Posts Tagged With: Architecture

The Baths of Caracalla: The Ancient Roman Spa

After all the hustle and bustle of sightseeing around Rome, I wanted to get away from tourist groups to spend some quiet time.  I met a few backpackers at the hostel who directed me to places in Rome where there are not too many people in one place at the same time.  One of these places with very few tourists around is the ancient Roman architecture called the Terme di Caracalla better known as the Baths of Caracalla.

Rome

The Baths of Caracalla is essentially divided into 2 sections:  one inside the bath complex and one around it.  Built by Emperor Caracalla in AD 212, the magnitude of the baths were staggering and the buildings enormous.

Rome

About 9000 workers were employed daily for five years just to create the 337 x 328 meters platform.  The baths were not just built for swimming but also as a wellness and sports venue.

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The baths were inaugurated in AD 216 but were only completed after the death of Caracalla.  The whole site was abandoned after the siege of Rome  in AD 537.

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Today, many of the walls are still several stories high giving you an idea of the scale of the establishment.

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There are informative plaques at strategic places showing the original layout.  You can also pay for an audio guide which will help you imagine what it must have been like when it was being used.

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There are quite a few mosaic floor fragments still left as well as some stonework and few frescoes.

Rome

Rome

The Thermae Antoninianae, is considered as one of the largest and best preserved ancient thermal complexes showing the sheer ingenuity of the Roman engineers.  If you are a history and archaeology buff, walking through the ruins would be a nice respite from the crowded tourist attractions in Rome.

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The Baths are south-west of the Colisseum. To go there, I took the 160 bus from Piazza Victtorio which stopped just after the baths.  There was a small street with signs that led me to the main entrance.  I paid 6 Euros for the entrance fee (you have to pay additional 7 Euros for the audio guide).

Rome

More than the history and the ancient archaeological ruins, I particularly enjoyed the garden area.  It is a nice place to stroll or just relax and rest as there are very few people and little or no traffic noise.  I stayed there for awhile just to get away from the tourist crowds.  It was a worthy visit.

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Categories: Europe, Italy, Rome | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light!

When I am traveling, I seldom visits touristy areas that have entrance fee. I prefer spending my money on food and out of town trips. Also, I am an outdoor person. I enjoy nature trips more than visiting museums and historical monuments.

However, when I was in Barcelona, Spain, a famous tourist place caught my attention — the La Sagrada Familia Basilica of Antonio Gaudi. Usually a historical church with an entrance fee turns me off but this one is 100% worth going and I definitely recommend this as a must visit place in Barcelona.

The basilica has been under construction since 1882 and is expected to be completed by 2026.  Gaudi planned many parts of the church so that they could be built in the future. Since his death in 1926, different architects have continued the work after his original idea.

But what really attracted me to pay for 14.80 Euro fee is its interior design. I read that the insides of the church is more interesting to photograph than the facade. Indeed, there are not enough words to describe it.

Natural light pours in not just from the colorful stained glass windows which most churches uses but also from electric lights positioned at the top. There are also glass windows high above the vaulted ceilings of the gothic style that let in sunlight pouring splashes of light and colors below.

The La Sagrada Familia Basilica uses natural light in the most phenomenal way i’ve ever seen.

So for last week’s Photo Challenge, Let There Be Light, Ive chosen to feature my interior photos of La Sagrada Familia Basilica’s most impressive displays of indoor and natural lighting.

La Sagrada

La Sagrada

La Sagrada

La Sagrada

La Sagrada

La Sagrada

 

La Sagrada

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For more information about the church including the entrance fees and ticket booking, click this – La Sagrada Official Site

 

 

Categories: Barcelona, Europe, Spain | Tags: , | 9 Comments

An Arch Over a Passage

Last month, I took my holiday sort of ‘rest and recuperation’ leave after being deployed for 4 months for a humanitarian work in South Sudan.  I was contemplating whether to have a relaxing beach holiday in Mombasa in Kenya, have a safari/beach holiday in Tanzania or get lost in the craziness of Marrakesh in Morocco.  It was a tough decision but in the end I opted for the latter.

Why Marrakesh? Aside from it being in a different environment (though still part of Africa but more like being in an Arabic country than African), Marrakesh has always been a dream for most photography enthusiasts.  The chaotic, noisy and colorful souks are just one of the many reasons why Marrakesh is the place to go for a photographic journey.  Indeed, it was!

I found a hostel right in the old medina (old city) at the centre of the famous Place Djemaa el-Fna square.  Prior to my arrival, I planned to take loads of photos of the souks (market), crafts, food stalls, snake charmers, crowded square, vendors and local people…the way I expected to see at Marrakesh.  Indeed, on my first day, I found the old medina the way I expected it to be except for one thing…the Medina arches, the Arabic horseshoe arch design used in doorways and windows.

Ive seen different types of arches in Europe but mostly in historical old big buildings.  But I have never seen such kind of architectural design used in local households, street passageways, small businesses or shops and in market stalls.  It was so distinct that it is easy enough to be noticed everywhere you go in Marrakesh.  And so I made it a mission to take photos of different types of Arabic arches in and around the old medina.

Here are some of my collections:

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Aside from the doorways and windows, Arabic arch is also used to design the exterior walls of a building or as part of the structure itself.  I also found several unique and interesting wooden doors and windows which are either square or rectangular in shape and mostly painted with bright colors which are great subjects for photography too.

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As I went around taking snapshots of these Arabic arched windows and doorways, I noticed that even the passageway separating streets have also an archway built at the entrance.  Instead of taking a photo of the structure alone, I decided to add some elements on my composition.

First, I added the scenes from behind the archway to get a feeling of where it is located making the viewer to imagine what is going on beyond the image.

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Second, I added the element of movement by capturing people walking through the arched passageway.  People walking can make the viewer look at the direction of movement and into your main subject – the Archway.  It also gives a sense of busyness of the street or passageway.

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And lastly, adding images of the local people into your main subject gives a different context, making it more interesting than just the plain image of the arched doors or windows.  In this case, the colorful traditional dresses of Moroccans and their soulful photogenic faces add dramatic and or entertaining story to the composition making it a picture perfect photo.

Here are some of my best shots and my favorites among hundreds of snapshots of Morocco’s Medina Arch.

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Categories: Africa, Morocco, World's Unusual Design of Ordinary Things | Tags: , | 9 Comments

Modern Buddhist Heritage of Sri Lanka’s South

Buddha

 

The Weherahena Temple situated close to Matara town in the southern part of Sri Lanka, is famous for its iconic 39 meters high Buddha Statue which sits in the samadhi or squatting position in front of the temple.  A 600-foot tunnel is decorated all over with paintings and murals that describe the life of Buddha.  The temple is a multi-story building with lots of Buddhist statues created in the modern era.  The ancient nature of the place gives a calming and peaceful setting and an amazing view from the top.  The short ride from Galle to the Weherahena Temple passes through a picturesque road to Matara where one can enjoy a long stretch of beach flanked by swaying coconut trees along the way.  

Categories: Asia, Sri Lanka | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Eiffel Tower Series – Part 2: Framing and Foreground

In my March 3, 2013 post, Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in Details, I have presented to you Part 1 of the 3-part series on how to take a photo of the Eiffel Tower the unconventional way.   In that particular post, I showed different images of Eiffel focusing on the intricate architectural details using close-ups or detailed shots.

Part 2 focuses on how to get foregrounds right in photography.  I am not talking about the technical aspect such as Depth of Field or changing the settings of the camera’s aperture.  That is for advanced photographers to find out.  I want to focus on creative composition and the framing aspect of taking images, as my intended target audience for this series is mainly the ‘tourist’ photographers, those who are not actually photography enthusiasts but love to take photos during their travels for photo souvenirs or for facebooking! As one photographer said, being creative does not require highly technical skills and knowledge; it just means looking at the world a bit differently.

Therefore, this post will show you different ways to compose a photo of the Eiffel Tower using the right foreground to add depth to your shot.  Keep in mind that your composition tells the story that you want to project out of your photo, whether you use the DOF technique or keep the entire image sharp it does not matter….(as long as you know and understand what messages you want to convey and how it can be accomplished!)

As I mentioned in Part 1, the challenge is in finding the right angle or composition and taking the right shot in order to have your own unique photos of France’s global cultural icon.

So let us get started!

Part 2 of Eiffel Tower Series —  Framing and Foreground

Most of us are fond of taking long shot or landscape shots like this with all the elements including the foreground sharp and clear.

Eiffel 1

Continue reading

Categories: Europe, France, Paris | Tags: , , | 14 Comments

St. Peter’s Basilica: The Largest Catholic Church in the World

St Peter

St. Peter’s Basilica, the center of Christianity, is the largest and most famous Roman Catholic Church in the world. The building is an amazing feat of architecture.  The structure was built over a span of more than 100 years. It is traditionally believed to have been erected over the spot where St. Peter, considered the first pope, was buried. Located within the walls of the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica is a place where religion, history and art blend. Last Thursday, the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI officially stepped down, making him the first pope to resign after 600 years.

Categories: Europe, Vatican | Tags: , | 2 Comments

An Unfinished Masterpiece

sagrada

 

The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, has been under construction for more than 100 years.  This unparalleled architectural gem was designed by Antoni Gaudi who oversees its construction since 1883 until his death in 1926.  This unfinished masterpiece was designated as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 2005 despite its ongoing construction in the hands of many architects and artisans.  This unique creation has become Barcelona’s universal symbol and most popular tourist attractions.

Categories: Barcelona, Europe, Spain | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

A Long and Winding Road

spain alley

One of the things i enjoy doing in Europe is roaming and getting lost around the winding web of walkways and narrow alleys that meander between tall historical buildings and old residential area.  Here is an alley i discovered deep in the city of Barcelona.

Categories: Barcelona, Europe, Spain | Tags: , | 11 Comments

Venice: The City of Canals

venice canals

 

Venice, the capital region of Veneto, is one of the most popular destination holidays in Italy. An engineering wonder, the city stretches across numerous islands connected by bridges in a shallow lagoon and surrounded by canals and waterways.  Nowadays, old historical buildings along the canal shores have been restored and remodeled providing stunning colorful architecture with countless natural and artistic attractions, bustling cafes and an array of galleries, museums and churches.

Categories: Europe, Italy, Venice | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

The World’s Tallest Twin Towers

petronias

The Petronas Towers are the most famous attractions in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, after it held the World’s Tallest Twin Towers title in 1998. Since then, it has been a central element of the Kuala Lumpur City Centre.  The Malaysian national petroleum company, Petronas, occupies all of tower one.  The base of the towers incorporates a multi-story shopping galleria with a number of international restaurants and high end shops.  A skybridge on levels 41-42 are accessible for public viewing.

Categories: Asia, Malaysia | Tags: | 8 Comments

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