the ‘material’ they found in their castle.
That’s why today not much is left or can be seen from this Wonder of the World, but the story and of course the term ‘mausoleum’ have survived.
Castle of St.Peter in Bodrum with pieces of the mausoleum in its walls
Posted by inka on May 18, 2013 in art
, Florida trips
, Travel tips
I am on a new mission. I want to find and explore buildings and monuments all over the world which have been constructed because of love. The stories behind them are as fascinating and awesome as the structures themselves. They show that love really can move – if not mountains – then at least huge blocks of stone.
A point in case is the Coral Castle in Homestead Miami and the story of Edwin Leedskalnin.Born in Riga in 1887, Edwin came to the US and fell in love with Agnes Scuffs, a girl 10 years younger than he. All went well until Agnes called off the wedding, just one day before the ceremony.
Ed was heart broken and inspired to begin his life long labor of love, to create a monument to his unrequited love. Sweet Sixteen Agnes.
He was a tiny man, just 5 feet and weighing 100 pounds. After acquiring 10 acres of land in Homestead, Ed set about moving over 10.000 tons of coral rock, then constructing his castle and carving to rock into astonishing shapes. He was busy with his labor of love for 23 years, until his death in 1953.
Even more amazing than his tiny stature is the fact that Ed work all on his own. He was secretive too, only carving and building at night and so he created one of world’s great mysteries: how did he do it? How did he move there massive coral rocks? And Ed wasn’t about to give his secret away. He would show visitors around his castle for a few cents and when questioned he would only say that he knew the ‘secret of the pyramids’.
Coral Castle still leaves experts and visitors baffled confronted with an unbelievable achievement. For example the castle features a gate which weighs tons, but can be opened at the touch of a finger.
A coral rocking chair, stairs, walls, narrow windows, the marvels of Coral castle are endless and Ed sure knew how to create a mystery.
Ed. Picture courtesy of coralcastle.com
Posted by inka on May 17, 2013 in art
, Day trips
, Travel tips
I am endlessly fascinated by people who have a vision, a fantasy … and then set about making it a reality, regardless to hard labor, obstacles, time and money. There are quite a few architectonical miracles in several parts of the world which bear witness to such determination.
I have had the pleasure to visit the Coral Castle Museum on Dixie Highway in Miami, a huge building and sculpted garden with massive statues hewn out of coral; all by a single man, Edwin Leedskalnin.
And then there is an entire mountain side, decorated with paintings and sculptures in the Moroccan desert near Zagora.
My last discovery in this series is literally at my door step, half way between Benalmadena Costa and Benalmadena Pueblo on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
Castillo de Colomares is not really a castle nor is it old, but it is the creation of Dr. Esteban Martin Martin, a man well versed in history, architecture and the art with a special interest in Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the new World in the service of the kings Isabel and Ferdinand. Don Esteban had the dream to create a monument to Columbus and his co-explorers, the captains of the caravels Pinta and Nina who accompanied his flag ship, the Santa Maria on the journey which changed the view of the world at the time.
In only seven years, from 1987 to 1994 and with the help of just two brick layers he fashioned a mini Disneyland, combining Byzantine, Romanic, Gothic and Mudejar styles with materials such a stone, cement and wood to document the historic feat.
When you enter the complex you can’t help but marvel at the elaborate carvings and decorations, balconies, statues, inscriptions and even the nicely planted garden. There is no interior, you can climb a few steps and balconies and a platform which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, but you can easily spend an hour or two just looking at all the art work.
Well worth a visit to refresh your knowledge of Columbus’s adventures and to be awe of what one man’s determination can achieve.
Posted by inka on Mar 28, 2013 in art
, Travel tips
If it weren’t for my nomadic nature, I would be a collector. As it is, I feel the need to follow my itchy feet and change homes and countries often at very short notice. I still think, the grass is greener elsewhere and I just need to look. This being the case I have very little possessions as it would be impossible to drag them all over the world. But, I love painting and carpets and I know that I would become an ardent collector if I could decide where to settle for good. And then, when I had a nice collection I would like to make it accessible to the public so everybody can enjoy what I have found.
Which brings me to my favorite type of museum: private ones. I have found and visited quite a few during my travels and I enjoy them most of all because they reflect the taste of an individual person who has collected these things not because of their monetary value but because he or she simply finds them beautiful.
Luckily, I happened upon another private little museum in Marbella – the Bonsai museum. Owned and run by Miguel Angel Garcia the museum exhibits over 300 examples of the miniature trees. Some of them very are, like Chinese Almez trees and some of them hundreds of years old, like the miniature olive trees.
Lovingly displayed in a Japanese garden with lakes and walkways, they perch on rocks and stones above the water. It’s like a piece of Japan in the middle of the south of Spain, totally unexpected and delightful. A Marbella attraction not to be missed.
Photo courtesy of Andalusien Lexikon
I may have changed countries recently, but that doesn’t mean I have forgotten the many fabulous trips I undertook across the country or will not, one day, return to see what I have left out.
Those who have followed me will know that my favorite region is the Southeast. Not only for the landscape but also for the history and the many monuments which are exceptionally well preserved. The southeast is worlds apart from the beach and tourist resorts of the Aegean Sea where I used to live or the Mediterranean Coast. In fact, sometimes you are hard pressed to see any tourists at all and those you meet are serious travelers, not chilling out sun worshippers.
You have a lot of legwork to do, thousands of stone steps to climb, ascending and descending hills non stop. Therefore quite luxurious but small hotels, often to be found in converted medreses (Islamic schools attached to mosques) at surprisingly reasonable prices are a welcome home from home to rest your aching feet.
Another reason why I find the southeast so endlessly fascinating is that Islamic and Christian history and places of worship exists closely side by side. An example is the vast Saffron Monastery near Mardin which I visited last year. The name is rather a nickname and refers to the yellow stone the monastery was built from. I won’t even attempt to write down the ‘real’name, no matter everybody knows what you mean when to refer to it as the Saffron Monastery.
It has been around since 493 AD and used to be the seat of the Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Christians. The monastery has no less than 365 rooms, one for each day of the year. Today it’s run by a handful of monks and assistants as an orphanage and school.
What a place to go to school though!! Countless treasures are to be admired within the buildings, relics and the throne of the patriarchs among them. Books, artifacts, images of saints… you name it, you’ll find it there.
And the building itself is just so impressive. Yet another place in Turkey’s southeast which under no circumstances should be missed by anyone who ventures there.
A painting giving a bird’s eye view
One of the many altars
The patriach’s throne
An ancient bible up close
One of the hotels I mentioned