There’s nothing quite like the experience of viewing a city from above. In a single sweeping 360 degree motion, you can admire an entire landscape sweeping out before you, appreciating its scale and geography, but all seen from above. From the perspective reserved for those with wings, it’s possible to feel almost superhuman (and as those with vertigo will tell you, a little sick too) as you gaze down upon a city’s every day life unfolding while you, from on high, are like deity gazing down upon your subjects.
It was no surprise to us that Verona, a city so magnificent from up close, would be equally as beautiful from the top of the Torre dei Lamberti. And as the city’s tallest tower at some 272 feet high, you are guaranteed a truly commanding view if you make it to the top. From there, the city’s grey marble streets and yellow and auburn palazzos became dominated by a sea of terracotta roofs, all apart from the striking semi-circular form of the ancient arena, and the sweeping green like snake of the river, twisting its way around the peninsular of the city’s ancient heart. Best of all were the proximate views the tower afforded of the nearby Piazza delle Erbe and the stunning statuary atop the Palazzo Maffei. Who would have known, from the Piazza down below, what incredible detail lies hidden within the folds and undulations of those wonderful depictions of ancient deity.
Seen from above, Verona shared a new perspective of its indisputable beauty, reasserting why it remains the favourite city of literature lovers and true romantics everywhere, whatever the angle of their admirable glances.
© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.
When I look through my photos of Porto, one thing really stands out, even more than the blue and white ceramics which embellish the houses – the rooftops. Swathes of terracotta dominate my photographic collection, and as many will know, I do like a good rooftop, especially when offset by the colours which inherently characterise southern Europe. Porto is no exception for a city resplendent in colour, but what it has more than your average city is a most unusual topography – one which rises and falls over undulating hills so that, even if you’re not climbing up towers and high stories, you can benefit from the most glorious views of warm red roofs and green bushy treetops.
This little collection of rooftop photos enjoys a variety of angles, from the Miradouro de Vitoria, an almost hidden street which suddenly opens up into a splendid view over the Ribeira and across to the cellars of the Vila Nova de Gaia, and the spectacular square outside the Sé Cathedral, to the stunning vistas afforded by the Ponte Dom Luís Bridge, and from the heady heights of the dominating Torre dos Clérigos. There, laid out before us, rooftops seemed to jostle for space, vying for light light trees in a forest. And in that forest, cranes seems to rise above the city like new shoots of spring – a sign perhaps that Porto is itself enjoying a new regrowth, as it repairs and reinvents itself in response to its renewed popularity.
© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.
I always find it interesting to observe a city from above. It offers something of a backstage perspective on people’s lives; the washing hanging out to dry, the old furniture dumped up on the roof forgotten, or the private pride which may be someone’s roof top garden, hidden from view from the streets below. I have already said that Marrakech is a city of extremes, and that somewhat bipolar personality extends to its buildings too. While the city has become a hotspot for those seeking Arabian luxuries in marble clad spas and lavish Riads, it is interesting to see that so often that extreme of wealth and aesthetic perfection extends to what is seen only. Viewed from the roof, you see the city’s theatre for what it is: those posh patios are mere smoke and mirrors. What you can’t see is the back yard, barely built, with crumbling plaster and propped up with rough wooden supports. There too you can see the roof terraces strewn with weakly installed cabling and rusty satellite dishes, with age battered plant pots and pink plaster facades left to crack and fade in the sun. Marrakech from above is a fascinating mess, a hodgepodge of unplanned construction and time-weathered dilapidation. But unifying it all is the rose-tinged colour of the whole jumble of construction, together with the occasional beautiful mosque tower which punctuates the scenery.
Rose City Rooftops (2017 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)
This enthralling city vision was the inspiration for a small painted study which I completed just a few days ago. Focusing on a very small cut-out of a wider landscape, it is an almost abstracted focus on the criss-cross of tumbling, crumbling pink blushing walls, together with the satellite dishes and cables and old plants peppering the scene. It is characteristically Marrakech. An unplanned mess which exudes beauty as a result.
© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com
There are many reasons why Dubrovnik, the stunning little self-contained city sitting on the emerald Dalmatian Coast, is famous. Probably the most notable of these are the city walls, which encase the city in an unbroken ring of stone. Second maybe is its position, built on sheer jagged rocks plunging straight into the Adriatic sea. But the combination of both those things – the enviable geographical position and the encasement of walls has resulted in what is undoubtedly the greatest attraction of the city: the sheer unbroken consistency and quality of the buildings and streets packed within Dubrovnik’s walls. For it is precisely because Dubrovnik was always so protected that it has remained so unspoilt by the modern world. And the results of this are no more obvious than when the city is seen from above as an unbroken sea of terracotta red.
Yes, Dubrovnik’s beauty can be seen from many angles, but chief among them is from above. Looking at the city from a high vantage point allows the viewer to gaze in wonder at a flowing continuous carpet of rooftops, like a carefully woven tapestry of earthy tones, broken only by the odd elegant bell tower or church dome. And when we stayed in the city last weekend, we were treated to a unique vantage point of this stunning rooftop view on a daily basis. Not only did our room, fortuitously located on the top floor of one of only two hotels in the city centre – the Stari Grad Boutique Hotel – afford us stunning views over the rooftops and the campanile of the Franciscan immediately next door, but one floor up, the hotel boasted a unique roof terrace – the only I saw in the whole of the city – which presented an unbroken 360 degree view of the city.
What a view by which to eat breakfast at the beginning of every day! And of course asides from that unique vantage point, the walls themselves give equally unparalleled panoramas over wave after wave of terracotta tiles, and my photos taken from both horizons are the feature of this second photography post of my Dubrovnik adventure. Whether they show the rooftops en masse in their juxtaposition of different angles and shades of terracotta and red, or the charismatic little features of individual households from washing lines to the odd pet cat, these photos are the perfect narrative of a city which is both consistent in its unrivaled beauty, and utterly unique from one house and rooftop to another. Enjoy!
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