Friday, March 6, 2015

Teatro Municipal, Rio de Janeiro

It's been one of those weeks where you just need a little pretty.  Luckily I have my penpal to supply me with beautiful photographs from his travels. One gem that caught my eye is the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janiero, Brazil (which I can never think of without humming a little Fred Astaire, I love that song of his about Rio!).
The Opera house, designed by French architect Albert Guilbert, was heavily based on the Palais Garnier or Paris Opera House (See my post on that storied building HERE) and completed in 1909. A later addition to the concert hall dates to 1934 with an adjunct being added just 20 years ago.
 The grand staircase could almost be seen as an exact copy!
 Is it any wonder that anyone would want to copy this great, impressive building?
 The ceiling features a beautiful stained glass skylight.
Just as in Paris the top of the stair holds various gathering spaces for intermissions. They are slightly less ornate but no less grand.
 The similarities are so stunning that one expects to stop onto the balcony to view Paris!
 The stained glass is very much of the time of this theater though, 1909.
The exterior loggia is as ornate as the interiors.
 Why do modern theaters lack this attention to detail?
 But lets step into the auditorium and see the main attraction.
Notice the mural above the proscenium.
Does anyone ever use these grand boxes which flank theater stages? I frequently see them and they're always empty!
The large seating capacity dates to the 1934 addition -still very similar to the Paris example only missing the ceiling by Chagall (see that in this post HERE).
Elsewhere in the building is this intriguingly eclectic space which I can only say seems very Brazilian to me which seems to operate as a banquet hall.
 Notice the bulls as column capitals.

 Elsewhere in the room column bases are no less unusual.
 Notice the intriguing tiling and sconces which also feature more bulls.
 I think this dose of pretty much wraps up the week for me, don't you agree?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Alhambra details

The Alhambra is a fortressed palace in southern Spain that dates back to the 9th century.  At the time this area was ruled by the Moors and it wasn't until the late 15th century that it came under Catholic rule (see previous post on the Palace of Charles V HERE). 

The Alhambra is really a warren of separate palaces built under different rulers all joined together on a hilltop as one fortress providing protection against invasion.
Numerous courtyards contain different gardens and water features.
Each are slightly different reflecting the tastes of each ruler and the style of the day but all followed the rule of  making a 'paradise on earth'.
On this cold snowy day I could imagine spending a lot of time in Southern Spain!
The striking thing about each section are the numerous patterns and decoration employed.
The earliest patterns were Arabic inscriptions which morphed into geometric patterns.

No interior surface was left unadorned. Imagine the crews of artisans required to create all of this!
No two rooms are alike, no two ceilings are even the same shape!
Patterns are found within patterns. The starshaped recess in the ceiling has each section broken into smaller and smaller ornate areas.
Bright colors were also orginally used and many still survive.
I love the wood ceiling below with the patterns incised and then inlaid with semi precious stones.

Tilework is also a common decoration found throughout the Alhambra as well as most of Spain.
Glazed and painted or else laid into patterns.
I love the colorful herringbone floor above which appears to be laid with common subway tile nearly; so modern!
The complex lay abandoned for centuries, full of squatters and vandals. Renewed interest led to rehabilitation in the 19th century.
While this level of detail isn't something we aspire today I think we could learn a lot from the attention to detail.
I hope you enjoyed this brief visit to the Alhambra! Many thanks as always to the world traveling Australian Neil

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Renaissance palace of Charles V, Alhambra, Granada

Nestled into the ancient Alhambra is the Palace of Charles V which dates to the early 16th century Renaissance. This palace was modeled on ancient Roman architecture which was heavily influential at the time period. Later these Renaissance examples would come to rule and guide Classical architecture.
Lets start outside as that's what one encounters first.  The strong rusticated base exudes strength but instead of small openings as in a fortress the palace is flooded with large windows and natural light. Fortification is not the primary goal here.
 I love the ornate bronze rings that line the lower level. Notice the recent restoration to the stonework with the new stone crisp and clean leaving the weathered stone alone (the way it should be!).
Once inside the gardens make a complete 180. When in Rome....or Granada in this case.....cooling water features are the focus of the gardens. The gardens were actually already in place when the palace was built having been started in the 14th century (the Palacio de Generalife). They were later restored in the 1930s to their current day appearance.
Architect Pedro Machuca was responsible for the building of the Renaissance palace which took over 20 years.
 The enormous round interior colonnaded patio is what really impresses me.
 Notice the detailed stone work on the interior face of the wall and the beautiful Ionic columns.
Is it any wonder that these Renaissance buildings would come to inspire artisans for 6 centuries?

 In this cold winter weather here in Washington these gardens are speaking to me!
 Symmetry, balance, and simplicity are key here.
 The gardens terrace down the steep hillsides taking advantage of the view.
Thanks as always to my Australian Penpal for providing us with this inspiration!