Minnesota State Capitol & IndiaFest

State Capitol, St. Paul, Minnesota
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Today, I stopped by India Fest at the Minnesota State Capitol and snapped photos of the capitol building and festival. I love (good) architecture, history and cultural events, so this was pretty much a perfect recipe for a weekend activity. The Red Cross Mobile Blood Bus was also on-site, so I made an impromptu donation. (PSA: Red Cross blood donations are the lowest in 15 years, so please consider donating, if you’re able.)

The Minnesota State Capitol was designed by Cass Gilbert and modeled after Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Did you know the unsupported marble dome is the second largest in the world after Saint Peter’s? (It was under renovation, so no photos of that today. In fact, there were scaffolding structures outside too, which made for an interesting challenge to photograph!)

A gilded quadriga called The Progress of the State depicts four horses, representing the power of nature: earth, wind, fire and water. The women riding in the back of the chariot symbolize civilization while the man standing at the front of the chariot represents prosperity.

IndiaFest celebrated the culture and heritage of India, and the country’s upcoming Independence Day on August 15, with traditional music and dancing, food (mmm, chicken biryani!), crafts and a parade. And, I even ran into my coworker Prachi!

Can you find the hidden “Bullseye”?

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey, London
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Given much of the news lately is on the 2012 London Olympic Games, I figured it was a good time to share photos from London, which I had the opportunity to visit last year. Some former colleagues and I walked around Westminster Abbey, among other touristy things, and there was lots of energy in the air, since Prince William and Kate’s wedding would be held the following month.

Westminster Abbey



Basilica of St. Mary

Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis
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There was a quiet serenity to Minneapolis’ Basilica of St. Mary as the sun faded, and I walked around the building on a weeknight post-rush hour. Constructed between 1907 and 1915 and designed by the same architect of the St. Paul Cathedral, it’s hard to imagine the contrast in activity in 1908 when 30,000 Catholics, 20 bishops, and 300 priests celebrated laying the cornerstone. The basilica is an example of Beaux-Arts architecture, a style likely most recognized in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal.

Built with Bethel White Granite from Vermont, the Basilica of St. Mary overlooks Loring Park and is located on a main thoroughfare, Hennepin Avenue. The street, the bridge crossing the Mississippi and our county are named after a Catholic priest, Father Louis Hennepin, who in the 1680’s brought the world’s attention to St. Anthony Falls, the only waterfall on the Mississippi River. I’ve lived in Minneapolis a combined seven years, and this is the first time I’ve learned this history. Thanks 365 blogging project.

Originally known as the Pro-Cathedral of Minneapolis, the church cost $1 million dollars to build and held its first Mass in 1914. In 1926, the Catholic Church designated the pro-cathedral the Basilica of Saint Mary, making it the first basilica in the United States.

Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis
Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis
Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis

Bahá’í House of Worship

Baha'i Temple, Wilmette
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The Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Ill. is one of only seven Baha’i temples in the world. Its quiet serenity reflects the spiritual truths of 5 million people who practice the Baha’i Faith: the oneness of God, the oneness of humanity and the oneness of religion. Founded in Persia (now Iran), Bahá’ís believe that throughout history God has revealed Himself and His teaching to humanity through a series of divine messengers including: Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad.

Today, there are more than 155,00 Bahá’ís in the U.S., with the largest populations in California, Georgia, Illinois, South Carolina and Texas. The temple in Wilmette is circular in shape, has nine sides and is encircled by gardens and fountains. The single dome symbolizes the unity of all people and religions under God.

Whatever your religious beliefs, this temple’s intricate architecture is, quite simply, stunning. If your travels take you to Chicago, I highly encourage you to visit the Baha’i House of Worship. It’s a worthy retreat, and its beauty will assuredly take your breath away.

Baha'i Temple, WilmetteBaha'i Temple, Chicago

Baha'i Temple, Chicago
“The towers are intertwined with all the religious symbols of the past, demonstrating to each beholder of any religion: welcome to this Temple exemplifying universal brotherhood.” – Louis Bourgeois, architect of the temple.
Baha'i Temple

Baha'i Temple
Baha'i Temple