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Charlemagne, the King of Francs in my offspring collection of posts on European history. Enjoy. JM A

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The Pantheon, Rome.

At its front sixteen Corinthian columns ‘made in Egypt’ and transported hundreds of miles to Rome, ancient Rome …

The massive Corinthian columns supporting the portico are each 12 m tall and 1.5 m in diameter. The column shafts are of granite monoliths that were excavated from two Egyptian quarries. The eight original light grey columns of the front row came from the imperial quarry at Mons Claudianus. The pink column shafts (called pink Aswan) of the middle and back rows came from the Assuan region.

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The historical city of Bruges, Belgium, is told to be the biggest medieval city preserved in Europe.

Yes, the city was one one of the richest cities in Europe. Yes, besides some minor events, it was never devastated by bigger fire or war struggles. The Bruges city layout is at is was in the Middle Ages. But the present look of the city is a melt of its original architecture and later reconstructions that unlike in some other European cities withstood the modern architectural trends.
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Winter is coming

It is getting colder and colder. The winter is coming on Earth. The Goddess Demeter is once again losing her daughter Persephone to Hades. It is however not Westeros, but the ancient Greece.

In ancient Greek mythology Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and his sister Demeter the Goddess of fertility. One day Hades, brother to both Zeus and Demeter and God to the Underworld kidnapped Persephone and took her to his realm.

By the Zeus order, Persephone shares her year between Earth and the Underworld. Each time Persephone is coming back to her husband to the Underworld leaving her mother, the autumn and winter are embracing the Earth.

On the picture Hades kidnapping Persephone, a sculpture by Bernini.

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A tribute to the National Convention, the first French assembly elected in 1792 by a suffrage without distinctions of class.

Can be seen in the Pantheon of Paris.

The French revolution (known as the First French Revolution) commonly associated among others with storming and demolition of the Bastille took place in 1789. The Bastille Day, which is the 14th of July, is celebrated today as the French National Day. The Revolution began as during a political impasse the Third Estate (bourgeoisie) formed into a National Assembly (13 June 1789).

It took however more than three years of political turmoil till the French proclaimed the First Republic (21 September 1792) abolishing the monarchy. The act was undertaken by a National Convention elected under the first male universal suffrage in France. This did not however end the political turmoil...

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The Van der Beurse family house in Bruges (Belgium) that replaced the original 'Three Purses' tavern ran by the Van der Beurse family.

Although by far the Three Purses Tavern was not the first and only trading place in the medieval Europe, its name (purse or in Dutch beurse) is widely used in Europe to describe commodities and securities exchanges.

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The trophies

Seen in the big fan zone of Real Madrid, the worldwide recognised football (soccer) club, located at the club’s stadium Santiago Bernabeu.

The tour of Santiago Bernabeu stadium begins at its top level, where you can take a good look at the stadium panorama. Then you are directed to the fan zone, a series of corridors and exhibition rooms, where you can admire the trophies and various presentations on the clubs history and its legendary players. The absolute highlight is the room with the most important cups.

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The Benedictine Rule

An austere Benedictine abbey and red roses. The first thought: ‘The Name of the Rose’, a book by Umberto Eco (and the film based upon it) about a series of murders taking place in an isolated medieval Benedictine abbey somewhere in the Northern Italy. The book plot took place in a library full of ancient manuscripts and the so called scriptorium – a room adjacent to the library where the Benedictines made copies of the old and contemporary manuscripts. As printing was not invented yet, the monk scribes rewrote books manually.

The tradition of diligent and patient work in the Benedictine orders (and other offspring orders) began in the VI century AD when the Benedict of Nursia wrote book on rules to be obeyed by those living in religious communities. He formulated the rules in great detail dividing them into 72 book chapters. Among others, the monks had to live according to a strict timetable, pray and perform manual labour. The hours of labour varied with the season but it was never less than five hours a day. By manual work he meant housekeeping, farming and crafts. However, with time the Benedictines started to focus more on the intellectual work, that was reading, copying manuscripts and teaching.
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Palacio Real de Madrid

or Royal Palace of Madrid is on the absolutely must see list, while sightseeing in Spain. The palace was built from scratch in the XVIII century after the old building was consumed by fire. (It is told that the king deliberately allowed the old palace to burn to make place for a more representative residence). Indeed, the palace is the largest royal palace in Europe by floor area.

Although not that decorative as the interiors, the outside design of the palace is very impressive, too. Originally, the whole upper balustrade was to be decorated by statues of saints and kings. But ultimately, a decision was made to relocate most of them elsewhere to give the building a lighter appearance. There are still a number of statues decorating the balustrade, but the most of the statues are decorating the parks and gardens around the palace.

Two of statues that still decorate the balustrade: Reccared II and Liuva II, Visigoth kings. It the middle the Spanish coat of arms.

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Museo de Jamon,

a kind of a Spanish fast food restaurant, where you are served bakery with Spanish ham and/or cheese, and beer. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer is available from tap. Photographed in the vicinity of Puerta del Sol in Madrid.

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