One of the glorious interiors of Kiev Pechersk Lavra, the Orthodox Christian monastery which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The exterior is every bit as stunning and it’s easy to get lost here for half a day.
The USSR may no longer rule Moldova but in Chisinau’s crafts market, there’s plenty of Soviet memorabilia for sale in case you’re feeling nostalgic. Under the Soviet regime, rather than a raise, workers received a pin to honor their success. You also got one if you excelled in school, did extra community or somehow deserved recognition. Money was kept at a minimum (at least for the working classes) - it would have been unseemly for you to get extra cash while your proletarian neighbor or colleague did not...
The intriguing base of a hand-painted wooden table spotted at a museum in Chisinau, Moldova - it’s a lovely space, all white plaster and stone and light woods, a cool refuge in the summer sun.
I'm settling into Moldova - in the capital, Chisinau, to be exact. It's a small city and while it isn’t drop-dead gorgeous, it does have plenty of whimsy and endearing characteristics - I'm liking it! I find the people warm and welcoming, like the cab driver who insisted on having a conversation with me while driving... he spent most of the time turning around to face me, while trying to read the screen on his phone's translation app. Interesting ride, but at least we had a conversation! The train station is - in my opinion at least - one of the most interesting buildings in the city, a giant given the few trains that come to Chisinau. And I'll soon be back for my 15-hour overnight to Kiev...
I’ve boosted this shot enormously so that you could see the magnificent detail of this chandelier on another ceiling of Peles Palace in Romania. The glas was made in Murano, of course...
One of the many glorious ceilings in Peles Palace, Romania, among the most ornate of Transylvania’s many castles and fortresses.
A tiny corner of the wall and ceiling of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Sibiu, the seat of Transylvania’s Romanian Orthodox Church. It was inspired in part by the Byzantine style of Haghia Sofia in Istanbul and if you ignore the religious art and just look at the space inside, the resemblance becomes uncanny. It isn’t old however, only dating back to the early 20th century. Recent, but stunning.
A stunning synagogue in Subotica, Serbia, the only one in Europe which contains elements of Hungarian Art Nouveau (Hungary is a few minutes’ drive away). After World War II - during which 4000 of the city’s Jews died in camps - not enough Jews were left to maintain the building and the city took it over. Sadly it was closed when I visited so all my questions remained unanswered... (Subotica, to my surprise, rhymes with pizza!)
The cavernous interior of St Sava, Belgrade’s largest and most famous church, is in full renovations, with scaffolding and wires running along bare concrete walls. But walk through a tunnel and down marble stairs and you’ll alight in the chapel of St Lazarus, a riot of light and art that will provide you with the patience to wait for the work to finish upstairs.
I've just arrived in Belgrade and I think this is going to be an amazing city for street art, which I love. I'll wander and discover but if I need to I'll find a tour to show me the best bits!
Auschwitz, the most notorious of the Nazi death camps, looks deceptively bright in the springtime sun. It was one of many camps they built in occupied lands (it is located in southern Poland near Krakow). No sunshine could erase the chill of walking through this former hell, where 1.1 million people - Jews, but also Romani, Poles, homosexuals, political opponents and others the Nazis deemed not worthy of life - were marched to their deaths during World War II, most of them gassed. Why do we visit these places? Sometimes, we feel we have to. I explain this at length in my post on dark tourism (click the link in my profile).
The ceiling of St Adalbert, surely the smallest church in Krakow but definitely one of the oldest (11th century). It now hosts a string quartet in the evenings for its five rows of spectators.