Wednesday, 17 February 2010

La Plata, a Fine City

Given it has a Cathedral, and a very fine one at that, it would be fair to say that La Plata is a city rather than a town. One thing is for sure, I'm glad I took the time out to discover some of its charms as this is the most interesting city, or town, visited so far. From the hotel it was just a few paces to the very elegant looking City Hall designed, like many of the buildings close by, in the French style. In fact several times during the walk I had the impression of being on the Left Bank of the Seine.

City Hall

My hotel in the middle

Directly opposite stands one of the most awe inspiring 'modern' Cathedrals I have ever seen. I had to look back to my architectural mentor, former Brother in Law and great inspiration, Doctor David Warlmsley to remember much of what I was viewing. Of the Perpendicular Gothic style, for a Roman Catholic Church it differs from most I have seen, as being light, bright and airy. Take the Brompton Oritory or Westminster Cathedral for instance, austre, dark and dreary, like somewhere that faith tell you naughty boys might end up! The exterior of red brick and natural stone fair shines in the sunlight, with solid flying buttresses and spires that fair reach
the clouds, as they should. The interior is simarlarly placed with no dark recesses and very few gordy monuments, enough to scare little children to death. Almost completely lime or sand stone, which looks like it comes from the Sceptered Isle (Portland) itself, it is not of the harder Whitbed or Cap Stone but what a Portland mason would refer to as Roach Stone. The layer above the harder stone, Roach was once considered an inferior product, but nowadays is used extensively, with many London buildings being faced with it. This is the stone that contains many shells and small fossils, and once polished also makes for most pleasing hotel desk tops, window ledges etc. While not expecting anything like the magnificent Scissor Arches of Wells Cathedral, the vaulting too hold great charm and above the naive, in natural light defused by stained glass is a beautiful octagonal gallery of some of the saints. The only disappointment came at mid-day, when I returned especially, as the noon bells were a wishy-wash, mish-mash of nothingness, and if the hour was struck it was not discernible. While I'm not looking for everything to be Westminster Chimes, there was nothing resembling "turn back Whittington, Lord Mayor of London".

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, east aspect

South Transept showing Flying Buttresses

Grand Entrance and Rose Window

Arches and Vaulting of the Naive

Saint's Octagon above the Naive

Some of the finer stonework.

Heading towards the Central Park, between avenues of mature London Plain trees growing in wide graveled margins, (on which in France boules would be played) I noticed also that the pavements were all 'tiled'. A brilliant effect but whoever s brain child, never gave any consideration to the existing trees. Over the years the rootstock has undermined every one, the walkways now being not only a serious hazard but a real eye-sore. There were also a number of fine monuments two of which particularly caught my eye, the first to Simon Bolivar, revolutionary and probably singularly the most famous person on the sub-continent. In every country his name resounds in street names, districts and in Ecuador even the currency used to bear his name.The second, a column to an Admiral unknown to me, was just a pleasing tribute with an anchor and cable at the foot, a gathering of people decorating the plinth and the man himself, Almirante Don Guillermo Brown, atop in best blue suit.

Simon Bolivar 1783 - 1830

Almirante Don Guillermo Brown

and Band Stands, don't you just love em? Despite this one being a little neglected, at least it is still standing. A thing of the past I fear, once every town and even village had one, now the only example I know locally is the fine Victorian one in the park in Dorchester. I wonder if many, or any of the Weymouth & Portland readers remember those at the Alexandra Gardens, Weymouth and Easton Square Gardens, Portland? Unfortunately long gone, so see you all at 'Swing in the Park' Dorchester later this year and we can all share the fine sight of one in use!

Arriving at the park, I was surprised to see such a vast tract of woodland and thought of the half dozen or so 'lifers' within. Noticing a man paying particular interest to the Monk Parakeet nests, went and made contact with what I hoped might be a birder. He had a passing interest, but like me was being eaten alive by mosquitoes. They were only in the woodland, but in unbearable numbers so just taking a few shots of Chalk-browed Mockingbird we both beat a hasty retreat.

Chalk-browed Mockingbird, should see plenty of these at the Costanera Sur next week.

Seems to be one of the traits of this species, 'umbrellaing' much like some of the Ibis to see their prey in the shade?

A Pavement Butterfly, in no hurry to move.

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