Building Types

A Walk to the Duomo, Florence, Italy


Florence 2016 – When we left the Pitti Palace, we wanted to see Florence’s Cathedral, the Duomo, before we had to catch our train back to Venice.  Many of the photos have been posted before as single posts, but I wanted to add them all together, the photos of The Piazza della Signoria with a copy of Michelangelo’s David  are new photos.  We didn’t have time to see the real David, but maybe next time.  Next and last stop is the Duomo.

The Church of San Frediano in Cestello, Florence, Italy

The next church we saw on our trip to Florence 2016, was the Church of San Frediano in Cestello.  You can’t really miss it and by walking over the bridge, I got some good exterior photos.  We had got lost trying to find our way to the centre of the city, but in doing so, we found a church that allowed me to take photos with out a flash, The Church of Ognissanti, which I have posted about.  

It was another church the you could not take photos, so we had a quick peep inside, but you had to pay, so we just stood at the door.   As it was now lunch time and still pouring in rain, so we decided to find some where to eat.

 A little history…….The church stands on the place of the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli, founded in 1450 and since 1628 owned by the Cistercense monks, who ordered in that year architect Gherardo Silvani to build the church.  The original design saw the façade of the church on the southern side, towards Borgo San Frediano and the Oltrarno, but the Cistercense monks preferred the façade to be built on the northern side towards the Arno and the city, and commissioned Antonio Cerruti to build the church following these directions.  The new construction begun in 1680 and ended in 1689, when Antonio Ferri completed the dome.  The façade was never carryed out and remained uncompleted.  In 1783 the convent was closed and transformed in the Archiepiscopal Seminary, which is still active today.

We did find somewhere to eat and husband was happy to sit and rest, it was still raining, but by the time we had finished our meal, it had stopped raining.  Although it did start again before the end of the day, but still plenty to see before then.

The Churches of San Carlo dei Lombardi & Orsanmichele, Florence, Italy

This was the last church that I managed to take a photo of the interior, while on our visit to Florence last year 2016.  I had found, that in Venice and Florence, most of the churches did not allow photography, I did find a couple, and a couple I did cheat and took a couple of quick shots.  This is what happened in this wonderful little church, I cheated, a great big sign with a camera and a cross through it.  I was’nt going to take a photo but the transept arches were so beautifully decorated, that when I got to the door, the lady watching left her station and turned her back as she walked to a door, so I took one quick photo, hoping for the best.  I would have loved to have taken close ups, but the photo came out better than I thought.  I know they are religious sites, but the amount of tourist that visit the churches, they are hardly the nice quite praying places anymore, so why not make a bit of money from all those people who want take photos.  Anyway rant over, and following, a little history of the church.

Originally a chapel to St Anne, then the church of San Michele, and now called San Carlo, this church was built at the expense of the Company of the Laudesi to provide the consecrated altar not yet present in their grain market/tabernacle of Orsanmichele opposite. It was built 1349 to 1352 by Neri di Fioraventi and Benci di Cionne.  Tall and square and plain with worn fresco decoration and scenes in the transept arches.  Niccolo di Pietro Gerini’s Entombment and Resurrection of Christ of c. 1385/90 recently returned from restoration and looking fine ( which is on the back wall of the alter).

The only photos of the Orsanmichele, opposite the San Carlo, that I could take were a few exterior photos, there was no way that I could take any interior photos of this wonderful church.  I have found a photo of interior that I can post.  The church was built as a grain market in 1336 and finished in 1347.  In 1380 it was converted into a church and finished 1404.  It is big, and more like two churches together, full of lovely items, but definitely no photos and too many watching eyes to be able to take even one.




Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore, Florence, Italy


Last year, 2016, on our trip to Venice, one of my aims in going, was to photograph as many churches as possible.  Well that didn’t happen, mainly because, most churches did not allow photography of any kind.  I have posted a couple that I found in Venice and Florence, but I missed two, I actually thought I had posted both of them, but I must have got them ready, and that was as far as I got.  So this post is about the wonderful church of Santa Maria Maggiore, in Florence who welcomed cameras with the flash turned off…..which I was more than happy to do, as I never use a flash inside a building if I can help it.

I was so happy when I saw the camera sign with a red slash through the flash, it was only the second one we had found, that was happy for us to take photos, and you didn’t have to pay to take them.  These churches are very different to the churches at home in the UK, and show how ours would have looked like before the Reformation and the Puritans got hold of them.  Santa Maria Maggiore is a Romanesque and Gothic-style, Roman Catholic church and is a among the oldest extant churches in Florence, or even the oldest.  You could be forgiven for just passing by the unfinished exterior, I think, like the similar churches in Venice, there should have been marble fitted on the exterior walls.

I found this…..The rough stone exterior had a marble façade designed for it by Alfonso Parigi which was never built. It was plastered over until a restoration in 1912-13, at which time some of the baroque features were also removed.

The first formal record of Santa Maria Maggiore is found in the year 931, but sources on when the actual construction of the church occurred are conflicting.   The church settled down with the Cistercian order in the 13th century, at which point it was remodeled in the Gothic style, with much of the original column remaining.  In 1514 the church was deteriorating due to finances and the church was given to the cathedral and then the Carmelites moved in with more changes taking place.

A tall and very frescoed church – fragments mostly – but the nave and apse are oddly less decorated than the aisles.  Dividing the nave from the aisles are rows of very chunky square columns. 


Each aisle has three altars.

The interior was renewed by Gherardo Silvani in the early 17th century, possibly to earlier design by Bernardo Buontalenti.  At his time the church acquired the ceiling frescos of The Life of St Zenobius by Poccetti and paintings by Cigoli, Pier Dandini, Passignano. Volterano, Vincenzo Meucci and Matteo Rosselli. Further altars, altarpieces, frescoes and stucco work were added in the 18th century.


A Postcard from Misty Zurich, Switzerland

Last year 2016, on our way back from Venice, we stopped over night in Zurich.  I was really looking forward to taking some photos of the old part of Zurich.  We got up early and went straight out……..into really thick mist……I was so disappointed.  It had been years since I last visited Zurich, so I was not going to be thwarted by a bit or rather a lot of mist.  We made do with a walk around the hotel, along the river into a riverside park, found a castle like building and a wonderful penknife shop……so not too bad for a misty morning.

The Norman Cathedral of Rochester, Kent


After we had visited Rochester Castle in 2016, we made our way to the beautiful Norman Cathedral, which is thought to be the second oldest in England.  It was a very hot day and the interior of the building was wonderfully cool.  

Some history ……..Rochester was founded in around 604 by Ethelbert, King of Kent.  After the Norman Conquest Gundulf, the first Norman, was chosen as Bishop. Gundulf of Bec was the chief castle builder for William the Conqueror and was responsible for the construction of the Tower of London. Gundulf rebuilt the Cathedral, improved the surrounding monastic buildings and replaced the secular canons with monks of the Benedictine Order. The nave and the restored west front are mainly twelfth century.  In 1201 a pilgrim was murdered outside the cathedral and was raised to a Saint and known St. William of Perth. Pilgrims flocked to the cathedral and the increased income provided money to rebuild many parts including the presbytery, transepts and choir.

It is traditionally thought that King Henry VIII met Anne of Cleves in the cloisters of Rochester Cathedral. Unfortunately, in the 1800’s Rochester had became one of the poorest Dioceses in the country.  It was robbed of its treasures by unruly soldiers.

Unbelievably, the Cathedral became a place of ill repute, where often gambling and drinking took place. Samuel Pepys described it as a ‘Shabby place.’ Through the 1800’s, the Cathedral had gone through a number of restoration processes, and finally in 1880, Gilbert Scott restored the Cathedral to its present day appearance……So glad he did, as you can see from the photos of the amazing restoration work that took place.  

Wenns, Kings Lynn, Norfolk


There are just some buildings that have an effect on you, I have always liked Wenns Hotel in Kings Lynn, Norfolk.  Not that we ever visited for a drink, in fact until the day that I took these photographs, we had never been over the threshold.  It is the exterior that held the fascination for me, a very Dickensian looking building.  A building of three parts, all that is cream is the Wenns.  

We were in Kings Lynn for the Heritage Weekend in September 2016 and with luck, the building was open, it had been closed for quite a while, so I was in there like a flash.  It was interesting to see the interior, but I still think the outside is far more interesting than the inside.  I am glad we did visit, as I noticed on a trip to Lynn last weekend, the building is now being renovated.  Luckily they can only do so much as it is a grade 2 listed building, so hopefully the outside will remain almost unchanged……I hope.

 A small amount of history……The building was first used as a pub in 1872, when the licensee was Simon Claxton Luckly, who was succeeded by James Wenn in 1877 and Lizzie Wenn in 1889. The pub sign shows a typical East Anglian wherry.  There are tales of the building being haunted “One of the old landladies said the ghost pulled her hair in her sleep”