U for Ursuline Monastery

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ursuline-monastery-1

The Ursuline Monastery in Solvenia’s young capital, Ljubljana and the Holy Trinity Parish Church  was commissioned by Jakob Schell von Schellenburg, a wealthy local merchant and financier, and his wife Ana Katarina. During the construction of the Trg republike square, the Monastery underwent a thorough reconstruction and its garden was completely destroyed. 

Its undulating façade enhanced by semi-columns and a characteristic gable inspired by the famous Roman architect Francesco Borromini make it one of Ljubljana’s most beautiful and extraordinary example of Baroque architecture.

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In front is the Holy Trinity Column erected in 1693 as a thanks offering for the city having been spared from the plague.

U---Ursuline-Monastery-rough-pastelsand given the number of windows in this beautiful building I am linking this to Dawn’s Lingering Windows Challenge.

T for Týn Church / Týnský chrám

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Back in Prague (the city of 101 spires apparently) this week for one of the most recognisable buildings in the Old Town, a Gothic church called ‘The Church of Our Lady in front of Týn

The current church is a late Gothic style and construction began in the 14th century. The roof, the 80m high church towers and the smaller spires were completed in the 15th century. It dominates one side of the Old Town Square. (Wikipedia)

T---tyn's-church

The front is decorated with a golden image of the Virgin Mary, made in the 1620s from the melted down Hussite chalice that previously adorned the church. This was during the tumultuous period when Roman Catholics were slaughtering the Hussites who had controlled the church for two centuries.

T - tyn's church (2)

And take a close look at the two spires on the church. They are not symmetrical. They represent the masculine and feminine sides of the world. This is characteristic of Gothic architecture of the period.

The church is difficult to picture in its entirety as it is hidden behind the  four-storey Týn School, and although impressively Gothic on the outside it is heavily Baroque on the inside. It is open to the public, though closed on Mondays, and often used for mass, so check before you  visit.

T---tyn's-church-3

Entrance to the church can be difficult to find as you have to negotiate through the narrow lanes behind the square. This amazing portal dates from 1390 and depicts scenes of Christ’s Passion.

Legend has it that Walt Disney based his Sleeping Beauty Castle on this church. What do you think?

S for Sintra Palácio Nacional da Pena

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The  town of Sintra, Unesco-listed thanks to its extraordinary castles, palaces and country houses, is popular with Lisbon day-trippers. There is a lot of flamboyant architecture to see.

(please click on an image to enlarge)

S - sintra pena palace

The Park and Palace of Pena above the old town of Sintra  are the finest examples of 19th century Portuguese Romanticism and the integration of natural and built heritage. It is another example (along with Rossio Station in Lisbon and Count Guimaraes Palace in Cascais) of neo-Manueline style, a revival architecture of the 19th/20th centuries.

sintra-pena-palace-gateway

This is as far as you go if you haven’t bought the full ticket. The coat of arms above the gateway is of Don Fernando II of Portugal and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. He died in 1885 leaving the property to the Countess of Edla.

sintra-alcove

An alcove you pass on the way up to the second terrace, charmingly filled with a stone urn and lush tropical plants.

sintra-fish-man

Allegorical gateway of the Creation. Half-man half-fish figure.

S-=-Sintra-Pena-Palace-(2)

On your way up to the entrance you go past a lovely border of tropical planting, which all looks in much better shape than the actual Palace buildings, which I thought were rather tired and scruffy looking. I wanted to get a paintbrush out there and then!

It is a steep walk up to the Palace and you may prefer to  take the 434 circular bus route from the railway station (regular trains to and from Lisbon make it an easy day out) to the historic centre of the Old Town, the castle and Pena Palace. If you walk from the station then you can enter the lovely Parque de Liberdade.

S - Sintra parque

I went there on a very humid day in May, and found it a little disappointing. The exterior of the Palace and the Palacio Nacional de Sintra were in need of some TLC and I found the historic centre to be very crowded and it was very hot and sticky. Climbing up hill in those conditions do not suit me, but I would like to go back as there are many other sites to visit that are very interesting.

Have you visited Sintra? Did you go to the Pena Palace and Gardens? What are your thoughts?

R for Rossio Railway Station

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Estação de Caminhos de Ferro do Rossio – located in Rossio Square, Lisbon, Portugal 

R - Rossio Station doors

This unusual building will attract your attention – it is built in the neo-manueline style and quite beautiful. The intertwined horseshoe portals at the front of the building are probably the most impressive features.

R = Rossio Station 2

But just admire the detail around those doors and windows.

R - Rossio Station detail

And as I often say, don’t forget to look up!

R - Rossio Station

Q for Qutb Minar

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(A special post today as this is the 200th on this blog!)

The Qutb Minar is in Delhi, India.

Originally the minar had only 4 storeys, faced with red and buff sandstone. The uppermost storey which was damaged in 1368 during Firuz Tughluq’s reign was replaced by him by 2 storeys, using marble but leaving the lower portion of the 4th storey in original red sandstone.

The minar narrows from the bottom to the top. It has a diameter of 14.3 meters at the bottom, while at the top it is only 2.7 meters

Verses of the holy Quran in Naskh style on the walls of Qutb Minar

With a height of 72.5 m and 379 steps, it is the highest stone tower in India and a perfect example of minar known to exist anywhere.

Verses of the holy Quran in Naskh style on the walls of Qutb Minar

close-up

The mosque is in ruins today but indigenous corbelled arches, floral motifs, and geometric patterns can be seen among the Islamic architectural structures. Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, constructed by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak, dates back to the year 1198. (below and header photo)

Alai Gate
Alai Gate

Alai Darwaza is the name given to the southern gateway of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. Ala-ud-Din Khalji got the gateway constructed in the year 1311. It boasts of being the first gateway with a horseshoe arch and true dome. Along with that, it was also the first structure, which employed Islamic principles of construction and decoration.

Q = Pillars
Jain Temple Pillars

All the artisans employed for the construction of Qutb Minar were Hindus and even the raw material for the monument was obtained from existing Hindu and Jain temples. Since human and animal figures are not allowed in Islam, the motifs illustrating them were later disfigured.