A Travellerspoint blog

July 2017

Doors and windows

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I enjoy photographing all sorts of architectural details (more may appear later in this blog) but there is something especially interesting about doors and windows. In a plain building, they are often the most decorative feature, and always they invite you to wonder about what lies within.

I have visited a number of European cities or even entire countries whose windows and/or doors have drawn me to photograph them in significant numbers. Let’s start with some of my favourites.

Iceland

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For the most part Iceland is memorable for its landscapes rather than its architecture, but both in Reykjavik and elsewhere I found its colourful corrugated metal houses very photogenic:

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Riga

The capital of Latvia is best known, architecturally, for its glorious Art Nouveau buildings (which will surely feature sooner or later in my blogs here). But to the south of the old town lies another district that I found equally captivating photographically-speaking, Latgale, more usually known as Maskavas forštate or the Moscow District. This is a traditional working-class area with a mixed population (Russian, Latvian, Jewish and more). The architecture is a mix of faded Art Nouveau grandeur and traditional 19th-century wooden homes that seem quite rural in character and a little out of place so close to a city centre. Here there are few tourists, but a photo around every corner and a rough-edged picturesqueness if you take the time to search it out.

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Tallinn

In Tallinn it was not windows but doors that caught my eye, and my lens. As I walked around the oldest parts of the city, both the lower and upper towns, I was struck by the large number of beautiful wooden doors on the old buildings, and took lots of photos:

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Portugal

A Virtual Tourist Euromeeting (read more about what that is here: You can kill a website but you can't kill friendships) brought me to Portugal’s Algarve. I don’t generally do “sun, sea and sand” holidays but in addition to the usual excellent company of VT friends I also found here plenty of history and some beautiful old buildings in the heart of Faro and even touristy Albufeira. I was especially struck here by the many old wooden doors with filigree metal inlays covering their windows. These seem to be part of a clever design – behind the metalwork are shutters that can be opened to let cool air into the house without any loss of security.

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Doors in Albufeira

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Doors in Faro

The doors often also have the traditional hand-shaped door knockers known as the Hand of Fatima or Mãos de Fátima in Portuguese:

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Door knockers in Faro

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And in Silves

These are more prevalent in Muslim countries on the whole, but very common here too – possibly due to the old Moorish influence which pervades other aspects of the architecture. There are various stories about them, for example that they protect the house from evil. I also read that where there are two knockers on a door one is male and one female, and that visitors would be expected to use the one appropriate to their own gender. As each had a different sound the women of the household would know whether or not they could open the door.

Sibiu

Another Virtual Tourist meeting brought me to Sibiu in Romania, where many of the roof tops have these distinctive small windows often referred to as the “eyes of Sibiu”:

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Eyes of Sibiu

But there were other windows, and doors too, that caught my eye:

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Italy

One of my favourite regions of Italy is Marche, with its ancient stone village atop the rolling hills. Here are a few photos from there:

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Offagna

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Corinaldo

New Mexico

Further afield, the adobe architecture of New Mexico really appealed to me, and the insertion of often brightly painted wooden window or door frames in the earthen walls makes for interesting contrasts:

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Window in Cimarron, NM

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In Santa Fe

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Ranchos de Taos

Morocco

Whether ornate Islamic architecture or more humble homes, there are plenty of photogenic window and doors to be found in Marrakesh and elsewhere in Morocco. The following photos were taken on two visits to Marrakesh:

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Window and door details, Marrakesh

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Window and door detail, Musee Tiskiwin, Marrakesh

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Cell windows in the Medersa Ali Bin Youssef, Marrakesh

Cuenca

Cuenca is known in Ecuador for the attractiveness of its old doors, both on major buildings such as churches but also, as in these photos, on regular houses:

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Doors in Cuenca

Japan

While for the most part Japan is a modern country, you can still find plenty of example of its traditional architecture, with paper screen walls and the calm geometrical simplicity of its doors and windows, as here in the old merchant houses of Takayama:

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Yoshijima-ke, Takayama

During the Edo period Takayama was largely a merchant, rather than a samurai, town, and its architecture reflects that fact. The streets of the old town are lined with houses of a style that accommodated both family and business life. The light inside these houses was beautiful, and the contrast of the heavy dark beams, the lighter lacquered wood used for door frames, pillars etc., and the translucent paper screens was captivating:

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Old merchant houses in Takayama

And let’s finish with a selection from elsewhere in the world:

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Door, Bibi Khanum Mosque, Samarkand

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Windows in Greenwich Village, NYC

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Entrance to the Sobierski Palace, Lviv

Posted by ToonSarah 11:17 Tagged buildings japan italy houses doors windows romania morocco photography iceland ecuador Comments (5)

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