How much is your time worth? This is a question you might ponder as you wait in line to enter St Peter’s Basilica. Meanwhile, touts hover like vultures in the square, telling you that it’s another hour before you get to the front. I haven’t heard of anything good coming out of their offers to skip St Peter’s Basilica queue. Instead, I found a couple of ways to avoid the train that winds around the colonnade. It takes a little dedication but they’re easy to follow. But first… [Read on]
By the time I was done with sunrise at Borobudur, it was still only 6.30 a.m. People in Singapore only start waking up around that time for work but the crowds were already streaming into the park. My bus back to Yogyakarta wouldn’t leave for another five hours. After inhaling a plate of mi goreng for breakfast, I rented a bicycle across the road from my hotel and was ready to find the other sights around Borobudur.
It was impossible to ignore the Kölner Dom when I first stepped out of Cologne’s central station. How could I, when it’s such a massive structure? The sunken plaza that I stood in only served to exacerbate the impression of size. It has its advantages, though; in the height of summer, its shadow offered the people gathered on the steps of Domplatz respite from the heat.
My eyes ran over the masonry. From the roof, flying buttresses flowed down the blackened walls that witnessed the bombing of the city in World War II. Here they still stood, even after the Dom took 14 hits. On the western facade, the two soaring spires form an unmistakable landmark. Figurines of holy men and women filled the niches in the doorways, while the arches and windows pointed heavenward towards finials several stories above.
In the early 15th Century, King Władysław II Jagiełło invited the Ruthenian master Andrej and his school to the Lublin royal castle to paint a mural that covered the Holy Trinity chapel from the floor to the vault. When the work was finished in 1418, Andrei signed his name on the arch and moved on, probably to the next commission.
What the master left in the kaplica was nothing short of splendid. The icons and scenes combine the Eastern style of representation with the Gothic art and architecture of Catholic Poland. We came close to losing this unique example of sacred art, however.