Sequenced and Arranged

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 .

Florentine Street Art, Whatever That Means

When I was in Florence three years ago, I did a post about street art depicting women. Much of that random art has disappeared so I have expanded to street art in general, in all its iterations

Always Look Up: The Heights of Santa Croce

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.

The Renaissance arches of the second cloister.

Il Duomo, a Medieval Masterpiece in Siena, Italy

Volubilis: A Roman Outpost in Morocco

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.

The Decumanus Maximus, the east-west main street in the Roman expansion of the city. The Arch of Caracalla, heavily restored in the 1960s, is at the far end. The rich, fertile lands surrounding Volubilis produced olive oil and grains.
A panoramic view of some of the townhouses in the upscale area of the city. The wealthy residents had large peristyle houses, many with mosaic floors and private baths. Volubilis was a thriving city and an administrative center for the Roman Empire.

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.

House of Venus
House of Dionysus and the Four Seasons
House of Orpheus floor, one of the largest mosaics
Dolphin mosaic floor in the private baths of the House of Orpheus.
Detail from House of Orpheus mosaic
A section of a house.
Fertile fields of Morocco’s Jebel Zerhoun Plain supported Volubilis and supplied olive oil and wheat to much of the empire.
The Arch of Caracalla. The extensive reconstruction in the 1960s has been questioned.
The Capitoline Temple dedicated to Juno, Jupiter and Minerva, c. 218 CE.
The Basilica. Originally a judicial and administrative hall, it was later used as a church. Early 3rd century CE.
After the city was abandoned and following the earthquake, stone and architectural elements were pillaged for buildings in other cities, such as nearby Meknes.
The red bricks show areas of restoration or reconstruction.

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

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.

The Mellah, the Jewish Quarter, is located in Fes Jdid. Fes had one of the largest and oldest Jewish populations in Morocco. The history of the Jewish community in Fes is long and complex. Today few Jews remain in the city.
The Aben Danan Synagogue has been restored and is now a small museum. It was built in the 17th century and restored in 1998. There are no functioning synagogues in Fes.
Gates of the Alaouite Royal Palace (Dar al-Makhzen). The palace is located in the Fes Jdid, which was established in1276 as an administrative center and royal citadel. The gate is traditional in design but was built in the 1960s when King Hassan II moved the main entrance of the palace. The gates are a popular stop on the tourist circuit.
Gates of the Alaouite Royal Palace (Dar al-Makhzen), built in the 1960s.

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.

Forming clay tiles
The potter will make about 10 small items from this piece of clay
Paint pigments are natural
Women can now be painters
Hand crafted tiles for table tops and other items
Making the tiles

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.

About to enter the medina.
Many of the narrow alleys and streets are dead ends.
The narrowest passageway we encountered.
The dyers market, one of many specialized markets.
The fish market
This owner was dying yarn. This shop is the official dyer for the royal family when it has a special order for blue.
A coppersmith in the metal market
One of the master copper artisans.
The medina is home to many theological schools or madrassa, most of which are not open to non Muslims. The Al-Attarine Madrasa was built from 1323/1325. It is now open to the public.
It is known for its tile work, carved stucco, calligraphic inscriptions, carved cedar wood and its use of columns.
Looking down on the medina from the hotel.
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