Friday, March 28, 2014

79. Kiev Pechersk Lavra; Kiev, Ukraine, 2011

Here is another small gallery on Kiev and Kiev Pechersk Lavra. The Lavra, also known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, is a historic Orthodox Christian monastery which gave its name to one of the city districts where it is located in Kiev. Since its foundation as the cave monastery in 1051 the Lavra has been a preeminent center of the Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Eastern Europe. Together with the Saint Sophia Cathedral, it is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monastery complex is considered a separate national historic-cultural preserve (sanctuary).

As always welcome to

Thursday, March 13, 2014

80. Kiev, Ukraine, 2011

I want to share some photos from Kiev. In spite of what is going on in Ukraine, Kiev is still one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, well known for its historical architectural landmarks, full of beautiful museums, delicious restaurants, cozy parks and attractions, presenting a unique blend of slavic cultures, arts and religious heritage.

As always welcome to

Saturday, February 1, 2014

75. The Longmen Grottoes; Luoyang, China, 2011

Luoyang is a very touristic city though visites mainly by Chinese. One can rarely find a european even if there is one very big touristic attraction - The Longmen Grottoes. It is hard to describe - you have to see it! These Longmen Caves are one of the finest examples of Chinese Buddhist art. Housing tens of thousands of statues of Buddha and his disciples, they are located 7.5 mi south of present day Luòyáng in Hénán province. The images, many once painted, were carved into caves excavated from the limestone cliffs of the Xiangshan and Longmenshan mountains, running east and west. The Yi River flows northward between them and the area used to be called Yique ("The Gate of the Yi River"). The alternative name of "Dragon's Gate Grottoes" derives from the resemblance of the two hills that check the flow of the Yi River to the typical "Chinese gate towers" that once marked the entrance to Luoyang from the south.

There are as many as 100,000 statues within the approx. 2345 caves, ranging from an 1 inch to 57 feet in height. The area also contains nearly 2,800 stelae and inscriptions, whence the name “Forest of Ancient Stelae", as well as over sixty Buddhist pagodas. There are 11 big statues in the cave. Sakyamuni is of dignified and serene appearance, while his disciple and Bodhisattva are of slender figure and elegant look, which are the typical style of the late Northern Wei Dynasty. The floor is engraved with lotus patterns and on the rooftop is a rilievo of flourishing lotus flower. Situated in a scenic natural environment, the caves were dug from a 0.62 mi stretch of cliff running along both banks of the river. 30% date from the Northern Wei Dynasty and 60% from the Tang, caves from other periods accounting for less than 10% of the total. Starting with the Northern Wei Dynasty in 493 AD, patrons and donors included emperors, Wu Zetian of the Second Zhou Dynasty, members of the royal family, other rich families, generals, and religious groups.

In 2000 the site was inscribed upon the UNESCO World Heritage List as “an outstanding manifestation of human artistic creativity,” for its perfection of an art form, and for its encapsulation of the cultural sophistication of Tang China.

The city itself is not that impressive - it is undergoing an intense rebuilding (whole blocs with its infrastructure and communications!). Even the down-town has been rebuilt in new-old style: the architecture was preserved but it lost its centuries-long charm. The commerce is everywhere and it is strange to see Chinese products on european-looking mannequins. European billboards are colourful with images and local ones are generally some hieroglyphs on bright-red background.

This time we stayed in 4-room apartment-hotel held by a father and his son. Every evening we were presented with a big bowl of Chinese food for everybody - the family and the tourists. We stayed 2 nights. The first one our neighbours were some french tourists, the second - some Japanese.

To continue our journey we took a high-speed train. Impressive!

As always welcome to

PS: A RU CHONG (in Japonese) ou  A LA CHONG MU (in Chinese)
:: )