For Lost In Translations Thursday’s Special Pick A Word November 2022: Sequential. The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. Opened in 1993, it is the largest functioning mosque in Africa and the 7th largest in the world. It was paid for with mandatory donations by all citizens of Morocco. It is the only mosque in Morocco open to non Muslims. Interestingly, this is not a religious proscription as many assume. When the French established a “protectorate” over Morocco (1912–1956), they passed a law forbidding Muslims from entering Christian churches and forbidding Christians from entering Muslim religious buildings. The French felt this would prevent religious disputes and attempts at conversion. The law is still on the books .
This may seem like a strange image in a post about looking up. But it tells a story, a story of the 1966 flood that devastated Florence, destroying or damaging millions of books and manuscripts and countless works of art.
Look up to the highest label on the wall. That is the high water mark, about 22 ft., on November 4, 1966. Lower sections of buildings and damaged art works are still undergoing restoration.
The frescoes in the chancel above the high altar and its vaulte dome are beautiful.
The Baroncelli Chapel, by Taddeo Gaddi, shows scenes from the life of Mary. The three following photos show details from the frescoes.
Transept and side chapels have ceiling frescoes depicting the lives of the saints and the four evangelists.
The central dome of the Pazzi Chapel and its chancel dome. Designed by Brunelleschi but not finished until after his death, (1443-1478), the chapel is one of the earliest Florentine Renaissance structures.
The giant crucifix wooden by Cimabue (c. 1265) was heavily damaged in the flood. Over 60 percent of the paint was lost. Even after extensive restoration, damage is still visible. It is considered one of greatest losses from the flood. It now hangs high in the sacristy.
Founded in the 3rd century BCE by the Carthaginians and later controlled by the Berbers (Amazigh), the fortified city of Volubilis became an important Roman outpost in the 1st century CE. Located near Meknes, between Fes and Rabat, it was the most distant North African outpost in the empire. The city remained a Roman stronghold until 285, when it was defeated by local tribes. It was inhabited through the 11th century. City structures remained substantially intact until 1755, when the earthquake that destroyed Lisbon, Portugal caused the collapse of Volubilis and other sites in North Africa. The city has been partially excavated and some reconstruction has been undertaken.
The Tingis Gate, northern-eastern entrance to Volubilis,168/169 AD. Volubilis had eight monumental gates. Notice the stork’s nest on the column. They are everywhere in Morocco.
Map of the Roman Empire. Volubilis is on the left side in Mauretania Tingitana. It is the largest and best-preserved Roman ruins in Morocco. It became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.
Volubilis is known for its well preserved, though in some cases heavily restored, mosaic floors found in the houses of the wealthy classes and in public and private baths. The subjects are generally mythological characters and stories, fantastic beasts or nature. I enhanced the colors in a couple of the photos below to really capture the image. In situ, the mosaics appear duller due to bright sun and deterioration due to the elements. The originals would have appeared brighter, like this first image.
One of my goals on this trip was to see if I could be happy using a cell phone camera when I traveled rather than hauling around my DSLR and a lens or two. I purchased a Samsung S22 Ultra and for the most part shot all my photos with it. Overall, I am pleased with the results though, even with four optical lenses on the phone, I miss the optical zoom on my main DSLR lens. The phone camera was especially handy when taking photos from a moving bus.
Fes is Morocco. It has it all. It is vibrant and rushed and bursting with color and sound. It is more old than new, unlike Casablanca which feels much like many other modern cities. Fes is one of the four royal cities of Morocco and is its spiritual and cultural capital. Fes is famous for its medina, or historic city. The medina has two quarters, Fes el-Bali and Fes Jdid.
Fes it know for its arts and crafts including pottery, metal working, leather goods, and carpets. We visited a pottery. The artisans and craftsmen are paid by the piece and times were hard for many of them during the pandemic when tourism was slow.
Fes el-Bali, the original historic city of Fes and generally called the medina, is a maze of streets and passageways, some barely wide enough to walk down. The medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is said to be the world’s oldest urban pedestrian zone, though donkeys are allowed. And a motorcycle or two.