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Showing posts with the label UNESCO World Heritage Site

Chernivtsi, a study in contrasts

Chernivtsi National University When your country is at war but you live a thousand kilometers from the combat zones, how is your way of life affected? I had a surprisingly pleasant visit in Ukraine in September. There was no hint of the conflict happening on the eastern front.  This is what I saw in Chernivtsi, a university town in Western Ukraine.   The Chernivtsi National University, once the residence  of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans (bishops), is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The residence including the church, monastery and gardens incorporate Byzantine, Gothic and Baroque architectural styles. It became part of the University in 1955.  Bartka Outdoor Terrace As soon as we arrived in Chernivtsi, we stopped for coffee, cola and cake at a rooftop café overlooking the city. How peaceful it was to sit there and soak in the view while slowly savoring my chocolate cake. Address: Holovna St., 124 There’s a lounge area outside the restrooms of the terrace  café which it shares w

Sighișoara, A Medieval Hilltop Town

Strada Tamplârilor (Carpenter’s Street) When I was planning a trip to Romania, the place I wanted to visit the most was Sighisoara (pronounced see gui sho ara; the ghi is the same sound as gui in guild ). It was the one place that called to me among all the pretty little towns in the country. Perhaps it was the image of colorful houses and the rustic ambience that appealed to me the most. I knew how much farther away Sighisoara is from the capital, Bucharest, and I studied all the options of getting there on my own. I just couldn’t imagine going to Romania without seeing Sighisoara. Citadel or Town Square ( Piața Cetății) Sighisoara sits on top of a hill surrounded by medieval fortifications. It is like a fairytale village with its storybook setting, cobblestone streets, towers, a covered stairway, an intriguing history complete with an evil prince and an impressive clock tower. Clock Tower (Turnul cu Ceas) The 64-meter Clock tower is perhaps the first thing you see as you approach th

The Frescoes of Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery sits in a forested valley surrounded by snow capped mountain peaks. The setting can’t get any more wholesome with the exception that this is a popular tourist and pilgrimage destination. Weekends are the worst days to visit when the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mother is so crowded, there’s little room to move inside the stunning church. We got there after lunch on a Sunday and the traffic on the narrow lane road at the back of the monastery was atrocious. The crowds thinned after three p.m. so we could get a closer look at the outdoor frescoes.  All Eastern Orthodox churches depict the Christ Pantocrator in the central dome of the Church. Pantocrator means the Almighty and the ruler of all. There are initials on both sides of the head of the Pantocrator, IC and XC. IC are the first and last letters of Jesus in the Greek alphabet (Iota and Sigma) and XC (Chi and Sigma) are the first and last letters for Christ. This Pantocrator fresco is on the outdoor portico. T