Best Libraries In The World

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Best Libraries In The World

“I have always imagined paradise will be a kind of library.” Jose Luis Borges

Libraries are not just stern places where loud conversations – even accidentally – are greeted with cut-throat looks from the opposite side of the reading table. Libraries are full of stories and anecdotes waiting to be uncovered. Their architecture and interiors are often unexpected and sometimes even astonishing.

 National Library, Beijing, China

The National Library of China is the largest in Asia and one of the largest in the world  What makes it even more special? Its collection of cultural and historical literature is vast with more than 24 million books. If you’re not after literature or a place to read, then its collection of manuscripts and inscriptions may tempt you. Among its collections are manuscripts from Song, Shang, and Ming dynasties, stone tablets known as Xiping Stone Classics, tortoise shell inscriptions, and many ancient Chinese writings.

Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland

Founded in 1592, Trinity College is the oldest university in Ireland. Built between 1712 and 1732 the Old Library is the University’s earliest surviving building. The library houses Ireland’s National Treasure which is the Book Of Kells sacred manuscript created by Celtic Monks in about 800 AD which features the Four Gospels of the New Testament. It is decorated with metallic gold Celtic style writing, symbols and stunning artwork. Walking through the doors of the Long Room is suddenly overwhelming. IT is a 65 meter long gallery housing about 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books under a jaw-dropping barrel-vaulted ceiling.The weather being famously unpredictable in Dublin makes the library is a great place to stay dry.

Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This is Brazil’s most important library, a Neoclassical treasure trove chronicling the country’s history in more than nine million items. A highlight is the Teresa Cristina Maria collection: a 22,000-strong photo series, depicting key Brazilian events and notables. 

Joanine Library at University Of Coimbre, Coimbre, Portugal

Coimbra’s university, founded in 1290, is Portugal’s oldest and most distinguished university. The Baroque library was built between 1717 – 1728 and houses about 40,000 books which are – in part – protected by bats (bats eat moths). It is really impressive  The library is a Portuguese National Monument and is one of the oldest of the university.

Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève, Paris, France

Located opposite the Pantheon is the historic public library Sainte Genevieve. The steps have become somewhat famous after Woody Allen chose this location for his film Midnight In Paris.The vast collection of the Abbey  Saint Genevieve was in need of a home and it took seven years of construction in 1839 by architect Henri Labrouste. The public university library now holds around two million books and documents and the magnificent cast iron ceiling of the two story reading room is breathtaking.

National Library of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic

The National Library of the Czech Republic is part of the Clementinum, a massive complex of historical buildings that also holds the Astronomical Tower (a weather center since 1775) and the Mirror Chapel, a popular setting for classical music concerts. Regularly named one of the world’s most beautiful libraries, this Baroque marvel dates back to 1722. this The largest hall of the library is also the most impressive. Featuring a balcony with a highly ornate railing and stairs, the Library Hall is decorated in rich golds, mahogany woods, and ceiling frescoes by Jan Hiebl. The beauty is in the original details: the labels on the bookcases have been there since the 1700s and none of the features (including floors or wood trims) have been replaced since the library’s creation.The Library Hall is also home to some of the oldest books in Europe.

The Royal Library, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Royal Copenhagen Library known as the Black Diamond juts over the canal. The interior boasts a huge ceiling fresco and canal views. The permanent exhibition, Treasures in The Royal Library, currently includes a Gutenberg bible, philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s notes, and Hans Christian Andersen’s diary.

Bibleoteca Vasconcelos, Mexico City, Mexico

This library was designed by Alberto Kalach and the construction was completed in 2007. Inside, instead of plain white walls and carpet, you’ll see transparent walls, mismatches floors, balconies and pathways, and books, lots and lots of books.

 The Library Of  Alexandria, Alexandria,  Egypt

The ancient library of Alexandria was built by the order of Ptolemy ll in the third century BC. It contained 700,000 books and was the greatest library in the world at that time. This was the first public governmental library in history. Any scholar such as Archimedes who studies in the library of Alexandria had to leave a copy of his writings in the library. This was one of the reasons the library was rich with books, researchers, and studies that were contemporary at the time. There were many theories as to how the library burned -one was that it was Julius Caesar. Centuries later, Hosny Mubarak made an international architectural design competition to build a library on that site.  The prize was sixty thousand American dollars which was won by Snohetta, a Norwegian architectural firm. The oval shape of the library from outside is a symbol of the continuity of life. The library is surrounded by a great wall that was made out of Aswan Granite and it contains writing and inscriptions in 120 languages. The objective of the new library is the same objective of the old library: to act as a public research library and to support the people of the Arab world and the Middle East to retain their old position as scholars and researchers in different fields of science.

NY Public Library, NY, USA

The New York Public Library  which opened in 1911  by combining the collections of the Astor and Lenox Libraries with a $2.4 million trust from Samuel J. Tilden that was given to, “establish and maintain a free library and reading room in the city of New York.”It was the largest marble building in the United States and  home to over one million books.The Beaux Artes building is located at Fifth Avenue and 42nd St. Two stone lions guard the entrance. Though originally named Astor and Lennox,  Mayor Fiorello La Guardia renamed them Patience and Fortitude during the Great Depression.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Things That I Have Learned In Rio, Brazil

Things I Have Learned In Rio, Brazil

“Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer” Unknown

Rio is named for a river that doesn’t exist. According to tradition, it was first visited in January 1502 by Portuguese explorers, who believed the bay they encountered (now called Guanabara Bay) was the mouth of a river. They named the area Rio de Janeiro, “River of January.”

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Rio was capital of Brazil from 1763 until 1960, when that role was transferred to Brasilia.

Rio’s locals are called carioca (a name also sometimes applied as an adjective to the city itself). It may have come from kari ola, or “white man’s house” in the indigenous Tupi language.

The food scene in Rio is laid-back. ( feijoada)

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You can happily grab some fried bar snacks and a caipirinha to enjoy on the beach, or head straight from the beach to a rodizio (all-you-can-eat). The tropical influence is also evident in the many choices of fruit juice stands (on every corner in Rio), and the abundance of açaí.

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Cariocas  have a habit of putting mustard and ketchup on their pizza. There are also amazing five-star and cool trendy restaurants with delicious food.

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In Brazil, there’s soccer (or futebol) and then everything else. Brazilians are obsessive, diehard fans and just about everyone plays, especially at the beach. Even for the Americans who now grow up playing soccer, your skills are no match for the footwork and volleying on display at the beach in Rio. Even the younger groups of kids are able to pass the airborne ball back and forth, using every part of their bodies from their heads to their shoulders to their knees, like its nothing.

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Rio explodes with energy and color during the five days before Ash Wednesday, when millions take to the streets for the world’s biggest Carnaval. The party starts on the Friday, when the mayor hands over the keys to the city to a man crowned as King Momo, a mythical jester who acts as the head of the festivities. Rio’s Carnival features hundreds of booze-soaked bandas (riotous street parties, often with specific themes) and elaborate balls. The party reaches its height at the Sambódromo, when the best samba schools in the country compete for top prize. On Ash Wednesday Carnival is officially over, and King Momo goes home.Carnaval has been called one of the seven wonders of the world.

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In 2014, Rio de Janeiro legalized street art on many types of city property, turning the already colorful city into an outdoor art gallery. Street artists are allowed to decorate columns, walls and construction siding so long as they’re not historically designated. The city has even created a quasi-government agency, Eixo Rio to regulate the city’s urban artists, and celebrates an official Graffiti Day on March 27—the date Brazilian graffiti pioneer Vallauri Alex died in 1987.

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Carmen Miranda conquered the silver screen as a singer, dancer and actress in both Brazil and America in the mid-20th century. The Carmen Miranda museum  is filled with memorabilia including her trademark platform heels and towering turbans of plastic or sequined fruit.

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Rio de Janeiro became a World Heritage Site in 2012.

Rio is where you will find two of the world’s most famous beaches – Copacabana and Ipanema. Ipanema isn’t as hectic and the waters are cleaner.  When you’re in Ipanema make sure to stop into Garota de Ipanema as it is where the famous song The Girl from Ipanema was written.

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The Art Deco Copacabana Palace built in 1923 faces the beach. It has hosted the rich and famous for ninety years. You definitely feel old Rio when you are there even though it has been completely redone.

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.There are two great places to get away from the craziness in Rio de Janeiro.The Botanic Gardens covering over 130 hectares is extremely peaceful and home to over 6,000 types of plants and trees. The Tijuca forest is the largest urban rainforest in the world. Here you can go on hiking trails, admire waterfalls and much more. (Tijuca forest)

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Museu de Arte de Rio (MAR) is Rio’s newest art museum. It is part new modern building linked with a traditional building  by a canopy supported by pillars. The views of Guanabara Bay and the massive Rio-Niterói Bridge from the top floor are amazing. There is classic and contemporary art as well as an interesting exhibit on the history of Rio.

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The Museu del Arte Moderna is another incredible building designed by architect Affonso Eduardo Reidy.

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It houses one of the most comprehensive collections of Brazilian art in existence and interesting temporary exhibitions as well.

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The Biblioteca Nacional is the largest library in Latin America, In addition to the books, visitors can also delight in the library’s stunning neo-classical architecture and intricate Corinthian columns.

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Brazil’s most famous dance – samba – has its origins from the African slaves that worked in the plantations in the State of Rio de Janeiro There are more than 200 samba schools in Rio.

Lapa is known as the best place in Rio to experience nightlife.  This fun and unique neighbourhood comes alive at night, when Samba music can be heard pouring out of nearly every doorway and locals can be seen swinging their hips away while sipping on tasty cocktails. It is filled with row after row of live music venues, tapas bars, and thumping clubs.

I have to thank my guide Gabriel Morand who went above and beyond to make sure I had an amazing time in Rio. I saw everything I wanted to see, ate well and bought everything I needed to buy. I loved Brazil and can’t wait to return.

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Tenha Uma Boa Viagem,

JAZ

The Favela – Project Morrinho

The Favela – Project Morrinho

“The world lies in the hands of those who have the courage to dream and who take the risk of living out their dreams – each according to his or her own talent.”Paul Coelho

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The story began in 1998 when Cirlan Souza de Oliveira a 14 year-old boy moved to the favela Periera da Silva in Rio de Janeiro.

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He and his brother decided to play with bricks they found in the back yard to create buildings inspired by the new places and surrounding buildings he saw. His efforts attracted seven young boys who began the creation of the replica of their community built into a hillside where they played out imaginary adventures with toys.

They kept it hidden to protect it and being in their mid teens they didn’t think it was”cool.” The ‘trafficantes” who controlled the area found out about it and encouraged the project. They thought it would help the kids in their community have opportunities so they did not become traffickers as well. Sometimes they came and played with the boys in the miniature city with their guns slinging behind them. The police after understanding that the traffickers had nothing to do with this project became encouraging as well.(utube by Cirlan Souza de Olivera)

.In 2001 the mini favela was visited by two documentary filmmakers, Fabio Gavião and Markão Oliveira. The filmmakers were so taken with their work that they developed a documentary about the project. Out of the documentary grew a partnership that helped Projeto Morrinho become a registered NGO and opened doors to the wider world of arts and social projects. The project is already famous and has been recreated in top international art festivals in Venice, Berlin, Munich and Prague, among others.  (Morrinho at Mar Museum in Rio fundraising for the favela project)

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The fame of this miniature favela continues to spread, along with the positive message it put out about young people against the odds, taking charge of their own lives and becoming role models for others in areas, normally synonymous with poverty and crime. In this respect Morrinho has become an inspiration to young people across the world.

Tenha Uma Boa Viagem,

JAZ

 

Paraty, Brazil

Paraty

You can fall in love at first sight with a place as with a person. ~Alec Waugh

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Halfway between São Paulo and Rio on the Costa Verde is the perfectly preserved Portuguese colonial town of Paraty. ( pronounced pa ra chee)

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In the seventeenth century,it was decided that all merchandise shipped to Portugal would pass through the state of Rio de Janeiro. Paraty’s whole existence was based on shipping gold mined from further inland Brazil. Huge finds of gold in the mines of Minas Gerais led to soaring tax incomes and the town quickly expanded with the new wealth. It was during this period that most of the houses you can see today were built. Paraty (which means “river of fish” in the Tupi language) became an important gold port and was the end of the infamous “Gold Trail”.

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Walking those streets is like entering a time capsule. Cars are not allowed in the historic city center. Horse and carts stand around like it is the eighteen hundreds.

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The huge cobblestones were from the ships coming to load up gold. Slaves pounded them into place, at least the ones who were not mining. Portuguese engineers deliberately constructed Paraty so that the high tide could enter the streets at full moon, flooding the streets and taking the garbage out to sea.

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Never wear heels. The cobblestones are uneven and difficult to walk on even if you have lived there all your life. It is even harder when they are wet.

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With mines running dry of gold in the late 18th century the importance of Paraty diminished. A lucrative slave trade continued, labour was needed for the ever-growing coffee plantations. When that ended so did Paraty´s importance. Production of cachaça, the Brazilian sugarcane grew considerably. and the name Paraty became synonymous with the liquor. At one point there were over 150 distilleries in the area.

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There are three colonial era churches, each with their own splendor and history. One for slaves, one for free mulattoes and one for the élite.

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The town stayed pretty quiet after that until 1973 with the opening of the highway BR-101 which started a tourist cycle that continues today. ( We ran into a Portuguese- African holiday celebration- tourists and locals)

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The historic town center is about thirty blocks filled with stores, restaurants, galleries and history.

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The buildings are painted white with the doors and window frames painted a particular bright color.

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Mail can still be delivered based on writing down the color of the doors.

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Doors always invite you to imagine who lives behind them and who enters through them. Rules about remodeling these Unesco houses are strict. Doors can be windows. Windows can not be doors.

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The first International Literary Festival of Paraty in 2003 put Brazil, and Paraty, on the map of international literary festivals. I stayed at Posada Literatura which has a book store attached, a reading room and  books in your room.

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We had dinner and a cooking class and the home of Richard and Yara Roberts. Richard began with a caipirinha lesson followed by Yara’s delicious food from Bahia.

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Their knowledge of Brazilian cuisine and history made the evening both delicious and fascinating.

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Their house and art is beautiful as well. It was a wonderful way to spend a rainy night in Paraty.http://www.chefbrasil.com

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Paraty is a beach paradise.

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If the weather is good take a day boat tour of the islands and beaches in the Bay of Paraty.

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Though there are no really good beaches in walking distance, there are sixty-five islands and three hundred beaches in the bay.

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There is always fresh fish for lunch.

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and snorkeling.

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The boats range from about nine dollars to private yachts and everything in between

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Being on boat, going to these beautiful beaches makes life feel pretty easy.

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Gabriel, thanks for the interesting history lesson and for sharing the stories of the place where you grew up.

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Tenha Uma Boa Viagem,

JAZ

Ten Reasons To Go To Brazil

Ten Reason To Go To Brazil

“I can choose either to be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It’s all a question of how I view my life.” Paulo Coelho (yes he is Brazilian)

1. The beach – there are over 1500 beaches and five hundred islands.

2. Amazon Rainforest and Eco Tourism –  It is important to support and help preserve our environment in a responsible way.

3. Sao Paulo Street Art – It’s my thing.

4. It is the home of the acai berry.  If you live anywhere that is health trendy like LA, acai is the food of the moment. It comes in a bowl or in a drink as far as I can tell. No one really knows why it is healthy – kind of like the chia seed. You order it at a trendy expensive juice bar in a voice that sounds like you just know. I’m shallow like that. I’m going to learn the  Brazilian way to pronounce it as well so I can correct all the wannabe healthy people.

5. Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio De Janeiro. It’s one of those iconic Brazilian symbols that I always see in photos and movies and wonder if I will ever be there.

6. It’s another one of the best coffee in the world countries. Those are my favorite.

7. I can practice my Spanish. I mean because I will have the time. They speak Portuguese in Brazil. The languages sound similar to us because they are romance languages and not English. I am hopeful that as in any country but America people speak more than one language and Spanish will be one of them. Otherwise I will rely on my third language of hand motions and charades.

8. I’m not a big drinker but I do love Caipirinhas which happens to be the national beverage of Brazil. It is made with cachaca a sweet Brazilian rum made from sugar cane, lime juice and more sugar. I feel as with all cheap liquor now, the market is changing and when I get to Brazil there will be many premium cachacas to try.

9. Capoira combines dance, martial arts, music and acrobatics. It is known for quick and complex moves, using mainly power, speed, and leverage for a variety of kicks, spins, and highly mobile techniques. It was started as a fighting technique between African slaves who were forced to fight each other. They found a way to make dance like fighting.

10. The yellow soccer jersey. My first live professional soccer game was in Buenos Aires and I have been hooked ever since. Though they lost the World Cup on their home turf and were humiliated by Germany, they have still won more World Cups then any other country. It is the “o pais do futebol.” – the country of futbol.

Tenha Uma Boa Viagem,

JAZ

JAZ