If I had to describe a nation’s capital city, I would think of broad streets, massive administrative buildings, and commercial areas. I picture public art, decorative architecture, and parks too but its all in the context of the greater metropolis at the heart of the city. So then imagine how unprepared I was to visit Bern, Switzerland’s national capital. Instead of a booming, modern downtown, they’ve done an amazing job of preserving the historic old city center. The heart of the city is gorgeous and the perfect place to spend a day strolling.
Posts tagged ‘history’
Recently I wrote about the incredible Matthias Church in Budapest which along with Castle Hill has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Given the astounding decorations inside the church, I was definitely going to pick up something from their gift shop. I thought maybe some note cards or a bag or a book, but I found something way better. Half-hidden on a shelf at knee level was the most random but also the most incredible “souvenir” I have ever encountered in all my travels. You better believe I bought one which is how I managed (legally) to bring home a piece of the church itself.
The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme. This month we are discussing War and Peace. I think you’ll find some really interesting articles on this topic, so take a look at the bottom of the page for them all.
Artists across cultures, time, and place have depicted war, from the vases of ancient Greece to the romanticized paintings of Napoleon’s campaigns. However a common thread is that these images of battle were created by those not involved in fighting, or were done years after the fact for patriotic or sentimental reasons. What we don’t often see is art created by soldiers in the midst of battle and experiencing the brutality of conflict. When they do create, often as a means of distraction, these pieces constitute a tiny genre called Trench Art.
One of the thrills of travel is that wide-eyed gasp that inevitably follows after stumbling across something spectacular. I’ve felt this in the past walking into cathedrals, gazing down into valleys, or taking in the beautiful commotion of a market. Quite unexpectedly, I experienced this pure amazement while in Budapest. After stepping curiously through a dark doorway, I discovered the haunting elegance of an abandoned, century old shopping gallery, known as Párizsi Udvar. Exploring this unbelievable ghost was as close to time-traveling as it gets.
I like to book my international flights with a long layover in an “extra” city. This lets me sneak out of the airport and enjoy a new place for the day before moving on to my actual destination. If you can get past the jet-lag, this is great option because really, nothing starts off an incredible trip to Turkey like lunch beside Notre Dame in Paris!
So when I visited Israel last year, I made sure to take care of some unfinished business in Amsterdam with a layover specifically designed to see the re-opened Rijksmuseum. The renovations went far beyond repairing the structure; the museum today presents a truly innovative approach to art and culture! It was well worth the extra stop in Amsterdam.