Tag Archives: Ruins

Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands

Yesterday the TCP crew went on a bit of an adventure to Kirkjubøur, a historic village located on the southern point of Streymoy Island.

Kirkjubøur village is considered the Faroes most important historical site and has a number of ruins dating back to the 1100s.

Kirkjubøargarður (Faroese for Yard of Kirkjubøur, also known as King’s Farm) is one of the oldest still inhabited wooden houses of the world, if not the oldest according to Wikipedia.

The old farmhouse of Kirkjubøur dates back to the 11th century. It was the episcopal residence and seminary of the Diocese of the Faroe Islands, from about 1100. The legend says, that the wood for the block houses came as driftwood from Norway and was accurately bundled and numbered, just for being set up.

The ruins of the Magnus Cathedral (Kirkjubømúrurin), built by Bishop Erlendur around the year 1300 is very impressive. The medieval building was never completed and still remains unfinished and without a roof.

The grass roofs of the traditional houses are very beautiful and something I have not seen anywhere else.

What I am finding even more beautiful is the landscape of rocky outcrops, cliffs and islands jutting out of the sea. It is the stuff of dreams and magic and we can’t wait to experience more of this beautiful place.


The Pleasures of the Greek colony of Paestum – in Italy!

Text: Garry Benson
Images: Garry Benson
Editor: Tracey Benson

Two of my passions – there are lots – are old ruins and food, as evidenced by my car and my waistline. So when I was invited to a housewarming I was very excited as it was in Rivello, Basilicata, at my friends John and Dora’s newly converted barn.

Image credit: Garry Benson
Image credit: Garry Benson

Rivello is about 5 hours south of Rome, so with friends Zoë and Susan we headed off on the Autostrada via Naples for a three day visit. As a drive, it was a wee bit gruelling due to being on the wrong side of the road for an Aussie. That my two navigators had widely differing views of their role it didn’t help.

Image credit: Garry Benson
Image credit: Garry Benson

After a great party and visits to local spots like Lagonegro, we agreed to take an easier (and quieter) route to Pompeii where we’d stay for a couple of days. So I decided the coastal route via Maratea, Sapri and the wonderful 7th century ruins at Paestum, right in the centre of a region known for its delicious mozzarella di bufala cheese. That’s the basic for one of my favourite Italian dishes, the simple but delicious Capresé Salad (I’ve included my recipe at the end).

Image credit: Garry Benson
Image credit: Garry Benson

Along the way, you pass mozzarella farms where ‘vendita diretta’ signs show they’ll sell you dripping bocconcini (balls) of cheese made fresh that morning—usually within 300 feet of the scenically grazing bufale that provided the milk. (The yogurt, honey, and fresh ricotta are excellent as well.)

Image credit: Garry Benson
Image credit: Garry Benson

Reids Italy website says:

It’s amazing to think that a culture could misplace three entire ancient Greek temples and forget about them for nearly a millennia, but that’s what happened when malaria and pirates drove the AD 9th century citizens of Paestum into the hills. Time forgot the crumbling ruins of this city founded in the 7th century BC until the 18th century, when a road crew rediscovered its remarkably well-preserved temples hidden among the weeds and poppies.

Map - Italy
Map – Italy

Reids Italy website goes on to say:

Poseidonia, or the City of Poseidon, was founded in the 6th century BC by Greek colonists from Sybaris. It trucked along nicely as the Roman colony of Paestum after 273 BC, and gained a small measure of fame for its enormous roses (which continue to bloom twice a year in gardens around the site).

Image credit: Garry Benson
Image credit: Garry Benson

Reids Italy website article continues:

Malaria decimated the population, and in the 9th century the Saracens wiped it off the map and out of memory. It wasn’t until the 18th century while building a road through the area that anyone other than farmers stumbled across the three incredible temples jutting out the of landscape, surrounded by blue-gray mountains. The three Doric temples at Paestum are said to be the best-preserved Greek temples in the world. These magnificent monuments date back to the 6th and 5th centuries BC, and are dedicated to the city’s namesake Poseidon (also known as Neptune, god of the sea), Hera and Ceres.

Image credit: Garry Benson
Image credit: Garry Benson

You can admire these stunning monuments in all their  beauty as Paestum is off the beaten tourist path. The site takes 1–2 hours to see; and the museum another 40–60 minutes. It is possible to do it all in one morning by taking an early train from Naples (or leave the Amalfi Coast in the morning and head to Salerno and the connection), and lunching at the Nettuno restaurant on site.

Opening hours (from Reids Italy)

The Paestum archeological site is open daily from 8:45am until around sunset (last entry an hour before closing). The actual closing hour ranges from 3pm to 6:30pm over the course of the year, and it literally changes—in increments anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes—every 15 days (no joke); see http://www.infopaestum.it for a detailed chart.

The Paestum museum is open daily 8:30am to 6:45pm, but closed first and third Mon of every month.

Mmm, mozzarella: These plains of the Cliento coast are the epicenter of Italy’s mozzarella production, so be sure order some at lunch to indulge in the freshest mozzarella you’ll ever taste. The nearby beach: if you fancy a dip in the sea after a hot morning at the ruins, follow signs marked ‘mare’ for the beach, about a 20–30 minute walk from Porta della Giustizia.

Image credit: Garry Benson
Image credit: Garry Benson

My recipe
I love the summer fruits of tomatoes, bell peppers, and chilli, and each year grow pots and pots of Sweet Basil. This is the last of the homegrown crop, I’ll have to buy them from now on. One of my favourite side dishes is Insalata (salad) Capresé:
4 vine ripened tomatoes
6 grape tomatoes
4 Roma tomatoes
4 bocconcini, sliced
10 capers
10 de-pipped Kalamata Black Olives
1/4 cup torn basil leaves
salt and cracked black pepper
extra virgin olive oil, to serve
balsamic vinegar, to serve

Step 1
Slice each tomato lengthways from top to bottom into thick slices. Place on a serving plate mix with the sliced bocconcini between each layer of tomatoes and top with capers, olives and basil leaves. Sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper.
Step 2
Just before serving, drizzle the salad with an oil and vinegar dressing.

Present with a small bowl of basil pesto (I add a bit of extra lemon juice for some tanginess.)

Hint: Like strawberries, to get the full taste of the tomatoes take them out of your fridge an hour or so before serving.

365 Places: Algeria

Day 7: Algeria, North Africa

Today my post is about a place that I will probably never visit again, Algeria. From the small part I saw, it is a beautiful and captivating country with an equally fascinating and complex history. I spent most of my time in the north of the country, close to the Mediterranean coast. It surprised me how lush and green the countryside was – I had imagined Algeria to be a dry, and arid landscape, similar to the central desert country of Australia.

Most of the time I was with people from the Berber culture, who are the Indigenous people of this region. The Berber have an incredibly rich and complex history and culture, which I also find fascinating: particularly the role of women – check out the story of Kahina as a starting point.

As you can see from my photos, Algeria is a contrast between the ancient and the modern – the Roman ruins and the many satellite dishes on apartments coexisting somewhat strangely together in the lush, viridian landscape. The highlight of my trip was wandering around the Roman ruins of Tipasa, a UNECSO heritage listed site, located 70 kilometres west of Algiers.

Profile: Edward Mooney

We have been researching other photographers, artists and writers that focus on travel and ideas of ‘place’ in their work. Recently, we came across the work of Edward Mooney, an Irish photographer and blogger, who blogs at http://edmooneyphoto.wordpress.com/. We fell in love with his beautiful atmospheric imagery of old ruins and castles in Ireland.

Edward Mooney
Edward Mooney

Edward has been a keen photographer for the last 5 years and is now concentrating on combining his passion for photography with his interest in history, old ruins, folklore and mythology. Edward spends a lot of his free time travelling around the Irish countryside in search of his next adventure, which he fondly refers to as “Ruin-hunting”. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it!

Edward says about his work that:

I have always had a deep interest in the fascinating history and lore associated with Ireland, sometimes sprinkled with a pinch of the arcane for good measure. With much of my current work I get a chance to merge these interests into my images. When I explore many of these ancient sites, I feel like I am entering another realm. The Realm of the Past so to speak.

Another aspect of Edward’s site we love, is his wonderful collection of interactive ruins maps, which has some synergies with our other ongoing creative project Geokult. The maps are composed in Google Earth and most of the map pins feature a photograph of the site by Edward. This is an ongoing project which is being continually expanded to include Edwards discoveries of new ruins and significant sites. We are certainly inspired to go and see some of these magical places for ourselves one day.

Here is his map of Dublin:

You can find Edward’s work online at: