Monday, October 31, 2011

Cryptic Message

It's Halloween so a picture of a graveyard is entirely appropriate. This lovely old cemetery in the centre of Georgetown in Penang is interesting to wander through and has a large range of differently designed tombstones. I like the cryptic epitaph written on this headstone:

Erected by his shipmates and friends
Father in thy gracious keeping
Leave we now thy servant sleeping

Have a great Halloween.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Goodbye to Udbye

This is the grave of Martin Andreas Udbye at the Nidaros Cathedral graveyard in Trondheim, Norway. Martin Andreas Udbye (June 18, 1820 – January 10, 1889, Trondhjem) was a Norwegian composer and organist. He was born in Trondheim, Norway to Ole Jonsen Tollrorskar Udbye (1785-1856) and Birgitte Øien (1781-1866). Udbye was employed as a teacher at Domsognets primary school in Trondheim, where he worked from 1838 until 1844 when he became the organist at Church Hospital in Trondheim. In 1851, Udbye took a trip to Leipzig, where he concentrated on organ and composition. The following year he was back in his hometown, where he was hired as a music teacher at the Trondheim Cathedral School.
Largely self-taught, he produced an impressive output of diverse and complex works including the first Norwegian opera, Fredkulla. Part of Norway's first opera was promoted locally in Trondheim during 1858 and met with enthusiasm.
Nidaros Cathedral is a Church of Norway cathedral located in the city of Trondheim in Sør-Trøndelag county, Norway. It was the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Nidaros from its establishment in 1152 until its abolition in 1537. Since the Reformation, it has been the cathedral of the Lutheran bishops of Trondheim (or Nidaros) in the Diocese of Nidaros. The architectural style of the cathedral is Romanesque and Gothic. Historically it was an important destination for pilgrims coming from all of Northern Europe. It is the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Guardian of The Gate

This imposing statue at the entrance of a Ubud Palace (Puri Saren) on Bali appears to be like a guard on duty preventing the entry of any unwanted guests.

Puri Saren Ubud (Ubud Palace) is an Ubud Kingdom Palace with beautiful Balinese traditional houses as a residence of the Ubud King. It is set in the center of Ubud Bali with a traditional art market just in front of it and was founded by Ida Tjokorda Putu Kandel who commanded from year 1800 - 1823. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Foodie Friday

Remembering your favorites meals is easy with your i-Phone when out for a dinner. Looking at these scallops I can almost remember the sweet delicate taste and texture.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Best Concert Halls of The World

As well as being one of the oldest in the world, The Vienna State Opera is the oldest and longest running opera in the Germanic countries. The Vienna State Opera performs over 50 operas and 15 ballets in their 300 day season. The construction of the original building began in 1863 and ended in 1869, however, during World War II, the building was ravaged by fire and bombs. The stage and the theater's 150,000+ costumes and props were lost. The theater reopened on November 5, 1955.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chion-in Temple, Kyoto

Monks chanting at Chion-in Temple, Kyoto, Japan by HighlanderImages

Chion-in in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan is the headquarters of the Jodo Shu (Pure Land Sect) founded by Hōnen (1133–1212), who proclaimed that sentient beings are reborn in Amida Buddha's Western Paradise (Pure Land) by reciting the nembutsu, Amida Buddha's name.
The vast compounds of Chion-in include the site where Hōnen settled to disseminate his teachings and the site where he died.

The original temple was built in 1234 by Hōnen's disciple, Genchi (1183–1238) in memory of his master and was named Chion-in. While the temple was affiliated more closely in the early years with the Seizan branch of Jodo Shu, its 8th head priest, Nyoichi (1262–1321) was deeply influenced by the priest Ryōkū, a disciple of Ryōchū who was the 3rd head of the Chinzei branch of Jodo Shu Buddhism, and disciple of Bencho. 

By 1450, Chion-in had become fully under control of the Chinzei branch, but had little direct control, due to the outbreak of the Onin War. Numerous buildings in the complex were burnt down in 1633, but were entirely rebuilt by the third Tokugawa Shogun Iemitsu (1604–51) with the palatial structures that stand today.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Penang Shutters

This is a lovely example of a renovated shophouse in Penang with beautiful wooden window shutters and ornate wall moldings to maintain the heritage style of the building. Again you can see the use of the traditional blue wall paint made from a natural dye from the indigo plant.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rusty Cycle

Walking along the beach you never know what you are going to come across with a multitude of discarded objects being washed ashore. This old bicycle was seriously eroded and rusted so I thought this would be a good candidate for a little black and white post-processing with SilverEfex Pro then bringing back some selected colors to the rusty frame.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Siena Cathedral

The Cathedral of Siena (Italian: Duomo di Siena), dedicated from its earliest days as a Roman Catholic Marian church and now to Santa Maria Assunta (Most Holy Mary of Assumption), is a medieval church in Siena, central Italy.
The cathedral itself was originally designed and completed between 1215 and 1263 on the site of an earlier structure. It has the form of a Latin cross with a slightly projecting transept, a dome and a bell tower. The dome rises from a hexagonal base with supporting columns. The lantern atop the dome was added by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The nave is separated from the two aisles by semicircular arches. The exterior and interior are constructed of white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, with addition of red marble on the façade. Black and white are the symbolic colors of Siena, etiologically linked to black and white horses of the legendary city's founders, Senius and Aschius.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Waldorf Hotel

This is the Waldorf Hotel ..... not the famous one you probably know in Vancouver, New York or London but this is the Waldorf Hotel, Penang. Situated directly opposite the Cheong Fatt Tze's Blue Mansion in Leith Street, Georgetown this is a budget hotel and certainly no where close to the grandeur of the more famous Waldorf Hotels.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Yes it's iPhone Friday again!

Neroteca is a lovely small Italian restaurant in central Kuala Lumpur which is different from many of the local Italian restaurants in that it is distinctly non-halal. The menu abounds with pork products and they have probably the largest selection of imported Italian pro products in the city. A great spot for lunch or dinner. This shot was me experimenting with my iPhone and the wonderful Snapseed post-processing application which produced this textured and framed finish.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hmong Hill Tribe Woman

Hmong (Meo) is the second largest group of the hill tribes who live largely around Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Tak Provinces and are often seen in the local night markets, selling their handicrafts, exquisite needlework, and tribal clothing. The women are notable for their bulky hairstyles, enhanced by hairpieces. Hmong, often seen on treks, divide themselves into the White and Blue subdivisions, based on the favored colors of their traditional costumes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Indonesian Gambang

Indonesian Gambang by HighlanderImages

A gambang, properly called a gambang kayu ('wooden gambang') is a xylophone-like instrument used among peoples of Indonesia and the southern Philippines in gamelan and kulintang, with wooden bars as opposed to the metallic ones of the more typical metallophones in a gamelan. A largely obsolete instrument, the gambang gangsa, is a similar instrument made with metal bars.

The bars of the instrument are made of a dense wood, generally teak. It also found in ironwood (kayu besi). The bars mounted in a deep wooden case that serves as a resonator. Instruments typically have 17-21 keys that are easily removed, and are kept in place by having a hole through which a nail is placed. Generally a full gamelan has two sets, one gambang pelog and the other one gambang slendro.
A pair of long thin mallets (tabuh), made of flexible water buffalo horn tipped with felt, are used to play the instrument. Gambangs are generally played in parallel octaves (gembyang). Occasionally, other styles of playing are employed such as playing kempyung which are playing two notes separated by two keys. Unlike most other gamelan instruments, no dampening is required, as the wood does not ring like the metal keys of other instruments.
The gambang is used in a number of gamelan ensembles. It is most notable in the Balinese gamelan Gambang. In Javanese wayang, it is used by itself to accompany the dalang in certain chants. Within a full gamelan, it stands out somewhat because of the high speed of playing, and contrasting timbre because of its materials and more because it has a wider melodic range than the other instruments.
In Javanese gamelan, the gambang plays cengkok like the other elaborating instruments. However, the repertoire of cengkok for the gambang is more rudimentary than for other instruments (for instance, the gendér), and a great deal of variation is accepted.

The gambang gangsa has a similar construction, although it generally has fewer keys (typically 15) and is thus somewhat smaller. It has largely been replaced by the saron family of instruments. It was formerly thought to have been a forerunner of the one-octave saron, although more recent evidence, including the appearance of the saron in reliefs at Borobudur in the 9th century, indicate that the instruments are of the same age or that the one-octave saron is older.
In early 19th century writings on the Javanese gamelan, it seems to have been played like the gambang kayu; that is, as an elaborating instrument. Later, by 1890, it seems to have merely substituted for a saron, and have been restricted to a small range. Mantle Hood associated this use of limited range to a preference for certain octave arrangements of the cadences in various pathet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Crumbling Architecture

This is another good example of an abandoned and decaying building in Penang, Malaysia. It was no doubt a grand building back in its day but now the roof has gone, the walls are crumbling and then trees are taking over. The contrast between this old building and the modern new buildings in the background is quite pronounced

Monday, October 17, 2011

Slippery Senoritas

This interesting side street in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia had a row of bars and clubs but it was this one that stood out to me simply by its name. It's sometimes sad to see these old buildings being converted into trashy modern entertainment outlets but perhaps better than being left to rot and decay.

Unfortunately I didn't revisit this particular establishment later in the evening to test out the quality of their tapas or salsa .... or even more importantly to check out the slippery senoritas. Perhaps next time.

At the very least the title of this blog may cause some increased hits on my site ......

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kuan Yin Temple, Penang

These large incense sticks outside this temple in Georgetown, Penang looked to me like large pink cigarettes! This is the Kuan Yin Temple and is probably one of the oldest temples in Penang. The Goddess of Mercy or Kuan Yin is perhaps one of the noticeable figures of all Buddhist deities in Penang today. She enlightened and embodies the attributes of benevolence and unshakable loving compassion that is accessible to everyone.

The popularity of Kuan Yin as a beautiful white-robed goddess filled with pure devotion and compassion are well known to the people of Penang. Kuan Yin statue is commonly found in homes and Buddhist temples in various incarnations, often cloaked in white robes.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Backstreets of Brugge

When I travel I usually like to get off the beaten track and the well travelled tourist routes and quite often just dive down any alley or back lane to try and discover the real local life. This small back lane in Brugge, Belgium is a good example of what delights you can find down these small streets. These small houses were all very well maintained and this one had beautifully painted doors and windows with decorative flower boxes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ipoh Tauge (beansprout)

Ipoh in Malaysia is well known for its wonderful street food and one of the most famous dishes is the Ipoh chicken rice usually served up with a large plate of bean sprouts (locally called tauge). These wonderful fresh, fat, juicy bean sprouts are basically blanched for a matter of a few seconds in boiling water and then served with soya sauce and usually a springing of pepper.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Street Life

This is unfortunately still a common sight in Siem Reap, Cambodia with children and whole families living on the street. These two children had been left to sleep by the roadside while the mother probably headed off to try and find or beg for some food.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Bells of Laguardia

Laguardia church bells by HighlanderImages

This is the small hill town of Laguardia in the La Rioja wine district of North Spain. Laguardia is one of the most perfectly preserved medieval villages in Spain. It is also located right in Rioja wine country and is the perfect base for your wine tour of Spain's most well known red wine region. Laguardia is a medieval hill hamlet (called "villa" in Spanish), reminiscent of Tuscan hilltop villages. It is surrounded by an ancient wall, and has a delightful jumble of cobblestoned streets lined with "Tabernas", wine shops, palaces, and cafes. Laguardia was founded in the year 1164 by King Sancho Abarca, and the spectacularly preserved wall dates back to the 15th century. The entire village became protected as Patrimony of Spain in 1964. The name "Laguardia" originates from "La Guardia de Navarra", the "Guard" of Navarra, referring to its strategic importance in the kingdom of Navarre.
Before the medieval village was built (as we can see today), deep tunnels were carved out in the hill and the village of Laguardia was actually underground. The tunnels were used as a defence tactic, but over the centuries came to be used to store wine and eventually to even make wine. In 1486, Laguardia was incorporated into the Kingdom of the Catholic Monarchs (Isabel and Ferdinand), who would unite the kingdoms of Castille and Aragon in 1492, to form what is now "Spain", and the village was built on top of the existing village. The medieval wall was erected as were many aristocratic palaces, many of them restored and still standing. In the 19th century, much of the medieval wall was destroyed during the "Carlista" wars and the War of Independence.
These days, Laguardia is a wealthy hamlet, full of gourmet restaurants, charming small hotels, beautiful views over vines and the amazing backdrop of the Cantabrian Mountains. Whether you visit Laguardia with Cellar Tours or on your own, the important thing is that you come to spend a few days and that you eat and drink well. A visit to Laguardia is like stepping back in time, and the village is simply one of the loveliest places you could hope to visit in Spain.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bukit Tinggi Japanese Gardens

Japanese gardens are always so soothing and this one is surprisingly located close to the top of a jungle-clad hill in Malaysia on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

At 3,500 feet above sea level on Bukit Tinggi is the Zen-inspired Japanese Village, where you can stroll along the landscaped Japanese Garden. And if you feel like it, you can rejuvenate at the Tatami Spa or participate in a tea drinking ceremony at the authentic wooden Japanese Tea House.

This Japanese Village in the middle of a tropical forest is the work of a Japanese architect, Kaio Ariizumi. Together with other experts he designed the landscape according to the ambiance of a typical Japanese village, with stoned lightings, pebbled streams and pools with koi fishes and varieties of Japanese flora.

The Japanese garden here is artistically crafted, with bonsai trees and bamboo plants, small bridge crossing with cobbled stones, pool and waterfalls – elements of nature typical of a Japanese traditional village. Crossing the small bridge there is an authentic Japanese tea house, which is covered with Japanese tatami mat and door of paper with wooden frames. Here, guests can browse the exhibit on Japanese handicrafts and participate in a Japanese-style tea drinking ceremony.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tricked-Out Trishaw

These colourful trishaws can still be seen around Georgetown in Penang and can be hired for a tourist tour around the streets - certainly beats walking in the stifling heat. This trishaw rider is taking 5 and catching up with the news in the local newspaper.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

St. George's Church, Georgetown, Penang - The Oldest Anglican Church in SouthEast Asia

St. George's Church is the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia. Planning for the church began in 1817 and was completed the following year using convict labor during Bannerman's term as British Governor of Penang. The first marriage at the church took place in 1818 when W. E. Phillips married Janet Bannerman, the daughter of Colonel J. A. Bannerman. The roof of the church was originally flat, but was changed to a pitched roof in 1864. The building was heavily looted during World War II but restored later. On the grounds north of the church is a Greek-style temple dedicated to Francis Light, the British founder of Georgetown.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Blue Mansion

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion is located at 14 Leith Street, 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia. The mansion's indigo-blue outer wall makes it a very distinct building in the area and is locally known as the Blue Mansion.
The Circa 1880s mansion built by the merchant Cheong Fatt Tze at the end of 19th century has 38 rooms, 5 granite-paved courtyards, 7 staircases & 220 vernacular timber louvre windows. The architecture of the mansion however originates from the Su Chow Dynasty Period in China. Other features of the house include Gothic louvered windows, Chinese cut and paste porcelain work, Stoke-on-Trent floor tiles made of encaustic clay in geometric pieces all shaped to fit to form a perfect square, Glasgow cast iron works by MacFarlane's & Co. and Art Nouveau48 stained glass windows. The mansion was originally built with careful attention to the principles of Feng Shui. For example, it faces the sea and has Penang Hill behind it, a strategic placement boasting an un-imped view and a promontory at the rear for protection; the domestic annex is built in front of it to prevent any road being built to create a T-Junction in front of it; it has water running through a meandering network of pipes that begin from the eaves of the roof, channeled through the upper ceiling, down the walls collecting in the central courtyard before being channeled away from the property via a similar network of pipes, in this case, underneath the entire flooring system and is built with a step in the middle to create a slope (to ride on the dragons back).
The distinctive blue colour of the mansion is the result of mixing lime with natural blue dye made from the Indigo plant. The blue was very popular in the Colonial period and the dye was imported from India to Penang by the British. The lime-wash was very effective in a tropical weather as it absorbed moisture and cooled the house whilst dispelling moisture without damage to the structural integrity of the walls. Though white was the most easily-available colour, the indigo-blue was chosen as the former is a colour synonymous with death for the Chinese.
The mansion was purchased from Cheong Fatt Tze's descendants in 1989 by a group of local Penang individuals in order to save the edifice from encroaching development and possible demolition. While it remains until now, a private-residence, the property operates as a 16 Room Bed & Breakfast-cum-museum as part of the adaptive-reuse of an ongoing restoration project.
The mansion has been featured in various films including the 1993 Oscar-winning French film "Indochine" starring Catherine Deneuve, 'The Red Kebaya', "Road to Dawn', '3rd Generation' and the critically acclaimed 'The Blue Mansion' in 2009 by Singapore Director Glen Goei of 'Forever Fever' fame. The mansion has also been featured in programs broadcast on various international tv channels (CNN, BCC, The History Channel, Discovery Travel & Living).

Friday, October 07, 2011

Afternoon High Tea at Eastern & Oriental Hotel

Today's i-Phone Friday image was taken at the wonderful traditional English afternoon tea at the Eastern & Oriental (E&O) Hotel in Georgetown, Penang. Served in the 1885 Restaurant it's like turning the clock back 50 to 100 years, with starched white table covers, period furniture and service to match. Cucumber sandwiches, a selection of cakes and scones with cream and jam all washed down with a choice of fine teas all served on the best china.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Blue Indigo Window

This blue coloured shuttered window was photographed in Lorong Stewart in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia. The back streets and lanes of Georgetown are great to wander through to view old historical and heritage houses. I particularly like windows and doors and this window was a great example of that run-down, dilapidated and decaying style that I like in these Asian buildings. You can make out a blue colour in the surrounding walls as well as on the window shutters and this was a very typical colour used in the colonial period. The distinctive blue colour is made by mixing lime with the natural blue dye made from the indigo plant and this dye was imported from India during those days.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A Sad Day - Steve Jobs 1955-2011

"Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish"

Golden Hall Concert

Concert at Vienna's Musikverein by HighlanderImages

The Musikverein concert hall in Vienna, Austria is a magnificent venue and it certainly lives up to its "Golden Hall" name. The concert I attended was a classical concert of "favorite hits" played by the musicians in period costume which added a certain grandeur to the whole event. Hit the SoundCloud button above and enjoy some of the concert.

Wiener Musikverein, (English: "Viennese Music Association"), commonly shortened to The Musikverein, has a twofold meaning: it is the name of a famous Vienna concert hall, as well as the short name for the music society, Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde [Society of Music Friends], that owns the building. This building is located on Dumbastraße behind the Imperial Hotel, between Bösendorferstraße and Karlsplatz. However, because Bösendorferstraße is so small a street, the building is better known as being between Karlsplatz and Kärntner Ring (part of Ringstraße loop). The back of the building faces Canovagasse [Canova lane].

The concert hall was built by the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, on a piece of land given by Emperor Franz Joseph, and it was opened on January 6, 1870. A historic organ was installed in it by the Austrian firm Rieger, in 1907. The Musikverein is famous for its acoustics and is considered to be one of the five finest concert/opera venues in the world. None of these halls was built in the modern era with the application of acoustics science, and, with the partial exception of the horseshoe-shaped Colon, all share a long, tall, and narrow shape. It is the home to the Vienna Philharmonic. The Große Musikvereinssaal, or Goldene Saal (Golden Hall), is forty-eight metres long, nineteen metres wide, and eighteen metres high. It has 1,744 seats and standing room for 300. Every year, the Vienna New Year's Concert is held here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Heritage Buildings of Georgetown, Penang

Backstreets and lanes of historic towns like Georgetown, Ipoh and Malacca are a wonderful place to find some colorful old heritage style houses and shops. This corner house has had some rather unique renovation carried out as you can see with the tacked-on extra room made from corrugated iron. Of course I'm sure that proper planning permission was granted here and that these modifications adhere to good building practice and regulations!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Cambodian School Days

This little guy at the Sunrise Childrens' Village Orphanage in Siem Reap is trying to get a little assistance during his school lesson from the girl sitting next to him. Or perhaps he is using this as an excuse to get to know her .... who knows.

Orphanages such as the Sunrise Childrens' Village Orphanage do some tremendous work in this country offering a safe and comfortable environment and one in which the children can get lessons in maths, english, Khmer, arts, music, dancing and computer studies as well as good meals avery day and a bed to sleep in.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

St. Brycedale Church, Kirkcaldy

Today's church is close to home .... in fact it was my home! This is St. Brycedale Church in Kirkcaldy, Scotland as viewed from the cemetery of the Old Kirk which is situated just over the road. The church is now called St. Bryce Kirk when the two churches joined together in November, 2000. 

The Old Kirk is the oldest church in Kirkcaldy and is the Category B listed  parish church, on Kirk Wynd. The earliest mention of the Old Kirk is the record of its consecration in 1244 to St Brisse and St Patrick by David de BernhamBishop of St Andrews. The building's deterioration in the late eighteenth century resulted in major renovations in 1807. Only the square western tower, which dates from around 1500, was retained. In 2011 the Old Kirk was purchased by the Old Kirk Trust using a £75,000 loan from businessman John Sim, son of the late Reverend John Sim, minister of the church from 1960 to 1987. 

The story of St. Brycedale Church begins in 1843 when the Disruption of the Church of Scotland took place. In conflict with the idea of patronage, where the landowner / local gentry choses the minister, large numbers of clergy and laity left the national church. The result in Kirkcaldy was the establishing of a Free Church in Tolbooth Street.

When the premises became too small for the energetic and expanding congregation it was decided to build a new Church. The site at the top of Kirk Wynd - "in open parkland on the outskirts of the town" - was donated by Provost Don Swan in 1876 and the new church was designed to seat 1150 people. Also included in the plans were a vestry, a ladies' room, a young men's hall to hold 150 and a Sunday School room to hold 300. The spire was to be 200 feet high. And the cost? An estimated £11,500.
The architecture was Gothic of the 13th century, the structure being built of Fordell stone with the inside walls of the Tower being built of a hard stone from Gallatown Quarry. In March 1881 the church was officially opened.

Since 1881 there have been only eight Ministers serving in St. Brycedale. The development of the "new" St Brycedale Church was the brainchild of the present Minister, the Rev. J. Kenneth Froude, centring on the recognition that the building was extravagantly large for the needs of the relatively small gathered downtown congregation who used it only once a week for just over an hour.
The old church has been divided in two, horizontally at the level of the gallery, creating a two-storey structure. The upper part is now the Sanctuary, still a very large church as can be seen in the inside view of the building. The lower part, at ground level, consists of two large and several smaller rooms, an open reception area and a coffee bar. These new facilities allow more flexible use of the premises. The Church Centre which is open all day, every day, for people of all ages - from toddlers to senior citizens - is used by many organisations and charities and the general public.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Birthplace of the Black Russian Cocktail

I love old hotels with character and the Metropole Hotel in Brussels, Belgium is a fine example of one that I have stayed at. 

The Hotel Metropole, built in 1895, is the only nineteenth-century hotel in Brussels still in operation today. The hotel has 298 rooms and 15 suites.
In 1890, two brothers with a brewing company opened Café Metropole as a place in the city to sell their beer. The café was a huge success and the Weilemans-Ceuppens family then purchased the building next-door, a former bank, which would become the Hotel Metropole, inaugurated in 1895. Today, the hotel’s reception desk is easily recognizable as the desk of the former bank, a significant historical and heritage glimpse of the past.
The brothers commissioned French architect Alban Chambon to be the chief designer of the hotel. Today, Chambon’s design of modern comfort and luxury is still a prominent feature of the heritage hotel, which is considered an important historical landmark in the city.
Not only was Hotel Metropole one of the first luxury hotels, it was also the first to have electricity and central heating, and is now the only existing 19th century hotel in Brussels. In fact, many heritage tours of Brussels visit the Hotel Metropole to look upon its facades and design.
The hotel’s reception, lobby, and lounge are overtly ornate with Corinthian columns, rich furnishings, gilded details, and glittering chandeliers – all which can still be seen and experienced today at the hotel. Similarly, the meetings and conference rooms of the hotel are decorated in a Renaissance style.
The Metropole is famous for having hosted the first Solvay Conference in 1911. Check out the photo below which is in the lobby of the Metropole Hotel and see how many famous physicists you can spot. There's Einstein, Planck, Rutherford, Lorentz and Madame Curie just for starters.

Moreover, it is the birthplace of the Black Russian cocktail, which was created in 1949 by barman Gustave Tops for the United States ambassador to Luxembourg, Perle Mesta.