You Know You’ve Made A Horrible Mistake In Greek Mythology When…

When a man with one shoe turns up for a feast so you attempt to kill him by sending him on a long sea journey.

Pelias and Jason

When a swan, shower of golden mist or bolt of lightning attempts to make love to you – It does not end well…

When a renowned witch, who you know has already killed her own brother, offers to make your father young again by chopping him up and putting him in a pot.

When you accept gifts from the aforementioned witch when you’ve run off with her husband.

Medea showing Pelias’ daughters how to make their father young again.

When you return home from 10 years at war and your wife, who hasn’t forgotten you killed her daughter, says “Let me draw you a bath dear.”

When you marry the man who abandoned your sister (who had helped him escape the labyrinth and a monster) on a desert island.

The Murder of Agamemnon by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin (1817).

When Hades tells you not to turn around but you do anyway.

When you spend too long staring at your own reflection in a pond and die tragically. Thus are forever remembered as the archetypal airhead.

When you have an affair and turn your mistress into a cow so your wife doesn’t find out – She does anyway.

Io, in bovine form, and her keeper Argos.

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6 Reasons To Love Bratislava, Slovakia

I’m not sure what it was about Bratislava – its harsh sounding name or the presumption that it would bear all the hallmarks of the Eastern bloc – which led me to believe I wouldn’t be terribly impressed. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised and entirely mistaken as Bratislava is quaint, beautiful, bustling and cheap.

Looking from the Old Town towards the castle.

Looking from the Old Town towards the castle.

Here are six reasons, in no particular order, to love Bratislava:

6. The Architecture

Its architecture is refreshingly different from the surrounding countries and is far less inclined towards the overbearing baroque of its closest neighbour Austria (Vienna is only 60km away and the two are the world’s closest capital cities). From the bizarre UFO which hovers over the Most SNP (a bridge crossing the Danube) to onion domed churches, there’s something to sate everyone’s architectural appetite, whether inclined to old or modern styles.

St. Martin's and the UFO.

St. Martin’s and the UFO.

5. The Nightlife

In the height of summer it’s almost impossible to find an outdoor table at one of Bratislava’s many bars. If you can, they’re the perfect places to people watch and observe the interesting fashion choices of the locals particularly the women heading for a night out (apparently less is more in Slovakia).

St. Martin's Cathedral.

St. Martin’s Cathedral.

4. It’s Cheap!

It also happens to be fairly cheap but fortunately remains undiscovered by stag and hen nights. Both beer and wine are very reasonably priced, with beers usually less than 3 Euros and a very large glass of wine for fewer than 4 Euros even in the more touristy areas. So it’s an ideal refuge for those who have been on road for a while!

Bratislava's Town Hall.

Bratislava’s Town Hall.

3. The Site Of A Truly Bizarre Ghost Story

Hidden in the treasury of St. Martin’s Cathedral is a piece of cloth which bears the outline of a hand. The legend goes a ghost convinced a local bigwig to build a religious statue as a means of demonstrating their piety. Before the statue was unveiled, the ghost decided to prove its power and connection to a higher power by placing its hand on the cloth covering the statue. The ghost’s hand burnt through the cloth, as the story goes, and it’s still on display today, next to a plaque bearing a far more eloquent explanation!

Bratislava Hrad.

Bratislava Hrad.

2. The Views

Although the city itself is relatively flat, there are plenty of places to view the Bratislava and its surroundings from on high. And who doesn’t love a good view? The castle (Hrad) boasts numerous viewing platforms whether you want to look across the Danube to the modern city or towards the hills where the Slavin War Memorial sits.

The view towards Bratislava's modern quarter from the castle.

The view towards Bratislava’s modern quarter from the castle.

1. The Tongue In Cheek Statues

The Old Town of Bratislava is well known for hiding a few sculptural gems which all happen to be rather cheeky. A “man at work” peeps out of a man hole; a soldier complete with Napoleon-esque hat leans against a bench; and a paparazzo peeps around the corner. Here’s also a few more, but that would give the game away – see how many you can find!

IMG_1565

Man At Work!

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The Uffizi Gallery, Florence: Top Sights For Weary Tourists

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy boasts one of the most impressive collections of Renaissance art in the world. The gallery is house in the 16th century building complex commissioned by Cosmo de’ Medici, at the time the head of the powerful banking family.

The Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

Cosmo intended from the onset to use the building, not only as offices and meeting places for Florence’s rulers, but as a means of displaying the Medici’s large collection of art. And, of course, as a means for the family to show their wealth, power and good taste.

The Uffizi has served as a inspiration for artists; was the highlight of many a Grand Tour; and is now one of the most popular attractions in Italy. In summer the gallery is packed with tourists from around the world and many are willing to queue for hours to gain entry. The gallery is deceptively large so, if you’re running out of time and patience, here are a few of the sights you must see:

The Niobe Room

The Niobe Room

The Niobe Room acts as something of a respite for those struggling with the crowds. It’s generally quiet as people tend to toddle in, glance around and immediately leave. The room is lined with statues and huge paintings fill the walls.

Titian

The Venus of Urbino.

Similarly the Caravaggio, Titian’s work is on the lower floors of the gallery and on the way out. His Venus of Urbino resides here and depicts a beautiful reclining nude. The painting dates from 1538 and is amongst Titian’s finest and most famous works.

The View From The Top

Florence

The views from the top of the gallery and from the windows on its main corridors are incredible and have changed very little since the building’s completion. Make sure you stop to admire the view over the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio in the West Corridor.

Caravaggio

Caravaggio’s Medusa.

The works of Caravaggio are hidden away on the lower floors of the gallery and, when you’re trying to find your way out, can be easily missed. However, they’re particularly fine examples and his Testa di Medusa is remarkable. He created one version in 1596 and another a year later, the second version is on display at the Uffizi. Also present in the room are his Young Bacchus and Annunciation.

Botticelli

The Birth of Venus.

By far the most sought out picture in the gallery is Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and it’s certainly worth wading through the crowds to see. The painting, created in 1486, is larger than one would expect and dominates the vast room in which it is held. Unfortunately, its beauty is somewhat detracted as a large glass screen has been placed over it for protective but if you persevere and ignore everyone else around you, it’s definitely worth the effort.

The entire series of rooms devoted to Botticelli should also be explored especially as some of his other, less raved about paintings, are magnificent. These include Fortitude, the painting depicting one of the same virtues, which he completed in 1470.

Fortitude.

The Main Corridors

The East Corridor.

It’s easy to rush through these areas if you’re the hunt for Botticelli, but the main corridors alone are fantastically grand and should be considered an attraction in their own right. Make sure you look up as much as possible as the ornate ceilings are all unique and depict scenes from Greco-Roman mythology.

Famous faces from the Medici family glare down at visitors and the array of sculptures from their high vantage point on the walls. It’s also evident how much the Medici used classical art and its associations, particularly with the Roman emperors, to emphasise their own power. Keep an eye out for busts of the emperors Nero, Caligula, Trajan and Augustus.

The ceiling of the Uffizi.

The Tribuna

The Tribuna.

The octagonal room is filled with paintings and sculptures but its main attraction is its décor. The relatively small room was the main attraction for many on their Grand Tour during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The domed ceiling is highly ornate; the marble floor lavish; and the high windows providing the perfect amount of light for one to appreciate the hanging paintings and statues. It’s no longer possible to enter the room but it can be admired from its three doorways.

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“Are You Classically Trained?”

Hello,

My family occasionally mock me for being ever so slightly pretentious so I thought I may be self indulgent and start a blog about my favourite things. I love books, food, wine, films, museums, art galleries and travel. And I know I’m not alone! So, if you’re also interested in such things this may be the blog for you.

A little bit about me, in case you were wondering: I’ve recently graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in Classical Civilisation and I’m about to embark on a Masters in Classics. Part-time I write for an entertainment website about films, music and celebrities, despite knowing very little about the latter. But it’s all good practice.

Let me know what you think of the blog!

Thanks,

Ellie

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