Posts tagged ‘culture’
Kami tiba di Bandara Heathrow lebih dari tiga jam terlalu cepat, maklum penginapan terakhir jaraknya 2½ jam dari bandara. Setelah melakukan wisata lokal ke Salisbury, kami memutuskan untuk membuang waktu di Bandara saja. Dan karena kami menggunakan Emirates Airline, terminal yang digunakan di Heathrow adalah terminal 3, khusus untuk maskapai penerbangan lain selain British Airways dan dengan tujuan arah barat dari Inggris. Terminal ini tidak besar, dan dengan banyaknya maskapai asing yang menggunakan terminal ini, menjadikan terminal ini penuh dengan calon penumpang yang menunggu. Pesawat kami baru akan berangkat pukul 8.40 malam sementara itu kami sudah tiba di bandara sekitar jam 5 sore. Menghabiskan waktu di bandara dengan melakukan window shopping di duty free area yang sangat kecil dibandingkan dengan pengalaman belanja di Dubai Mall seminggu sebelumnya, duty free shopping ini sama sekali tidak berarti. Menunggu makan malam yang diberikan di pesawat akan terlalu lama. Akhirnya kami memutuskan untuk makan di restauran yang bukan fast food, sekalian mengakhiri liburan ini dengan gaya.
Karena suami saya menyukai makanan laut, dan tertarik dengan seafood yang di pajang di etalase dari seafood bar yang berlokasi ditengah ruang tunggu terminal, kami lalu memutuskan untuk makan malam ringan di ‘seafood bar’ ini: ‘Caviar House & Prunier” Melihat dari lokasi dari seafood bar ini, sama sekali tidak eksotis, mirip tempat makan cepat saji (fast food) tapi cara menyajikannya sangat menarik. Saya lalu memutuskan untuk memesan makanan yang ‘agak’ eksotik : ”signature menu” mereka: “Pourqoui Pas?”. Agak mahal memang, tapi kan kami mengakhirinya adengan GAYA.
Tidak lupa kami juga memesan wine – white wine (anggur putih) sebagai minuman pelengkap untuk makan makanan laut.
Biasanya saya tidak begitu suka makan caviar – telur ikan, karena ini sangat amis, tapi ternyata cara makan caviar adalah dengan roti toast, bersama sejumput putih telur dan sejumput irisan bawang merah sebagai penyedap dan mengurangi rasa amis… hmmm rasanya bukan main, sedaap….
Yang membedakan seafood bar ini tidak seperti tempat makan cepat saji atau restauran biasa adalah setelah makan kami di berikan coklat pencuci mulut sebagai komplemen dari seafood bar ini.
Yang kami tidak tau adalah bahwa di ‘darat’ restaurant ini adalah ‘speciality restaurant’ khusus makanan laut yang punya cabang di seluruh Eropa: “Caviar House & Prunier” memiliki seafood bar di banyak bandara di Eropa, Asia dan Australia, termasuk di Dubai dan Hongkong.
Ini alamat persisnya untuk Seafood Bar yang kami kunjungi:
TW6 1EB Hounslow, Middlesex Phone: +44 (0)208 897 1332
Jam buka: 6.30 – 21.30
Initially I didn’t intend to show pictures or write about mosque in my Syrian series anymore, but this morning, I heard the news that the Minaret of one of the great mosques has finally fallen down to rubble due to the civil war in Syria. I also saw a flash of picture on tv of something that used to be a well preserved and beautiful mosque.
So what is so important of this minaret anyway? Well, this is a small fact: it is the oldest part of the mosque that is prominent and noteworthy square 45 m² minaret. The Minaret’s earliest restoration dates to 1090 during the Seljuk dynasty. The Minaret boasted intricate bands of carved Kufic inscriptions along its length that alternate with bands of stylized ornaments in patterns and moqarnas
Here are some pictures that I managed to take in 2011, a memory from it’s hay day, just days before the war erupted.
The Great Mosque of Aleppo was also called Umayyad Mosque. It was also built during the Umayyad period in the Middle East, 10 years after the Great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Originally this Great Mosque of Aleppo was built on the site of a former Roman temple and Byzantine cathedral built by St. Helen (mother of Constantine the Great). The mosque was founded by the Umayyad Caliph al Walid in 715 AD, and completed by his successor Caliph Suleiman.
Like its sister mosque in Damascus, this one is also built off the souk. The main entrance to the mosque was directly at the extension of the souk with great traditional open market atmosphere. Thus the idea of a mosque is a place for the people gathering, not only a place to worship.
Throughout its history the building has endured multiple renovations and reconstructions in response to natural disasters (earthquakes and fire) and to modify its use, resulting in the development of its surroundings. Nural Din rebuilt in in 1169 after a great fire and the mosque was destroyed yet again during the Mongol invasion in 1260.
Because of the above reasons, the recent mosque design and layout was totally different from what was originally built, except the minaret that had survived so far. When I visited the mosque, it looked so immaculately beautiful, as it has undergone an extensive renovation (2003-4) during which, the minaret were especially restored. However, today’s civil war destroyed the mosque yet again, and this time including the long standing Minaret.
I think this photography collection is now precious. And another proof of the history of human civilisation has now gone just like that because of the conflict between humans. Worse of all, the destruction from the current war has the worst impact of destruction, approximately five out of six World Heritage Buildings have been damaged in this war according to UNESCO.
As a normal woman, I love shopping, from grocery shopping in Carrefour Supermarket, to a fancy boutique to try on expensive new clothes by having the shop assistant helping me choose the right dress. My husband is just the same. He loves shopping and as a matter of fact I think he is the best shopper I know.
As I live in the Middle East, I have the privilege of experiencing the Souk; a bazaar where people exchange goods over a friendly conversation. I love visiting the souk, the traditional ones are more fascinating than the modern ones. However, my visit to the Grand Souk of Aleppo two years ago was like no other. It was memorable; I had to opt out of joining our tour bus to go back to the hotel, just to explore the souk slowly and do as Lonely Planet suggested to: “get lost in Aleppo souk”. I even had to go back the next day just to feel the warmth from the shop keepers, the slow moving activity along the grand corridor of souk Al-Attarine. There’s no hustle and bustle of a real busy market; yet everything they sell and the decoration between shops are forever intricate and fascinating. Once I was outside the covered bazaar, the atmosphere changed 180 degrees, the vibrancy of a real market was there; not so intricate, but yet it was equally interesting.
Compared to Al Hamadiyyah Souk in Damascus, where the main corridor is wide, Aleppo Souk had narrower alleyways, yet it was more interesting than the one in Damascus. First developed in the 13th century, but most of it was built during the heyday of the Ottoman Empire between 15th and 17th century. Each different alleyway reflects different ornaments and architecture finishes of the corridor’s facade. But what fascinated me most was the different ceilings types and its illumination system along each corridor, from an opening to the dome shaped ceiling to let in natural light to fancy lighting pendants that represent the traditional Middle Eastern lights.
The fact that Aleppo has been shelled, shattered, destroyed, and left in ruins many times in the past; during the Byzantines and the Mongol period; I am sure that once the current war is over, Aleppo will rebuild again. But what was once the greatest bazaar of the Medieval period, and the finest in the Middle East is now gone, burnt to ashes.
Of course, there’s this term “restoration”, or even for the sake of tourism, there is “re-creation, which could be better than nothing, but the memory and history of the place will be forever different. And it is a fact as Kevin Rushby said: “the world’s greatest treasures has been lost”.
I didn’t manage to explore the Souk as much as I wanted to, but I feel very lucky that I still managed to witness and to record with my camera a little bit on how it was during the early 21st century’s finest glory days.
If you are interested in my other posts about Syria, check out: I’ve been to SYRIA
It was 2 years a go that we visited Damascus for a guided tour across Syria (read: The Old City of Damascus). But as we arrived in 2 days ahead of the tour, we managed to see Damascus with our own perception, and this was the best bit, we were picked up by a friend of a friend, who is a local. He owned the only musical shop in the Souq al-Hamadiyya – yes, they were having tea in front of his music shop.
What I liked about the Old City were the alleyways, different on every corner; with it’s own specialty at every turn of the street. Souq al-Hamadiyya for instance, is a broad street and very popular with the locals; it sells anything and everything really, from cheap Chinese products, to local handicraft for interior decor. This is also serves as the popular gate towards the old city, at the end of the Souq, before the great Umayyad Mosque – I will explain more about this mosque next week – stands Temple of Jupiter.
Temple of Jupiter is special because it was built by the Romans, at the beginning of the rule of Augustus (Roman Emperor) and completed during the rule of Constatius. It was during this time that Damascus was famous as the city of Jupiter.
What we see in the picture is only part of it, some other parts can be seen as part of the Umayyad Mosque. Like the Old City which has been through different periods of human history, so was this Temple and Mosque. The question is whether it will survive the latest turmoil?
As we moved on from this area, there was this very popular cafe shop, where the locals and the tourists mingle. It didn’t serve food, only coffee or tea, if we wanted food, than we needed to order some where else. Regardless of this, the Damascene think this is the ‘in place’, where you could see people and be seen. Again, I wonder whether this place is still popular now, or even still exists?
Further on from this place, things get more interesting, as to me, this is where the real atmosphere started. The streets widen and narrow with an infinite variation, from a chaotic communal road to an order of small palace.
The Old City is divided into four distinct quarters that roughly align with the fame of the seven gates around the Old City. Souq Al-Hamadiyya is the vibrant and commercial district of the Old City. Bab Sharqi was the gate towards the Christian Quarter , where we found the House of Ananias, the Roman Arch and St. Paul’s Chapel. Bab Salam is the entrance gate if you want to go to Shia’s Mosque of Sayyida Ruqqaya, the most impressively ornate mosque I’ve ever seen. Bab Musala is a gate for the Jewish Quarter, and home to the cities artisan community.
Inside these quarters dotted around are historic places, schools, Hamam, interesting places and palaces turned into museums, like Khan As’ad Pasha, turned into a private museum.
That was a really exciting experience that I wish a could return and visit all those places that I missed last time….
If you are interested in my other posts about Syria, check out: I’ve been to SYRIA
When we arrived in Budapest, I was not impressed at all by the cityscape. The arrival terminal was a bit old, even though the taxi driver who was in charge of picking us up at the airport was super friendly, and was very eager to show us a glimpse of Budapest, he could not convince me that Budapest is a pretty city. I was hoping that the ‘old and tired’ image of the city was only at the parking lot of the airport and the road from the airport toward the city.
As we drove along toward the city center, the buildings get denser. Our taxi driver kept on explaining about various building along the street. as he tried to help us understand a bit of the city as well as giving us some tips of surviving in Hungary. And to make the conversation more interesting, he also told us a bit of himself; really very nice man.
As my husband was listening to our driver politely, I tried to memorize quietly every little thing that our taxi driver explained to us along the way, in case we needed to comeback to see something interesting outside our holiday package.
Learning about the history of Budapest, which was arose out of two Bulgarian military frontier fortresses Buda and Pest: situated on the two banks of Danube. Buda and Pest started their development in the 12th century, however, both towns were devastated during the Mongol invasion of Europe in 1241-42; hmm… no wonder the city looks old, it’s been thru a long history. But hey, so have other European cities.
Carrying on with the history: Buda and Pest remain two totally different cities and reached their heyday in the 14th century, when the Angevin kings from France established Buda as the royal seat of centralized power. However, it was Pest becoming the cultural and economic centre of the country. The first National Theatre is built, along with the Hungarian National Museum, all that was in the 19th century.
Through out all Budapest and Hungarian history since the first settlement of the Hungarian tribe in 10th century until the 20th century, the Hungarians lost most of their wars. From the Tatar(Mongolian) invasion that destroyed both town in the 11th century and then later the Turks’ Ottomans, to the post WW II era. And believe it or not those scares from the wars especially WWII, are reflected in the city architecture.
Unlike Paris who try to isolate modern expression of architecture in one of it’s suburb, Budapest shows all periods of Architecture era all over the city, and maybe this is why I was not able to see Budapest as representative of a certain era. Looking back at it’s history and seeing how it looks now, maybe I needed to see the city from a different angle. Budapest represents a blend of Old and New Architecture, it has Roman’s Amphitheaters, Gothic Style cathedral, as well as Traditional Turkish Bath as the heritage of the Ottoman occupation. The history of the city represented in the facade of the city’s architecture. Maybe that’s it, Budapest cityscape is Eclectic style; we just have to wait for the modern and high rise buildings being built, to complete the city as an architectural haven.
Our visit to Budapest was to co-inside with the celebration of the Hungarian National Day, a commemoration of the start of Hungarian Revolution on 23 October 1956, the people’s power against the government of the People’s Republic of Hungary and its Soviet-imposed policy. Despite the failure of the uprising, this actually played a role in the downfall of the Soviet Union decades later (more info in Wikipedia).
Statue of Imre Nagy, the Prime Minister who turned hero of the uprising, was immortalized with this statue and remembered each year together with a unique Hungarian flag they fly every year during this period, including on the one they show on the Parliament House:
I thought there’s a symbol in the middle of the white bit of the Hungarian Flag, but it’s not. It’s a HOLE! Yes, there is a whole in the middle of the flag, and that is also related to the revolution in 1956, as a symbol of the anti soviet uprising of 1956, where the people cut out the Stalinist emblem and use the tricolour with a hole in the middle as a symbol (and now to commemorate) of the revolution.
OK, the facade my look eclectic, and some area are neglected, but Budapest tries hard, and it shows on so many buildings are under refurbishment period. And in terms of Interior Design, I think it retains it’s reputation as Central Europe’s capital of design. There are many nice and modern designs of galleries, cafes and restaurants with interesting modern touches:
As a good tourist, we decided to visit one of the few special buildings in Budapest, which is the synagogue of the Jewish community in Hungary. Jews have lived in Hungary since the time of the Roman Empire, even before the Magyar (Hungarian) tribes arrived and conquered the land in the 9th century. By the early 20th century, the community had grown to constitute 5% of Hungary’s population and 23% of the population of the capital, Budapest.
The Dohány Street Synagogue, also known as The Great Synagogue is located in Erzsébetváros, the district VII of Budapest; it is the largest synagogue in Europe and the fifth largest in the world according to Wikipedia.
- The synagogue was built between 1854 and 1859 in the Moorish Revival style, believe it or not, it’s decoration based chiefly on Islamic models from North Africa and medieval Spain; its design also features a mixture of Byzantine, Romantic and Gothic elements. Two onion-shaped domes sit on the twin octagonal towers at 43 metres height. These towers symbolize the two columns of Solomon’s Temple.
- Similarly to basilicas, the building also consists of three spacious richly decorated aisles, two balconies and, unusually, an organ.
- A rose stained-glass window sits over the main entrance.
- The architect of the building, Ludwig Förster, believed that no distinctively Jewish architecture could be identified, and thus chose “architectural forms that have been used by oriental ethnic groups that are related to the Israelite people and in particular the Arabs”. And maybe that is why, during my visit to its museum, I met some Muslim students visiting the exhibition and making some notes.
A single-span cast iron supports the 12-m wide nave. The seats on the ground-floor are for men, while the upper gallery has seats for women. Surprisingly the synagogue has an organ, though this instrument is used in Christian churches. The temple’s acoustic make it a popular venue for concerts.
The torah-arch and the internal frescoes made of colored and golden geometric shapes are the works of the famous Hungarian romantic architect Frigyes Feszl.
In total, the building can house around 3000 people
Franz Liszt and Camille Saint-Saëns played the original 5,000 pipe organ built in 1859. Today, a new mechanical organ with 63 voices and 4 manuals was built in 1996 by the German firm Jehmlich Orgelbau Dresden GmbH
To visit the synagogue you need to buy ticket at the gate. There are several websites dedicated to the location which provide information on when it is open and how much the current tickets cost. However tickets varied for every object in the complex, which consist of:
- the Great Synagogue,
- The Heroes’ Temple, which was added to the Great synagogue in 1931, and it serves as a memorial to Hungarian Jews who gave their lives during World War I.
- The graveyard, or the Jewish Cemetery, located in the backyard of the Heroes’ Temple. There are over 2,000 people buried here who died in the Jewish ghetto during the winter of 1944-45.
- The Jewish Museum, adjacent to the Great Synagogue was constructed on the site where Theodor Herzl’s house once stood. It features Jewish traditions, costumes, as well a detailed history of Hungarian Jews, including information about the Holocaust.
- The Holocaust memorial,
- The Raul Wallenberg Memorial Park. Home to the Holocaust Memorial, is located in the backyard of the Great Synagogue. also known as the Emanuel Tree, is a weeping willow tree (by Imre Varga) with the names of Hungarian Jews killed during the Holocaust inscribed on each leaf.
- Also part of the memorial is four red marble plates, commemorating 240 non-Jewish Hungarians who saved Jews during the Holocaust. One of the most heroic figures of the Holocaust in Hungary was Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who prepared Protective Passports under the authority of the Swedish Embassy, saving the lives of thousands of Jews.
History of the building:
The synagogue was bombed by the Hungarian pro-Nazi Arrow Cross Party just before WW II started. The building suffered severe damage from aerial raids during the Nazi Occupation.
During the Communist era the damaged structure became again a prayer house for the much-diminished Jewish community.
It was only in 1991 they start a restoration, and opened again for public in 1998.
Reference of this post:
- Dohány Street Synagogue – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dohány_Street_Synagogue
- Jewish Virtual Library – http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/Hungary.html
- Visit Budapest.Travel – http://visitbudapest.travel/guide/budapest-attractions/great-synagogue/
Part of the imperial City tour program for Morocco which was promoted by our guide was the Fantazia Show, he said we could watch the famous Belly dancing and a lot of other traditional performances, while enjoying our traditional Moroccan dinner.
The truth is, yes, we might see traditional and Berber culture, which included horse riding, tambourine music, and….??? I think that’s about it. Yes Belly dancing was shown as the main attraction, but don’t get too excited!
What was beyond my expectation was instead of having the show in a small tent and somebody performing for a small group of tourists of say 40 people max, our guide took us to somewhere out of town to an open air function area especially built for this show. The development was look like a pseudo Moroccan castle with ‘cheap quality’ decoration, a large area of ground in the middle of it for the ‘horse show’. Around it was concrete benches and dining rooms for groups of people to have their dinner while being entertained by terrible Arabic entertainment. After the dinner they let us move to the arena to watch the belly dancing in the dark and from a long distance, and very a traditional horse show.
Moral of the story is: if you were offered to go to the Fantazia Show, DON’T GO!!!!
In modern day life, drinking tea is not as popular as drinking coffee. The YUPPies (Young Urban Professionals) are having “coffee breaks” during office hours instead of “Tea Time”. However, having afternoon tea is still popular among older people, they call it High Tea.
The question now is, what is ‘High Tea?’ in my view, it’s a colonial thing, when the British Empire occupied India and Sri Lanka, where tea plantations are part of the people’s life. However, the British were so fascinated with these drinks that they made it a sort of a ritual, drinking tea in the afternoon, with ‘scones, butter and cream.’
As the colonial days are over, High Tea however, is still in fashion, especially for special occasions or for tourism or commercial reasons, such as ‘Lighting Up the Christmas Tree’ in Ritz Carlton Hotel – Doha, where they add Carol Singers to the High Tea, or like at the Sidney Opera House, the title of the occasion is ‘High Tea at the Opera, where they add Pink Champagne with the tea ritual and being serenaded by an opera singer plus piano player playing classical music.
The Sydney Opera House organizes their High Tea in the Guillaume Restaurant at Bennelong at 2 o’clock every Wednesday. As this is very popular to the tourist, we needed to book our table a month in advance, and then arrive on time.
With a good acoustics in the building, anyone can talk and sing without a sound system and everybody can hear it. That’s how this opera singer managed to sing to 75 people without a microphone….