Most Important Temples to Visit in China (IV): Labrang Monastery

Tag: Art and Religion

Most Important Temples to Visit in China (IV): Labrang Monastery

Most Important Temples to visit in China: Labrang Monastery


The largest Tibetan lamasery outside of Tibet proper, Labrang Monastery is also the most important in Amdo (northern Tibet). Founded in 1709, it is renowned as both an important pilgrimage site and a monastic university. In total, the monastery is comprised of 18 main halls, six colleges, dormitories and even a printing press; it was once home to several thousand monks, though today the number is believed to be closer to 1,000. 


Walking the nearly two-mile (3km) pilgrimage circuit (kora) and spinning the countless prayer wheels along the way together with sweet old grandmothers, rough-looking nomads and monks in fuchsia-colored robes is an experience you won't soon forget. Some buildings are open to visit, but for access to most, you'll need to join a tour. 


Labrang is located in the town of Xiahe, which has always been a cultural crossroads. Even today, the area is a mix of Tibetans, Chinese and Hui (Chinese Muslims). 


A popular half-day trip from Xiahe is to the Ganjia Grasslands, where there are grazing yaks, a few villages, and two monasteries. 


Most Important Temples to visit in China: Labrang Monastery – Headaches


Unfortunately, Xiahe is not always open to foreign travelers; you should check up on the current situation before you go. Chances are, if there is unrest elsewhere in Tibet or a major political anniversary of some sort, it will be closed.


Most Important Temples to visit in China: Labrang MonasteryHow do I get here?


Buses run between Xiahe and Lanzhou (the capital of Gansu province) throughout the day. Depending on whether or not the bus is full, it can take anywhere from 4.5 to six hours. There is an onward connection to the town of Langmusi on the Sichuan border.


Best Museums in Florida (Part 2)

There are many interesting museums in Florida, from kids’ museums to science museums and art museums. Keep reading this article to discover which are the best museums in Florida:


6. Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum (Best Museums in Florida – Ocala)

Only around 3,000 Seminoles still live in Florida today. This museum, with its exhibition and film screening, offers interesting insights into their history and philosophy. Also worth visiting are the botanic nature trail and the open-air area where one can watch craftsmen at work, making clothes, baskets and jewelry. Anyone wishing to know more about the flora and fauna in this region should take a boat ride through the Everglades, accompanied by a Native American guide.


7. Orlando Museum of Art (Best Museums in Florida – Orlando)

In the Orlando Museum of Art there is always a range of interesting temporary exhibitions. The permanent collection includes African artworks or American art after 1945, featuring paintings, photographs, sculptures and much more. Art before 1945 is also well represented. Burnham, Crawford, Evans and Hassam are just a few of the names. There is also a permanent contemporary American design collection. A visit to the Museum of Art promises visitors many new wonderful discoveries.


8. World Erotic Art Museum (Best Museums in Florida – Miami Beach)

The largest museum for erotic art in America is in Miami. From antique to modern works, everything is represented here. Paintings, sculptures and tapestries are all part of the repertoire. An example of one of the temporary exhibits is the 20 copper engravings by Rembrandt van Rijn. The honesty with which nudity and the human body are portrayed was new at the time. Famous works include “Adam and Eve”, by Lucas Cranach the Elder “A man Making Water” or “Woman Sitting Half-Dressed Beside a Stove”, by Rembrandt. Temporary exhibitions always offer a diverse variety of erotic works.


9. The Jewish Museum of Florida (Best Museums in Florida – Miami Beach)

The Jewish Museum portrays the lives of Jews in Florida. Subject matter includes immigration, the community and synagogue, and public endeavors, such as interaction between religions or anti-Semitism. There are many photos and documents complementing this assortment. Less than 1% of the world’s population is Jewish. However, their culture has survived, while other people’s traditions have been lost. The Jewish Museum of Florida does not only explain these changes, but it also strives to increase your knowledge about Jewish culture. Your understanding about this minority’s history will be improved, which should in turn lead to tolerance and a lack of resentment or prejudice.


10. Miami Children’s Museum (Best Museums in Florida – Miami)

Children can come and play, imagine learn and create at Miami Children’s Museum. Colorfully designed, it invites youngsters to learn about many different aspects of life.

At the bank, for example, one can learn how to save, spend and earn money. The Health & Wellness Center explains how to eat healthily and stay fit. Everything is set up to satisfy the demands of children. There are of course many more activity areas to discover. A day at Miami Children’s Museum is an unforgettable experience for the entire family.


Best Museums in Florida (Part 1)

When you think of Florida, museums certainly are not the main thought that comes to mind. However, even during an awful rainy day in the Sunshine State you must have a backup plan to keep you and your kids entertained. And if swimming or sunbathing is not a viable option, you should pay a visit to some of the best museums in Florida:


1. Kennedy Space Center (Best Museums in Florida – Cape Canaveral)

Countless models of rockets, an original-size space shuttle that visitors can board and spectacular 3D films convey an impression of life in space. During a roughly two-hour bus sightseeing tour, you will see the assembly hangars and launching pads as well as exhibitions about the first moon landing and space travel in general. Astronaut Encounter allows those who wish to do so to meet an astronaut.


2. Old State Capitol (Best Museums in Florida – Tallahassee)

The state governance of Florida resided in this large, white domed building until the 1970s Since the government moved to the not particularly attractive, neighboring, 22-story office tower, the building houses exhibitions regarding the history of the state. Anyone wishing to expand his or her knowledge can pay a visit to the Museum of Florida History in the adjacent R.A. Gray Building.


3. Dali Museum (Best Museums in Florida – St. Petersburg)

The industrialist A. Reynolds Morse, a long-time friend and promoter of Salvador Dali, purchased around 1,400 paintings from the famous Spanish artist during his lifetime, which he then gave to the museum in 1982. After visiting the museum, the well-stocked museum shop, a library and a café are inviting places to spend a little time.


4. Museum of Contemporary Art (Best Museums in Florida – North Miami)

The Museum of Contemporary Art presents temporary exhibitions by modern artists. They are also listed on the website. Major artists featuring in the collection include Morgin, Klassen or Ackerman, for example. Over 20.000 people of all ages, from children to teenagers and adults take part in various art programmes each year. In the creative sphere of the museum, skills are developed, an aesthetic eye is developed and creativity is supported. With the assistance of professional artists, participants will obtain primary experience, and under guidance they can discuss their own work. The exhibition pieces are not only from well-known artists, but also from recently discovered artists who are always discovering new forms of art and displaying them in the Museum o Contemporary Art.


5. Museum of Fine Arts (Best Museums in Florida – St. Petersburg)

The permanent collection at the Museum of Fine Arts is breathtaking. You rarely see so many famous names and works in one spot. Numerous impressive pictures represent the art of the 17th, 18th and 19th century. In addition to the collection, there are also temporary exhibitions. To take a break, you can grab a gourmet lunch in the café and recharge your batteries.


Most Important Temples to Visit in China (III): Lama Temple

Most Important Temples to Visit in China: Lama Temple


Given today's frosty relations between Beijing and the 14th Dalai Lama, it may come as a surprise to learn that the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism served as China's official state religion not just once, but twice. The first time was under Kublai Khan and the Mongols in the 13th century. While the legendary leader was an immediate convert, the rest of the Mongol people would only follow suite much later in the 16th century. 


The second time was under the Manchus of the Qing dynasty, who sponsored the development of the religion not because of any deep-seated beliefs, but rather, as one emperor put it, in order to "pacify the Mongols."


Most Important Temples to Visit in China: Lama Temple


This explains the existence of the prominent Lama Temple (Yunhe Gong) in Beijing – and, what's more, its close ties to the royal family. The complex was first built in the early 18th century (Qing dynasty) when it was used as a residence for court eunuchs and the future Yongzheng emperor. In 1722, half of the complex was converted into a lamasery; the other half remained a court residence. The temple was granted imperial status after Yongzheng died in 1735. 


The five main halls here remain one of the most active places of worship in Beijing and contain some notable statuary inside, including a 60-foot-high representation of the Maitreya (Future) Buddha and some esoteric tantric figures. 


Yongzheng lived in the Hall of Everlasting Protection as a prince; his coffin was later placed here after death. 


Most Important Temples to Visit in China: Lama Temple – How do I get there?


Address: 28 Yonghegong Avenue (雍和宮大街28号)


Metro: Lama Temple


Best Museums in San Diego, California (V)

Best Museums in San Diego, California: Marston House Museum – Arts and Crafts treasure


This 16-room Arts and Crafts showplace on the edge of Balboa Park was once the home of George and Anna Marston and their five children. 


George W. Marston was a tireless civic leader and founder of The Marston Company, once this city’s premier department store. He commissioned renowned local architects Irving John Gill and William Sterling Hebbard to design and build the home in 1905. 


The home’s exterior exemplifies the English Tudor intent of its original design and the “form follows function” philosophy of the Craftsman period. The interior features spacious hallways juxtaposed with close, intimate living areas that evoke the “hearth and home” aesthetic of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Rooms are furnished with Mission-style pieces, including some designed by Gustav, Leopold and John George Stickley, plus decorative pottery, paintings, and textiles created by top Craftsman-era artisans.


Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 8,500-square-foot home sits on five acres of rolling lawn and manicured formal gardens. 

The Save Our Heritage Organisation, which operates the museum, offers tours every half hour; they run about 45 minutes.



Best Museums in San Diego, California: Mingei International Museum – Folk art, crafts & design


To create the word mingei, Japanese scholar Dr. Sōetsu Yanagi combined the words for all people (min) and art (gei). That’s exactly what visitors find at the Mingei – contemporary and historic folk art from cultures all over the world. 


Opened in 1978, the museum’s collection and changing exhibitions showcase creative expression from renowned designers as well as from unknown crafters. More than 140 countries are represented. Works range from ancient clay vessels to 21st century couture. Visitors will find textiles, utensils, jewelry, ceremonial objects, musical instruments, containers, tools, housewares, dolls and toys.


Exhibitions are often accompanied by related lectures, films, demonstrations, music, theater and/or dance. Free docent-led tours begin at 2 PM daily.


Top Museums and Religious Sights in Dubrovnik (I)

Dubrovnik is one of the first locations that come to one’s mind when thinking about Croatia and is one of the most visited travel destinations on the Croatian coastline.


1. Museum of Modern Arts (Top Museums and Religious Sights in Dubrovnik)

The Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik was founded in 1945. The structure, which is now a museum, was initially designed and built (1935-1939) as the residential villa of a ship-owner from Dubrovnik, Božo Banac. In 1948 it was transformed into a museum. It was designed by the well-known croatian architects Lavoslav Horvat and Harold Bilini in the neo-Renaissance-Gothic style. Together with the large terraces looking on to the sea and its garden, the Museum has over nine hundred square meters of interior and over one thousand square meters of exterior exhibition space. Concentrating its interest on artwork from the times of world-famous painter Vlaho Bukovac until now, the Museum managed to acquire a valuable collection with more than 2000 paintings, sculptures, graphic art and drawings over more than 60 years of its existence. The collection is divided into three different parts: regional, national and international, and it contains the work of nearly every influential local and national painter, sculptor and graphic artist. 


2. Orthodox Church (Top Museums and Religious Sights in Dubrovnik)

The Serbian Orthodox Church of Saint Annunciation from the late 19th century is located at Stradun΄s southern parallel street – Od Puča.   The church is built in ornamental neo-byzantine style and stands out from the surrounding architecture, being located in a small, narrow street with many souvenir shops, jewelry shops and galleries. A museum with valuable icons is located just a few doors down on Od Puča 8 Street, with Balkan and Russian icons from various centuries.


3. Jewish Quarters and The Synagogue (Top Museums and Religious Sights in Dubrovnik)

In 1546 Dubrovnik Republic allowed the Jewish community to settle within the city walls. This officially marks the establishing of the Jewish Ghetto in Zudioska Street. In 1652, one of the buildings was transformed into a synagogue. Its interior, which was designed in Baroque style, has been well preserved till today, with slight changes. This structure is one of the first synagogues in Europe. At the first level of the building you will find a museum with a huge number of artifacts, religious objects and archive documents like The Torah – which dates between the 13th and 17th centuries, and stands as witness to Dubrovnik’s Jewish Community’s history throughout six centuries. Besides the Synagogue, the Dubrovnik Jewish Community has its own cemetery at Boninovo and a small Jewish fountain at Pile.


Museums and Galleries in Barcelona, Spain (II)

Museums and Galleries in Barcelona, Spain: Aquarium Barcelona – Something fishy going on here


Barcelona’s aquarium may no longer claim to be the largest in Europe, but it's still a fun day out watching its 8000 sea creatures. The show-stealer is the vast central tank, encircled by a 225ft viewing tunnel equipped with a slow human conveyor belt and serenaded by gentle New Age music; the patterns of silvery fish and sharks swimming all around and over your head are remarkably soothing. Kids can enjoy the interactive exhibits.


Love sharks? Qualified divers over age 18 can take a class on sharks on Wednesdays and weekends, then dive in their tank. The €300 fee includes a guided tour of the aquarium for you and two friends, all equipment and insurance. 


For €150, kids aged 8-17 can get a day's initiation in scuba diving. Book tickets for the aquarium or the shark dive online.


Museums and Galleries in Barcelona, Spain: Aquarium Barcelona – How to get there?


Moll d’Espanya del Port Vell

Metro: Drassanes



Museums and Galleries in Barcelona, Spain: Casa Asia – Where East meets West


Since 2003 Puig i Cadafalch's beautiful Modernista Palau Baró de Quadras (1904-06) has found a new life as the Casa Asia, dedicated to promoting cultural interchanges between Spain and the Asia-Pacific region through courses, films, lectures, a media library and cultural and artistic exhibitions. The well-preserved interiors are reason enough for popping in, but the exhibitions are often first rate as well.


Museums and Galleries in Barcelona, Spain: Casa Asia – How to get there?


Avinguda Diagonal 373

Metro: Diagonal

Museums and Galleries in Barcelona, Spain (I)

Around the Cathedral – Roman ruins, a Picasson, and a shoe museum


Museums and Galleries in Barcelona, Spain: Casa de l’Ardiaca


Just to the side of the Cathedral facade in C/Santa Lucia, the 12th- to 14th-century Casa de l’Ardiaca (of the Archdeacon) is home to a municipal archive. In 1902, when the palace was owned by the lawyers’ college, Domènech i Montaner was called upon to create the charming tiled courtyard draped in wisteria, with its lofty palm and pretty Gothic fountain. 


Domènech also gave the building Barcelona's most famous and beautiful mail slot. The architect refused to damage the ancient door, but built a Modernista slot on the side with swallows and a tortoise that expressed his opinion of lawyers – swallows, he explained, with wings to soar into the realms of truth, the tortoise plodding along at the pace of court procedures.


Opposite is the Romanesque Capella de Santa Llúcia (1268), founded by Bishop Arnau de Gurb, whose tomb is within. Long, straight C/ del Bisbe Irurita separates the Casa de l’Ardiaca from the medieval Palau Episcopal, the bishops’ palace, built on the Roman wall. It’s off limits, but you can look into the elegant Romanesque courtyard with its pretty arcade, another work of Bishop Gurb.



Museums and Galleries in Barcelona, Spain: Sant Sever and the Shoe Museum


Just across from this palace is the Baroque church of Sant Sever. Like the cathedral, this church was protected from Anarchists by armed guards during the Civil War, and it is one of the few to preserve its frothy Baroque interior, with an altar in a trompe l’œil setting by Jeroni Escarabatxeres. Just behind it, in the charming Plaça Sant Felip Neri is Barcelona's shoe museum, the Museu de Calçat.



Museums and Galleries in Barcelona, Spain: Plaça Nova


Just to the north of the Cathedral, a Thursday flea market takes place in this little square, which also hosts the Christmas market, where discriminating shoppers can find the finest array of caganers. Plaça Nova’s Collegi d’Arquitectes (1962) is a poor ad for the architectural trade, but its otherwise dreary façade is decorated by a sketchy frieze of popular celebrations (including the giants who feature in so many local festivals) by Picasso – his only piece of public art in Barcelona. Inside, there’s a bookshop, a good restaurant and temporary exhibition galleries. 


Opposite are two Roman towers, renovated in the 12th century, that guarded Barcelona’s northeastern gate. In front of this, an arch of the Roman aqueduct was reconstructed in 1958. 


Don't miss the other Roman treasure hidden away on the other side of the Cathedral: the Temple of Augustus.


Most Important Temples to Visit in China (II)

Most Important Temples to Visit in China: Hanging Monastery


Built into the side of a cliff nearly 250 feet (75m) above the ground, the Hanging Monastery has a spectacular setting that conjures up visions of esoteric monks who have cut all ties with the world, or perhaps a secret brotherhood of staff-wielding adepts who went into hiding.


The real story behind the temple's spectacular location, however, was the sporadic flooding of the nearby river (now dammed), which forced the monks to raise the buildings far off the valley floor, supported by long stilts propped up against the cliff face.


Although it's about halfway between Datong and Wutai Shan, there's no place to store luggage, so it's best visited as a day trip from Datong. You can also visit the nearby Wooden Pagoda at the same time, which was built in 1056 without a single nail and which has survived numerous earthquakes. Unfortunately, for the time being you can no longer climb the pagoda.



Most Important Temples to visit in China: Jade Buddha Temple


As far as Chinese temples go, this is a relative newcomer. It wasn't completed until the late 19th century, after five jade Buddhas were brought back from Burma by the monk Hui Gen, and it was later moved in the early 20th century.


Hui, originally from the sacred island of Putuoshan (off the coast south of Shanghai), had earlier gone on a pilgrimage, traveling from the two Buddhist mountains of Wutai Shan and Emei Shan to Tibet and then on to Burma. There, he met an overseas Chinese by the name of Chen Jun-Pu, who donated the statues. 


Today, the temple houses two of the original five jade Buddhas. After your visit, stop by the temple's vegetarian restaurant around the corner. 


Address: 170 Anyuan Rd (安远路170号)


Metro: Changshou Rd


Best Museums in San Diego, California (IV)

Best Museums in San Diego, California: MCASD Downtown – Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego


The La Jolla-based Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego first established a presence downtown in 1986 when it opened a small satellite gallery in a warehouse at 8th and G streets. In 1993, it moved to larger quarters on Kettner Boulevard, across from the Santa Fe Depot. Within a few years, the museum expanded into the historic train station’s baggage building and in 2007, it added an adjacent three-story structure – giving the museum’s downtown branch even more exhibit space than the mother ship in La Jolla.


Downtown exhibitions usually focus on young regional artists on the cutting edge. Its TNT (Thursday Night Thing) is a quarterly bash that includes live music, artist talks, art-making activities, interactive performances inspired by new exhibitions, food and drink. It’s a popular venue for singles interested in meeting like-minded singles. (Admission costs $10, $7 for students.)



Best Museums in San Diego, California: MCASD La Jolla – Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego


It seems fitting that the former estate of newspaper heiress and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps has evolved into the cultural centerpiece of La Jolla. The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego traces its history to 1941 when a group of local artist began exhibiting their work in the Scripps house. Eventually, money was raised to purchase the home and turn its rooms into galleries. 


Over the years, the museum has been expanded, remodeled, redefined and renamed several times. Today its permanent collection spans all contemporary art movements since 1950 and includes works by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Sella, Edward Ruscha, Richard Serra, John Baldessari, Jasper Johns and Nancy Rubins. The collection has particular strength in the art of Southern California, Latin America and border regions. 


The museum stages a variety of talks, tours, and other events including a film series. The Museum Café is open from 11 AM – 3 PM weekdays, from 9 AM – 3 PM weekends. The MCASD X Store sells contemporary jewelry and chic design objects for the home – as well as apparel, books, posters and toys.