Hello and welcome. Hope you enjoy the images I have posted. Please do not reproduce them without my permission. Most are available as note/greeting cards or as prints/enlargements. Thank you for visiting my site and your comments.
Many have asked about the Header image above, which I named 'Eerie Genny'. It was originally shot with film [taken on the shore of the Genesee River near the Univ. of Rochester]. During the darkroom development, I flashed a light above the tray. The process, known as 'solarization', produces eerie, ghostlike effects; some have mistaken this image as an infra-red photo. Some 35+ years later, I scanned and digitized the print, and did a little modern day editing, and, voila.
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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Prague 2: St. Vitus’s Cathedral/Prague Castle [Sky Watch Friday]

The next morning we bused to the Prague Castle, founded in the 9th century high above the Vltava River [the Moldau]. The buildings enclosed included three churches, a palace, and a monastery. The Castle has been rebuilt many times, especially in 1541 after a fire badly damaged the buildings. The rebuilt Castle was in the Renaissance style, and since 1918 it has been the seat of the president of the republic.
Perhaps the most striking building is that of St. Vitus’s Cathedral. Started as a rotunda in the 10th century, additions were made over the next 1,000 years: it was a Basilica in the 11th century, expanded to a Gothic Cathedral in the 14th century and finally completed by 19th and 20th century architects and artists]. The west entrance [Neo-Gothic style] features twin spires and a Rose Window.

                                   Beneath the Rose window is a detail of the tympanum.

Entering the cathedral and heading down the nave, one is struck by the soaring height of the walls and ceiling.

                                                  Turning to look back at the Rose Window.

Among the modern additions is the stained glass window designed by the famous Czech Art Nouveau artist, Alfons Mucha. Installed in 1931, the window portrays the boy St. Wenceslas with his grandmother St. Ludmila in the center, surrounded by episodes from the lives of Saints Cyril and Methodius [who spread Christianity among the Slavs[. The image of Slavia is also included below Christ, and as an emblem of Slavia Bank who funded the stained glass window. The bottom image is a detail from the lower right panel.

Leaving the cathedral, we proceeded along the southern side. It, too, offered some splendid views.

Finally, some additional exterior images toward the apse, where the rather delicate flying buttresses are nicely visible.

                               Next week, I will continue to explore the area around Prague Castle.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Prague 1: Old Town Square [Sky Watch Friday]

Our bus trip from Budapest to Prague took the better part of a day, with stops along the way. Our first full day in Prague began with a visit to the Museum of Czech Cubism where we heard a lecture on art and architecture, which was followed by a guided tour. My favorite image from this experience turns out to be that of a staircase [shot from the third floor].

After the museum, our destination was the Old Town Square. This proved to be a revelation as there were so many wonderful sights, I didn’t know which way to look first. I’ll start here with what is perhaps the most popular attraction; viz. the 15th century astronomical clock on the Old Town Hall. According to legend, after it was rebuilt in 1490, the city council was so anxious that the clockmaker would not duplicate his work elsewhere, they had him blinded. Below is an overall view of the clock. Each hour, there is a procession of 12 Apostles past two windows [closed in the image below]. After they stop moving, the cock above crows and the hour is chimed.

The top portion is an astronomical clock, in which the sun and moon orbit the earth, consistent with the then accepted view of the universe. The hand with the sun points to the hour, which is records three different kinds of time. The outer ring of medieval Arabic numerals measures Old bohemian time. The ring of Roman numerals is time as we know it. The blue part of the dial represents the visible part of the sky, and is divided into 12 parts, in so-called Babylonian time [varying in length from summer to winter]. The sun and moon move through the 12 signs of the zodiac.

Below the astronomical clock is a calendar that was introduced in 1866. This revolving dial depicts Bohemian peasant life incorporating pictures symbolizing the months of the year. The months and zodiac signs revolve around the Old Town Coat of Arms in the center.

On the clock are four pairs of wooden sculptures. Because wood weathers poorly, the eight figures are the most renovated parts of the clock. Actually, the originals were destroyed several times; the current figures are relatively recent copies. At the top right are Death and the Turk [a symbol of Vice and Pleasure/Lust]. Starting on the hour, Death gives a pull on the rope that he holds in his right hand; then he raises and inverts the hourglass in his left hand. The two doors above open and a procession of the Apostles commences.

On the top left are Vanity [looking at himself in a mirror] and Greed [holding a money purse].

The lower pairs of figures represent, respectively, a Philosopher and Archangel Michael [top image] and an Astronomer and Chronicler [lower image].

To the left of the clock is a row of buildings with colorful Gothic and Renaissance facades. The one below has the Old Town Coat of Arms over the central window.

Two other buildings of note in the square area are the Gothic Church of Lady of Tyn and the Baroque St. Nicholas Church. The latter has become a popular location for concerts. In fact, two nights later we attended a concert featuring the Prague Brass Ensemble along with the church organ. 

We completed the organized portion of the day’s tour with lunch in the cafe of the Municipal House [a beautiful Art Nouveau building], which is adjacent to the old Powder Gate. It got its name in the 17th century when it was used to store gunpowder.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Budapest 6: Night on the Danube [Sky Watch Friday]

On the last night of our Road Scholar Budapest tour, the group was treated to a buffet dinner cruise on the Danube. The weather was perfect, the food delicious and the photo-ops mind-boggling. The  first seven images below were shot from the deck of the ship. The moderate speed gave me ample time to get off many shots. All were hand-held and shooting in the Manual Mode: 1/60 sec, f5.6 and allowing the camera to choose the ISO [3200 in all cases]. In the top two images, you can see both the illuminated Liberation Monument atop Gellert Hill and the Liberty Bridge (1894-99) [rebuilt after WWII restoring all its original features]. 

               Next we come to Buda Castle and the Mathias Church, with the Chain Bridge below.

                         And now, my favorite structure in Budapest, the Parliament building.

At the conclusion of the cruise, we got a surprise; viz. we went by bus up to the Buda Castle area where there was an overlook that offered a magnificent view of the Danube and its bridges. Needless to say, a lot of other folks/tours knew about it, too; so I was fortunate to get myself into a  position to get some good shots, despite the crowding and short duration of our visit. 

This concludes our visit in Budapest.  Next week I will start a new series of postings devoted to the Prague leg of the tour. {By the way, I learned that Westerners generally mispronounce Budapest. Phonetically, it is pesht [not pest] because a free s is spoken as sh; in contrast, sz is spoken like our s.} In German, Pest means plague or pestilence.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Budapest 5: The Dohány Street Synagogue [Sky Watch Friday]

Our visit to the Vajdahunyad Castle [see last week's post] concluded the afternoon program, and we now had free time to explore on our own. We hitched a ride with our bus, which was returning to our hotel, but asked that we be dropped off at the Dohány Street Synagogue [the driver was kind enough to make an illegal stop for us].
Constructed between 1854 and 1859, the synagogue is in Byzantine (Moorish) Revival style. Thus, the twin onion-shaped domes contribute to its mosque-like appearance. The building suffered considerable damage in WWII and underwent extensive renovations in the 1990s.

The interior is laid out like a church basilica, having a main nave and two side aisles. Note also  the cupola [bottom image], which was unprecedented for a synagogue.

   In addition to the synagogue, several other buildings/areas belong to the complex; viz. a museum, the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park, and a cemetery. While it is not customary to have a cemetery next to a synagogue, this was a result of historical circumstances. Over two thousand of those who died in the ghetto from hunger and cold during the winter 1944-1945 are buried here.
The Park holds the Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs — at least 400,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered by the Nazis. It resembles a weeping willow whose leaves bear inscriptions with the names of victims.

In a separate courtyard, I came across yet another memorial. It is a poignant sculpture, which made me think of the victims who were shot at the edge of the Danube. [see the Shoe Memorial from an earlier posting].

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Budapest 4: Heroes’ Square and the Vajdahunyad Castle [Sky Watch Friday]

After a field trip and lunch, our group visited Heroes’ Square. This is a huge open plaza containing two significant monuments. One is a semi-circular colonnade bearing 14 statues of men who had major impacts on Hungary’s history. The second is a 36-meter-tall column, topped with a figure representing archangel Gabriel presenting a crown to the nation’s founding king. At the base of the column is a group of seven statues representing the original tribal chieftains who brought the Magyar people to the land that is now Hungary [around A.D. 896]. The monument was erected in 1896 as part of the Millennial Celebration commemorating this movement. The images below are from my cell phone, as those taken with my Canon have somehow been lost.

We continued strolling into City Park [Városliget] to the Vajdahunyad Castle, which was also built for the Celebration. It was not really a castle, rather a complex of buildings reflecting different architectural styles: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. Our entrance into the castle area was through a gate with two Gothic style towers.

To our left, we passed the Ják Church, which contains an accurate reproduction of an early 13th century Romanesque Benedictine church facade

Close by was one of Budapest’s most popular monuments, the statue of Anonymous [completed in 1903]. You can see how the tip of the pen has been rubbed shiny by its many visitors.

Off to our right was a lovely Baroque building, which now serves as the Museum of Agriculture.

I don't know the function of the Renaissance building below, nor that of the Gothic tower behind it].

The Castle is situated on the edge of a small lake, which we passed as we exited the grounds.  The last image shows a nice overview of some of the structures, which are along the water’s edge.