Posts Tagged With: bell tower

45 minutes in Pisa

As a tourist we are often in a rush to see as many sightseeing spots as possible in any city. We have less time, more to click, more selfies to take, more to absorb, more to tick off from our list. Though my travels are mostly unstructured and impromptu, I too do some of the touristy trips and one such trip was last year to Italy.

On a sunny afternoon enroute to Montecatini, in a group of 45 odd interesting fellow tourists, we halted at the world famous city of Pisa in Tuscany. Our lovely tour guide announced we have 45 minutes to see around. We were dropped off at the entrance of Piazza del Dumo. Well, yes even I was confused as every ‘Square’ in Italy is ‘Piazza’. My excitement had no bounds as I came to know this Piazza houses the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, but only 45 minutes??

I knew it had to be a Marathon now. As I stepped inside the premises of the Piazza del Dumo, I was completely awed to see the Leaning tower from the entrance.

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The group of monuments at Pisa

Apparently this is not the only monument in the Piazza. The square formerly called the Pizza del Dumo is known more popularly as Piazza dei Miracoli. There are four monuments in the Piazza, which are an example of brilliance of human engineering and are a part of World Heritage site under UNESCO: The four monuments are The Pisa Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Leaning Tower and the Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery).

I started with the much obvious Bell Tower or Leaning Tower,. With the paucity of time, I decided not to climb up the spire but admire it from a shady vantage point. This lopsided tower was built over 199 years. The construction stopped after completion of its Third floor as the tower began to lean; and it resumed only after a century.  There have been several attempts to correct the angle of the Tower and they say it leans lesser now, but if you ask me, its beauty and fame is only in its crookedness, so, we love it leaning, don’t we?

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Leaning Tower

Next I turned to the Pisa Cathedral. A rather unusual shaped facade, the doors were open. The entry is free, however a coupon for entry has to be purchased from the Ticket Office. It was the past the entry time and I had to make a compassionate begging to the Italian speaking officials to allow inside, and voila they did.

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Pisa Cathedral

The interiors of the Cathedral blew me off as i was expecting something a little modest. But baby we are in THE Italy! This country has world’s 60 percent of World Heritage Monuments and yes, they are exuberant and spendid.

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Pisa Catherdal, first view inside

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The altar and the giant mosaic image of Jesus

The altar spelled grandiose with colors of gold and shimmer everywhere. What stole the limelight was indeed the ceiling which was very typical Italian and of the era where the Cathedrals were elaborately painted.

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The painted ceiling of Pisa Cathedral

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The Cathedral interiors of giant pillars and sculpted walls and ceiling

Awestruck walked out of the Cathedral with another 20 minutes left to return back to the meeting point. There was no time now to purchase tickets or wait in queues for other monuments. So walked around each mammoth structure.

The third monumnet was The Pisa Baptistery depicts the life of St John, the Baptist. I would rate it as one of the most unique building from the Architecture point of view. As the information displayed there said, what started being built as a Romanasque style structure, later got a Gothic dome which is the most notable feature in the Piazza. I couldnt go inside, however as I read on the web that the Baptistery is quite simple and unassuming inside.

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Pisa Baptistery

The last of the monuments in this miraculous Square is the Monumental Cemtery or Camposanto. This is rather a very important monument historicaly. Legend has it that this was built around the same place where shiploads of sacred soil of Golgotha was brought where Jesus was crucified. This Cemetery later became the burial ground of the upper class and whos who of the region.

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Camposanto Monumentale

I read that the Cemetery has some rare paintings and is adorned by spectacular frescoes inside. This was surely a miss. And i would really want to come back to Pisa in a bit more relaxed time to view these monuments with some more ease and admiration.

However I would say 45 minutes wasnt bad at all. And as they say a high return on investment, isnt it!

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A last view of the Piazza. It was a very sunny day. Have given some effects on this photograph of this beautiful marble wonder

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Wavel Castle, Krakow – Walking in the footsteps of Polish Kings

A hot sunny afternoon today and I have been dreaming since last night about being one of the Polish queens walking the Royal route alongside my King in the timeless streets of Krakow. Well sounds preposterous and very bloggish to write some invented crap like this. To be honest I do take my historical travels seriously. Okay!! After these possibly ‘LOL’ statements, I need to really say that I couldn’t help writing this tripping specifically on Wavel Castle; it was indeed one of the most impressive fortress I have visited till date in Europe.

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First sight of Wavel Castle

The mighty Wavel Castle situated on Wavel Hill in Krakow is built in Gothic style. Cited in many records are evidences of earliest settlement on Wavel Hill in Paleolithic age, hence human establishments and trade grew around it. For many centuries this was the royal residence of the Polish Kings. Today this is a symbol of Polish Heritage and a reflection of its rich culture.

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The edifice of the Wavel Castle from mthe riverside

Me and my friend just had an hour in between work which was our lunch break; we decided to munch something on the way as we both wanted to tour the castle. Staying close by was a boon; we grabbed a ‘zapiekanka’ each and walked up the gentle climb to the castle entrance.

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Entrance to the castle. Rather this is the view while we exit.

The giant doors admit everyone in and you can tour the grounds and get great views of River Vistula and a part of Krakow without any entry charges.

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One such view from the grounds of the Castle

As we walked to the main square inside the castle compound, I was suddenly taken aback by the beautiful architecture of the buildings inside, the multiple domes, sculptures, the whole ambience glistening in the sun looked quite a fascinating sight..

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The inside view of the Castle Compound

The Castle compound houses the Wavel Cathedral, Museums, Royal Crypts, State Rooms and Royal Private Apartments, Sigismund Bell. You can take anywhere from an hour to maybe a day to take a tour of the Castle. With the crunch of time we had, we decided to tour the major and most talked about corners of the Castle and the first one being the Wavel Catherdral

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Wavel Cathedral and the domes of the Royal Crypts. The golden dome undoubtedly stands out.

The interior of the Cathedral was stunningly jaw dropping. Its rich golden gilded pillars and altar, silver statues and exuberant tapestries, all spelled luxury and wealth of the Polish Kings. This is supposed to be the third Cathedral as the previous two were destroyed. There are more than 15 chapels inside the Cathedral which are all ostentatiously decorated. Photography is not permitted inside. This is definitely a must visit monument in Krakow.

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The front of The Wavel Cathedral

From the Cathedral, there is an alley leading to the inside of the Castle. The beautiful creamy Castle Courtyard is flanked by stately rooms. There is also an exhibition in one of the ground floor rooms which houses the world famous painting ‘Lady with an ermine’ by Leonardo da Vinci; one of the three of of his oil paintings in the world and a close cousin of Mona Lisa in ‘being mysterious’.

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The Castle Courtyard

Next me and my pal made our way up through a dark cellar with rustic narrow wooden steps to view the Sigismund Bell. The Bell is up at the top of the Tower and its quite a gruesome climb up but an interesting one. While you climb up the dark woody staircase you will cross few huge iron bells as well.

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Bells on the climb to the Bell Tower

Finally after all the sweat and strained knees, we reach the belfry of the tower. Hanging from the wooden ceiling is this giant intimidating bronze monster, Sigismund Bell, supposedly weighing 13 tonnes. This bell rings till date on national days and important festivals and the gong is heard as far as 50 kms. A true testimony of Polish heritage.

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The Sigismund Bell

It was truly rewarding to have walked the path of the Polish Kings all the way from the Wavel Cathedral to the Stately Apartments and Courtyard and then shed some sweat on our ascent to the Bell Tower. Before we take a flight down the steps to the Castle grounds, captured some lovely views of Krahow City from behind the ‘bars’ at the Belfry.

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The chariming city of Krakow as seen from the Sigismund Bell Tower at Wavel Castle

*Note to Travelers*

– Tickets to the Wavel Castle can be purchased from the Wavel Castle Office.

– The entry to the Castle Apartments, Bell Tower, Royal Crypts, Exhibition is all through the Wavel cathedral which shall be your entry point to explore all the spots.

Categories: castle, castles of europe, cathedral, cathedrals of europe, catherdals of poland, churches of poland, travel europe, travel krakow, travel poland, visit krakow, visit poland, wavel castle, wavel cathedral | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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