Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Corner View - Reflections

Courtyard of Umayyad Mosque, Damascus

Apartment block reflected in office block windows, Bucharest

These are photos from two countries I've lived in recently: Syria and Romania. The first is of the Umayyad Mosque: one of the holiest sites in the Islamic world. It stands on the site of a 3,000-year-old Aramaean temple, referred to in the Old Testament. At the heart of it is a beautiful courtyard in which are three domed structures: the Dome of the Treasury, the Dome of the Clocks and the Ablutions Fountain. The mosque has three towering minarets: the Minaret of the Bride, the Minaret of Jesus and the Al-Gharbiyya Minaret. It is here that muslims believe Jesus will descend to earth again to save the world.

Three of the most important shrines in the Middle East are here. They are the shrines of Hussein, St. John the Baptist and Saladin. The head of Hussein the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, was brought here after he was killed, aged 54, from the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD. The head of St John the Baptist is also enshrined here, beneath a dome. This is reputedly the same head that was presented to Salome on a platter. Although Saladin, the most famous muslim general in the battles of the Crusades, was a Kurd born in Tikrit, he died in Damascus in 1193, and is buried here. I must say that it is quite an experience to see the tombs of three such famous historical figures in such close proximity.

22 years ago, Romania experienced what Syria is experiencing now: a revolution. What you see there today is the legacy of the past - the grim apartment blocks and grey ministry buildings - combined with architectural visions of the future.


  1. I know your reflections are always beautiful... and deep ;)

  2. funny how reflections of apartments in bucharest actually make them interesting to look at... soviet era blocks are not the most appealing architecture in romania :) love the twist on the perspective though!

  3. Yes, interesting and very reflective. Thanks for the inside look at the Middle East

  4. Very interesting and reflective tooo :)

  5. ha. literal and metaphorical reflections. great choices.
    (I very much dig the second pic.)

  6. Hi Ian
    Thanks for popping onto my blog (The British Homemaker) and leaving a comment...its extra nice that a guy stopped by! :D

    Whilst browsing your blog I feel like I am travelling the world...I love that you are blogging your travels so much!!:)


  7. Great reflections! Your photos become even more expressive with some informations around...interesting!

  8. Dear Ian,

    your photo of an apartment block in Bucharest is truly interesting and well shot. My name is Bojan and I work in a small design studio in Zagreb, Croatia. Currently I'm working on a cover for a book "Life Begins on Friday" by Romanian author Iona Parvulescu. It's a Croatian translation and will be published by a respected local publishing house Oceanmore (Oceansea, http://www.oceanmore.hr/index.php). I'd like to ask you for permission to use your photo as a basis for design and layout. Of course, you will be credited.

    Thank you very much in advance!

    1. You can have my permission to use the photo, Bojan, but could you please email me first at iwys5@hotmail.com? Thanks.