For some, the object of travel isn’t to see the countryside, but to enjoy objects of great beauty. And thankfully, there are travel destinations where the main point is to appreciate the heights of creativity and beauty that humanity has reached.
If there ever was a museum that would qualify as a walk-in Art History 101 class, then the Louvre would certainly qualify. The Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo are just two of many works of art within its walls. There are so many works in the museum, in fact, that a “pick and choose” attitude would give you only a very small slice of all 35,000 pieces in the museum’s collection. Started in 1546 by King Francois I, the Louvre is perhaps the precursor of all public museums, as it was opened to the public in 1793. Many people suggest that if you do want to experience the Louvre in all its glory, you may as well make a whole week of it, not just one visit.
The Temple of the Peaceful Dragon
Zen rock gardens are a unique product of Japan’s medieval culture, and are renowned for their inspiring simplicity and serenity. One of the most famous of these gardens is in Kyoto, at the Temple of the Peaceful Dragon. The intentionally abstract landscape that it provides visually is supposed to help a person go into deep meditation. The garden itself is 98 feet by 32 feet in size, and is made of 15 large and small rocks that are grouped in five clusters, all surrounded by a very carefully raked white sand bed. From afar, the view is supposed to remind people of islands, with the sand itself as a very calm sea. The design of the garden supposedly creates images within people’s minds, from a branching tree, to a tigress and her cubs. Some have even seen the Chinese symbols for heart and mind.
The Uffizi Gallery
Though not as well-known as the Louvre by people outside of the art world, Florence’s Uffizi gallery is a veritable treasure trove of Renaissance art and many other pieces. Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and da Vinci’s Annunciation are part of this formidable collection. The museum has had more than its fair share of tragedies, from surviving world wars to car bombs, but true to the city where it lives, it is resilient, always recovering from whatever tragedies that may happen. Some people say that you can actually trace the history of Renaissance art simply by studying the works of art lovers in this gallery. It’s a fitting gallery for Florence, as this is the city from which the Renaissance art explosion started in all its defiant glory.
When you travel to these sites, it is important that you spend more time observing rather than looking. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of art lovers, so it’s always a good idea to plan for a whole week of enjoying these places so you can come back repeatedly, to savor art pieces that speak to your soul. Then, and only then, should you capture the moment with a photograph. Make sure that you have captured the beauty by truly seeing it.