Tag Archives: Architecture

Jerónimos Monastery: first person to spot the phallic gargoyle wins a free corn dog

Do yourself a favor and go see Jerónimos Monastery, a Manueline-style UNESCO World Heritage Site just outside of Lisbon.  Do yourself another favor and get there early.   HOB and I did arrive early, though not early enough to avoid a giant line.  While this was annoying and the catalyst of predictable marital discord (why, […]

Pimped out nautical: an introduction to Manueline architecture in Portugal

Since I’ll be posting a lot about the Manueline buildings we saw in Portugal, I’ll start with an overview this particular style of architecture and ornamentation. What happened was this: Portuguese explorers, relying on the navigational instruments left behind by the Moors during the years Portugal was under Muslim control, sailed all over the globe, […]

Brutalism makes a baby in Chicago

Chicago has quite a bit of Brutalism—particularly in hospital buildings and on college campuses—which is weird because this form of architecture does not suggest the nurturing of bodies or young minds. For an appropriate use of Brutalism, I give you the Metropolitan Correctional Center.  Yes, we’re so hardcore in Chicago that we have a Brutalist […]

Bracket envy and an introduction to traditional Chinese wooden architecture at Pingyao’s Zhenguo Temple

1000 years ago, back when Europe was clawing its way out of the dark ages, China already had a well established system of building standards.  The Chinese consulted manuals to standardize the building process and did so with remarkable success considering the enormous size of the country.  The basis of their traditional architecture was modular:  […]

The Yale Building of Chicago: atrium under the influence of cat figurines

The Yale Building is a survivor.  It was built in 1892 in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood to house visitors to the World’s Fair Columbian Exposition, but unlike the lame neoclassical architecture from the World’s Fair, the Yale Building is has an unexpected and exciting interior design. Sure, the exterior is a handsome but not particularly thrilling […]

The garages of Tartu are “aspiring strongly to infinity and emptiness”

The heroes of our trips often work at tourist information centers.  The young woman at the TI in Tartu was just that sort: friendly and able to intuit just what we were looking for.  I was asking about architecture when she pulled out a map and said “I think you’ll like this”. Tartu is Estonia’s […]

Tartu: Estonia: upside-down, sideways with a snail on top

We’re in Tartu, Estonia, up to our usual tricks—at least eight hours of walking today, looking at an intriguing variety of architecture. We saw a leaning building (where a tree apparently grew out of HOB’s head). And how could we miss the upside-down house? The Snail tower dominates Tartu’s skyline. And everywhere tactile street art […]

The ratio of children to gingerbread in Torun is more than acceptable

Our guidebook lied about Torun. Oh, it didn’t lie about Torun being lovely—it is a gorgeous medieval Polish town.  No, the lie was that it is somehow an undiscovered destination, free from tourists. Torun, at least when we visited, is loaded with tourists.  And 95% of them are children.  Children are streaming through gates of […]

Nowa Huta: Krakow’s cuddly ideal city

I went to Nowa Huta to gawk at a dreary communist dystopia and found myself in a Renaissance ideal city.  Oh man, I just love when this happens, the travel surprise.  In fact, not including that time we traveled to Ghent and accidentally encountered a blackface Christmas celebration have I ever had my expectations so […]

There may be teeth in the walls of the wooden churches of Southern Małopolska

The region in Southern Poland called Małopolska has several UNESCO listed wooden churches. These churches are scattered through six different villages which aren’t reachable by public transportation and, since HOB and I don’t drive, we were in quite a pickle.  I mean, it’s not like I would ever want to miss out on a UNESCO church […]