Monday, November 7, 2016

Avignon Mega Post or Trial by a Million Pictures

Only in this case it is YOU who are getting tried. Avignon is one of those places that is steeped in history and has some of the great Medieval monuments. In addition to all the pictures I want to talk a bit about what we see and don't see when we visiting these types of places. I also want to comment on understanding how things and places like this evolve in history.

One of the things that you begin to understand when you go to these famous places is that virtually none of them are first hand, as they were construction. They are virtually all major restorations with substantial amounts being relatively new construction. The reason for this is that time doesn't stand still. When someone - a king, a pope, a whomever - builds a famous place and their time in history moves on, the place is not suddenly mothballed for posterity. No, someone else comes in and decides, "Gad this is so Medieval. We're modern Renaissance people now. We need to rip out this and that and add this other and that other." Which is fine until a couple of centuries later, a whole new group of people come in, change what it is used for and say "Eww this is so Renaissance. We need to be modern and Baroque. So lets tear out this, and rebuild that, and change all this decoration." Followed maybe by a revolution which says, "Sacre bleu, all this is the symbol of the decrepit, wealthy exploiting clergy. Turn the whole thing into a prison and a barracks!" Finally after many, many centuries, someone says, "You know, that was pretty cool what they did 700 years ago. Wouldn't be cool to restore it to like it was?" And they spend a bunch of money and come up with something that is like what it might have been.

Then there is the fact that we have this image in our heads from movies that all of the Middle Ages was this dark time when everything was black, white and grey. In fact the Middle Ages (not to be confused with the Dark Ages) was a pretty prosperous time when lots of new stuff was happening and (at least those with the money to spend) loved color and decoration. I'll try to give you a taste of that in this post.

Finally, we should not forget that for most of history, these areas were constantly being fought over. There were wars and sieges and fires and destruction. We should never over glamorize what life was like then either.

So here is our tour of Avignon, the home of the Papacy for almost 70 years, the great palace they build, Le Palais des Papes, and the famous bridge, Le Pont d'Avignon, more famous in song than as an actual bridge.

Entering Avignon

We  come into the plaza in front of the great Palais des Papes

We enter into an inner court yard the encompasses the old and new palaces that were built by different popes

The Plaza and the inner courtyard seen from higher up in the Palace

Viewing around Avignon from on top of the Palace

What did the interior really look like when it was first built?
Here are glimpses of some of the few original wood ceiling painting and frescos

Sculptural Detail
It is a bit mind boggling the amount of detail on each architectural element.
Seen from afar
And up close

Close up

Lunch Break
Two classic French stews
Back to work!
On to the Bridge - more successful for stopping shipping and getting tolls than for transporting goods across it. Plus it was destroyed numerous times by floods

And finally a return to our favorite 'Signs Around the World'
A rather unique Men's Room sign I think implying an emptying of the bladder
And why are burgers, drinks with straws and lighted cigarettes the only things forbidden?


Renee Michelle Goertzen said...

You certainly have embraced your inner photographer. Avignon played such an important role in Catholic history; it looks like a fascinating place to visit.

Agent W said...

Avignon looks like a very pretty city! I remember this song we learned in French class... :)

Sur le pont d'Avignon,
L'on y danse, l'on y danse,
Sur le pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse tout en rond.

I must admit...I remember the first line only!! The rest I copied from an online source!!! :) :)

Hope to visit Avignon someday!

alexis said...

I will add Avignon to the list.