Lyon’s Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica

One of Lyon’s iconic ground-breaking attraction is the Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica, which is located on the top of the Fourvière Hill. The building is visible from almost all of the city corners. If the weather allows, Mont Blanc, the highest point in Europe, is visible from the Fourvière Hill. I heard that, symbolically, Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica belongs to all the Lyonnais, Lyon’s inhabitants.

The Basilica honours the Virgin Mary, who, according to local believes saved the French city of Lyon from the bubonic plague that occurred in 1643. Each December 8 the Lyon’s inhabitants light candles to honour the memory of the Virgin Mary. Nowadays the Fête des Lumières (the Festival of Lights) is organised each December to put the event in a wider context of modernity.

To get there we took the driverless metro and an old funicular, which has been climbing the Fourvière Hill for the past 150 years.

Once we arrived to the top of hill, the view of Lyon and of the rivers, the Saône and the Rhône has been spectacular.


The history of the Basilica goes back to the 12th century. Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a perfect example of Eclecticism. The architectural style combines the Romanesque, Gothic and Byzantine architecture.

The Basilica interior is richly decorated with mosaics, stained glass windows and high columns. All of them are so well harmonised so that we could not stop from admiring each detail. All of them are truly breath-taking.

The Basilica stays on four impressive corner towers. Each tower measures 48 meters and bears a name, based on the four cardinal virtues: Force, Justice, Prudence and Temperance.

Some masterpieces housed by the Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica, which I captured with my camera:

Stained glass
Mary queen of the holy virgins by Poncet


Mary, Heavenly Queen
A suite of 6 stained-glass windows, by Georges Decôte, picturing aspects of the royalty of the Virgin Mary in Heaven

Mary throughout history


The 6 wall mosaics honours the Virgin Mary.

The cupolas
There are 3 cupolas picturing Mary and the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Lyon’s Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica Photo-Album

Posted in Culture, Cultures and communication, Travelling | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Lyon’s Canuts Wall: How to turn an everyday street into an art gallery

The city of Lyon features about 60 modern art murals. The Canuts Wall – Le mur des Canuts – is the largest one and it has got worldwide fame, for a number of reasons.


The project initiators were art students, who wanted to encourage people to get closer to art. The project proves to strengthen Lyon’s local identity since Lyon’s visitors put the attraction on their agenda.


Lyon’s Canuts Wall was created in 1987. It is dedicated to the Silk Weavers, populating this old area of the city. The Wall is known as the largest mural in Europe, with a painted surface of about 1200 square meters. The Mural tells the ordinary story of this city district, which is located next to the Croix-Rousse Hill.

The painting covers an ordinary wall, which initially had no windows, but some small ventilation holes.

The Mural is very well executed, so one can get the illusion of real things and real people like a baker getting the bread out of the stove, businesspeople rushing to work, a child playing and a lot of plants.

The Wall pictures Lyon’s vibrant energy and humour.


Posted in Culture, Cultures and communication, Travelling | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Notre-Dame de Fourvière, mândria orașului Lyon

Una dintre cele mai importante atracții ale orașului francez Lyon este Bazilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière, ce străjuiește împrejurimile de pe vârful dealului Fourvière. Clădirea este vizibilă din aproape toate colțurile orașului. Dacă vremea e bună, Mont Blanc, cel mai înalt punct din Europa, este vizibil de pe dealul Fourvière. Am înțeles că, simbolic, Bazilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière aparține locuitorilor din Lyon.


Bazilica a fost construită în onoarea Fecioarei Maria, care, după legendele locale, a salvat orașul Lyon de ciuma bubonică din 1643. La 8 decembrie în fiecare an locuitorii Lyon-ului aprind lumânări în memoria Fecioarei Maria. Fête des Lumières (Festivalul luminilor) este organizat în fiecare decembrie pentru a da o undă de modernitate evenimentului.

Pentru a ajunge pe deal am luat metroul automat, fără conductor, și un funicular vechi, care a tot urcat și coborât dealul Fourvière în ultimii 150 de ani. Odată ce am ajuns în vârful dealului, ne-am bucurat de imaginea panoramică spectaculoasă a Lyon-ului și a râurilor sale, Saône și Rhône.


Istoria Bazilicii merge înapoi în timp, până în secolul al XII-lea. Notre-Dame de Fourvière este un exemplu perfect al eclectismului. Stilul arhitectural combină arhitectura romană, gotică și bizantină.

Interiorul Bazilicii este bogat decorat cu mozaicuri, vitralii și coloane înalte. Acestea sunt atât de bine armonizate, încât fiecare detaliu îti taie respirația.

Bazilica se sprijină pe patru turnuri impresionante. Fiecare turn măsoară 48 de metri și poartă un nume, împrumutat de la cele patru virtuți cardinale: Forța, Justiția, Prudența și Cumpătarea.

Mai jos câteva din capodoperele adăpostite de Bazilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière, pe care le-am fotografiat.

Fecioara Maria, de Poncet


Maria, Regina cerească
O suită de 6 vitralii, realizată de Georges Decôte, care prezintă aspecte legate de viața Fecioarei Maria în Rai.

Fecioara Maria în istorie


Cele 6 mozaicuri de perete o slăvesc pe Fecioara Maria.

Există 3 cupole care reprezintă scene cu Fecioara Maria și Sfânta Treime: Tatăl, Fiul și Sfânt Duh.

Notre-Dame de Fourvière, din Lyon :Album photo

Posted in Culture, Cultures and communication, Travelling | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Back to school turns 15 this year

I accepted my colleagues’ invitation to take part in the “Back to School” programme this autumn. I will therefore visit two schools: my former school in Tătăranu, the Romanian village where I grew up, and the school where I used to teach for about 22 years in Focșani, Romania.

This invitation was the reason of going back in time and checking a collection of news article and other pieces of content I saved during the years when I managed the “Back to School” programme at European Schoolnet, my former working place.

15 years of school visits

The “Back to School” initiative was born in 2002. We were asked by our former management team to come up with an activity idea to bring face-to-face public figures and classes to exchange ideas on EU related subjects.

Year by year this activity became popular among teachers and public figures. In addition to the emotional link of the guest with her or his former school, there was a strong need of students to meet public figures. The students wanted to question the guests directly and experience idea exchanges live on the latest developments in the field of EU policies.

There were teaching communities fearing to welcome politicians to their schools, as the political campaigns were banned in schools, especially during the years of elections.

Despite this fear, our team was able to come up with an attractive school programme. For a number of years I developed a twin guide, for both teachers and guests, with concrete “Dos and don’ts” and relevant suggestions on how to increase both informational and pedagogical values of a school visit.

There was a timid start of the initiative in 2002 and 2003. Year by year, famous guests adopted the idea as an effective way to encourage young people to speak out and express their views on what matters most to them. Key European and national public figures joined the initiative: European Commissioners, state presidents, prime ministers, members of the European and national parliaments, writers, singers, composers, to name a few.


Screen caption of a popular online activity bringing together students’ self-elongated portraits, to holding their hands online

Based on the emotional link with the former school, a guest found a common ground to share ideas and thoughts with young people.

Because of an increased popularity, many institutions adopted the exchange model and encouraged their staff to take part in the “Back to School” activity. The European Commission supported the initiative by encouraging its own staff to get involved while spending their holidays in their home countries. A strong promoter of the action was Margot Wallström, a former EU Commissioner.

The first body that officially adopted the Back to School initiative, at a larger scale, was the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union. About 200 Germans, national and EU staff went back to their schools between January and June 2007. From 2007 on, each country holding the rotational presidency of the Council of the EU integrated the Back to School action into their presidency programme.

I am glad to see that our idea was turned into an ongoing activity that become popular among institutions and schools.

My latest Back to School experience in Romania, in 2017


Posted in Culture, Cultures and communication | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

“Întoarcerea la școală” împlinește 15 ani

Am acceptat invitația colegilor mei de a participa în programul “Întoarcerea la școală” sau “Ïnapoi la școală (Back to School, în original) în această toamnă. Prin urmare, voi vizita două școli: fosta mea școală din Tătăranu, satul românesc unde am crescut, și “Duiliu Zamfirescu”, școala la care am predat timp de 22 de ani în Focșani, România.

Această invitație a fost motivul pentru care am călătorit în timp și am revăzut o colecție de articole de știri și alte materiale pe care le-am salvat pe un suport electronic în anii când am condus programul “Înapoi la școală” la European Schoolnet, fostul meu loc de muncă.

15 ani de “Înapoi la școală”

Inițiativa “Înapoi la școală” s-a conturat prin 2002. Am fost rugați de fosta noastră echipă de conducere să propunem o activitate care să aducă personalități și elevi față-în-față pentru a schimba idei pe subiecte UE.


Una din primele mele participări în programul “Back to School”, într-o școală belgiană, în 2006

An de an această activitate a devenit populară în rândul profesorilor și personalităților publice. În plus față de legătura emoțională a oaspetelui cu fosta sa școală, a existat o dorintă a elevilor de a se întâlni cu personalităti publice. Elevii doreau să pună întrebări directe invitaților și să trăiască pe viu schimburile de idei cu acestia. Ultimele evoluții din domeniul politicilor UE erau si sunt de mare interes în mediul scolar.

Comunitățile didactice din multe tări s-au temut să primească politicieni în școli, deoarece campaniile politice erau interzise în școli, mai ales în anii în care aveau loc alegeri.

În ciuda acestei temeri, echipa noastră a reușit să propună un program școlar atractiv. Timp de câțiva ani am publicat si actualizat două ghiduri, unul pentru profesorii care găzduiau vizitele, și un al doilea pentru oaspeți. Ghidurile cuprindeau sugestii concrete, relevante pentru valorificarea dimensiunilor informaționale și pedagogice ale vizitelor.

Initiativa a debutat timid în 2002 și 2003. Anual, oaspeți celebri au adoptat ideea ca o modalitate eficientă de a încuraja tinerii să vorbească și să-și exprime opiniile cu privire la ceea ce contează cel mai mult pentru ei în zilele noastre. Au participat personalități cheie europene și naționale importante: comisari europeni, președinți de stat, prim-miniștri, membri ai parlamentelor europene și naționale, scriitori, cântăreți, compozitori si multe alte categorii.

Bazându-se pe legătura emoțională cu fosta școală, oaspetii au avut ocazia să împărtășească idei și gânduri cu tinerii.

Datorită popularității crescute, multe instituții au adoptat modelul și au încurajat personalul să participe la activitatea “Înapoi la școală”. Comisia Europeană a sprijinit inițiativa prin încurajarea personalului său să viziteze fosta lor scoala pe durata concediilor în țările lor de origine. Un promotor puternic al acțiunii a fost Margot Wallström, fostă comisar UE.

Primul organism care a adoptat oficial inițiativa “Înapoi la școală”, la scară mai largă, a fost Președinția germană a Consiliului Uniunii Europene. Aproximativ 200 de germani, personal din administratia națională și UE, au vizitat fostele lor școli în perioada ianuarie-iunie 2007.

Mai multe despre această actiune în articolele viitoare de pe acest blog.

Posted in Culture, Cultures and communication | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Maastricht’s Saint Servatius, the oldest preserved church

Dutch people claim that Saint Servatius Basilica, or Sint-Servaasbasiliek in Dutch, is the oldest preserved church in the Netherlands. And I believe them.

The church is named after Servatius, who died at Maastricht in 384. Servatius was an Armenian missionary who became the bishop of Tongeren, which is today a city between Maastricht and Liège, in Belgium.

The Church recently gained the title of Basilica and is the most interesting building of the 12th century on the River of Meuse.

The building mainly features a Romanesque architectural style, with half-circular arches. It looks massive, with solid walls and impressive piers.

The Basilica has a central portal with stone decorations, which enhance a stunning façade.


The Basilica is a national monument and measures 85 with 42.5 m. The tower is 56 m high.

The construction of the Basilica took place in three time periods between the 10th and 12th century. A number of Gothic and Baroque elements were introduced between the 13th and 18th century.

A number of lateral chapels, richly decorated with paintings, religious objects and stained glass windows, impress the visitors.

Posted in Culture, Cultures and communication, Travelling | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Maastricht’s notable time dimension

While visiting Maastricht one does not need to wear a watch. There are clocks everywhere and one can read the time either from a street clock or from the clocks decorating a number of old buildings. The clocks work well, so there is no reasons to be late or to ignore the time dimension, which is essential in the Netherlands.

Maastricht’s time stamps are visible in each corner of the city. As a time dimension sign, Maastricht is one-of-a-kind place enriched with beautiful street clocks and old buildings holding clocks of all colours and from different ages of history.

Street clock Maastricht

Street clock in Maastricht

Some of the city’s secular buildings are designed in Gothic style while many others are genuine pieces of Baroque, Romanesque and Renaissance architecture.

Maastricht Town Hall


Built in the 17th century by Pieter Post, the Maastricht Town Hall is a relevant example of the Dutch Baroque architecture. The building has got a beautiful hexagonal façade clock tower.

Het Dinghuis


This is a medieval courthouse, which was built in Gothic style around 1470. On top of it there is a tower with a silhouette visible from many corners of the city. On the main façade there is an impressive clock with only one hand. The clock bell still works today. Nowadays the building houses the Maastricht Tourist Office.



Sint-Janskerk or St. John Church is one of the most iconic buildings in the centre of Maastricht. The building tower houses a beautiful clock in four faces, so anyone can check the time from any angle. The clock bell bears the name of “gate clock”.

Maastricht Railway station


The station brick building was built in 1913. On its main façade George Willem van Heukelom, the designer, placed a beautiful clock.

Theater Aan Het Vrijthof in Vrijthof Square


This building serves as a playhouse and is located on one side of Vrijthof, the city main square. The house can accommodate about 850 people in the main room. There is no clock on the building, but the one of the Sint-Janskerk tower is very visible.

Posted in Culture, Cultures and communication, Travelling | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment