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Showing posts from July, 2017

CULTURE: Tarragona's Roman Amphitheatre

Post 228. Written by Ben Kesp. 

Located in Tarragona, the beautiful old port city in the northeast of Spain or Tarraco as it was formally known during the Roman period, sits a Roman amphitheatre. The oval shaped amphitheatre was constructed in the 2nd century and could accommodate up to 15,000 spectators in addition to its position offering magnificent views overlooking the Mediterranean Sea
But the history of the amphitheatre was not only for sport. During the persecution of Christians in 2nd/3rd centuries, the Emperor Valerian had the city’s bishop, Fructuosus and his two deacons burned alive within the grounds of the site. 
Unusual for a site like this, you can also find the remains of a 6th century Visigoth Basilica, built following the rise of Christianity when the site was left abandoned. The site was abandoned again following the Islamic invasion of Spain until the 12th century which followed with the construction of the mediaeval Santa Maria del Miracle or Our Lady of Miracl…

HIST & MYTH: The Dagda - Father God Figure

Post 227. Written by Ben Kesp. 

Of all the Irish deities making up the pantheon of gods, the Dagda is seen as the most powerful and omnicompetent, unlike his counterparts who are often limited in their abilities.
What I found interesting on my research of the Dagda is his role when it came to the introduction of Christianity. Ireland’s culture and belief systems have been very insular due to its isolation from mainland Europe and its strong ties with its former pagan culture. The development of the Irish church intertwined and fused the old pagan beliefs into the new religion with many crossovers with the gods of old. It appears to have been easier to Christianise and bestow saint hood on former gods than to have them removed altogether. All of the old pagan customs and rituals were based on earth’s seasonal cycles of the year and each is attributed to a related god, so as the seasons impacted the people, so did the god. 
The pagan Irish gods of old came from the “Otherworld” however w…

CULTURE: Meteora - Monasteries on Rock Pillars

Post 226. Written by Ben Kesp. 

The first thing that struck me on sighting the Greek monasteries perched high on the Meteora rock pillars was the sheer height and extremes that the builders of these beautiful monasteries went to. It was pure dedication and devotion to God along with the isolation of the mountain tops that offered a spiritual and mystical sanctuary. 
Meteora which means “the middle of the sky” is a formation of massive monolithic pillars which I believe can only be truly enjoyed from the monasteries themselves. On reaching the beautiful buildings resting peacefully on their lofty platforms, the view is impressive beyond words. Casting my eyes over the serene beauty of the Greek landscape spreading out before me, it is easy to understand the attraction for the monks, bringing them one step closer to God. 
The rocks reach a height of 1,200 ft (400m) and where there was once twenty-four Eastern Orthodox monasteries, now sits six, mostly dating from the 14th to 16th centuri…

CULTURE: Montmartre - Bohemian District of Paris

Post 225 

Guest Post by MikeH
In 2006 I had a wonderful experience that left me with an everlasting memory. This fond moment occurred in Montmartre, in the north of the city of Paris. The place itself added to the moment because of its charm and bohemian character. To this day, Montmartre holds its distinct individual character despite having been swallowed by the city. As you wander around its hilly streets, it makes you believe that you are walking around a country village! 
On visiting Paris recently, I had the great opportunity to revisit this charming district, exploring it in more detail and I realized this is a world apart from the rest of the city! Montmartre has captivated Bohemian artists since the Belle Époque (Period of Western European History) and continues to delight tourists today. The whole area has a unique ambience. Joie de vivre is everywhere: merry-go-rounds, quaint sidewalk cafés, and impromptu street performances. Not only is it a touristic area, it has also been…