Saturday, 1 October 2011

A special place & a challenge

Last week's (week 31) theme for Picture Inspiration was "extreme crop". The challenge was to use a crop we would not normally do, would maybe not even think of. When I stepped into the church of San Giovanni Battista in Mogno, Ticino, last weekend, I knew I had found my challenge. And it certainly was a challenge, as the room was so stunning, I naturally wanted to capture it all.

And of course, I did shoot it all, inside and out. You didn't really expect me not to, did you? :). The Chiesa Di San Giovanni Battista (Church of Saint John the Baptist) is located in the small village Mogno deep up the Maggia Valley. It was built by renowned Swiss architect Mario Botta between 1992 and 1996, after an avalanche had destroyed the old baroque village church as well as a great number of houses in 1986.

It's a fascinating building, which stands out but still fits in. It is built of stone, as are so many traditional houses and buildings in the valley. The stones are white marble and dark gneiss, both from stone quarries in the valley.

It's a small church, with room for just about 15 people. But then, the village of Mogno is a small place, and today, not even inhabited all year round anymore.

The interior is plain and simple. But the grey and white and the lines form fascinating geometrical patterns and the rooms feels so bright and airy.

It's a special place, a magical place, even if you're not very religious.

The church has no windows, all the light comes through the round glass roof, bathing the interior of the church in the light of sunny Ticino.

The light and shadows add to the geometrical patterns, forming new, dynamic lines on the walls.

We spent quite some time there, in and around the church. But eventually, we had to leave the place, as we had a train to catch later on. So off we drove, but took a quick stop further down the road, to cast one last glance at the place.

It was a wonderful day, and a wonderful weekend, and hopefully, not the last time I visited this special spot.


  1. Wow - that's the best modern church I've seen in a long time. It seems quite common in modern churches for the architect to concentrate on ways of "capturing God's light", but then everything else inside is incredibly cubist, grey and frankly boring. This is an absolute feast for the eyes though. I wondered at first if it was designed by MC Escher and the perspectives were all upside down!

    I think it's tremendous that, even for a tiny village, they have asked a trendy architect to create this modern masterpiece. I'm quite sure that just wouldn't happen here any more.

    Good to see you had a nice break, and took lots of photos. I'm struggling with the writing on top of the photography at the moment. I've got so many photos and I find the editing process so much more relaxing than the writing after a hard day's work. I took 500 photos from just the hat festival and still haven't finished editing them!! Ah well, it's all good for the soul.

  2. I've read somewhere that it took actually severall years until the church was built, as not everyone was happy with the modern, futuristic design. But I too think he did a splendid job.

    I'm not surprised that you're so busy with processing the photos from the festival, you did an excellent job taking all those pictures, and on top of that processing each of them individually and so fitting to the subject. I enjoy them a lot, it's almost like having been there as well. But I do hope you'll find some time again some time to write! :)

  3. What an amazing place! It's modern yet has an old world feel. Love the black and white patterns. Very appealing. And after all this time, I didn't even know you have a blog!