Stift Melk (Melk Abbey), Melk, Austria

Melk Abbey, one of the biggest and most beautiful European Baroque ensembles, was constructed between 1702 - 1736; its splendid architecture is famous worldwide and a UNESCO World Cultur

Melk Abbey (photograph is of a scale model of the abbey), one of the biggest and most beautiful European Baroque ensembles, was constructed between 1702 and 1736; its splendid architecture is famous worldwide and is one of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage Sites, Melk, Austria

 

Melk Abbey is a Benedictine abbey above the town of Melk, Lower Austria, Austria, on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube River, adjoining the Wachau Valley.

“Melk Abbey is one of the biggest and most beautiful European Baroque ensembles. I ts splendid architecture is famous worldwide and part of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage [Sites].  The Baroque building situated on a rock overlooking the Danube, in the Wachau region, ranks as one of Austria’s most visited art-historical sites.  Since 1089, Benedictine monks have continually been living and working in Melk Abbey.  Following the rules laid down by St. Benedict, they try to translate into action the words ORA et LABORA et LEGE (pray and work and learn) by working in pastoral care and education (Melk Abbey Secondary School) as well as organizing cultural events.

ORA et LABORA et LEGE – PRAY, WORK, LEARN

“In a way, this is the Benedictines’ motto: the whole human being is challenged to contribute everything possible to the community which is searching God.  Body, soul and spirit merge to have a meaning of life which isn’t limited to this world, but leaves room for everything that goes beyond it.  Because of this Saint Benedict tells his monks to glorify God in all things, not only through their prayer, but also through their work and their daily willingness to learn.  “Never stop beginning”:  this is the ultimate goal to come clean with oneself, with others and with God and to lead a fulfilled life.” — www.stiftmelk.at/englisch/

 

The entrance from the gardens to Melk Abbey, situated above the Danube River in the Wachau Valley, Melk, Austria

The entrance from the gardens to Melk Abbey, situated above the Danube River in the Wachau Valley, Melk, Austria

 

An inner courtyard (Prelate_s Courtyard) of Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria

An inner courtyard (Prelate’s Courtyard) of Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria

 

The present Baroque abbey was constructed between 1702 and 1736.  The abbey survived through the reign of Emperor Joseph II (when many other Austrian abbeys were dissolved) and the Napoleonic Wars and confiscation by the state following the Anschluss in 1938; the school was returned to the abbey after WW II.  It now serves approximately 900 students of both sexes.

 

An insignia in the hall of mirrors, Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria

An insignia in the hall of mirrors, Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria

 

The marble hall with a ceiling fresco by Paul Troger (1731), Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria

The marble hall with a ceiling fresco by Paul Troger (1731), Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria

 

Paintings, “The Path to the Future” depicting the path of faith that looks for God in everyday life, Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria

Paintings, “The Path to the Future” depicting the path of faith that looks for God in everyday life, Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria

 

A view of Melk from the Melk Abbey, Wachau Valley, Austria

A view of Melk from the Melk Abbey, Wachau Valley, Austria

 

A view of Melk and the Danube River from the terrace of the Melk Abbey, Wachau Valley, Austria

A view of Melk and the Danube River from the terrace of the Melk Abbey, Wachau Valley, Austria

 

The library (no photography was permitted inside), Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria

The library (no photography was permitted inside), Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria

 

“The library is the second most important space in any Benedictine monastery, the first being, of course, the church.  he most important Baroque masters were commissioned with the artworks: Antonio Beduzzi for interior design, Johann Michael Rottmayr and Paul Troger for the frescos and altarpieces, Guiseppe Galli-Bibiena for the pulpit and high altar, and Lorenzo Mattielli and Peter Widerin for sculptures.  It is no surprise that the beauty of the church is breathtaking, as is the view from the semi-circular exterior terrace looking out over the Wachau Valley.” — www.austria.info/us/activities/culture-traditions/architectural-highlights-in-austria/melk-abbey-a-baroque-jewel

 

The interior of the Abbey Chapel, Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria

The interior of the Abbey Chapel, Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria

 

A colonnaded passageway in Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria

A colonnaded passageway in Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria

 

The Danube River and the Wachalu Valley as seen from the Colomon Courtyard (named for an Irish king_s son martyred in Stockerau, near Vienna, on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1012), Mel

The Danube River and the Wachalu Valley as seen from the Colomon Courtyard (named for an Irish king’s son martyred in Stockerau, near Vienna, on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1012), Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Drink local, Eat local: The Wachau and Jamek Estate Winery, Vienna, Austria

We sailed on a river boat along the Danube River in the Wachau wine-growing region, Austria; this small town along the river has a beautiful church built under towering medieval ruins

We sailed on a river boat along the Danube River in the Wachau wine-growing region, Austria; this small town along the river has a beautiful church built under towering medieval ruins

 

From Vienna we spent one day exploring the region along the Danube River to the west. We drove to Dürstein in the Wachau wine-growing region — only 12 miles (19.3 km) long — and took a river cruise on one of the scheduled public boats to the west to Spitz, which marks the end of the Wachau.  We had arranged for a driver to pick us up there and take us back to the east to explore a little and then arrive at the Jamek estate in Joching for a wine tasting and luncheon on their beautiful terrace, overlooking the Jamek vineyards.  It is one of the leading estates in the Wachau region that now has 232 wineries in Austria’s smallest wine region.  Wines have been produced in the area since the Romans, and the monasteries at the beginning of the 10th century constructed many of the terraces used to plant the vineyards, making the Wachau an historic cultural landscape.

 

Each small town along the Danube had a church that dominated the skyline, Wachau wine-growing region, Austria

Each small town along the Danube had a church that dominated the skyline, Wachau wine-growing region, Austria

 

We ended our river cruise in the town of Spitz, Wachau wine-growing region, Austria

We ended our river cruise in the town of Spitz, Wachau wine-growing region, Austria

 

“The Wachua is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and region of natural beauty, and lies in the Danube valley between the towns of Melk and Krems.  The wine grape varieties Grüner Veltliner and Riesling prevail on 1,344 hectares, partly on very steep-inclined terraces.  The best vineyard sites produce some of the best white wine in the world with decades of aging potential…  The Wachau is one of Austria’s most exciting and fascinating wine regions.  Over millions of years, the Danube has gorged its winding waterway through the consolidated gneiss and amphibolite.  The crystalline rock soils on steep terraces produce outstanding Rieslings.  During the Ice Age vegetation cover was poor and, prevailing winds carried drifting sand that settled in the lee of the east-facing crystalline hillsides, resulting in layers of loess.  This is where great, opulent and expressive Grüner Veltliner is cultivated.  The extremely diverse geological terrain, coupled with the construction of terraces in the best aspects, and the cultivation of vines on these steep inclines by the Bavarian monasteries during the Middle Ages, has resulted in a spectacular and unique Wachau landscape.” – www.austrianwine.com

 

Before setting off for the Jamek Estate Winery, we climbed a gentle walk up to the church in Spitz, Wachau wine-growing region, Austria

Before setting off for the Jamek Estate Winery, we climbed a gentle walk up to the church in Spitz, Wachau wine-growing region, Austria

 

The estate house at the Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria, dating back over 100 years

The estate house at the Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria, dating back over 100 years

 

“Embedded in the romantic landscape of the Wachau region [in Joching] and right next to the Danube [River], the classic Jamek estate is surrounded by vineyards and a few apricot trees.  A beautiful place, just perfect for enjoying. A competent team of committed people fulfills every culinary desire.  This is how the Jamek estate became an institution which enjoys great popularity in Austria and abroad – and for many years now…  Built under the name “Hotel Wachau” in 1912, this estate represents the epitome of successful hospitality.  Four generations, whose greatest desire has always been to please visitors to the Wachau region by offering the highest possible quality…  Delicious wines and fine food have a long tradition in the Jamek estate.  The family is committed to producing legendary wines such as the Riesling from the famous single vineyard Klaus.  Traditional practices are combined with modern methods in the winery.  Modern technology is a prerequisite for careful vinification, but the traditional ageing in wooden barrels makes the wines attractive…  Our main grape variety is Riesling, which is seconded by Grüner Veltliner.  We also cultivate some Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Chardonnay, and Gelber Muskateller, and naturally some red varieties as well: Zweigelt and Spätburgunder (Pinor Noir).  The three quality categories of the Wachau region: 1) Steinfeder: Light and fragrant – maximum of 11% alcohol, 2) Federspiel: Medium bodies Kabinett wines — maximum of 12.5% alcohol, and 3) Smaragd: The most full-bodied wines – at least 12.5% alcohol.” – Jamek estate brochure

 

Vineyards of Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria

Vineyards of Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria

 

New growth on the vineyards in spring at the Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria

New growth on the vineyards in spring at the Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria

 

The Jamek Estate Winery labels feature the estate house, Joching, Austria

The Jamek Estate Winery labels feature the estate house, Joching, Austria

 

Wine tasting of Jamek Estate Winery Grüner Veltliner and Riesling wines, Joching, Austria

Wine tasting of Jamek Estate Winery Grüner Veltliner and Riesling wines, Joching, Austria

 

A standout dish at our luncheon at the Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria, was scallops with fresh spring green asparagus with a side of potatoes

A standout dish at our luncheon at the Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria, was scallops with fresh spring green asparagus with a side of potatoes

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Hofburg Imperial Palace and Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien (Imperial Treasury), Vienna, Austria

The entrance to the Hofburg Imperial Palace, Vienna, Austria, from Josefsplatz; one of the biggest palace complexes in the world, its oldest parts date to the 13th century, with construc

The entrance to the Hofburg Imperial Palace, Vienna, Austria, from Josefsplatz; one of the biggest palace complexes in the world, its oldest parts date to the 13th century, with construction having continued into the 20th century

 

Vienna’s Hofburg Imperial Palace is one of the biggest palace complexes in the world.  The name translates as “Castle of the Court”, which denotes its origins when initially constructed during the Middle Ages.  The oldest parts date to the 13th century, with construction having continued right into the 20th century.  Since 1279 the Hofburg area has been the documented seat of government.  The Imperial Palace was the residence and seat of government of the Habsburg emperors until 1918.  Today, it is home to numerous museums with outstanding collections, the Spanish Riding School, a congress center, the seat of the Austrian Federal President (the official residence and workplace) as well as the historic Heldenplatz.

 

The equestrian statue of Emperor Joseph II, Empress Maria Theresa_s eldest son and successor, on Josefsplatz, Vienna, Austria, in front of the National Library which is part of the Hof

The equestrian statue of Emperor Joseph II, Empress Maria Theresa’s eldest son and successor, on Josefsplatz, Vienna, Austria, in front of the National Library which is part of the Hofburg Imperial Palace

 

Statues on the roof of the National Library that is part of the Hofburg Imperial Palace on Josefsplatz, Vienna, Austria

Statues on the roof of the National Library that is part of the Hofburg Imperial Palace on Josefsplatz, Vienna, Austria

 

The interior of the Augustinerkirche (Augustina Catholic Church) which was part of the Hofburg Imperial Palace, Vienna, Austria

The interior of the Augustinerkirche (Augustina Catholic Church) which was part of the Hofburg Imperial Palace, Vienna, Austria

 

Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien (The Imperial Treasury) at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria, contains a valuable collection of secular and ecclesiastical treasures covering over a tho

Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien (The Imperial Treasury) at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria, contains a valuable collection of secular and ecclesiastical treasures covering over a thousand years of European history; pictured is the Imperial Crown of the Austrian Empire

 

The most important treasury in the world is home to two imperial crowns as well as the Burgundian treasure and the treasure of the Order of the Golden Fleece.  The Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation is the highlight of the collection: Created in the second half of the 10th century, it was used to crown the empire’s emperors.  The octagonal crown was highly symbolic and is decorated with numerous biblical references.  The second important crown in the Imperial Treasury is the Austrian imperial crown.  It was made in 1602 as a private crown for Emperor Rudolf II (1552-1612).  From 1804, it acted as the crown of the newly created Austrian Empire. However, it was never used to crown an Austrian emperor.

 

The Austrian Crown Jewels is the term denoting the regalia and vestments worn by the Holy Roman Emperor, and later by the Emperor of Austria, during the coronation ceremony and other sta

The Austrian Crown Jewels is the term denoting the regalia and vestments worn by the Holy Roman Emperor, and later by the Emperor of Austria, during the coronation ceremony and other state functions, Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien (Imperial Treasury), Vienna, Austria; pictured is the Imperial Orb (the Imperial Crown is in the photo above)

 

Mantle of the Austrian Emperor, Vienna, 1830, made of velvet, guimped embroidery in gold, paillettes, gold braid, ermine, and silk; Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien (Imperial Treasury), Vie

Mantle of the Austrian Emperor, Vienna, 1830, made of velvet, guimped embroidery in gold, paillettes, gold braid, ermine, and silk; Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien (Imperial Treasury), Vienna, Austria

 

Ewer and basin used for Imperial baptisms, by a Spanish master, 1571, gold, partly enamelled; Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien (Imperial Treasury), Vienna, Austria

Ewer and basin used for Imperial baptisms, by a Spanish master, 1571, gold, partly enamelled; Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien (Imperial Treasury), Vienna, Austria

 

Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire, Western German (?), cross- circa 1020, arch- 1024 – 1039, gold, cloisonné enamel, precious stones, pearls; Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien (Imp

Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire, Western German (?), cross: circa 1020, arch: 1024 – 1039, gold, cloisonné enamel, precious stones, pearls; Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien (Imperial Treasury), Vienna, Austria

 

Potence (Chain of Arms or Chain of Office- Treasury) of the Herald of the Order of the Golden Fleece that was founded in Burgundy in 1430, Netherlandish, porobably 1517, gold, enamel;,Ka

Potence (Chain of Arms or Chain of Office: Treasury) of the Herald of the Order of the Golden Fleece that was founded in Burgundy in 1430, Netherlandish, probably 1517, gold, enamel; Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien (Imperial Treasury), Vienna, Austria

 

The Swiss Gate (Schweizertor) dating to 1552 is the original main gate of the Hofburg Imperial Palace, Vienna, Austria and opens to the passage to the Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien (Impe

The Swiss Gate (Schweizertor) dating to 1552 is the original main gate of the Hofburg Imperial Palace, Vienna, Austria and opens to the passage to the Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien (Imperial Treasury) and the Hofburg Chapel

 

An interior courtyard of the Hofburg Imperial Palace, Vienna, Austria, leading to the Hofburg Chapel where the Vienna Boy_s Choir sings on Sunday mornings (we attended a service where

An interior courtyard of the Hofburg Imperial Palace, Vienna, Austria, leading to the Hofburg Chapel where the Vienna Boy’s Choir sings on Sunday mornings (we attended a service where they sang Mozart’s Requiem)

 

Hofburg Imperial Palace’s Neue Burg section, St. Michael's Wing

Hofburg Imperial Palace’s Neue Burg section, St. Michael’s Wing (the wing is named in reference to St. Michael’s Church on the opposite side), facing the square (Heldenplatz or Hero’s Square), Vienna, Austria

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Vienna, Austria

Spring tulips blooming in the gardens of the magnificent imperial Schönbrunn Palace, the Hapsburgs_ summer palace within the city limits of Vienna, Austria

Spring tulips blooming in the gardens of the magnificent imperial Schönbrunn Palace, the Hapsburgs’ summer palace within the city limits of Vienna, Austria

 

Vienna, Austria’s capital, lies in the country’s east on the Danube River.  Its artistic and intellectual legacy was shaped by residents including Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud.  The city is also known for its Imperial palaces, including Schönbrunn, the Habsburgs’ summer residence.  In the MuseumsQuartier district, historic and contemporary buildings display works by Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and other artists.

 

One of many sculptures in the garden of the imperial Schönbrunn Palace, the Hapsburgs_ summer palace within the city limits of Vienna, Austria, Vienna, Austria

One of many sculptures in the garden of the imperial Schönbrunn Palace, the Hapsburgs’ summer palace within the city limits of Vienna, Austria, Vienna, Austria

 

“Vienna is Austria’s primary city, with a population of about 1.8 million (2.6 million within the metropolitan area, nearly one third of Austria’s population), and its cultural, economic and political centre.  It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union.  Until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had 2 million inhabitants.  Apart from being regarded as the City of Music because of its musical legacy, Vienna is also said to be “The City of Dreams” because it was home to the world’s first psychotherapist  – Sigmund Freud.  The city’s roots lie in early Celtic and Roman settlements that transformed into a Medieval and Baroque city, and then the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  It is well known for having played an essential role as a leading European music centre, from the great age of Viennese Classicism through the early part of the 20th century.  The historic centre of Vienna is rich in architectural ensembles, including Baroque castles and gardens, and the late-19th-century Ringstraße lined with grand buildings, monuments and parks.  Vienna is known for its high quality of life.  In a 2005 study of 127 world cities, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked the city first (in a tie with Vancouver, Canada and San Francisco, CA, USA, for the world’s most livable cities).” — Wikipedia

 

Representative architecture in the heart of Vienna, Austria

Representative architecture in the heart of Vienna, Austria

 

St. Stephen's Cathedral (more commonly known by its German title- Stephansdom) is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna

St. Stephen’s Cathedral (more commonly known by its German title: Stephansdom) is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna and dates back to the founding of the church in 1137; Vienna, Austria

 

One of the grand residential buildings on the late-19th-century Ringstraße, Vienna, Austria

One of the grand residential buildings on the late-19th-century Ringstraße, Vienna, Austria

 

The 19th century Museum of Natural History, located on Maria-Theresien Platz (Plaza) is across from the Kunsthistoriches Museum (the Fine Arts Museum), Vienna, Austria

The 19th century Museum of Natural History, located on Maria-Theresien Platz (Plaza) is across from the Kunsthistoriches Museum (the Fine Arts Museum), Vienna, Austria

 

The monument to Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina (1717 – 1780), the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg, on Maria-Theresien Platz (

The monument to Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina (1717 – 1780), the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg, on Maria-Theresien Platz (Plaza) with the museums surrounding it, Vienna, Austria

 

 

A typical Viennese café in the old quarter of Vienna, Austria

A typical Viennese café in the old quarter of Vienna, Austria

 

We had lunch at Demel, famous for its chocolates and pastries, in the old quarter of Vienna, Austria

We had lunch at Demel, famous for its chocolates and pastries, in the old quarter of Vienna, Austria

 

Fruit tarts at Demel in the old quarter of Vienna, Austria

Fruit tarts at Demel in the old quarter of Vienna, Austria

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Cook local: Making Strudel at the First Strudel House of Pest and Chocolate Marzipan Bonbons at Szamos Gourmet Ház (Palace), Budapest, Hungary

We started our strudel-making class with a serving platter of 12 different “flavors” of strudel, all prepared at the First Strudel House of Pest, Budapest, Hungary, along with coffee

We started our strudel-making class with a serving platter of 12 different “flavors” of strudel, all prepared at the First Strudel House of Pest, Budapest, Hungary, along with coffee or tea

 

In Budapest, Hungary, one morning we had a chance to experience two different cooking classes – both local specialties: strudel and marzipan-filled chocolate bonbons.  Our first class was at “the First Strudel House of Pest that started its operation in 2007, uniquely in Hungary, in the heart of Budapest, in a historical building built in 1812, with the mission to preserve, hand down and popularize a real Hungarian tradition: the experienced gained in preparing and consuming strudels in order to provide guests with gastronomic adventures that carry weight, history, and values.”  We started our class with a serving platter of 12 different “flavors” of strudel, all prepared at the First Studel House.  Our chef/instructor walked us through an explanation of making strudel and then a demonstration of the dough making. Then it was our turn and the four of us, with the instructor, kneaded the dough and then stretched it carefully across the table until it became translucent – the correct thinness for the raw dough that is then filled, rolled and baked in the oven to produce the really delicious tasting strudels that we began the class with.  Our take home gift was the basket of the uneaten strudels – a nice reminder of a tasty and educational cooking class.

 

The chef demonstrated kneading and stretching the strudel dough to a thinness that allowed us to read a menu through the dough – then he placed the fillings on the raw dough

The chef demonstrated kneading and stretching the strudel dough to a thinness that allowed us to read a menu through the dough – then he placed the fillings on the raw dough (followed by cutting and folding the strudels in preparation for baking), the First Strudel House of Pest, Budapest, Hungary

 

Folding the layers of strudel dough around the filling in preparation for baking, the First Strudel House of Pest, Budapest, Hungary

Folding the layers of strudel dough around the filling in preparation for baking, the First Strudel House of Pest, Budapest, Hungary

 

The chocolate “manufacturing” kitchen in the back of Szamos Gourmet Ház (Palace), Budapest, Hungary, where we took our hands-on cooking class

The chocolate “manufacturing” kitchen in the back of Szamos Gourmet Ház (Palace), Budapest, Hungary, where we took our hands-on cooking class

 

Our second class was totally hands-on at the Szamos Gourmet Ház (Palace) where we had a private class from one of the Szamos confection company’s chocolatiers in a chocolate candy-making kitchen.  The company specializes in marzipan, a Hungarian delicacy.  According to a VisitBudapest.travel blog, “It was in the early 1930s when a young apprentice confectioner, Mátyás Szamos mastered the art of making a pretty rose from the almondy, sweet product called marzipan.  He believed, that with enough skill, attention and lots of practice almost anything could be handcrafted from the sweetened almond mass.  To date, Szamos Marzipan comes in different shapes and sizes, with the rose being the most famous of them all and definitely one to savor.  Equally delicious are the marzipan bonbons covered with dark chocolate, which by the way make a great gift.”

 

The heart of the kitchen is this machine which melts (and keeps liquid) the 70% Hungarian dark chocolate (the beans were sourced in South America) to be used in the bonbon making, Szamos

The heart of the kitchen is this machine which melts (and keeps liquid) the 70% Hungarian dark chocolate (the beans were sourced in South America) to be used in the bonbon making, Szamos Gourmet Ház (Palace), Budapest, Hungary

 

Making the Szamos chocolate marzipan bonbons by hand requires patience and excellent ingredients.  We took turns folding liquid 70% Hungarian dark chocolate (the beans were sourced in South America) on a marble counter that had chillers installed so we could cool it down while tempering it (that makes the finished chocolate bonbons’ exterior “shiny”).  When at the right temperature, we then filled chocolate molds and, after they sat for a minute, then tipped out the liquid chocolate that had not adhered to the molds.  While these molds were in the refrigerator, cooling, we mixed marzipan with some wine to make the marzipan more pliable when we “piped” it into the molds, which was our next step.  After chilling the molds again, the next step was to pour more tempered, liquid chocolate onto the top of the molds and scraping the molds to remove any loose liquid chocolate that didn’t fill the molds.  Another cooling and then the molds were ready to be emptied.  We each worked several molds – banging the edge of the mold on the granite work surface to break the tension of the bonbon with the mold.  Inverting the molds with more tapping and the individual, shiny dark chocolate marzipan-filled bonbons came tumbling out.  Of course the best part of the class was taking a full box of hand-made (by each of us) bonbons home with us (after tasting the broken ones in the kitchen…).  We enjoyed the bonbons for the duration of the trip and still had some left 10 days later to bring back to the ship to share with our friends onboard.  The class was memorable, and so was the delicious flavor of the chocolate and marzipan combination in the finished bonbons.

 

After our class, the master chocolatier took over the kitchen to temper the liquid chocolate that he then used to make (by hand) some of the marzipan-filled chocolate bonbons that are so

After our class, the master chocolatier took over the kitchen to temper the liquid chocolate that he then used to make (by hand) some of the marzipan-filled chocolate bonbons that are sold at Szamos Gourmet Ház (Palace), Budapest, Hungary

 

The intrepid explorer, properly outfitted in a Szamos black apron, scrapes the liquid chocolate off the top of a bonbon mold as the final step in preparing the bonbons, Szamos Gourmet Ha

The intrepid explorer, properly outfitted in a Szamos black apron, scrapes the liquid chocolate off the top of a bonbon mold as the final step in preparing the bonbons, Szamos Gourmet Ház (Palace), Budapest, Hungary

 

Our finished handmade Szamos chocolate marzipan bonbons fresh out of their molds (before the edges were “cleaned”), Szamos Gourmet Ház (Palace), Budapest, Hungary

Our finished handmade Szamos chocolate marzipan bonbons fresh out of their molds (before the edges were “cleaned”), Szamos Gourmet Ház (Palace), Budapest, Hungary

 

One of the highly decorated buildings we saw on our walk back to our hotel (the magnificently restored Gresham Palace Four Seasons facing the Danube River) on our last afternoon in Budap

One of the highly decorated buildings we saw on our walk back to our hotel (the magnificently restored Gresham Palace Four Seasons facing the Danube River) on our last afternoon in Budapest, Hungary

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Dohány Street Synagogue (also known as the Great Synagogue), Budapest, Hungary

Budapest's stunning Dohány Street Synagogue (also known as the Great Synagogue), built in 1859 with both Romantic and Moorish architectural elements, is the largest Jewish house of wor

Budapest’s stunning Dohány Street Synagogue (also known as the Great Synagogue), built in 1859 with both Romantic and Moorish architectural elements, is the largest Jewish house of worship in the world outside New York City; Hungary

 

“The Dohány Street Synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue, is a historical building in Erzébetváros, the 7th district of Budapest, Hungary.  It is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. It seats 3,000 people and is a centre of Neolog Judaism.

The synagogue was built between 1854 and 1859 in the Moorish Revival style, with the decoration based chiefly on Islamic models from North Africa and medieval Spain (the Alhambra).  The synagogue’s Viennese architect, Ludwig Förster, believed that no distinctively Jewish architecture could be identified, and thus chose ‘architectural forms that have been used by oriental ethnic groups that are related to the Israelite people, and in particular the Arabs’.  The interior design is partly by Frigyes Feszl.

The Dohány Street Synagogue complex consists of the Great Synagogue, the Heroes’ Temple, the graveyard, the Memorial and the Jewish Museum, which was built on the site on which Theodor Herzl’s house of birth stood.  Dohány Street itself, a leafy street in the city center, carries strong Holocaust connotations as it constituted the border of the Budapest Ghetto. — Wikipedia

 

The interior of the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

The interior of the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

 

Architectural detail of the interior of the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

Architectural detail of the interior of the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

 

The dome and Torah ark in the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

The dome and Torah ark in the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

 

“Neolog Judaism is a mild reform movement within Judaism, mainly in Hungarian-speaking regions of Europe, which began in the late 19th century.  The reforms were comparable to the more traditional wing of U.S. Conservative Judaism.  At the time of its founding, the Orthodox Jews in these regions were particularly rigid against all modern innovations, so even these modest reforms had led to sharp organizational separation.  Communities that aligned with neither the Orthodox nor the Neologs were known as the Status quo.  In the 19th century, the Neolog Jews were located mainly in the cities and larger towns.  They arose in the environment of the latter period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire generally good period for upwardly mobile Jews, especially those of modernizing inclinations.  In the Hungarian portion of the Empire, most Jews (nearly all Neologs and even most of the Orthodox) adopted the Hungarian language, rather than Yiddish as their primary language and viewed themselves as ‘Hungarians of Jewish religion’.  After the rise of Communism in post-World War II Hungary, the government forced Orthodox and Neolog organizations there into single organizational structure, albeit with a semi-autonomous Orthodox section.  However, all three denominations (Orthodox, Neolog and Status Quo) have resumed their separate existences in the post-Communist period.” – www.greatsynagogue.hu

 

Details of one of the many interior light fixtures in the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

Details of one of the many interior light fixtures in the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

 

A close-up of the Torah ark in the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

A close-up of the Torah ark in the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

 

The interior decorations are in the Moorish Revival style inside the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

The interior decorations are in the Moorish Revival style inside the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

 

The courtyard of the Dohány Street Synagogue holds the remains of 2,281 Jews who died in the ghetto during the winter of 1944 – 1945 ; a significant number of those laid to rest are

The courtyard of the Dohány Street Synagogue holds the remains of 2,281 Jews who died in the ghetto during the winter of 1944 – 1945 ; a significant number of those laid to rest are unidentified — the relatives of those that could be identified placed memorial plaques around the graves; Budapest, Hungary

 

It is quite unusual to have a cemetery adjacent to a synagogue, but given its location on the edge of the Budapest ghetto, the courtyard of the Dohány Street Synagogue holds the remains of 2,281 Jews who died in the ghetto from hunger and cold during the winter of 1944-1945 during the reign of terror by the Arrow Cross (the Hungarian fascists).  A significant number of those laid to rest in the six mass graves are unnamed.  The relatives of those that could be identified placed memorial plaques around the graves.

 

A stained glass memorial in the Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park in the rear courtyard of the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

A stained glass memorial in the Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park in the rear courtyard of the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

 

A memorial to Raoul Wallenberg (a Swedish architect, businessman, diplomat, and humanitarian who is widely celebrated for saving tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during

A memorial to Raoul Wallenberg (a Swedish architect, businessman, diplomat, and humanitarian who is widely celebrated for saving tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust from German Nazis and Hungarian Fascists during the later stages of World War II) and other Righteous Among the Nations who helped save Hungarian Jews; Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

 

The Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs (resembling a weeping willow whose leaves bear inscriptions with the names of some of the holocaust victims) – in memory of the at least 40

The Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs (resembling a weeping willow whose leaves bear inscriptions with the names of some of the holocaust victims) – in memory of the at least 400,000 Hungarian Jews who were murdered by the Nazis – is in the Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park in the rear courtyard of the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

 

A close-up of the “weeping willow” of the The Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs whose leaves bear inscriptions with the names of some of the holocaust victims, Dohány Street

A close-up of the “weeping willow” of the The Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs whose leaves bear inscriptions with the names of some of the holocaust victims, Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

The Hungarian National Parliament Building, Budapest, Hungary

The Hungarian National Parliament building, the largest in Europe, was designed by architect Imre Steindl for the 1896 millennial celebrations and built 1880-1902, Budapest, Hungary

The Hungarian National Parliament building, the largest in Europe, was designed by architect Imre Steindl for the 1896 millennial celebrations and built 1880-1902; it is based on England’s Parliament building, and supposedly is one meter wider and longer; Budapest, Hungary

 

In the afternoon one of our visits was to “the Hungarian National Parliament Building, the largest in Europe, designed by architect Imre Steindl for the 1896 millennial celebrations, and built 1880-1902.  It is based on England’s Parliament building, and supposedly is one meter wider and longer than that august building, just a little bit of architectural conceit.  The building is so immense, the weak alluvial soil along the Danube had to be reinforced with a 7-foot-deep (2.1 meters) concrete foundation.  Not surprising, as the building is 300 yards (274.3 meters) long and 140 yards (128.0 meters) wide, with 691 rooms and 12.5 miles (20.1 kilometers) of corridors.  The lacy white Gothic froth covering the building is actually educational: 88 statues representing Hungarian rulers, princes and military commanders.  These statues are small and cannot be readily distinguished from the ground, but they are there.   Under the Parliament’s cupola the Hungarian crown jewels are exhibited.  After World War II, the medieval crown (last used in 1916) was taken out of the country by escaping Hungarian fascists, ending up in the United States.  President Carter returned the crown to the Hungarian state in 1978, accompanied by a large American delegation.  It was exhibited in the National Museum until 2000 when it was moved to its present location.” – www.wikitravel.org/en/Budapest

 

A cross-section scale model of the Hungarian National Parliament building showing the building_s dome (where the crown jewels are presently exhibited) and the unicameral legislature_

A cross-section scale model of the Hungarian National Parliament building showing the building’s dome (where the crown jewels are presently exhibited) and the unicameral legislature’s “Assembly Hall of the House of Magnates”, Budapest, Hungary

 

The Parliament Building is one of the most important historic buildings in Hungary.  As part of the scenic skyline of the Danube‘s east bank, it is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  This seat of Hungary‘s legislature features the Holy Crown of Hungary as it’s centerpiece; it serves as the workplace of the 199 members of the National Assembly, and a further 600 employees supporting their work.  Currently the office of the Prime Minister, along with its administration, resides in the Parliament Building as well.  One million admissions are registered at the entrances every year, half of which are tourists.  The top of the Parliament Building’s dome reaches a height of 96 m (315 feet).  During the construction, builders used 40 million bricks, 550,000 blocks a precise masonry, and steel structures with a total weight of 2,800 tons.  The building is decorated by 88 sculptures in the interior and 162 sculptures on the exterior, completed with a large number of gargoyles and ornaments.

 

A gilded staircase in the Hungarian National Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary

A gilded staircase in the Hungarian National Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary

 

Details of a gilded staircase in the Hungarian National Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary

Details of a gilded main staircase in the Hungarian National Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary

 

The Hungarian Museum of Ethnography with huge collections about life in Hungary and the east of Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, as seen from the windows of the Hungarian National

The Hungarian Museum of Ethnography – which some say resembles the Reichstag (parliament) building in Berlin — with huge collections about life in Hungary and the east of Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, as seen from the windows of the Hungarian National Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary; the Museum originally served as the home of the Hungarian Supreme Court and chief public prosecutor’s office

 

The gilded main staircase in the Hungarian National Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary

The gilded main staircase in the Hungarian National Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary

 

Architectural details in one of the many decorative hallways in the Hungarian National Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary

Architectural details in one of the many decorative hallways in the Hungarian National Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary

 

A close-up of an architectural detail in one of the many decorative hallways in the Hungarian National Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary

A close-up of an architectural detail in one of the many decorative hallways in the Hungarian National Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary

 

A view of the Hungarian Museum of Ethnography from windows with stained glass borders in the Hungarian National Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary

A view of the Hungarian Museum of Ethnography from windows with stained glass borders in the Hungarian National Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary

 

The unicameral legislature_s “Assembly Hall of the House of Magnates” in the Hungarian National Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary

The unicameral legislature’s “Assembly Hall of the House of Magnates” in the Hungarian National Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.