Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

For this week’s theme — “grand”–I had obvious choices.  After all, I live in Grand Rapids, which was built on the banks of the Grand River.

View of the Grand River and Grand Rapids skyline,  Michigan

View of the Grand River and Grand Rapids skyline, Michigan

I’ve also visited the Grand Canyon:

Grand Canyon panorama

Grand Canyon panorama

I also count Grand Central Station as one of my favorite buildings.  This shot was taken at Christmas, during their fabulous laser display:

Christmas at Grand Central Station, New York

Christmas at Grand Central Station, New York

But my favorite image with this theme is a shot of Brunelleschi’s Dome in Florence, taken years and years ago.   It still brings to mind my shock and delight when we first saw this magnificent structure set on top of the Duomo. This architectural and engineering wonder solved a problem that had plagued the city of Florence for decades.

Bruneschelli's Dome, Florence Italy

Brunelleschi’s Dome, Florence Italy .

How was it humanly possible to design and erect a vaulted structure that would span a cathedral that was already built?  What’s more, if completed, the dome would be the largest in the world (143 feet in diameter).  Keep in mind that this was happening around 1400 A.D.–without the benefit of mechanized construction equipment, elevators and even scaffolding–since no boards were long enough to span the structure. The solution was posed by Filippo Brunelleschi who was neither mason or a carpenter–but a goldsmith and a clock maker.   Executing his daring solution would occupy the next 28 years of his life.   To this day, this architectural and engineering marvel is still the largest dome in the world.

The writer Ross King describes Brunelleschi’s genius in his book Brunelleschi’s Dome:  How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture:

(Brunelleschi)…engineered the perfect placement of brick and stone, built ingenious hoists and cranes (among some of the most renowned machines of the Renaissance) to carry an estimated 70 million pounds hundreds of feet into the air, and designed the workers’ platforms and routines so carefully that only one man died during the decades of construction–all the while defying those who said the dome would surely collapse … This drama was played out amid plagues, wars, political feuds, and the intellectual ferments of Renaissance Florence.

If you’d like to take a look at the book, here’s a link to the Amazon site.  It’s on my “to read” list.   Enjoy!


For other “takes” on this week’s theme, click the links below:


23 replies »

  1. Definitely a lot of grand(eur) there. I have been lucky enough to have visited all of those places you highlighted, including your fair city.


  2. I see you’re an Aussie, so I shouldn’t be surprised that you’ve even been to Grand Rapids! We have dear, dear Aussie friends who remind us that travel is a national pastime!! Thanks for stopping by!


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