St Nedelya Church, Nikon FM2n, Nikkor AI-S 105mm f2.5, Kodak Ektar
St Nicholas Church / Nikon F2A, Nikkor AI-S 24mm f2.8, Kodak Ultramax 400
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral / Minolta XD, Rokkor 24mm f2.8 MD, Ilford Delta 400
Church of Saint Sebastian, Ramsau, Germany / Sony A200, Tamron 17-50mm f2.8
The Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by disciples of the hermit monk St Ivan of Rila who reputedly lived in a cave nearby. Some parts of the complex date from the 14th century but most of it, including the main church and the monks’ dormitories seen here, was constructed in the 19th century after a devastating fire destroyed much of the older complex. As well as its religious significance the monastery was a centre of Bulgarian identity, language and culture during the centuries of Ottoman occupation.
This is a great building to photograph and when I’m out with a camera I invariably end up here and take some more pictures. On this occasion it was late afternoon with the sun sinking, the moon rising and beautiful light. I had my ‘better’ camera with me and I originally planned to go in and take some interior shots, but it was too nice to be inside so I wandered around the square outside for an hour or so and took these pictures.
These shots of the interior of the Alexander Nevsky cathedral were taken with a small sensor LX5 compact camera and in the dim interior the quality suffers a little but remains surprisingly good considering.
Despite its Byzantine appearance the grand Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia is relatively recent. The foundation stone was laid in 1882 and most of the construction was carried out between 1904 and 1912. While the Cathedral belongs to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church it is named for a 13th century Russian prince and Orthodox saint in honour of the Russian soldiers who died during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 which resulted in Bulgaria’s liberation from Ottoman rule.
The Cathdral is in need of restoration and last year the figure of 20 million leva was being quoted (that’s around £9 million or $11 million), but following a recent assessment the cost is now put at a considerably more affordable 4 million leva. That does not include restoration of the frescoes and other artworks that have been damaged by water leaks. While it is a very striking building, all the more so when the sun is shining and glinting off the gold plated domes, its lacks the intimacy and sense of presence that smaller churches do.
The Grote Markt in Haarlem is dominated by the Grote Kerk or Sint Bavokerk. There has been a church on the site since at least the 13th century but this particular church dates mostly to the 15th and 16th centuries. Franz Hals and the van Ruisdals are buried beneath the floor of the church, among other Haarlem worthies.
The interior of the Grote Kerk is impressive, the two standout features being the beautiful wooden ceiling and the magnificent organ. The organ was originally built in the 1730’s and was at the time the biggest in the world. Mozart, Mendelssohn and Handel have all played this organ.
Amsterdam is known as the Venice of the North and like Venice is struggling to cope with the numbers of tourists, now approaching 19 million every year. In 2019 Amsterdam struck a deal with the the Dutch capital Den Haag allowing the latter’s tourist agency to set up at Amsterdam’s Centraal railway station in hopes that some of those 19 million might be persuaded to spend part of their holiday outside the city.
The problem is that the Netherlands is small and the Dutch public transport system is superb, so it is a simple matter to stay in Amsterdam and take day trips to the many surrounding towns and cities, including Den Haag which is less than an hour away by train. While this gets us tourists out of town by day we flood back in like the tide by night. On a trip to Amsterdam to visit friends I discovered the value of the city as a base for exploring more widely and while I did not make it to Den Haag on that occasion I did visit Delft and Haarlem. Here are a few pictures from Delft.