Thursday, August 25, 2005

Mosaic Wall Panels in The Vatican

When we entered in the busy month of July, there were just mobs of people. With increased security almost everywhere I visited since my previous visit about 5 years ago, I was used to seeing new check stations at entrances to important places. On the right side of St. Peters steps, I saw people lining up between wooden 'form a line' barriers, so we fell in place. It is funny, because we had been in that line for a while before we realized that we were actually waiting for the opportunity to ride/climb to the top of the dome on the cathedral. We didn't even know what it would entail, but it sounded interesting. Little did we know how cool, and how physically challanging it actually was.

Eventually we saw a big sign about "Don't do it if you have a weak heart", etc...they could and should have added "claustrophobia" to that list.

We were offered the choice of either climbing ALL the way up ourselves or taking a tiny lift to the rooftop level where you see the row of statues standing on the horizonal front edge of the front of St. Peters and walking from there. Nut that I am, I might have picked the all steps route, but my companion flatly stated that we were doing the lift part way and she was paying for both of us. We tried to ask how many stairs the lift bypassed, but could never get clear info on that. We were just curious.

Along the waiting area was a series of mosaic panels set into the wall. It was VERY difficult to get these photos. The people were basically shoulder to shoulder and all spoke a different alnguage. The folks from some Norway/Denmark/Sweden place in front of me could see, if they had cared to notice that I was attempting to make photos of the mosaics and helped out a bit but instead, they continued to lean against them, or if nothing else keep one hand and arm (or backpack) on them at all times---and anytime a gap opened up--the pressure was on from behind to move forward. Meanwhile it was about 90 degrees F the whole time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

St. Peters In Rome--The Mosaic Pinnacle of the Universe

For anyone who has not done so, either immediately buy a ticket to Italy and go directly to Rome and do not leave there until you have seen St. Peters. OR, start saving money and do not stop until you have enuf to go. St. Peters Cathedral is, without a doubt, the greatest man-made structure on the planet--and I am not Roman Catholic, so don't even think for a minute that my saying this has anything to do with my being hyptomtized by church traditions, etc...

This is the foyer into St. Peters Basicila. This picture gives you some idea of the scale of this building.

At the end from which I am taking the photo, there was a view of a wonderful mosaic behind a statue of a man on a horse. The closed gate prevented me from getting any closer. I tried to go outside and around, but it was guarded and not accessible. If you click on the larger image, you can get some idea of the 3-D effect of the mosaics behind the statue.

There are many small altars (by St. Peters standards) in alcove chapels on the sides in the Basilica. They are incredibly beautiful. I have taken some full length photos and a few detail shots.

The scale and magnificance of St. Peters is TOTALLY OFF THE is the only building that has ever brought tears to my eyes, just by it's being there, as it is. MIND BOGGLING......

Some of the photos I will put here are just there to give you a sense of the scale.

AND I truely do not believe that many people have any idea that all those 'paintings' that they see from w-a-y down there on the floor are really, totally mosaics.........even I, who had been there once before about 5 yrs ago, had no idea. Considering the scale, it seems impossible.

BUT....Sara O'Dell and I spent a whole day climbing the stairs , thru the most narrow of passage-ways, up, up, up, thru tiny spiral towers, round and round the cavity between dome and the outside roofing materials to the tip-top cupola on the top of the cathedral and can tell you, and show you by these photos, that these highly details illustrations that cover the entire dome are mosaics made of hundreds of thousands, and probably millions of smalti. From up there in the dome, the people on the floor look like ants. They are not aware of the presence of any people up there when they look up. It is THAT BIG !!

I have done searches and image searches on the web, and have not found any decent photos of the Dome mosaics in St. Peters, which is even more remarkable, considering that they are probably the most impressive mosaics that I have ever seen --and yes I have been to Ravenna and churches in the Po River Delta.

Click to see a bigger image. Here is a link to photos of St. Peter's Organ--it shows some of the interior. Keep in mind that this is an organ that usually FILLS one wall of a typical big church .

Notice the people standing behind the safety screening right above the solid gold band above the lettering. My stomach did flips when I looked down or even up for that was UNREAL !!

Rome Metro Subway Mosaics

The city of Rome Italy does not have as extensive an Underground system as London or Paris, but the Rome Metro is full of big modern mosaics. I only had a couple days in Rome and was always in pretty much of a rush and this was July and there were people it was very difficult to get these photos. I did not make notes as to which panel was located where, I was just rushing (like trying to get to the Sunday flea market before it closed,etc) and with too much else on my mind. I am including a map of the Rome Underground Metro here, if you go for a visit and want to see these mosaics, just buy a all day ticket and hop on and off. You will find the mosaics in the passageways leading from the street entrances leading to the train platforms or in tunnels that connect two train lines.

Tip: Don't visit in June, July or worse-August. Go in early fall for an ideal time. There is a great deal of interesting detail within the solid areas of color in these modern abstract mosaics. You will be able to see that in some of the close-ups shown here. I noticed a sign that seemed to identify one mosaic panel, shown here. The others may have them too, altho I did not notice them but I don't see them in the long shots of the mosaic panels.

Don't forget to click the photos for a bigger image. Then if you are using XP with FireFox Browser, you can move the curser till you see the magnifying glass with the plus sign and click again, the photo getts bigger yet. Hope you have high-speed Internet !

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Paris-Printemps Dept Store Mosaic Sign

Click the sign close-up to see more of the floral images in the mosaic. I wish I'd have had my 10X camera with me on this day, just had a 3X.

This beautiful mosaic sign on the face of the huge cupola atop the Printemps Haussmann Department Store in Paris is situated so that the sunlight lites it up and it is just fabulous. Considering the age of the building and the cupola, it just goes to show what a good investment mosaics are for a sign that provides a good long-term ROI.

The store was founded in 1865 by Jules Jaluzot, the Printemps was designed by Paul Sédille. The 1865 facade and 1923 cupola are classified historical monuments.

Printemps Haussmann
64, boulevard Haussmann
75009 Paris
Tel : (00.33).

Getting There:
Metro : Havre Caumartin
RER A : Auber
RER E : Haussmann St-Lazare
Bus : 20, 21, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 42, 43, 53, 66, 68, 80, 81, 94, 95

Friday, August 19, 2005

Polly Maggoo Beer Bar--Paris

Polly Maggoo -- Beer Bar
3-5, Rue Du Petit Pont, Paris, Fr

A Wi-Fi location and named after a well known movie by the same name about a fashion model that was never released in the States. Movie might have had different spelling in some releases. Magoo instead of Maggoo. Entire upper-front of the bar is covered in mosaics. The mosaics look quite stunning as one drives by.

Monday, August 15, 2005

La Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre, Paris

La Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre, Paris France

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart in the Montmartre area of Paris France

The architect is Paul Abadie, but six architects succeeded him before the building was completed.
The style is Romano-byzantine,begun in 1875.The interior of the church contains one of the worlds largest mosaics, and depicts Christ with outstretched arms. The great dome mosaic was created between 1900 and 1922.

I had to take the very few photos that I did without a flash and when no one was looking. The small photo of the border is very out of focus, but I thought it was so pretty, I still included it here.

Two photos are of floor mosaics. Click them to see them BIG.... An unusual cow or bull with gold wings and a beautiful fish and anchor.

Paris Mosaic Street Sign

Great St. Germain street sign on the side of a building in the St. Germain area of Paris France. Click on the photo for an enlargement and you can see that some of the individual tiles are missing-to bad, but the effect is pure charm.

Paris Opera House- Opéra National de Paris

Opéra National de Paris

Great 'virtual visit' --click here

The Palais Garnier is the thirteenth theatre to house the Paris Opera since the Opera was founded by Louis XIV in 1669. The current Opera House was built on the orders of Napoleon III. The project for an opera house was put out to competition and was won by Charles Garnier, an unknown 35-year-old architect. The construction lasted fifteen years, from 1860 to 1875, and was interrupted by numerous incidents, including the 1870 war, the fall of the Empire and the Commune.

The Palais Garnier was inaugurated on 15 January 1875 and it is one fine building ! The Grand Staircase is one of the most famous features of the Palais Garnier. It is built of various colours of marble with a double stairway which leads to the foyers and the different levels of the auditorium. The many vast and richly decorated foyers provide the audience with areas to stroll through during intermissions.

The auditorium is lit by an immense crystal chandelier hanging below Marc Chagall’s brightly coloured painted ceiling. The Italian-style horseshoe-shaped auditorium has 1,900 red velvet seats.

Just about all the floors are mosaics. The amazing thing, besides the vast scale is the fact that within each floor's pattern, if you take time to notice, there is an almost infinite amount of variation of the details. Instead of repeating the same stylized flower over and over, the floor might have hundreds of variations of a flower, or a rosette, all about the same size, but each one different.

If you ever visit and are told that the main auditorium is closed due to rehursals, do not let that deter you from paying the admission to see the other parts. The acutal auditorium seems small compared to the vastness of the overall building.