Friday, November 20, 2009

ANGELS AND DEMONS (Dan Brown)



Summary


The plot follows Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, as he tries to stop the Illuminati, a legendary secret society, from destroying Vatican City with the newly-discovered power of antimatter.

CERN director Maximilian Kohler discovers one of the most respected physicists, Leonardo Vetra, murdered in his own secured, private quarter in CERN. His chest is branded with a symbol—an ambigram of the word "Illuminati". Robert Langdon, an expert on the Illuminati, is called by Kohler to try to find the killer.

Angels and Demons

The Illuminati have also stolen a canister containing a quarter of a gram of antimatter—an extremely dangerous substance with immense destructive potential comparable to a small nuclear weapon, a potential unleashed upon contact with any form of normal matter. When the canister is taken away from its electricity supply, it automatically switch to its back-up battery, which will only power it for 24 hours, at which point the antimatter will fall, come into contact with the base of the canister, and self-destruct. The Illuminati have placed the stolen canister somewhere in Vatican City, with a security camera in front of it, showing how its digital clock counts down to the explosion.

Langdon and Vittoria go to Vatican City, where the pope has recently died, and the papal conclave has convened to elect the new pontiff. Cardinal Mortati, host of the election, discovers that the four Preferiti, cardinals who are considered to be the most likely candidates in the election, are missing. After they arrive, Langdon and Vittoria begin searching for the Preferiti in hopes that they will also find the antimatter canister in the process. Their search is assisted by Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca (the late pope's closest aide) and the Vatican's Swiss Guard, including Commander Olivetti, Captain Rocher, and Lieutenant Chartrand.

Convinced that the Illuminati are in some way responsible for the disappearance of the Preferiti, Langdon attempts to retrace the steps of the so-called "Path of Illumination", an ancient and elaborate process once used by the Illuminati as a means of induction of new members; prospective candidates for the order were required to follow a series of subtle clues left in various landmarks in and around Rome. If the candidate followed the clues properly, he would be able to locate the secret meeting place of the Illuminati and be granted membership in the order. Using his extensive knowledge of religious and occult history, Langdon sets off on the Path of Illumination in hopes of uncovering clues as to the disappearance of the Preferiti and the location of the antimatter canister. The Path leads Langdon to four major locations in Rome, each associated with what the Illuminati believed to be the four primordial elements of all things in existence: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.

Personal opinion

The plot is quite similar to The Da Vinci Code, with Langdon accompanied by an attractive joung woman and with the work of a brilliant artist (Bernini in Angels&Demons and Leonardo Da Vinci in The Da Vinci Code) involved in the mystery that Langdon has to solve. However, I think that the plot of Angels&Demons is more thrilling and gripping.

In the background of this story, I think that there is a discussion over the ethics of science and the ethics of Church. Science are always finding out new theories and developing new technology which, sometimes, is used to destroy instead of making our lives more comfortable. As to the ethics of Church, sometimes it seems that the Catholic church is more interested in preserve its power, its economical status and its influence power than in being really useful for people or in trying to understand that our society evolves.

One of the things that surprised me was the evolution of the character of Camarlengo: His kindness and determination at first became coldness, fanaticism, falseness and conspiracy at the end. I think that this character shows a bit the two-faced moral of Church.

One of the things I didn't like of this book was its end, too twisted and fantastic, more suitable for a novel of superheros than for a mystery-thriller novel.

Conclusion

This book isn't at all a masterpiece of literature, but It's a perfect book to spend a good time reading because of its permanent thrill and its mixture of science and religious symbology which I found quite interesting



Finally, next you have links of other interesting books I have read:







Friday, November 13, 2009

BARCELONA - MODERNISM OF GAUDI: PARK GÜELL

The Park Güell is a beautiful modernist park, designed by the brilliant architect Antoni Gaudí (the architecht of La Sagrada Familia, La Casa Batlló, La Pedrera or El Palau Güell), and a perfect place to walk in a sunny day. From this natural environment, everybody can enjoy splendid views of Barcelona, as fantastic as those ones from Montjuïc Castle.


Park Güell

Main entrance to Park Güell in Barcelona
The main entrance to Park Güell in Barcelona

A mosaic in the stairway of Park Güell
A mosaic in the stairway which leads to the Hipòstila Square of Park Güell

Gaudí dragon fountain in Park Güell
The Gaudí dragon fountain is at the entrance to the Park Güell. This dragon is adorned in beautiful coloured tiling and is one of the most famous images of this park

Terraced area in Park Güell
At the top of Park Güell is a terraced area where you get a fantastic view of the park and of Barcelona City

Multi-coloured tiled mosaic seats in Park Güell
Here you will find multi-coloured tiled mosaic seats as shown in this picture. I enjoyed a lot admiring from here the beauty of this park and the fantastic views of Barcelona

Park Güell in Barcelona
I felt really comfortable sitting here in a sunny day admiring this fabulous environment designed by Antoni Gaudí

Park Güell in Barcelona
Gaudí preserved the spontaneous vegetation of the place that today constitutes a stretch of forest where Carobs, Oaks, Pines and Holm Oaks are abundant

Bird nests designed by Antoni Gaudí in Park Güell
Bird nests built by Antoni Gaudí in the terrace walls of the Park Güell. The walls imitate the trees planted on them

Barcelona from The Turó de les Tres Creus in Park GüellView of Barcelona from The Turó de les Tres Creus in Park Güell. This location was chosen to erect a large chapel, which was never built. I found the views of Barcelona from The Turó de les Tres Creus really fantastic

Barcelona from The Turó de les Tres Creus in Park Güell
From this viewpoint of the Park Güell I enjoyed the view of three emblematic monuments of Barcelona: The twin towers in the Olympic Village, The Sagrada Familia and The Agbar Tower

Park Güell in Barcelona
Here you can see a walkway supported by twisting rock pillars that seem to be growing out of the ground like tree trunks

Park Güell in Barcelona
Although these are rather irregular in shape they look like strangely natural too

Sala Hipóstila in Park Güell
The Sala Hipóstila in Park Güell, which was supposed to house the garden city's market, is formed by 86 Doric columns

Sala Hipóstila in Park Güell
One of Gaudí's unique tiles in Parc Güell on the ceiling of Sala Hipóstila

Park Güell in Barcelona
Doric columns support the roof of the lower court which forms the central terrace of the Park Güell, with serpentine seating round its edge

Park Güell in Barcelona
I liked a lot this way under a curved roof and flanked by columns which looked like trunks

Park Güell in Barcelona
A really peaceful place inside the Park Guell in Barcelona

Park Güell in Barcelona
Another creation of Gaudi inside the Park Güell in perfect harmony with the environment

Park Güell in Barcelona
One of the two interesting buildings at the entrance of the Parc Guell


I also would like to give you some useful Information in case you want to visit this lovely park:
  • Address: C/ Olot, 1-13.
  • Opening hours: de las 10am until the sunset.
  • Free tickets.
  • How to get there: Bus 24 and 92, Barcelona Bus Turístic, stop Park Güell.
  • Web site: www.bcn.cat/parcsijardins

Clicking on the next links you will find more pictures of the most important buildings designed by Antoni Gaudí:


Other modernist buildings you can visit in Barcelona are:


Besides, clicking on the next links, you will find other beautiful parks and gardens in Barcelona, like:



Finally, clicking on the next link you will find links to more beautiful and interesting places of Barcelona, among them, more interesting modernist buildings you can discover along the Modernist Route.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

BARCELONA: TIBIDABO

One sunday morning we went to the Tibidabo, a hill on the top of which there is a funfair perfect for children and teenagers. So, Tibidabo is a fantastic place for children in Barcelona where they can spend a funny day.

From Tibidabo hill you will also enjoy fantastic views of Barcelona.  Tibidabo is actually one of the highest points in the city and the views of Barcelona and the surrounding areas are truly spectacular. Views as interesting as the ones from the Park Güell or the Montjuïc Castle.

Besides the journey up the mountain in the enchanting turn-of-the-century Blue Tram and funicular railway is hugely enjoyable.


Tibidabo funfair in BarcelonaMain square of Tibidabo funfair in Barcelona, really crowded as every sunday morning


Red aircraft in Tibidabo funfairThis red carriage and the red aircraft give a colourful look to the Tibidabo funfair


Sagrat Cor church on the top of Tibidabo hillSagrat Cor church on the top of Tibidabo hill


Sagrat Cor church on the top of Tibidabo hillInside the Sagrat Cor church there are interesting paintings like the one of this picture


Collserola Tower from the Tibidabo funfairView of Collserola Tower, built for the Olympic Games, from the Tibidabo


Big wheel of Tibidabo funfairBig wheel of Tibidabo funfair in Barcelona


Big wheel of Tibidabo funfairAnother picture of the big wheel. The building of the picture is a restaurant, always crowded


Tibidabo funfair in BarcelonaA train for children moving forward through the far west in Tibidabo funfair


View of Barcelona from the Tibidabo funfairView of Barcelona from the Tibidabo, where the Agbar tower, the Sagrada Familia, and the towers of the Olympic Village appear


Panoramic view of Barcelona from the Tibidabo funfair Panoramic view of Barcelona from Tibidabo. In the foreground on the right, the Fabra meteorological observatory



Tibidabo from Sant Pere Màrtir in Barcelona
Tibidabo from Sant Pere Màrtir in Barcelona


Tibidabo and Collserola Tower in Barcelona
A closer view of Tibidabo and Collserola Tower


Useful Information:

- How to get there:

  • Tibibus from Plaça Catalunya.
  • FGC, stop Av. Tibidabo + Tramvia Blau (Blue Tram) or Bus 196 + Funicular del Tibidabo.
  • FGC, stop Peu de Funicular + Funicular de Vallvidriera + bus 111.
- Phone: 932 117 942
- Web site: www.tibidabo.es

- E-mail: tibidabo@tibidabo.es


Finally, clicking on the next link you will find links to more beautiful and interesting places of Barcelona.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

CATALONIA: PORT DEL COMPTE, BERGA, SOLSONA I CARDONA

In September the weather was still lovely, so we decided to spend a weekend in a really peaceful environment near Port del Compte ski resort. We also visited interesting places such as Cardona Castle, the old city of Solsona and the city of Berga.


Views from Cardona Castle


Thursday, 24 Setember 2009

Berga



A view of the Castle and the old quarter of Berga


In the background, the white building is the city hall of Berga


A painting about the Patum, which is the village fiesta of Berga


A typical narrow street of the old quarter

A tree-lined boulevard with the Calalan flag



Port del Comte

L'Avet, a rural hotel near Port del Compte ski resort. The Landscape was fantastic and the environment really peaceful. A perfect place to relax



Friday 25 Setember 2009

Port del Comte


We had a wide balcony to enjoy the warm sunlight :)




The environment was peaceful and the day was really lovely

We had driven only a few kilometers when we saw this fabulous viewpoint, perfect to take some photos of the reservoir of La Llosa del Cavall, which stores the water of the Cardener river


A closer view of the reservoir of La Llosa del Cavall


This is a picture of the typical environment of this area, taken from our car while we were driving to Solsona


Solsona



We have arrived at Solsona and this is the main entrance to the old city



The cloister of the Cathedral of Solsona




The apse of the Cathedral of Solsona



Another entrance to the old city of Solsona



Main Square of Solsona



A picture in one of the typical streets of the old city of Cardona


And now, we went from Solsona to Cardona, where there is beautiful castle.


Castle of Cardona


As it's easily imagined, the views from Cardona Castle are wonderful thanks to its privileged location on the top of a hill


And next, some photos inside this beautiful castle:



Gothic archs in Cardona castle











A view of the well-know salt mines of Suria from Cardona Castle



An overview of the external walls of Cardona Castle




A really well conseved bastion of Cardona Castle