Archive for August 2nd, 2018

August 2, 2018

Ok so memories of Rio de Janeiro!

In my early travels of my life, the intensity was gear towards Latin America as was closer. Now in Europe the trips are fewer and between  , and old photos sometimes not found ,but looking to visit again possibly by year’s end last quarter. One of my favorite destinations was Brazil and even thus been to many cities and smaller towns, the big cities are always an attraction to me. IN this case, let me tell you a bit more on Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro, located in the southeast of Brazil, is the capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro originally onthe Bay of Guanabara, discovered in 1502 by Gaspar de Lemos and Gonçalo Coelho, captains of the fleet of the Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral, who discoverered Brazil. The inhabitants of the city are “Cariocas”, coming from the Tupi and meaning “House of white men”, contraction of the words Kara’iwa, “white men” and Oka, “house”. The inhabitants of the State of Rio de Janeiro are “Fluminenses”. It is known worldwide for its carnival, its beaches (Copacabana, Leblon and Ipanema) as well as its statue of Christ the Redeemer at the top of the Corcovado.

I have written before one piece where Rio is mentioned so here it is :Memories of Brazil

A bit of history I like. It was the capital of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, following the escape of the Portuguese court during the invasion of the Napoleonic troops (1808-1821), then of the Empire of Brazil (1822-1889), of the República Velha (old Republic) (1889-1930), of the Estado Novo (New State) (1937-1945) and the beginning of the Second Republic until 1960.

Due to the invasion of Napoleon’s troops in Portugal, the Portuguese Royal family (Queen Mary I, Prince John and his son Peter) and most of the nobles of Lisbon fled to Brazil and settled in Rio de Janeiro. The capital of the Portuguese kingdom was thus transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, which became the only European capital located outside the European continent, although they returned mainly to Portugal in 1821, the Portuguese nobles were instrumental in opening  the port of Rio (and Brazil) to the international market.

The sad part of Brazil is seen here very strong if you move about from tourist spots. The first favela (“shantytown”) of Rio was built on the heights of the Morro da Providência (“Hill of Providence”). Its inhabitants were mostly black soldiers who fought for their freedom in Salvador de Bahia and tried to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Rio. Estimated ,more than 20% of the Carioca population lives in shantytowns today.

Some things to see and do.

The Sugar Loaf (Pao de Açùçar) is a rocky peak at the altitude of 395 meters and the form so singular that has always been the symbol of Rio. The meaning is  “high pointed and isolated promontory”. For the Portuguese it sounded like Pão of Açúcar, and the peak itself reminded them of the shape of these clay mussels used to make sugar rolls. The Portuguese name remained.  The famous statue of Christ the Redeemer (O Cristo Redentor), a cross-arm, stands on the peak of the Corcovado with a height of 710 meters and can be seen from all areas of Rio. The statue measures 38 meters high. The work, dates from 1931.

Rio de Janeiro

flying high from Niteroi overlooking the whole of Rio de Janeiro

Copacabana and its extension to the north, the Leme, with its 6 km of length that describe a perfect curve is certainly the preferred beach of foreigners. It was in the 1920’s that it gained its notoriety, with the construction, in 1923 of the prestigious Copacabana Palace, the only luxury hotel in all Latin America at the time. And this is the area I normally stayed while visiting the city.

Copacabana

view of Copacabana from the Othon Palace Hotel

Ipanema Beach is located in the most exclusive residential area of the city. Today, Ipanema is the center of fashion and sophistication. The most luxurious shops in Rio line the streets of Ipanema and Leblon. Ipanema Beach, less extensive than that of Copacabana, is the venue for the golden youth of Rio and the homosexual community. Less lively and less noisy than Copacabana, Ipanema is arguably the most romantic of the twenty-five beaches in Rio.

São Conrado is located in a cove surrounded by mountains covered with dense vegetation. This is where the Pedra da Gávea rises, a huge block of granite much more impressive in its shape and size, with its 842 meters, than the famous Sugar loaf. The beach enjoys a certain popularity with the youth of Rio, the young people of the favelas and the intellectuals.

With its 18 km long, the beach of Barra da Tijuca is at the same time the longest, but also the least frequented in Rio during the week. At the end of Barra, the small beach of Recreio dos Bandeirantes stretches in the shelter of a natural pier that forms a real miniature bay. From the Recreio, a road climbs into the mountain before descending to the beach of Prainha, frequented by the surfers, then that of Grumari, wonderfully secluded.

The mountain of Pedra da Gávea peaks at almost 900 meters of altitude. It overlooks the long beaches of fine sand. It is accessed after the Botanical garden.  The hill of Urca (Morro da Urca), this small mountain formation of 220 meters above sea level is located at the entrance of the Bay of Guanabara. It is possible to admire ancient forts and colonial settlements of the 16C and 17C, which became museums. The Hill also offers a great view of the Bay of Guanabara and offers a cable car that makes it possible to get to the sugar loaf.

Each of the 141 hectares of the Botanical garden hosts specimens of the Brazilian and world flora. The Imperial palms, the main attraction of the garden, were sown under the orders of Prince Regent João VI in 1809.

The area of Santa Teresa, with its cobbled and tortuous alleys, with its spectacular views of the bay, is certainly one of the most picturesque in Rio. The most attractive way to access it is to take the famous Electric Bonde (tramways) built in 1896.

The forest of Tijuca (Floresta da Tijuca) ;the largest urban forest in the world, with an area of about 3 200 hectares, includes hundreds of species of flora and fauna found only in the “Mata Atlantica” and many of which are endangered. Places such as the Cascatinha (small waterfall), the Mayrink Chapel , the Mirador Excelsior, the Baracão, the Paulo and Virginia Caves, the Fairy Lake and the Solitudes pond. The forest, which is located at an altitude varying from 100 to 1 020 meters, is the reservoir of freshness of Rio. The creation  begun in 1861, took 13 years. One hundred thousand trees of typical varieties were planted there. Over time, the forest has been restored in what is one of the world’s oldest and brightest ground conservation facts and a good part of Rio depends on its streams today.

The Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí (Sambódromo-Marquês de Sapucaí), bordered by concrete bleachers, was built in 1984 to host the prestigious Rio carnival, which was held previously in the streets of the city, most often on the avenue Presidente Vargas. Designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, the Avenue Marquês of Sapucaí, usually open to traffic, is transformed for a few days in the Passarela do Samba (passarelle of Samba)  and sees the most prestigious samba schools in Rio de Janeiro.

The city has many museums ,of all sizes, I have been to the top major ones such as these

National Historic Museum .This palace painted in pink, emblematic color of imperial buildings, is one of the oldest buildings in Rio. Tower Fortress (its Subterraneans serve as a prison for black slaves in the 17C and 18C), Arsenal, weapons factory, Siege of the military academy, it was only converted into a museum in 1922. Its collections, spread over fourteen halls, retrace the history of Imperial Brazil (19C). It has a library of 70 000 volumes.

 National Museum. This ancient palace was once the home of Joao VI and the imperial family, until the proclamation of the Republic in 1889. It contains the largest scientific collection in Brazil: Zoology, mineralogy, archaeology, ethnology. It is possible to see the meteorite fallen in the state of Bahia in 1888, the Bendego, which weighs 5 300 kilograms as well as a curious mummy of an Egyptian woman: her legs are covered separately with strips (traditionally, the body is wrapped in one piece) . Around her, a crowd constantly mumbles prayers; The mummy arouses the followers of the Umbanda rite a lot of devotion. Other collections relate to Amazonian flora and fauna and Indian tribes (more than one hundred and forty of which many have disappeared

Museum of Fine Arts the largest collection of art in Rio, it presents paintings of the Italian, Flemish, Spanish, Portuguese, English and Peruvian schools of the 16C, 17C and 18C. The Brazilian gallery presents paintings from the colonial period, the 19C and the 20C: Portinari, Di Cavalcanti, Pancetti, Anita Malfatti, Alfredo Volpi, Manabu Mabe and Djanira.

And beautiful Churches such as

Church of Nossa Senhora da Glória do Outeiro white and graceful, the Church of Glória dominates from its height the bay of Guanabara. Built in 1739, this chapel was intimately linked to the life of the imperial family. In his arms, Joao VI carried his granddaughter, Princess Maria da Glória, to present her at the altar, and Don Pedro I made the same with the future Emperor Pedro II. The decoration is made of carved wood and azulejos.

Monastery of Saint-Benoît (Mosteiro de São Bento);  Gregorian chant can be heard every day at 11h. and 17h30. Built in 1641 by two monks who wanted to base their order, this monastery is a characteristic example of colonial Baroque. It is possible to see in the Church a work of carved wood, covered with gold leaves.

Church of the Third-Order of Saint-François-de-la-Penance (Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco da Penitência): Very baroque, fully sculpted by hand . Jacaranda Furniture and solid silver chandeliers that illuminate, at dusk, the panel painted in the roof of the nave, representing Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy receiving the stigmata.

There are some webpages to help you plan your trip here:

Tourist office of Rio State in Portuguese : http://www.rio.rj.gov.br/web/riotur/atracoes-turisticas

Tourist office of Brazil on Rio’s beaches: http://visitbrasil.com/en/experiencias/rio-de-janeiro-beaches.html

Tourist office of Rio city: http://visit.rio/en/o-que-fazer/culture-and-art/

There you go a bit more, from those days photos are hard to come by, but have a couple. Enjoy Rio, I would like to be back and see the period differences.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

August 2, 2018

The Cathedral Notre Dame in Luxembourg city!

I am back to this small beautiful country, first encounter in 1990 and love it ever since. Many memorable trips, sometimes even just for lunch from my beloved Versailles with the family. WE all like it, city of Luxembourg. After the years, we began to see the rest of the country and it was just as quaint magical nice, friendly. Memories I keep of going there with my dear late wife Martine and boys.

I like to tell you about a special place for them, for us, for all. Folks go there for the Casements or the Gund or even the Ducal Palace; we think magical is the Cathedral of Notre Dame! And the story goes….

First, a previous blog post on something about the Cathedral and Luxembourg city in general here: Happenings in Luxembourg city

The Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Luxembourg (in German Kathedrale unserer lieben Frau in Luxemburg, in Luxembourgish Kathedral Notre-Dame vu Lëtzebuerg), is located in Luxembourg City. Built from 1613 to 1621 as a Church of the College of  Jesuit, it became the Cathedral and seat of the Archbishopric of Luxembourg in 1870. It is also a Marian shrine, housing the statue of  Notre Dame (Our Lady) Comforter of the Afflicted , protector of the city of Luxembourg (Patron Saint).

Luxembourg Luxembourg

A bit of history I like

The history of the Cathedral is linked to that of the Society of Jesus. In 1594, Jesuits settled in Luxembourg, the city which was then part of the Spanish Netherlands. They opened a college there in 1603 ; by 1613, the rector of the College, lays the first stone. The work lasts eight years. By 1621, the Church is solemnly consecrated by the Bishop of Trier, and dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.

In 1773, the Society of Jesus was suppressed by Pope Clement XIV. Their Church in Luxembourg became, in 1778, a parish Church, under the name of Saint-Nicolas-et-Sainte-Thérèse. In 1794, the Church welcomed the miraculous statue of Notre-Dame, comforter of the afflicted, which was formerly in a Chapel outside the city walls. In 1801, the Church changed its name again by being dedicated to Saint Peter, before regaining its dedication to the Virgin Mary in 1848.

In 1840, the Grand duchy was erected by Pope Gregory XVI in Apostolic Vicariate. After the Luxembourg crisis of 1867, the Grand Duchy was recognized as a neutral and independent state. The Diocese of Luxembourg was erected in 1870 and the Church of the former Jesuit college became the Cathedral. A century later, on 23 April 1988, the Diocese of Luxembourg was raised to the rank of archdiocese by Pope John Paul II.

An extension of the Cathedral began in 1935 and continue until 1938. The Choir was remodelled in 1962 – 1963, after which the Cathedral was again consecrated on December 8, 1963, the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. A crypt is built under the choir and dedicated to Saint Peter which contains the tombs of the bishops of Luxembourg. Communicating with the latter, there is also the necropolis of the Grand Ducal family, closed by a grid surrounded by two bronze lions , dated 1936-37.

It was in this crypt that John the Blind, King of Bohemia and Count of Luxembourg found his last rest. This tireless knight that is found all over Europe, whether it is his native county or the Kingdom of Bohemia, Germany where he was the lieutenant of his father or in northern Italy, to the court and to the battlefields of the kings of France or to the Popes in Avignon or Lithuania during the Crusades of the Teutonic Order, was the son of Emperor Henry VII and father of Charles IV. He found death in 1346 at the battlefield of Crécy in the service of the king of France, in one of the first campaigns of the Hundred Years War.

The Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Luxembourg, by its history, has become a temple of Luxembourg memory. The national character of the building is emphasized on the day of the national holiday when the official ceremony organized by the Government takes the form of a service of Thanksgiving in which the Luxembourg authorities and the diplomatic corps participate.

Some description on the architecture

The 17C Cathedral is a late Gothic Church. On its main portal in the primitive Baroque style is the statue of the Blessed Virgin, surrounded by the Apostles Peter and Paul, as well as Ignatius of Loyola and Francis  Xavier, founders of the Society of Jesus. Later a statue of St. Nicholas completed the ensemble. The portal of the new part of the Cathedral, marked by the ornamentation  comprises a hundred human figures, about fifty animal representations and a rich vegetal decoration. The bronze shutters of the doors also all made by Auguste Trémont.

Among the works present in the cathedral, one can see:  The large canopies of the Choir. The canopies of the Grand Ducal Tribune, representing the characters of the medieval Comtal house.  The stained glass windows  representing biblical scenes (episode of Tobie in the eardrum of the door of the inner courtyard, issuance of Saint Peter in the eardrum of the Chapel of the Sacred Heart) or of the Jesuit Saints (Pierre Canisius, Robert Bellarmine, François Xavier, Ignace de Loyola, Jean Berchmans and other well-known Jesuits in Luxembourg, such as Alexandre Wiltheim or Jacques Brocquart.  The stained glass windows of the years 1848-1860 from the workshops of Metz and depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin.  The abstract canopies of 1966 located at the organ stand , inspired by the canopies of Notre-Dame de Paris. The rood decorated with alabaster statues dating back to the late Renaissance.  The cylindrical pillars adorned with a system of interlaced bands. A painting, the Adoration of the Magi, of Jacques Nikolai, of the School of Rubens.  The mural paintings , dated 1897. The two organs: the Haupt symphonic organ of 1938, and the classical organ of Westenfelder installed in 1995. In the Crypt: you will see the stations of the way of the Cross ,and the altars,  adorned with reliefs representing the Saints Henri and Cunegonde, Hubert and Willibrord.

The main figure to come here and see and  blessed is Notre-Dame, comforter of the afflicted the statue which is kept at the Cathedral of Luxembourg has been attested since the beginning of the 17C. It is an effigy of a woman bearing her child, carved in Linden Wood, with a height of 73 cm, and established that its date of manufacture dates back to the end of the 16C. In addition, the style and technique of shearing would indicate that the sculptor would come from the greater German region, not from Flanders or Champagne as it has been assumed for a long time. It is a woman standing, the hair untied, the feet laid on the moon, capped with a crown of stars, appearing in the narrative of the Apocalypse according to the traditional Catholic interpretation, this woman is the Virgin Mary, the Sun represents The New Covenant, the moon the Old covenant or heresy. She carries a scepter of the right hand and on the left hand the Child-Jesus seated, wearing a royal crown and carrying  a globe surmounted by a Cross. These symbols evoke the kingship of Mary in heaven and of Jesus on Earth, Christ the king. The sculpture depicts her wearing a tunic, a belt and a cloak. Following a medieval and long-preserved use in Spain, the statue was clad in richly embroidered and ornamented garments, in particular a large cloak in the shape of a cape or a screed descending to the ground and concealing its feet placed on the moon. These ornaments were renewed several times, adapting to the style of the time, as attested by the various representations of the statue published over the centuries. The Crown of the Virgin lost its stars, attributes were added later.

After the election of Notre-Dame comforter as patron of the city in 1666 and as patron-protector of the Duchy of Luxembourg in 1678, the statue is preserved in the Chapel of the Jesuit college. Since 1766 it is placed during the Octave on a particular votive altar of rock-style, designed in wrought iron and richly adorned. Nowadays it is still the object of veneration, especially from the fourth to the sixth Sunday of Easter. The pilgrimage to the comforter of the afflicted, can be considered as a national pilgrimage. Thus each year the solemn vows of 1678 are renewed in the presence of the Grand Duke, the government and the municipal authorities.

Luxembourg Luxembourg Luxembourg Luxembourg

In the crypt of the cathedral are the tombs of the ducal family: such as : John, Count of  Luxembourg, King of Bohemia (10 August 1296-26 August 1346)-(son of Henry VII of the Holy Roman Empire).  Marie-Anne of Portugal (13 July 1861-1 August 1942)-(wife of Grand Duke Guillaume IV of Luxembourg). Marie-Adelaide I of Luxembourg, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg (14 June 1894-24 January 1924)-(eldest daughter of Grand Duke Guillaume IV of Luxembourg). Charlotte I, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg (23 January 1896-9 July 1985)-(daughter of Guillaume IV of Luxembourg).  Félix de Bourbon-Parma (28 October 1893-8 April 1970)-(husband of the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg).  Charles of Luxembourg (7 August 1927-26 July 1977)-(son of the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg).Josephine-Charlotte of Belgium (11 October 1927-10 January 2005)-(married to the  Grand Duke Jean).

Luxembourg Luxembourg

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Luxembourg https://www.visitluxembourg.com/en/place/misc/cathedrale-notre-dame

City of Luxembourg  tourism on the Cathedral : https://www.luxembourg-city.com/en/place/cultes/cathedral-of-the-blessed-virgin

The German region of Trier has in English more on the Cathedral and nice photos: https://www.lux-trier.info/en/a-cathedral-of-the-blessed-virgin-in-luxembourg-city

City of Luxembourg in French on history: https://www.vdl.lu/la-ville/en-bref/histoire-de-la-ville

And there you go another jewel of Europe, they are so many. A wonderful city state of Luxembourg, we love so much. Enjoy the visit, it is recommended.

And remember , happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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