MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “history”

The secret of old buildings

©Roger Bultot

Come, I want to show you something!” She grabbed his hand and rushed ahead full of excitement pulling him like a puppy out on a walk.

Old buildings always hide a very interesting history. And this one is no exception”.

He looked at the large, brick-laden building that stood imposing in front of him. You probably wouldn’t even notice it had it not been for the huge glass windows that caught your eye.

If we don’t care about our past, we cannot hope for the future,” she said. “It doesn’t look like much, but it has definitely shaped this town”.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

Set in stone

stone-house

©Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

It was part of their family heritage ever since her relatives remembered. But she was around to see it refurbished. The stone walls were whitened and reinforced and the interior completely renovated.

As a child, she pretended it was her castle and she was longing for her prince to come riding along on a white stallion.

Over the years, she stopped being so demanding though. He didn’t have to have a horse. And he didn’t have to be royal.

When she saw him approach, she realised that all that mattered was him being a decent person. And to love her.

 

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

A day of discovery

the-met-roger-b

©Roger Bultot

It was a day they had taken off work, one of the few they could ‘steal’ during this period. They decided to spend it productively: visiting a museum. She was convinced that no one could change their future or better manage their present if they could not understand where they had come from and what had happened in the past. “We have a rich history and it is worth exploring”. He was persuaded.

The day turned out to be a discovery of things he never even knew existed. And that was more than enough to change his entire life perspective.

 

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

A Platanus of history

IMG_20171029_135031_179

©MCD

There is a quote that says, “imagine if trees gave free WiFi; we’d all be planting like crazy. Too bad they only produce the oxygen we breathe”.

Trees are more important and vital for our lives than we believe or even give them credit for. They contribute to their environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. They produce the wood we use to light our fireplaces in the winter, make our furniture, even the paper we write on. Yet, we cut them down without second thoughts.

It is no wonder then, that when we come across a tree that is centuries old we treat it as a wonder of nature. We stand before it dumbfounded, gazing at this stupendous sight. And it makes you truly feel small and insignificant.

There is a place in North Evia, Greece, somewhere along that nature-blazing road that has you driving among trees, on your way towards the Kyreas River, in between the villages of Prokopi and Mantoudi. There is this place where a sign will direct you to the “Great Platanus”. A plane tree that residents will tell you has been there for centuries. It is “a tree of huge dimensions”, as the sign reads, a “monument of nature”. A Platanus Orientalis. It is 22-23 metres tall, with its trunk’s circumference reaching 18 metres, its trunk diameter at 5.5 metres, the surface of its stem at 900 square metres, and its shadow said to be once stretching over 2.5 acres. Its age is estimated at 500-600 years, although some say that it exceeds 2,300 years! It is said that this is the most ancient Platanus in the Balkans, perhaps even the whole of Europe.

20171028_133927Its tree trunks are larger than what can fit in your wide-open arms. It stands imposing before you and, even though lacking in foliage and somewhat deserted and with broken branches, the vastness of this tree is not diminished. Rather, it is a refreshing site in a world full of asbestos and tar. There is also a huge hollow in its trunk, big enough for 10 or more people standing. In it, you suddenly forget all the problems that trouble your head daily. You take a deep breath and simply be grateful for being alive. For being there. And for being able to witness this. Just think about all the changes this tree may have witnessed. It was there before you and will probably remain so even after you.

20171028_133932As with all over-aged creatures, there are myths and legends surrounding this tree. For example, it is said that if someone falls asleep in its hollow, they will fall ill or harm will come to them, as goblins will come out and cast a spell on them. In another legend, if you are found at midnight under the tree, you will hear voices, music, violins and clarinets, and see fairies and goblins appear dancing at the shores of the river. In yet another, it is said that at midnight two large rams come out of the platanus and start noisily fighting each other. This tree is often associated with fairies and goblins as it was believed that, being over-aged, it was also haunted.

No matter the stories, however, the reality remains that this, like so many others, is part of our natural heritage and should be protected and preserved. We devote so much of our time, energy and funds to things that matter less, yet we abandon those that benefit us more.

N.B. All photos are mine, taken in North Evia, Greece, on 28 October 2017.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Gratitude

 

The genie’s wish

genie-lampWould you like to live forever?

How many times throughout the centuries has that thought swiveled in the minds of humans?

To be immortal, unbreakable, untouchable.

To be able to live through everything and forever.

Today’s longest surviving people are almost 1.5 centuries old. They have experienced more developments and history than today’s generation even know about. They have seen the world evolve, crash and burn, rise from its ashes, and progress. They have seen technological advancements that gave life to things that in the past were considered almost impossible, but now we simply take them for granted. They have witnessed the world expand with everything that may be associated with that.

But they have also experienced great pain. For although they may be surviving unusually long periods of time, their loved ones are not. They are the ones who have had to say goodbye to so many of them and continue to live in a world without them. They are the ones who had to learn to keep going no matter what.

So, if you had a wish would you waste it on this? On living forever? Even if it did mean you would get to witness the future of this world, no matter how it would turn out to be? But knowing that it meant you would become that old person surrounded by new faces, feeling as an irrelevant part of history striving to survive in an all too modern age?

When Genie’s lamp was discovered and he was made to appear one last time, he himself was given a wish once freed. He could have anything. But Genie had seen enough wishes gone wrong to know better.

He did not wish for eternal life and immortality. Instead, he wished for something quite similar that would indirectly grant him precisely that, but without forcing him to suffer all the pain too.

Genie instead wished for eternal love and remembrance.

Blue-bloods and Castles

DSC07165Every little girl dreams of being a princess. Be it Cinderella (the rags-to-riches type), Snow White (the I-have-seven-dwarves-to-protect-me type), Little Mermaid (the sea-lover type), or even Sleeping Beauty (the I’ll-wake-up-when-reality-is-better type), being part of a royal kingdom is part of every girl’s dream.

Heck, everyone at some time or other dreams of being royalty, because it fits into the idyllic image of being able to do whatever you want, having whatever you desire, without a care in the world. But the best part of it all, is that you get to enjoy royal castles and palaces. DSC06981Especially the ones hidden away in the Bavarian Alps, like Neuschwanstein. The one Walt Disney used as inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle. And one of the most famous and beautiful royal castles in the world.

Having already completed the idyllic scenery of this castle in a puzzle a few years ago, it was only fitting that we would also visit the ‘life-size’ Neuschwanstein.

DSC07127After all, there is always something majestic about visiting a palace, or royal castle. Even a smaller one like Linderhof.

DSC06990 Both built by and for King Ludwig II of Bavaria in the 19th century, the latter was intended as his summer residence and modeled on the Versailles Palace, idolizing the absolutism of the French monarchy, something he could not have in Bavaria where he was forced to share power with parliament.

spiegelsaal LiderhofAdorned with gold inside and endless gardens and statues outside, Linderhof is a treat. Even covered in snow it is truly magical.

And then, secluded and enwrapped within the Bavarian Alps appears the fairy tale castle.

The one whose paintings feature the legends of Tristan and Isolde; Sigurd the Dragon Slayer and Gudrún the Avenger; Lohengrin the Swan Knight; and Tannhäuser, as well as the famous opera by Richard Wagner Parcifal the Knight of the Holy Grail. schlafzimmer NeuschwansteinThese resulted in a spectacular interior design for his castle, a castle that was never completed, as he died having just lived 172 days inside it.

Visiting royal castles and palaces and listening to the myths and stories behind the history of the places and people who inhabited them transfers you to a different time. When people needed horse-drawn carriages to climb up to their palaces, that featured hundreds of steps and in which each room served a different purpose – and in which in order to get from one end to the other you needed a map, or even an entire day!

DSC07142Yet, there is a beauty in being inside these 19th century castles. You imagine yourself living in the time when court jesters where the entertainment available, not playstations and tablets; when the longer and more extravagant the dress, the more elegant it was considered; when gentlemen courted the ladies; when the court was a symbol of richness and power.

And no matter how high or how far you need to travel, sometimes visiting such places is worth the trouble. DSC07121

Even if you slide down iced-snow slopes and fall flat on your bottom and lose your breath for a minute or two. The experience of walking in the same corridors and rooms in which a king lived over 200 years ago certainly compensates any fall!

All photos (apart from the interior rooms – not allowed) are mine, taken in Bavaria on 27 December 2013.

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