Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pictures of The Byzantine Mosaics of The Palatine Palace, Palermo

Pictures, Images & Photos of the Spectacular Byzantine Mosaics of The Palatine Chapel, Palermo.

Photos, pictures of the Palatine Chapel, Palermo. The chapel was commissioned buy Roger II of Sicily in 1132 and was dedicated to St. Peter. The new chapel was built over an older chapel, now the crypt, that was built in 1080. The design of the chapel follows traditional Byzantine rules. At one end it has 3 apses which are semicircular recesses covered with semicircular domes. The central Aspe is higher than the 2 side apses and all 3 house the chapels altars. At the end of the apses the transept runs the width of the chapel. above the centre of the transept is a high dome. From the transept run a central naive which has 6 arabic pointed arches, 3 on each side, supported by older classical columns. On each side of the central naive are 2 smaller aisles. At the end of the central naive is a raised platform which is where the Frankish Carolingian throne was placed for the king to sit on.

What makes the Palatine chapel one of Europe's great art treasures is its mosaic decorations. Every part of the interior of the chapel is covered with mosaics. The background color of the mosaics is gold which reflects the candles in such a way as to create a magic and mystical atmosphere that is almost overwhelming. Because the chapel is quite an intimate space the intricate flowing figures and patterns of the mosaic design crowd in on the senses and are almost overpowering. Each scene is surrounded by its own decorative border as can be seen in orthodox icon mosaics.

The oldest mosaics are probably in the transept and date from about 1140. These magnificently crafted mosaics depict the Acts of the Apostles. These mosaics almost certainly made by the finest Byzantine craftsmen probably from Constantinople. The style of the design is heavily influenced by orthodox iconography and the inscriptions are in Greek.

The other mosaics depict scenes for the old testament and scenes from the lives of apostles and probably date from the 1160's. They are not as fine as the transept mosaics and were probably made by local craftsmen as a lot of the inscriptions are in Latin rather than Greek.

The Palatine chapel is a political statement from the 11th and 12th century. It is designed to appeal to Roman & Orthodox Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. Its mosaics depict biblical scenes as well as very rare secular mosaics and paintings on the ceiling depicting everyday life, animals and flowers. The Arabic style multifaceted ceiling, made from now rare Nebrodi pine, is influenced by Iraqi 'Abbasid art. Lions & eagles are depicted and these paintings in tempera, part of what is widely considered the largest single Fatimid work of art of its day, seems to reflect the relaxed norms of a tolerant society. The scenes would have been frowned upon by Muslims of the time yet they would have been painted by Muslim artists. In the Palatine Chapel the Normans are sending out a secular message of tolerance to dogmatic Muslims?

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pictures of The Medieval City of Rhodes, Greece

Pictures of the Medieval City of Rhodes, Greece.

Pictures, images and photos of Rhodes city on the Island of Rhodes (Rodos) , Greece. Rhodes is an ancient settlement of the Dodecanese islands and has been settled since pre history. Today the medieval city is dominated by the Palace of the Grand Master whose medieval battlements look more like a town in northern Europe than in Greece. This was built by the Knights Hospitallers who founded a hospital in Jerusalem in 1023 to care for sick and injured pilgrims to the Holy Land. After the First Crusade in 1099 the order became a religious military order and following the fall of the Holy Land to the Muslim forces in the 13th century the Knights Hospitalers set up their headquarters in Rhodes.

After the Knights Templar were dissolved in 1312 the Hospitallers were given their property and the holdings in Rhodes were organised into Priories of eight languages one each in Crown of Aragon, Auvergne, Castile, England, France, Germany, Italy, and Provence. Each of these was organised under a Grand Prior who inturn were under the Grand Master. As well as caring for the sick and as military knights The Hospitallers acted as a banking system for merchants from the west.

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 Sultan Mehmed II made the knights a priority target. It wasn't until 1522 though that a force of 200,00 men under Suleiman the Magnificent forced the 7,000 men at arms of the Hospitalers to abandon Rhodes and retreat to Sicily.

The medieval city of Rhodes is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site and under the Italian rule of Mussolini the Palace of the Grand Master was renovated as a retreat for himself and King Victor Emmanuel. The city has a Jewish quarter with a memorial to the Jews that lived there and died under fascist repression. There is also a Turkish quarter with mosques and the old shops of the Bazaar selling tourist trinkets.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Images of the Greek Temples of The Archaeological Site of Selinunte, Sicily

Pictures, Images & Photos of the Greek Temples of Selinunte, Sicily.

Pictures of the Greek Temples of Selinunte, Sicily. It is often forgotten that Greek city states stretched as far beyond Greece and that some of the biggest Greek Temples can be found on Sicily. Selinunte (Greek: Σελινοῦς; Latin: Selinus) is an ancient Greek archaeological site on the south coast of Sicily. The ancient city of Selinunte was one of the most westerly in Sicily and therefore came into constant conflict with the invading Carthaginians. Around 409 BC a massive Carthaginian army of around 100,000 men overwhelmed Selinunte killing 16,000 inhabitants and taking 5,000 as prisoners. The city was rebuilt but in the first Punic War in 250 BC was again destroyed by the Carthaginians and was never rebuilt.

The huge archaeological site of Selinunte is situated on a promontory that juts out into the sea. Its raised situation would have given it good defences with a natural harbour below. The archaeological site contains five temples centered on an acropolis. Of the five temples, only the Temple of Hera, also known as "Temple E", has been re-erected and is a splendid Doric order temple.

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