WPC: Eerie places I’ve shivered in.

For this week’s challenge Cheri Lucas shared a photo taken by Merilee Mitchell entitled “Ghost Child.”  She said that “a photo doesn’t have to be blatantly macabre to be eerie. But it can have a mysterious, otherworldly vibe — the viewer wonders what lurks in the shadows. Something eerie has a story to tell — one you aren’t quite sure you want to know.”

Cheri asks that our pics be in B&W, so here are a few places I’ve visited on my travels, which have literally given me the shivers. If you click on the pics, you’ll get the full ‘eerie’ effect.  😯

In downtown Lima, Peru, below the ‘Convento de San Francisco’, along some secret passageways, are catacombs containing an Ossuary in which it is estimated lie the bones of 70,000 people. They are lined up along narrow hallways, and one area contains several large and deep holes, filled with bones and skulls arranged above each other in circular patterns. This 17th century Baroque church, originally had a normal graveyard for its members, but when space became a problem, the skulls and bones were removed from the graves and thrown into a deep pit, which over time, became the last resting place for most of Lima’s dead. When the place was discovered and opened up for archeological excavation in 1943, they found the bones just heaped up in there, and decided that the catacombs would have more ‘appeal’ if they were arranged artistically, so they placed the skulls together in a centre pile, with same length arm bones radiating outward, and matching leg bones extending beyond the arms; a rather eerie sight indeed.

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In the Italian Medieval town of Monterosso in the Cinque Terre, is the Romanesque style church of Saint John the Baptist, built of black and white Italian marble. Right next door is the Oratory of the Dead (also black and white), which was built by a brotherhood of good works. Their good work consisted of arranging funerals, taking care of widows, orphans, and the shipwrecked, and their symbols were a skull and crossbones, an hourglass, and the happy inscription “Death awaits us all.” There is a skull and crossbones above the door, and skeletons decorate the cornices.

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On 24th August 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the city of Pompeii under twenty-seven feet of volcanic ash. The ruins were discovered in 1748, and in 1865, excavations began. At the time of its destruction, Pompeii had a population of some 20,000 people.  It was a really eerie feeling to be walking along the original roads, and to be able to see ruts made by the chariot wheels all those years ago, before this community was blanketed in a thick layer of hot ash.

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The Colosseum in Rome has a very bloody history indeed. In this arena, the Emperor entertained the public with free games, which started off with a few circus acts, but usually ended with fights to the death between wild animals and gladiators. To mark the inauguration of the building in AD 80, some 9,000 wild animals were destroyed. Today it stands as a monument to Roman imperial power and cruelty, where for centuries, literally thousands of people whom they saw as criminals, Christian martyrs, professional fighters and wild animals, were cold-bloodedly killed, just for sport. Standing there imagining the cheers of the 50,000 strong crowd, and the horrible gory spectacles, really gave me the shudders.

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In the Black Hills of north-eastern Wyoming is the 386 metre high monolith called ‘Devil’s Tower’. This National Monument has been the source of many legends, and the story from the Cheyenne tells us that there was once a band of Cheyenne travelling to worship the Great Spirit at Devils Tower. One of the warrior’s wives was charmed by an enormous bear without a mate, so the warriors set out to find and kill it. They were chased by the bear, and climbed into a tree. The Great Spirit gave the men the strength to kill the bear, but the woman had also turned into a bear and made the great rock her home. Because of this, it came to be known as ‘Bear’s Tipi’. We were the only people around when we came upon this eerie sight looming in the mist. It really did look like the stuff of legends.

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Well I think that’s enough doom and gloom for one weekend. I usually say “I hope you enjoyed my pics for the challenge,’ but if you didn’t, I’ll totally understand. 😀

Have a great weekend.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves

This week’s photo challenge is ‘curves’.

My first pics are taken at The Vatican. Here is an Arnaldo Pomodora sculpture which I saw in the grounds outside. It’s a sphere within a sphere, and the original was designed for the Vatican, although several others have since popped up around the world. It looks like a new world trying to burst out through cracks in the old one, don’t you think?

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Another curve very close by, is the Dome of St Peter’s Basilica, the tallest dome in the world, being 136.57 metres (448.1 ft) high.

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The inside of the dome is even more exquisite, and was painted by Michelangelo himself.

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Another curvaceous construction in Italy, is the Colosseum in Rome, the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire, which was opened in A.D. 80, and for many years, was the site of many bloody combats between man and beast.

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I couldn’t resist adding the beautiful curve of a rainbow at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

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Last but not least is this painting of African dancers enthusiastically shaking their curves. It’s been for sale for over a year at one of the stalls along our promenade. I can’t imagine why no-one has bought it yet. Wouldn’t you like it for your entrance hall? 🙂

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To see more contributions to the curvy theme, just click here.

Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Red

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is “Red’ and she has some amazing images of red landscapes in her latest post.

I also have a few photos to show you, which depict the colour red. The first is my favourite, and I used it for my ‘Capture the Colour’ entry, which I didn’t win of course. 🙂 It’s of a baby polar bear at SeaWorld in San Diego, fast asleep, cuddled up to his red plastic comfort toy.

Next up are these modern-day Gladiators posing outside the Colosseum in Rome, looking very dashing in their red costumes.

Red seemed to be the dominant colour at this market stall in the town at the bottom of Machu Picchu. The lady minding the stall, was however, oblivious of anything around her at the time when the photo was taken.

This no entry sign in the courtyard opposite our hotel in Florence really amused me. The black silhouette, sneakily carrying away the no-entry bar, is just one of several such signs, created by French artist Clet Abraham, who has lived in Italy for 20 years.

Here is Luanne, who cooked for us last year when we stayed at a villa in Round Hill, Jamaica. The lobsters were fresh that morning out of Montego Bay. When I asked her for a photo, she quickly went and put on her chef’s hat for the occasion.

They were even redder, and utterly scrumptious, when they were served up for dinner that evening.

Talking of food, I do love to use red place mats when we have friends around to share a meal with us. It always makes the table look more festive, don’t you think.

What would a ‘Red’ post be without a wonderful sunset? This shot was taken from the jetty outside our hotel on San Clemente Island in Venice.

Last but by no means least, is our distinctive 21 metre high Umhlanga Rocks lighthouse which dominates the lovely beach here. It was completed in 1954, and its beam emits a light equivalent to six hundred thousand candles flashing three times every twenty seconds. It can be seen from as far as twenty-four miles away at sea during visible conditions. The circular tower, with its bright red top, serves as a ‘guiding light’,  which leads vessels through some of South Africa’s most treacherous coastline and warns them of hidden dangers.  It is fully automated, and has never had its own lighthouse keeper, the lights being operated from the nearby Oyster Box Hotel, which has been its official warden for almost sixty years.

I hope you enjoyed my red photos. To see more red entries to Ailsa’s theme, just click here.