Lonely Church

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Sometimes you stumble across something amazing, literally in the middle of nowhere and that is the case with the lovely Santissima Trinità di Saccargia.

On-route from Alghero we spot this stripey marvel from the main road and can’t help but pull over for a closer look.

The church is the most important Romanesque site in the island and makes for an arresting sight sat all alone.

The striking stripey construction is entirely in local stone – black basalt and white limestone, with a typical Tuscan Romanesque style.

The church was finished in 1116 over the ruins of a pre-existing monastery, and consecrated on October 5 of the same year.

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Religious art

The Cathedral of Santa Maria, or the the Cathedral of Cagliari, has an incredibly ornate interior with geometric marble inlay creating mesmerising patterns.

Heading underground to the crypt you come to the Martyrs’ Sanctuary, so called because there are around 179 niches containing the relics of the martyrs of Cagliari.

Heading back into the city we find yet more ornate old churches whose weathered exteriors are of gently fading pastel colours.

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Inside even the most mundane looking buildings you can find a wealth of awe inspiring details and soaring flights of decorative fancy.

As an added bonus we are treated to some exquisite old balconies complete with old shutters and verdant window boxes.

And some cute little doors and rosy walls, all beckoning you inside for a peek.

And as always around every corner is yet another church looming large over the city.

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The city swings wildly from refined old elegance to cartoon street art and weathered poster collections.

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As we have a time to kill we also visit Cagliari botanical gardens, but as it is October there is not much in flower.

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However you can find a variety of impressive trees and cacti that still intrigue with their sculpture shapes and textures.

Quarr Abbey

We’re visiting an unexpected architectural gem on the Isle of Wight now – Quarr Abbey.

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It’s proper title – Abbey of Our Lady of Quarr – is a monastery that is home to a small group of Benedictine monks.

Construction on the abbey started in 1911 and it was consecrated on October 12, 1912.

The abbey itself is a gorgeous chunk of red brick that feels more at home in mainland Europe which makes sense as the original monks were exiles from France.

I love the way that the brick glows under the early sunshine and contrasts with the spiky palms that add a more Mediterranean feel to the scene.

There’s a wonderful walled garden that provides fresh fruit and veg for the tearooms and farm shop as well as the ruins of a far older abbey as well.

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Definitely worth a potter around for an hour or so. You can learn lots more about the abbey here.

 

 

Plobannalec-Lesconil

The next day heralds some rather drizzly grey weather but not to be deterred we head to the nearby town of Plobannalec-Lesconil.

This little harbour town happens to be hosting its weekly farmers market.

This involves fresh produce and lots of local meats as usual!

Whether its mountains of spice, roasting chickens or brightly coloured woven bracelets, there’s plenty to nosh on and spend money on.

The man has his manic meat face on as he surveys the twirling chickens and fat coated roast potatoes.

Jewel bright fruits compete with rainbow transportation to be the most colourful spectacle.

While rusty moorings and window catches provide a wealth of tiny details to be captured.

An owl gives us the once over while a joyous looking shrimp looks delighted to be eaten.

The town’s church provides another wealth of decorative details including the intricate iron crosses and colourful ceramic floral wreaths.

I’ve never encountered the ceramic flowers on graves before and thought they were a nice alternative to fresh flowers that wither and decay.

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Stone piles, old and new

Our final few glimpses of Camaret are a little on the grey, drizzly side.

As it starts to really rain we pop into Notre Dame de Rocamadour, or the Church of the Fishermen.

This attractive little church is situated out on the breakwater and lost its steeple to an English canon ball in 1694 during a naval battle between French and Anglo-Dutch vessels.

Inside the charming little church are various sea based religious icons. There are also three models of boats hanging from the nave.

The light coloured stone of the church’s interior feels light and airy and candles flicker against the warm, swirling stonework that almost resembles marble.

One of the most iconic symbols of Camaret is the Tour Vauban (Vauban Tower), initially known as the tour de Camaret – a 18m-high polygonal defensive tower.

It has three levels and is flanked by walls, a guardhouse and a gun battery which can hold 11 cannons as well as a cannonball foundry added in the French Revolution period.

Close to the tower, visitors have created their own little stone towers on the pebbly waterside jetty – also know as the sillon.

These stone cairns are oddly soothing to look at on this cloudy, grey day.

Old churches and ancient stones

On a slightly grey, overcast day we all pile into the cars for a day trip from Loctudy to Camaret. On route we stop at a traditional stone church.

Here we can see some of the archetypal religious architecture that is prevalent in Brittany.

There are several regional features that mark out the Breton country church – one of them is a delicate openwork steeple.

Another detail that sets rural Breton churches apart are the forests of very ornate, carved stone crosses that are found in the church yards – an example of these are pictured above.

These are  calvary (calvaire in French) – a type of monumental public crucifix, sometimes encased in an open shrine.

The Breton calvaire is distinguished from a simple crucifix cross by the inclusion of three-dimensional figures surrounding the Crucifixion itself, typically representing Mary and the apostles of Jesus, though later saints and symbolic figures may also be depicted.

Inside we can see colourful stained glass and carved icons glore.

 

Moving one from old churches we briefly stop off at some truly ancient relics. Below are a selection of the mysterious, ancient, menhir that can be found in Brittany.

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A menhir is a Breton term for a standing stone; it can be on its own, part of an alignment, or part of a circle.

The nippers are not so enchanted with a load of old rocks so we don’t dally for long!

Mafra Palace

On-route back to Cascais we take a flying visit to the Palace of Mafra, a monumental Baroque and Italianized Neoclassical palace-monastery.

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*Wikipedia alert* The imposing façade, built of local limestone, is 220 m long and faces the town of Mafra.

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At each end of the façade stands a square tower with a bulbous dome, such as found in Central Europe.

The church, built in white marble, is located in the centre of the main façade, symmetrically flanked on both sides by the royal palace.

Construction began in 1717 and was completely concluded in 1755. Construction lasted 13 years and utilised a vast army of workers from the entire country -a daily average of 15,000 but at the end climbing to 30,000 and a maximum of 45,000.

The palace was classified as a National Monument in 1910, and was also one of the finalists of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

The two church towers (68 m high) are inspired by the towers of Sant’Agnese in Agone

Their two carillons (a type of musical instrument consisting of at least 23 bells) contain a total of 92 church bells.

The story goes that the Flemish bell-founders were so astonished by the size of their commission, that they asked to be paid in advance.

These carillons constitute the largest historical collection in the world.

 

San Giuseppe dei Teatini

San Giuseppe dei Teatini is a Baroque marvel of a church opposite the Fountain of Shame. It’s a colourful spectacle that shouldn’t be missed.

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The church, also close to the Quattro Canti, is considered one of the most outstanding examples of the Sicilian Baroque in Palermo.

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The church was built at the beginning of the 17th century by Giacomo Besio. Below is a rather blurry shot of the spectacular ceiling fresco.

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The church suffered a lot of damage during the second world war and its ornate frescoes had to be painstakingly restored.

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Inside the rather austere exterior there is a wealth of beautiful details at every turn.

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From plump little marble Putti peeping out at you to flickering candles left behind to commemorate loved ones and send hopes and prayers directly to the man upstairs.

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Even if you’re not religious, you can still appreciate the iconic Sacred Hearts and aura of peacefulness that pervades this old structure.

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Marble church and Llandudno

It’s another grey drizzly summer day, so where better to go than North Wales! After sitting in traffic and arriving two and a half hours later than planned we were all a bit tetchy . .

But first stop was the marble church of St.Margaret’s in Bodelwyddan. The church was erected by Lady Willoughby de Broke in memory of her husband, Henry Peyto-Verney,

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The church contains pillars made of Belgian Red marble, and the nave entrance is made from “Anglesey marble”.

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It also contains elaborate woodwork, and in the tower can be found stained glass windows featuring Saint Margaret and Saint Kentigern.

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Close to the church is Kinmel Camp, which was a military camp located in the grounds of Kinmel Hall.

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The camp was used by Canadian troops during the First World War.

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In total there are 112 Commonwealth service personnel commemorated here from World War I. More than 80 of the graves are Canadian.

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The churchyard contains the graves of numerous victims of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19 in the camp.

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Next up we head to the seaside resort of Llandudno. Still grey but the colourful plastic tat on the pier makes up for the dismal weather. . .