(81) 076.220.2800 1 Higashiyama Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture 920-0831, Japan
Kanazawa is a lovely city on the northern coast of the island of Honshu about 500km and a pleasant Shinkansen train ride form Tokyo. Kanazawa is known for its castle, gardens and three lovely historical edo-era geisha districts; Kazue-Machi, the smallest by the river, Naga Machi Buke or the Samurai Districtand the Higashiyama Higashi Chaya District being the largest
Higashiyama Higashi Chaya is full of small shops, sake tastings, delicious food, stunning lacquer bowls – and gold leaf. Gold leaf done to perfection on crafts; and tasty gold leaf on ice-cream!
Stop by the very well preserved Shima tea house, with geisha shows, performing dances and the playing Japanese traditional musical instruments – carrying the same notes frome the Edo period.
Another lovely find is the Hakuza Gold Leaf Store. A shop selling gold leaf products. Inside the shop is a traditional Japanese warehouse which has been turned into a tearoom and completely covered inside and out with gold leaf. Only possible as Kanawaza produces almost all of Japan’s gold leaf.
Kanazawa, although small, For us has a more natural and local vibe then Gion in Kyoto – which at times felt too stiff and tourist crowded, turning the romanticism of the architecture into a theme park. We truly wish we had stayed more time in Kanazawa.
The Deësis mosaic, (Circa 1261) is a traditional iconic representation of Christ Pantocrator carrying a book, and flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, with their hands raised in supplication on behalf of humanity.
OPEN HOURS: 09:00 – 19:00 Daily, April – October 09:00 – 17:00 Daily, October – April
Referred to as the Church of the Holy Wisdom for many centuries, the Hagia Sophia is the most important Byzantine structure and one of the world’s great monuments. This incredible structure has been a church for 916 years, a mosque for 482 years and now a museum for for over 82 years!
The original cathedral is said to have been built by Constantine the great in 325, on the foundations of a pagan temple. After a fire in 404, it was restored under the rule of Theodosius II. Once again it was destroyed, this time in in the fires of the Nika Rebellion of 532.
The current structure was built between 532 and 537 . It was ordered and personally supervised by Emperor Justinian. The architects, tasked with bringing to life the grandiose vision of the Emperor Justinian, were Anthemios of Tralles and Isidoros of Miletus – who were professors of geometry at the University of Constantinople.
The great dome was rebuilt after an earthquake caused its collapse in 557; then rebuilt by Isidoros the Younger; there were other partial collapses in 989 and 1346.
The main architectural feature is the awe inspiring 32-metre center dome pierced at the bottom by closely spaced windows and supported on pendentives (a triangular segment of a spherical surface) and two semi-domes. The jambs were lined in gold mosaic, thus reflecting golden light and creating magical illusion of a suspended dome floating above the visual splendor of the cathedral.
above photo – note on the top of the Imperial Gate doors are embossed columns within an arch, this indicates the entrance to the temple.
above photo -Imperial gate mosaic (886 and 912 AD) depicting Christ Pantocrator holding a book with the inscription “Peace be with you. I am the Light of the World.” Christ is surrounded by roundels portraying the Virgin Mary and the angel Gabriel. At Christ’s feet is a bearded emperor, who is believed to represent Leo VI asking for forgiveness.
Such a vast building at the center of court life required a significant body of people for both ceremonial functions and upkeep. At the time of Justinian, the Hagia Sophia was staffed by 60 priests, 100 deacons, 40 deaconesses, 90 subdeacons, 110 lectors, 25 psalmists and 100 doorkeepers. (from Justinian’s Flee by Julian Rosen)
The Basilica was looted in 1204 by the Venetians and the Crusaders on the Fourth Crusade. These invaders also replaced the patriarch of Constantinople with a Latin bishop. The outcome was the division of the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. The crusaders took much with them and most of Hagia Sophia’s riches can be seen today not in Istanbul, but in the treasury of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.
After the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, Mehmed II had the Hagia Sophia morphed into the principal mosque of Istanbul. With the addition of minarets, a mihrab (a niche indicating the direction of Mecca), a minbar (pulpit), and disks bearing Islamic calligraphy – the immense building also became a model for many of the Ottoman mosques.
The Ottoman conquerors continued a symbolic interpretation, fabricating an Ottoman past and a Muslim legend for the building. Eventually all the human faces depicted in the church’s mosaics were covered in plaster due to the Islamic prohibition of figurative imagery.
In 1934 Atatürk secularized the building, and in 1935 it was made into a museum
Above photo – Apse mosaic, depicting of the enthroned Virgin and Child, is the oldest of the surviving mosaics in Hagia Sophia.
Above photo – top left, partly damaged Archangel Gabriel mosaic.
The re-discovery of the figural mosaics after the secularization of Hagia Sophia was guided by the descriptions of the Fossati brothers, who had uncovered them a century earlier for cleaning and recording. The Fossatis also added the calligraphic roundels that remain today. They were commissioned to calligrapher Kazasker Izzet Efendi and replaced older panels hanging on the piers. (Holly Hayes)
The Hagia Sophia is so vast and full of information, it is one of the places that a guide can be invaluable. However, We were not very lucky, not only our guide but the other ones we eavesdropped on, seamed to be on a script of bad jokes and Turkish religious propaganda; continuously omitting legend and facts. Hiring a local guide in sites like this one can expand one’s experience greatly. We recommend contacting the history and architectural faculties at local universities in order to get advice on how and where to hire a truly knowledagable guide.
above photo “The name given, Seraphim, is Hebrew and means “burning ones” (plural; the singular form is seraph). They are the closest to the throne of God, and as such are flame-like, “For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb 12:29); The six wings are arranged in a particular way: two pointing down (covering the feet), two up (covering the face), and two outstretched (in order to fly). The face was covered by a star when it was converted into a Mosque; during our visit the restoration department was starting to uncover the faces.
above photo – bottom left note the sculpted Egyptian key of life and the Freemasonry symbol, this mark is on each column’s capital
The circle, where the Emperors would be enthroned
Detail of the mosaic in the Vestibule of the Warriors (Circa X century) Virgin and Child between Justinian I presenting the church of the Hagia Sophia (above), which he rebuilt. and Constantine tine the Great holding a model of the city of Constantinople (Istanbul) as an offering (below)
The Deësis mosaic detail, St. John the Baptist
Mahmud I ordered a restoration of the mosque in 1739 and added an ablution fountain
Wandering down Gumpendorfer on a late, breezy afternoon, we peered into a dim doorway and a monster stared back at us!
What is this place?? Gallery, Attraction, Curiosity Shoppe, kink Museum ??
Better then – and in its way, including all of the above – we found ourselves in a very stylish cocktail bar!
Quite beautiful in design, by co-owners Tzou Lubroth Architects, and named after the Bob Dylan song, the bar is quite a relaxing hangout in the afternoon. Drinks are served with style and taste in crystal vessels, finished and garnished in true mixologist fashion.
Rumor has it on weekends that place can get a bit active. We have to check out before we comment; but if we judge by the surrounds, it could be quite the happening scene!
Across from fabled Café Sperl; If Dogs Run Free is a nice part of an afternoon itinerary of moseying down the picturesque local Gumpendorfer Straße!
If Dogs Run Free (34) 1 – 913 2132 Gumpendorfer Straße 10; 1060 Wien, Austria
You enter into the Chartered Bank building – either feeling at ease in a monolithic womb to cash or a sort of annoyance at how much extra money exists to build all this ugly marble 🙂 Then you go down, and down, and down past mirrors and columns and you feel yourself defending into the nether worlds where the real jewels are kept … Mott 32 is a true beauty. With and extraordinary interior by Joice Wang (winner of the 2014 restaurant interior design award).
We sat at the bar and wandered around taking in the opulence. Our bar tender was skilled and quite charming (we did come back for a 2nd cocktail and tried for the same young man). Unfortuneatly the rest of the staff bordered on rude, to the extent that they would follow us to the restroom and trying to prevent one on looking around and actually enjoying the space. It did not make any sense as the restaurant is so beautiful; and a main reason why anyone was there.
The food menu for us was a bit too traditional with their signature peking duck and mountains of pork (a smell permitted the dining area); therefore, we concentrated on the liquid menu 🙂
Mott’s 32 cocktail menu is fantastic. As we find in most cities we visit, the menues seem to be born out of NY, LA or London. The menu here was created by an American, who used Asian twists. The flavours are truly local, extensively creative and with a perfect balance. My Old Fashioned was quite new fashioned, and infinitely drinkable!
We walked by this Soba restaurant on afternoon – and remarked that it looked like quite a nice spot; and though we were hungry, we continued on to our original destination. The walnut soba stuck in our minds and, fast forwarding a few days later, we wound up being brought to the very same restaurant by a local friend!
She explained that the Kabocha Tempurasoba (pumpkin) and Iro Soba (walnut) were a specialty of Aoyama Kawakami−an, and it was quite famous for them!
We had quite a lovely lunch – and highly recommend this Soba-Ya for all who are wandering through the Aoyama district.
above photo, tamagoyaki with scallions and eggplant