Archives August 2022

Sacred Sites of Ancient Greece – part1

The Acropolis of Athens

The Acropolis is high over the city with characteristic conspicuousness. It is an old fortification situated on a rough outcrop over the city of Athens and contains the remaining parts of a few old structures of incredible engineering and verifiable importance, the most renowned being the Parthenon. The word acropolis is from the Greek words “most noteworthy point, limit” and “city”.

The term acropolis is nonexclusive and there are numerous other acropoleis in Greece. During old times it was referred to likewise more appropriately as Cecropia, after the incredible snake man, Cecrops, the alleged first Athenian lord.

While there is proof that the slope was occupied as far back as the fourth thousand years BC, it was Pericles (c. 495-429 BC) in the fifth century BC who composed the development of the structures whose current remaining parts are the site’s most significant ones, including the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. The Parthenon and different structures were truly harmed during the 1687 attack by the Venetians during the Morean War while black powder being put away in the Parthenon by the Ottomans was hit by a cannonball and detonated.

Parthenon

The Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis in Greece committed to the goddess Athena, whom individuals of Athens thought about their patroness. Development began in 447 BC when the Delian League was at the pinnacle of its power. It was finished in 438 BC, in spite of the fact that embellishment of the structure went on until 432 BC. It is the main enduring structure of Classical Greece, for the most part, viewed as the apex of the Doric request.

Its embellishing models are viewed as a portion of the great marks of Greek craftsmanship. The Parthenon is viewed as a getting thorough image of Ancient Greece, a vote-based system and Western civilization, and one of the world’s most prominent social landmarks.

To the Athenians who fabricated it, the Parthenon, and other Periclean landmarks of the Acropolis, were seen in a general sense as a festival of Hellenic triumph over the Persian trespassers and as a thanksgiving to the divine beings for that triumph.

The actual Parthenon supplanted a more seasoned sanctuary of Athena, which students of history call the Pre-Parthenon or Older Parthenon, that was wrecked in the Persian attack of 480 BC. Like most Greek sanctuaries, the Parthenon filled a useful need as the city depository.

For a period, it filled in as the depository of the Delian League, which later on turned into the Athenian Empire. In the last ten years of the sixth century AD, the Parthenon was changed over into a Christian church devoted to the Virgin Mary.

After the Ottoman success, the Parthenon was transformed into a mosque in the mid-1460s. On 26 September 1687, an Ottoman ammo dump inside the structure was lighted by a Venetian barrage during an attack on the Acropolis. The subsequent blast seriously harmed the Parthenon and its models.

From 1800 to 1803, The seventh Earl of Elgin eliminated a portion of the enduring models, presently known as the Elgin Marbles, supposedly with the consent of the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. Starting around 1975, various huge scope rebuilding projects have been embraced to guarantee the underlying dependability of the sanctuary.

Delphi

Situated around 100 miles northwest of Athens is the antiquated site of the panhellenic safe-haven of Delphi. The complex of structures, which incorporates the Temple of Apollo where sat the well-known prophet, The consecrated Corycian Cave, and the Castalian Spring, is settled in the forested slants and rough precipices on the south side of the holy mountain Mountains and the Sacred called Parnassus.

The site had been sacrosanct since basically the Bronze Age. As per legend, the holy place was initially monitored by the she-mythical serpent Pytho. She was killed by Apollo who then assumed control over the prophet. In days of yore, Delphi was viewed as the focal point of the world.

Temple of Hephaistos

The Temple of Hephaestus in focal Athens, Greece, is the best-saved old Greek sanctuary on the planet, yet is undeniably less notable than its distinguished neighbor, the Parthenon. The sanctuary is otherwise called the Hephaesteum or Hephaesteion. It is sometimes called the Theseum, because of a conviction current in Byzantine times that the bones of the unbelievable Greek legend Theseus were covered there; as a matter of fact, the bones claimed to be those of Theseus were covered in the fifth century BC at another site closer to the Acropolis.

The sanctuary is situated around 500m north-west of the Acropolis and around 1km due west of the cutting edge focus of Athens, Syntagma Square. It was underlying around 449 BC on what was then the western edge of the city of Athens, in a region that contained numerous foundries and metalwork shops. It was in this manner committed to Hephaestos, the divine force of smithies and metallurgy. It was planned by Ictinus, one of the designers who dealt with the Parthenon. It remains on a slight ascent and in old times told a fine perspective on the Agora.

Worked of marble from Mount Pentelus, in the Doric style, the sanctuary is hexastyle, that is with six sections under the pedimented closes, and has thirteen segments on each side (counting the corner sections two times).

The sanctuary is peripteral, with segments completely encompassing the focal encased cella. In the entablature there is the plain frieze that is normal with the clearheaded Doric mode, however above it in the spaces between the triglyphs – which resemble beautifully scored shafts close fixed into place – the works of Heracles are portrayed in bas-alleviation. Etched into the low-help metope is the extraordinary story of Theseus and of his mission to kill the Minotaur.

Not at all like the Parthenon, the sanctuary has every one of its sections and pediments unblemished and even has the majority of its unique rooftop. Its friezes and different improvements, nonetheless, have unavoidably been gravely harmed by cheats and thieves throughout the long term. It owes its endurance to its transformation into a Christian Church, the Church of St George, in the seventh century AD. The endurance of the outside came at the expense of the old inside, which was eliminated and supplanted by the designs of a Christian church.

During the long stretches of Ottoman rule in Greece, the sanctuary was the primary Greek Orthodox church in Athens. At the point when the primary ruler of free Greece, King Othon, entered the city in 1834, the help inviting him to his new capital was held in the church. Today the sanctuary has been safeguarded as an archeological site under the management of the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Greek Interior Ministry.

The actual sanctuary has a little wall, however, the guest can draw much nearer than is conceivable at the Parthenon or most different relics in Greece. The sanctuary is currently encircled by a fancy nursery. The site gets considerably less traveler traffic than the Acropolis and is a charming green spot in the core of Athens.

Mount Olympus

Mount Olympus s the most noteworthy mountain in Greece, at 2,917 (or 2,919, as per new estimations ) meters high; it is arranged at 40°05 2N 22°21 2E, in the central area of Greece.

Mount Olympus is noted for its extremely rich vegetation with a few endemic animal types. The most noteworthy top on Mount Olympus is Mitikas, which in Greek signifies “nose.” There are two shelters on a plain around 45 minutes from Mitikas. Mitikas is the most elevated top in Greece, the second most noteworthy being Stefani.

In Greek folklore, Mount Olympus is the home of the Twelve Olympians, the important divine beings in the Greek pantheon. The Greeks considered it developed with precious stone chateaus wherein the divine beings, like Zeus, stayed. The historical underpinnings and significance of the name Olympus (Olympos) are obscure, and it very well might be of Pre-Indo-European beginning.

Castalian Spring

In Greece, the Phaedriades (“the sparkling ones”) were the sets of precipices, ca 700 m high on the lower southern slant of Mt. Parnassos, which encase the holy site of Delphi, the focal point of the Hellenic world. Strabo, Plutarch, and Pausanias all referenced the Phaedriades in portraying the site, a limited valley of the Pleistus (today Xeropotamos) shaped by Parnasse and Mt. Cirphis. Between them rises the Castalian Spring. Indeed, even today, in the early afternoon, the stone countenances mirror a stunning brightness.

The Castalian Spring in the gorge between the Phaedriades at Delphi is where any and all individuals to Delphi, the hopefuls in the Pythian Games and particularly suppliants who arrived at counsel the Oracle, halted to wash their hair. Two wellsprings took care of by the sacrosanct spring get by. The old-fashioned (mid-sixth century BCE) wellspring house has a marble-lined bowl encompassed by seats.

There is likewise a Hellenistic or Roman wellspring with specialties emptied in the stone to get votive gifts. The Castalian Spring originates before all of old-style Delphi: the old watchman of the spring was the snake or winged serpent Python, killed by Apollo in its sanctuary adjacent to the spring.

There Are Some Seriously Spooky Places

With Halloween just around the corner, we decided to uncover the most spine-tingling destinations on the planet. From Dracula’s castle in Transylvania to the Island of Dolls in Mexico, these are some seriously spooky places to visit around the world. Read on, if you dare.

Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta, Canada

What is it? Built 125 years ago, The Banff Springs Hotel was and is a luxury stop for Canadian train travelers. Now part of the Fairmont chain of hotels, “The Castle in the Rockies” has become an iconic landmark in the region’s picturesque landscape.

Why is it a spooky place to visit? Guests have reported sightings of a bride falling down the staircase and breaking her neck after her dress has caught on fire. But perhaps the strangest of all is the ghost of former bellman Sam Macauley. He’s been seen helping people to their room, unlocking the door, turning on the lights, and then vanishing when guests go to tip him. Rooms start at roughly $440 Canadian dollars and the ghosts are free.

Bhangarh Fort, Rajasthan, India

What is it? The remains of a fort city built by Raja Bhagwant Singh in 1573 AD. Once a collection of royal palaces, grand temples, bazaars, and mansions, today the fort is an archaeological site known as the ‘House of Ghosts’.

Why is it a spooky place to visit? Long ago, a magical priest fell in love with the ruler’s daughter, a beautiful princess called Ratnavati. But his love was unrequited, so he cast a ‘love spell’ on her perfume. Ratnavati found out, and threw the perfume bottle at him, which turned into a boulder, and crushed him. But before he died, he cursed the princess, her family, and the entire village. Bhangarh Fort is said to be forever condemned to desolation and inhabited by ghosts, making it one of India’s eeriest locations to visit.

The Island of Dolls, Xochimilco, Mexico

What is it? A small island south of Mexico City surrounded by the canals of Xochimilco. Never intended as a tourist attraction, the island is dedicated to a young girl who died there under mysterious circumstances.

Why is it a spooky place to visit? Known as Isla de las Munecas or Island of the Dolls, the creepy site is home to hundreds of decapitated dolls. But how did they get there? The island’s caretaker is said to have found a drowned girl in the canal. Shortly after finding her, he spotted a floating plastic doll, which he hung in a tree as a mark of respect. For years he hung more and more dolls in order to please the little girl’s spirit. Locals have reported sightings of possessed dolls moving their heads, opening their eyes, and even whispering to each other. What started as an innocent gesture has now become one of Mexico’s spookiest attractions.

Château de Brissac, Loire Valley, France

What is it? Originally built as a fortress in the 11th century, Château de Brissac is the highest castle in France, with seven magnificent floors, 204 rooms, and its own private opera house seating 200 people.

Why is it a spooky place to visit? Home to the Cossé-Brissac family for five centuries, the “Giant of the Loire Valley” has had many notable visitors over the years including King Charles VII. One of the more unearthly guests is La Dame Verte (Green Lady). Murdered by her husband after being caught having an affair, her ghostly figure is often seen in the tower room of the chapel. With sockets for eyes and a nose, when she’s not scaring visitors her screeching can be heard echoing around the castle.

Hill of Crosses, Šiauliai, Lithuania

What is it? A collection of over 200,000 wooden crosses on a small hill in Šiauliai, north Lithuania. The Hill of Crosses started as an act of rebellion in 1831 against the Russian uprising. Religion was forbidden by Soviet Russia and the hill was bulldozed twice during the occupation. After Lithuania’s independence in 1991, it became a holy site for many Christian pilgrims.

Hanging Coffins, Sagada, Philippines

What is it? An ancient burial practice was carried out by the Igorot tribe of Mountain Province in the northern Philippines.

Why is it a spooky place to visit? A burial tradition intended to bring the deceased closer to heaven, coffins are either nailed or tied to the sides of cliffs. Each coffin is only a meter long, as the corpse is buried in the fetal position, honoring the Igorot’s belief that people should leave the world the same way they entered it. Even more grisly, years ago savages from different tribes would hunt for heads and take them home as a trophy. Essentially, the dead were buried high up so nobody could reach them. Now if that’s not a haunted place to visit, we don’t know what is.

The Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town, South Africa

What is it? Built by Dutch colonists in the 17th century, the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest building in South Africa and was once the seat of many government operations.

Why is it a spooky place to visit? Over the years, the fortress has seen some horrendous punishments and executions, which sparked many reports of ghost-sightings. The most famous of which is ‘the Lady in Grey’, a female apparition that has been seen running and crying hysterically through the castle. Interestingly, she hasn’t been spotted since a woman’s body was found during excavations. Now home to three excellent museums and a restaurant, South Africa’s most haunted castle is definitely worth a visit.

Bran Castle, Transylvania, Romania

What is it? This impressive 14th-century castle is a national monument with a frightening reputation thanks to Bram Stoker’s chilling novel.

Why is it a spooky place to visit? Bran Castle is the only castle in Transylvania that fits the description from the Gothic horror novel, Dracula. The story follows a blood-sucking vampire, Count Dracula of Transylvania, and his battle with vampire hunter Van Helsing. Legend has it that in villages nearby, evil spirits called “steregoi” act like normal people during the day, but at night their souls leave their bodies and torment locals in their sleep.

The Tower of London, London, United Kingdom

What is it? Built in 1097, the castle, fortress, and World Heritage Site has seen over 900 years of history. From regal kings to tortured prisoners, the Tower of London is one of the most haunted places in the UK.

Why is it a spooky place to visit? With such a rich history, it’s no surprise that the Tower of London has its fair share of gruesome tales. Over the years there have been many paranormal sightings, the most famous of which is Anne Boleyn, wife of notorious King Henry VIII. Beheaded by order of the King in 1536, her headless body has been spotted roaming the tower. Not just a home for the dead, look out for the guardians of the Tower, six ominous ravens.

Door to Hell, Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan

What is it? A giant gas field, the size of an American football field located in the Karakum desert.

Why is it a spooky place to visit? Known as the “Door to Hell”, the flaming crater could easily be mistaken for the gateway to the Underworld. The crater was formed in 1971 when a Soviet drilling rig accidentally hit a massive underground natural gas cavern. Resulting of poisonous fumes being released into the air, the hole was lit to prevent an environmental catastrophe. More than 40 years later, the hole is still burning. Camp under the stars and marvel at the crater’s infernal blaze for an other-worldly experience.

The Most Beautiful Cathedrals in Spain

The peak of religious architecture is the cathedral temples. Their stones have withstood conflicts and storms. With the passing of time, they have been enlarged and modified according to the canons of each era. Thus, these great works have managed to spread their religious value to become universal cultural symbols. From those of Castile and León to those of Andalusia, these are some of the most fascinating cathedrals in Spain.

Seville Cathedral

This is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. This huge building rose throughout the 15th century. The last stone of the dome, the transept tower, was laid on 10 October 1506. The initiative to build it was the idea of the powerful local town hall, which would see its influence increase even more following the Discovery of America. Together with the Royal Alcazars and the Archive of the Indies, it is a World Heritage Site. Before the current construction, the site of the temple dedicated to Santa María de la Sede was occupied by a mosque that had been readapted to become the headquarters of the prelate.

The Giralda and the Patio de Los Naranjos have been preserved from the old Arab temple. The former is perhaps the most famous tower in the country. Formerly a minaret, it became a bell tower and, for centuries, the tallest building in Spain. The Patio de Los Naranjos, on the other hand, is a beautiful garden. The dome of the cathedral of Seville has collapsed twice throughout history, shortly after the completion of the works and at the end of the 19th century.

Burgos Cathedral

Its motto calls it “beautiful and pure”, in reference to the virgin, in a very accurate way. Located in the heart of Castile and the 13th century, Burgos Cathedral is the most outstanding cathedral in its autonomous region, next to the one in León. A Gothic treasure that is a World Heritage Site on its own. Its main entrance is reminiscent of the great French temples. With a multitude of details, it presents an overwhelming sculptural ensemble.

Its lantern tower does not fall behind, as well as other façades. For example, the Puerta de la Coronería, through which those who took the French Way to Santiago passed to the interior. Not in vain, the cathedral of Burgos is one of the most famous of the Jacobean pilgrimage. Meanwhile, inside there are chapels and elements ranging from Gothic to Renaissance and Baroque styles. The tomb of El Cid Campeador and Doña Jimena, his wife, stands out. Near Burgos there are other notable Jacobean cathedrals such as Santo Domingo de la Calzada or, a little further away, Logroño.

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

The goal of the Way to Santiago was the epicenter of one of the pilgrimages that helped form the concept of Europe. From the discovery of the tomb of the apostle and the first arrivals of the faithful, such as that of Alfonso II the Chaste, the history of the temple began. From its Romanesque past stands out the Portico de la Gloria del Maestro Mateo, today covered from the outside but open to the public after years of restoration. Ourense’s Cathedral has a very similar one. It is situated behind the main entrance, a kind of stony baroque altarpiece.

The other three facades of the cathedral of Santiago are those of the Platerías, Azabachería, and the Quintana. In them, the styles go from Romanesque to Neoclassical. Inside, a splendid organ of baroque origin stands out. Its wide spaces are adapted to its function as the culmination of the popular Jacobean route. Thus, the apse allows two stairs to go up to the baldachin or temple to embrace the figure of the saint or to go down to contemplate the tomb of Santiago Apostle. The botafumeiro, a large incense burner used in antiquity to appease the smell of the pilgrims, today is only used on payment or on special dates.

León Cathedral

Without leaving the Way to Santiago, the former capital of the kingdom of León has another jewel of the Gothic. In this case, it is a luminous temple and less recharged than the previous ones. Its clean walls rise in a space previously occupied by Roman baths, a pre-Romanesque cathedral, and another Romanesque one. At the beginning of the 13th century, work began to build what would become the present Leonese temple.

Its cloister and facades have seen innumerable faithful, curious pilgrims pass by, the latter on their way to Astorga and Ponferrada. The Gothic style predominates despite the reforms that were carried out over time, especially in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was precisely in 1966 when a lightning strike started a fire that destroyed the roof of the cathedral of León. However, what stands out most is the extensive collection of stained glass windows of medieval origin, one of the most important in the world.

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Although it is technically a basilica, the Sagrada Familia can be included in the list of the most fascinating cathedrals in Spain thanks to its dimensions and aesthetics. Gaudí’s work has been in progress since 1882. It is also one of the most visited in the world. However, the death of the architect from Reus was a blow that took decades to overcome. However, technical advances mean that its completion is planned for the mid-20s.

Its facade of El Nacimiento, the most recognized, is of great verticality. Gaudí himself supervised its construction, as well as that of the extraordinary crypt. The facade of La Pasión was developed by Josep María Subirach and the facade of La Gloria is being executed. The cloister surrounds the whole set except the main facade. Thanks to this, the temple is isolated from the outside. In the same city, the cathedral of Santa Cruz and Santa Eulalia is also interesting.

Palma de Mallorca Cathedral

La Seu, a synonym for the cathedral, on the main island of the Balearic Islands looks directly at the sea. Its rose window is among the largest in Europe. It has a peculiar aspect, very rectangular. This gives a compact sensation and great amplitude on the outside. This is due to the passage from one to three naves during its extensive construction, which took from the 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century. However, it has continued to be extended and reformed without stopping. Among the best-known and controversial touches are those carried out by Gaudí between 1904 and 1914. It was one of his main performances outside Catalonia, together with, for example, his Capricho in Comillas. The temple of Palma de Mallorca hosts the overwhelming Song of the Sibyl every Christmas.

Oviedo Cathedral

Together with Covadonga, Oviedo is the largest spiritual center in Asturias. It was the capital of the kingdom before it was moved to León and a new crown was created. From there the fight against the Muslims was led from the end of the 8th century or the beginning of the 9th. Thanks to this condition, it was an almost obligatory stop on the Way to Santiago. It was said that “who goes to Santiago and not to Salvador, visits the servant but not the Lord”. Today it is still the head of the Primitive Way, a route founded by Alfonso II.

Fruela I was the one who built the initial basilica, in honor of San Salvador. Shortly afterward, Alfonso II the Chaste himself moved his court to the city and developed a kind of holy city, of which the Holy Chamber is preserved. Very damaged in the context of the Revolution of Asturias, it keeps its inception many relics as the Cross of Victory. This pre-Romanesque complex included several churches, convents, and structures for the clergy to live in. At the end of the 13th century, the Gothic building that can be seen today, a World Heritage Site, was begun.

Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza

The capital city has one of the largest temples in the world. The Basilica-Cathedral of the Pillar is kept the patron saint of Zaragoza, which focuses on the festival of the same name on October 12. Legends place the origin of her worship in the first century of this era when the Virgin appeared to Santiago on a column. It is supposed that the Pillar would have received continuous attention since then. However, its relationship with the Aragonese city could only be witnessed from the Middle Ages onwards.

A Gothic church was built over a Romanesque chapel and temples, which was finally replaced by the current building in the 17th century. This fact came shortly after it obtained the degree of co-cathedral next to the Seo. After the conformation of the main body, there was a quick reform by Ventura Rodriguez that contributed a neoclassical touch. He was also responsible for the Holy Chapel. Despite suffering in the War of Independence, it managed to survive and was completed with towers and domes during the 19th and 20th centuries. Its official consecration did not come until October 10, 1872. With it, it rose as one of the most recognizable monuments of the province of Zaragoza.

Zamora Cathedral

The next stop in the tour of Spain’s most fascinating cathedrals is Zamora. Its main temple is eminently Romanesque, despite later Gothic additions. It was built in the mid-12th century and still has the almost original Puerta del Obispo. Likewise, its lantern tower has Byzantine elements that make it exceptional and differentiate the temple from the rest. It is worth mentioning that the rest of the town is full of religious Romanesque buildings, has a beautiful medieval bridge, and is a passage zone of the mythical Silver Way.