Pictures from our 25th Anniversary Cruise to the Mediterranean - Italy, Greece, Turkey, France, and Spain.
Typical Venice, Italy

This is a typical view of a house in Venice. Multiple stories, little balconies, on the water, near a bridge, etc.

People are moving out of Venice because real estate prices are going very high, and the taxes (I presume) are getting high as well.

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Clock Tower

This is the Clock Tower, or Torre dell' Orologico, in St. Mark's Square in Venice. Notice that the time is shown in Roman Numerals, and that the lower dial shows the sun and moon phases as well as the current astrological sign.
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St. Mark's Cathedral, Venice, Italy

This is the front of St. Mark's Basillica in Venice. These are replicas of the 4 horses (the originals are inside, protected from the elements). Below the mosaic is the main entrance door in the front center of the church.
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The Rialto Bridge, Venice

The Piazza di San Marco may be more famous, but the Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge) is the true heart of Venice. The current structure was built in just three years, between 1588 and 1591, as a permanent replacement for the boat bridge and three wooden bridges that had spanned the Grand Canal at various times since the 12th Century. It remained the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot until the Accademia Bridge was built in 1854.

The Rialto Bridge's 24-foot arch was designed to allow passage of galleys, and the massive structure was built on some 12,000 wooden pilings that still support the bridge more than 400 years later. The architect, Antonio da Ponte ("Anthony of the Bridge," appropriately enough), competed against such eminent designers as Michelangelo and Palladio for the contract.

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The Grand Canal, Venice

This is a picture of the Grand Canal taken from the Rialto Bridge. The large boats in the canal are Vaporetto or water buses
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The Bridge of Sighs, Venice

This is the Bridge of Sighs. Antonio Contino's bridge over the Rio di Palazzo was erected in the year 1600 to connect the Doge's prisons, or Prigioni, with the inquisitor's rooms in the main palace. The name "Bridge of Sighs" was invented in the 19th Century, when Lord Byron helped to popularize the belief that the bridge's name was inspired by the sighs of condemned prisoners as they were led through it to the executioner. (In reality, the days of inquisitions and summary executions were over by the time the bridge was built, and the cells under the palace roof were occupied mostly by small-time criminals.)

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A Hydrofoil

This is a hydrofoil boat that we saw just outside of Athens, Greece. Word is that some of these boats are nearly 50 years old, and were Russian made.
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The Odeon Theatre @ The Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Below the Acropolis is the theater of Herod Atticus built by the Romans in 161 AD and still used today for classical concerts, ballet, performances of high cultural value and Yanni. In July of 2003 Jethro Tull performed here. It was the first rock concert held in the ancient theater and though perhaps some people hope it was the last.
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The Thission @ The Acropolis

The small temple known as the Thission was built in 449 BC and is virtually intact. Supposedly named for Theseus because his exploits were shown on the frieze, it is now believed that it was actually a temple to Hephaestos and Athena. Unfortunately they realized their mistake too late and the entire neighborhood is called Thission. The temple was used as a Church, dedicated to Saint George, known as Saint George the Lazy because it was only open one day of the year. The neighborhood of Thission is full of cafes, bars and restaurants and like other areas around the Acropolis has been made pedestrian friendly, it's streets turned into walkways and landscaped with trees and flowers.
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The Celsus Library @ Ephesus, Turkey

One of the most beautiful structures in Ephesus, Turkey. Built in 135 A.D., it is a monumental tomb for Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the governor of the province of Asia; from his son Galius Julius Aquila. The grave of Celsus is beneath the ground floor, across the entrance. The building was used as a library, the scrolls of the manuscripts were kept in cupboards in niches on the walls. There were double walls behind the bookcases, probably to prevent the manuscripts from humidity. The capacity of the library was more than 12,000 scrolls.

The facade of the library is two-storied, with Corinthian style columns on the ground floor, and behind it, there are three entrances to the building. The one in the middle is higher than the other two. The statues in the niches of the columns today are the copies of the originals, which were taken to Viana on the excavations in 1910. The statues symbolize wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and virtue (Arete) of Celsus.

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The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

The Blue Mosque was founded by Sultan Ahmet I. He ordered Architect Mehmed Aga to begin constuction in 1609 and the whole complex was completed in 1616. The location of the mosque is just opposite of the splendid Church of Hagia Sophia as it is trying to compete with it. That is actually true because Architect Mehmed wanted to construct a bigger dome then Hagia Sophia's but he could not succeed. Instead, he made the mosque splendid by the perfect proportion of domes and semidomes as well as the splendid minarets. There is an interesting story of the mosque; according to it, Sultan Ahmet I wanted to have a minaret made of gold which is "altin" in Turkish. The architect misunderstood him as "alti" which means "six" in English. However, when the architect was shivering as "am I going to be beheaded?", the Sultan Ahmed I liked the minarets so much. Prior to that time, no sultan had a mosque with 6 minarets.
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Istanbul Train Station

The Sirkeci Train Station building called Musir Hamdi Pasa then, was opened in 1890. And its oriental motifs, exotic design, colored tiles and great clock towers were glittered like a jewel. It was illuminated at night by gas lighting and heated in winter by huge stoves imported from Austria. The ground descended in terraces to the sea. The oriental style created by Jasmund was greatly admired, and influenced the designs of other architects for railway stations throughout the Central Europe.

Sirkeci Station has been serving train passengers arriving and departing from Istanbul for over a century. While waiting for their trains to arrive they can indulge their nostalgia for the past in the restaurant here. The famous Orient Express, first arrived in 1895, which in its time carried kings, princes and statesmen to Istanbul, no longer exists. Sirkeci Station's age of splendor has long gone, but elderly people still remember how the earlier generation described it as a fairy tale.

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St. Nikolaus Church - Mykonos, Greece

The church of Agios Nikolaos (St. Nikolaus) is one of the churches the most seen of Mykonos island as it is located near the port. It is a very small church with a blue dome.

Chora Mykonos is a typical Cycladic village built amphitheatrically. It has whitewashed cubic houses with wooden coloured doors, windows and balconies, narrow streets forming a labyrinth, beautiful churches, lovely chapels and purple bougainvilleas contrasting with the bright white of the buildings’ walls.

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Mykonos Windmills

The windmills are the quintessential features of Mykonos’ landscape. There are plenty of them that have become a part and parcel of Mykonos. Visitors to Mykonos can see the windmills irrespective of the locale.
From a distance one can easily figure out the windmills, courtesy of their silhouette.

They are primarily concentrated in the neighborhood of Chora (shown here) and some are also located in and around Alevkantra. These innovative wheels were primarily used for crushing agricultural yields. In all there were 16 such windmills in operation.

They are conspicuous by their snow-white color, spherical shape with the customary pointed roof made of the finest variety of wood. In the good old days, they were wind operated as Mykonos is renowned for their gusty wind, which continues to blow even today.

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St. Stephano's Beach, Mykonos

Agios Stephanos (St. Stephano's) beach is the closest to the capital of Mykonos, located 1 kilometres north of Troulos and the new port. It is protected from the winds and offers various water sports facilities as well as some taverns and hotels.
Agios Stephanos is very popular and gets very crowded during summer time.
This beach is about the length of a soccer pitch.
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Italian Sailboat

This is a sailboat, photo taken from our cruise ship, just off the coast of Italy.
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The Isle of Capri, Italy

Tragara is the most famous and best liked walking passage in Capri: along it there are many elegant villas. It ends with a panoramic terrace facing the Faraglioni, the view of Capri known the world over. From Tragara's terrace you can enjoy also a wide view over island's southern side, featuring Marina Piccola, underneath the steep face of Mount Solaro, in the middle of which is found the enormous cavity of Grotta delle Felci (Grotto of the Ferns). The whole area called Tragara extends from Mount Tuoro's western slope to the plain of Occhio Marino (Sea Eye), situated behind the Charterhouse.
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Sorrento, Italy

The origins of Sorrento are not known clearly. According to the legend, it was founded by Liparus the son of Ausone, which was son of Odysseus and Circe, and the first exponent of the Italic descent of Ausoni. So Sorrento should have been initially an Italic city, as also told by the ancient historian Strabo. But the structure of the old centre of Sorrento and some archaeological remains make us think it was a Greek city or at least it was heavily influenced by the Greeks. This is confirmed also by the presence on Punta Campanella (the extreme point of the peninsula) by a temple dedicated to Athena.
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Art on the Ceiling in the Men's Bath House, Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii is a ruined Roman city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. It, along with Herculaneum, was destroyed, and completely buried, during a catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning 2 days on 24 August 79 AD.

The volcano collapsed higher roof-lines and buried Pompeii under many meters of ash and pumice, and it was lost for nearly 1700 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1748. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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A victim of the destruction of Pompeii

Giuseppe Fiorelli took charge of the excavations in 1860. During early excavations of the site, occasional voids in the ash layer had been found that contained human remains. It was Fiorelli who realised these were spaces left by the decomposed bodies and so devised the technique of injecting plaster into them to perfectly recreate the forms of Vesuvius's victims. What resulted were highly accurate and eerie forms of the doomed Pompeiani who failed to escape, in their last moment of life, with the expression of terror often quite clearly visible
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Artwork on the Ceiling in the Vatican Museum

In a long hallway leading to the Cistine Chapel are artworks of every kind - statues, frescoes, paintings, tapestries, and more. This is a very small sampling of some of this artwork that is on the ceiling of this hall. Lining the walls are paintings of maps of much of the known world back several centuries.
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"The Pieta"




The Pieta, which depicts the Virgin Mary holding the body of her son Jesus Christ after his death, has been created in many different forms by various painters and sculptors. Of all the great paintings and sculptures on the Pieta, however, the one by Michelangelo stands out from all the rest.
Prior to sculpting the Pieta, Michelangelo was relatively unknown to the world as an artist. He was only in his early twenties when he was commissioned in 1498 to do a life-size sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding her son in her arms. It would be the first of four that he would create and the only one he completely finished. It was to be unveiled in St. Peter's Basilica for the Jubilee of 1500.

In less than two years Michelangelo carved from a single slab of marble, one of the most magnificent sculptures ever created. His interpretation of the Pieta was far different than ones previously created by other artists. Michelangelo decided to create a youthful, serene and celestial Virgin Mary instead of a broken hearted and somewhat older woman.

When it was unveiled a proud Michelangelo stood by and watched as people admired the beautiful Pieta. However, what was pride quickly turned into anger as he overheard a group of people attributing the work to other artists of his time. That anger caused Michelangelo to add one last thing to his sculpture. Going down the sash on the Virgin Mary, Michelangelo carved his name. He later regretted that his emotions got the best of him and vowed to never sign another one of his works again.

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Artworks in St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica is the most prominent building inside the Vatican City and built on the ruins of Old Saint Peter's Basilica. Its dome is also a dominant feature of the Roman skyline. Possibly the largest church building in Christianity, it covers an area of 5.7 acres and has a capacity of over 60,000 people. One of the holiest sites of Christendom in the Catholic tradition, it is traditionally the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter, who was one of the twelve apostles. Construction of the current basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on April 18, 1506 and was completed in 1626
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Vittoriano - "the Wedding Cake"



The Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II), or "Il Vittoriano" is a monument to honour Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy. It is located in Rome, Italy. It occupies a site between the Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill. The monument was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1895. It was inaugurated in 1911 and completed in 1925.

The monument is built of pure white marble and features majestic stairways, tall Corinthian columns, fountains, a huge equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel and two statues of goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas. The structure is 135 meters (490 ft) wide and 70 meters (230 ft) high. If the quadrigae and winged victories are included, the height is to 81 meters (265 ft).

The monument holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame, built under the statue of Italy after World War I. The base of the structure also houses the museum of Italian Reunification.

Romans sometimes refer to the structure by a variety of irreverent slang expressions, such as "the wedding cake".

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The Colosseum or Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre, is a giant amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy. Originally capable of seating around 50,000 spectators, it was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. It was built on a site just east of the Roman Forum, with construction starting between 70 and 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian. The amphitheatre, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire, was completed in 80 AD under Titus, with further modifications being made during Domitian's reign.

The Colosseum remained in use for nearly 500 years with the last recorded games being held there as late as the 6th century — well after the traditional date of the fall of Rome in 476. As well as the traditional gladiatorial games, many other public spectacles were held there, such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building eventually ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such varied purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry and a Christian shrine.

Although it is now in a severely ruined condition due to damage caused by earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum has long been seen as an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome and is one of the finest surviving examples of Roman architecture. It is one of modern Rome's most popular tourist attractions.

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Perseus Kills Medusa, statue in Florence (Firenze), Italy

Perseus, with a curved sword, a gift of Mercury, wears winged sandals, like Mercury's, and a helmet with wings (resembling Mercury's hat) kills Medusa by cutting off her head. Blood gushes from the severed neck of Medusa, one of the snake-haired Gorgons, who could turn men to stone.

Cellini, a goldsmith, carefully worked this large bronze. Like Michelangelo, who signed the St. Peter's Pietà on a strap across the Madonna's bosom, Cellini signed this bronze work on the strap which crosses Perseus's torso.

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The Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy

The Ponte Vecchio is a Medieval bridge over the Arno River, in Florence, Italy, noted for having shops (mainly jewellers) built along it. It is Europe's oldest wholly-stone, closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge.

Believed to have been first built in Roman times, it was originally made of wood. After being destroyed by a flood in 1333 it was rebuilt in 1345, this time in stone. Most of the design is attributed to Taddeo Gaddi. The bridge consists of three segmental arches, the main arch has a span of 30 meters (98 feet) the two side arches each span 27 meters (88 feet). The rise of the arches is between 3.5 and 4.4 meters (11½ to 14½ feet), and the span-to-rise ratio 5:1.

It has always hosted shops and merchants, which displayed their goods on tables after authorisation of the Bargello (a sort of a lord mayor, a magistrate and a police authority).

During World War II, the Ponte Vecchio was not destroyed by Germans during their retreat of August 4, 1944, unlike all other bridges in Florence. This was allegedly because of an express order by Hitler. Access to Ponte Vecchio was, however, obstructed by the destruction of the buildings at both ends.

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"Cavallo in Bronzo"

This is a Bronze Horse sculpture outside of an art gallery in Florence, Italy. The artist is Mario Ceroli (1938 - ), and it was done in 1986.
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Il Duomo, Florence, Italy

A distinctive feature of Florence's skyline is the dome of the cathedral (Duomo), Santa Maria del Fiore. The building was begun by the sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296. Numerous local artists continued to work on it during the following century and a half. The painter Giotto designed its sturdy bell tower (campanile) in 1334. Yet, the massive octagonal cupola (1420-36) that truly dominates both the church and the city was the proud achievement of Filippo Brunelleschi, master architect and sculptor. Opposite the cathedral stands the Baptistery; the building dates from the 11th century but was believed by Florentines to be a surviving Roman monument when they commissioned for it a series of bronze doors with relief sculptures (1330; 1401-52). The third pair of these doors, by Lorenzo Ghiberti, were of such rare beauty that Michelangelo christened them the " Gates of Paradise."

The basilica is notable for its exterior facing of polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink bordered by white.

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Cathedral La Major, Marseille, France

This impressive monument was built between 1852 and 1893 in the Byzantine style by Léon VAUDOYER who drew up the plans. H. ESPERANDIEU who raised domes and H. REVOIL who realized the decoration.

On the right side of the vast building remains the ancient cathedral of Major, built in the 12th century on the place of "Diane la Grande's temple". Very big during its construction, because it extended up to the edge of the cliff which dominates the sea, in 1852 its destruction was decided. But under the pressure of public opinion, it was saved from destruction.

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Ladybug Cow, Marseille, France

This summer, Marseille will be greeting a herd of cows unlike any others. The Cow Parade, tours the world in aid of Charity, and the next event will be hosted in Marseille in aid of sick children for the “Fil d’Arianne” Association.

Cows of all colours and shapes will be transformed, decorated, and exposed from Monday the 11th June, until Thursday the 11th October 2007. The cows will be displayed in the different streets, places, and public gardens of the city of Marseille.

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More Cow Art...

They were all over the place!
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Church of the Sacred Family, Barcelona, Spain


The Sacred Family Church conceived by Antoni Gaudi is one of the world's most striking and unconventionally designed houses of worship. Construction began in 1883. Today, about 125 years later, it's still unfinished.

Delays were caused by many factors, including the Spanish Civil War, Gaudi's design flaws (which had to be corrected), his propensity to change plans in midstream, and his death in 1926 (he was killed by a streetcar).

Completion-time estimates vary from "soon" to "never". If you factor in modern engineering technology and the structure's current state (70% complete), I would say 2020. But with this project, any prediction is risky.

The Sacred Family Church will have 12 spires soaring as high as a modern 35-story building, So far 8 have been built. In addition, there will be a central dome and spire rising yet another 15 stories.

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Casa Mila, Barcelona, Spain

Situated on an asymmetrical corner lot, this large apartment building was immediately dubbed "la pedrera," or "the quarry," because of its cliff-like walls. Various theories have been advanced as to the source of Gaudí's inspiration: from ocean waves to a variety of specific mountains, even a mountain crest with clouds. Regardless of the springs of creation, this limestone building seems sculptural, with contrasts between curves, concavities, and voids, with pale stone contrasting with dark iron.

The wrought-iron balconies were the design of Josep Maria Jujol, Gaudí's frequent collaborator. Each is different and was improvised in the forge.

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Tower at Our Barcelona Hotel Pool

This was a tower next to the pool at the hotel we stayed at on our last night. The hotel is the Clarion Don Jaime in Castelldefels, just outside of Barcelona.
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