18 Sep 2012--Drove about an hour south of Dayton, where we are staying, to Cincinnati, OH yesterday, with a plan to see 2 churches, a bridge, and primarily, the Underground Railroad Freedom Center they have there. Unfortunately, we didn't see anywhere in their advertising that they are closed on Sundays and Mondays, so we had to skip that.
BUT, in its place, we saw some magnificent churches and even a Jewish Temple, all of which were just incredible and definitely worth the trip in and of themselves. I am thinking I just might have to rename my blog to "Great Churches of America!"
We started at the Carew Tower, where you can go to the 49th floor and get out on an observation deck to see a 360 degree view of the city. Below are 2 stitch pictures...once again, I would like to remind one and all to click on the pictures to blow them up to see how pretty this area is. You are basically looking south, across what is the Ohio River, and into Kentucky on the other side. In the 1st pic, to the right, is Brown Stadium, where the Bengals football team plays, and then on the left of the same picture, behind the 2nd really tall building is the stadium where the Cincinnati Reds play. There are several bridges that you can cross to get into Kentucky, but the one that is blue is the Roebling Bridge, built from 1865-1867, and the bridge that the Brooklyn Bridge in NY is based on.
The 1st thing we saw as we looked out was President Obama's motorcade heading to a speech he was giving no more than 2 miles from where we were. Several stretches of highway were shut down, and you can see on the lower left of the pic is a cop, up on a bridge, making sure no one else is up there.
Can't remember why I posted this 1st pic, unless it was just because I was in it. haha The other 2 pics are obviously closer views of the Roebling Bridge.
The downtown area of the city is very pretty, and very clean, too. All over the place, from a large area that is basically an open square for eating and music, etc., to most street corners, there are these colorful pigs displayed. I have seen cows and bulls in several cities, but this is the 1st that had pigs. Really cute!
Here are some of them...they all had names:
(1) FashSWINEista, (2) Pigtrepreneur and (3) Chinese Tiger Pig
(1) Sowwy Night (2) Hamward Bound and (3) Pork Chopper
And Professor Pignassus & His Cinsational Flying Machine
In 2 of the city's squares: The waterfall is just a tribute to the people of the city, while the last picture shows William Henry Harrison, the 1st of 7 Presidents who were born in Ohio. I didn't know Ohio had that many Presidents, but I just heard this morning on the news in a viewer quiz that Virginia leads all states with a total of 8!
We were on our way to see a cathedral but saw this Presbyterian Church first...unfortunately it wasn't open, so we took a quick pic and moved on.
Just around the corner from the Presbyterian Church were the (1) Cincinnati City Hall, (2) the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, (3) the Plum Street Temple and (4) Tony, who we met outside on the street, but worked at the Temple and offered to help us get a look inside after the service that was going on ended. Lovin' Tony!!! City Hall was huge, and when we 1st rounded the corner we actually thought it was the Cathedral. If you blow it up it looks like there are crosses in several spots on it, but it's not crosses. We couldn't figure out exactly what they were, so that shall remain a mystery.
So while we were waiting for the Jewish Temple to clear, we went into the Cathedral, directly across the street from City Hall. I must admit that although it is striking looking, it has to be the oddest Catholic Church I have ever been in. It was dedicated in 1845 and built by the same architect that built the State Capitol, so I am really curious as to what the Capitol building looks like. We are going to Columbus tomorrow so we will soon find out.
The 1st and 3rd pics are of the front and back of the Cathedral, with the 2nd pic showing a close-up of the ceiling tiles the border. The 2nd pic in the 2nd row shows one of the Stations of the Cross. They start out at about waist high and reach all the way to the ceiling. The Greek columns on both sides of the building are beautiful, but unlike anything I have ever seen in a church.
Directly across the street from the Cathedral, and catty-corner from City Hall, was the Jewish Temple. WOW!!! This place was eye-popping! When I 1st walked in I saw a guy standing at the back who looked sort of official, so I waved and walked towards him. I don't know who he was, may very well have been the Rabbi or someone on the staff, but he greeted me and when I explained that I had a blog (haha) he was more that happy to give me a little history on the Temple. You can see me talking to him at the beginning of the video at the end of this section.
Cathy and I totally lucked out, as this Temple is not usually open and is used only for special occasions. Yesterday was the Jewish New Year, so that's why it was open when we were there. (The congregation uses a different meeting place about 20 minutes away from this one for regular services.) It took several years to build, finally finished in 1866...it was actually slowed down and postponed at times because of the Civil War. When it was built there were only 60 Jewish families in Cincinnati, while today there are 1300 families who worship here. And finally, the Rabbi who started this back in 1866 basically started Reform Judaism in America. The guy who was giving me a little history explained that in Orthodox Judaism the men and women still sit separately, there is no singing, and the entire service is in Hebrew, while in the Reform tradition they now have the men and women sit together, there is singing, and some of the service is said in English. OK...there is your history and religion lesson for the day!!!
From the altar to the chandelier, from the organ and dome and even the walls, I don't know what to call your attention to first. All of the walls, like in the close-ups in pics 3 & 4, are hand-stenciled...none of it is wallpaper!
Incredible, huh!? Here is a video of it. Cathy had to try to reduce the megabytes of the video in order to upload it, so unfortunately it is grainier than the original. But you can see me talking to the guy who worked there in the very beginning.
From the Temple we got back in the car and crossed over the Roebling Bridge to Covington, Kentucky, where the St Mary's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption was. (That was a mouthful, huh?) Here comes another WOW! for you. From the outside, the 1st row of pics are actually from the side of the church, while the 2nd row is of the front.
This Cathedral was dedicated in 1901 and was so massive I couldn't even try to take a video that would capture it all. I tried to post as many different views as I could, and may have even repeated some that are almost the same view, but they are so pretty I just couldn't stop myself. haha! The lady who gave us some info here said that it was modeled after Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral.
These are wood-carving frames of Mary and St Joseph, with some of the trim work of St Joseph's display detailed in the 3rd and 4th pics. I put those there for Sr Helen, seeing as she is from the Sister's of St Joseph.
There are 3 organs in the church...here are 2 of them, the 3rd was just a small one by the altar.
There are 82 stained-glass windows here, the biggest of which is pictured here in all 3 pics. It is 67 ft high by 24 ft wide and is not only the biggest in America but the 2nd biggest in the world!
The Baptismal Font.
The Stations of the Cross, below the stained-glass windows...beautiful!
OK, catch your breath, now!!! haha Weren't they beautiful like I said they would be? But we are not quite through...one more for you. As we were driving into Kentucky and looking for the Cathedral above, we noticed a few blocks distant from it, were these spires high in the air. On a lark, we tracked them down to this church, called the Mother of God Church. The actual full name is "The Annunciation of the Ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God", so you can see why they usually shorten it.
It was built in 1871 for the German American immigrant community, and it is also mindbogglingly pretty. Here we begin with the front and back of the church, and then everything speaks for itself. As with all the other pictures, you have to blow them up to truly appreciate the beauty.
So now you can see why I may have to change my blog name...although in 2 different states, these 4 houses of worship were within just a few miles of each other and are amongst the most beautiful churches/temples/buildings I have been in. We were sorry to have missed seeing the Underground Railroad Center, but God knows the day was well spent anyway. Maybe we should change our travel theme from State Capitols to the Great Churches of America? What do you think?