Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jerusalem, Israel

These steps lead up to the “place of the skull” where Jesus was crucified. They are part of the Crusader-era Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The serene Greek Orthodox priest (receiving some advice from the tourist police) was one of the fixtures of the church's forecourt for decades.  Six Christian sects share privileges here in the heart of the Christian world. [1996]

Monday, August 30, 2010

Nødebo, Denmark

Which way is east? Follow the descending roof lines of Nødebo church as they point in the direction of the apse (the half dome). The nave is to the west, the chancel is in the middle, and the apse is at the east end. An eastern orientation was typical of medieval European churches. The original church on this site dated from the 12th century. [1984]

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico

Along the waterfront in Puerto Vallarta is the malecón or what Americans would crudely call the ‘boardwalk.’ Public art, like this pied piper playing to a palm, makes the malecón a magnificent museum of sculpture. The lesson? Take art to the people; don’t put it in the prisons we call museums. [2008]

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nicosia, Cyprus

What would the Archbishop’s Palace in Nicosia be without the statue of its most famous occupant, Makarios, out front? To find out, just visit. They moved “Big Mak” off his pedestal in 2008: an eyesore, they said. The most interesting symbolic landscape in the city, I said. Archbishop Makarios led Cyprus to independence and became its first President. [2005]

Friday, August 27, 2010

Monte Carlo, Monaco

One of the places to be seen in Europe is Monte Carlo, with the casino on one side and the Hotel de Paris on the other. And what better way to be seen than behind the wheel of a luxury convertible? Do you think this couple could have driven to Monaco from Britain? [2008]

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ljubljana, Slovenia

This dragon pops up all over Europe from the shores of the Black Sea to the British Isles. Here in Ljubljana, it reminds us that the city was founded by Jason, leader of the Argonauts. This guardian of the golden fleece remains Ljubljana's protector, but his power today is challenged by the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in the background. [2008]

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vaduz, Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is ruled by a prince, and this is his castle.  From his perch above the River Rhine, he can see all of Vaduz and much of his realm.  The castle's oldest part dates back to the 12th century, which makes it older than the principality itself.  [1984]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Waiheke Island, New Zealand

The bones of an old ship slip into the surf on Waiheke Island, New Zealand. Accessible by a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland, this jewel of Hauraki Gulf has more coves and and pocket beaches than you can count. Waiheke? Hauraki? Maori, of course. [2006]

Monday, August 23, 2010

Zagreb, Croatia

Europeans have a head start in 'greening' the urban landscape. Their cities are already compact and therefore walkable and cyclable. From your home, you can bike to the Friday market, as this man has done in Zagreb. In the U.S., cyclists are either under 16 or made of Lycra, and bicycles are usually banned from pedestrian zones. [2008]

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Liwa, Abu Dhabi, UAE

The 'Empty Quarter'of the Arabian Peninsula seems to be empty of everything except camels. Here a caravan gracefully crests a great dune near the oasis of Liwa in Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates. These are the one-humped variety known as dromedaries. [1992]

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Amsterdam, Netherlands

The 17th century built these canal houses. They are responses to time and place. The time: right after the 'Spanish Netherlands' asserted its independence. The place: the world's first global city, a city that created wealth on global financial transactions. Narrow houses, fancy gables, arcuate canals and bicycles: nowhere else but Amsterdam. [2005]

Friday, August 20, 2010

Helsinki, Finland

Here’s a picture that could have been taken in America. But here on the Helsinki waterfront, these are Finnish men caught in the act of worshiping a classic American car. Can you identify the model and year? Bonus points if you can ID the car in the background. [2005]

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lisbon, Portugal

The Kingdom of Portugal led Europe onto the Atlantic beginning in the 1400s. Much of the credit goes to Prince Henry the Navigator. Here he leads the pack of European explorers from the bow of a monumental caravel rising above the Tagus River in Belem, the royal heart of Lisbon. [2009]

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Trieste, Italy

Miramare was finished in 1860, but its royal inhabitants (of the Hapsburg clan) lived here only a few years before they became Emperor and Empress of Mexico. They really shouldn’t have accepted that promotion! Today, the castle is only a short bus ride from Trieste, Italy. [2008]

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Where does an American spend the 4th of July?  In Canada, of course, enjoying Carifiesta (despite the rain).  Whether French or English speaking, peoples of the Caribbean parade through the city showing off their colors and calling attention to Canada's pride in multiculturalism.  Can you identify this island by its flag?  [2009]

Monday, August 16, 2010

Machu Picchu, Peru

When the Spanish conquistadors wiped out the Inca Empire, they missed Machu Picchu, and the Urubamba jungle took over until 1911 when an American archaeologist re-discovered (and the National Geographic Society showcased) the ancient royal retreat. Machu Picchu richly deserves to be on the list of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.” [2001]

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dar Tazza, Syria

Aliens or beekeepers?  Check out the landscape.  Do you see a flying saucer or some hives?  Historically, honey has been a symbol of a good land and the good life.  This land might not look very productive today, but it was the core of Byzantine Syria.  Here in the grasslands, honey comes from bees.  In the desert it is made from dates.  [1993]

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Canillo, Andorra

The Romanesque architecture of Andorra remains perfectly preserved and on prideful display up and down the country's three valleys. This church bell tower in Canillo is probably 800 years old. The retreat, upslope, is modern. But both seem to grow organically from the Pyrenees' southern flank. [2005]

Friday, August 13, 2010

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

An inner circle of three hills marked the site of ancient Philippopolis (named by Alexander's father). This is one of them, Nebet Teppe, now part of an archaeological park. It's a place to come when you want to be all alone, but you are never alone when you have a cell phone at hand. Plovdiv is, today, Bulgaria's second most populous city. [2010]

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Flåm, Norway

Orchards reach for the heavens on the sunny, south-facing slopes of Aurland Fjord near Flam. Apple and pear trees flourish here, north of 60 degrees NL, thanks to the warm North Atlantic Drift and its accompanying westerly winds. [1984]

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

There's nothing better than buskers in Barcelona, the culture-rich capital of Catalonia.
Along Las Ramblas, many minstrels manage to remind us of medieval street entertainers.
Take the time to tip the troubadours; it will keep them in the pink.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Fragments from Sydney’s early 20th century streetscapes find a new lease on life in a sculpture garden. Here, a frieze has become a headstone memorializing the old 'CBD' (Australian vernacular for what Americans call ‘downtown’). [2006]

Monday, August 9, 2010

Marrakech, Morocco

Reflecting the colors of the desert, the walls of old Marrakech backdrop a conversation just outside Bab Agnaou. Men, especially of an older generation, sill wear the djellaba (outer garment with hood), but one of these men has given up the traditional slippers for modern shoes. [2010]

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Paris, France

The southern tip of Île de la Cité points downstream on the River Seine.  The island was the nucleus around which Paris developed, and around which all of France was cobbled together.  From this creche of quietude, now a good place pour lire, the drama of French history has unfolded.  [2005]

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA

In Virginia, the 'fall line' forms the western limit of Tidewater and the beginning of the hard-rock piedmont. On rivers like the Rappahannock in Fredericksburg, those hard rocks do their best to resist fluvial erosion and challenge anyone who dares ignore their attempt to impede navigation. [2007]

Friday, August 6, 2010

Manama, Bahrain

In Bahrain, the pottery-making tradition persists despite the hegemony of plastics in the modern world. These pots have ancestors in the neolithic, but the potter has ancestors in South Asia. It's a reminder that Bahrain was an ancient meeting ground of Mesopotamian and Indus culture. [1992]

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Istanbul, Turkey

In Sultanahmet, Istanbul, the 4th century contrasts with the 21st century. But it is still all about connections. The Hagia Sophia (360 AD) was in the business of connecting people to God (first as a church, then as a mosque). Wireless Fidelity is in the business of connecting people to people. [2010]

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pieta, Malta

Rich, primary colors combine with geometric design to turn Malta's harbors into earthbound rainbows. The springtime harborscape is dotted with fishermen getting their boats ready for both the fishing season and the tourist onslaught. [2009]