Wordless Wednesday: Golden evening light over Oxford

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows – Oxford’s Radcliffe Camera

The Radcliffe Camera is probably one of the most photographed buildings in Oxford. The ancient window panes of the surrounding buildings not only frame the famous round building with its iconic cupola, I think they also distort the view in an interesting way.

The image above shows the Radcliffe Camera, with behind it the church of Saint Mary the Virgin, viewed from the Old Bodleian Library’s Divinity School.

Below the view from St Mary’s church.

via Photo Challenge: Windows

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Concrete cathedral

How rare a sight this is: A big, bold industrial building surrounded by nature. And these two not clashing, but creating something truly remarkable.Radio Kootwijk-1Radio Kootwijk is such a site I think. The radio station in art deco style -nicknamed The Cathedral- was built in the early 1920s and rises like a monolith from the open field. The grey concrete and purple heather shrubs create a strong contrast, especially by the end of August when the heather is in bloom.Radio Kootwijk-6

 

 

I took these pictures on a warm summer evening. The rays of sunlight were filtered by thin clouds. You could look right through the building. In the glass pane behind the wrought iron door, you can see the reflection of the nearby water tower.

On Open Monumentendag, the Dutch equivalent of England’s Heritage Open Days, the radio station is open to the public (free entrance). I find the inside of this building designed by architect Julius Luthmann (1890-1973) just as striking as the outside, especially the tiled floor in the main hall.

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From the tower, you have a wonderful view of the surrounding heath and woods.

 

 

The architect had a sphynx in mind when he designed the radio station. Especially from the back, the building gives the impression of a resting animal.

 

 

 

 

 

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Beautiful butcher shop

Last week, I posted a series of photo’s from Dordrecht’s historic harbours. Here some pictures of a lovely shop front I came across on my way from the water ferry to the harbours. The sign ‘Vleeschhouwerij’ indicates that this antique shop used to be a butcher shop. The current owner kept the little sign by the entrance stating that dogs are not welcome. The law does not allow for them to enter a butcher shop.

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Dordrecht’s historic harbours by evening

With all their travelling abroad, the Dutch sometimes forget how much their own country has to offer. The historic harbours of Dordrecht are definitely among those gems.

The combination of waterways and old buildings is captivating, I think. It is probably what draws so many people to the Dutch cities of Amsterdam, Leiden, Utrecht, Delft and Dordrecht.

Be sure to look up every now and then: the facade of the old buildings often has beautiful decorations.

This warehouse on the Kuipershaven (Cooper’s Harbour), dating from 1658, is (still) looking magnificent.

Kuipershaven (Cooper’s Harbour).

Dordrecht-12Wijnhaven (Wine Harbour).

Dordrecht-2Some nautical details.

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Water as a weapon

It is well known that the Dutch have been trying to keep water out of their low-lying polders for centuries. At times though, they used water as a weapon against enemies.

The Dutch intentionally flooded polder sections via an intricate system of sluices, dykes and canals. The water level was carefully maintained at 40 centimeters: deep enough to hamper advance on foot and make sure canons get stuck in the mud, but shallow enough to prevent the use of boats (other than the flat bottomed gun barges the Dutch used in defence).

FortbijVechten-7The first ‘Hollandic Water Line‘, a continuous area of land that could be flooded lined by fortresses, was build in the first half of the 17th century. It provided an important line of defence against the French and protected the wealthy cities in the province of Holland, such as Amsterdam, Leiden and Delft.

FortbijVechten-6The ‘New Hollandic Water Line’ included Utrecht and Gorinchem, amongst others, in the area protected by water. Fort bij Vechten, south-east of Utrecht, is the second largest fortification in this extended line of defence. In 2018, the Dutch Government will put forward The New Hollandic Water Line for Unesco World Heritage status.

Since 2015, the barracks house the Waterliniemuseum.

 

Fort bij Vechten is a wonderful area to roam around for an afternoon. You stumble on a number of hidden buildings that have been used primarily for storage.

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Part of the central fort has been restored, part was left dilapidated. You can see this divide over the main entrance.

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The main corridor of the fort.

Two models of Fort bij Vechten – one lost its central stronghold…

 

At the advent of World War II, a large number of pillboxes were added to the earth and brick fortifications of the Water Line. But this line of defence proved outdated: German planes just flew over the fortresses and bombed the city of Rotterdam.

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Plants, animals, and scientists set in stone

As with the Natural History Museum in London, I like the building of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History just as much as the collections it contains. There is so much to be seen on the stonework: squirrels eating acorns, carved tulips, pineapples, irises, orchids, meat-eating plants, ferns unfurling, birds and a frog hiding between leaves, and a fair number of plants and animals I don’t recognise.

Not only are the stone pillars adorned with carvings of animals and plants, the iron pillars are beautifully decorated with leaves and branches as well. Whale skeletons seem to swim in this sea of pillars.

Statues of eminent men of science stand guard in the court on the ground floor.

Some like to have a picknick on the lawn in front of the museumNatHistMuseum-37

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All Souls College

All Souls College, or ‘College of the souls of all the faithful departed’ as it is formally called, was planned and built in the 1430s. It received its foundation charter in 1438.

The Fellows of the College, next to their scholarly work, had the obligation to pray in chapel for the souls of the founders, of those who had fallen in the long wars with France (at the time not being prosecuted with much vigour), and of ‘all the faithful departed’.

The antechapel has beautiful stained glass windows, some dating from the fifteenth century. The niches behind the altar contain statues of saints, bishops, and monarchs. In the centre are a Crucifixion scene, and a Last Judgement, high up under the roof. The original fifteenth-century statues were destroyed in Reformation. They were replaced with these Gothic imitations in the nineteenth century. Gilded wooden angels adorn the ends of the roof beams.

 

 

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The North Quadrangle, facing Radcliffe Square, is dominated by its iconic twin towers.

 

 

 

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The Codrington Library contains about 185,000 volumes, about a third of which were printed before 1800.

 

 

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Back alleys of Venice

Venice is said to be an enchanting town. And I think it is, if you know where to look.

In my opinion, one should avoid the overcrowded Piazza San Marco, where hoards of tourists queue to get into the Basilica di San Marco or the Palazzo Ducale. I’d say the same for Ponte di Rialto, though the bridge itself it is a pretty sight.

What I love about Venice are the quiet waterways, the narrow back alleys, the deserted piazzas.

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