The World Championship of Living Statues, Arnhem, 2017 – Part 1

In this, last, post on this site (the designated space will expire while I upload the photos) I’m showing you some of my photos taken during this year’s competition.

Children’s works were not separated from those of adults, but most of them were presented close to each other in the new market place at the side of the cathedral and at the city hall, and that’s where I began too.P1140992P1140994P1150004P1150010P1150013This one may not have been performed by a young artist, but placing several performances right before the grey parapet surrounding the building area was definitely a strange and bad mistake. True, they got enough of the faint autumn sunshine, yet, it provided for strange effects.P1150017P1150019Fortunately, one could move on to sculptures better placed in the inner city. Here most performers were adults. P1150021P1150025P1150030P1150034P1150039P1150042P1150057P1150059P1150061

With this, my storage space is full. I’ll see you in my new blog with the second part of my rendition of this event. See you there soon.

by P.S.

Advertisements

Castles in the Netherlands 18 – Kasteel Valkenburg

Kasteel Valkenburg  from Cauberg / Image from Wikipedia

The Dutch Wikipedia article about Valkenburg calls this castle the only “hoogteburch” in the Netherlands, i.e., the only real castle on a sort of height or hill, the sort found so often elsewhere in Europe, but not in this land of plains.

The town itself is found near Maastricht in the far south of the Netherlands, in the province of Limburg, which is like a wedge between N-E Belgium and Germany, almost precisely between Genk and Aachen (or just as near Liège if you like). The main road from Maastricht takes a motorist in an almost straight line (over the famous Cauberg) to the town, which can also be approached from there by train.

As I first cycled from Valkenburg to Oude-Valkenburg to visit the castles there, I came back in the valley of the Geul and first saw Berkelpoort, a part of the old town walls:P1140085To the left of these gates, we can already see some of the castle itself, towering above the town,P1140084from where stone steps lead up the hill among nice marl rocks, which partly gave the material to the walls of the castle from the 11th to the 17th century. It is a beautiful path but not really worth climbing as the castle cannot be accessed through the little gate up there, only after climbing downstairs and turning right again, missing most of the town.P1140091P1140090Better walk through the busy Grotestraat from Berkelpoort (above),P1140095make some plans about what else to see later and then head towards Grendelpoort,P1140096from where, keeping left, it’s real easy to reach the entrance to the castle. There are enough steps to climb here, but there’s also a huge new lift to take up those needing it.

Above, one arrives on a nice plateau with a restaurant and lots of room for sitting outside, and this terrace also provides great views of the town, first over Grendelpoort of course:P1140098 From here the visitor has a wonderful view of the outside of the inner castle:P1140100It is only here that we have to pay an entrance fee to the inner castle as everything is free up to this point. Then a long walk takes us around in two directions, both leading to further steps inside.P1140101P1140102.JPGThere’s a very good view, complete with Belkerpoort, over the inner city towards the north from these walls:P1140103.JPGThen we can visit what has remained of the former palace buildings after the French blew it up in the Dutch War in 1762: the chapel, the knights’ hall and some more.P1140107P1140112.JPGP1140108.JPGP1140109.JPGIn a corner of the knights’ hall, we can wonder why there are two such a huge piles of raw column basalt in the corner. But we can understand soon …P1140113.JPGFirst we may circle the area to have further views, for example towards the quarries and the Wilhelminatoren, which can be reached by cablecar as well as on foot.P1140116.JPGP1140114.JPGThen on towards the southern side of the palace remains:P1140117.JPGP1140120.JPGAnd it’s here that we can understand the huge columns of basalt:P1140122.JPGthat is, they were used for strengthening the inside of that walls as the outer surfaces of marl may not be strong enough to withstand attacks. They were now used for reconstructing some of the old walls of course.

From here we can look around the area towards the Casino on top of the Cauberg:

then we can head back into the palace to look around once again

before heading back to town. Enjoy your stay in Valkenburg!P1140123.JPGIf you are cycling, you can climb Cauberg instead of staying – but be prepared for a real steep climb. Afterwards, however, it’s real fast downhill to Maastricht, almost directly to the station to catch your train.P1140124.JPG

by P.S.

 

Castles in the Netherlands 17 – Kasteel Schaloen and Genhoes

P1140045This little castle (seen here only above the roof of its outhouse from the main road) stands just outside the little village of Oud Valkenburg near Valkenburg, a nice little town in Brabant, a short drive from Maastricht, in the Netherlands. While it can’t be visited inside, the building is beautiful enough for us to give it a look on a day out when the weather is good. It can easily be reached by bike as well, and it’s a good walk from Valkenburg as well near/across some nice forest. The creek the Kleine Geul also provides a nice background along the way.P1140074Along the back road and following path, there are a few other places to be used or visited: tennis courts, a football field, another old building complex houses and old people’s home, then, above on the hill, there is also a nice old house called De Kluis. I didn’t have enough time to walk up there, so I went on around the castle.P1140051P1140052Of course it is more impressive from the south, the direction of the entrance across from the moat. The buildings to the left contain the holiday homes.P1140055P1140056P1140057A little walk across the gatehouse, which is not a nice brasserie, takes us to the castle to the right and the old outhouses to the left, where one can stay the night.P1140059P1140061P1140062Unfortunately, one can’t join the people lunching on the entrance terrace of the castle, nor visit, but sitting down for a bear or meal outside the brasserie in this neighbourhood still is a nice programme.P1140064

I have also made a little video around there, you can see it here or below.

Those a bit more nosey could also look at another old castle from the corner of the path around the former: Kasteel Genhoes.P1140053The old name means “The House”. Unfortunately, this can only be seen from the outside too and can’t be walked around, even though it has a moat around too, but the area is completely private. It can be approached to the left of the path connecting the Schaloen to the main road and then taking the first to the left again.P1140067P1140071P1140070No entry! But we can peek. Somebody has some nice big space there.P1140069

by P.S.

Madurodam

One of the most famous fun parks in the Netherlands is Madurodam in The Hague. Its main theme is to let people see outstanding buildings from around the country in miniature. To some extent, this is comparable to LEGOLAND in Denmark, where objects are built, naturally, out of Lego pieces. Here, the building materials are undefined, probably clay and wood, often interspersed with metals and plastic, all nicely painted, so all surfaces correspond to the originals.

Near the entrance, visitors find themselves in the waterworld of the Netherlands, with all sorts of ships, bridges, dams and dykes.P1130661P1130664P1130681Of course, the windmills cannot be far away, as they have always served water management at least as much as the milling of grain.P1130662This area serves as a major attraction for little children, not only because of the thrill of watching – or waiting to watch – various trains flip by, criss-crossing the area, but because they can cooperate with each other on putting out a fire on a tanker, float wooden containers down rivers and channels or load and unload containers in a harbour.P1130665Further inside the park, the area is more or less arranged by cities. Here we can visit the inner cities of Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and others along with famous architectural relics around them. Starting with Muiderslot, the castle of Muiden SE of Amsterdam, here’s a series of examples without special order.P1130677P1130679P1130680The quality of some of the models is really beathtaking.P1130682P1130690P1130691I really appreciated the care invested in the immediate environment of the models: what in reality are tall trees or full-grown bushes have been pruned back, ikebana style, with breathtakingly realistic miniature trees and bushes, where even the flowers are fit to size.P1130693Fortuntely for toddlers and small kids, there’s a big and good playground behind this row of houses:P1130696There are some other exhibitions showing Dutch history and the life of the person, George Maduro, who was the inspiration behind the park. In the middle, there’s also a huge globe-like structure, ‘Fantasitron’, in which people can be scanned in 3D and afterwards be posted a 3D sculpture of themselves.

Unfortunately, the structure, which can be seen in the middle of this photo,P1130688is, in our opinion, is ugly and destroys some of the effect of the place. Besides, the park is rather small for the €16,5 entrance fee. The size of the area can be judged well based on this photo:P1130699and we can testify to the fact that it is small.

Whereas it’s a nice model of famous Dutch landmarks, little children would hardly appreciate this aspect. On a day with a lot worse, but a lot more probable weather, children couldn’t really play with water. Even we had no interest in the historical exhibitions, how could little children? But those water games offer nothing for parents, who would appreciate the historical features on display, but then again, this all is only about the Netherlands, so if you’re not familiar with most of the buildings, what is there for adults to enjoy for the price?

Taking up the comparison with Legoland again, the area is a tiny portion of that for nearly half the price. This place is not suitable for a daily programme without children as it can easily be walked in a couple of hours. In Legoland, the models represent famous landmarks from all over the world and in larger sizes, even fit for a real slide surrounded by figures. That one is great fun for all ages, this one is only suitable in part for adults and in the other half for little kids. We had a good, sunny day with two little kids, it was worth it, but still, for me, it was a bit of a let-down. I’d definitely not come again on my own, or without kids.

by P.S. and Z.J.S.

 

Date of World Championship of Living Statues Arnhem 2017?

I know, I know, this is my second photoblog, I should post photos here, but this is about future photos. First we have to know when the exhibition is coming.

Well, today I suddenly remembered that I missed last year’s edition if there was anything. I found something about it a month or so after it had happened early June. But I hadn’t seen any ads about it, or any crowds either, for that matter, so I’m not sure it happened.

From what I can read this year, it has now become a biannual event. Which is strange because I visited each year since 2010, except 2014, when I couldn’t be here. But anyway, I’m glad to be able to find that it’s taking place at the end of this August, when I can be here. You can read more here.

The only problem is that it may not … At the beginning it’s black-and-white. And it gets repeated near the end as well, following the Dutch explanations, under “Gegevens”, i.e., data. However, just above that, it says, “Meer informatie over activiteiten rond World Living Statues in Nederland vind je hier »“, which means, you can get more info about the activities of the event by clicking on that link, and then you’ll get into trouble. No, not that there’s nothing there, no. The real trouble is that there it says it’ll happen on Oct. 1 this year. Quite unlike the Dutch, I’d say. So be careful, if you can, with your bookings this year: you may arrive at the end of August to find nothing but that you’ve missed the possibility of booking for Oct. 1.

If I can get further info and a rectification or clarification of the date, I’ll post it here. Further, if the even does take place one way or another, I’ll post photos too – but perhaps on a third of my photoblogs, as this one may have reached the limit of data I can upload by that time.

Update: I’ve managed to get confirmation from the organisers that the correct date for the competition this year is 1 October (with the warm-up event running on the previous evening in Ede). The date has also just been corrected on the first site, so everything is all right for a great event. Hope to have helped you. See you in October.

by P.S.

Castles in Hungary, part 3

In this part, I’d like to show you some photos of one of the oldest and probably the most famous castle in Hungary only second to Buda and built in the 1250s. When you are driving up to it, this is the view you get (the other kinds are made from the other side of the Danube, from where you can’t approach Visegrád).P1130174It has a famous Slavic name, though, also made famous by a part of Smetana’s Má vlast (My Homeland) cycle: Visgrád in Hungarian, Višegrad in Czech as well as in Serbian to denote not only Smetanas mucis but also the castles in those territories. The name meanst Upper Castle, or High Castle. Out of those castles, it is probably the Hungarian Visegrád which stands upon the highest elevation above its neighbourhood. When you’ve made it upstairs, wonderful panoramic views can be enjoyed.P1120211P1120248There are two ways of approach. One is when you drive around the mountain to a parking place relatively high up on the mountain side and pay. Then the entrance is through this tower.P1120208One can park near the Danube, though. It is the much longer path, but on the way, one can enjoy the ruins of the 15th c. palace of the famous king Matthias, who brought the renaissance and power to Hungary before the kingdom was submerged in chaos and was overrun by the Turks. Here are a few photos of the remains of the last real golden age of Hungary.P1020739P1020780P1020783P1020763After the palace, the ascent takes us up through the Tower of Salamon, one of the earliest of the fortifications.P1020811After some more, steep climb, we get to the high castle, where we have to pay for the entrance. There is a small waxworks exhibition inside as well, but the point is the castle itself, which has been restored in good taste.P1120212P1020872P1130155P1020891

by P.S. and S.Z.J.

Castles in Hungary, part 2

To follow on with this topic, you can find some more examples of real castles in Hungary. Contrary to castles in the Netherlands, which were mostly built of bricks, at least in their present state, never really played parts in wars, so they are almost exclusively intact and could best be described as palaces of some sort, most Hungarian castles were built of stone boulders for and used in wars and suffered several instances of being blown up.P1120293My first example here is the castle of Esztergom, which was one of the earliest castles in Hungary. It became one of the most important centres of the king before the Tartar invasion. As the castle withstood that invasion, its importance served as an example to what the country should do to prevent another invasion to happen. Unfortunately, the castle suffered enormously during the Turkish occupation and changed hands many times. Afterwards, the stones were carried away by locals to rebuild their houses. The basilica we can see in the above photo from the Slovak side of the Danube was finished at the place of the fortifications and the earlier palaces in 1869. This view is also the only kind that can show that Esztergom used to have a castle with defence lines and bastions.

The next and perhaps most typical example is the castle of Buják, which is hidden among the low hills of the Cserhát mountains, North-East of Budapest, in county Nógrád.P1130565The ruins can’t be seen from the roads, you even have to guess which road actually leads to near it. The reason has a lot to do with the fact that the area still belongs to the army. But as I was appalled by the fact that for this reason I couldn’t see these ruins 45 years ago, I gave it a try this time, when the army is no longer so important. Still, you are shooed away from the parking place, so you have to park a car by the roadside nearby. Then you have to climb a path of a few hundred metres on a dirt path to reach the ruins. P1130568What is a-typical here is that it was not blown up by the Habsburgs – the Turks blew it up before other castles met this inevitable fate. Not much can be seen today, but the view is beautiful.P1130558

The last castle I’m showing you today stands above the only Hungarian village on the World Heritage list: Hollókő, again, among the Cserhát mountains, only a few kilometres from Buják – though no direct road exists between the two villages, so you have to drive a lot more.P1130585From the village, where you can park your car (but don’t be surprised if the parking metres don’t work), a few hundred metres again lead to the rebuilt fortification:P1130570Again, it’s not a big castle, but shows the middle-ages well. For a small payment, all the restored parts can be visited.P1130571P1130576You can even enter a room which has been somewhat furnished (very rare in Hungarian castles except in Buda).P1130575P1130578The view over the low hills from the walls is again beautiful.P1130579With this, I bid farewell for a while. Hope you enjoyed it all and can visit the places some time to come.

by P.S.