Cathedrals, Churches, and Abbeys, Oh My!
Religious structures around Europe. 'Nuff said.
The old school Gothic cathedral in Barcelona, surrounded by the laziest beggars I've ever seen. A dozen of them were on the steps with their hands held out, just hoping that they'd be the one you'd pick to give money to. A welcome change from the aggressive men on La Ramblas with plastic cups who seem to insist that you will be giving them money, getting right up in your face--occasionally with their pet rhino (cleverly disguised as a dog) sniffing at your crotch to let you know what he'll be doing if you don't donate. Ylva kept trying to convince me to just grab one of the proferred cups and say a quick "Gracias," but the thought of being emasculated by the attack rhinos didn't appeal to me.
The Sagreda Familia, an absolutely massive cathedral looming out of the center of Barcelona like an alien structure. It's also only half done. Construction started in the 1880s (yes, the nineteenth century!) by Barcelona's premiere architect, Gaudi, the funding comes only from private donations. It's been delayed by over a century of war, fascist rule of Spain, a couple revolutions and depressions, and the death of its architect in 1926, when Gaudi was hit by a tram. The Sagreda Familia (which I kept accidentally calling the Sangria Familia) is expected to be finished sometime in the next 50 years. A new modern masterpiece of architecture, it is nevertheless taking a Middle Ages length of time to finish. Eventually, it will have 18 of these massive towers: one massive one for Jesus, an equally massive one for Mary, four for the Gospel writers, and 12 for the Apostles (I don't know if Judas Iscariot gets his own or if his replacement gets the tower). Eight have been finished so far.
The view of the Sagreda Familia from the Parc Gueil, a park built and designed by Gaudi that feels like stumbling into some long dead Central American tribe transplanted to Spain through mysterious circumstances; the Anasazi revealed in Spain.
Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart). The cathedral with my favorite story behind it. It was built in Paris in the 1870s, to get back on God's good side after the French had their asses handed to them by the Germans in the Franco-Prussian War.
The Pantheon is not a cathedral, per se, but a massive "temple to reason" on the Left Bank, Paris. It was supposed to be a cathedral, but was completed just as the French Revolution started. Since then, it been traded like a baseball card between the forces of the church and the forces of liberty, equality, and fraternity numerous times. The crypt is filled with 'free thinkers.' This picture here is of an odd art exhibit temporarily set up where Foucault first demonstrated his pendulum (thus demonstrating the rotation of the earth).
The rather unimpressive port of Cobh (pronounced "Cove" through some weird fluke of the Irish language) has two major things going for it; it was the last place that Titanic docked before going out and breaking the world record for plunging to the bottom of the Atlantic, and this massive cathedral with the largest bell carillon in Ireland that dwarfs anything else in the town, except maybe for the unassuming maximum security prison across the way on Spike Island. There's probably some ironic or un-ironic statement to be made about cathedrals and prisons to be so close to each other, but I'll just let it go unsaid.
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