last year around this time, we watched the supermoon rise over the acropolis. this year, we got up at 3 AM to see the blood moon/lunar eclipse over our house. unfortunately, after weeks of clear skies, the clouds had started rolling in over the weekend, and when we got up, the moon was completely obscured by clouds. around an hour later, the skies miraculously opened so we could see the eclipse begin; right before the climax, however, the clouds came back in force, and the show was over.
September 28, 2015
September 5, 2015
the summer light in mykonos is brilliant, with a strength and clarity that i have never seen anywhere else, particularly when it reflects off the white lime surfaces of the buildings there. it’s hard for me to find the words to describe it; it’s like some sort of visual umami.
many families in mykonos have built small chapels adjacent to their homes or in nearby fields, to commemorate the passing of a loved one. the combination of white church, blue sky, and mykonos lighting is hard to resist.
September 4, 2015
in the 16th century, the venetians, who occupied mykonos for approximately 300 years, built windmills on the island to mill wheat. mykonos is sometimes referred to as “the island of wind.” given the number of times i had to chase my hat across the parking lot, i can attest to the accuracy of that.
lately, i am a fan of the “one camera, one lens” philosophy, which means no wide angle or zoom lenses. this makes getting all of the windmills into one shot very difficult; hence, i had to go for a more “artistic” approach.
windmills at sunset:
and at sunrise:
September 3, 2015
eventually, we were going to get to mykonos, a blue-and-white symphony of light, as well as a shopping and clubbing mecca.
July 25, 2015
(in which we come to realize that the filter on the lens needs to be replaced.)
the apollo temple at corinth dates from the 6th century b.c. there doesn’t seem to be much history about it on the internet. the columns – of which there were originally six on each end and 15 on each side – are of the doric style: it turns out the corinthian columns, like corinthian leather, aren’t actually from corinth; the design was invented in athens.
the lechaion road was the main road of ancient corinth. the archaeologist’s rendering shows it to be a thoroughfare worthy of royal processions and parades, but the grandeur is just an echo in today’s condition.
the museum of the corinth excavations has a beautiful collection of artifacts and also an incredible history. in 1990, thieves overpowered the guards and stole more than 270 greek and roman antiquities that had been excavated by the american school of classical studies in athens, which publicized the theft. in 1997, some of the pieces began appearing in christie’s auctions in new york, and the buyer subsequently returned them to the museum. in 1999, the fbi recovered 265 of the stolen objects in miami, where they had been hidden in crates of fresh fish. additional pieces were recovered through christie’s auctions. the police tracked down and arrested the thieves, the karahalios gang and their american accomplice. ultimately, the police recovered 274 stolen objects, with 11 still missing.
the sculptors of the time used to make the heads and bodies separate, so they could switch the heads out as political power changed. thus, the same body might be used once for the head of a particular statesman, and then when he fell out of favor, for the head of his successor.
the staff at the museum don’t allow people to pose with the statues.
June 27, 2015
i am a big fan of medieval cathedrals, but the greek orthodox churches are particularly impressive. the paintings, the chandeliers, the gilded altarpieces …
|interior of the church of agios (saint) therapon in mytilini, lesvos.|
|interior of the taxiarchis (archangel) michael monastery at mantamados, lesvos.|
the finest frescoes were in the 12th century church of agios apostolos (holy apostle). unfortunately, they don’t allow photography inside, and i wasn’t going to be a d*** about it and take pictures while the docent wasn’t looking. the best i can do to provide a taste of what they were like is to share photos from the interior of the church of agia (saint) kyriaki on aegina, which will i will describe more fully in a later post. while not as well-preserved as the ones in agios apostolos, these frescoes come close:
some churches are less opulent but impressive nonetheless. the monastery of nea moni is known for its mosaics, fine examples of what is called “macedonian renaissance art.” nea moni is also known for its grisly history: the monastery was sacked by the ottomans during the greek war of independence. they defaced the mosaics and massacred everyone they found inside.
|above, mosaics; below, bones of the massacre victims.|
June 24, 2015
recently, we visited mycenae, which, in the second millennium b.c., was one of greece’s major cities. according to myth, mycenae was founded by the hero perseus, who slew the gorgon medusa. mycenae was also where the bloody events of the house of atreus took place: atreus began his reign by trying to kill his brother, thyestes; his son, agamemnon, became king and went to war against troy after his brother’s wife, helen, ran off to troy with paris, and when the winds wouldn’t blow to send his ships to sea, he decided to sacrifice his daughter, iphigenia, to appease the gods; agamemnon’s wife, clytemnestra, killed him as soon as he came back from the war to take her revenge; and then agamemnon’s son, orestes, killed both her and, later, the son of aegistheus, clytemnestra’s co-conspirator.
perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that mycenaean civilization is known for its tombs. specifically, mycenae is known for its beehive tombs (“tholos”). these are burial sites that were cut into a hill and built up with circular walls coming to a point, thus giving them the appearance of beehives. the earthen domes piled above the tombs have worn away, but the brickwork remains.
the arching roof motif is repeated, intentionally or not, in other structures as well:
|the lion gate (the main entrance to mycenae) and the stairway down to the main cistern.|
as to whether it makes sense to use the diana on shots like these rather than a digital camera, as opposed to just using it for images of creepy old buildings like these, taken just outside the ancient city –
– is an open question.
next: lesvos or chios, or both.
June 21, 2015
June 7, 2015
May 29, 2015
the cathedral was built between 1215 and 1263 using black and white marble, black and white being the colors of siena. the amazing walls and ceilings and the illustrated music manuscripts are from the adjoining piccolomini library; the frescoes tell the story of cardinal eneo silvio piccolomini of siena, who became pope pius ii (and was the uncle of pope pius iii), and the books are from his collection. click on any photo to enlarge it.