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Inside the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, a Roman Catholic co-cathedral and minor basilica in Mantua, Lombardy (Italy). 
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Inside the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, a Roman Catholic co-cathedral and minor basilica in Mantua, Lombardy (Italy).

"It is one of the major works of 15th century Renaissance architecture in Northern Italy. Commissioned by Ludovico II Gonzaga, the church was begun in 1462 according to designs by Leon Battista Alberti on a site occupied by a Benedictine monastery, of which the bell tower (1414) remains. The building, however, was finished only 328 years later. Though later changes and expansions altered Alberti’s design, the church is still considered to be one of Alberti’s most complete works.

The façade, built abutting a pre-existing bell tower (1414), is based on the scheme of the ancient Arch of Titus. It is largely a brick structure with hardened stucco used for the surface. It is defined by a large central arch, flanked by Corinthian pilasters. There are smaller openings to the right and left of the arch. A novel aspect of the design was the integration of a lower order, comprising the fluted Corinthian columns, with a giant order, comprising the taller, unfluted pilasters. The whole is surmounted by a pediment and above that a vaulted structure, the purpose of which is not exactly known, but presumably to shade the window opening into the church behind it.

An important aspect of Alberti’s design was the correspondence between the façade and the interior elevations, both elaborations of the triumphal arch motif. The nave of the interior is roofed by a barrel vault, one of the first times such a form was used in such a monumental scale since antiquity, and quite likely modeled on the Basilica of Maxentius in Rome. Alberti most likely had planned for the vault to be coffered, much like the smaller barrel vault in the entrance, but lack of funds led to the vault being constructed as a simple barrel vault with the coffers then being painted on. Originally, the building was planned without a transept, and possibly even without a dome. This phase of construction more or less ended in 1494.

In 1597, the lateral arms were added and the crypt finished. The massive dome (1732–1782) was designed by Filippo Juvarra, and the final decorations on the interior added under Paolo Pozzo and others in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The purpose of the new building was to contain the pilgrims who visited it during the feast of Ascension when a vial, that the faithful argue contains the Blood of Christ, is brought up from the crypt below through a hole in the floor directly under the dome. The relic, called Preziosissimo Sangue di Cristo ("Most Precious Blood of Christ"), is preserved in the Sacred Vessels, according to the tradition was brought to Mantua by the Roman centurion Longinus. It was highly venerated during the Renaissance. The shrines are displayed only on the Good Friday, to the faithful and then brought out along the streets of Mantua in a procession." (Text from Wikipedia).

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The Basilica of Sant’Andrea, Mantua
The courtyard in front of the Santi Quattro Coronati church on the Caelian Hill in Rome. 
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The courtyard in front of the Santi Quattro Coronati church on the Caelian Hill in Rome.
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The Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci) on the Aventine Hill is a popular sunset-watching spot in Rome. 
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The Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci) on the Aventine Hill is a popular sunset-watching spot in Rome.
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Rome from the AventineRome from the AventineRome from the AventineFrom the Aventine to the Vatican
On a bridge above the main cascade of the Reichebach Falls near Meiringen in the Swiss Alps. 
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On a bridge above the main cascade of the Reichebach Falls near Meiringen in the Swiss Alps.

At 90 metres, the Upper Reichenbach Fall is one of the highest cataracts in the Alps. The falls, made accessible by the Reichenbachfall funicular in 1899, are most famous as the location of the final fight of Sherlock Holmes with his arch-enemy Professor Moriarty.

"It is, indeed, a fearful place. The torrent, swollen by the melting snow, plunges into a tremendous abyss, from which the spray rolls up like the smoke from a burning house. The shaft into which the river hurls itself is an immense chasm, lined by glistening coal-black rock, and narrowing into a creaming, boiling pit of incalculable depth, which brims over and shoots the stream onward over its jagged lip. The long sweep of green water roaring forever down, and the thick flickering curtain of spray hissing forever upward, turn a man giddy with their constant whirl and clamour. We stood near the edge peering down at the gleam of the breaking water far below us against the black rocks, and listening to the half-human shout which came booming up with the spray out of the abyss. The path has been cut halfway round the fall to afford a complete view, but it ends abruptly, and the traveller has to return as he came." (Arthur Conan Doyle: The Final Problem from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, 1893).

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The Reichenbach Falls funicularThe Reichenbach FallsSherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. A 1893 illustration by Sidney Paget to the Sherlock Holmes story "The Final Problem" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Wikimedia Commons)Sherlock Holmes' plaque near the Reichenbach funicular
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Thursday, Nov 2, 2017: On the walls of Palácio da Pena in Sintra, Portugal
Palácio da Pena
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