Ankor på vift

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Tag: museum

18th century planetarium and Museum Martena in Franeker

We would never had gone to Franeker , or Frjentsjer in West Frisian,  if it weren’t for Ulrika and that she regularly looks at Atlas Obscura to see if there are some interesting places to discover.

The world’s oldest still working orrery can be found here. The orrery was built from 1774 to 1781 by Eise Eisinga, an amateur astronomer, in his house to help the people in Netherlands understand Astronomy. In 1774 an alignment of several planets happened and this induced mass panic among the Dutch people,  who thought that a planetary collision was imminent, and Eise Eisinga wanted to show that their fears were unfounded.
Eise Eisinga had not been allowed to go to school, but he was gifted and through self-education he mastered mathematics and astronomy and published a book about the principles of astronomy when he was only 17 years old. Eisie Eisinga became a wool carderer,  but would later be recognized as a scholar and become a professor at the Franeker Academy.

Vi hade aldrig åkt till Franeker, eller Frjentsjer på västfrisiska, om det inte var för att Ulrika regelbundet tittar på Atlas Obscura för att se om det finns några intressanta platser att upptäcka.

Världens äldsta fortfarande fungerande planetarium finns här. Solsystemsmodellen byggdes mellan 1774 och 1781 av Eise Eisinga, en amatörastronom, i sitt hus för att hjälpa folket i Nederländerna att förstå astronomi. 1774 inträffade att flera planeter hamnade i linje och detta orsakade massapanik bland holländarna. De trodde att en planetkollision var nära förestående och Eise Eisinga ville visa med sin modell att deras rädsla var ogrundad.
Eise Eisinga fick inte gå i skolan, men han var begåvad och genom självstudier lärde han sig att bemästra både matematik och astronomi.  Eise publicerade en bok om astronomins principer när han bara var 17 år gammal. Eisie Eisinga blev en ullkardare, men skulle senare erkännas som lärd och bli professor vid Franeker Academy.

The house with the orrery. Usually in Netherlands the entrance to the museums are the house next to the house that contains the museum. So here the entrance is the house to the left of the planetarium.

Eise Eisinga loved astronomy so that was his focus when he was building his orrery, and he also collected them. The museum also contains astronomy instruments from more modern times.

The orrery was constructed to a scale of 1:1,000,000,000,000 (1 millimeter equals 1 million kilometers). Each planet continues to orbit the sun at an appropriate speed (i.e., earth, once a year; Saturn, every 29 years).

People from the Franeker academy went to see his planetarium and they all could confirm that his calculations were correct. They have a guided tour in the room every 10-15 minutes and they do the tour in dutch, but you can request English and then it becomes a bilingual session.

We could walk up to the second floor to see the mechanics behind the orrery. Othilia like to walk by herself up and down stairs.

This is the work of only one man and the orrery contains over 10,000 hand-forged nails.

We walked around in the museum looking at old books and manuscripts, some of them written by Eise Eisinga himself.

a much smaller orrery.

The earth with slices showing different continents. Othilia got tired so we had to leave the planetarium before we had the chance to look at everything, so we plan to come back here when she is older.

Franeker can be traced back to the 800’s and the name probably derives from Froon-acker, meaning “country of the king”, so it is an old town with lots of history. The city is small, but we came later during the day, so we went to the planetarium, ate at a restaurant and then had to go home to come back the day after.  When we went to the planetarium we got offered to buy a combination ticket for Museum Martena (8.5 Euro/person)  and we accepted that offer, but wouldn’t be able to visit the Museum Martena the same day. The combination ticket is valid for one year, so that is good if you run out of time as we did. Both the planetarium and Museum Martena are quite small so we would have made it to both on the same day if we hade arrived earlier to Franeker the first day.

Franeker kan spåras tillbaka till 800-talet och namnet härstammar förmodligen från Froon-acker, vilket betyder “kungens land”, så det är en gammal stad med mycket historia. Staden är liten, men vi kom sent på dagen så vi gick på planetariet, åt på en restaurang och sedan var vi tvungna att åka hem för att komma tillbaka dagen efter. När vi kom till planetariet så fick vi erbjudande om att köpa en kombinationsbiljett för Museum Martena (8,5 Euro / person) också och vi accepterade det erbjudandet, men kunde inte kunna besöka Museum Martena samma dag. Kombinationsbiljetten är giltig i ett år, så det är bra om du har tidsbrist som vi hade. Både planetariet och Museum Martena är ganska små så vi skulle ha hunnit med båda på samma dag om vi hade anlänt tidigare till Franeker den första dagen.

We took a walk in the city center our second day in Franeker.

The small square and the church in Franeker.

Othilia got to explore som parts of Franeker by herself. More pictures from Franeker in the slider below.

Museum Martena is a fortified stone house built around 1500 by a nobleman called Hessel van Martena. He was constantly at war with other noblemen in Friesland so he needed strong security. Inside is a collection of art and furniture from different eras, ranging from the van Martena family, but also from other noble families that has lived in this house. The van Martena family owned the house until 1694 when Suffidus Westerhuis bought the house. He was keen on bringing the house to the 18th century so much of the wall decorations comes from his era.  It is a lovely place to walk around in with exhibitions on all floors, with belongings from the different families who once lived here.

Museum Martena är ett befäst stenhus byggd omkring 1500 av en adelsman vid namn Hessel van Martena. Han var ständigt i krig med andra adelsmän i Friesland så han behövde stark säkerhet där han bodde. Inuti finns en samling av konst och möbler från olika tidpsepoker, från van Martena-familjen men även andra adelsfamiljer som har bott i det här huset. Familjen van Martena ägde huset fram till 1694 när Suffidus Westerhuis köpte huset. Han var angelägen om att föra huset till 1700-talet så mycket av väggdekorationerna kommer från hans era. Det är en härlig plats att gå runt med utställningar på alla våningar, med ägodelar från de olika familjerna som en gång bodde här.

Museum Martena. The entrance is through the house next to it.

A room with Arcadian wall paintings, put there during the renovations by Westerhuis in 1694.

There are a many portraits of former inhabitants of house Martena.

The Mulder family that lived in the Martena house in the 1800’s. Mr Mulder was a doctor and professor at Franeker university and used his daughter (in the lap) as guinea-pig for the cowpox virus vaccine. Mr Mulder died after he used himself to demonstrate how to drain an inflammation on one of his sinuses during a class that he taught at the university. He developed fever and died a few days later.

The top floor is dedicated to two interesting residents of Franeker. One room is dedicated to Anna Maria van Schurman, a female scholar from the golden age of the Netherlands (17th century). She knew 14 languages and she promised her father never to marry so she could dedicate her life to study.

The second room on the top floor is dedicated to Jacob Kooistra, a lorry driver who built his own fun fair in 1940. All the components of the fair are made of throwaway materials. The whole town helped Jacob Kooistra by collecting old bicycle lamps, christmas tree lamps and old cigar boxes to give to him.
Below is a short video from the fun fair. For 0.5 Euro we could see the show for ourselves!


More pictures from Franeker, house Martena and Planetarium:



Malaga and the birthplace of Picasso

It was time for us to visit Spain again and this time we came to Malaga on the famous Costa del Sol coast line. We have been to Northern Spain/Catalonia before, but we’ve have never been in the Southern parts before. Ulrika had a rough couple of weeks in Athens, being pregnant and vomiting, so warmer weather was high priority for her and cheap flight tickets made us go to Malaga. It turned out that we had arrived to Pablo Picasso’s birthplace.

Det var dags för oss att besöka Spanien igen och den här gången kom vi till Malaga på den kända Costa del Sol-kustlinjen. Vi har varit i norra Spanien/Katalonien innan, men vi har aldrig varit i södra delarna tidigare. Ulrika hade ett antal tuffa veckor i Aten, med graviditet och kräkningar, så varmare väder var hög prioritet för henne och billiga flygbiljetter gjorde att vi tog oss till Malaga. Väl där så visade det sig att vi hade kommit till Pablo Picassos födelsestad.

The weather was the major reason why we came to Southern Spain. There was almost down to 0 degrees Celsius during the nights in Athens, so adding 10 degrees to our environment was exactly what Ulrika needed.

We really loved the infrastructure in Costa del Sol. We lived in Torremolinos, a small town south of Malaga, and it took 25 minutes to get in to the city center. The train passed the airport so it was super easy to get from the airport cheaply and it went down all the way to Fuengirola.

We wanted to see Malaga so we used the train to get in to the city center.

Malaga is green and smells lovely from all the flowers in the parks and from the flower shops we passed on our way to our first mission of the day.

Pablo Picasso was born on 25th of October 1881 in Malaga, so that is why you can find a Picasso museum here today. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the museum, but we took one sneak picture.

And it was on the only paintings we liked. We did enjoy Picasso’s early work , like the paintings in the picture, and his lithographs, but the rest, his cubism period and sculptures were rubbish. If it was an exhibition created by a five-year old we would have been impressed, now when it was a full-grown man’s paintings on display, a man who had proven he could paint, it was ridiculous. We felt that we where walking around in the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen, because we can’t understand how people not can see how bad it is.

The Cathedral of Málaga, built between 1528 and 1782, was our next visit. We do enjoy walking around in religious buildings to look at the architecture and paintings inside, but we avoid being inside them if there is some kind of ceremony going on. Lucky for us, there was nothing going on here while we were around.

The inside of the Malaga Cathedral was beautiful.

We found interesting sculptures as well.

The Cathedral’s organ was very impressive.

We continued walking and found another church that reminded us of a similar church built in Antigua in Guatemala.

It was also in Antigua where we took Spanish private lessons, so we find it easy to be in Spain, because we understand what people say, we can read most of the signs and we can make ourselves understood when speaking Spanish, even though we lack the grammar skills.  Our adventures in Antigua can be read about here, here and here.

Mount Gibralfaro, a 130 meter high foothill, was our afternoon adventure. We got a great view over Malaga and there is a castle on top of the hill that we wanted to visit.

The view over Malaga! You could see from Malaga’s town hall all the way to to airport, which is near the mountains in the distance.

We also got a good look on Plaza de toros de La Malagueta, where they hold bullfights in September every year.

Gibralfaro has been the site of fortification since 770 BC and the whole top of the hill is closed off by a big wall. Normally, there is an entrance fee to get in, but if you come after 2 pm on a Sunday it is free to just walk in and explore the grounds.

We took the way down the hill with a lot of gardens planted around the pathway, it was beautiful even though we walked here in the middle of the winter.

We walked back to our train following the harbor promenade.

At this time in the pregnancy Ulrika always got nauseous later during the day, so we had to get back to our place before it got so bad that she had to vomit.

The nausea got better here in Spain, so Ulrika could actually eat food during the day. One of the first full lunches she could enjoy after a few weeks of feeling crappy.

Torremolinos was where we were hanging out most of our days.

We started to take long walks up and down the promenade. It was awesome to be able to activate my body again.

No swimming for us here though.

Our favorite place was La Batería Park, where we would take our morning runs to.

There is an observation tower standing in the corner of the park and we got a great view over Torremolinos from there.

Beautiful view of the park and the Sierra de Mijas mountain range.

The skyline of Torremolinos from the observation tower.

A Cañon Schneider stands next to the observation tower.

Then it was time to go North to meet up family, and the Journey from Malaga to Alicante took us really close to two National parks, the Sierra de Huétor Natural Park was on our North side.

An the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which is covered with snow right now. It was a strange, but familiar sight, before coming back to the Spanish coast and 20 degrees Celsius.

The Byzantine Empire, Christianity and lovely Athens

The Byzantine and Christian Museum was on our to do list in Athens and we can highly recommend spending an afternoon here if you want to learn more about the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe during the first thousand years  of our western era. We had read about the museum beforehand and our awesome Airbnb-hosts also recommended the museum, so we had high expectations on our visit and we were not disappointed.

Museet “Byzantine and Christian Museum” var på vår att göra-lista i Aten och vi rekommenderar starkt att spendera en eftermiddag här om du vill lära dig mer om den starkaste ekonomiska, kulturella och militära kraften i Europa under de första tusen åren av vår västerländska tideräkning. Vi hade läst om museet på förhand och våra fantastiska Airbnb-värdar rekommenderade också museet, så vi hade höga förväntningar på besöket och vi blev inte besvikna.

The Byzantine and Christian Museum was recommended by our Airbnb-hosts. We wanted to learn more about the early days of Christianity, so why not acquire the knowledge in Athens.

The Byzantine Empire sprung from the fall of the Roman Empire during the 5th century AD. The Byzantine Empire is actually the surviving part of the Eastern Roman Empire. Its capital was Constantinople, which today is a part of Turkey, with the name changed to Istanbul. The Byzantine Empire existed for a thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

The Byzantine Empire was founded by Constantine I in the 3rd century AD, and Christianity was legalized and became the official religion in the empire. In the 6th century AD, the Byzantine Empire switched from Latin to Greek as their official language.

There where different sections covering art, culture, everyday life, governance, administration and religious activities from different parts of the Byzantine Empire. They even had a section covering the Copts, the Christian population in Egypt. This is clothes and shoes that a Christian child would wear in the Egyptian part of the Byzantine Empire.

One part of the museum that we found very interesting, was the huge controversy and religious division over Iconoclasm (breakers of icons and religious images) over iconodules (supporters of icons and religious images) during the 8th and early 9th centuries. The iconoclasts banned all religious pictures of icons and christian heroes and wanted the cross to be the only symbol for worship, whilst iconodules wanted to keep the worship and veneration of images of Jesus, the Apostles and saints.

There were religious art hanging in the museum.

There were plenty of jewelry on display in the museum.

and equipment for everyday life like oil lamps.

Parts of houses where also displayed in the museum, so you got a feeling for Byzantine architecture. More pictures from the museum can be found in the slide show below.


Athens is huge, but we managed to get a feeling for the neighborhoods we where surrounded by. They grow non-eatable orange allées in the city.

Athens has a lot of smaller and bigger parks. We had a lovely pine forest park near us that we explored.

And their balconies are filled with green plants.

Sometimes there is a tree right on the streets. Vehicles be aware!

We walked by a beautifully painted school and we had to take a picture of it.

And we found a car repair shop with a go-cart like car on display showing the mechanism behind how a car works. Just small things that we love finding while walking around in a new city,

Pontus got himself a fresh haircut whilst in Athens.

OKEIO  is our favorite restaurant in Athens. which is near the Byzantine Museum and the cliff railway that takes you up on the Lycabettus hill.

Both the interior design and food is lovely.

They serve a mix of Greek and European dishes.

We tried a local restaurant that we got recommended by our Airbnb-hosts and we got to taste many kinds of traditional Greek food here.

And eat meat German style here in Athens, which they call “Kotsi”, 8 euro for a huge chunk of tender meat.

We also got to hang out with our awesome Airbnb-hosts Khatchig and Matina. Blurry pictures, but lovely times!

Thank you M and K for all your help and recommendations while we stayed in Athens. It made our time in Athens so much easier!

Next up Acropolis. We just had to visit this place before we left Athens. More about this historical landmark in our next blog post.

Athens, the Olympic Games and Chinese Technology and Science

Athens is one of the cities we have wanted to visit for its rich cultural heritage, so we decided to travel there after our time in Cyprus. We literally could breath western history and classical antiquity while we where here, but we where also surprised to find a whole museum dedicated to Chinese technological and scientific history.

Aten är en av de städer vi har velat besöka för sitt rika kulturarv, så vi bestämde oss för att resa hit efter vår tid på Cypern. Vi kunde bokstavligen andas västerländsk historia och antiken medan vi var här, men vi blev  också förvånad över att hitta ett helt museum dedikerat till kinesisk teknisk och vetenskaplig historia.

Next stop Greece and a chance to explore classical antiquity left standing in Athens.

We wanted to see what Athens’s skyline looked like, so we went up on Lycabettus hill, a limestone hill that reaches 300 meters above sea level in the middle of Athens.

First we needed to climb up a few stairs.

You can either walk up the hill or take the Lycabettus Funicular. 5 Euro for a one-way ticket or 7.5 Euro for a two-way ticket.

We got a great view from the top of Lycabettus. From here we could spot the Panathenaic Stadium where the first modern, international, summer olympic game was held in 1896, but the stadium is much older than that.

We could also see Acropolis.

Greek mythology tells that Lycabettus hill was created when goddess Athena dropped a limestone mountain that she had been carrying from the Pallene peninsula for the construction of the Acropolis.

The impressive Hymettos mountain range in the east that separates Athens from Athens airport. The highest point reaches 1026 meters above sea level and it is one of four mountains surrounding Athens.

We took the walking option back down!

Back down to almost sea level and we found a lovely house hiding among the concrete buildings in the neighborhood.

We passed the Panathenaic Stadium, the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. It was here where the 1896 Summer Olympics, the first modern games, took place.

The first stadium on the site was built around 330 BC, but it was rebuilt in marble by the Athenian-Roman senator Herodes Atticus in 144 AD and the stadium had a capacity of 50,000 seats. The capacity around 1896 was 80,000.

Athens is famous for the Olympic games and we found several athletic fields around the Panathenaic Stadium where children and adults were training in the middle of winter.

A closed-down outdoor swimming pool.

We went to Herakleidon, a Science, Art and Mathematics museum in Athens. We thought it would be about western history in those fields with a Chinese exhibition, but it was all about China and we loved to learn more about that part of the world.

China was several hundred years before the middle east and Europe in a lot of fields. It was forbidden to use the camera in most of the museum, but we took a few sneak photos to show you.

We got a nice overview of the different dynasties that have been in control of Chinese territorium.

The Chinese construction art was impressive. Ulrika likes to think about how the world would look today if not the Ming Dynasty had shut China out of the rest of the world in the early 15th century. The huge shipyards were closed down and shipbuilding laws were implemented that restricted boat building so that only small size boats were built.

A spoon compass was one of the compasses displayed here.

Transportation was something the Chinese were good at.

This mechanical carriage had mechanical drummers on it that drummed every 0.5 kilometers or 1 Lin to measure distance.

The museum had smaller versions of different carriages that could tell distance traveled and orientation.  Children and adults could see the mechanism behind the carriages and try them out. The museum was very interactive so we think children would love this place, we certainly did.

The had a room about Chinese astronomy.

The art of and history of printing. There were a lot more things to see in this museum, but we didn’t want to take to many pictures here.

This was part one of our time in Athens, more is to come!

Topkaki Palace & Islam Medieval Science Museum

The Topkaki Palace was a place we wanted to visit while in Istanbul and we can highly recommend it. We bought a five day Museum pass, for 85 TRY (approximately 21 Euro) and it covers both Hagia Sofia and Topkaki  Palace (and a number of other museums around Istanbul), but it doesn’t cover the entrance to the Harem inside the Topkaki Palace. The entrance fee to the Harem costs 25 TRY (around 6 Euro), but they were renovating a large part of the Harem, so we didn’t think it was worth paying for a visit there after having been inside.  However, the rest of the Topkaki Palace was very interesting. The Museum pass included the Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam, which we wanted to visit before we said goodbye to Istanbul. Pictures, videos from both the Topkaki Palace and the museum can be found below.

Topkakipalatset var ett ställe som vi ville besöka i Istanbul och vi kan starkt rekommendera att spendera några timmar där. Vi köpte ett fem dagars museumskort för 85 TRY (ca 21 Euro) och det inkluderar både Hagia Sofia och Topkaki Palace, samt ett antal andra museer runt om i Istanbul, men det täcker inte inträde till haremet på insidan av Topkakipalatset. Entréavgiften till haremet kostar 25 TRY (ca 6 Euro), men de var i färd med att renovera stora delar av haremet, så vi anser inte att det var värt att betala extra för att gå in där nu efter att ha sett vad det har att erbjuda. Men resten av Topkakipalatset var mycket intressant . Museumkortet inkluderade också “Museum of History of Science and Technology in Islam”, som vi ville besöka innan vi sade hejdå till Istanbul. Bilder, videoklipp från både Topkakipalatset och museet finns nedan.

The entrance to Topkaki Palace, built in the 15th century. It was the residence for the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years, and was home for 4000 people during the golden days of the Ottoman Empire.

A 3D-model of the Palace.

The Palace has 4 courtyards with lovely gardens.

And the insides are beautifully decorated.

The tobacco room with mannequins dressed up according to the fashion at that time.

The last courtyard with a beautiful rose garden. We’ve also made a short movie, which can be seen below, showing the different parts of the palace.

Both the Topkaki Palace and the Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam are situated in the Gülhane park.

The world according to the medieval muslim scholars.

Muslim scientist did do a lot of technological and science discoveries involving astronomy, time and navigation.

As well as in Medical technological innovations. Here is devices used by medieval otorhinolaryngologists, or ear-nose-throat doctors.

And these things are for the gynecologists, the bottom ones are specifically used for crushing the fetus head if the fetus was stuck in the birth canal and threatened the woman’s life.

There was also a section about war and defense innovations. This is a battering ram and a illustrated video of how this thing works can be found below.

Gülhane park is also a place to hang out in, so we did what the locals do there laying in the grass and enjoying the sun.

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