Aftermath, Stuttgart

So much of any year is flammable. . .*

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What we have learned since about 4 p.m. yesterday is that Stuttgarters really like their (self-administered) pyrotechnic devices on New Year’s Eve.

Sitting at home, the noise was terrific, particularly from about 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Venturing downtown this foggy afternoon, I was a little surprised to see everything — or anything — still standing.

The ground was littered with fireworks debris and broken Sekt bottles, but only this Konigstrasse shelter showed any real damage.

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We went inside the Alte Schloss (Old Palace) courtyard for the first time during the Christmas season, and I admired the trees on the columns and star lights.

Have a happy 2016!

*From “Burning the Old Year” by Naomi Shihab Nye.


A study in steps: Schürhof, Basel

12 Museum of Culture, Basel, 2015, enclos*ure

After I took a number of photos of the hanging plant columns of the Basel Museum of Culture (during our visit at Thanksgiving), I turned my attention to the courtyard around them — the Schürhof — the floor of which is largely a set of low, wide steps descending to the museum lobby and gift shop.

The entrance to the courtyard and museum on Munsterplatz.

The street entrance to the courtyard and thus to the museum is through a simple archway on the Münsterplatz.

Before the museum was renovated in 2011 by Herzog & de Meuron, the Schürhof* was not open to the public.  The museum shared a door with the Museum of Natural Sciences around the corner.

Looking at a “before” photo (here, fourth image), the old courtyard appears to have been used at least partly as a parking lot.

27 Museum of Culture, Basel, 2015, enclos*ure
Looking out on the courtyard from the lobby.

The renovation excavated it to open up a new museum entrance in the base of the existing 1917 neoclassical building.

The other buildings that enclose the Schürhof are medieval.

28 Museum of Culture, Basel, 2015, enclos*ure

Above and below are three views from upper windows inside the museum.

29 Museum of Culture, Basel, 2015, enclos*ure
The entrance to the courtyard is in the upper left corner.

30 Museum of Culture, Basel, 2015, enclos*ure
You can see a plan of the courtyard here (fifth image).

Continue reading “A study in steps: Schürhof, Basel”

Hanging gardens, Basel

Street entrance, Basel Museum of Culture, 2015, enclos*ure

In Basel, Switzerland, the day after Thanksgiving, we went looking for lunch and ended up at the very pretty bistro of the Museum of Culture — located on the same square as the Münster.

The museum posters decorating the café were so interesting that we decided to go next door (above, left side) and take a look.

Given the quiet, very traditional appearance of the street entrance, we were completely surprised by what we found on the other side of the archway.

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In an enclosed courtyard, seven, four-story tall columns of plants hang from the deep eave of an irregularly folded roof of glistening ceramic tiles.

The museum* is 166 years old and houses a current collection of over 300,000 ethnographic artifacts from around the world. The hanging columns were installed in 2011, part of an extensive renovation of the building by Herzog & de Meuron.

To scroll through larger versions of the photos (and several more), click on ‘Continue reading’ below and then on any thumbnail in the gallery.

Next: more about the Schürhof, the sloping courtyard below the columns.

*Admission to the Museum der Kulturen is about $16, but the last hour of the day (4:00 – 5:00 p.m.) is free.  This is plenty of time to see the large room of Medieval and Renaissance art displayed there until the prestigious Kunstmuseum Basel, currently being renovated, reopens in 2016.  (You can also see some of its late 19th century and early modernist art at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst or Contemporary Art until February 21, 2016.  The Gegenwartskunst also has a small exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Cy Twombly until March 13.  Admission is free.)

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Streifzug 3: on high

The south tower of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, by enclos*ure.We were up there.

IMG_4358Looking down here.

Last week, we were in Vienna and climbed the south tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

My husband loves climbing these high towers.  I do not — being both a little afraid of heights and a little claustrophobic. However, lured by the promise of a great view, I almost always follow him up. And I always think, after about 30 steps, how this is absolutely the last tower I will ever climb. . . at least this year (I’ve climbed two this year). . . at least in this city.

The view from the watch room (343 steps up) was tremendous.  A night watchman actually occupied the room until 1955.  If he saw a fire in the city, he would ring the tower bells.

IMG_4355Looking southeast, I spotted this pretty courtyard garden and took a few pictures.

After the climb down, we went around the corner, looking for the Mozart House (Mozarthaus).


We went through a passageway off Singerstraße and found ourselves in the same courtyard seen from above.


It was not the Mozart House, but the seat of the Grand Master of the Order of the Teutonic Knights of St. Mary’s Hospital in Jerusalem (or Deutscher Orden).


The Order has been associated with this site since 1204. The present building dates from the second half of the 18th century.


Mozart did briefly live on the premises from March to May 1781 — and Johannes Brahms from 1863 to 1865.


From one window on the courtyard, you can get a peek into the Sala Terrena, a frescoed room next to the chapel and the oldest concert hall in Vienna.

Mozart played there, and it now hosts the Mozart Ensemble Wien several days a week.

(Streifzug means ‘foray,’ ‘ brief survey,’ or ‘ramble.’)


Vintage landscape: New Orleans

Vintage landscape/enclos*ure: Ursuline Convent, New Orleans, Library of Congress“Doorway and courtyard of the Ursuline Convent, New Orleans,” between 1920 and 1926, by Arnold Genthe, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The Old Ursuline Convent was completed in 1753 in a French Colonial style.  It may be one of the oldest buildings in the Mississippi Valley. It was a convent only until the 1820s, however, when the nuns turned it over to the Bishop of New Orleans and moved to a larger place in Treme.

At the time of this photo, the building was a rectory for the adjoining church of St. Mary’s, the home parish for the area’s many Italian immigrants.  Today, it is part of the Catholic Cultural Heritage Center of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.