Tag Archives: UNESCO World Heritage sites

Urbino: Ideal Renaissance city drowned in a sea of drunken students

How could I help it?  I idealized Urbino. Even though I’ve long maintained a vigilant stance against romanticizing people and places alike, this was Urbino: Renaissance mecca for humanists, scholars, art and architecture.   The location, in the isolated and mountainous region of Italy’s Marche, combined with being a university town filled me with visions of […]

Bamberg Cathedral’s Last Judgment tympanium: some kings go to heaven, some kings go to H-E-double hockey stick.

See, there’s Christ in the center, with Virgin and St. John at his feet.  Some happy naked people are popping up out of graves under his feet.  On the left, some annoyingly self-satisfied folks are headed to their eternal reward, on the right, well, the facial expressions say it all. I know, I know,  I […]

Gothic sculpture in Bamberg: disputing prophets and apostles, a touch of anti-semitism, and a secret tip

Do you love Gothic sculpture?  Well, what are you waiting for?  Get yourself over to Bamberg, Germany asap, run up a steep hill past all the college kids drinking smoked beer, past the City Hall that may or may not have been designed by Jeff Koons, to the cathedral.  Don’t miss the superb tympanum and the […]

Two crucifixes in Cologne: Gero’s and Gabelkruzifix

The crucifixion of Christ is one of the most predominate symbols of Christian Art, so it’s surprising to realize that, as a form of art, it’s only developed in the last 1000 or so years.  (Back in the early days, when Christians were trying to recruit converts, a symbol of a tortured man probably wasn’t so […]

Goosebumps in Speyer cathedral

Monumental but austere and a superb space to hear organ music: Speyer’s imperial cathedral is glorious.  And because we seem to be the luckiest travelers ever to wear matching Rick Steves backpacks, we happened to enter just as a first-rate organist performed on the cathedral’s organ.  It filled the church with sound, turning the entire building […]

In which I meet the Bamberg Rider and the attraction is mutual

No one knows the identity of the Bamberg Rider, an equestrian statue in the Cathedral of Bamberg, though there’s no shortage of scholarly speculation.  The other great mystery is why I am so attracted to this statue.  While we were rushing uphill to the church to see him, HOB said to me “Now why is it […]

Tonight I’m sleeping with the monks at Maulbronn Monastery

Tonight we’re sleeping in a monastery ….well, almost.   Our hotel is a bona fide UNESCO World Heritage sight.   It was built here right beside the Maulbronn Monastery in Southwestern Germany (and these days it comes with Wi-Fi) The grounds of the monastery, which was founded in 1147, and the enclosed cloister are strikingly well preserved.  I […]

The Roman city of Trier: grand architecture, funny signs, and suprisingly good vegan eats

312 AD was an important year. The Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and soon after, while based in Trier (in present day Germany), started building an awesome church and other amazing buildings.   Basically, Trier was the boondocks of the Roman empire, so the big shots living there got lots of money to fund amazing buildings so they […]

Aachen: a glorious cathedral and Charlemagne in gold and cookie form

We were in and out of the Cathedral of Aachen, in Aachen Germany, all day today.  While I’ll give you the yummy details later when I’m not jet lag’s bitch, I’m here to testify that it SO FREAKING AMAZING and I’m so happy I finally got to see it. This town is all about Charlemagne–we […]

Guess where?

We’re headed to the airport on our way to see outrageously excellent art and architecture, six UNESCO Word Heritage sights and an opera.  Guess where?   Our cat Janacek is providing a hint below: