Friday, December 06, 2013

Europe 2005

Part 6: Paris

For reasons that I'll go into at a later time, I'm keen to wrap-up various series that I've started here at The Wild Reed. A few weeks ago, for instance, I concluded Pahá Sápa Adventure, my series of posts documenting time spent in the Black Hills of South Dakota earlier this year.

This evening I conclude a series started back in August of 2010, and which highlights the two weeks that my parents and I spent traveling in Europe in the summer of 2005. The main focus of this final installment is on our time in Paris. However, the first couple of photos are actually of Lucerne, Switzerland, which we visited while traveling to Paris from Florence, Italy.

Above: In this picture can be seen part of one of Lucerne's most famous landmarks, the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), a wooden bridge first erected in the 14th century.

About Lucerne Wikipedia notes:

Lucerne is a city in north-central Switzerland, in the German-speaking portion of that country. It is the capital of the Canton of Lucerne and the capital of the district of the same name. With a population of about 76,200 people, Lucerne is the most populous city in Central Switzerland, and a nexus of transportation, telecommunications, and government of this region. The city's urban area consists of 17 cities and towns located in three different cantons with an overall population of about 250,000 people.

Above: During our time in Lucerne we visited a Swiss village on the outskirts of the city. Part of the journey involved traveling in a horse-drawn wagon. It was while we were enjoying the warm Swiss sun and the beautiful alpine vistas that we heard about the terrible event that had taken place in the U.S.

Thursday, September 1, 2005 (11:57 p.m.)

I was in the picturesque and peaceful Swiss countryside this morning, enjoying a horse and carriage ride, when I was informed of the events in New Orleans. Tonight I've been watching CNN International in my Lucerne hotel room. As many as 1,000 people could be dead in New Orleans and elsewhere in the region as the result of Hurricane Katrina. Elsewhere, close to 1,000 people have been killed in Baghdad as a result of a stampede of people on a bridge. I've also just finished viewing a special commemorative program on the first anniversary of the Beslam massacre in Russia. So much suffering, chaos and destruction in the world. I pray for all affected by such realities – pray that they may know God's transforming love, strength and peace in their lives.

The U.S. officials, including President Bush, all seem totally inept. They also sound incredibly pompous and uncaring – more concerned about their reputations than the harsh truth that their response to this disaster has been totally inadequate. I pray that there will be justice and accountability in the weeks and months ahead.

Above: Paris!

Following is another excerpt from my journal.

Sunday, September 4, 2005

Paris was very beautiful and interesting – though, as with London, it's unfortunate that so many of its monuments and buildings honor military exploits and the conquests of empire.

At the Louvre on Friday night I located three statues of Antinous – one original piece from Roman times and two that were made in later times. I'm getting quite good at recognizing Antinous, which is just as well as the museum guides were hopeless.

After the Lourve we went on a night cruise on the Seine. Yesterday we visited the Eiffel Tower and Napolean's tomb.

Afterwards, Mum, Dad and I did our own thing by catching a city sightseeing bus and visiting the Arc de Triomphe. We then went in search of the last home of Maria Callas – which we found easily enough as the bus dropped us off quite close to Georges Mandel Avenue.

Last night we enjoyed a night of entertainment at a Parisian cabaret – complete with can-can dancers, acrobats and jugglers.

Above: A view of the base of the Eiffel Tower – Saturday, September 3, 2005.

Notes Wikipedia:

The Eiffel Tower (La Tour Eiffel) is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. It was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair, it has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; 7.1 million people ascended it in 2011. The tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.

The tower stands 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. Because of the addition of the antenna atop the Eiffel Tower in 1957, it is now taller than the Chrysler Building by 5.2 metres (17 ft). Not including broadcast antennas, it is the second-tallest structure in France, after the Millau Viaduct.

The tower has three levels for visitors. The third level observatory's upper platform is at 279.11 m (915.7 ft) the highest accessible to the public in the European Union. Tickets can be purchased to ascend, by stairs or lift (elevator), to the first and second levels. The walk from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. Although there are stairs to the third and highest level, these are usually closed to the public and it is usually accessible only by lift. The first and second levels have restaurants.

Above: Mum and Dad on a night cruise on the River Seine – Friday, September 2, 2005.

Above: The Arc de Triomphe – Saturday, September 3, 2005.

About this impressive structure Wikipedia notes the following:

The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle (originally named Place de l'Étoile), at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. The Arc de Triomphe (in English: "Triumphal Arch") honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

The Arc de Triomphe is the linchpin of the historic axis (Axe historique) – a sequence of monuments and grand thoroughfares on a route which goes from the courtyard of the Louvre, to the Grande Arche de la Défense. The monument was designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1806, and its iconographic program pitted heroically nude French youths against bearded Germanic warriors in chain mail. It set the tone for public monuments, with triumphant patriotic messages.

The monument stands 50 metres (164 ft) in height, 45 m (148 ft) wide and 22 m (72 ft) deep. The large vault is 29.19 m (95.8 ft) high and 14.62 m (48.0 ft) wide. The small vault is 18.68 m (61.3 ft) high and 8.44 m (27.7 ft) wide. It was the largest triumphal arch in existence until the construction of the Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang, in 1982. Its design was inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus. The Arc de Triomphe is so colossal that three weeks after the Paris victory parade in 1919 (marking the end of hostilities in World War I), Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport biplane through it, with the event captured on newsreel.

Above: The Louvre.

Notes Wikipedia:

The Louvre or Louvre Museum is one of the world's largest museums and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, France, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (district). Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet). With more than 8 million visitors each year, the Louvre is the world's most visited museum.

The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre), originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace.

Above: With the Antinous Mondragone in the Louvre – Friday, September 2, 2005.

Notes Wikipedia:

The Antinous Mondragone is a unique colossal 0.95 metre high marble example of the iconographic type of the deified Antinous, of c. 130 CE. It can be identified as him from the striated eyebrows, full lips, sombre expression and the head's twist down and to the right (reminiscent of that of the Lemnian Athena), whilst its smooth skin and elaborate, centre-parted hair mirror those of Hellenistic images of Dionysus and Apollo.

It formed part of a colossal acrolithic cult statue for the worship of Antinous as a god. Thirty-one holes in three different sizes have been drilled for the attachment of a head-dress (possibly a lotus flower or uraeus) in metal; the sculpture has also lost eyes in metal, ivory or coloured stone.

It is said to have been found at Frascati between 1713 and 1729 - it was certainly displayed as part of the Borghese collection at their Villa Mondragone there. The German art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann made it better known by praising it in his History of Ancient Art, calling it "the glory and crown of art in this age as well as in others" and "so immaculate that it appears to have come fresh out of the hands of the artist." This was since, though Roman in date, it echoed the 5th century BC Greek style which Winckelmann preferred over Roman art.

In 1807 it was bought with a large part of the Borghese collections for Napoleon. Sometime since a brown layer of wax was added to give an opaque finish, along with plaster round the base of the neck to make the statue look more complete - these were both removed in recent cleaning. It is now held at the Louvre Museum, though it toured to the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds in 2006 for the exhibition "Antinous: The Face of the Antique."

Writes Vittorio Lingiardi of Antinous (or Antinoos) in Men in Love: Male Homosexualities from Ganymede to Batman:

Like Ganymede, Antinoos for centuries stood as a symbol of same-sex love, and also as a platonic ideal of spiritual love. Like Ganymede, Antinoos was transformed into a star: wanting his lover to be remembered for all eternity, [the emperor] Hadrian named a constellation after him. In the Almagest, Ptolemy’s first great compendium of Greek astronomy, the stars of Antinoos are mentioned as part of the Aqila (Eagle) group; in various ancient maps of the heavens.

The best book about Antinous and Hadrian is undoubtedly Royston Lambert's Beloved and God. It's a book that is not only scholarly but also eloquently written and entertaining.

Above: The façade of the Palais Garnier – Saturday, September 3, 2005.

According to Wikipedia:

The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was originally called the Salle des Capucines because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the ninth arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier in recognition of its opulence and its architect, Charles Garnier. The theatre is also often referred to as the Opéra Garnier, and historically was known as the Opéra de Paris or simply the Opéra, as it was the primary home of the Paris Opera and its associated Paris Opera Ballet until 1989, when the Opéra Bastille opened at the Place de la Bastille. The Paris Opera now mainly uses the Palais Garnier for ballet.

The Palais Garnier has been described as "probably the most famous opera house in the world, a symbol of Paris like Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, or the Sacré Coeur Basilica." This is at least partly due to its use as the setting for Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera and, especially, the novel's subsequent adaptations in film and on stage.

Speaking of opera . . . One of the places my parents and I visited in Paris was the former home of opera legend Maria Callas, located at 36 Georges Mandel Avenue. Callas lived at this address from the late 1960s until her death on September 16, 1977.

In 2000, Georges Mandel Avenue was dedicated to Maria Callas (above).

Above: 36 Georges Mandel Avenue, Paris – the former home of Maria Callas.

Right: Dad snapped this photo of me standing at the front gates of 36 Georges Mandel Avenue – Saturday, September 3, 2005.

Above: A 1968 photograph showing Maria Callas in her Paris apartment at 36 Georges Mandel Avenue.

For a short video of pianist Robert Sutherland revisiting Callas' former apartment many years after her death, click here.

For more about Maria Callas, see the previous Wild Reed posts Remembering Maria . . . Celebrating Callas and Callas Remembered.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Europe 2005 - Part 1: London
Europe 2005 - Part 2: Bruges and Brussels
Europe 2005 - Part 3: Germany and Austria
Europe 2005 - Part 4: Ah, Venezia!
Europe 2005 - Part 5: Rome and Florence

Images: Michael Bayly and Gordon Bayly.

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