I’m not sure I’ve communicated well enough in the past that my wife collects traditional, handmade Romanian costumes. These aren’t new; they’re historic and they range in age from 50-100 years or more. She buys them in “as is” condition, she makes repairs where needed, she washes them with special detergents and she places them in her collection. They come out looking quite amazing. Sometimes she chooses to sell some of them, but then she ends up buying more. And we’ve taken to photographing them from multiple angles, to document them. We may even put a book together to showcase her collection. At any rate, I’m quite taken with the beauty of these costumes and their intricate, hand-sewn designs. I hope you will appreciate them too. Here is a set of ten photographs taken recently.
We lived in the DC area from 2003 to 2008 and we loved it, particularly the historic area of DC with all the old neoclassical buildings. Here is a gallery of photographs of some of those buildings, including a few from Union Station, which is not only a train station but also a connection to DC’s metrorail system.
Dresden (known as Drježdźany in Sorbian, Drážďany in Czech and Drezno in Polish) is the capital city and, after Leipzig, the second-largest city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the border with the Czech Republic. Its name derives from Old Sorbian Drežďany, meaning “people of the forest”. An important thing to note here is that there is a difference between Sorbians (also known as Lusatians) and Serbians; they are separate ethnic groups in Europe, with completely separate histories.
Dresden has a long history as the capital and royal residence for the Electors and Kings of Saxony, who for centuries furnished the city with cultural and artistic splendor, and was once the family seat of the Polish monarchs. The city was known as the “Jewel Box”, because of its baroque and rococo city centre. The American and British bombing of Dresden in World War II towards the end of the war killed approximately 25,000 people, many of whom were civilians, and destroyed the entire city centre. After the war restoration work has helped to reconstruct parts of the historic inner city, including the Katholische Hofkirche, the Zwinger and the Semper Oper.
We visited that old part of the city and we walked around in the section between the Frauenkirche and the Hofkirche in the course of an afternoon. We didn’t stay. We were on a fairly tight schedule and needed to move on. That evening, we made it to a small town named Radebeul, where we spent the night. Enjoy the photographs, there are 93 of them!
After sightseeing in Berlin, we visited Potsdam (which in our days is technically within the territory of Berlin but was once a separate place), where we spent time over the course of a couple of days at Sanssouci Palace (Schloss Sanssouci). The Palace was once the summer home of Frederick the Great, the former King of Prussia. The town of Potsdam was a favourite place of residence for the German imperial family until the fall of the Hohenzollern dynasty in 1918.
An interesting aside: the House of Hohenzollern is also notable for being the official monarchy of Romania from 1881 to 1947 and unofficially from 1991 onward, with the current heir being Princess Margareta, Custodian of the Crown of Romania.
Sanssouci was built in order to fulfill King Frederick’s need for a private residence where he could relax away from the pomp and ceremony of the Berlin court. It was designed and partially built by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff between 1745 and 1747. Because of a disagreement about the site of the palace in the park, Knobelsdorff was fired in 1746. Jan Bouman, a Dutch architect, finished the project. The palace’s name emphasises this; it is a French phrase (sans souci), which translates as “without concerns” or “carefree”, symbolising that the palace was a place for relaxation rather than a seat of power.
Sanssouci is little more than a large, single-story villa—more like the Château de Marly than Versailles. Containing just ten principal rooms, it was built on the brow of a terraced hill at the centre of the park. The influence of King Frederick’s personal taste in the design and decoration of the palace was so great that its style is characterised as “Frederician Rococo“, and his feelings for the palace were so strong that he conceived it as “a place that would die with him”.
During the 19th century, the palace became a residence of Frederick William IV. He employed the architect Ludwig Persius to restore and enlarge the palace, while Ferdinand von Arnim was charged with improving the grounds and thus the view from the palace.
Here is a gallery of 56 photographs I took there. Enjoy!
Back in 2011, we visited multiple cities in Germany and on the way, we stopped in Prague. It was only for an hour or so while we were on our way to Germany and half a day on our way back. It was about to rain the first time we were there and the second time it was quite hot, even for early June.
Prague is a beautiful city. I was glad to so many historical buildings restored to their former selves. Practically everywhere you turned, there was something beautiful to see. The photos shown here are combined from those two occasions. Enjoy!
This past summer we visited Geneva, Switzerland, during the Fêtes de Genève. It was a short business trip, if I recall correctly it was about a day and a half, but in-between the business meetings, we snuck in a jaunt or two through the old town. One afternoon we started down by the lake, on the Promenade du Lac, and we climbed uphill on the beautiful stone steps toward the Rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville and the Promenade Saint-Antoine, then we came back down to the lake to see the Jet d’Eau. The following day, we visited the Promenade des Bastions, where the Université de Genève is located. And that was it. It was August, it was incredibly hot, even for Geneva, and the only area tolerable enough during the sweltering daytime heat was the lakeshore. It really says something about global warming when Geneva’s weather becomes intolerable in the summer…
Geneva is a beautiful city with a lot of history. It’s a wonderful thing when a country has a chance to develop and to build upon the successes of previous generations without the ravages of war, which to say the least, reset the clock of progress for a place. Switzerland has been in this enviable position for hundreds of years where it has been able to stay neutral and thus its people have had decent lives and have been able to see the fruits of their labor and to leave something worthwhile behind for their successors.
I hope you enjoy this gallery of photographs from a privileged place, full of beauty and value.
Some mornings I wake up early. It’s not often that it happens. I’m a late sleeper, always have been. But when I do wake up at the crack of dawn and it’s snowing outside, I will get out of bed, put on some warm winter clothes, grab my camera and head out for a walk. Today was one of those days.
As I write this, about three hours after taking the photos, it’s still snowing lightly. This was a good snowfall. We’ve had some other ones this year, of which one in particular sticks in my mind. It happened earlier this week, with snowflakes almost as big as my palm. That was magical — but it didn’t last. With -1 degrees Celsius outside right now, this snowfall looks like it might last longer than a few hours, so that makes it the first good snowfall of this winter.
As always, I hope you enjoy the photos. These were taken in the historic town center of Medias — known as Mediasch in German and Medgyes in Hungarian — and known to me as my hometown.
The village of Moșna, known as Meschen in German and Muzsna in Hungarian, is first mentioned in written documents in 1283, and there is evidence that a settlement existed there since the 1st century AD (source). Moşna was also the home of Stephan Ludwig Roth (1796-1849), a famous Saxon priest, pedagogue and human rights campaigner (source).
The Saxon settlers in the area first built a Romanesque basilica in the 13th century, which was then modified and expanded in the late 15th and early 16th centuries in the Gothic style. The man responsible for the project was Andreas Lapicidas of Sibiu (Hermannstadt), a master stone mason, known as Endreas Steinmetz in Sachsen. His initials can be seen inside the church, carved on a lintel.
The Moșna fortified church is one of the biggest in Transilvania and it is a remarkable work of Gothic architecture. The church itself is structured around three naves with ribbed vaults for ceilings. The naves are separated through four pairs of columns, the ones in the west side having been made of bricks and decorated differently so as to preserve the eastern group of columns intact, since the latter was erected using stone from the pillars of the former Romanesque basilica. Inside, the most noteworthy architectural elements are the door to the sacristy, the stone pulpit and the monumental tabernacle which measures 11.05 m in height.
The fortifications include five towers and a 9m defense wall that surrounds the church and allows for ample space inside the fortress. The bell tower has seven levels and three bells, the oldest of which dates from 1515. The gate tower in the south-eastern corner has five levels. The northern side of the fortification is guarded by a tower with four levels. A shorter, three-level tower stands to the south and it hosts a museum dedicated mostly to the trades and customs of the Saxon community but which also includes exhibits discovered during various archaeological explorations, such as coins and fragments of weaponry.
When we visited in 2011, we arrived right around noon, which as some of you may know, is the worst time of the day for photos. I also had with me a camera that was more remarkable for its zoom (30x) than the dynamic range of its sensor and the quality of its photos. I plan to visit again soon and take some photographs that will do the place justice. It’s undergone significant repairs and restoration work since 2011, so it looks different now. We’ve actually revisited it just a couple of months ago, but it was for a photoshoot for Ligia’s ongoing project, Straie Alese, so I didn’t focus on capturing the architecture.
Enjoy the photos!
There is a fortified church in the village of Zagăr, which is located in the county of Mureș, Transilvania. I was not able to find out any information about it online; I don’t know why it’s not documented. The only thing I was able to find was a mention of the vineyards in the region, which are known for their white wines (source). The village is known as Rode in German and Zágor in Hungarian. It was first mentioned in written documents in 1412 (source). The same source states that the church was rebuilt in the year 1640 but does not give a reason why.
We also weren’t able to visit the buildings themselves (the church and the parochial house) when we visited in 2011, because the place was locked up and no one was around. On the upside, it’s a well-maintained place, restored in 2007, judging by the inscription on the back gate. Perhaps at some time in the future we’ll revisit it.
Enjoy the photographs!
These were taken in November of 2010, so let’s say it was eight years ago or so. Things may look different now — hopefully better, given how much tourism this little town gets each year.
It was one of our typical jaunts through the medieval fortress, along its walls and back down the stairs toward the bottom of the hill. Still, the images show different spots from the ones you’ve seen here and here.