11
Jan

Remembering Salzburg, Austria

In 1987, my daughter and I traveled to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I kept a diary during that two week journey. Here are the entries from Salzburg, Austria.

Walking through the streets of Salzburg is like walking back into history. One sees houses with flower boxes, painted scenes on the exterior walls of the buildings, church steeples, roofs of clay tiles and bell towers. The streets are cobbled and many of the windows are made of leaded glass.

There are vineyards up on a nearby hillside and an ancient ivy covered building with sagging tile roof across the courtyard lends a medieval flavor to the view. Church spires peak out above the red tile rooftops on nearby houses and unconsciously we scan the faces of the passersby, perhaps expecting to see Mary Poppins. Dates carved on the churches range from the year 1200-1400. One church is said to be 1000 years old.

A kitty sits atop a nearby rooftop, meowing piteously, as tourists peer up and try to decide if he is stuck, hungry, or just bored and teasing the tourists.

We drive along a river and follow a road up the side of a grape-laden hillside to the very top. Below us, a park follows the curve of the river. We can see the tiny train below and churches steeples scattered among the rooftops. A storm is brewing and the sky darkens with rain clouds as we stand atop the mountain, looking down over the city which for hundreds of years is unchanging.

Yes, as modern times came, freeways and electric wires approached the city, the merchandise sold in the stores has changed, and automobiles replaced the horse carriages, which once clip-clopped along the cobbled streets. The narrow lanes remain the same, the lovely churches, fortresses, palaces, and hillsides are unchanged. The city will tolerate progress but it will not give in to it. Our modern conveniences are an intrusion on its medieval splendor.

Visitors from the United States marvel at the unchanging and apparently timelessness of this beautiful country. The land stretches out unspoiled as we compare it to our familiar busy cities. The mountains beckon hikers upward into the cold clean air. Though there are industrial areas, much of the land is still in its wilderness state, as it was at the moment of creation, lush and green and seemingly immune to modern marvels.

In the town of Salzburg, there is a town square where a street musician plays Ave Maria on a violin. Above us pigeons fly from rooftop to rooftop and the music echoes around the courtyard. I let my mind wander and it is easy to imagine the town filled with people coming and going up and down the tiny cobbled streets in horse drawn carts. Over here would be a peddler selling vegetables, and over there a princess is escorted by her ladies-in-waiting. Over here a group of soldiers march down the street, straight and tall, tired from slaying dragons on the hillsides.

Another day and music might have filled this same courtyard, not from the church but from the house down the street where a thin young boy named Mozart plays the harpsichord and writes melodies that will one day make him famous, even several hundred years later.
Over there a beggar sits by the church wall and begs for alms. Many pass him by, even as today, so many hungry people walk our streets and though we call ourselves “more civilized,” how many of us are guilty of turning away?

A horse cart clip-clops by, bringing me back to today as the last beautiful strains of Ave Maria fade into the sky. We give the musician money and move off down the street where we buy a watercolor painting of the church from a local street artist.

11
Nov

Christ the Redeemer Statue- Rio de Janeiro

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The statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro was recently voted to be one of the modern Seven Wonder of the World, alongside the much older Colosseum in Rome and the Great Wall of China.

It’s no wonder, when you consider that the colossal statue of Jesus Christ is the fifth largest statue of Jesus in the world. It is situated at the summit of Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, itself 2,319 feet high. The statue is 98 feet tall. It’s horizontally outstretched arms span 92 feet. It weighs over 1,400 tons, The statue is made of reinforced concrete clad in a mosaic of thousands of triangular soapstone tiles, and sits on a square stone pedestal base about 26 feet high.

Funds to build the statue were originally raised privately, principally by members of the Catholic Church following WWI and the separation of Church and State. It was not built as a Catholic idol, but rather a reminder to the citizens of Rio de Janeiro that she should not abandon Christianity. Jesus’ outstretched arms signify peace and acceptance to all who dwell in or visit the city.

Additional fascinating facts about the statue include:

The overall statue was designed by Heitor de Silva Costa. Paul Landowski is credited for the design of the head and hands. Landowski commissioned fellow Parisian sculptor, Gheorgehe Leonida, to sculpt the hands and face.

Construction of the statue started in 1922 and took nine years to complete. It was dedicated on October 12, 1931.

The inner framework is made of concrete, and outer layers are composed of mosaic tiles. All the construction materials and the workers were transported to the top of the mountain by a cog-wheel train. They had to prepare the cement on site with water from a fountain that was 984 feet away from the scaffolding.

Workers who made the mosaic tiles frequently wrote on the back, meaning Christ the Redeemer is littered with hidden messages…most likely prayers.

The statue was built in pieces and then assembled and transferred to the top of Mount Corcovado. (See pictures in the link below)
The stones used came from Sweden.

A chapel inside the pedestal can hold over 150 people.

Originally, visitors walked up 200 steps to reach the base of the statue. In more recent decades, escalators and elevators were added for the benefit of tourists making the pilgrimage. (Please check out the link below for fascinating pictures of the construction as well as beautiful photos from current days.)

The statue is visible from anywhere in Rio de Janeiro due to its commanding height.

Construction costs at the time were equivalent to $3,300,000 in 2015 dollars.

For more information and multiple pictures of the stature during construction and currently, copy and paste:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3740325/ How Christ-Redeemer-statue-came-dominate-Rio-skyline-Fascinating photos -iconiic-statue-built-story-it.html@ixzz4Piq2B4W4

Wouldn’t it be a grand vacation to visit Rio and view this awesome landmark?

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