Trip to Europe Essay

Europe is rich in history that influenced both Christianity and Judaism - Trip to Europe Essay introduction. Several cities in many European countries preserved architecture, art, and artifacts representative of two strong religions and the culture of the people. Two of those countries are Poland and Italy.

Rome, Italy is home to the Vatican Museums. These museums are actually a complex of museums and galleries that were begun by Pope Clement XIV and Pope Pius VI, after whom the Pio-Clementine Museum was named.  Both men were popes in the late 1700’s.  The Chiaromonti Museum and the “Braccio Nuovo” gallery were additions inspired by Pope Pius VII in the early 1800’s.  As well, Pope Pius VII was instrumental in enhancing the Classical Antiquities and a portion of the Lapidary Gallery called the Epigraphic Collection.  The Etruscan Museum was founded in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI.  This particular museum holds artifacts that were discovered in archaeological digs in the southern part of Etruria in 1828.  In 1839 he also founded the Egyptian Museum where lays preserved, artifacts that were discovered in Egypt.  Pope Pius IX enlarged the Pio Christian Museum which holds archaic sculptures that are inscribed with Christian text.  Other museums in the complex are the Hebrew Lapidary, the Gregorian Profane, and the Pio Christian.  These later additions were transferred from their original location in the Lateran Palace.  Pope John XXIII initiated the move.  A collection of fifteenth and seventeenth century tapestries are displayed in the Gallery of Tapestries.  In more recent history, Pope Paul VI founded the Collection of Modern and Contemporary Religious Art in 1973 along with the Vatican Historical Museum.

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Milan, Italy will lead you to the sacred destination of the Duomo Cathedral.   The Duomo was built after fire destroyed a basilica built by Saint Ambrose early in the fifth century.  The lengthy building project was started in 1386 by Archbishop Antonia da Saluzzo.  The Late Gothic style was actually more distinguishing of architecture in France.  In 1762 a statue of the Madonna was set atop the primary spire.  The Duomo was completed for the most part in the 1880’s, many years later.  Although from the exterior, the Duomo has a Gothic style, the intricacies bring to light Baroque and Neo-Classical styles.   The interior of the Duomo is described as breathtakingly beautiful with the largest windows in the world and five great doors.  The borders of marble harbor a world of beasts, fruits, and insects in intricate detail.  Climbing the stairs to the roof of the vast cathedral you’ll be able to have a closer view of the majestic pinnacles and sculptures. The Cathedral Treasury, also called the Tesoro del Duomo, displays medieval and religious art.  The fourth century, Paleochristian Baptistery found beneath the cathedral is believed to be where St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan baptized Augustine.

Throughout Italy there are many sites to see.  The Sistine Chapel will mesmerize you with its delicate and peaceful beauty. The Coliseum in Rome will intrigue you with its architectural magnificence and cruel history.   The Arch of Constantinople recognizes Constantine, the leader of the Roman Empire who converted to Christianity and established Christianity in Rome, is also a must see for anyone fortunate enough to visit Italy.

Next in our travel we’ll visit Poland where we’ll visit the capital city of Warsaw which is also the largest city in Poland located on the banks of the Vistula River.  We’ll also visit Krakow known for its beautiful seasons.  Spring-time brings the aromatic, sweet scents of blossoms, autumn in Krakow delivers vivid colors of the changing leaves and then winter settles in with the promise of a white Christmas.  Both cities host a wealth of Judaic history.

At one time there were thousands of Jewish Synagogues in Poland, but the Nazis left only about two-hundred and forty-five in their era of destruction.  Warsaw is home to the Nozyk Synagogue, the only one left in that city.  The only reason it survived was because the Nazis used it as a stable and storehouse for their horses.  The Nozyk Synagogue was founded somewhere between 1900 and 1902 by Zalman ben Menasze Nozyk and his wife.  The synagogue is maintained with monies left in Nozyk’s will.  During the Warsaw uprising in 1944, the Nozyk Synagogue was damaged by fire.  The six year restoration was finally completed in 1983.  On the fiftieth anniversary of the ghetto revolt, Jews and Catholics alike gathered for services. There are approximately five-hundred practicing Jews left in the city who have attended services twice a week at the Nozyk Synagogue since the anniversary re-opening.

Krakow, Poland has claim to the oldest surviving synagogue.  Appropriately called the Old Synagogue or Stara Boznica it also accommodates a Jewish Museum.  The fifteenth century synagogue was restored in 1557 after it was destroyed by a fire.  It was within the walls of the Old Synagogue that a man named Tadeusz Kosciuszko rallied the Jews in 1775 to join the national rebellion and fight for the freedom of Poland.  The Nazis either stole or destroyed most of the contents of the synagogue which included art and Jewish relics. It was also the site of the slaughter of thirty Polish hostages by the Nazis in 1943. Once again, the Old Synagogue was restored and when it re-opened in 1961 the Jewish Museum opened with it.  The museum is rich with the history and culture of Krakow Jews. The museum serves as a much needed reminder that the Jewish religion was prominent in Poland for eight-hundred years before it faded away after World War II.

















Works Cited
“History of the Museums.” 2003-2007. The Vatican Online. 25 October 2008 <>.

“Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw.” 2008. Scrapbook Pages. com. 25 October 2008 <>.

“Old Synagogue, Krakow.” 2005-2008. Sacred Destinations. 25 October 2008 <>.

“The Duomo, Milan.” 2008. Sacred Destinations. 25 October 2008 <>.



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