I wanted to write an article about doors from all around the world already since long time but I did not have enough places to feature until now. I am ready now, I want to write a different article from my usual ones about my travels but still related to this theme.
I am very passionate about travelling, as you can figure out from my articles. It is the main topic of this blog of mine. When I travel, I feel alive and part of this big and different world. While travelling I can put into practice what I learnt at school about languages and getting in touch with locals.
Languages, culture and travelling are strictly linked with one another: language is the essence and the soul of a culture, in a language you can get to know many important features of a people – example: in Italian we have this word that cannot be translated or found in other languages “abbiocco“, it describes the feeling you get after you ate much like you become numb and sleepy. This has to do with our food culture as we always exaggerate in eating and we end up getting this “abbiocco” everytime we finish our meals. Similar examples you can find in German (Wanderlust, Fernweh) or Japanese (Aware, Wasuremono).
What does this have to do with doors? Well, doors and more specifically houses can tell us much about the kind of lives people lead in that certain place. They can tell us much about the history of the place, historical events that took place there (like ammo holes in some houses in Berlin).
They can tell us what kind of weather they have in that area for example in Italy we have these persiane – shutters in english – that protect us from the strong rays of the sun, while in northern europe people mainly have large windows with no shutters or curtain to stop the sun rays coming in as they must exploit the sun days as much as they can. So let’s embark on this peculiar journey through my shots that I could steal from all around the world during my travels….
From the photos I posted here, we can already tell the cold and hostile weather they have in northern countries, in this case Denmark. The doors are very thick and big. They are built by using the wood, just like in old times. The first photo was taken in Ribe, the oldest town in Denmark and peculiar features are the different carvings on the door. I really like their doors, so colorful and full of drawings.
The second photo I took in Fredericia, a small city located in Jutland Peninsula. It is very similar to the one above with various carvings of different colours and a very thick and robust door. I took the photo in an old district of the city where the wooden half-timbered houses were very-well preserved. Wood was quite popular in Northern European countries for example in Switzerland (yeah for me it is north Europe) where they have these houses called Chalet, found on the mountains, and in Scandinavia. I guess it is because the wood keeps the environment warmer during the long and cold winter days.
The first photo I took in Tai Po, a small city in the New Territories, one hour away from Hong Kong island. In Hong Kong I came across the weirdest doors: they are made up of steel – or so it seems. This was the entrance gate to an apartment block so this was not the door of a house. In Hong Kong every apartment block has a guard watching over the people coming in and out and then every apartment has a gate, just like this one, that covered the real door. The doors are not very robust, though. I heard from my boyfriend that the rate of criminality in Hong Kong is very low so I guess they do not need many defensive systems.
As you can tell, this is a totally different door. I took this photo in a temple near Lam Tsuen village. It was not a proper door but was just there to point out that now you enter the holy ground that belongs to the deity. The entrance gates in Hong Kong, I figure out in China too, always have these red paper attached on them. In this case I do not know what it says because I do not know those characters but most of the time, there is written something like: peace descend upon those who enter or good luck. I was particularly attracted by this door because it was like an entrance gate to the heaven for the strong light engulfing the room.
This is a weird door I would dare to say. I captured this moment when I was wandering in the red light district of Kabuki-Chou, Tokyo, two years ago. I was blinded by the mesmerizing shining street signs that were dotted throughout Japan’s capital and the amount of people packing the street so late at night, it felt like I was in the centre of the world. I later discovered that Kabuki-Chou, as well as Shinjuku, is a very famous area for young people to go and have fun. Here you can see the entrance to a questionable night club.
From the profane to the sacred, as it often happens in Japan. They have no morality problems there – unlike Italians – to put together a Shinto Shrine and a love hotel. What you see here is still another kind of “door”, or better call it gate. This kind of door is called Torii in Japanese and informs us that we are entering the holy ground of a Shinto Temple. I am sure that you have seen this somewhere else, in the Fushimi Inari Taisha located in Kyoto. It is very famous nowadays and featured in every travel magazine: the long path flanked by innumerable red columns. Well, these gates are not there for beauty but are a very important feature of Shinto religion, which is native to Japan.
A very typical Tuscan door made with wooden and painted in green. In Italy we often put outside doors and windows our flowers, which are our pride. My grandmother is really obsessed with flowers, she always waters them and take care of them, she gets happy whenever someone compliments her ahaha In Tuscany it seems the most popular colour for shutters and doors is green. I have heard from my mother that in Italy we have a law that supervises how houses are painted in a certain area. This was implemented to make the inhabitants respect the place where they live. Their houses will be completely integrated in the old town without being out of place.
The entrance door to a typical italian shop called Tabaccheria. There is nothing like this in any other places. It can be defined as a mix of stationery shop and newspaper shop. They sell newspapers, postcards, stamps, cigarettes, some food, drinks and sometimes they also have slot machines. This photo was taken in Genoa, in a minor alleyway so a real glimpse of daily life.
South France, unlike the northern part, has a very similar weather to Italy so also the houses will be alike. For example they have shutters too, and just like us, for the main purpose of preventing the sun rays from coming in. This photo was taken in Cannes, one of the most famous towns of French Riviera, renowned especially among wealthy people. I really like the colours of the shutters and of the doors, it is like a Barbie house.
Same for this lovely door, it seems it came straight out from a Barbie house. In Cannes you will encounter many of these lovely doors all around. I could not resist and took a photo. The style is very Mediterranean but yet it is different from Italian style.
Germany is totally on another level if compared to South European architecture. They have longer and colder winter and it often snows so they have thicker doors just like in Denmark. This door, which was in the town along the river Mosel called Bernkastel-Kues, is a perfect example of what I was talking about just now. It is very robust, it is clear that it has many analogies with the Danish doors I posted at the beginning of the article and a very german feature for me is the part, which is made up of glass. It reminds me of those old middle-age pubs that can be found in the UK and in Germany. This door is one of a Weinstube, in a nutshell a wine room, where people can go and taste wines. I must let you know that Mosel is a German wine region where they produce the so-called Riesling. It is not much famous abroad, at least as Italian I have never heard of it, but it seems Mosel inhabitants are doing their best to build a name for their wine around Europe.
Here we are always in Germany, in Bayreuth, in the state of Bayern. This is totally different from the one before because it is a side door of a church. Bayreuth is a small city where I had the chance to spend one month working in the local library and I snapped this photo while exploring the city. I was really impressed by the beauty of the church, for such a small city, it was so big.