London II - The Rest of London

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Panoramic view on top of St. Paul.

A few street scenes that define London. Ancient buildings, ancient taxis, fish and chips (British's national dish, sloppy eh?). In King's Cross Station, we found Platform 9 3/4, the pathway to Hogwarts School of Wizards and Witchcraft (last 2 pix).

 

A Boat Ride along Thames River. From Westminster to Tower Bridge. Along the way we passes the Palace of Westminster (1st pic), London Eye, the largest ferris wheel in the world (2nd & 3rd), County Hall (4th), St. Paul and the Millennium Bridge (5th)

The Tower Bridge, in the foreground is HMS Belfast, a retired battle cruiser, the heaviest ever in the Royal Navy, and now a museum.

 

A Walk along the Southern Bank of Thames. In the 5th pic is the dome of St. Paul across the river. The last one is Shakespeare's Globe, a reconstruct of Shakespeare's original theater.

 

St. Paul Cathedral. Walking across the Millennium Bridge to the north bank, we're facing the huge dome of St. Paul. An Anglican church today, the history of St. Paul can be dated back to the 7th century. Then the church has been rebuilt and now it's at its fifth version, finished in the 17th century.

The vast interior is probably the most magnificent I've ever seen.

On top of its famous dome, we have a panoramic view of the city of London. Also see the 1st 2 pix on top of this page.

Details.

 

The Palace of Westminster, or House of the Parliament. As the name indicates, this is where the house of the House of the Lords and House of the Commons meet and work. The clock tower, known as Big Ben, is one of the icons of London. The other tall building is the Victoria Tower (2nd row, 1st 3 pix). Among the statues of historic figures, Winston Churchill's (2nd row, 4th) is the most unforgettable.

 

Trafalgar Square. At the north side, the building with a dome is National Gallery, with an amazing collection of some 2,300 paintings. A must-go.

Piccadilly Circus. A busy traffic intersection and public space, where street artists gather.

The silver hulk and the unicycle guy is probably the most popular among the street artists.

 

I save the British Museum for last because I personally think this is the most amazing place in London. Ironically the museum is not at all about London, nor about Britain; in fact there're hardly any British object being displayed here. However, here you can find probably the world's largest collection on human history and culture from every corner in the world, some 7 million objects. Makes you wonder what a superpower the UK used to be, with the colonies scatter all over the world and the sun never set. The museum used to be connected with the British Library. In the last 4 pix is the huge Reading Room that used to belong to the library. Here you might find footsteps of historic figures such as Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, Monhandas Gandhi, and Bernard Shaw.

 

Egyptian collections. These guys pretty much built their entire civilization on religion, almost everything material is dedicated to spiritual belief, rebirth, afterlife...

That explains this amazing collection of Mummies. Ancient Egyptian believed death is merely an interruption of an eternal life. So the pharaohs or rich guys who dreamed of returned to life preserved their physical body with cutting-edge technologies of the time, awaiting their spirit to return someday. It was not a pretty process: the eyes, the brain, and many other internal organs were removed from the body (what's the body good for without all that?), then it's stuff with sawdust and chemicals for dehydration and preservation, wrapped in layers of linen then canvas, and finally is buried in these colorful coffins. To ensure a happy afterlife, they mummified their cattle and cats as well (how considerate!). Little did they know, thousands of years later, their bodies and their belongings are being displayed in a foreign country far north, where in their time occupied by primitive men living in caves.

 

Greek and Rome. Put them together because the Roman were strongly influenced by Greek and often copy from Greek sculptures. These men and women, so natural, so vivid, although thousand years old. It takes not only inspired artists, but also thorough understanding of human anatomy to create such beauty.

In the 1st 2 pix is a Monument found in the tomb of Arbinas, a Xanthian king. The elements are all Greek though. Must be quite an effort to carry these marble all the way to London. Love that little girl in the last pic.

These looks more Roman... well except the last one, which is a copy from Greek.

 

The Americas, including ancient Inca, Aztec, and Maya collections. I always think their sculptures and relievos are kinda comic, but that Turquoise Mosaic Mask (1st row, last pic) crafted on a human skull is pretty impressive..

 

Mesopotamia collections, reportedly the largest outside Iraq. These bull-men (1st 2 pix), with a bull's body, eagle's wings, and a human head, are ancient Assyrian guardians. In the last pic is the sexy Queen of the Night.

 

Far East. South and Southeast Asia: India, Thailand, Burma...

Further east, China, Japan, Korea... Mixed feeling looking at the Chinese treasure... then I saw these pair of black and white Kuan Yin (last pic), how peaceful and soothing...

 

Other European collections. That endless dark age...

 

Others. The Rosetta Stone (1st pic) from Ptolemaic Egypt, with ancient decrees inscribed in three languages (hieroglyphic and demotic Egyptian, and Greek). The decriptization of the hieroglyph Egyptian in the 1820's is consider a very important academic achievement. The 2nd pic, a Basalt Statue from Easter Island, heavy, crude, but very impressive. And finally, something British! This is a Citole (3rd & 4th pic), and middle-age British musical instrument, an ancestor of modern guitar. The 5th, an Ethiopian warrior statue.

 

 

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