Over the course of the past twenty years, I have travelled extensively throughout Europe, in the footsteps of medieval architecture.
I have taken thousands of photographs. The representation of buildings was important to me, people were more of a disruption.
Today, somewhat more mature, I start to see this somewhat differently.
Here, two examples that have made me think:
The Collegiate Church of San Quirico d'Orcia
A medieval scene in sunny Southern Tuscany, in front of the western portal of a Romanesque church constructed during the twelfth century. A person resting on the steps in front of a façade built with natural stone.
The façade is filled with symbolism: knotted columns are intended to repell evil, and the columns on the backs of the large, guarding lions symbolically support the Church. The reliefs decorating the console consist of various fantastic creatures.
Whether the 21st-century person in the picture had any interest in and sense of this architectural work, built 800 years ago?
In rather cloudy Vorpommern, a great contrast: an imposing brick portal from the fourteenth century. A "small" person strolls past, without granting the Gothic architecture one look. There are no steps to offer a chance to rest.
The Western Portal of the Collegiate Church (Dom) of. St. Nicholas, Greifswald
Unlike in Tuscany, the tenfold stepped portal of brick and masonry was constructed with artificial stone. The builders joined thousands of clay-mottled and glazed blocks, produced through pre-industrial means, into an impressive portal. The modern era was just around the corner.
What connects both scenes, despite all these opposites? I believe: the small human in front of these great works of medieval architecture. A bit of humility would be appropriate.