Certosa di Pavia

23 Nov 2014 (Sunday)

It was a gloomy day and we set on to visit Certose di Pavia in the afternoon as it opened at 14.30.  The opening time was only two hours.  Or you can start the visit at 9am.  We took the train from Milano.  The Certose appeared right in front of us.  The walk outside the wall lasted about 20 minutes.  

Certose di Pavia is a one of the largest monasteries in Italy. It was built by order of Gian Galeazzo Visconti as the funeral chapel of the family.  The construction started in 1396 and ended 1452.  The church and the facade were built in 1473 and 16th century respectively. Certose in Italian means a house of the cloistered monastic order of Carthusians .  They were known for their seclusion and asceticism and plainness of their architecture.  But the Certosa is famous for the exuberance.

The white marble facade infused with mottled pink and green is stunningly beautiful.  Sculpture and reliefs dotted the facade intricately, complicated but still in harmony. They can be independent saints, patriarchs, prophets, stories from the bible or episodes at time.


The guided tour began.  A priest (not Italian) spoke primarily Italian with some English.

The interior of the Certose is astonishingly gorgeous. The central nave is structured with intricate geometries. Golden stars are shining on the blue ceiling. Paintings by famous painter are on or over the altar. A tomb of Ludovico il Moro and Beatrice d'Este lies on one spot of the church. In general, photos are not allowed.  The control was selective.  We saw people putting up their giant tablets for photo shooting at every corner.  The priest did not stop them.  However, we could only take a few photos.

The small hall leading to the courtyard has a beautiful ceiling. Outside is a small garden in the center.  

Terra cotta decoration of the small pilasters sit nicely in the environment in a charming way.  One scene is Jesus with the woman of Samaria at the well.


Then we saw the monk's cell.  The priest explained that Certose is a form of small houses / cells as a part of the monastery.  Each monk had a house, a garden for vegetables, a well and necessities.  Most of the time they were praying.  It is luxurious to have the plot of land though not owning it.


The guided tour ended.  We proceeded to the museum to see replica of the reliefs on the facade.  Quality is high.  I like particularly the different angels.

If we put the genuine and copy together, those on the facades are more nicely crafted and beautiful. The bluish grey are reliefs on the facade whilst the brownish ones are copies in the museum.  See the difference?

Time is running quick.  Goodbye, incredible Certose di Pavia!



My birthday was forecasted with bad weather.  The weather of the day before was predicted a bit better.  Parents of my friend took us to a romantic town nearby, Dinkelsbühl, for celebration. It is an enchanting little town.  Just as a coincidence, there was the Kinderzeche which made the day more memorable.  The legend tells that when the Swedish army besieged the town during the Thirty Year's war, a girl took the children to the Swedish general to beg for mercy. The Swedish general had recently lost his young son due to illness.  And a boy who approached him  resembled his own son so closely that he decided to spare the town. Click here to see the parade.


Dinkelsbühl is a medieval town but modernised nowadays.   One can see QR code randomly for tourists to understand the spots and the town.  Buildings are old but very colourful and preserved in a good state.  I could see only one in bad state. Around the city is the city wall, green spots and medieval buildings.   Many building in the town centre are shops, selling all kinds of living matters.

Another illustration of its age is the various signages and icons attached to the buildings.  They are so sweet and cute.

Don't miss the St. Georg Church.  And climb to the top to get a gorgeous view of the town!




26 July 2014

Feuchtwangen has a history of more than 1200 years.  A lot of historical buildings remain, dot the main square at the town centre.   Feuchtwangen is named as the 'festival hall of Franconia' with the four big festivals during the year and huge half-timber Franconia houses in the centre.  The focal point of the square is the Röhrenbrunnen fountain build in 1726.  The statue is Minerva, the Protectrewss of CommerceAt time of visit, it was full of colourful flowers.

Other famous spots include:

  • Romanesque cloisters, the Kreuzgang - dated from 12th century
  • Handwerkerstuben - workshops preserved in their original state, e.g. a confectioner's, a dyer's, a potter's, a shoemaker's, etc. 
  • The collegiate church, the Stiftskirche - Different church parts dated between Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque periods. The altar, dedicated to Mary, was created in 1484 by Michael Wolgemut, who taught Albrecht Dürer.
  • Close by is St John's church, the Johanniskirche, the former parish church. The paintings on the vaulted ceiling of the choir date from around 1400.  

To view more details, just click here.  Feuchtwangen is not just a town of historical buildings.  Spend some time to hike and wander to appreciate its natural beauty.

We saw a nest of stork.   Imagine, one is carrying a baby here and there and then take a rest of the roof top.  Cute!

Things put together led to an impression that Feuchtwangen is colourful and joyful.  See one of the benches in the public area.

Nearby is a famous town along the Romantic Road, Dinkelsbühl.  It is nice to have a short visit at Feuchtwangen and then proceed to Dinkelsbühl.



We visited Würzburg on my birthday, 27 July 2014.  Weather everywhere nearby Nürnberg was expected to be bad.  Only Würzburg stood out as the option to spend a nice day.   The photo above was taken from a bridge, not the Alte Mainbrücke, with a view of the strategic positioned Fortress Marienberg.


We began the day with a visit to St. Johannes, Stift Haug.  Inside is enoromous, immaculately white and solemn.  A mass was in progress.  Therefore we could not tour around.  Then we took a train to see Veitshöchheim.

Returning to Würzburg we were strolling along the river Main and appreciating the buildings on the two sides.   Opposite are the striking Fortress Marienberg and Käppele on top or middle of two hills. We took the challenge of climbing up to visit the Käppele.  The Baroque towers upfront drew our steps closer and closer.   The trip took time and energy.  All sweating in the high summer.  We missed the correct path and ended up passing through a private garden to arrive at the back of the church, a bit higher even.


Würzburg was over 90% destroyed during WWII.  Amazingly the Käppele was not damaged at all.  It is Würzburg's 14 Stations of the Cross, the largest one in Germany, depicts the last hours of Jesus with life-sized sculptures. It is decorated with golden frescos and stucco works. Angel sculptures are very beautiful and elegant.  A bonus: a gorgeous view of Würzburg from the Käppele.

Gradually we reached the prominent Alte Mainbrücke for pedestrians only.   Randomly some artists there to get your appreciation and assistance. Wine bars dotted at the other end of the bridge. Important landmarks are lining up for your visit.


You won't miss the Marien Chapel, a red white impressive Gothic church standing in the middle of a main square.  Construction started in 1377 and completed 100 years later.   The chapel was badly damaged during WWII.  The tower and the statue of Mary atop it survived intact.  The modern interior was designed as part of the 1948-61 recovery. On the market portal are Adam and Eve. Inside are still sculptures, paintings and colourful glass windows.

Nearby are the Neumünster and the Cathedral (Dom). I like particularly the ceiling in Neumünster.  There are still many remarkable art pieces.



Next to Neumünster is the Cathedral.  Some interesesting sculptures stand in the square to get you a smile.  Inside is gorgeously presented with various sculptures and paintings.


The Cathedral is dedicated to St. Kilian.  This Romanesque church is the fourth largest in Germany.  The interior is simple and elegant. You can see many high quality sculptures around.  Walk a few steps to the corridor to discover more beautiful pieces.

Last but not the least is the Residenz.   It is a splendid palace of the Prince-Bishops and one of the finest secular Baroque buildings in Germany.  Its spectacular and monumental staircase hall with an enormous fresco by Tiepolo is famous.  Worth seeing are also the many sumptuously decorated rooms.   Unfortunately, we only had time for the building exterior and the beautiful garden dotted with statues, ladies and babies.




Oh well, it's a beautiful day but we had to return home.   A nice cold beer to take with me on the train.  And seco at home with family.