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Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Toulouse

On Saturday in Toulouse, we attempted to go to Carcassonne, but when we got to the station, the train tickets were sold out. So we bought our tickets for Monday instead, and wandered around town. We came across Cathédrale Saint-Étienne, pushed open a huge door and stepped into the dark entryway.

The Cathedral was cold and damp, dimly lit by the grey morning skies, and the carved stone floor was easy to trip over as it had been worn down unevenly by millions of footsteps over the last thousand years. Of all the houses of worship in Europe, it’s not considered a jewel of either art or architecture (in fact, it is considered to be rather oddly cobbled together over the years), but we were still in awe of the tangible saturation of time and devotion.

14
Jun 2012
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France

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Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família was one of the places we knew we had to visit this year, even before we had any sort of an idea where were going or when. After a good night’s sleep, we headed down to the center of the city and planned to do nothing else that day.

It was gorgeous. We spent the entire afternoon with our necks craned back, staring at the column forest, the impossibly complex facades, and the tiny details of the relief carvings in the doors.

Sagrada Família has been under construction since 1882 and is scheduled to be completed in 2026. We’re thinking it would be worth a trip back to see it.

02
Jun 2012
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Spain

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Almudena Cathedral

Santa María la Real de La Almudena is right next to Palacio Real, so it was an easy decision to take the time to visit. For a European cathedral, it’s brand-new (glasses on one of the figures in the relief sculpture on the main exterior doors is an easy giveaway). Construction began in 1879, and after a big gap in construction during and after the Spanish Civil War, it wasn’t finished until 1993. The facade was designed to match the palace.

23
May 2012
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Spain

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(The photo captions still aren’t working, but the photo order matches the narrative this time! If you’ve subscribed by email or RSS, you’ll have to visit our website directly to see the pictures.)

Three churches (kirkja) we visited in Iceland: Hallgrímskirkja, Strandakirkja, Búðarkirkja, and an Olafsvik church.

Hallgrímskirkja – Reykjavik. Built on top of a hill, it’s the largest church in Iceland. Construction began in 1945 and it took 38 years to complete. We used it a lot to orient ourselves and to find our way back to the places we wanted to go. It’s simple and beautiful. A statue of explorer Leif Erikson/Leifur Eriksson is majestically situated on the north side of the grounds.

Strandakirkja – Selvogur. This tiny white church was built by seamen to fulfill their pledge to pay tribute to God if they reached shore alive. Only a few houses remain nearby and it is built between lava fields and the ocean.

Búðarkirkja – Búðir. Built in a lavafield next to the ocean in 1703, reconstructed in 1848. The doors were locked so we could not peek inside. It’s painted a striking Scandinavian black.

Olafsvik church – Olafsvik. I can’t find much info on this, but we liked the geometry, so we took a picture.

18
Apr 2012
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Iceland

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