Saturday, 18 November 2017

Baden

Today we will walk through the city of Baden, in the Swiss canton Aargau, by the river Limmat. Baden means literally Baths and is a reference to hot sulphur waters that were recognised already by ancient Romans who called Baden Aquae Helveticae or otherwise Swiss Waters.  


You can walk through the health spa park if you wish, its focal point is the Grand Casino. 



Next to it, you will find several nice buildings in a style that is very Swiss in my eyes.


Sick people tend to look for support everywhere. So you will not be surprised that besides going to the health spa, they also prey. Baden offers a wide variety of service, just to name a synagogue ...


... and churches of many Christian confessions, both large and small.


Those of you who like me have spent some time in Switzerland must have realised quite quickly that the main street in town is usually called "Train station street". Baden has its Bahnhofstrasse as well.


The entrance is guarded by a tower, quite similar to those that we have seen in Bern or in Zug.


The residential buildings along the Bahnhofstrasse are renovated and often house exclusive boutiques.


Many of them have a name. And a date. Yes, this is not a mistake, it definitely says 1430. How many houses made of brick were there in your hometown six hundred years ago?


On the top of the hill you will notice the ruins of a castle. The Stein castle has been in ruins for three hundred year now so I guess we can skip the climbing up the hill.


As we move along the downtown, you can see same building as in most Swiss cities - nicely maintained residential building with window blinds.


But there is one special building in Baden that I wanted to show you. It is called Villa Boveri.


Villa Boveri used to be the house of the family of Walter Boveri, the co-founder of the engineering company Brown Boverie Cie (now part of ABB Group).


Inside, the original decorations were maintained.


So can you sit in this cosy living room and imagine yourself as a passionate inventor in the middle of the industrial revolution.


But the most amazing thing about the Villa is the park that surrounds it.


You can walk down the lanes and listen to the water pouring slowly from many fountains.


The park houses several statues.


It is full of flowers, even in late autumn. I have seen gardeners planting new ones even now!


I think that living in Villa Boveri must have been a great experience. Today, it is operated by a foundation and you can come here any time - admission is free!


Why don't we take a break and enjoy this chilly but sunny afternoon in the lovely Villa Boveri Park.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Vindonissa

Today I will take you for a trip in time. We will move back to the times of the Roman Empire. You already know from our previous trips that the Roman Empire was very large.


We will begin our journey in the Swiss town called nowadays Windisch. Our aim will be to visit the Roman legion camp of Vindonissa.


The camp was large since a Roman legion would include between three and five thousand men. Not mentioning all the administration around them. This is what Vindonissa looked like when it was at its full splendour.


The round shape on the left was the theater. A bit like the Colosseum in Rome. Just smaller. The upper part was made of wood so today we can only see the foundations.


But if you look at one of the side entries and you close your eyes, you can easily imagine the gladiators who enter there to fight fiercely against other slaves or wild animals.


The theater was built with stones, found most probably in the neighbouring fields.


Because when you need to feed five thousand men, you need fields. But even more - you need water. And to bring water to their camps, Romans used aqueducts. One of them is still active today.


Obviously, it is no longer used by the local utilities (though it was two hundred years ago!) but the water is still moving inside the ancient pipes.


One interesting thing is that to build the aqueduct, which was several kilometers long, Romans used a special device called chorobates. The pendula allowed to ensure that it is standing straight.


The binoculars on the top allow to check if the other end of the pipe is in the right position.


Shall we check? Everything seems to be in order.


The main part of the camp was of course surrounded by a wall. To enter inside, one had to pass through a gate. The gates in Vindonissa were of course not as impressive as Porta Nigra, but still they inspired respect.


Of course, this is only a reconstruction. All that remains from the Southern gate are its foundations.


Inside the camp, the most prominent houses belonged of course to the military leaders, the centurions.


Unlike their soldiers who lived together, cooked themselves and generally did not enjoy much of luxury, the Roman officers had large houses with well equipped kitchens and slaves to take care of them.


If your imagination is not working today at full speed, you can always sneak into this magic binocular.


I hope that you have enjoyed our visit in Vindonissa. I was really impressed by the way the site is organised. I particularly appreciated all the visualisations. In one moment we can see the relief of the location ...


... a minute later this is the plan of the Roman legion camp ...


... that converts in a glimpse of an eye in the plan of modern Windisch.


A history that continues beyond the time and space.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

London - Marylebone

We were walking last week through Paddington area. We will still remain in the City of Westminster today. I hope that you are not too tired? Otherwise, maybe I should stop by one of the red phone boots ...


... and call you a London cab?


Not required? Then let's move on. By the way - do you know that the City of Westminster, even though it is a part of London, it holds city rights of its own? They date back to 1540, when Henry VIII created the short-lived Diocese of Westminster. Today of course, the Greater London is a huge metropolitan area but Westminster keeps a part of its autonomy, this is why you can spot here the Magistrates Court.


Today, we will walk through yet another area of the Westminster City called Marylebone.


It is a densely populated area, where many famous people lived. Even though some of them for a short period of time (still - the inhabitants are proud of it).


You will surely not be surprised tofind here some churches. In Paddington we have seen the church of St. Mary, and in Marylebone I wanted to show you this one.


Dedicated to St. Mary of course!


I was hoping we could climb the tower but unfortunately it does not seem to be possible. The front side of the church reminds me a bit of Les Invalides.


On the wall you can spot a commemorative plate, on which the people from Marylebone were celebrating the silver jubilee of Queen Elisabeth. A long, long time ago.


Look, yet another plate on the wall next to the St. Mary's church. This one is for the St. John's Ambulance, a charitable non-governmental organisation dedicated to teaching and providing first aid.


And they really do it - with real ambulances.


Marylebone is stretching down to Oxford Street, where it ends around the Marble Arch. In the old days only members of the royal family were allowed to pass it.


Look, there is a post box. Which reminds me of all my friends from Postcrossing.com. We need to find a calm place to write down some postcards.


What do you think about this one? Looks cosy and inviting. So let's order yet another pint (last one today! promised!) and enjoy the lazy autumn afternoon.