Tag Archives: architecture

Things to See in Croatia: The Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb Travel Attractions 03 NOV 2016

The Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb, capital and largest city of the Republic of Croatia, is considered to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world – and thus despite the fact that it is well… a cemetery full of graves and tombstones, it is one of Zagreb’s more interesting (and popular) tourist attractions!

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Established in 1876 at the base of Mt Medvednica, with the main building being designed by Austrian-born architect Hermann Bolle, the Cemetery with its arcades, cupolas and ornate artisan workmanship was finished in 1929.

What makes the Mirogoj Cemetery particularly interesting is that it inters members of all religious groups, meaning that you can stumble across Catholic, Muslim and irreligious graves all next to one another!

Because of this, many notable and famous Croatians have their final resting place here, including the likes of musicians, poets, artists, industrialists, politicians, sportsmen, and even the first president of the Republic of Croatia himself.

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There are also many memorials and monuments within the large, slightly fortified cemetery, a lot of which pay homage to Croatian losses suffered during times of war.

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The grounds of Mirogoj are lush with beautifully composed and established vegetation, which works in synergy with the beautiful works of art and sculpture, as well as the classic architecture, in order to create a visual spectacle of tranquil beauty and history.

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The cemetery also doubles as a public park and as an open art gallery, which obviously then further increase its attractiveness to visitors, both foreign and local alike.

In other words, if the thought of visiting a cemetery as a tourist isn’t too macabre for you, then the Mirogoj is definitely worth the trip if you find yourself in Zagreb.

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(Tickled your fancy? Perhaps then a cheap first class trip to Europe is what you are looking for!)

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Related Link: Mirogoj Cemetery | Wikipedia | Zagreb

Cityscapes: The Bjørvika neighborhood of Oslo, Norway Travel Attractions 22 SEP 2016

Once home of the legendary Viking seafarers and now with a population of roughly 5,084 million people, Norway is a Scandinavian country encompassing mountains, glaciers and deep coastal fjords. Known as a country for fishing, hiking and skiing, Norway’s capital and most populous city is Oslo, which sits on the country’s southern coast at the head of the Oslofjord.

Oslo has a population of roughly 620,000 people and is itself known for its green spaces and museums – including of course its famous Viking Ship Museum whose collection includes Viking ships from the 9th century!

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The industrial and container port area of Bjørvika is a neighborhood in the Sentrum borough of Oslo, serving as both an outlet for the river Akerselva, as well as an inlet in the inner Oslofjord. It has been undergoing extensive urban redevelopment since the 2000s, with the plan for it to be transformed into Oslo’s new urban and more importantly, cultural  hub.

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The Barcode Project is a particularly controversial part of these redevelopments, but there is no denying that this collection of new multi-purpose high-rise buildings doesn’t show off Norway’s strong modern architectural and industrial design ethos!

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On the map:

Related Link: Barcode Project | Bjørvika | Oslo | Norway

Things to See in France: Le Palais Idéal (The Ideal Palace) Travel Attractions 26 AUG 2015

If you ever find yourself in Hauterives in southeastern France, chances are pretty good that you are there to see Le Palais Idéal (The Ideal Palace) – the culmination of 33 years worth of work of a single man.

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Ferdinand Cheval is reported to have said: “I was walking very fast when my foot caught on something that sent me stumbling a few meters away, I wanted to know the cause. In a dream I had built a palace, a castle or caves, I cannot express it well… I told no one about it for fear of being ridiculed and I felt ridiculous myself. Then fifteen years later, when I had almost forgotten my dream, when I wasn’t thinking of it at all, my foot reminded me of it. My foot tripped on a stone that almost made me fall. I wanted to know what it was… It was a stone of such a strange shape that I put it in my pocket to admire it at my ease. The next day, I went back to the same place. I found more stones, even more beautiful, I gathered them together on the spot and was overcome with delight… It’s a sandstone shaped by water and hardened by the power of time. It becomes as hard as pebbles. It represents a sculpture so strange that it is impossible for man to imitate, it represents any kind of animal, any kind of caricature.”

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Starting in April 1879, for the next thirty-three years, Ferdinand Cheval (1836-1924), a French postman, picked up stones during his daily mail round and carried them home to build his Palais idéal. He spent the first twenty years alone just building the outer walls! At first, he carried the stones in his pockets, then switched to a basket. Eventually, he used a wheelbarrow. He often worked at night, by the light of an oil lamp.

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The stones bound together with lime, mortar and cement, The Palais is a mix of different styles with inspirations from Christianity to Hinduism. It is as intricate as it is vast, and includes sculptures of exotic animals and mythical creatures, which were said to be inspired by the postcards he delivered.

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The Palace is regarded as an extraordinary example of naïve art architecture.

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Just before his death, Cheval began to receive some recognition from luminaries like André Breton and Pablo Picasso. His work is commemorated in an essay by Anaïs Nin. In 1932, the German artist Max Ernst created a collage titled The Postman Cheval. The work belongs to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and is on display there. In 1958, Ado Kyrou made Le Palais idéal, a short film on Cheval’s palace.

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In 1969, André Malraux, the Minister of Culture, declared the Palais a cultural landmark and had it officially protected. In 1986 Cheval was put on a French postage stamp.

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Cheval also wanted to be buried in his palace. However, since that is illegal in France, he proceeded to spend eight more years building a mausoleum for himself in the Hauterives cemetery. He died on 19 August 1924, about a year after he had finished building it, and is buried there.

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Related Link: The Ideal Palace | Wikipedia | Eupedia

Things to See in United Arab Emirates: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Travel Attractions 20 APR 2015

Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates hosts the third largest mosque in the world – the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

It is named after the late founder and first President of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (who, by his own wishes, is also laid to rest there). He chose the location and took substantial influence on the architecture and the design of the mosque. Based on his vision, the mosque was built with the rise of 11 metres above sea level, and 9.5 metres above the street level so that it is clearly visible from all directions.

It is built as a monument to consolidate Islamic culture and a prominent centre for Islamic sciences – a structure which unites the cultural diversity of Islamic world, the historical and modern values of architecture and art.

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As per the direction of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the mosque is located in the heart of the new Abu Dhabi between Musaffah Bridge and Maqta Bridge. The construction of AED 2.5 billion-project began in the late 1996. Approximately 38 contracting companies and about 3,500 workers helped realising the complex over a period of almost 12 years.

On the 20th of December 2007, the mosque was initially opened to the public and prayers. The first prayer was held in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE.

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The complex covers an area of 22,412 square metres – 33,000 tons of steel and 250,000 cubic metres of concrete makes up the structure which lays on around 6,500 foundation piles. The courtyard has a total of 1,048 columns, with a total of 82 domes counted as belonging to the mosque.

The main dome is the largest mosque dome in the world: 85 metres high with a diameter of 32.8 metres. Some 41,000 worshippers can be accommodated in the mosque, 7,126 in the main prayer hall.

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After the first phase involving foundations and the concrete structure, the mosque was finished with a decoration of Greek and Italian white marble, which is considered to be among the purest of the world.

For the interior design, calligraphers from the United Arab Emirates, Syria and Jordan supervised the work of artists from all over the world. Verses from the Holy Quran are written in three types of Arabic calligraphy.

The mosque’s spectacularly decorated interior features unique plants designed specifically for the mosque, as well as verses from the Holly Quran. In addition, the designers have also used mosaic to cover the entire courtyard (17,000 square metres) and thus it is considered among the largest open spaces in mosques worldwide.

Major international companies specialised in the manufacturing of crystal chandeliers garnished the mosque with seven gold-plated chandeliers in different sizes, made of Swarovski crystals. The largest of the lustres is the largest in the world.

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Another astonishing feature of the mosque is the over 5,625 m2 large carpet in the main prayer hall. It has been hand-knotted by about 1,300 Iranian craftsmen out of 35 tons of wool and 12 tons of cotton. With a total of 2,268,00 knots, the carpet is the largest in the world. Its estimated value is about 30 million.

Coloured with 25 natural colours, the green colour is predominant as it was the favourite colour of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Included into the carpet are horizontal lines which are slightly raised over the primary carpet-height. These are for the worshipper’s alignment. The effect of the special knotting-technique is that the lines are not visible from a distance, but only for the worshippers.

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The library, located in the north/east minaret, serves the community with classic books and publications addressing a range of Islamic subjects: sciences, civilization, calligraphy, the arts, coins and includes some rare publications dating back more than 200 years. In reflection of the diversity of the Islamic world and the United Arab Emirates, the collection comprises material in a broad range of languages, including Arabic, English, French, Italian, Spanish, German and Korean.

As the country’s grand mosque, it is the key place of worship for Friday gathering and Eid prayers. During Eid it can be visited by more than 40,000 people.

The mosque is open for prayers all day long. For the non-muslim visitors, the visiting time is from 9 AM – 10 PM every day except for Friday mornings.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheikh_Zayed_Mosque