The Milan Duomo and Teatre La Scala

Day 54, Saturday October 28, 2017

On our way to the Duomo we come across a fashion photo shoot. This rather strange man with the oversized sweater and furry slippers was giving the model directions on what to do. He was very bossy!The Milano Duomo, or the Cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente, is one of the largest Gothic Churches in the world. It is very impressive.The view looking towards the altar. 
It is a bit overwhelming, placing my hands where so many other hands have worn the stone smooth and shiny over the centuries. There are 52 of these massive pillars.The stained glass windows are stunning, especially these ones behind the altar.I thought this sculpture was rather unusual. It is Saint Bartholomew, one of the twelve apostles, who was flayed alive and then beheaded. He is carrying his own skin!Looking down one of the side aisles. This church is very big!This is a copy of the Madonna of the Duomo. The original is on the highest point of the church.
There are many large paintings hanging in the church. Many of them look as though they need restoration work.Each of the pillars is topped by an ornately carved capital, and each one is unique.We go into the crypt of St. Charles Borromeo who lies in a crystal coffin below the altar. We  also visit the archeological area which was excavated under the plaza in front of the Duomo. The black and white photo shows an aerial view of the excavations before they were covered by a new plaza.Then we climb 250 steps up to the roof top terraces for a close up view of some of the churches 135 spires!The flying buttresses are beautiful as well as functional. This church is decorated with 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles, and 700 figures in the marble reliefs, There are decorations everywhere, each one different from the rest. We were thrilled with this visit to the rooftop, but then…we discover that we get to climb even higher, to the very top of the church, 75 meters above the ground below! You can see the golden Madonna statue above us.The views are amazing but it is a bit hazy which is too bad. Apparently on a clear day you can see the Alps in the distance.Looking down at part of the plaza in front of the Duomo. Soon it is time to return the ground far below.This lion looks rather annoyed at all the pigeons who are perched all over him.We walk through the Vittorio Emanuele II Galleria which is lined with high fashion designer stores…on our way to the Teatro La Scala where we get to watch a little bit of a rehearsal, and then we visit the Theatre’s museum.The second floor of the museum is dedicated to Maria Callas and displays many of the beautiful costumes she wore while performing.Back to the Duomo for a couple more photos. Here I am in front of part of the incredible front door.The plaza in front of the church is a gathering place for tourists and locals alike.To really appreciate the size of the Milan Duomo you need to see a three-quarter view of the building..Next stop is the Duomo Museum, which has many of the original sculptures from the church.  They are slowly being replaced by copies so that the originals can be preserved.This room was incredible! The brown sculptures are terra cotta studies for marble sculptures.I love gargoyles so I was delighted to get a close up view of these before we leave the museum and head home.We have been exploring for 8 hours today and we are both tired.

Split, Croatia

Day 29, Tuesday October 3, 2017

I wanted to post my journal pages in order but I am a bit behind so I am just going to post them as they are finished. Fountain pens, watercolours and pencil crayons aren’t my usual media and I don’t usually draw buildings or landscapes so this is all a bit of a learning curve. I always enjoy working on the pages but sometimes the finished results aren’t what I envisioned. In any case, it will be a nice keepsake of our trip.

We visit Split this afternoon. Although we like to spend our time in the old parts of these Croatian towns and cities the old town is surrounded by the new town.These photos are taken as we entered Split.

There are also the very touristy areas.We make our way into the old town through the Iron Gate…and emerge on the square beside the Cathedral of St. Dominus. This was originally the mausoleum of the Emperor Diocletian in the 3rd Century but it was converted into a Christian church in the 7th Century. It is regarded as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that remains in use in its original structure. It is hard to believe this all happened over 2,000 years ago, and now here we are.  There is much to see in every town we have visited, and we are only scratching the surface in the. month we have here.

Our ticket to visit the Church also includes climbing the bell tower, which also has a sign saying that we do so at our own risk.  I wonder about doing this after our last bell tower adventure. This tower is 187 feet tall, 23 feet taller than the one in Trogir but somehow it is not as scary to climb. The stairs and railings feel more substantial, just safer somehow.
Here we are at the top…and here are the views in all four directions.

One more picture of the stairs on the way down, and it is along way down! those are the bells you see in the bottom of this picture, and they are near the top of the tower!

We stop on this landing for another look around…before we reach the very narrow stone steps that take us back to ground level .Yes, we were way up there!

Next stop is the Baptistry of St. John which used to be the Temple of Jupiter. I love the large hands and feet of this sculpture, and the gorgeous ceiling.We also visit the crypt below the church which is dedicated to St. Lucia of Syracuse. She was tortured and killed because she dedicated her life to God although her parents had promised her in marriage. She is the patron Saint of the blind because she was also blinded before she was beheaded. This is part of the old Palace walls.  Notice that there are apartments on the right hand side that are still occupied beside windows that are open to the sky.We leave the old town through the Golden Gate…and find this enormous statue. We are told by a taxi driver that it is good luck to rub his toes, so that is what Bob is doing.I decide I can use a bit of luck too!  Those are very big toes!

Exploring Zagreb

Day 11 Friday September 15, 2017

It is cloudy and it rained during the night but there is no wind this morning so we head out to explore.  First stop was the Dolac Market, a huge outdoor market where vendors sell fruits, vegetables, meat and fish every day of the week.  There are red umbrellas over the stands and it is all very picturesque. We buy vegetables to make soup tonight and some fruit. We get our leeks and carrots from this baba, and the rest from several other vendors.Just a short walk from the Dulac Market is the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Nice that one of the towers is under construction but the scaffolding is wrapped in a photographic copy of the building underneath. This is so much more attractive than the generic construction tarps used at home.

The inside of the cathedral is magnificent. Construction started in the 11th century and additions and alterations were made over the next seven centuries.

Here are some photos of the church interior

Note the gold stars on the ceiling above the organ.

The faithful came to pray at this crypt, often just walking up and placing hands on the crypt while they prayed.

This shows a spire before and after restoration and the clock on the wall stopped at 7 hours 3 minutes and 3 seconds on the 9th of November, 1880 because of an earthquake that caused damage to the cathedral. The renovations today are a result of this earthquake as the repairs made after the earthquake did not fair well and have badly eroded. This photo shows some of the newly reconstructed columns and the old ones that are still waiting reconstruction
There were defensive walls built around the Cathedral in the 15th Century and there are little cottages built up against the wall.On the way back to our apartment we come across these fellows.  No idea why what they were doing or why they were dressed as caveman but they posed for photos for the tourists.
This big square has more market stalls and it is surrounded by majestic buildings. There is just so much to see here. This machine was pressing olive oil.  The green coilsl coming out were the waste and it was as hard as wood!
Here is another building shrouded in a construction covering. I really like them. We go back to our apartment for lunch and a little rest and then head back out for the afternoon.
There are a lot of parks in Zagreb and even though it is fall there are still lots of flowers in bloom. This is the Art Pavilion, originally constructed as the Croatian Pavilion for an Exhibition in Budapest in 1896. It was disassembled and then reconstructed here.We check out the Hotel Esplanade near the railway station, which was built for passengers of the Orient Express. We couldn’t afford to eat here but I did use the bathroom, which was very luxurious.
The Botanical Gardens. are next. The show greenhouse is under construction and reconstruction so we can’t visit it, but the rest of the gardens are very lovely. We enjoy our time walking along the garden paths checking out the flowers and trees. These are lotus flower seed heads…and these Santa Cruz water lily pads grow up to two meters across!  On the way home we see these cars parked half on the road and half on the street!