"I grew up in a forest. It's like a room. It's protected. Like a cathedral... it is a place between heaven and earth." - Anselm Kiefer
I saw this quote a couple of weeks ago and it really stood out to me. Since being abroad in an environmental studies program, I have done a lot of hiking both on my own and for class. I have come to find a lot of peace in the Black Forest surrounding Freiburg. The dark trees seem to totally block out the bustle of people and cars from the surrounding city. It's like you step into an alternative universe for a couple of hours. After just a few moments, you realize why the Black Forest is a setting for legends and fairy tales. I understand what Kiefer means when he says that it's like a cathedral.
However, I have had the opportunity to see beautiful churches around Europe. Although I am not a very religious person, they always take my breath away. Some are simple - made out of the sandstone found on the coast with simple carvings etched into solid tan walls. Others are more ornate than anything else I've ever seen. Gold accents can be found on every surface and you can tell it was built for the rich and noble. Some are tall and gothic with stained-glass windows standing well above my head. Others are made of a stone, built before 1000 AD, simple in design but beautiful in the fact they have withstood the effects of time.
Visiting these cathedrals has been a highlight of my experience abroad. They tell a lot about the culture and history of an area. I have icluded my favorites in this post.