Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Faces of Europe

Many of my family and friends are probably aware of my fascination with Gargoyles and Grotesques.
They're the delightful little carvings that make an ordinary house or church into something a little different and a little more personal. No doubt they officially represent the evils of the world, or the various forms of the devil, or something slightly boring. However what is wonderful is just how much variety there is between them, and no doubt how much joy the carvers got from creating them, knowing that others, now and in the future would get as much delight viewing them.

Bayerische National Museum
So, as I was nice, and decided not to inundate the posts of my travels around Europe with photos of the many beauties I found, I decided to save them up for one post so you too can appreciate their delight in full.

Salzburg's Franziskanerkirche, this lion is standing over
 a wounded man supposedly having mauled him to death.
I would take a more kindly view towards the lion,
but it is in a Catholic church. 

Cologne Cathedral: 
These two were delightful creatures embedded in the doors of the cathedral and were missed by most people as they were pushed by the crush of tourists behind them, into the open air. 

On the building itself, I'm not sure how many are old, dating to the early days of construction of the cathedral, and how many to the last years, thereby making them less than 200 years old. However a difference in quality and style is discernible.   

While many are viewed as grotesque carvings, this is not the derivation of their name. that appears to come from the Italian grottesco, 'of a cave' by way of Middle French. In fact it is more likely that the adjective arose in reference to the often ugly and devilish shapes of these structures.

Seville Cathedral:

What is delightful is the creativity that must have gone into carving these creatures. For each one is different and few are of real creatures, man or beast.

Really, he's just showing off his clean, straight teeth

More often than not, they are most prevalent gracing the superstructure of cathedrals and other old churches of Europe, however that doesn't mean to say I have not seen them in some variation gracing private homes or other public edifices. Perhaps their perceived purpose of providing some form of spiritual protection to the building could be carried out of the religious sphere.
In a former private house in Ronda: 

Hospital Sant Pau: 
It was both surprising and delightful to see gargoyles and grotesques within the Hospital Sant Pau complex. 

Within the old walls of Barcelona

This was one of my absolute favourites. Rarely do you see a gargoyle in such ecstasy. 

This dear fellow is not a gargoyle, but he is a beauty,
discovered on a wall within the History of Barcelona Museum. 
Sagrada Familia:
It took us a while to find the gargoyles on this church as they only adorned one small section of the exterior. Well worth it, though I tend to disagree with their categorisation of frogs as symbolic of evil.
It almost felt more like the Natural History Museum.

This one is not from Sagrada Familia, but instead from the Block of Discord. 

Around the Barcelona Cathedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia

Elephant and Castle?

Definitely a more modern grotesque. A bit of a peculiarity as though often alien looking, insects rarely get a look in, in any form of masonry

Yes, the horse is laughing at you. 

Perhaps now, even you understand my fascination. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...