Posts

Showing posts with the label museum

Treasures of The MET

Image
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is America's largest art museum. Located along Manhattan's prestigious Fifth Avenue and right next to Central Park, the "MET" (as it is lovingly called), is home to over 2 million treasures spread out over 17 departments; comprising over 3 thousand years of human history.

* And along with being the most famous art museum in the United States, the MET is the third most visited museum in the world, after the Louvre and National Museum of China.

The Two Lives of St. Isaac Cathedral

Image
Due to decades of Soviet Communist rule, something startling happened to cathedrals and churches across the Russian Federation. With its chief creed of having no religion except the ideology of socialism, all churches within the vast Soviet empire were secularized; meaning they were stripped of their religious significance and turned into museums.

* And what's truly amazing about all of this is that these churches are not just simple places of worship; a lot of them are among the largest, grandest, and most majestic churches on earth!

The Shocking Origin of Russia's Church on Spilled Blood

Image
As far as Russian landmarks go, few rival the spectacular Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, located at the heart of St. Petersburg. 
In fact, this structure along with St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow are top-of-mind for when one thinks of icons that are "authentically Russian".

* However, this awe-inspiring building holds a very dark and shocking origin story.

Sevilla Cathedral: The Largest Cathedral in the World

Image
In the medieval competition for recognition of the title of "Champion of Christianity", Spain certainly talked the talk and walked the walk. 
Not content with colonizing the Americas and the Philippine Islands in the name of Christ and waging a crusade to reconquer the Iberian peninsula from the Muslim Moors, Spain also built herself several iconic and unrivaled churches; among which is the Cathedral of Seville.
Also known as the largest cathedral in the world!

* And burial place of famed explorer, Christopher Columbus.

The Hermitage: Museum and Former Home of the Russian Emperors

Image
If one wants to truly see how diligently focused and meticulous the Russian Tsars and Tsarinas were in trying to outdo their European neighbors in culture, wealth, and grandeur, one only has to look at their insane collection at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

* The Hermitage Museum is a sprawling art museum that is second only in terms of size to the Louvre in Paris.

The Art of Spanish Bullfighting at the Famous Maestranza

Image
A few things come to mind to be as innately and inherently Spanish, as Bullfighting. Also known as corrida de toros (running of the bulls), the blood sport is an icon of Spain. And there's nothing quite like this deadly struggle between man and beast to conjure up the passion and bravado of Spaniards everywhere. 

* At the center of the bullfighting world is this massive stadium of the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Sevilla (whew, what a mouthful), more affectionately referred to as the "Maestranza".

Anastasia and the Grand Burial Place of the Romanovs

Image
Before St. Petersburg became what it is today, the finest of all Russian cities full of magnificent palaces, grand churches, and impressive monuments, the center of power lay in the citadel that Peter the Great himself founded, the Fortress of Peter and Paul.
It was from here that the Russian Empire exercised its constabulary might; using the island-fortress as a prison for political opponents and execution site for those the empire deemed too dangerous to live. Despite that rather grim reputation; however, the fortress contains what is perhaps the greatest treasure of the former Russian Empire.
For it is here that all the Russian Emperors and Empresses, Princes and Princesses are entombed.

* And for contemporary standards, there is no more famous Russian royal family than that of Tsar Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia.

Vasa Museum: The Most Impressive Ship Which Never Sailed

Image
What happens when you build a ship so armed to the teeth, that it was meant to be the most powerful vessel of its time; laughing at the face of the scientific theories of buoyancy and weight distribution? 
It sinks, of course! And during its maiden voyage too! This is the story of the Swedish warship, the Vasa. 

* And for over 300 years, the Vasa peacefully rested at the bottom of the sea until being successfully raised, whole and intact, in 1961!

Plaza de Espana: A Tribute to the Spanish Empire

Image
At the peak of its height, the Spanish Empire ruled supreme over territory that now includes Western and Southern United States, Mexico, half of South America, the Philippine Islands, Naples and Southern Italy, and the Low Countries (Netherlands and Belgium).
To showcase the diversity and cultural richness of its formerly vast and far-reaching empire, Spain held the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929 with the city of Seville playing its host. 

* And at the center of the Exposition, stood the splendid Plaza de España, one of Sevilla's main landmarks and an icon of Spanish tourism.

The Kremlin: Home of Vladimir Putin

Image
At the very heart of the beast that was the Soviet Union stands the fortified complex known as the Kremlin. Separated from Moscow's iconic Red Square by thick impenetrable walls, the Kremlin was for Centuries the official residence of the Russian Tsars.

* And this fine tradition continues to this day, as the Kremlin is the home of Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation. He lives in the Kremlin Senate building, which is obviously the most secure part of the fortress.

Belém and the Legacy of Portuguese Exploration

Image
Enduring for over six centuries, the Portuguese Empire was actually the first colonial empire of Europe, leading the continent's Age of Discovery. With superior cutting-edge maritime technology and having a who's-who of historical explorers and sailors, the Portuguese mapped out whole coasts of the Americas, Africa, and Asia, while its European rivals were still squabbling on the main land. 
And Lisbon's Belem district, contains monuments and landmarks to this proud Portuguese legacy.

* By far, the coolest monument in Belem is that of the Monument of the Discoveries; featuring some of the world's most important explorers and situated right on the port where ships used to depart for Africa, India, and the Orient.

Moscow: Heart of the Soviet Union

Image
Every hero has its main rival; and for the better part of the 20th Century the two great rival powers were the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It is a story of dualism: West vs. East, NATO vs. the Warsaw Pact, Democracy vs. Communism; and at the heart of the two beasts, Washington DC and Moscow. I was privileged to have had the opportunity to visit Moscow, and these were some of the amazing photos from that journey.

* Nothing symbolizes Russia quite like the iconic Saint Basil's Cathedral.

The Basilica of St. Mark and the Treasures of Constantinople

Image
Nothing quite prepares you for the spectacle of seeing the interior of the Basilica of St. Mark for the first time. A symbol of Venetian majesty, wealth, and power, the Basilica has also been referred to as the Church of Gold.

* And for good reason! This was probably how the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (then Constantinople) looked like before it was defaced and converted into a mosque.

Palazzo Ducale - The Doge's Palace

Image
The Doge was the highest official in the once Most Serene Republic of Venice; having total control of the city-state and its global empire for over 1,100 years

* And like most European royal families, the Doge lived in style!

Culture Overload at Venice's Piazza San Marco

Image
At the height of its power, the Republic of Venice was THE major superpower in the world. Insanely wealthy due to its prime position as conduit between Europe, North Africa, and Asia, Venice has been lavishly decorated by its rulers and inhabitants throughout the centuries to showcase its grandeur.
And in this city-state, the social, political, and religious worlds revolved around the Piazza San Marco. 

* From the Lagoon, the Piazza can be accessed via the Piazzetta di San Marco, which contains the famous Lion of Venice (left), symbol of St. Mark the Evangelist, and Statue of St. Theodore (right), a warrior saint venerated by the Greek Orthodox Church.

Tourist Trap Chronicles - Prague's Museum of Alchemy

Image
While Prague is nowadays full of tourists, there was a time when the city was full of visitors of a more esoteric nature. 

* How can one NOT get intrigued by this shrouded figure by the Museum's entrance!

Medieval Crime and Punishment Musuem

Image
The scenic town of Rothenburg, apart from being Germany's most charming, medieval village, contains one more star attraction especially for history buffs like yours truly.

* What would have been any regular old building was made so much cooler with the presence of this Ducking Stool, a device used to punish dishonest traders and disorderly women. What could this building be?!

Visiting the Dodo Bird at Vienna's Naturhistorisches Museum

Image
One of the most memorable stops in our trip was our afternoon visit to Vienna's Naturhistorisches Museum. As a child, I was a HUGE fan of books containing pages full of photos of the different animal species. A particular interest of mine was this book showcasing all the extinct animals with the various reasons for their extinction. I had no idea that I was gonna see all of my childhood favorites that afternoon.

* Opened in 1889, the Naturhistorisches Museum stands on the grounds of the Maria-Theresien-Platz, across its identical twin building, the Kunsthistorisches, Vienna's Museum of Fine Arts.

A Walk Around Imperial Vienna - Legacy of the Habsburgs

Image
Vienna was the crown jewel and capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Much more than that though, Vienna was the home of the House of Habsburg, one of Europe's most important royal houses.
How important were they? Well the Holy Roman Emperor (ruler of all the Germanic States) from 1438 to 1740 was a member of the Habsburg Dynasty, and the Family ruled pretty much the whole of Continental Europe at one point, save for the territory of the Kingdom of France.
Because of this, Vienna is a city of great cultural, architectural, and historical significance as evidenced by how beautifully well planned everything is.

* Most of Vienna's imperial sights can be found along the Ringstrasse, a circular road which was built to replace the city walls, using money paid by the English for the safe release of King Richard the Lionheart (from the Crusades), who was held hostage by the Austrians.

Corregidor Island and the Bravery of the Filipino-American Forces During WWII

Image
When Deal Grocer announced an all-inclusive tour of Corregidor (including boat ride, island tour and lunch buffet) for just $25 a person, I knew that this was too good a deal to miss!

Not only had I never been to this famous key WWII battleground, but this was also to be an excitingly different weekend excursion with my fiancee, Monicca, and our friends, Aaron and Cole.



* The tour is operated by Sun Cruises Philippines, whose terminal is located near theCultural Center of the Philippines. To get to the island, we took an hour long, comfortable, catamaran ride.