Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Pergamon Museum - Vorderasiatisches


Ishtar Gate

It was a 2 hour wait just to get inside the Pergamon Museum. Luckily, the sun was shining and it was comfortable standing outside with just a light jacket and medium heel espadrilles. The Pergamon is undergoing renovations and a section of it will be closed after September 2014. The main entrance is now closed and visitors must enter from a side entrance in the courtyard bounded by the Neues Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie and the Pergamon on Museum Island. I bought the area ticket worth 18 which may be used to enter a number of other museums within the same day of purchase.  What I should have done though was buy the €25 annual basic membership Staatliche Museen zu Berlin ticket so I could have skipped the line. Well next time I know better.

This was my second visit to the Pergamon. I was quite impressed with the Gate of Ishtar the first time around which is why it was on my bucket list on this trip and the reason why I endured the long wait. I wavered a couple of times and thought I should have started at the Neues Museum to view the Nefertiti first which is equally electrifying but the line to the Pergamon never let up so I stayed where I was until I was finally allowed into the museum at around 2 p.m.

In Nebuchadnezzar's own words

The Ishtar Gate and Processional Way are at the top of the stairs as you enter the lobby. The gate is one of eight double gates from Babylon dating back to the time of Nebuchadnezzar II around 575 B.C.E.  It is covered in blue glazed bricks across which parade yellow glazed dragons and bulls. The gate dazzles like new. On one side wall is an inscription of Nebuchadnezzar’s own words:  “I, Nebuchadnezzar, laid the foundation of the gates down to the water level and had them built out of pure blue stones. Upon the walls in the inner room of the gate are bulls and dragons and thus I magnificently adorned them with luxurious splendor for all mankind to behold in awe.”* And it is truly awesome!

Processional Way

The Processional Way is a snippet of the original in ancient Babylon, but it is nonetheless impressive. Lions march along the length of the facing walls in the direction of the gate. These well preserved fragments date back to 600 to 562 BC.

 Lamassu

There are so many treasures in the Pergamon Museum, particularly in the Vorderasiatisches Museum. One of these treasures is the lamassu, an Assyrian deity in the form of a winged beast with a human head. It is stunning in size.

Next up, the Market of Miletus.


*Source: Smart History, Khan Academy

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Images by TravelswithCharie


Sunday, June 01, 2014

Random Amsterdam


The Bulldog

Amsterdam has always thrived on its notoriety which has brought many visitors eager to see its offbeat attractions such as the Red Light district. Another popular curiosity is The Bulldog (The Name with a Heart!) which, as the sign on its colorful façade indicates, has been around since 1975 serving some things you wouldn't normally see on a regular café menu. They claim to be the first coffee shop in Amsterdam where they now have several locations including this one at Oudezijds Voorburgwal 132 in the Red Light District. And to quote their Palace branch website, "If there is more than coffee or juice you crave, The Bulldog cafes have all the offerings". Yes, they have Karaoke too! (lol) The Bulldog has also branched into the hotel business both in Amsterdam and in Canada. 

The Night Watch, Rembrandtsplein

The Night Watch is considered one of Rembrandt's masterpieces and it's possibly the most precious painting in the Rijksmuseum.  The Night Watch has been vandalized twice in recent years and subsequently restored. On the Rembrandtsplein, there's a sculptural reproduction of The Night Watch over which a statue of Rembrandt keeps watch. And you can approach, examine, and touch the various characters from the famous painting. The little dog is my favorite.

Bike Lane

When you see this sign, stay away from it and allow the thousands of bicyclists who have places to go and people to see to navigate their way without obstacles in their path. Don't walk on their lane. Or you'll hear about it!

De Krijtberg

Amsterdam is not known for its churches but the Krijtberg (Church of St. Francis Xavier) on the Singel near the flower market is a neo Gothic church from 1883 whose beauty you'll only discover once you enter the main door. Notice the vaulted ceiling, the stained glass windows, the rood screen and the ornate pulpit. There's so much to look up to. The façade though, is plain and unattractive with two pointed spires. 

View from the Skylounge

The Skylounge at the Double Tree Hilton by the Central Station has one of the best views of the city and the EYE Film Institute on the banks of the Ij River. There's an outdoor seating area with gas heaters for cold evenings.  This was my new discovery in a city I know so well, thanks to my good friends. I love to sit here and watch the sunset transform the city from nitty gritty to absolutely romantic!

Romantic Amsterdam

And speaking of romantic, here's a view of the Amstel river from Café de Jaren. Eat slowly and enjoy the view. Cheers! 

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Images by TravelswithCharie