Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Shadows and sunlight

Where: Prague, Czech Republic
When: August 2014

There are three St. Nicholas Churches in Prague, and this one is prominently featured in any panoramic shot of Malostranské Náměstí. This view, however, is from the other side of the square, not the more populated one with easy access to (avert your eyes now) Starbucks. This was taken on Tuesday evening, around 7 p.m. The most famous part of this church, a Baroque masterpiece completed in the middle of the 18th century, is the organ, which Mozart played on a visit in 1787.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

From China with Hope

Where: Nagasaki, Japan
When: April 2010

In 1978, the city of Nagasaki invited countries to donate monuments to its Peace Park. Today the Peace Symbols Zone has sculptures from 15 countries, including some that no longer exist. This one, called "Maiden of Peace," was donated by China in 1985. The symbolism of the dove is obvious, but another big symbol in the park is that of water. The heat of the second atomic bomb was so intense that the suffering victims insisted on drinking water for relief -- even though it was contaminated and would kill them.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

An Australian dozen

Where: Near Port Campbell, Victoria, Australia
When: September 2010

You're looking at some of the 12 Apostles. These are, of course, not real Apostles, but limestone rock formations that are at least 10 million years old. Nor are there 12 of them, but eight; there were nine up until 2005. Understandably, the Aussies decided that calling them the 12 Apostles was more likely to bring tourists than keeping its original name, the Sow and Piglets. The Apostles are one of the main attractions off the Great Ocean Road, which was built by servicemen returning home from World War I to connect previously isolated towns in the south and is in fact a war memorial.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Little Boy's aftermath

Where: Hiroshima, Japan
When: July 2010

This is a close-up of the Genbaku Dome, more commonly known as the "A-Bomb Dome" in Hiroshima. This building has remained largely untouched since the Enola Gay dropped "Little Boy" on the city 69 years ago today, and the iconic photos you see most of the time include the roof, which was blown off while the steel support structure remains. But for me, what gets across the true power of the bomb (in the context of this building) are the examples of twisted steel, the result of the bomb's intense heat.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Blessed By Heaven"

Where: Seoul, South Korea
When: October 2009

Gyeongbukgung (literal translation: "Palace Greatly Blessed By Heaven") has not always been the serene, peaceful haven you see here. The largest of the five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty, it was first constructed in 1395 and later abandoned for centuries, reconstructed, destroyed by Japan during its colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, and reconstructed again. This hexagonal building is Hwangwonjeong, built in 1873 on a pond that had been constructed more than 400 years earlier. In true keeping with the constant state of change in the palace, the bridge you see on the right was on the other side of the island before being destroyed in the Korean War.

One for the Royal Road

Where: Prague, Czech Republic
When: July 2014

This is the Powder Tower, so named for obvious reason: It's made out of powder. Just checking to see if anyone actually reads the text. Built in the late 15th century, the tower is one of the original gates leading into the Old Town area of Prague and the starting point of the Royal Road, which was the parade route for coronation ceremonies back when such things were important. Technically speaking there's been a tower here since before 1475, but that's the year when this tower, as shown, is credited to have started being built, even though it wasn't completed and has since been restored several times. As for the name, it used to store gunpowder. Sorry for the anticlimax.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Where: Rome, Italy
When: June 2011

Some facts you may or may not know about the Colosseum in Rome: It had 80 arches on every level; more than 5.2 million people visited the place in 2012 -- more than the Pompei excavations, the Uffizi gallery and Sant'Angelo Castle combined; much of the original material used to build the ampitheater exists in other buildings throughout Rome; and the building was used for about 450 years, or roughly the same amount of time it took to build the new Wembley.