Rome is the most fascinating mix of old and new I have ever seen: thousands of years of history all on top of each other. It is a thriving modern metropolis, yet everywhere there are reminders of the past. Buildings that would be “old” here in the States are practically “new” there! Here is one of my favorite shots from our bus tour of the city (I previously used it for challenge #58). I love the mix of the motor bikes and the historic architecture.
Another great image I have used before: the famine memorial in Dublin, Ireland, across the River Liffey from the new office buildings that make up the financial and tech hub of the country (including Facebook and Riot Games). A way of remembering the past while looking forward to the future.
Let’s take a little trip to the four capital cities I’ve visited in Europe!
Dublin, Ireland: History mixed with modernity
I visited Dublin in 2015 and found the city very friendly, full of history and culture, and surprisingly metropolitan. I happened to be there during the Pride festival, so there was a very fun atmosphere in Ireland’s capital. As a liberal Catholic myself, I felt very much at home. I think this shot of the Famine Memorial on the banks of the River Liffey shows how the city honors the past while also looking towards the future.
Rome, Italy: Centuries of history
I visited Rome in 2012, and while I saw most of the city while on a bus, I was still able to appreciate the rich history of the city. In some ways, Rome is the capital of not just Italy but also Western history. I loved seeing centuries of different buildings cohabiting right next to each other. The Colosseum in particular is an amazing view into the past.
Lisboa, Portugal: A Hidden Gem
My friends and I took a weekend trip to Lisboa in 2007: my first time in a country where I didn’t speak the language. We managed with a mix of English and Spanish, and the people we met happily taught us a few useful phrases in Portuguese. I was surprised how beautiful the city was; I have wanted to return here with my husband ever since to really explore the city in depth. This is the Tower of Belém on the banks of the Tagus River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Madrid, Spain: A Trove of Art
We took a class trip to Madrid during my semester in Spain, mostly to see the art. And what art it was. In addition the the architecture of the capital, the city hosts the Prado and Reina Sofía museums, where you can view such masterpieces as Las Meninas and Guernica. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience; I even had someone take my picture with Velazquez’s Las Meninas (which I went on to write an essay about for art history).
Lastly, a slightly different take on the word “capital.”
I was fascinated by the detail on the capitals of the columns in Venice, Italy.
On our brief visit to Rome in 2012, we took a bus trip around the city to see the most we could in the short time we had. Of course, taking photos from a bus is always a dicey prospect, what with the window glare, other passengers, and no way to control the angle or distance of your shots. But I still always do it anyways!
I took dozens of bad photos, but sometimes the closeness of the subjects, in this case the buildings of Rome, worked to my advantage. We got to see the Colosseum both from a distance and also a little closer.
I didn’t even know what this next building was at the time (the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore), but somehow I managed to fill the frame with it so nicely it became one of my favorite photos from this visit.
One of the my favorite things about Rome was the constant juxtaposition of things modern and ancient…and plenty of things in between! There is so much history in this city, but it is living history. Imagine seeing these buildings on your commute every day!
Like many European cities, Dublin has bikes widely available for rental. I loved seeing the long rows of them, broken only when someone had borrowed one. The ads on the bikes are for Coke Zero (is that as popular in Europe as here?), but the Dublin Bikes logo is in blue.