Fort Fincastle at dusk

Overlooking downtown Nassau in The Bahamas, Fort Fincastle was built of limestone in 1793 as part of the islands’ defenses against the threat of pirates.  An oddly shaped little thing, it’s one of three surviving forts in Nassau.

Fort Fincastle at dusk

Roughly teardrop-shaped, Fort Fincastle has the advantage of sitting atop the highest point on the island, and has a great view of Nassau and its harbor. It once hosted 6 cannon and a howitzer, but none was ever fired in anger.

On guard

This little figure is part of the decoration on the Temple of the Warriors in the Maya ruins of Chichén Itzá, Mexico:

On guard

I’m not sure how tall he is, since he’s mounted at a significant height off the ground, and can’t be seen from up close — you need a reasonably long lens and some perspective correction software to get a shot like this.  Still, if you look closely, you can see that the figure is emerging from the jaws of a feathered serpent, with most of the serpent’s details carved in bas-relief into the building’s stones.

Hanging on for dear life

We recently took a family “spring break” trip out to Washington D.C.  As part of a “behind the scenes” tour of the National Cathedral, I spotted this little gargoyle through a tiny window in a service door:

Hanging on for dear life

Even from just a few steps away from the door, it took 110mm of focal length (220 in full frame terms) to capture the little guy.

Denver’s Union Station, architecture, and how not to treat a nice lens

Denver’s in the process of reworking the core of its mass transit system, and since part of the new work had a grand opening last weekend, my daughter and I hopped on a light rail train to check things out.  The core of all the work will soon be Denver’s Union Station — rebuilt in 1914, and currently in the process of renovation into a high-end hotel.

But the light rail stop that used to sit directly behind (to the Northwest of) Union Station got relocated about a quarter mile further west.  So what to do with the space between?

Walking the Concourse

Why, build an underground bus station, naturally.  The idea was to make a bus station that looks more like an airport concourse than a stereotypical bus station — and if you ask me, they were fully successful in that.  I’m not sure, but suspect that the yellow tile trimming the walls is a hat-tip to the similarly-colored tile used in the original Union Station train tunnels (check out the cover of The Fray’s self-titled second album for a historical peek at them).

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Temple of the Cormorants

An angled shot of Building 2 (Temple of the Cormorants) at the ancient Maya ruins of Dzibanché in Quintana Roo, México:

Building 2 and steps

Dzibanché is an amazing little site to visit — it doesn’t get the press of the bigger sites (so there are never crowds), but it still has lots of interesting structures to see.

The Temple of the Cormorants is the site’s tallest structure, but sadly you can’t climb it.  Still, plenty to see from ground level.  This structure contains three burial chambers, one stacked atop the next in its core.  In the bottom one, archaeologists found the tomb of a member of the city’s elite, with a wealth of grave goods — including a polychrome vessel decorated with cormorants (giving the structure its modern name).

This shot’s taken from the northwest of the building — even from here you can see some of the structure’s many layers of construction, and you can just make out the stucco carvings under the sheltering roofs along the steps on its side.

Palacio Sur

On the south end of the Maya ruins of Sayil, Mexico (along the “Puuc Route“):

Palacio Sur

Did I mention this is down on the south end of Sayil? It’s a good kilometer south of the bulk of the ruins, but a pretty easy walk (carry water, naturally). This was originally a 2-storey structure, but the top floor has completely collapsed. The Puuc Classic Mosaic false columns (they’re limestone veneer) on its façade are pretty impressive, though.