Walking through the streets of Jerusalem crowded with believers of several faiths, you know you’re in a holy place. During my visit, I wanted to stay in the heart of the old city so that I could experience this energy and spirit. My early morning walks with mothers taking their children to school and evening strolls among the prayerful were everything I had hoped for. While in Jerusalem, I stayed at a guesthouse for pilgrims run by an order of nuns which was located on the Via Dolorosa (or the Way of the Cross). Besides being a welcoming home, the convent had a surprisingly beautiful but quirky church and a basement of archaeological remains dating to the Roman occupation of the city. What more could I ask for?!
Posts tagged ‘Christianity’
I love the early Christian catacombs of Rome. But since you can only enter as part of a guided tour, visits feel rushed. The frescoes in these maze-like tomb complexes reveal the first Christian images and thus the stories, priorities, and spiritual direction of the early church. Even more importantly, here’s where artists started to lay out the visual language, or iconography, of the religion which had a huge effect on the history of Western Art. But early Christian images aren’t all in Rome. There is a pocket of fantastic early Christian tomb frescoes in the city of Pécs in southwestern Hungary. It’s an incredible treasure in a very unexpected place.
While this practice seems unthinkable today, across the Mediterranean, ancient Greek and Roman structures were salvaged for building materials in subsequent centuries. Given the prevalence of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, pagan buildings were at best a curiosity. The Parthenon in Rome is said to have only survived because it was converted into a church.
The Pentelic marble used to construct ancient Athens proved to be too alluring for Byzantine builders. You can see blatant example of stone theft in the piece-meal construction of the 13th century Panagia Gorgoepikoos Church in Athens. While the materials were stolen, the care with which pieces were selected and incorporated suggests some appreciation for classical art.