France May 2016 – Saint-Philibert de Tournus

On our way down to the South of France the Boy and I broke our journey in Tournus, a lovely town in Burgundy.

The former Benedictine abbey, St Philibert was founded in 875 AD by monks fleeing the Vikings (the Normans of Normandy [given that my maternal grandmother was from Denmark, and my paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Norman, there must be a lot of Viking in me]).

The Boy and I were rather taken with these signs…

…there’s someone with a good sense of humour around.

This 13thC mosaic was found during building work in 2005.

I love this little hawk…

…and the moody horse.

This little hawk must be a reference to the mosaic.

The organ is impressive…

…as are the few remaining wall paintings…

but I just adored the roof space. 

Turkey 2008 – Istanbul Mosaic Museum

The Blue Mosque was built on the site of the Byzantine Imperial Palace. Archaeological investigations excavations have unearthed a wonderful tessellated pavement, which is housed where it was found (although restored) in a sort of shack, which fronts onto the little bazaar where we saw the chickens.

The extent of the pavement and the artistry is quite incredible – and we made up half the visitors! Something of this age and quality would have people queuing round the block in London. It’s an indication of just how much there is to see in Istanbul I guess.

Here are some of my favourites – three bears (in search of honey)…

…a sad donkey…

…a tantalising leg…

…and a Frenchman?

Turkey 2008 – Hagia Sophia Mosaics

One of the things that makes the Hagia Sophia so amazing, are the Byzantine mosaics.

Some are easy to find…

…others are a little more difficult.

The detail is quite astonishing – but what I found most moving was the faces.

In particular, that of Jesus.

The art historians amongst you, will be able to comment on the perspective, lack of realism etc. etc. – but I could have looked into these eyes for ever.

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος

The remaining mosaics aren’t just set pieces – there’s lots beautiful pattern work.

My favourite? This one with Christ, the Empress Zoe and her third husband. It rather tickled me, that she had the mosaic remodelled each time she remarried :-).