Posts Tagged With: frescoes


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Drenching rains during the night brought us a crisp sparkling day at Fethiyue where we left our gulet behind and loaded into our bus for an overland trip to Antalya.

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At our first pit stop, Usla chose a gas station, mini-store near a greenhouse. This grower grows tomatoes but the keeper puts in lettuces, radishes, green onions and a few peppers between the rows for his own use.

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Tomatoes grow on what appears to be mini-trees. We’ve been eating them every day and they are crisp and flavorful, unlike the tasteless  hot-house tomatoes we get off-season in our neck of the woods. We sampled them and asked questions of the keeper. All farmers, in outdoor plots or greenhouses grow only organic food. If they are caught spraying the farmer loses his license for life and the fines are heavy. Don’t we wish we could get such regulations in the U.S. to provide healthier foods?  (Some imported foods, mostly available in big cities, do not have to be organic.)

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At Myra, is a 4th century B.C. ruins, similar to others we’ve seen. The area here is heavily settled by Russians. DSC05805 (Copy)

And because of the rain, the place was muddy and partly flooded.

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A stone effigy of Medusa before the daughter of Zeus, Athena, out of jealousy, cast a spell that turned her hair to snakes and whatever her eyes touched, turned to stone. The God’s eyes we see all over Turkey are protection against the evil eye of Medusa.

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I keep looking at the unique tulip patterns that favor the native tulip and resembles Arabic script for the word Muhammad.

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Nearby, some real tulips. In this small Village,  Owen found enameled eggs, a model Russian helicopter and a knife, his third knife. The “big spender” opened his wallet. He is very cautious with his money, an excellent trait, but I did tease him about it. I was sure he’d return home with nothing but knives.

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The real importance of this stop is the fourth century B.C. Lycian temple tombs.

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Broken and entered for their treasures long ago, writings and carvings tell the story of the Lycians.

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One marble slab of script on this site, is compared to the Rosetta Stone. It gave enough information to decipher the Lycian language and from there, learn about the Lycian culture throughout Turkey and wherever they settled.

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Our next stop was lunch at Demre where we enjoyed very good spring lamb, pizza, salad and a desert. Owen had chicken shish.

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A specialty of the area is a pomegranate syrup used on salads along with vinegar and olive oil. Sweet with a slight acid taste of maybe lemon juice or vinegar, it was terrific. And with bread to sop up any left on your plate, I could see a number of uses for it, as a marinade and flavoring. Yum.DSC05834 (Copy)

Usla also wanted us to try  a special crumb cake kind of pudding that is typical of this part of Turkey.  I’m not a sweets eater, so it didn’t really interest me, it was what you might think a cake pudding with ground, sugar-glazed walnuts on top might taste like.

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The Church of St. Nicholas  in Demre was built In the fourth century AD.  St. Nicholas was the bishop of this area and was known as a protector of children, showering them with gifts at every opportunity. Later declared a saint, he became the model for Santa Claus or Sinter Klaus, or Father Christmas throughout many countries. Christians from Italy, Austria, Russia, Spain, etc. come here to celebrate a special annual festival Mass in his honor.

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The Church of St. Nicholas was neglected and open to the weather far too long, and now restoration efforts are difficult and expensive. The “fresco” above suggests he was possibly a black man.

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The frescoes are badly damaged, and few are in good condition. But, this important object sitting on a table between these figures suggests a story? And the faces show various color hues. Usla may have explained it, but if so, I do not remember.

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The most protected frescoes are the under sides of arches.

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I think these figures are the three wise men.

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Usla explained to us that these images are not true frescoes where the mud itself is died before it is applied. The method used for these images was to paint the surface of the stone and then cover it with a protective coating of some kind, thus they are not true frescoes.

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For me, the most beautiful part of the church is this broken marble floor, in the center of the church, under the center dome. The mosaic of marble colors is astonishing and beautiful.

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And, the courtyard surrounding the church is interesting and friendly. I imagined it filled with green potted plants with clay or marble jars of seed and grain.

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From Demre, our bus takes us through mountain views with a pit stop at a shop where we could see into the valley next to the sea. The shiny area in front of the beach is thousands upon thousands of green houses, like mirrors glinting up from the valley.

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The Mediterranean coastal scenery is beautiful, with switch back roads, and glimpses of enticing coves, little islands and blue, blue water.

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At last, our destination, Antalya, once a quaint fishing village. Now a huge resort town with and an interesting old town from a 2000 year old history.

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A National Historic Monument, San Xaviar Mission was founded by Spanish Padre Kino in 1692.   The current church replaced it  in 1783, making it the oldest European style structure in Arizona.  It is situated on the O’oddham Indian Reservation.  It suffered earthquake damage in 1887 and the restoration process was the most fascinating aspect of the Mission to me.

It’s long and narrow and colorful. Now, with electric lights, you can better appreciate the work.  Originally, it  was lit with hundreds of candles and what little light came from four small windows in the center arch of the church. The roof  is divided into four arches with two arched knaves to either side of the altar knave, making the building into the shape of a cross.

The windows are beautiful and allow one to see the frescoes during daylight.

There is said to be 50  human figures in the church. This statue of the Virgin Mary appears to be wearing cloth, but all is made of stone as are the drab curtains behind her.

No one knows who designed and painted the original church, but studies of Catholic iconography show that everything in it had a particular place and meaning.

The beautiful arched ceiling frescoes, the figures, paintings and altar decorations, inspire awe, but more so the restoration after the earthquake.

At the four corners of every arch is a painting. And running through out the church is the knotted rope of the Franciscan Robes visible above the painting. The original work was most likely done by a Spanish artist, but the restoration was done and paid for by the O’oddham Indians the church serves. With donations and grants, they  hired experts from Italy to teach them how to do restoration work, a skill they now pass on to a new generation enabling the church to be cared for forever, one hopes.

The outside facade of the building was severely damaged by the earthquake and a lightning strike took off the top of the  North tower in 1939.  Several restoration efforts failed. In 1953, they rebuilt crumbling areas of handmade brick covered with plaster just like the original.   Then they patched cracks and covered everything with a cement wash. The cement wash was a mistake.

The  cement wash prevented the building from breathing and kept the inside damp, further damaging the art work on the inside. Analysis of the materials and the advice of Italian experts who learned from experience, they tried a new wash from materials at hand.  The new wash made from lime and sand and cactus was successful. It kept the building from leaking and allowed the thick walls to breathe and dry out properly.

The facade was restored in 1953. The painstaking inside restoration was begun in 1992 and completed over a period of five years. If you’ve ever seen a wall with flaking paint, you can imagine what it was like. Using hypodermic needles, they injected liquid with a thin epoxy into each flake to get it to re-adhere to the painting. Once stabilized, the spots where no paint remains are sponged or brushed on to blend with the original painting. A video in the museum allows you to see the process and meet the locals who were sent to Italy to learn restoration.

There is much to see here. An adjacent mortuary once used to hold bodies awaiting burial. A school sits behind it.  A hill on the north side of the church has a sanctuary  built into the rocks resembling Our Lady of  Lourdes.

About the place interesting touches of old. A door latch.

A cross of iron in a gate.

The unique way water is drained from a flat roof.

Ignacio Franko explained the significance of this gate design to O’oddham  culture, where a man walks and reaches hard turns in the road but always circles back to the good of life. He is the leader of the band, White Dove Mumsiga.

In the museum, one can see the old saguaro rib and wattle building methods of old.

This bell wheel  turned by the altar boys, old vestments, baskets and everyday artifacts along with  a huge Spanish tome with colorful lettering are on display.

We visited on a Saturday when multiple baptisms were being performed. People were enjoying this wonderful ritual and it was fun to watch them enjoy this time. Vendors were waiting for the crowds to leave the church. They were selling green and red chili burritos, Indian fry bread with cinnamon and sugar, and beans and chili. Great smells and a great tasting burrito.

We climbed the hill for a last look at the White Dove of the Desert.

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