Author: Brandie

The Temple of Luxor in Egypt – legacy of a civilization long gone

One of the greatest testaments to human architecture is the Temple of Luxor in Egypt. This temple is actually a complex located on the east side of the river Nile in the city of Luxor and was constructed approximately in 1400 BC. Although it was built by 3 great pharaohs, Amenophis III, Tutankhamen, and Ramses II, it never reached its true potential.

Legacy of three pharaohs

Ramses II built the pylon and the first courtyard of the Luxor temple which had two obelisks at the entrance, marking the path inside. They were different heights but they looked as if they were the same. Besides the obelisks, there were two granite colossi of Ramses II at the entrance and there were originally four statues of Ramses II placed in front of the pylon. The courtyard was added during the 19th dynasty, and it was surrounded by a double row of columns.

The colonnade was started by Amenophis III but his son didn’t want to finish this project and moved his capital to a new city dedicated to Aton, Tell el Amarna.

This unfinished project was later completed by Tutankhamen who returned to Luxor. The area was originally planned to be another courtyard and Tutankhamen built columns with capitals shaped like open lotus flowers to complete the area. It is also said that he had the walls decorated with reliefs representing the festival Opet.

Between the Karnak Temple and the Luxor temple, there were six bark shrines serving as way stations for the barks of the gods during festivals. The avenue had a boulevard of sphinxes that connected the temples, but during the 30th dynasty, they were replaced with human-headed sphinxes. Some stations were set up for ceremonies such as the Feast of Opet which was very important for the temple. 

There is an active mosque there, located within the temple, called the Mosque of Abu Haggag. That part of the temple was converted into a church by the Romans in 395 AD and later to a mosque in 640, meaning that this building has been a center of worship for a very long time. 

Temple under the Roman Empire

During the Roman era, the temple was used as a legionary fortress and the home of the Roman government in the area. At this time, the chapel inside the temple that was originally dedicated to goddess Mut was transformed into a Tetrarchy cult chapel and later into a church.

The Hypostyle Hall was at the south side of the courtyard and had four rows of eight columns. The hall led into a few smaller rooms and the central one was used as a Christian church. This area was the most sacred one, with the gold-pleated statue of the god Amon as well as a birth room with some pictures referring to the birth of Amenophis III.

The Luxor temple is the oldest building in the world that has been partially active for purposes other than archeology or tourism.

If football is a religion, these are its greatest temples in Asia

Football is one of the most popular sports in the world. There are football fans all over the globe and teams on every continent. Football is well developed and gladly played in Asia, too, although there aren’t that many players and teams that stand out from this part of the world. People who watch Asian leagues and competitions and teams that play in them are certainly devoted to football. Asian teams bring players from Europe to help them grow and increase their fan base.

It goes without saying that numerous Asian football players need a place to practice and play this sport. Asia, famous for its cultural diversity, ancient temples, churches, and cathedrals, also has a lot of football stadiums. Here are some of the greatest stadiums that you can find in Asia.

Ricardo 1st May Stadium

Ricardo 1st May Stadium is found in Pyongyang in North Korea. It is the largest stadium and the most beautiful one in Asia with the capacity to hold up to 150 000 people. It mainly hosts football games, of course, but it is also used for athletic events. The stadium got its name from the place where it was made and the date when it was made. Furthermore, this stadium seated over 100 000 people, including foreigners, who attended the ceremonies and celebrations of Kim II-Sung.

Bukit Jalil National Stadium

The Bukit Jalil National Stadium has a capacity of 110 000 seats and it is located in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The stadium opened on January 1st, 1998, when the opening ceremony for Commonwealth Games took place. This is the Malaysian national football team’s main “battlefield” and they play most of their games at this stadium. It also serves many other purposes apart from being a football field. It has been used as a synthetic track, warm-up track broadcast studio, and a music hall. Moreover, the 2001 SAEAC Games were held here. 

Shah Alam Stadium

The Shah Alam Stadium, as the name gives reveals, is located in Shah Alam in Malaysia. It has a capacity of 81 145 seats. It mainly hosts, of course, football games, but it can also host some athletic events or other track games. The construction of the stadium started in 1990 and it was finished in 1994. The stadium features modern technology of all kinds, which makes it a perfect stadium by the most recent standards. It’s the main field of play of PKNS FC, currently in the Malaysian league. It is described as one of the best-structured stadiums in Asia and it is often compared to the stadiums in Europe.

Sapporo Dome

The Sapporo Dome is a stadium located in Japan and is one of the most famous stadiums in that part of Asia. It’s a multi-purpose stadium mainly built for football, but it can also be used for baseball. It’s the home ground of Ham Fighters, a baseball team, and Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, a football team. 

This stadium hosted three games during the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The most famous game played at this stadium is the one when England played against Argentina and won 1 to 0 thanks to the winning goal scored by David Beckham.

These 4 stadiums are the most impressive stadiums in Asia, but there are a lot of smaller and less famous stadiums that can be used as venues for various events. If you have a chance to visit any of the described stadiums, you should not miss it as you will have an opportunity to experience the amazing atmosphere surrounding Asia’s passion for football.

A hidden illegal game room discovered under a church in Texas

In November 2018, an accidental fire in Harris County, Texas, disclosed a shocking fact that there was an underground illegal game room operating under a church. Not surprisingly, this discovery drew a lot of attention of the public and the police and everyone who likes to play the game, even those who just use bgo Promo Code online and do not go to such shady places.

Initial police statements

Immediately after the news had reached the public, local television stations requested a police statement. According to the statement, the fire was caused by faulty electrical wiring and the firefighters found some people trapped in a room with more than 100 gambling machines. Thomas Gilliland, a representative of Harris County Sheriff’s Office, explained that the room was part of a gambling business registered at the same address as the church but was not sure whether it was leased to anyone. The police did not provide much information about who was responsible for building an illegal game room on the grounds of the church but they stated that there were a few potential suspects.

Who ran a casino under a church?

Obviously, the public was impatient to find out who was responsible for this sacrilege. The pastor of the church stated that the church had absolutely nothing to do with the unexpected discovery. Pastor Anthony Scott, the head of the congregation at the World of Life Church, told the reporters that this part of the land that was owned by the church had been leased to someone else as the church had had financial difficulties. He stated that the church didn’t have any information about what was happening in this part of the building.

The investigation is still in progress but if it turns out that the church was related to the gambling business it wouldn’t be the first time a religious leader was involved in gambling.

Questions to be answered

The local community has been concerned about this incident for a long time and there are numerous questions that need to be answered. 

A church’s land is certainly an area that is least expected to be related to illegal activities, causing a lot of worry as to what other areas could be linked with criminal activities. 

Another issue is the fact that someone had to bring such a huge number of gambling machines to a church and install them without anyone noticing. Furthermore, there were some people trapped in the room so the entrance to the room must have been well hidden since a lot of people were able to enter the room without being seen. On the other hand, the firefighters had no trouble finding the room while putting out the fire.

The local community certainly hopes that those responsible for this illegal activity will soon be brought to justice. 

Amazing Coptic churches in Africa

First of all, let’s remember who the Copts are. The Copts are an Egyptian subgroup who mainly lives in Northeast Africa, usually in Egypt, and they are the largest Christian denomination in the country. They are the largest denomination in Sudan and Libya as well. Their ancestry is mostly Egyptian and in the past, they spoke the Coptic language. The Copts built amazing churches in Egypt and nearby countries. 

Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral

This church is located in the Abbassia District of Cairo, Egypt. It is the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope, making it one of the most important churches. It was dedicated to St. Mark the Evangelist, an apostle of Jesus and also the founder of the Coptic Church. It is the largest cathedral in Africa and the Middle East. The land where this cathedral stands has been used for centuries as a cemetery for the Copts and it is rumored that the tomb of Alexander the Great is located there.

The Hanging Church

This church is one of the oldest and most famous churches in Egypt. Early travelers to Cairo named this church “The Staircase Church” because there is a staircase with 29 steps leading to the entrance. This is the most famous Coptic Christian Church in Cairo and possibly the first one built in the style of a basilica. It has twin bell towers, a courtyard decorated with some biblical art designs and a small courtyard leading to the outer porch.

Saint Barbara Church in Coptic Cairo

This church is located in the eastern part of Babylon Fortress and is also one of the oldest buildings in Cairo. Like many other Coptic churches, it has been rebuilt several times. It’s famous for its many precious items that are kept at the Coptic Museum, which is only 2 minutes away from the church on foot. It was built in the shape of the ancient basilicas, having an entrance, a narthex, a long nave, several aisles, and three sanctuaries. The middle sanctuary is dedicated to St. Barbara.

Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church

This church is also known as Abu Serga. It is one of the oldest Coptic churches in Egypt. It is traditionally believed that it was built on the spot where the Holy Family, Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus Christ rested at the end of their journey to Egypt. It is also famous because many of the patriarchs of the Coptic Church were elected there. The church is dedicated to Sergius and Bacchus.

The Church of the Virgin Mary at Zeitoun 

The church was built by Tawfik Khalil Ibrahim as a miniature version of the famous Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. The site on which the church was built is supposedly another location where the Holy Family stayed during their trip to Egypt. It is also famous for its supernatural phenomena. People there have seen the Holy Virgin Mary kneeling next to the big cross located on the largest dome of the church.

Learn interesting facts about Saint Basil’s Cathedral

One of the best-known and most photographed sights in Moscow, the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed or simply Saint Basil’s Cathedral marked its 458th birthday this year on July 12. Maybe you have heard of this amazing cathedral, maybe you haven’t. Either way, here are some interesting facts about it.

The origin of Saint Basil’s Cathedral 

Did you know that Saint Basil’s Cathedral symbolizes the Heavenly City? According to one theory, the cathedral symbolizes Heavenly Jerusalem, or, in other words, the Kingdom of God, the walls of which are decorated with precious stones. Another theory states that its architects tried replicating the Church of St. Mary of Blachernae in Constantinople when the Holy Virgin appeared as a result of Christians praying for protection from the Saracen army. The Holy Virgin protected Christians with her mantle.

Many in one

This cathedral is more than one building. In fact, it is nine churches in one! At the beginning, the present cathedral’s basement was used as a base for nine small churches that were built separately and then connected with small passages and galleries. In the 16th century, this basement was used for storing the city’s savings and the church’s money.

Changes throughout history

The exterior of the cathedral was originally designed to look like brickwork, but as time passed, each era affected Saint Basil’s Cathedral in a particular way, so its looks kept changing. After a fire that happened in 1595, all the churches were decorated with onion domes and they kept their colors until the 18th century. During the renovation of Red Square in 1817, it was further changed – the retaining wall was reinforced with stone and a cast-iron fence was added as well.

Legends of Saint Basil’s Cathedral

There is an interesting legend that says that the architects of Saint Basil’s Cathedral were blinded after they completed their work. According to the legend, Ivan the Terrible demanded that the architects be blinded after the completion of their work on this breathtaking cathedral in order to prevent them from recreating this work of art, let alone creating something more impressive. This surely sounds brutal, but there are some facts that indicate that one of the architects was later involved in another construction project, meaning that he probably wasn’t blinded.

A cathedral protected by God

This breathtaking cathedral has survived throughout the years, but only one original bell remains there. By a miracle, that bell survived the melting of bronze bells that had been ordered by the Soviet authorities in 1929. “It has preserved the sound of the 16th century, down to the last upper partial tone”, said a bell ringer called Alexei Konovalov. After that, France wanted to blow it up and the Communists wanted to demolish it. Saint Basil’s Cathedral was in danger whenever there was a fight near Moscow, especially if the enemy forces were in Moscow itself. Fortunately, the cathedral has withstood all the troubles throughout history and remains one of the greatest places of worship in the world.

Hsi Lai Temple – the biggest Buddhist temple in America

When we hear the word Buddhism, we immediately think of China and Shaolin monasteries, but you should know that there are Buddhist temples all over the world, including America. The biggest Buddhist temple in America is Hsi Lai Temple.

Hsi Lai Temple

Hsi Lai Temple is affiliated with Fo Guang Shan, which is a Buddhist organization from Taiwan, and it serves as their base of operations in America. This temple was built in 1988 following a lot of difficulties related to the beginning of its construction. At first, there were a lot of negative feelings and resistance from the local community because people knew very little about Buddhism and feared their practices. However, since then, the negative feelings have diminished, mostly because the temple’s residents have proven to be good neighbors. 

Fo Guang Shan community activism

Fo Guang Shan aims to promote Humanistic Buddhism and create peace and harmony among people. Their master Hsing Yun reminds people that in order to change the world, they need to actively engage with the local community and help people.  

The organization has a few different programs including the social and medical program, the educational program and Buddhist practice.

The social and medical program

The social and medical program is truly wonderful. It refers to helping the poor, the sick, and the homeless in any way possible. The program includes help in the form of providing free clothes and food, giving free medical care at the main monastery or dispatching mobile clinics. There is also the Compassion Foundation that has many different facilities for giving birth, treating disease, and supporting old age. The Tatzu Children’s home is home for abandoned and disadvantaged children, and the Retirement home with its peaceful surroundings is a perfect place for elderly people who want to enjoy their time.

The educational program

The educational program is just as fascinating. It consists of four Buddhist colleges that are further divided into four divisions. There are two universities in Taiwan, one university in the United States, a high school in Taipei, nursery schools, kindergartens, and even Sunday schools for children. The best part about studying at one of these places is that it’s free of charge. 

What does Hsi Lai Temple have to offer?

There are a lot of different sites in this temple that you can visit, such as the Bodhisattva Hall, which is the first shrine you see before you enter the temple, the Arhat garden, the Meditation Hall where meditations are held, the Main Shrine, the Dining Hall in which you can get a vegetarian lunch buffet, and many more.

If you want to visit this temple, you should know that there are quite a few rules that you must obey. Smoking and consuming meat and alcoholic drinks are prohibited and you can’t wear sleeveless shirts, tank tops, skirts, shorts, and slippers when entering the temple.

The visiting hours are from 9 am to 5 pm every day and the temple is open for everyone. Self-guided tours are free of charge and they last about 40 minutes. Weekend Drop-In tours are for 14 or fewer people, they are free of charge, and they cover the whole temple except for the museum. Tours for larger groups need to be scheduled ten days in advance.

Macau’s most beautiful temples

Cathedrals, churches, temples, and many other buildings have always been an important part of any country in the world. China has many cultural treasures, but not all of them survived China’s Cultural Revolution. Even though it was affected by China’s Cultural Revolution, Macau didn’t suffer a lot of damage to its temples and local spiritual marks.

A-Ma Temple

The A-Ma Temple is the most famous and one of the oldest temples in Macau. It’s located in the southern part of Macau and it is a place everyone should visit. It’s so old that its Hall of Benevolence dates back to 1488. It’s a magnificent example of how motives from many religions can be part of the same building and express the same religious message of peace and love. If you are interested in visiting this temple, you should go there earlier in the morning to avoid big crowds of tourists.

Pao Kong, Temple of Divinity of Medicine, and Nanshan Temple

This sounds like a gigantic complex consisting of many temples, but, actually, it is smaller than the A-Ma Temple. This complex includes 3 temples and the best-known of them is Pao Kong, which was constructed in 1889 during the Guangxu reign. The temple was built during the time of the plague in Macau because it was suggested that the legendary figure called Lord Pao would make the plague disappear. The plague did stop and the people thought this happened thanks to Lord Pao so they built the temple in honor of him.

Lin Fung Temple 

Lin Fung Temple, or the Temple of the Lotus, is close to the border of Zhuhai and it is a massive building complex.

It is believed that it was built in 1592 and that it was firstly named after the Taoist Goddess of the Sea Tian Fei Miao, which makes it one of the oldest temples in Macau. In the 18th century, the Goddess of Mercy aka Guanyin was added to the complex and shortly after that the temple got renamed to Ci Hu Gong. In this complex, the best place to visit is the memorial hall on the right of the temple which features a big sculpture of the hero called Lin Ze Xu, who was appointed to stop Mandarins from visiting Macau and succeeded in his mission.

Tou Tei Temple 

Tou Tei Temple is dedicated to Tou Tei, the God of Earth. It was built between the years of 1736 and 1795 and its unique features are its moon-shaped doors and the stone arch. What makes this temple extraordinary is also the fact that its shrines are put on different levels of the temple and their colorful rooftops are different in design compared to the other temples of the same style. Even though this is one of the oldest temples, there are hardly any visitors so it is a perfect place if you want to relax far away from tourists.

These 4 temples are probably the most beautiful temples and the most exciting ones to visit in Macau. The last one is probably the best one if you like to explore places in peace and quiet. The best time to visit these temples is early in the morning as that is when you can feel the true atmosphere of these places.

A church upon a hill – Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Iceland. This church in Reykjavik is located on top of Skólavörðuholtið hill, which makes it easily noticeable on Reykjavik’s skyline.

Astonishing height of Hallgrímskirkja 

The most conspicuous feature of this church is its height of 74.5 meters. This makes it the tallest building in Reykjavik and the second tallest building in the country. Iceland’s tallest building is an office tower in Kópavogur, south of Reykjavík, called the Smáratorg tower, which is only 3.1 meters taller than Hallgrímskirkja.  

 Hallgrímskirkja is also very close in height to the fourth tallest structure in Iceland, which is a 78-meter tall smokestack on a smelter in Reyðarfjörður in East Iceland. The only other structures that are taller than Hallgrímskirkja are radio antennas, so the difference in height is more significant. These are the 220-meter tall radio antenna at Eiðar, East Iceland, 244-meter tall Naval Radio Transmitter facility in Grindavík, and 412-meter tall Longwave radio mast at Gufuskálar. 

The construction of Hallgrímskirkja

The church was named after Hallgrímur Pétursson, who was one of the better-known Iceland’s poets from the 17th century. 

Hallgrímskirkja was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson and it took around 41 years to be built. First, its construction was delayed for a few years due to a lot of discussions about where it should be built, and then, the construction was postponed because of the war, so it finally began in 1945. The construction work was slow since a church on top of a hill was not among the country’s priorities. 

The first part finished was the crypt beneath the church’s choir, around 1948. Hallgrímskirkja’s wings and steeple were declared sacred in 1974, and the building of the nave was completed in 1986. Unfortunately, Samúelsson, the architect of Hallgrímskirkja, did not live to see his best work completed because he died in 1950.

Negative reactions of the construction of Hallgrímskirkja

The building of Hallgrímskirkja stirred up a lot of controversy. Icelanders did not appreciate the fact that another building was being constructed. In fact, Icelanders tended to turn any big construction project into a problem to be talked about at that time. What’s more, the construction was quite expensive and there were a lot of major repairs requiring additional funds. Not only were its critics concerned with the cost, but also complained that the church was too big and not pleasing to the eye.   

Visiting Hallgrímskirkja

Although Hallgrímskirkja is often thought to be Reykjavík’s cathedral due to its size and large numbers of foreign visitors coming every year, the actual cathedral of Reykjavik is Domkirkja cathedral church (Dómkirkjan í Reykjavík in Icelandic). This fact certainly doesn’t make it any less worth visiting. In fact, this church is also used as an observation tower, so if you go to the deck, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the whole city. The visiting hours differ in summer and winter, so keep this in mind when planning your visit to this breathtaking church.