.All Trips / D.C. / North America / Southeastern USA

Washington’s National Cathedral

22 Washington 501 National Cathedral

The idea of a National Church was first mentioned by the great General and first American President, George Washington, but this dream did not begin to take fruition for more than a century.  Like all great projects, it takes time and lots of money to make the dream a reality.  Today the completed church plays an important role in its nation’s history having hosted many national days of prayer and several presidential funerals.

The National Cathedral is a beautiful NeoGothic church situated on the highest point in the District of Columbia.  It’s built in the style of the great European cathedrals and has a tall central tower (30 stories high), 231 beautiful stained-glass windows (one of which has a moon rock …

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“Pic of the Week”, February 19, 2016: Wawel Cathedral, Krakow

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The Royal Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus, also known as Wawel Cathedral, is situated in Kraków, Poland.  The church is part of the Royal Palace complex atop Wawel Hill, where a church has been for more than 900 years.  Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II, was ordained to the priesthood at Wawel Cathedral and performed his first mass here.  Wawel Cathedral is where Polish kings were coronated and where many lie buried.

The current Gothic cathedral is the third church on the site and dates to the 14th century.  It is a small cathedral with elaborate and ornate side chapels.  Most of the church is open to the public and admission to the common areas is free.  Photos …

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Karl on | Comments Off on “Pic of the Week”, February 19, 2016: Wawel Cathedral, Krakow
.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Breathtaking! Monreal Cathedral, Sicily

06 Montreal Cathedral (5b)

Situated a few miles from the coastal city of Palermo is a beautiful mosaic-filled  cathedral in the Sicilian hill town of Monreal.  This church and the other Arab-Norman cathedrals of Palermo recently received recognition as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Monreal cathedral and its adjoining abbey are often cited as Sicily’s best examples of its unique Arab-Norman architecture.  The cathedral dates to the 12th century when Norman ruler William II (William the Good) founded a monastery here and then added the Duomo (cathedral).  William wanted this to be an important royal church and he is buried here (although none of his successors are).

Outside the Duomo is a relatively plain church, with the exception of the beautifully designed apses.   As you …

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.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Cappella Palatina, Palermo

02 Palermo’s Cappella Palantina

I’ve visited dozens of wonderful churches in my life, some vaste and grand like St. Peter’s in Rome, or Westminister Abbey in London, others smaller and with a more intimate feel.  As a rule, I’m partially to smaller chapels and churches, and there are two at the top of my list of favorites.  The most beautiful church I’ve ever been in, and because of the nature of it also the most beautiful painting of the Renaissance, is the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.  Seeing the Sistine Chapel for the first time actually made me gasp in awe — a travel first for me!  But another smaller church that caught my eye and amazed me with its beauty is the Palatine …

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.All Trips / Europe / Germany

Cologne Cathedral — A UNESCO World Heritage Site

40a Cologne Cathedral

I first saw Cologne’s Cathedral on a train journey from Amsterdam to Heidelberg in the late 1990s.  It’s an imposing and immense Gothic structure situated adjoining the Cologne train station near the Rhine River. I recall the cathedral’s massive spires (157 m or 515′ tall) inspiring me to think,  “some day I’m going to visit that church”!  It took almost 15 years from that train trip to finally visit the Cathedral, but thanks to friends Bernd and Monika, my wife and I visited Cologne and its great cathedral recently.

Cologne Cathedral stands on the site of a 4th Century Roman ruin, and if you’ve time, there’s a fabulous Roman history museum immediately adjoining it that’s worth visiting.  A previous church …

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.All Trips / Europe / Wales

St. David’s Cathedral, Wales

03 St. David Cathedral 13

St David’s Cathedral (in Welsh: Eglwys Gadeiriol Tyddewi) is in Pembrokeshire county, the most westerly point of Wales.  The cathedral was built a beautiful spot, lying low in a valley near the ocean, and is an historic place.  Most consider it the finest cathedral in Wales and if you’re in the area, it’s certainly worth visiting.
A Brief history of St. David’s Cathedral:
 A monastic community was founded at this site by St. David, who was its Abbott, and there’s been a church here since the 6th century AD.  St. David died in 589 AD, but his community and the church he started live on, despite many hardships.  St. David is very dear to the Welsh — he’s their …

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“Pic of the Week”. November 29, 2013. Gallarus Oratory, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

2013-47-November 29 Gallarus Oratory

One of the most remarkable buildings I’ve ever been in was this small ancient church on Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula, said to be the best preserved early Christian church on the Emerald Isle.

The Gallarus Oratory was built between the seventh and eight century A.D and is exclusively made of layered angled stone — no mortar was used.  The process is known as dry-stone corbelling and is based on a building technique used in Ireland for thousands of years.  The angled stones allow water to run off and to keep the interior dry.  The technique results in thick heavy walls and a building shaped like an upside down boat; it’s obviously effective because over 1200 years later …

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.All Trips / Europe / Ireland

A Visit to Ireland: Part 3) Kenmare, gateway to the Ring of Kerry

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Western Ireland was the most beautiful and scenic part of our journey.  It has a lovely, rugged coastline — harshly beautiful!  There are hundreds of ancient stone forts, stone circles and stone dwellings (it’s a rocky land!), and its citizens speak more Gaelic than anywhere else we visited.  Western Ireland was the region least influenced by the British largely because it was so poor (for example, farmers had to make their own soil in the rocky land by mixing seaweed, sand and animal dung, turning it into something they could grow potatoes in).   If a traveler has only a few days in which to visit Ireland (beyond Dublin), I’d recommend they head towards the Dingle peninsula and the Ring of …

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