Monday, January 25, 2016

Venice - Los Angeles

Each country has its own Venice

Venice Los Angeles is known for the famous beach - Venice Beach and Boardwalk. But the history of the district is much more interesting.  The idea was to have its own Venice with canals.

Venice - Los Angeles
The construction of the canal network was launched in 1905 as part of Kinney Abbot's project the Venice of America. Kinney, during his trip to Europe and Italy fell in love with Venice.  When he returned to America he decided to create a similar place with canals, gondolas, pier and other attractions. Unfortunately only a small part of the project survived up to our times.  Some of the canals were flooded.  Other streets like Windward Ave. and Market St. were converted into streets.

Great revitalization project carried out in the 90s of the 20th century helped to restore Venice's charm and prestige.  The district was listed at the National Register of Historic Places. Today Venice is a perfect place for a picturesque stroll along canals and through bridges. The restored houses are good examples of original architecture. The most interesting part is between Strongs Dr. - S Venice Blvd - 28th Ave - Ocean Ave. There are many restaurants, design companies, film studios and other creative enterprises in the area.  Simply it is a place where one would like to live and work.

If you do not want to get stuck in a traffic jam and wade through the crowds it is worth to go there on a week day. On weekend everyone wants to relax over the water.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bom Jesus do Monte

Bom Jesus do Monte - BragaHistory of Braga dates back to Roman times.  Over the centuries the city acted as the ecclesiastical capital of Portugal. In the early 18th century it lost its religious importance to Lisbon.  But the sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte has remained an important pilgrimage destination.  Today the place serves both religious and tourist purposes.

The picturesque staircases with the church mounted at the top can be found at almost any guidebook or album of Portugal.  Indeed, it is worth climbing the stairs to see beautiful architectural complex situated on the Monte Espinho. A double line staircase was decorated with fountains, chapels and statues of religious themes.  For those less active by choice or necessity there is a funicular.

There is more information in Portuguese at Bom Jesus website and in English EZ Portugal can be a good site.

Galo de Barcelos

Galo de Barcelos
Barcelos looks like many other towns in Portugal. But it is where an unofficial symbol of Portugal – Galo de Barcelos comes from.  Galo de Barcelos in Portuguese means rooster from the town of Barcelos.

As a legend says a pilgrim was accused of murder in Barcelos. He pleaded not to be guilty of what he had been accused, but the court sentenced him to death. The convict was able to get in front of the judge who was just dinning with his friends. The pilgrim pointed to the roasted rooster on the table and said that the bird would crow when he were to be executed. Indeed, when the noose tightened around pilgrim’s neck, the rooster crowed. The judge ran to the gallows although it seemed it was already too late. Luckily it turned out that the pilgrim luckily escaped death.

To commemorate the event the pilgrim funded the statue of St. James and the Virgin Mary which you can still see there.  Figures of galo de Barcelos are very popular in the town and all over Portugal, so it's hard to leave without one. You may buy it just in Barcelos. Other sights of interests are the 15th century fortifications and the 13th century church.

Vila do Conde - Aqueduct

Vial do Conde - Aqueduct
 Vila do Conde is one of the oldest towns in the north of Portugal. The town is situated at the mouth of the river Ave, on the Atlantic coast. 18 km of beaches guarantee enough space for everybody to relax. 

Vila do Conde AqueductFor regular tourist there are some historic buildings to visit. But the most interesting, in my opinion, is an aqueduct. I always thought of aqueducts as part of ancient heritage.  But that structure was constructed in early 18th century (1705-1714).  It was a big surprise to me. It is the second longest aqueduct in Portugal.  It transports water from a spring in Terroso / Povoa de Varzim to a fountain in the monastery of St. Clare.

Portugal's official tourist portal, points out to the tradition of making lace.  You can find more information about it at the Lace Museum.  Somehow we did not make for it, but the aqueduct is worth seeing.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Three Cultures Square - Mexico City

Do we understand such a place?

Places marked by important and dramatic events often make a part of a regular touristic tour.  The question is if a short visit allows us to understand what importance has such a place to local community.

Three Cultures Square - MexicoPlaza de las Tres Culturas is a tourist must-see in Mexico.  We stayed there for about 15 minutes. The guide explained how contemporary Mexican culture was born from the pre-Columbian and colonial cultures.
The symbol of the first culture was supposed to be the remains of the last Aztec fortress Tlatelolco.  The ruins looked more like something built not long time ago.  The colonial culture was embodied in a church of St. Jacobs (Iglesia de Santiago) built in 15th or early 16th century.  The church was controlled by the Franciscan order which established there Colegio de la Santa Cruz. Modern Mexico is represented by a massive housing complex built in 1964.  And definitely it is not the best examples of local or any other architecture.  The whole setting looked to me a bit like a scenography.

In modern times the place witnessed the massacre of students on October the 2nd in 1968. I believe that the dramatic event is much more important for Mexicans visiting Square.  And it is something what a passing-by tourist cannot perceive.
A little bit more about the place you can find at go mexico site.

Mexico City walk

High expectations and ...

Mexico City - Ciudad de Mexico
I visualize Mexico with pyramids, exotic pre-Columbian culture and beaches.  Mexico City, also called the District Federal, is a different world. The metropolitan area of Mexico City accounts for approximately 22 million.  It is a huge city for the European standards.

Ciudad de Mexico - Centro historicoThe city was founded on an island on Lake Texcoco by the Aztecs. As the city grew the lake and swamps were dried and filled up to create space for new constructions.  In result today’s city, and in particular its historic part, is gradually sinking.  It is also a seismic zone which suffers for earthquakes every some time. So don’t be surprised with all those leaning buildings, and the best ones to see and feel it, are the Church of St. Francis, the Cathedral and the Shrine of Guadalupe.

A good starting point of a city walk is the Torre Latinoamericana.  It was first Mexican skyscraper. You can see the whole city, including favelas outside the boarder of the city form the platform on 42-nd floor. The admission ticket includes entrance to an exhibition on the 41st floor.  It is worth to have a look at it and get a gist of the city’s history, including the tragic earthquake in 1985.
Teatro Nacional - Ciudad de Mexico

Palacio - Mexico City - Historic CenterAcross from the Torre Latinoamericana there is the Palacio de Bellas Artes.  The building may remind you of the architecture of Paris. It was an idea of Porfirio Díaz, who wanted to rebuild the capital in Paris style. Opposite Torre there is a building covered with blue tiles, it is the Casa de los Azulejos. Walking down the Francisco Madero Street you can visit the church of Saint Francisco (Iglesia de San Francisco). Here you can see what effects have both sinking and earthquakes on city’s architecture. Right next door you will find the Palacio de Iturbide. Beautifully decorated patio and interiors, of the 18th century palace, serve as an exhibitions hall.
Madero Street ends at the Constitution Square (Plaza de la Constitución), known as Zócalo. Here we find the Cathedral and the Palacio Nacional.  The square itself does not stand out from many others. But, if you are Bond movie lover you may recognize it in "Spectre".   There is an article in Condé Nast Traveler for those who are interested in film production sights.
Plaza Zocalo - Ciudad de Mexico

Metropolitan Cathedral - Mexico City

Catedra Metropolitana - Ciudad Mexico
The most important monument of the historic center is the Metropolitan Cathedral - Catedral Metropolitana. It is the oldest cathedral in Latin America.  Its history goes back to Hermán Cortés who chose the place for the future cathedral in 1524. Today it is impossible to determine if it is true or he just built a regular church at that site. But it is fact that they used stones from demolished Aztec temples, including of the Templo Mayor. The remnants of the Templo Mayor can be seen next to the cathedral.
Construction of the church lasted almost three hundred years.  In the meantime plans, architects and styles kept changing. Actually, it is difficult to say when the construction of the present building started and when it was completed.   There are different sources providing various dates.  Generally speaking work lasted from 16th to 18th century. History lovers, who speak Spanish, can find some relevant texts at the cathedral’s website.

Catedra Metropolitana - ciudad Mexico

Catedra Metropolitana - Ciudad Mexico - altarMetropolitan Cathedral is also the biggest cathedral in Latin America. It is 100 meters long, 46 meters wide with 5 naves impressive. While walking inside we realize and sense that the structure, like the entire city, is sinking.  It is incredible that the structure has not fallen apart. But actually we can visit the cathedral today due to the efforts of city authorities.  They have invested considerable amount of money to preserve the monument. In the year 2000 the cathedral was included in the UNESCO list of the most endangered monuments.
The interior decoration of the cathedral includes elements of various architectural styles, including typical for Mexico churriguera style. Two famous altars, Altar de los Reyes and the Altar del Perdón, are located in the central nave.  There are 14 more chapels with many works of art.

There is a chapel of the Blessed Sacrament next to the Cathedral. The chapel, built in the seventeenth century, is a regular place of worship. But it is worth paying attention to façade ornaments made of white and red stone.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Testing the blogger

I have never thought about blogging.  It is true I love listening and sharing stories.  But writing and publishing them to wide audience did not seem to be my thing.  And one day a friend asked me to help her to handle on-line communication.  I am one of those people behind the scene who try to figure out how to use it effectively.

I was keen on working with her and to make it all real I needed to test a couple of things myself.  One of them was setting a blog and running it. It is how my Polish blog about anything that crossed my mind has been set.  It has been a challenge to pull myself up and every sometime publish a piece of content, but I enjoy it. Yet I needed a second blog to test functionalities and options. 

Now I have decided to convert it into regular blog - a kind of English version of the first blog.  But it is not meant to be a copy, so you can look for interesting pieces at both.  Please do not be surprised with a number of posts for January and February - it is conten which was published at my tumblr profile.
And the last thing - I am not English native thus please excuse all mistakes, typos and cliche's.

Welcome to my Be Bright World!