A reader writes:
Excellent photo. Just a glimpse of a view that could be anywhere in Europe but probably has enough clues that someone will narrow it down. The architecture is distinctive, the statue of Madonna and Child on top of the dome is rare, the old wall with minimal windows looks centuries old. Our first thought was Verona or Venice. But it feels like the street is on a slope rather than flat ground. And the thin brown slats in the window makes me think it is by the sea. Genoa? Marseille? Naples? Our final guess is Sicily, Italy.
I have done zero research in coming up with this answer, other than flipping through my memory of past European holidays and finding so much about this view familiar: the rustic finish of the wall of the building to the right, the living greenery coming from the building next door, the statue with the billowing robe, the shutters on the window in the foreground, the small strip of a more modern building on the left, the beautiful old cupola peeking in at the center of the photo. I’m reminded of Florence, and when I think of my trip there I think of what a small world we live in.
Our reader follows up:
Okay, I cheated. I sent the link for the contest to my sister and her boyfriend (my fellow travelers in Florence). She suggested that this might be the Salzburg Cathedral. I Googled and it absolutely resembles it. I don’t have any special story from my visit to Salzburg, except that it is one of the most beautiful towns. Oh, and the salt mine tour was great, as was The Sound of Music Tour. And great beer.
The deep blue sky, masonry on the nearby wall, and architectural elements of the church (especially the statue) all make me think this is a Catholic country in the southern Mediteranean or Adriatic. I will guess Dubrovnik, Croatia, because I visited ten years ago and images like this one compose my memories.
Dubrovnik? This looks like a side view of the Church of St. Blaise (patron saint of sore throats).
True story. Another:
Its been a while since I’ve lived in Buenos Aires, but could that be the La Recoleta Cemetery? There’s many of those statue styles littered throughout, and those ‘houses’ look a little like the housing gravesites within the compound. A very cool place, actually.
The minute I saw the photo for your new VFYW contest I knew the answer! I’ve been going there for years and recently I had the pleasure of taking my five-year-old son there for the very first time. I’m sure I’m not the only reader to know that this photo is, indeed, the Italy Pavilion at EPCOT, Disney World, Florida!
Valencia, Spain? I’ve been following this contest enough to know that nobody ever wins who sends an e-mail starting with “That looks just like a place I’ve been!” But, really, it immediately reminded me of Valencia, so there we go.
Oh my God! I got one!
This is the Basílica de la Merced in Barcelona, Spain.
I wish I was able to share a lovely story about how I stayed in that very room during my honeymoon, or my great grandparents were married in that church during the Spanish Civil War, or how I found shelter in that church during a storm while traveling through Barcelona. The simple truth is I did a Google image search for “statue of Virgin Mary on top of church” and my laptop screen was filled with images.
About two dozen readers correctly guessed the basilica. One submitted this stunning photo:
I lived in Barcelona for six years and my first flat was on a street parallel to the basilica. Passed by it regularly on my way to and from the Sant Sebastia beach and it never failed to freak me out. Because she’s tilting forward, she looks more like the Wicked Witch of the West than anything else.
A close-up from a reader:
A guess, but looks like a corner of the old bishop’s residence behind the cathedral in the old quarter of Barcelona. I was a student there in the ’70s, living in a pension nearby for a dollar a day (50 cents extra to take a shower). By the way, I’ve given the book to many friends, all love it. Thanks.
I lived and studied in the city for a year. The old city is truely unique, and the mix of architectural styles really jumped out at me. Also, the style of the window shutters and balcony railing was very similar to one of the apartments I lived in there. It took me a little while to narrow the statue down, since it’s actually hard to see from most angles from the street. But it is quintessentially Barcelona. The statue is of “La Merce”, who is the patron saint of Barcelona. There is a great Churro shop right down the street my friends and I used to frequent, there is a building of Universitat Pompeu Fabra on the other side of the plaza de la Merce, which makes it a popular student haunt.
I love this picture because it exemplifies the depth of Barcelona’s many offerings. It is not simply the home of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, or the beach, or an outstanding nightlife, but a truly lovely city with many hidden treasures, including this beautiful church, or the fantastic Picasso Museum that is a 10 minute walk away. I can almost taste the manchego cheese, olives, and sangria!
Of the two dozen correct readers, three have nailed a difficult window in the past but haven’t won yet. Coincidentally, two of them attempted only one other window in the past and both got Paris right. The third is a weekly contributor, however, and thus wins this time around:
Oh good – a prominent landmark this week! After searching for various combinations of “Madonna,” “statue,” “upraised arm,” and narrowing it down to first “Sicily” and then “Spain,” I finally came upon someone’s vacation photo of the Basilica de la Merced in Barcelona. From there Google Maps and Street View helped me pinpoint the window in the second floor apartment at 19 Carrer Ample, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain:
Where’s my prize?!
In the mail.