China – The Dazu Rock Carvings of Mount Beishan

The Dazu Rock Carvings are actually about 75 sites scattered throughout the steep hills. This World Heritage Site depicts Buddhas and gods with Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist influences. They are in the Dazu District about 2 hours away from the large city Chongqing.

Some carvings are shrines but by far the largest part are carved into the open rock face. What is unique is their exceptional coloring which has often been preserved. The biggest site is on Mount Beishan. The oldest carvings are from the mid 7th century in the Tang dynasty.

It is a refreshing walk through green trees and bushes to see the outdoor carvings of Buddhas.

The Residence Palace in Munich

Not long ago the royal rooms of the Residence Palace in the center of Munich have reopened. This used to be the winter palace of Bavarian kings in the 19th century and is said to be the largest of all. That is why you should plan more than one hour’s time and a warm jacket for the many rooms and suites, shell grotto and courtyards. The first long hall you walk through is the “Ahnengalerie”, the gallery of ancestors with many portraits.

The renovated rooms, antechamber, writing room, bedrooms are splendid in colors, golden-coated walls, intricate inlay patterns in the new wooden parquet, some original furnishings such as chairs and thrones. In the writing rooms you can admire the ingenious wooden wastepaper baskets the architect Klenze had designed, a slender small one on a long stem for the queen and a more robust-looking one on a shorter stem in the royal colors red and gold for the king.

Don’t forget to visit the shell grotto and the treasury rooms. Entry tickets are currently €7 for an adult, there is a large wardrobe and a shop at the entrance. No parking lots are available, but there is the Opera garage in front. The Residence is within easy walking distance of the Odeonsplatz and the Marienplatz, underground and regional trains.

The porcelain dinner sets from Nymphenburg and the silver platters have been rearranged in their own surroundings: a room exclusively for dining, which was unusual in those days. As the king was rather stingy, he forced his guests out in due time by providing only one set of candles – once they had burned down, the festivities were over. Covered dishes masked the odor of not quite cured meat, one servant was in charge of carving the roast and offering the choicest parts to the king. When the king decided he had had enough, he would leave the table and everybody had to leave as well, whether they had been served or not. Now who wants to go hungry?