Ravenna’s Magnificent Mosaics at the Basilica di San Vitale – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , June 18th, 2018

Basilica di San Vitale - Keep Calm and Wander

Ravenna is called “The City of Mosaics” for places such as the Basilica di San Vitale. I was dazzled by the Byzantine mosaics that played before my eyes and I couldn’t help but contemplate all its historical attributes of this place, not to mention its architectural magnificence.

The first stone foundation of the basilica was laid in 526 and after treacherous years of construction, it was finally completed by the 27th Bishop of Ravenna known as Maximian.

The Splendid Mosaics of Basilica di San Vitale in Ravenna

The basilica has all the elements of Roman Empire from its dome, towers, doorways, and that of the Byzantine elements of narrow bricks, perfectly illustrious mosaics and a polygonal apse. That is the structural brilliance that the place is built with.

However, more than this, what really captures the eyes and the heart of a visitor are the mosaics that are dotted around the building, lining its walls, and creating moving depictions of the old testament – all the way up to the dome.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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A Day in Annecy – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , June 16th, 2018

Annecy - Keep Calm and Wander

For me, Annecy is once in a lifetime experience. Its darting canals through the village, meandering along some of the historical buildings in Europe, its food, and scenery, and most importantly, its settlement on the cleanest lake in Europe—Annecy—told me how different this city is.

The lake itself is surrounded by hills and mountains and it almost seemed to me as if they were peeking at their reflection in the tenuous hazed lake beneath.

It was around noon when I thought of treading the cobblestoned walkways lining the Annecy canals. Indeed, this is the reason they call it the “Venice of the Alps”. All those plaster houses with their baskets full of fresh flowers was a spectacle to remember.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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Rome’s Tiber Island – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , June 14th, 2018

Tiber Island - Keep Calm and Wander

The River Tiber is as ancient as the history of Rome, or maybe even older than it. As it snakes and twines around the city through multiple historical places, it seems as if it takes a small siesta on an ancient island named in honor of it – the Island Tiber.

Just as myths and peculiar stories are attached to every kind of historical and unexplained event, so has the Island Tiber a legend associated with its creation.

It is said that when the last king of Rome was overthrown in around 509 BC, his corpse was dumped in the River Tiber. However, it was so huge that the river could not either dissolve it or flow it away with itself. So, in the end, all of that culminated in the creation of the Tiber Island.

After a few years, they say that during a plague, a ship sent to Epidaurus arrived at Rome with a sacred snake of the God of Medicine Aesculapius. As the very ship was crossing the River Tiber, the snake jumped from the ship and settled on the island. This is why the base of the Temple of Aesculapius was built there followed by a magnificent temple.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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Verona’s Arena is Older Than the Colosseum – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , June 9th, 2018

Verona's Arena is Older Than the Colosseum - Keep Calm and Wander

Standing in all its grandeur, this Arena in Verona has been around in the city for well over 2000 years. I have been to the Colosseum in Rome and although it is larger, unlike Verona Arena, it does not hold immense history in its folds. That is fact no. 1.

When I was in Verona I could sense the pink stained marbles still vibrating with the more than 30,000 cries of jubilation as the gladiators slaughtered each other. This thing happens to me, a kind of a time warp where I, for few seconds, get lost in the very imagination of what a historic place would have been like in its full swing.

This arena has hosted thousands of gladiator carnages in the past and, supposedly, that happened for almost 400 years until the emperor Honorius banned the practice in 404 AD.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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Ten Things to Do in Bahrain – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , May 18th, 2018

Bahrain - Keep Calm and Wander

Riches are the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind when most people think of the Arab world. However, I’d like to add here that besides all of its oil reserves, luxury hotels, glittering gold, and everything expensive, I found Bahrain rich in culture, too. Wandering through the following 8 locations like the intrepid tourist that I am, I could sense the wisps of Arabian culture and the evolution of Bahrain to be just as fresh as anyone would think.

Let’s get down to the list of my top 10 things to do in Bahrain, shall we?

1. Say hi to the history at the Bahrain National Museum

Hitting on its cultural fabric, I first managed to visit a museum. Not just any museum, but the most popular and diverse museum of all the museums in Bahrain. Its postmodern building had much in store for me and I was literally dazzled by the type of landscaping that’s been done here. My favorite sights from the museum are the archeological relics from Dilmun Civilization and the temporary exhibits on tales.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

A Day in Gay Geneva – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , May 13th, 2018

Gay Geneva - Keep Calm and Wander

Geneva is one of those cities that seldom agree to the norms of metropolises around the world. As they are always bustling with activities and have a chaotic lifestyle, Geneva, in contrast to them, is calm, collected, and professional. In the morning you’d see working men and women hurrying down the streets to get to their offices while in the evening you’d experience an unusual quite that transitions into the night.

This is what I experienced in a day in gay Geneva. Yes, a day! But the same day taught me that I was slightly wrong about the place. Beneath the skin of all that calmness, there lay a bustling cosmopolitan city with wild music, vintage exhibits, and captivating artisans. I was there during the weekend when they had a music festival! Lucky me!

Following are the places that led me to this discovery.

1. The Old Town

Probably what gave me an insight into the way Geneva has evolved was the Old Town lying peacefully on the hill near Cathedrale Saint-Pierre. As I treaded around the Place du Bourg de Four, I saw the architectural exuberance of the town with its indigenous boutiques like Septieme Etage, La Muse and Jill Wolf Jewels, its restaurants and cafes that give you a chance to watch people (I did that over my cup of coffee at La Clemence), and the ruins just around the corner of the cathedral.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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The Duomo in Milan – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , May 4th, 2018

The Duomo in Milan - Keep Calm and Wander

In Milan, all roads lead to the Duomo – a gigantic cathedral that is as old as the Roman empire itself. Any visitor who does not visit this place hasn’t been to Milan.

Why, oh why? …because I have seen this place and I must say that I was shaken to my core when I saw how delicate the finesse of architectural art is combined with the size of the building. It is, after all, the largest church in Italy and the third largest in the world, covering 109,641 sq. ft. area.

1. See all the 3,400 statues

Combining both the inner and the outer statues of the cathedral, they make up to 3,400 statues, 700 figures, and 135 gargoyles. All of these inclusions make the building the most decorated one on the planet!

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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Milan’s Top Attractions – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , May 3rd, 2018

Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle - Milan - Keep Calm and Wander

Milan had been a cultural and political hub of the Roman Empire in the past. Today, it still holds immense importance in terms of attracting tourists from around the world to its bustling modern-day shopping malls, old gothic cathedrals, Byzantine mosaics, and historical citadels.

Milan was my last Italian city before taking off a train to Geneva, Switzerland. After reaching Milan and visiting these 7 distinct tourist attractions mentioned below, I was dazzled by the mix of Milanese or Roman culture – the architecture influenced by it, and the modern Italian vibes mingled and entwined in all of them.

1. Milan Duomo and the Piazza del Duomo

Standing in the main city square and looking at the gothic cathedral of Milan that took centuries to build was indeed enchanting in its own way. I was suddenly surrounded by two of the most revered attractions of Milan as I turned my head towards the left and saw the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Walking inside the Duomo was easy. And when I got in, my eyes stood wide at the spectacle ahead. I absorbed the art and the ambiance slowly and after being done with silently praising the inner workings of the intricacy of the place, I took an elevator to the top roof.

The spires looked gothic from the Piazza, but as I wandered right beside them, they revealed their true grandeur. I was honored by the presence of Madonnina sitting atop the highest spire and looking down at the moving human race below.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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Mausoleo di Galla Placidia in Ravenna – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , April 30th, 2018

Mausoleo di Galla Placidia in Ravenna - Keep Calm and Wander

I am an admirer of ancient art. And when I glance back at the time I spent in Mausoleo di Galla Placidia or the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, I feel that my thirst for the arts, especially the mosaic art, had been partly quenched.

To describe this small mesmerizing place, I’d go with what UNESCO has said about it: “It is the earliest and best preserved of all mosaic monuments, and at the same time one of the most artistically perfect.”

1. It is still unknown what the building was built for

Surprisingly enough, by the looks of it, one would think that it is a chapel. The Byzantine mosaics dotted on the ceiling, the walls, and the floor say much about it pertaining to its role as a chapel. However, till date, no one quite knows what it was built for. I asked one of the men there about its story and he said that this building was built by Honorius’ sister Galla Placidia. Honorius was the Roman ruler at that time. Just like me, ahem, Galla Placidia also loved arts and crafts and, reportedly, she poured all of her love in creating the captivating mosaics lining the walls of this place. But more than her love for the arts, it seems that she built it as a mausoleum for her and her family.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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Inside Sforza Castle – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , April 27th, 2018

Sforza Castle Milan - Keep Calm and Wander

Any fortress or castle in the world carries a piece of history that has passed by and eroded, yet evolved its fabric culturally, architecturally, and religiously. The Sforza Castle in Milan, Italy is no different and this is what I found out after visiting it. Milan, generally, is a welcoming city with its Italian vibes. However, it is this castle that brings about its true nature both historic and present.

Before going on stating what you can do in the castle, let us take a dive in the pool of history. I know I hate it, too, but for the sake of understanding this place better, let’s spare some moments.

A Short History

Sforza Castle or Sforcesca castle has seen many eras of complex invasions, sieges, and renovations. Built in the 1450s by Francesco Sforza, it is one of the few remnants of the 14th-century citadels. However, before it was a castle or a residential quarter of the notable rulers, it had been a Visconti fortress with impeccable defense systems – walls and towers that are so high and mighty. It was on the ruins of this fortress that Sforza built the Sforza Castle.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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