Monday, May 9, 2011

Gargoyles & Grotesques, Part 2

Link - article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams

Still Wonderfully Strange... After All These Years

We had such a great time creating the first "Gargoyles and Grotesques" article last year that we couldn’t resist taking another look at a selection of these wonderful objects from around the world.

(images via E. K. Chua, Wenzel)

Although this astronaut carved into the facade of the cathedral in Salamanca in Spain has attracted some theories about alien visitors in antiquity, it was apparently merely added during restoration work in 1992, to symbolize the modern era:

(image via)

And here’s a dragon enjoying his ice cream, situated on the same cathedral (left)... and we can't even identify the creature on the right:

(images credit: George Krauss, 2)

This somewhat perplexed-looking medieval gargoyle is from Freiburg in Germany:

(image via)

Another hilarious one is also from Freiburg (it is, however, not safe for work, so we just giving the link here).

Here’s a great example from St. Vitus’ Cathedral in Prague:

(image via)

How about this monkey in Oxford, ready to leap off his perch at some unsuspecting passerby? On the right is another grotesque, found in Oxford:

(image credit: Claire Parfrait)

Also in Oxford, at the Bodleian Library, some gargoyles have been added in recent years. Children who participated in a contest designed these carvings. Here we see Tweedledum and Tweedledee from Alice in Wonderland:

(image via BBC)

Still in Oxford, perhaps this is what really happens to students who don’t study hard enough? (similar fate falls on gargoyle in Dinard, Bretagne - shown below right):

(images credit: 1, 2)

While not adorning buildings, these lawn ornaments show how gargoyles have been a source of inspiration far removed from their original purpose:

(top image via)

This wonderful face expression example can be found in Cambridge, in England (left). The one on the right appears on the wall of Westminster Abbey in London:

(images via 1, 2)

These modern carvings in the cloister of Gloucester Cathedral in England are actually self-portraits of the stonemasons who created them (left). On the right some restored gargoyles sing the blues:

(images via 1, 2)

The gargoyle shown below left literally opens up its heart to show how it feels... The figure on the right, with a very distinctive hairstyle, is a feature of the Church of St John the Baptist in Cirencester in England:

(images credit Brian, 2)

Here is a skeptical, grumpy figure from New York... it certainly makes you wonder, what he’s reading? -

(image via)

These magnificent carved beasts decorate Saint Rombaut’s Cathedral in Antwerp, Belgium (left). Below right we see a gargoyle from Grand Place in Brussels:

(images via 1, 2)

We showed last time how Darth Vader is featured on the walls of Washington’s National Cathedral. There are many carvings decorating the building, such as this impressive looking monster:

(image credit: Victoria Pickering)

And this one entitled, "The Thief":

(image via)

Gargoyles aren’t confined to churches, of course, and are found on many different types of public buildings around the world. You can even find gargoyles in the most unlikely places, such as this one at the airport in Denver, perhaps sympathizing with any travelers facing a long wait for their flights:

(image credit: Charles Pfeil)

This menacing figure is located on the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, which once housed such notorious criminals as Al Capone.

(image via)

So there you are, another fascinating look at the strange, intriguing, unusual and at times bizarre stone carvings displayed on buildings around the world. Not all gargoyles belong to the mists of time, however - here's how the MODERN gargoyles could look like:

(top photo sent in by Melissa Mork)

Over in San Francisco, there is a little known figure on the Bay Bridge... Bay Bridge gargoyle keeps people safe (placed there after the 1989 earthquake when part of the Bay Bridge collapsed):

(image and more info via)

And perhaps, the weirdest of all - "The Vampire Rabbit", placed over the ornate doorway of solicitors' offices on Amen Corner, behind St Nicholas' Cathedral, in Newcastle... The significance of this creature (if any) nobody can deduce to this day:

(image via)


Simon Rose is the author of science fiction and fantasy novels for children, including The Alchemist's Portrait, The Sorcerer's Letterbox, The Clone Conspiracy, The Emerald Curse, The Heretic's Tomb and The Doomsday Mask.



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