10 OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN THE MIDDLE EAST
- 25 Mar - 31 Mar, 2023
While many beautiful structures, such the Taj Mahal in India and the Torrechiara Castle in Italy, were famously built by men in honour of their loved ones, there aren't many memorials paid for by women. The ones that do exist were developed by women who had to defy convention or question cultural expectations.
They disobeyed royal protocol, opposed equality laws, or changed architectural trends in order to memorialise their darlings with temples, graves, sculptures, and stepwells. Here are six locations where women have dared to honour their relationships.
Prince Albert, the 42-year-old spouse of Queen Victoria, passed away unexpectedly from illness in 1861, leaving the monarch inconsolable. According to British historian Tracy Borman, author of Crown & Sceptre: A New History of the British Monarchy, "She spent the rest of her life honouring his memory—draping herself and her court in black, withdrawing from public and social engagements, and surrounding herself with images of her late husband." The bereaved queen also sought comfort by establishing monuments and statues in his honour.
The queen started building a mausoleum at Frogmore, a royal estate close to Windsor Castle, soon after Albert's passing; it wasn't finished until 1871. The tomb is not open to visitors. But from the immaculate grounds of nearby Frogmore House, which will reopen to the public later this year, they can see the imposing structure. If they were able to peer inside, they would discover a vibrant atmosphere influenced by Albert's love of Italian Renaissance art, with a magnificent coffin as its focal point and marble effigies of the queen and her beloved Albert at her side.
An elegant temple honours the son of a peasant who became a samurai and assisted in unifying Japan after years of feudal warfare amid the forested foothills of Kyoto's Higashiyama Mountains. He went under the name Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Kodai-ji, one of Kyoto's most popular temples, was built by Kita-no-Mandokoro, Hideyoshi's mourning wife, after he passed away in 1598. This widow, also known as Nene, was a Buddhist nun for 19 years at Kodai-ji, where her burial is situated. According to David L. Howell, a professor of Japanese history at Harvard University, Hideyoshi's ghost lives in Kodai-ji with his wife even though he was interred at a different location in Kyoto.
Humayun's Tomb in east Delhi, India, is a marble and red sandstone masterpiece that narrates the tale of an emperor and the unwavering love of his wife. It served as an influence for the Taj Mahal. Bega Begum, the first wife of Mughal emperor Humayun, ordered the construction of this mausoleum after her husband's death in 1556 from injuries sustained in a fall. According to Najaf Haider, a professor of Indian history at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, it was the first sizable structure constructed in the Mughal architectural style, a synthesis of Indian, Persian, and Central Asian design features.
Tourists are welcome to explore the ruins of a 2,300-year-old masterpiece in the Turkish seaside city of Bodrum. According to Daniel Sherer, a visiting lecturer in architectural history and philosophy at Princeton University, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and matched the Egyptian pyramids in scale and splendour. According to Sherer, Pliny the Elder, a Roman author of the first century, claimed that Queen Artemisia ordered the construction of this mausoleum in 353 B.C. It served as both a magnificent gesture and Mausolus, the monarch of Caria, a region of what is now Turkey, an eternal home. According to Sherer, Artemisia is frequently shown directing the construction of the tomb in Renaissance and baroque artwork. An account by first-century Roman historian Valerius Maximus depicts Artemisia as so devoted to her late husband that she mixed the ashes of Mausolus in a liquid which she then drank, “thereby making herself a living, breathing tomb,” Sherer says.
The earth spreads out to reveal a complex wonder on the outskirts of Patan, a small city in western India. Visitors descend more than 65 feet into Rani-ki-Vav stepwell via a set of steps, passing four pavilions and 1,500 hand-carved sculptures. Before the majority of them were destroyed by British colonial forces, India had thousands of stepwells that were used to collect water for drinking, washing, and bathing. Rani-ki-Vav, often referred to as the Queen's Stepwell, was built by Queen Udaymati in the eleventh century and underwent a thorough restoration in the 1980s. She gave this gem as a memorial to her late husband, King Bhimdev I, who reigned over a large portion of what is now Gujarat State in India.