Sunday, 27 October 2013

'great iron door' of the Sacra di San Michele


 the Sacra di San Michele is a religious complex on Mount Pirchiriano, situated on the south side of the Val di Susa, northern Italy. the abbey, which for much of its history came under Benedictine rule, is now entrusted to the Rosminians.  according to some historians, in Roman times a military stronghold existed on the current location of the abbey, commanding the main road leading to Gaul from Italy. later, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Lombards built a fortress here against the Frankish invasions
little is known of the early years of the abbey, the oldest extant account is that of a monk, William, who lived here in the late 11th century and wrote a Chronicon Coenobii Sancti Michaelis de Clusa in which he sets the foundation of the abbey in 966.
what is certain is that what is now the crypt was built in the late 10th century, as attested by the Byzantine influence in the niches, columns and arches. according to tradition, this building was constructed by the hermit Saint Giovanni Vincenzo at the behest of the archangel Michael; and the building materials which the hermit had collected were transported miraculously to the top of the mountain (the cult of St. Michael, typically bases it churches on pinnacles or hard to reach places, for example, Mont Saint-Michel in France.)
in the following years a small edifice was added, which could house a small community of monks and some pilgrims. later the abbey developed under the Benedictine rule, with the construction of a separate building with guest-rooms for pilgrims following the popular Via Francigena and of a church-monastery (1015–1035), probably on the remains of the ancient Roman castrum. abbot Ermengardo (1099–1131) had a new large, 26 m-high basement built from the foot of the hill to its peak, on which a new church (the one still existing today) was added, including the surrounding structures.
the church, whose construction lasted for many years, is characterized by the unusual position of the façade, which is at a lower level than the floor of the church's interior. the imposing 41m-high façade gives access to the scalone del morti flanked by arches, niches and tombs in which, until recent times, skeletons of dead monks where visible (hence the name). at the top of the steps is the marble porta dello zodiaco, a masterwork of 12th century sculpture. the church itself is accessed by a Romanesque portal in grey and green stone, built in the early 11th century. the church has a nave and two aisles, and features elements from both the Gothic and Romanesque styles of architecture.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

98 78


thanks to everyone who popped by yesterday to take a look at the entry for 13 april (sculpture: 'After Olympia' by Anthony Caro) i can only assume it was because the brilliant man died on 24 October  of a heart attack at the age of 89

(obituary: )

Sir Anthony Caro with his sculpture Millbank Steps 2004
Sir Anthony Caro with his sculpture Millbank Steps at Tate Britain in 2004 (Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA) with so much rust - really no need to tell you but i visited the exhibition on a number of occasions

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Amsterdammertje, Amsterdam


an Amsterdammertje  (Dutch for 'little one from Amsterdam') is the typical iron or steel traffic bollard that is used to separate the pavements  from the street in Amsterdam, they all have the city government’s xxx logo on them
 they were first used around 1800 as more and more individual people in Amsterdam started to use bollards to protect the space in front of their houses. these bollards were made of metal (originally old cannons), stone, or wood. in the late 19th century the first cast iron bollards were made.
from 1915 onwards there was a standard bollard of cast iron, this was replaced in 1972 with steel plate bollards
in 1984, there were approximately 100,000 Amsterdammertjes, since then the city council has been removing and selling them - around two thousand  are being removed every year, and this is set to continue until there are none left
i hope someone has started a “save the Amsterdammertjes” campaign – they are now integral to the city

Friday, 18 October 2013

drain cover, Amsterdam

the three saint Andrew's crosses are the “logo”  of the city government of Amsterdam and are used widely throughout the city
some people say the three saltires represent the three dangers of ancient Amsterdam: fire, floods, and the black death - however that theory has no historical basis
the crosses probably have their origin in the shield of the noble family Persijn - the knight Jan Persijn was "lord" of Amstelledamme (Amsterdam) from 1280 to 1282
some people think that it is the xxx rating for the city’s sex industry!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

pump, Tournus, Burgundy, France


the pump don't work because the vandals took the handle
from Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bob Dylan

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

gate, Hôtel-Dieu, Tournus, Burgundy, France


like many of the region's charity hospitals this one was run by the sisters of saint Martha who worked as ward nurses from the hospital's inception in 1674 right up until it closed in 1978

Friday, 4 October 2013

gate, Tournus, Burgundy, France

on the way down to Italy i stopped in the riverside town of Tournus, a delightful town on the river Saône , tucked away in the south-east corner of Burgundy, the town has a wealth of old buildings, alleyways, antique shops, cafes and restaurants but it is famous for the abbey of Saint Philibert, a fortress-like Romanesque church with many interesting features
in Roman times, Tournus was a small fortified town built alongside the river, in the 2nd century st. Valerian from Lyon arrived in the town to convert the locals, he was moderately successful before being executed by the Romans around 179 CE - his tomb became a secret place of pilgrimage for early Christians
in the 4th century an oratory was built over the tomb and a small monastery dedicated to saint Valerian was founded on the site in the 6th century - this and other early buildings were badly damaged in Arab raids in 731 and partially rebuilt afterwards
in 875, King Charles the Bald offered the abbey to homeless monks from Noirmoutier, whose monastery had been captured by the Normans, their  monastery had been founded by saint  Philibert (616-85), whose relics the monks carried with them; this led to an unusual situation in which the abbey was shared by two monastic communities, each dedicated to their own saint
the church that stands there today dates mainly from the 11th century with a 10th-century crypt, it boasts an impressively tall nave with an unusual vault, dating from 1068, carved capitals, an important Romanesque statue of the Virgin and Child, and newly-discovered 12th-century floor mosaics depicting the zodiac
the chapter house was rebuilt after a fire in 1245 and the Late Middle Ages saw the addition of several chapels by wealthy sponsors
at the dawn of the Renaissance, the abbey began a sharp decline in fortunes, in 1498, the abbey became in commendam, in August 1562, Huguenots badly damaged and pillaged the abbey, in 1627, the abbey was suppressed and a college of canons replaced the monks and a secular abbot replaced the former monastic one, during the French Revolution, the abbot was expelled and the church was made a secular building dedicated to the "Constitutional Cult"
the abbey church was reconsecrated in 1802, becoming the mother church of the parish of Tournus, in 1841, it was declared a historic monument and restorations began - these renovations were, as usual for this period, a bit over-creative so more accurate restorations of the original Romanesque appearance took place in the 20th century