Saturday, June 30, 2012

Aghia Triada Monastery, Meteora

The Holy Monastery of Aghia Triada is one of the six standing monasteries in Meteora, Central Greece, being one of the four male monasteries in this area. It is built on a very impressive rock, that is the most attractive and characteristic picture of Meteora.  

The view from the top of the monastery is breathtaking, since on the southern side, at the base of the rock, lies the city of Kalambaka. 

Not a lot is known about the foundation of the monastery, however historical sources point to it having been built between 1458 and 1476. The Katholikon is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, a small Byzantine type church.

There is also the small chapel of St. John Prodromos, which is a small circular church that is sculpted in the rock, found next to the monastery's entrance. Before it was carved out of the rock this space was most probably a hermit's dwelling. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Eastern Christianity: modern and contemporary trends in theological and political thought.

On Wednesday 27th of June a one day conference, organised by the Centre for Eastern Christianity, took place at Heythrop College, University of London, entitled: "Eastern Christianity: modern and contemporary trends in theological and political thought". The conference looked at modern and contemporary trends in theological and political thought in Eastern Christianity including Greek Orthodox reflections on the Economy; Anglican Relations with Orthodox Christianity and Palestinian Christian Liberation theology; Catholic-Orthodox relations and Eastern Christian thought in the Middle East.
This conference pointed out the struggle that the Church has in finding a political response towards modern society. Current European identity is marked by the relations between East and West, as stated by Anthony O'Mahony. Ecumenical encounter is of course a political issue, which has a great affect in modern Europe.

A striking and interesting quote was given by Richard Sudworth, who spoke mainly about Archbishop Rowan Williams, explaining how "Rowan Williams is an Orthodox in an Anglican form", which was expressed by Canon Donald Allchin. Dimitris Berdikakis explained the Orthodox Church's response towards the Greek financial crisis. He pointed out how modern Greece has changed to a protectorate, being a testing ground in order to demolish democracy, making it a post-democratic state. Spiritual crisis is related to the current economic crisis, not only in Greece but worldwide. The speaker, despite pointing out the great help that the Church of Greece has given to Greek citizens by distributing 250.000 meals a day, he believes that the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece should be critical to issues which affect society, giving thus a theological explanation of the crisis. Gerasimos Makris from Panteion University, Athens, is a Greek Evangelical, giving an Evangelical perception of the current crisis. He pointed out how Greek society has no trust towards its government. He sees a clash of civilisations, since Angela Merkel is believed to be a Protestant, hence this creates problems for Greek Evangelicals. However, he did highlight the problems which the capitalist system has created.
The political aspect of Church relations was later also shown through talks given on the Orthodox Church and the Palestinian - Christian identity, Olivier Clement (a French Russian Orthodox), the Russian Orthodox Church and Islam and the Georgian Church. It is important to invest in these dialogues, relations and conferences, because only due to the existence of these can we achieve a future union.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Freud Museum

It was in this house that Sigmund Freud spent the last year of his life. He moved in on 27th September 1938 and remained here until his death at the age of 83 on 23 September 1939. The house remained occupied until the death of Anna Freud in 1982. In accordance with her wishes, it was turned into a museum after her death and opened to the public in July 1986. 

Freud came to London a refugee from the Nazis. In Germany the works of Freud and fellow psychoanalysts were publicly burned in 1933 and during the following years most members of the predominantly Jewish psychoanalytical community in Germany and Austria emigrated. However, Freud refused to leave; it was not until Austria was annexed by Germany in 1938 and the Freud family was subjected to Nazi harassment that he moved away from Vienna. The house in London was recreated by his son Ernst and housekeeper Paula Fichtl, in order to give him the same working environment as in Vienna. 

For the last 16 years of his life Freud suffered from cancer of the palate. Yet he continued to work: in England he completed "Moses and Monotheism" and began his final unfinished work, "Outline of Psychoanalysis". He also maintained his practice and received a number of patients for analysis at Maresfield Gardens. 

His study is saturated with antiques from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Orient. The importance of the collection is evident in Freud's use of archaeology as a metaphor for psychoanalysis. On the other hand, the library at 20 Maresfield Garden contains all the books he chose to bring with him from Vienna, covering a wide range of books.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

Of all the great Roman Basilicas, Santa Maria Maggiore has the most successful blend for different architectural styles. Its colonnaded nave is part of the original 5th century building. The Cosmatesque marble floor and delightful Romanesque bell tower are medieval. 

The Renaissance saw a new coffered ceiling, whilst the Baroque gave the church twin domes and its imposing front and rear facades. Nevertheless, what stands out in this magnificent church are its mosaics.

There is also a legend entangled in the building of this church, known as the “Legend of the Snow”. In 356 A.D., Pope Liberius had a dream in which the Virgin Mary told him to build a church on the spot where he found snow. When it fell on the Esquiline (which is the largest and highest of Rome’s seven hills), on the morning of 5th August in the middle of a hot Roman summer day, he obeyed.

The miracle of the snow is commemorated each year by a service during which thousands of white petals float down from the ceiling of the Papal Basilica. Originally, roses were used; however, nowadays the petals are more usually taken from dahlias.  Due to this legend the church is also known as Santa Maria ad Nives, i.e. of the Snows. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The British Motorcycle Charitable Trust

Walking around the Beaulieu Motor Museum I came across a small section of the museum, dedicated to the British Motorcycle Charitable Trust, which is a registered charity dedicated to the preservation of rare British motorcycles for the benefit and education of future generations. 

The main objective is to identify and secure rare British motorcycles and ensure their restoration, aiming to protect and increase public access to these fascinating and historical machines, to educate interest and inform on this aspect of the British social and sporting engineering heritage. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Charioteer of Delphi

The Charioteer of Delphi is probably the most famous statue from Delphi, being found in countless history books. Plain and austere, it mirrors the athlete's morals. The statue, located in the Museum of Delphi, is preserved thanks to a natural catastrophe, as it was buried in the debris of the great earthquake of 373 B.C., hence it was thankfully not looted and destroyed. No other large scale bronze complexes of the sanctuary of Delphi, described in literary and epigraphic sources, have survived. 

The discovery of the Charioteer in 1896, during the Grand Excavation, caused enthusiasm, since no other bronze statue of the classical period and of natural size had been recovered. After many years the Riace warriors and Poseidon from Artemision cape, bronze statues contemporary with and of equal artistic value as the Charioteer, where found at the bottom of the sea. Despite the fact that the master sculptors of classical Greece worked mostly with bronze, we know of their creations through marble copies produced during the Roman period. 

This statue must be the creation of some Greek bronze-sculptor who worked in Magna Graecia, probably by Pythagoras from Samos, exiled in Reggio Calabriae during the leadership of the Deinomenids. According to written sources, Pythagoras sought symmetry and precise rendering of details. Undoubtedly the Charioteer is a masterpiece of the Severe Style that marked the transition from the archaic to the classical period (480-460 B.C.). 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ouzo Drink

Drinking ouzo is a ritual whose secrets can be sought only in the most unspoilt corners of the Aegean and the Hellenic world. The landscape of the ancient and mystical country of Greece has imposed its simplicity on the unadorned way Greeks enjoy their ouzo. It is best served on the rocks or with a bit of water. In order to enjoy it is necessary to accompany it with a humble or even rich appetizer and through this experience one will discover and understand the taste of pureness.

There are countless ouzo brands; however, the most famous one, worldwide, is the Ouzo 12. It was first produced in 1880 by the Kaloyannis brothers in Constantinople. Eventually the increasingly successful business moves to the Athenian port of Piraeus in 1919. The brothers produced various styles of ouzo, but the one preferred by connoisseurs came from barrel number 12. So, as the legend goes, No.12 Ouzo was born, becoming the best known and top selling ouzo brand in Greece and the most famous ouzo in the world.

Ouzo's taste has remained the same, coming from carefully selected herbs and spices, i.e. aniseed, star anise, fennel, nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon and cardamom. These are distilled in traditional copper pot stills and the resulting liquid is placed in barrels in order to marry the complex flavours until they attain the full, distinctive taste for which Ouzo is famous.     

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Greatest Speech Ever Made

Charlie Chaplin is famous for his silent, comic films. However, here he is giving one of the greatest and inspirational speeches, which should inspire us all. His words are important to understand especially today in our modern society, which has its problems, where people are following wrong and ephemeral idols and morals. 


When everyone was speaking he was silent and when Charlie Chaplin spoke, everyone remained silent!  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

On Screen Cars

The "On Screen Cars" exhibition is found at the Beaulieu National Motor Museum. Despite not being a big exhibition it has some of the most famous cars shown on screen. 

The first one is the 1966 Ford Anglia 105 E 'Flying Car'. This Anglia was used during the filming of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It was stolen in 2005 but was later recovered after being dumped by the thieves probably due to the media interest surrounding the car. 

This famous car (below) is the 1981 'Back to the Future' De Lorean. It is a faithful recreation of the car that starred in the Hollywood blockbuster. Amid a glare of media interest, the first De Lorean cars left the Northern Ireland factory in December 1980. Nevertheless, sales in America were disappointingly low and the company collapsed. 

The original Ford Mondeo from the 2006 James Bond film 'Casino Royale'. The Ford Mondeo is the first car new Bond actor Daniel Craig drives in the film. Because the car was required for filming early in 2006, more than a year before it became commercially available. This model was constructed and shipped to the Bahamas under a veil of secrecy, which even 007 would find hard to penetrate. It is probably the most exclusive Mondeo in the world as it was hand built at Ford Europe's Design Studio in Cologne, Germany. 

The 1971 Reliant Regal Supervan III is probably one of the most famous three -wheel vehicles in Britain, featuring in the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses.  

The 1979 Austin Morris Mini, belonged to the famous Mr. Bean, played by Rowan Atkinson. It made its first television appearance on the 1st January 1991. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fontana di Trevi

Fontana di Trevi is one of the most famous attractions in Rome and probably the most recognized and beautiful fountain in the Italian capital. The coin-filled fountain is a fairly recent creation. 
Nicola Salvi's theatrical design for Rome's largest and most famous fountain was completed in 1762. The central figures are Neptune, flanked by two Tritons. One struggles to master a very unruly "seahorse". the other leads a far more docile animal. These symbolise the two contrasting moods of the sea. 

The site originally marked the terminal of the Aqua Virgo aqueduct built in 19 BC. One of the first storey reliefs shows a young girl (the legendary virgin after whom the aqueduct was named) pointing to the spring from which the water flows. It brings water all the way from the Salone Springs, which is situated over 20 kilometres away. 
The water at the bottom of the fountain represents the sea. Legend has it you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the water. In order for it to work you should toss it over your shoulder with your back to the fountain. An estimated 3000 euros in coins are thrown into the fountain every day.