Everybody who knows me, also knows about my love for architecture. Beautiful buildings dating back from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century – also known as Art Nouveau – attract my attention in Brussels like light attracts flies. I can walk around ages with my head tilted back, staring at all those mosaics, fresco’s, paintings and details in the ironwork high above eye level. Just like those clear lines and geometric details from the Art Deco period. Or the white and linear, clean and hygienic architectural pearls dating back from the modernist era. Names as Mies Van Der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Victor Horta and Adolf Loos make me drool. But most of all, I love the ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’, where architecture and interior are a complete work of art: from doorknobs to chairs to staircases to the facade. Little has been left of those little worlds of wonder crammed in a house. Or maybe even a couple of rooms.
Sometimes my travels bring me to little palaces from the past, left behind to be marveled at in the present. That house in Copenhagen, where time stood still and even the papier-mâché vases survived the decades of progress. Those ballrooms in Vienna, transformed to temples of modern art. The house of Victor Horta – Again…maybe he is my favorite Belgian architect. Maybe. – in Brussels, once a home where he and his family ate, breathed and lived. Now a museum where you can’t touch what was hip and trendy a hundred years ago. And then I visited Cuba.
I already wrote about the impression Havana and rural Cuba had on me. Could you imagine how pleased my inner architect/historian/whatever-you-want-to-call-it was with all those beautiful buildings kept in their original state? How the political and economical situation of the country influenced the preservation of all those different styles? – I’m not talking about the influence in general. Don’t know enough about it and to be honest, it’s not what this blog is about – How colonial churches and forts go hand in hand with neoclassical ‘houses’ and mix with Art Deco, Art Nouveau and eclectic buildings? How the interior of at least three pharmacies I visited still looks exactly like how it opened in the beginning of the 20th century? – minus the fire-extinguisher and the pharmacist, he still looks pretty alive. Oh, and most of them are still a pharmacy, but also a museum at the same time – How I almost got a stiff neck everyday I walked around, absorbing all the details above my head?
Havana is a wet dream for architecture lovers. Trinidad as well. – actually whole Central-America, colonial cities galore – So I took a bunch of pictures, from the Museo de Arquitectura Colonial in Trinidad – how surprising – to the local pharmacy in Havana and of course, the Museo de la Revoluciòn, where history was written and the ballroom is being restored at the moment. Luckily, most of them are turned into museums right now, so we can keep reliving the past a little bit longer.
Can you think of any other architectural beauties I should visit in the future?