Caerlaverock Castle

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On the south coast of Scotland, where the swift flowing River Nith enters the salt marshes of the Solway Firth, stands the medieval stronghold of Caerlaverock Castle. During the Middle Ages, the castle guarded an important gateway into the kingdom of Scotland. The lands of Caerlaverock (meaning fort of the skylark or elm fort) were ruled by British lords of Nithsdale after the Romans abandoned their hold on southern Scotland around 400AD. By 950AD, the Nithsdale lords had built a fort on the site that would later become the old castle. In around 1220, Alexander II of Scotland granted the lands to an incomer from the eastern Borders, Sir John de Maccuswell (Maxwell).

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The Maxwell coat of arms was added above the entrance gate in the 1600s.

The Maxwells built the first castle (old castle) around 1220 but as it proved too small and prone to flooding, they built a new castle in around 1270. The castle is uniquely triangular in shape with three tall towers built integrally at each point of the triangle. As a result of the close proximity to England, Caerlaverock Castle was frequently brought into conflict during the Middle Ages. The castle walls were rebuilt in the 1370s after the War of Independence and further alterations were made to make the fortress more suited for lordly living. The siege of 1640 however, during the Civil War between Charles I and his Socttish subjects, proved to be the castle’s last, and after the Royalist garrison surrendered to the Covenanters, Caerlaverock fell into disuse.

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Surrounding the castle are two moats (outer moat is now dry) and following archaeological excavations in 1958, three phases of medieval bridge construction was discovered in the outer moat. The courtyard (above) was the heart of the castle and when first built, the curtain walls were lined with timber buildings. Over the course of time, the Maxwells replaced them with stone buildings and a 15th century stone stair tower was added giving access both to the gatehouse and the west range.

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The plain front of the west range (above left & right) contrasts to the grand facade of the Nithsdale Lodging. Built after 1450, the two-storey block has three rooms on the ground floor, each entered separately from the courtyard. Each room had a decorated fireplace with a larger room on the upper floor believed to have been used as a great hall or banqueting room.

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Murdoch’s Tower viewed from the east range overlooking the courtyard

At either end of the south range was a round tower. The south west tower, known as Murdoch’s Tower, still stands to full height. The tower takes its name from Murdoch the Duke of Albany, a cousin of James I, who is recorded as being confined there in 1425 shortly before his execution.

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In 1603, James VI’s accession to the English throne as James I brought peace to the Border country for the first time in centuries. The new found confidence led to Robert Maxwell overseeing more building works within Caerlaverock and he was created Earl of Nithsdale in 1620. As they were built by Robert, the ranges along the east and south sides of the courtyard are known as the Nithsdale Lodging. The lodging was completed in 1634 and as security was no longer a priority, Robert had large windows installed in the east curtain wall. The Renaissance mansion had a richly decorated symmetrical facade with stone carving. The pedimented windows are adorned with figures from classical myths and legends.

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17th Century fireplace

The east range consists of two roomed apartments on each of the three floors and all featured a fireplace and toilet closets. After the siege of 1640, the castle was partially dismantled by the Covenanters to render it incapable of further defence. The castle was left to fall into decay until 1946 when the 16th Duke placed Caerlaverock in state care.

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Cambridge: Clare College

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Founded in 1326, Clare College is the second oldest surviving college of Cambridge University. Built of Ketton and Weldon stone ashlar, the main gateway (above) dates to the 17th century.

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Located in the heart of historic Cambridge, the Early Renaissance style architecture is enclosed by courtyards.

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Known as the ‘Friendly College’ the buildings have undergone 16th, 17th and 18th century alterations.

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The Master’s Lodge dates to the 19th century with fine views across the courtyard. The buildings and principle courts of Clare College are Grade I listed.

Berlin: Berliner Dom

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Located on Museum Island is the Berliner Dom – Berlin Cathedral Church. The largest church in Berlin, the Dom we see today was completed in 1905 and was designed by the German architect Julius Karl Raschdorff.

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The building features four corner towers and is both Baroque and Renaissance in its architectural style. Huge corinthian pilasters dominate the entrance facade (above left) and sculpted cherubs adorn the roof (above right).

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The monumental pipe organ was built by the Prussian Wilhelm Carl Friedrich Sauer.

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The Hozenzollern Crypt has tombs dating back to the 16th century. The crypt is the final resting place for several Kings of Prussia with over ninety sarcophagi and tombs of members of the house of Hohenzollern.

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Zadar: Crkva sv Marije

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Located across the remains of the Roman Forum from the Church of St Donat is the Church of St Mary (Crkva sv Marije). Established in the 9th century as a Benedictine nunnery, it was founded by a noblewoman named Cika, a daughter of a powerful local nobleman named Madije. Cika became its first abbess and the Croatian king Petar Kresimir IV donated the church to her. A new Romanesque, aisled basilica, was built in 1091 of which much is preserved today despite undergoing reconstructions on two occasions. It was enlarged with the addition of two bays in 1507 and had a new Renaissance front, a circular gable and southern front.

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After victory and the conclusion of peace in 1105, King Koloman endowed the construction of the campanile and the chapter house, the first High Romanesque buildings in Dalmatia. The four capitals supporting the groin vault in one of the first floor rooms, one of the oldest in Europe, have the King’s name inscribed. In 1742-44, the interior was redesigned in the Baroque style and richly stuccoed. In the 19th century the interior was renovated again in Classicist style. Almost totally destroyed in 1943-44 by air raids, it was reconstructed in the 1970’s. Since reconstruction, the western and northern nunnery wings have been used for the permanent exhibition of religious art. Objects produced by Zadar’s goldsmiths during the Gothic period are on display here.

Dubrovnik: Grad Zid

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One of the most beautiful and strongest fort systems in the Mediterranean, the intact city walls encircle the historic city of Dubrovnik for 1940 metres. The walls consist of a series of forts, bastions, casemates, towers and detached forts. Although construction of the first fort started in the 8th century, the walls were mostly built during the 15th and 16th centuries.

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The historical figure of Sv Vlaho (St Blaise) set in the walls over the main entrance into town. Pile Gate is approached over a wooden drawbridge on chains. The gate was constructed in 1537 with a Renaissance arch with the protector of the city (St Blaise) displayed in a richly decorated niche.

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The main entrance (Pile Gate) leads onto the Old City’s main thoroughfare – Placa Stradun. The Placa is the main promenade and gathering place popular for feasts and processions.

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Within the city walls lies the Arsenal in the Old Port. The three symmetrical vaults would be sealed by brick during the time of the Republic to avoid detection of the ship building which took place inside.

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Dubrovnik: Dominikanska Priory

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In the east part of the city and close to the walls  is the large architectural complex of the Dominican monastery. It is a major treasury of cultural and art heritage in Dubrovnik. In its library are numerous illuminated manuscripts and a rich archive with precious documents. The monastery and church buildings were completed in the 14th century although the Dominicans established their monastery in 1225. The church is one of the largest Gothic buildings on the east Adriatic coast. Of a simple architectural design featuring a hall with a pentagonal Gothic apse which is separated from the central area by three high openings with Gothic arches. The Monastery complex acquired its final shape in the 15th century when the vestry, the chapter house and the cloister were added.

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The beautiful porches of the cloister were built between 1456 and 1483 by local builders. The arches of the cloister are closed by Gothic and Renaissance triforas. In the middle of the courtyard is a richly decorated cistern crown.

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The interior is rich in stone church furniture, a pulpit , gravestones and Renaissance niches.

Dubrovnik: Crkva Sv Spasitelja

 Between the Pile Gate  and the  Franciscan Monastery is the  Crkva Sv Spasitelja – Church of the Saviour. It was built in 1520 by the order of the senate in gratitude that the city had been spared from destruction in the earthquake which had hit Dubrovnik at that time. The church was built by the architect Peter Andrijic of Korcula and was completed in 1528. It is preserved in its original form having escaped the earthquake of 1667 and is a fine example of Renaissance architecture in Dubrovnik. This church has a nave with a Gothic cross-ribbed vault and the lateral windows are also Gothic with pointed arches.

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Above the pedimented entrance is a monumental inscription which testifies to the church being spared in the earthquake. The three leaf semi-circular top indicate its Renaissance design.

Dubrovnik: Sv.Nikole

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At right angles to Placa, many small narrow streets run towards the north with numerous flights of steps ascending steeply to the northern section of the city walls. Running parallel to Placa, a long straight street (Prijeko) cuts across these little streets. The original picturesque outlook is well preserved in this part of the city. Prijeko street is a narrow but straight street and is bounded in the west by the lateral wall of the Franciscan Monastery and in the east the front of the church of St. Nicholas (Sv.Nikole). This little church is one of the oldest churches in Dubrovnik and built in the 11th century. This church of the seamen of Dubrovnik was reconstructed several times and the present day Late Renaissance front dates to the 16th century.

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Dubrovnik: Rector Palace

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A fabulous example of one of the finest monuments of secular architecture in Dubrovnik is the Rector’s Palace.

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 This Gothic and Renaissance palace owes its present appearance to many additions and reconstructions throughout its history. A defence building once stood at the site of the present palace in the early Middles Ages. It was referred to in the Statutes of 1272 as castrum. In 1296 it was castellum  i.e. fortress.

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After the fire of 1435 which gutted the building and its towers, the government decided to build a new, more beautiful, palace. Onofrio della Cava, the master builder who had previously built the aqueduct, was entrusted to build the new palace. He designed a two-storey Gothic building with a pillared porch between two side towers. The beautiful capitals and sculptural ornaments of the palace were made by master Pietro di Martino of Milan.

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The Rector’s Palace is home to the History Department of the Museum of Dubrovnik today. In addition to the style furniture, there are numerous portraits and coats of arms of the noblemen, paintings of old masters, coins minted by the Republic, the original keys of the city gates and a number of copies of important state documents.

Dubrovnik: Sponza Palace

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Located at the end of Place is the well preserved Gothic-Renaissance Sponza Palace. Its name is derived from the word for the spot where rain water was collected Spongia – meaning alluvium. The palace was built between 1516-1522 and housed the mint, the bank, the treasury and the armoury in the time of the Republic. The building was designed by Paskoje Milicevic and is a large rectangular building with an inner courtyard.

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The Sponza Palace was not damaged in the earthquake of 1667. The most important cultural institution of Dubrovnik – the Archive, is now housed in Sponza Palace. In the times of the Republic, the archives were kept in the Rector’s Palace.

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Almost all documents that cover the period between the 12th century and the fall of the Republic are to be found in Sponza. Such is the wealth of records, it is one of the most important historical archives in the world. The official languages of the documents were Latin and Italian but many are in Croatian,Turkish, Spanish, Russian, New Greek and Arabic.

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In the time of the Republic this palace housed the custom office and bonded warehouse. It was often referred to as Divona derived from dogana meaning “customs”. The word ‘dogana’ is above the doorway entrance into the palace and underneath the coat of arms.