From a distance, she looks pretty good. But there’s more to her story.
I took this photo last fall of the Polk County Courthouse in downtown Bolivar, Missouri. I’ve always thought the statue of Lady justice on top appeared unusually large. In fact, she is about thirteen feet tall (six feet shorter than the Statue of Freedom that tops the U.S. Capitol) and was placed on the building when it opened in 1907, according to the Bolivar Herald Free-Press. The statue is hollow and is supported by an 8-inch by 8-inch oak beam.
From a distance, she looks pretty good. But there’s more to her story.
In her earlier years, Lady Justice held a sword that was 5-1/2 feet long in her right hand. In her left hand were the scales of justice. Unfortunately, time and the elements have removed both.
In 2001, someone found the sword on the courthouse lawn; strong storms and winds had pulled it down. It had likely been weakened by a crack in one seam on the handle, according to this article. There are no plans to replace either the sword or the scales, since they are difficult to attach and maintain.
There are also no plans to fix other damages—such as bullet holes— to the statue. Long ago, pigeons perched on and around the statue and some locals decided to keep the birds in check. As a result, Lady Justice is riddled with holes, including one on a big toe that’s since been repaired, and another hole right between her eyes, a commissioner said.
So there Lady Justice stands… empty-handed, full of holes, and obscured by her great height. Yes, it’s lonely at the top.
Thanks for reading! You can travel around the world or you can travel in your own backyard. It’s how you look at what’s around you. Click “like” and become a follower for more travel stories.
Olympia, Greece was worth three bus rides and a taxi
Yesterday, we toured the Sanctuary of Olympia, the mammoth archaeological site at Olympia, Greece. Thanks to the Olympic Games, I would venture to say that most of us have heard of this site. However, I myself didn’t realize that there was virtually a complete city in this location, in addition to the athletic contests.
Above is a diagram of the Olympia site that our AirBnb host showed us when we arrived at our apartment. See what I mean by city?!
It’s a good thing the archaeologists and designers placed an ample supply of informational placards around the site so people like me can understand and appreciate more of what they’re seeing.
To summarize, the placards placed at two locations near the front of the site read as follows:
“In this place Zeus, father of the Olympian gods, was worshipped, and splendid athletic contests, the Olympic Games, were celebrated. In the cella of the temple of Zeus was placed the enthroned gold-and-ivory made cult statue of the god, work of the famous Greek sculptor Pheidias, one of the seven wonders of the antiquity. Here too, nowadays the ceremony of lighting the flame for the modern Olympic Games is held.”
After I read those placards, I looked around and here was my first thought: this place is huge.
As I gazed across the grounds, as far as I could see were partially reconstructed colonnades, temples, baths, workshops, dwellings, and myriad other structures.
This ability to see layers upon layers of excavations is the one major difference when I compare Olympia to Mycenae and Delphi, two other sites we had just seen during the previous three days.
At Mycenae and Delphi, you can definitely survey the sites across a hillside or from a high point (The Citadel at Mycenae, the Stadium at Delphi); however, at Olympia, you are looking through the site.
For example, before you stands the colonnade of Palaistra. Beyond that, however, you see the impressive Tholos, and beyond that you see the standing columns of the Temple of Hera, and beyond that you see the multi-tiered Nymphaion aqueduct fountain, through which you see the arched entrance to the stadium, the site of the first Olympic Games in 776 BC.
In other words, from any spot at Olympia, you will see layer upon layer of ruins in various stages of reconstruction. And then compressed between all those layers are stashes of more pieces.
Perhaps a field of column drums, a row of lion head water spouts, a random six-foot-tall triglyph, a plot of Ionic column drums, then a plot of Doric drums, then a composition of more rare Corinthian capitals.
So many pieces and parts, but if you need a quick list of the top sights within Olympia, I think they would be:
The Temple of Zeus
The Temple of Hera
Workshop of Pleiades
The Palaistra , which includes the Colonnade
What’s more, when you tour the park, you will walk right among most of the artifacts and monuments and stones. You may even walk right on the original marble steps placed in this city of 2,500 years ago.
There are 1/2″-inch ropes that show you where you can and can’t go, and if you stray where you shouldn’t, you’ll hear a park employee sitting on a nearby park bench remind you with a sharp blast on a whistle.
Late last night, one couple climbed upon a large “rock” to see the floor of the Temple of Zeus, which was roped off unfortunately. (You can see them in the picture below.) Suddenly, a shrill blast! They didn’t hear or didn’t recognize their offense. Another blast! They looked around, the park employees shouted something in Greek, and down they jumped.
Perhaps they didn’t realize they were standing on an architectural relic. After all, there are so many stones EVERYWHERE.
To be safe, when you’re at Olympia, assume that any rock is not actually a rock, but rather an artifact. If you want to sit down for a bit, look for an actual park bench. There are several. That’s the safest bet.
Or head over to the Olympia Archaeological Museum.
Although Olympia takes some planning to reach, it’s definitely worth the visit.
The site and museums are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Adult tickets are 12€ each. You can leave and return later in the day to any of the sites and even return the next day to continue your visit or see more. We arrived at the archaeological site at 8:30 a.m. and left about two and a half hours later. Tour bus groups arrived around 10.
As it was getting quite hot, we left at 10:40, went out for gyros and a soda, and then returned to the air-conditioned museum for about two hours in the afternoon.
Later that evening, we returned to the archaeological site to see more and take pictures with the sun coming from a different angle.
The modern city of Olympia is a beautiful little city that is literally about two blocks from the archaeological site. I’ll write a short post about the town tomorrow. Our AirBnb host told us the permanent population is only about 700 people!
Thanks for reading! Click like, leave a comment and follow my blog for more stories about travelling in Greece.
Yes, you can call Nikos Rodios a Greek pottery legend, but you can also call him the juggler of Skopelos. When we arrived at his studio Saturday morning in Skopelos Town, Rodios was waiting for a large bowl to dry on his “extra” potters wheel. (He uses a traditional kickwheel for the majority of his work. ) The bowl was slowly acquiring the malleability needed to remove it from the wheel without collapsing. It wouldn’t be long. The mild Aegean breeze flowing through the open doors of the studio would see to that.
At the same time, Rodios was also polishing and finishing a load of pottery that had been unloaded earlier from his brick kiln (it burns olive tree wood) that stands just outside the door behind his studio. The pieces were arranged on a counter… an assortment of vases, animal figures, and bowls. And then some visitors walked in: us. See what I mean when I use the term juggler?
But juggling is the nature of ceramics… it’s a busy, start-and-stop process that requires both flexibility in one’s routine, and a keen eye for scheduling and working a medium that waits for no one and simultaneously takes its own time. The Rodios family knows this routine very well.
Our visit had been arranged by Jill Somer, associate director of the island’s Skopelos Foundation for the Arts, also known as Skopart. Somer interpreted conversations about techniques, clay bodies, and terra sigilattas (slip-like liquids) between Rodios and my husband, Mitch, who is serving an artist’s residency at Skopart.
Rodios and Mitch are each testing the practicability of using terra sigillatas with both Skopart’s red earthenware clay, which Mitch is using during his residency, and Rodios’ proprietary claybody.
Fans of ceramics in general and contemporary Greek pottery in particular revere Nikos Rodios for carrying on a tradition begun by his grandfather, Nikolaos Rodios. In the early 1900s, Nikolaos focused on producing decorative forms reminiscent of classical Greek pottery.
At the same time, he desired that his work feature a permanent, bold black surface. After experimenting to find the precise combination of clay bodies, colorants, and firing temperatures—potters are chemists in disguise, if you didn’t know—Nikolaos was awarded a patent for his technique in 1930. You can view the patent certificate, assigned the number 2981, on display in the workshop.
As the years continued, Nikolaos passed the family secret to his son, who in turn passed it down to today’s Nikos Rodios.
After we spent a short while admiring Rodios’ newly fired pottery, he led us to a large wooden display case hanging on another wall.
It contains a diverse collection of pottery made by the previous two generations of Rodios. Vases of all heights are on display. Some are short and bulbous, others are elongated and elegant. Each alludes to classical Greek forms.
It’s humbling to witness the current members of a family respect the hard work and innovation accomplished by their ancestors. It’s also gratifying to know that the next generation, Nikos’ daughter Magda, is building on the legacy left to her.
At a workbench near the sunny back window, Magda helped her father polish some of the items from the kiln. She adds her own creative flair to the family business with bright, colorful earthenware mugs, serving pieces, jewelry, and decor items.
After greetings us, Magda took a break from her work to retrieve a plastic water bottle that she had filled recently with a mixture of water and a local black clay. She explained that she hopes the mixture will someday soon yield an interesting clay. She brushed a bit of it onto a pottery shard. The watery part of the mixture instantly soaked into the shard and left a gritty residue on the surface.
Who knows? With time and attention, the sludgy, gritty solution may indeed transform itself into a native Skopelos clay.
We then walked across the street to the pottery shop that bears the Rodios name. The shop carries a wide variety of both decorative and functional ware, from wall hangings to coffee mugs and jewelry.
Inside, Maria, Rodios’ wife greeted us and spoke briefly with her husband about the wares he had carried over from his studio. He added a few pieces to the stone-and-glass shelving units, and agreed to motor over to Skopart in a few days for a quick visit with Jill and the artists working there (students from Gulf Coast State College, painter Victoria Phillips from Macon, Georgia, and Mitch).
Then he said his goodbyes and sauntered back to his studio across the street. He had some more juggling to do.
Thanks for reading! Click “like” if you found this interesting and click “follow” for daily posts from our “workation” in Greece. After the residency concludes, we’ll be continuing our visit on the mainland and south to Crete (we think).