My other favourite view in Paris was from atop the Sacre Coeur. And not only was it great looking out from the roof, but looking up inside the cathedral at the painting on the interior of the roof was just stunning.
I also quite enjoyed looking down at the monastry next door, where nuns were walking around the garden in circles reading books. It was like a game of pac-man. The climb up to the roof was a bit of a mission, and not for the claustraphobic. I could imagine the majority of the All Blacks wouldn’t actually be able to fit through the narrow staircase!
The crypt underneath had some great wee treasure exhibits and chapels/sculptures too.
The Sagrada Familia is one of the most famous Cathedlrals in Europe, and certainly one of the highlights of Barcelona. This fact makes it all the more fascinating that it remains unfinished! Essentially, Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece was such an impressive feat, requiring so much funding that not only was it not finished before he died, but the mission to attract enough donations to complete it is still as going on.
This minor detail, however, does not detract from the magnificence of it, particularly was as the interior has mostly been completed. Gaudi was famous for revolutionising architecture by instead focusing on organic forms inspired particularly by plants but also by animals. This is reflected all throughout the Sagrada Familia, from tree trunk like pillars at the main entrance to the lizards climbing around the outside. This was another tourist attraction where the audio guide really made the entire thing that much more fascinating, as well as the museum exhibit detailing his inspriation. Below the church, there were examples of his models. I particularly liked how although the overall structure is based on completely symmetrical shapes (namely weighted, hanging chains and viewing them in a mirror in order to get perfectly symmetrical arches), the details of the cathedral are not at all symmetrical. Looking up to your left will give a very different view to your right, not to mention each facade of the exterior is totally different.
Gaudi absolutely won at stained glass windows too, with the sunlight making the most amazing light show inside.
When you say “Cathedral” and “Barcelona”, most people automatically think of the Sagrada Familia. The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, however, was almost as magnificent (I only say almost, because the Sagrada Familia really is quite mind blowing). It is a gothic masterpiece, shining in all its Catholic glory, both on the gargoyle laden exterior and the gold covered, stained glass window filled interior. Whilst going up to the roof and looking out over Barcelona was fairly magical, the best bit by far was the courtyard in the middle with a pond full of swans. It seems no extravagance is spared in this building! It was only a shame they had electric offeratoy candles and coin-stampy vending machines cheapening the entire affair. Gaudi’s workshop immediately outside was handy, though!
The Duomo, in central Milan, was absolutely stunning. I was all happy and excited that I had a cardigan in my bag as many women were being turned away for not having their arms covered but alas, my skirt was too short to get in. Only my father was deemed holy enough to enter, and his report was that “it was full of dead people.” I was half tempted to go back in a Burqa and see how that went down with the catholics, but I went for a modest longer dress with covered sleeves which worked on round two. Sadly mum still missed out, the tart.
The building itself was enough of a site though, even though it seemed paradoxically rude that I was too much of a hussy to enter but one of the spires was advertising the latest Mac.
Inside, there was loads of beautiful art, preserved bodies of important people, and for an extra few euros you can see the treasury and cript downstairs. There wasn’t much in there so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend shelling out anything extra for it if you’re not too bothered about viewing the spoils of Catholicism.
In just 2 short days in Helsinki I managed to visit three different churches – a bit of a break from all my museums! They were all very different, and very beautiful in their own ways. From a church carved out of a rock, to the magnificient despite being so simply decorated Helsinki Cathedral, to the Uspenski Cathedral that had a very cool exterior, and the interior was as though someone had eaten all the artwork of the renaissance and vomitted it up inside the church. I’m not saying it was an interior decorater’s nightmare or anything, but it could have been a little less cluttered…
Helsingin tuomiokirkko, Suurkirkko – Helsinki Cathedral
Gamla Stan, or the Old Town, in central Stockholm is quite possibly one of the most beautiful spots in all Stockholm, and if I’d been to more places I reckon I’d be extending that area quite considerably. Until then, I’ll stick to what I know.
Stockholm has been called the Venice of Scandinavia, and it is easy to see why in Gamla Stan. The city is made up of a number of islands, one of them being Stadsholmen, where Gamla Stan is found. Every square inch of land on Stadsholmen is taken up by stunning old-style architecture, with the buildings as close to the edge of the island as possible, with only the minimum amount of cobbled pathways separating them.
Gamla Stan dates back to the 13th century and includes the Royal Palace, the Stockholm Stock Exchange building and the Cathedral. Unlike the Old Town in Aarhus, Gamla Stan isn’t an open air musuem or collection of relics and replicas, but instead many of the medieval buildings are still in use as cafes, restaurants, bakeries, antique stores and bars. There is something very romantic and magical about walking through the town in the evening and seeing the cafes full of people, enjoying the music at candle-lit tables. It is like being transported back in time, but with hygienic streets and food safety standards.