Binge Traveling on Religion Elin Yang

December 01, 2016

Today, I went to the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, which is a very important architecture for Christianity. It took me around 8 hours from New York to Rome, but I wasn't to exhausted because I was really excited to see this marvelous building. When I stood in front of the building, I could not believe that I was really in front of it. St. Peter's Basilica was built to remember his death, for he was considered as the first pope. This building is built on Vatican Hill, which is across from Tiber River in the center of Rome. There were several statues by the sides of the building and on top of the building; it was beautiful.

This building went through two stages of renovation. During the 15th century, this building began to fall apart; Pope Nicholas V. ordered for a renovation for this building. However, after his death, the process stopped. This building was untouched until Pope Julius showed up, who wanted to build a whole new building. Thanks to these two popes, the building became alluring. Let's enjoy some of the traits of this building!

the front of the St. Peter's Basilica

When I went inside the building, a beautiful lobby greeted the visitors. The walls were filled with magnificent mosaic arts. This lobby was called Narthex and there were five entrances that led to this marvelous place. Also, there was a majestic dome. In this building, a lot more lovely things were waiting for me. There was a door named "The Holy Door," which was opened every 25 years. Also, you can't forget, a bronze statue of St. Peter was in this building. All the designs of the building was done by Donato Bramante and all the details of the building was done by Carlo Maderno.

Top row: top of Narthex, the statue of St. Peter ; Bottom row: the Holy Door, close-up of Narthex

December 02, 2016

Today, I went to Hagia Sophia, a sacred site for Christianity.This beautiful church is located in Istanbul, Turkey. However, the process of this building was not easy; it took six years to build Hagia Sophia. To build this building, these three architects put their hearts and souls into the church: Anthemius of Tralles, Isidore of Miletus, who were called by Justinian. Let's look through the building in details!

front of the Hagia Sophia

As you can see from the picture above, there are several domes. The main dome is 105-feet tall and two semi domes are on the either side of the building. Also, the color of the wall seems very dull, but that is because it's been so long since it got renovated.

Inside the Hagia Sophia, there are three aisles separated by columns with galleries above and there are great marble piers rising up to support the dome. Base of the dome is pierced with windows; this gives the visitors impression that the canopy is floating in the air when the sunlight shines through the windows. This building has a chandelier that makes you speechless and be in awe. Also, there are many mosaic arts in the building, which is considered as the main knowledge of the state of mosaic art by art historians.

Top row: the dome and the chandelier ; Bottom row: two of the mosaic arts in the building

December 03, 2016

Now that I'm in Russia, I decided to visit the Grand Choral Synagogue, a sacred site for Judaism. This building is located in Sankt-Peterburg, Russia. This building went through a lot of unfortunate events. In 1869, Alexander II permitted Russian Jews, specifically the St. Petersburg's Jewish Community, on building the Grand Choral Synagogue, but during the process of this building, it was bombed by German forces during the Siege of Leningrad. However, this building was used as a hospital during this war. But, let's put those hard times aside and enjoy the beauty of this synagogue!

When you step in front of this building, you notice the beige colored calls and a dome on the top of the building, the highest point of the building. Although there aren't much talk about the significance of the exterior of the synagogue, it was very elegant to look at.

front of the Grand Choral Synagogue

When you step into the main worship room, you will see an extravagant chandelier from the ceiling. Since the building is two-floored, you will immediately notice that the room has second floor for more people. There are staircases leading up to the second floor. And the view from the second floor was exquisite. However, in 2002, this building suffered from extension of the water, which ruined the foundation of the building, including the carved design in the building. But, now it is in stable condition. This synagogue is important to Jewish because it had an important era of Russian Jewish history.

Top row: view from first & second floors ; Bottom: staircases leading up to second floor

December 05, 2016

This morning, I arrived to Syria. I heard that in Syria, there was a beautiful architecture in Aleppo, Syria. This architecture was called the CItadel of Aleppo. This was the most prominent historic architectural site; this was a critical architecture for Islam. The basic foundation of this site was built by Sayf al-Dawla, but Nur al-Din, a Zangid ruler, put more structure into the foundation, like the Small Mosque of the Citadel. As the time passed by, more significant features were added; for example, it was built higher for higher defense. Let's look into this interesting architecture!

The Citadel of Aleppo was surrounded by moats filled with water, which was done to prevent intruders. The entire building was covered with large blocks of limestone. This magnificent architecture did not get built in one day; it was built for several days and by many talented ones.

front of the Citadel of Aleppo

From the renovation, the most noticeable feature was the entrance block that al-Ghazi rebuilt. Also, when you go inside the citadel, there will be a hallway, pierced with several windows. You will notice the chandelier right away. This hall's name is the Mamluk Throne Hall. Although not many people talked about this hallway, it was lovely.

Left: the Mamluk Throne Hall, damage of Citadel of Aleppo ; Right: the entrance made by al-Ghazi

December 07, 2016

In Jerusalem, the holiest site of Judaism is located. This is the Temple Mount. However, there were cops surrounding the building so I could only take a picture of the exterior of the Temple Mount. They were surrounding the site because they didn't want any Jews to visit their holiest site because they think that Jewish aren't important enough to have any architectures. But, in the exterior, there is a golden dome, which reflected the ray of the sun. Also, the shade of blue of the Temple Mount was very elegant to look at.

front of the Temple Mount

December 09, 2016

When I heard that there are numbers of religious architectures, I told myself that I had to go to India. However, I chose three of those numbers of architectures because they seemed very interesting. One of them was Taj-ul-Masjid, which was a sacred site for Islam. I went to this mosque today; however, due to my lack of research, non-Muslims are not allowed into this building on Fridays, and today is, in fact, Friday.

Even though I didn't go into this building, it was very pleasantly built. This mosque was the largest mosque in India and second largest one in Asia. Taj-ul-Masjid translates to "The Crown of Mosques." There are three domes and two minarets, which are known as lighthouse." Also, this building was symbolizing devotion.

front of Taj-ul-Masjid

December 10, 2016

I went up north today to go to Nagara-style Temple, which is one of the worship sites for Hindus. There are multiple temples that are built in Nagara-style. As I mentioned before, most of the Nagara-styled temples are located in the northern part of India. Let's look more into this styled temple!

First of all, this is the most important design of the temple in Hinduism. The projections are built high, but it was done purposely; this gave the temple emphasis vertical lines in elevation. Second of all, this designed temple can be called as shikara; they are called this because shikara had a reminiscence of a curvilinear beehive. Also, this type of temple can be sometimes square and have number of graduated projections in the middle of each side; this gave the temple some kind of cross shape. The one that I visited is called Pattadakal Temple.

front of Pattadakal Temple

When you go inside this spectacular temple, you will see several pillars supporting the roof, or the top of the temple. The pillars and the walls had engravings of several arts, and they were very fascinating to look at.

Left: the "hallway in the temple ; Right: close-up of the pillars

December 12, 2016

I went to the southern part of the country today; I went to Tamil Nadu state of India. The reason why I went down the country is to go to a sacred site for Hinduism: Brihadeeswarar. Let me explain about this place in more details!

This is one of the Hindu temples that was built for the dedication to Lord Shiva. This was built with great height, maybe because the higher the building, the closer to the lord. This is also known as the most prized site as Indian architecture; this whole temple was made out of granite.

Left: front of Brihadeeswarar ; Right: close-up of entrance of Brihadeeswarar

There was also a bull statue placed on the entrance of Brihadeeswarar; it was 13-feet-tall and 16-feet-wide. Also, the statue was a result of a single rock carving. But when I actually looked at the statue, it was hard to believe that it was done by single rock carving.

Left: side view of the bull statue ; Right: front of the bull statue

December 13, 2016

Here I am: Sri Lanka! So the reason why I came to this country is to visit Great Stupa. I hear this was the most important stupa in Buddhism, so I was really curious about what made it so special.

front of the Great Stupa

So, right off the bat, I could see that it was dome-shaped. I thought that would be a significant feature of this stupa; however, engravings of elephants that filled up the walls were more significant than its shape. Also, saintly ascetic is buried under this architecture. This was built by King Duttugamunu and it was decorated with coal.

the engravings of elephants

December 15, 2016

Now I am at South Korea, or my home country! Good to be home! But I didn't come here to hang out with my old friends and my family only, I also came here to go to my final destination of this binge traveling: Haeinsa Temple. I heard that this temple was beautiful from my friends, so we went to Haeinsa Temple together.

front of the Haeinsa Temple

This temple is located in south part of Gyeongsang Province. It is a wooden building and this was built to protect a treasure that was considered to be priceless, which is called the 13-century Goryeo Palman Daejangyeong. Also, Buddhist canon was protected in this temple too; it was protected by the Tripitaka Koreana, wooden blocks that prevented aging of it. All in all, this temple was known for architectural beauty and for the prevention of aging of the treasures.

the Tripitaka Koreana

Additionally, the protection provided by the Haeinsa Temple was praised by scientists for its effective air circulation, resistance to moisture, and temperature control.

December 16, 2016

This travel was really memorable, and I'm hoping that this blog was beneficial and interesting to those ones who were following along through my journey! Thank you so much being with me during this travel!

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