Hagia Sophia in Istanbul – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , October 8th, 2018

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul - Keep Calm and Wander

Aya Sofia or Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is another must-visit attraction that would blow your mind away. It served as a Byzantine Cathedral from 537-1204; a Roman Cathedral until 1261; a Greek Orthodox Cathedral through 1453; an Ottoman mosque until 1931; and then, it became a museum which we enjoy until today.

I gasped when I visited the church turned mosque turned museum. It’s a mixture of historical and architectural wonders. It’s a wonderful blend of Roman, Ottoman, Islamic and Byzantine architectures – and I couldn’t help myself but gazed at every details of the interior that stood the test of history and war times. The towering dome is, in itself, a beauty that I’ve never seen anywhere – lightened up by its innumerable windows filtering the daylight.

Hagia Sophia is just across the famed Blue Mosque in Sultahnamet area of Istanbul. You can’t skip one in favour of the other. These two are inseparable tourists destinations that you must see – once in your lifetime!

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Turkey Gay Travel Resources

 

Inside Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 28th, 2018

Basilica Cistern

Featured in some Hollywood blockbusters, such as 1963 James Bond film “From Russia with Love”, Ron Howard’s adaption of Dan Brown’s “Inferno”, and the recent one Marvel’s “Black Widow”, the Basilica Cistern is the largest cavernous cisterns of Istanbul. It is called “basilica” because it lies underneath the location of a Roman basilica long lost in the pages of history. I could not fathom how a place so marvelousas this one was used as a dump in the Ottoman rule over Constantinople. But it relieves me to know that it was discovered by Petrus Gyllius—a French researcher—and it is now open to the public, for all of us to see what’s beneath Istanbul’s famed Sultanahmet Square. This underground Byzantine water reservoir is just one of the many subterranean structures across the city.

Where is it? It’s just few steps from Hagia Sophia. Just cross the street and find a tiny sign leading to Basilica Cistern.

1. A Forest of Columns

When you see 336 pillars towering at a height of 33ft and supporting a massive roof right in front of you, it is almost as if you’re seeing countless trees of a forest. These pillars were not built. Actually, they were salvaged from different places and were reused here.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Turkey Gay Travel Resources

Before You Visit Istanbul’s Blue Mosque – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 22nd, 2018

Blue Mosque

Istanbul is a culmination of Byzantine, Constantinople, and Ottoman art and culture. Although, there were many eye-catching attractions in the city, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul stands out from the rest of the list.

Remember: Since this is a holy place for Muslims, you’re expected to dress decently. If you are exposing flesh (including men wearing shorts), get or borrow a shawl near the entrance and cover the exposed parts of your skin before going in. Entrance is free.

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul goes with other two names: the Sultan Ahmet Mosque and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque.

10 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

1. The name “Blue Mosque” is not because of its exterior, which is not even blue. It is because of the blue tiles inside.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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Inside the Pisa Cathedral – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 7th, 2018

Pisa Cathedral - Keep Calm and Wander

The Pisa Cathedral marks the zenith of the architectural power of Pisa at the time of its creation by having bits from the Islamic, Byzantine, Lombard-Emilian, and classical architecture. Lying peacefully in the Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square), it gleams in multi-colors, courtesy of the different types of marbles that it is adorned with, especially cosmatesque marble.

1. The marble facade

Unlike the exterior, the cathedral’s interior depicts much more decorations and ornamentations. The Romanesque façade of the cathedral is made of pastel-colored marble that is designed divinely by the students of Giambolongna.

While the three doors leading inside were constructed or cast after the deadly fire of 1595, an original door “The Door of San Ranieri” designed by Bonnano Pisano still stands and provides a way in from the southern transept.

2. Medieval and Renaissance art

The interior of the cathedral has a mixture of the Renaissance and Medieval architecture. This mixture has been a result of the fire of 1595. After the destruction of most of the Medieval parts of the cathedral, they were rebuilt in the Renaissance style as it was popular back then.

The surviving Medieval pieces include Tomb of Emperor Henry VII, originally sculpted by Tino di Camaino, and the pulpit by Giovanni Pisano, which has been recently placed in its original place after being found dismantled.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Pisa Gay Travel Resources

Baptistery of Pisa – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 3rd, 2018

Baptistery of Pisa - Keep Calm and Wander

Located in the Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square), on the west coast of Italy, the Baptistery of Pisa forms one of the four buildings. In fact, it comes second in the chronological order, neighboring the Duomo di Pisa, the cathedral, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

It is an ecclesiastical building, and throughout history, it has played a keen role in the religious scene in Pisa. This actually shows in the multiple architectural veils that it is draped in. The lower side has arches and pillars that hint towards the Romanesque style, but the upper levels show a stark Gothic style with pointed figures and closely spaced pillars.

The entrance to the edifice is covered with ornate pillars and reliefs, in which the upper one depicts the life of Saint John and the middle one shows Christ flanked by Saint John and Madonna and surrounded by several angels.

The Baptistery of Pisa – Where Galileo Was Baptized

This baptistery is famous for its architecture and also for the following things.

1. The Acoustics: Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni Pisano have done an outstanding job by designing the interior that it facilitates reverberations or acoustics. Anyone standing below the edge of the dome can have his voice echoed. Every 30 minutes, one of the employees would sing loud to demonstrate the power of its acoustics.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Pisa Gay Travel Resources

Ten Things to Do in Venice – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , August 10th, 2018

Venice - Keep Calm and Wander

Lying on 117 small islands, Venice is an Italian haven for tourists, cradling 250,000 residents. I had the pleasure of visiting it last summer. Here’s my list.

1. San Marco Cathedral and Square

A perfect place to people-watch, San Marco square has three famous tourist sites, namely Doge’s Palace, San Marco Cathedral, and Torre dell’Orologio.

2. Doge Palace / Palazzo Ducale

Next to the San Marco Cathedral is a true masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the Doge Palace or the Palazzo Ducale has served as the seat of the Venetian government in the past. All the remains of that and the gothic past of the palace are all too mesmerizing.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Venice Gay Travel Resources

Inside the Pisa Cathedral – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , August 4th, 2018

Inside the Pisa Cathedral - Keep Calm and Wander

The Pisa Cathedral marks the zenith of the architectural power of Pisa at the time of its creation by having bits from the Islamic, Byzantine, Lombard-Emilian, and classical architecture. Lying peacefully in the Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square), it gleams in multi-colors, courtesy of the different types of marbles that it is adorned with, especially cosmatesque marble.

Unlike the exterior, the cathedral’s interior depicts much more decorations and ornamentations.

The Romanesque façade of the cathedral is made of pastel-colored marble that is designed divinely by the students of Giambolongna.

While the three doors leading inside were constructed or cast after the deadly fire of 1595, an original door “The Door of San Ranieri” designed by Bonnano Pisano still stands and provides a way in from the southern transept.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Pisa Gay Travel Resources

Basilica Santa Maria della Salute in Venice – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , August 2nd, 2018

Basilica Santa Maria della Salute in Venice - Keep Calm and Wander

Standing at the mouth of the Grand Canal, Basilica Santa Maria della Salute ‘s imposing Baroque structure looks like it guards the beautiful city of Venice. Its impressive dome was put in by the survivors of the plague. For their salvation, the city built the church as a dedication to Our Lady of Health/Deliverance (Salute).

One of the survivors of the plague was Titian who died at age 94. Inside, you’ll find 12 of his original paintings hanging at the sacristy.

Unfortunately for me, despite running as fast as I could, the basilica was already closed when I went there. Well, I arrived there at 4:45 PM but they told me that they won’t sell me tickets anymore because they’d be closing soon. And it was my last day in the city, so no more time to go back the next day.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Venice Gay Travel Resources

A Day in Salamanca – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , July 30th, 2018

Salamanca Spain - Keep Calm and Wander

One day in Salamanca may not be enough to explore this medieval town. Up to this day, the community is still known as a university town. The town’s premier university – University of Salamanca – is Spain’s oldest university and the world’s 3rd oldest that’s still operating until today.

Salamanca is definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to in Spain. Because of its place in the historical culture and art of Spain, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

This city is loaded with attractions and seeing all of them in a day can be too overwhelming, but the following popular attractions can be visited in a day.

The Old and the New Cathedral are built side by side, one in the 4th and the other one in the 15th century, respectively. The former shows a Romanesque architecture and the latter has touches of Renaissance, but they collectively make a spectacle to be amazed at.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Spain Gay Travel Resources

Dante’s Tomb – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , July 28th, 2018

Dante's Tomb - Keep Calm and Wander

You can’t talk about Italian literature without mentioning Dante Alighieri who peacefully rests in Ravenna. I’d say that his Divine Comedy (Divina Comedia) is, perhaps, the greatest Italian literary work the world has ever known. It’s a classic that must be read whether you’re a believer of hell, purgatory and paradise or not.

Is Dante’s Tomb in Florence Real?

If you were told by one of your guides or a local in Florence that Dante is buried in their city – ignore it. There’s no truth in that. That “tomb” you see in Florence is nothing but air inside. Empty – that is. It’s nothing but a memorial to Dante who was born in Florence.

But what’s this myth about Dante’s tomb lies in Florence? Well, in 1519, Pope Leo X directed that Dante’s bones be moved to Florence but the Franciscan monks at the nearby monastery stole them away and hid them for more than 300 years. It was re-discovered in 1865 – by chance!

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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