Madrilenos seemed to be very excited by spires and domes and other pointy things on their rooftops in the 1880-1920 period!
Yesterday I took a day trip – about 40 minutes each way – to Cordoba.
Cordoba was the capital of Roman Spain, and one of the bigger cities in the western empire. There’s not a lot left of it to see, but the archeological museum was full of good stuff.
More important for looking was the Cathedral, formerly the Great Mosque. I have been teaching this in Art 101 every year since I started, and now I have it much better integrated! in my mind!
Not that I’ve been saying anything WRONG – but I have never been as clear about the disposition of parts as I would like. And I see why! I’ll try to find a plan to upload – but the essential story is that the mosque was built in stages over several hundred years and then the Christian cathedral was inserted more or less in the center of the building.
There have been so many restoratoin campaigns the photos have always been hard to sort out – so seeing it was really satisfying. I spent a long time wandering around, then made a disciplined front to back visit, then wandered some more.
The folks who run it provide explanatory brochures in the usual langauges – Spanish, French, English, German, Dutch, Japanese, and Chinese. But they also provide Arabic – and there were a number of obviously Muslim (though not clearly Arab) visitors yesterday. I’d love to see the text compared to the English.
In the English brochure, they make the point fairly firmly, though not in an ugly way, that Yes, the Castilians turned this mosque into a church, but the Umayyads had destroyed a previously existing church on the side (though it was not the cathedral of the city) and systematically reused columns from previous buildings to signify their conquest.
I’ve read about Andalucian nostalgia among Arabs, especially in North Africa. Really now – with the exception of the Kingdom of Granada, most of Spain was under Muslim control for a shorter time than it has been in Christian hands since – and it was Christian before. Look on the map to see how far south Cordoba is – and be reminded that the Castilians conquered it in 1236.
The Alcazar Palace is really something – I think it would be very comfortable in the summer time, for Seville!
I remember the tilework from an old PBS show, “Connections.” I can’t think of the presenter’s name, but it was a history of science across time kind of thing – made an impression on me!
Luckily, Sevilla is pretty flat. I’m tiring here in the home stretch (starting to figure out my move to Madrid and thence home). I spent some time today in the Museo de Bellas Artes sitting in front of Murillos and Zubarans (Murillo’s not as bad as I thought he was and Zubuaran is better even than I thought before seeing so many paintings live). I wasn’t just contemplating art – I was resting.
The picture here is a view of the cathedral room from the top of the Giralda tower (see previous post), the churches bell tower and originally the minaret for the mosque the cathedral replaced. Interesting – the great mosque was only about 50 years old before Fernando III conquered the city in 1248.
The right side of the photo shows an interesting phenomenon – the vaults of the gothic cathedral are exposed. That is, no one ever put a giant wooden superstructure and roof with its associated lead sheating over the vaults – so the walls and buttresses can be a lot thinner. .You canget away with that in Sevilla because it doesn’t rain much or snow at all – northern Europe can’t do this with a vaulted roof. They need the waterproofing and the protection from the weight.
Well, the reconstructed Barcelona Pavilion. The original was a temporary construction to serve as the German Pavilion for an International Exhibition and was taken down in 1930. Barcelona recreated it in the 1980s. It’s a beautiful building – Modernism before Less became a Bore.
. . . but I liked the Doric columns supporting the pavilion! Click to seem my other photos on Flickr.
Gaudi was better than he looks in print – but I’m afraid there’s still something dangerously whimsical (in a shallow way) about Barcelona Modernisme. On the other hand, a very smart woman of my acquaintance studies the material, so I need to look harder.
Step Pyramid of Djoser, designed by Imhotep, Saqqara, Egypt, a photo by Michael Tinkler on Flickr.
All my career I’ve been told and then told students that Imhotep expandedthe lower to levels of the Step Pyramid systematically until it reached its present siaze – but I’d never seen a photograph that showed it. So I took one.
This is part of what a sabbatical is for!
A Spanish builder, [Rafael] Guastavino (1842–1908) emigrated from Barcelona to New York in 1881. He was experienced in designing and constructing traditional Mediterranean-style thin ceramic tile vaulting—self-supporting arches and vaults built from layers of interlocking terracotta tiles bonded by mortar. It’s an old technique that can be traced back through medieval Gothic cathedrals and ancient Roman temples. Guastavino made its affordability, light weight, strength, and—especially—resistance to fire modern selling points.
Interesting article – with good pictures! One of them is a construction view, showing how thin the tile vaults really are – with Guastavino supervising.
A previously unknown Constantinian basilica has recently been excavated in Sofia, Bulgaria. No meaningful photos at link. If I hadn’t already made and distributed the take-home final I would turn this into a question for Arth 270: Art and Architecture of the First Christian Millennium. Something like:
The deputy mayor would like the discovery of this substantial basilica to mean that Serdica (Roman Sofia, Bulgaria) was in the running with Byzantion to be Constantine’s Nova Roma. Examining our list of the buildings Constantine did build while turning Byzantion into Constantinopolis (and don’t forget the walls!), evaluate this claim.
Oh well, lucky them!
Ptolemy Dean, Surveyor of the Fabric of Westminster Abbey. It sounds like a young adult book title, almost, but he really is the 19th Surveyor of the Fabric of Westminster. Who names a child Ptolemy? Parents who are sure their little darling will grow up to be someone interesting!
He’s got plans for Westminster Abbey, too – we might be able to get up into the triforium (the gallery between the arches of the nave arcade and the visible stained glass windows above) soon!