Carved out of stone or wood, to defeat or hide a secret passage, the spiral staircase still stands the test of time like a question mark between symbol and mystery.
In the perfect twilight of the room the girl was waiting, her hand on the banister of a spiral staircase, her mind a tornado of thoughts. Should she go up, towards the unknown? Was the spiral she was confronted with a symbol of a destiny written in her DNA, unavoidable, or a chance encounter mystery?
Rocking the modern perceptions of the Middle Ages, the Iron Maiden found at Fagaras Castle, Romania, is a medieval torture device that is real, and yet not.
The stone castle of Făgăraş was first mentioned (that we know of) in 1455, but the initial fortification, built with sturdy fir trees from the nearby forests, goes back to 12th – beginning of the 13th century.
The fruit trees start blossoming and the sparrows begin chirping at the break of dawn. The sunlight grows warmer and glows with care. Its fingers graze the small, pink flowers that are abuzz with bees.
Brancoveanu Monastery at Sambata de Sus, is a Romanian Orthodox monastery in Brașov County, in the Transylvania region of Romania. At the end of the 17th century Constantin Brâncoveanu, Prince of Wallachia, built a stone church (1688-1714) in place of an older wooden one.
If you wonder how a Wallachian Voievode built a monastery in a different principality, know that the hamlet and the land on which the monastery was built belonged to Preda Brâncoveanu, his grandfather. Who even built a small wooden church on it in 1654.
We, the writers, are sure that you, the readers, do not need a special invitation or inspiration to read, to lose yourself into a book. As a reader, you are certainly aware of the importance of reading throughout your life. If you’ve been bewitched a long time ago or not, if you’ve known times abundant in glorious novels or battled with dry spells, you surely felt that reading will always remain a defining part of your life.
Almost 600 years old, these wooden doors of a medieval chapel, long sunken they say, built around 1453 near Snagov Monastery, 40 km northward from Bucharest, can still be admired in the Art Museum of Bucharest.
For the weary traveler, approaching the chapel as a meditation, its wooden doors with their visual and scripting messages would have been the first welcoming sign: arms folded in prayer, ready to open, to receive, and to fold around, in absolution.
Work on the building of the Black Church of Brasov began in 1383 – 1385 and one of its benefactors was John Hunyadi (do you remember him from our visit to Hunyadi Castle, or Corvin Castle?)… but if you listen to the whispers of the wind, it says that Vlad the Impaler, Vlad Tepes also had a word in the building of this church, completed soon after 1476.
We approached Montmartre with our eyes saturated with images of the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur, of its ivory, gentle domes, of its unsullied, milky stone, miraculously whitened by time, not grayed.
We approached Montmartre expecting, and finding, a Parisian village within a metropolis city. Narrow, cobblestone streets steeping up. Tiny terraces with lilliputian coffee shops, surely painted by an artist, sprinkled left and right. Long stairways spilling into alleys, creating intimate squares.
Everything here is art.
But up must we hike. Past shielding trees, past chic homes, past quaint light-poles. Upward we put step after step. Has Picasso painted here? Are we literally stepping on Renoir’s footsteps? Degas? Utrillo? Always climbing.
She is waiting for us. The church. The view of Paris. And something else.
The sinking house of Paris.
Are the hills of Montmartre and the constant up-climb meant to prepare us, emotionally, for the spiritual beauty awaiting at the top?
It was Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, a 19th century Irish novelist, who wrote in one of her books: ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’.
But so it is true that beauty can be found everywhere, as long as we are prepared for it. To look for it. To see it.
The Sinking House of Paris can be spotted on your right hand side as you climb the final steps towards le Sacré-Cœur. You cannot miss its white and brick facade and rows of chimneys on the roof.
Dualism, a Square in Travel Photography: iconic Zlatari Church on Calea Victoriei, Bucharest, reflected in the glass walls of a futuristic cube building.
In a snapshot, dualism means recognizing and understanding the opposition’s point of view. It is choosing to look and see beyond the relative conceptions of good or evil, the universal opposites. Dualism attempts to restore balance, to seek the normal in an abnormal world.
What better way to celebrate two amazing cities, Bucharest and Paris, linked by history, culture and architecture (Bucharest was nicknamed Little Paris of the East between 1848 to 1930s but with travel photography and a guessing game?
Black and White Square Moon and Trees – for a first attempt at a black & white, square photo challenge I chose a picture of April’s Pink Moon seeing behind trees, the featured image being taken by my daughter:
The Bamiyan Buddhas stood for nearly two millennia as silent heroes, symbols of the Buddhist faith, witnesses to the hustle and the bustle of the Silk Route with its whirlwind of wealth, ideological exchange, and art, and to countless illogical wars.