Monday, February 15, 2010


Some of you will remember that I discovered at the Corona Library a wonderful book called Architectural Excellence - 500 Iconic Buildings, put together by Paul Cattermole. It's a huge book, some 500 pages, coffee-table sized with glossy pages full of wonderful photographs. Who knows, much less understands, why I should be drawn to this book to the extent that I HAD TO HAVE A COPY FOR MYSELF. The retail price is $49.95, but I bought a new copy of it for less than $10 (which included shipping) from

Anyway, in my spare time I've been fascinated by what I am seeing and reading. And actually, I am a little sorry that I discovered this book at the end of my life, when I'm finished with world travel, because I sure found some things I'd love to see.

And that is what puzzles me. How can I think things at the complete ends of the design spectrum are both equally gripping. For instance, when my eyes landed upon this church, I felt that I could die in peace if I could only walk into it and feast my eyes on the actual church. Take a look. Is it not about the fussiest, most bizarre church you've ever laid eyes on?

It is in Bavaria. Called the Die Wies Pilgrimage Church, it was completed in 1754. From the outside it appears as a simple, large church with no hint of its spectacular interior. But inside is a different matter. The book describes it thusly: "Light streams in through the windows, illuminating a riot of color and movement in the form of statuary, painted stuccowork and a frescoed ceiling with spectacular trompe l'oeil effects." Oh gosh, I'd give my eyeteeth to see inside this church.

The small picture doesn't do it justice. If you Google-image "Die Wies Pilgrimage Church" you'll find a picture big enough that you almost feel you are inside.

But then, later on I turned a page and saw this extraordinary Danish church in Copenhagen built in 1940, and its towering size and starkness hit me the same way the "fru-fru" did on the Bavarian church. If looking at its picture just about took my breath away, I simply can't imagine what would happen if I actually stood in front of it. The book says it is an example of "expressionist ecclesiastical architecture." OK, but for my money it is far more than that but I have no words for it.

So this is what always makes me wonder about myself: How can I be drawn to two such dissimilar things? And why buildings?

Do you suppose in a former life I was an architect?

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