Sunday, August 5, 2012

CA 2012: The Carmel Mission

When Ron and I go to a new city, stopping in churches is one of our favorite things to do. This is a shame, because we have not "stopped in a church" on a Sunday morning in approximately seven years.  The cities we've visited over the years tend to be heavy on the Catholic churches which is fine with us because nobody can decorate a church like a Catholic. (I'm allowed to say that because I am Catholic. Or does that make it worse?)  Call us flamboyant or excessive or (God forbid!) tacky ... nobody beats us. Case in point: St. Peter's in Rome.  Or any church in Rome. Case closed.

The Carmel Mission is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, probably because it looks so exotic.  While the hundreds of churches in Rome (it has to be hundreds ... someone should count) feel much like American East Coast basilicas (think St. Pat's in NYC or Peter and Paul in Philly), the Mission feels like something from a different place altogether.  It makes sense that the land, the terrain, the weather, the brightness or dimness or the sun would dictate the architecture that exists in particular places.  My opinion is that the Mission is like a concise, three-dimensional essay on these qualities that have persisted day-to-day in Carmel over hundreds of years.

I love that big star window!! love love love

I am obsessed with fountains.  Rome is famous for its abundant fountains (is there a better way to show off your masterful aqueduct in the years B.C.E.? I think not) and California is similar in this respect.

Anybody know what the inscription at the top means? I'm guessing it's Greek? Note the little pots of impatiens.

All of these interior shots were completely impossible for me the last time I was here in 2008.  My little point and shoot was terrific in bright sun, and even dim sun, but I couldn't get an interior shot without a flash to save my life.

How do you paint a squiggle like that on the ceiling??

Marcie always lights a candle for her mother and her sister.

I know this is a repeat but I can't help myself.  The landscape has changed in four years, interestingly enough.
I wonder how often they replace the flowers?

And this is why I have been obsessed with acquiring a fig tree of my own--they are abundant here.
The Mission also has a primary school--I'm guessing this little garden was planted by them.

I suppose this church is special because it has such a magnificent courtyard, and not all places have the space for this kind of thing. Since I have visited the Mission during the last week of July on both trips, I'm really curious about how everything looks in October and January.  I don't know if fall or winter ever really come to Carmel, but if it does, it must be gorgeous.

If you have only three hours in Carmel, come here and then drive to the beach before you head out.  This is the essence of the place.

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