If you come to San Francisco, be sure to visit
The Palace of Fine Arts.
The Palace of Fine Arts sits in the Marina District, not too far from the Golden Gate Bridge. The beautiful structure is free to roam and a beautiful place for photos. From Brides-to-be to girls celebrating their quinceañera, this is where you’ll find some taking their photos. It would be nice to think that those who settled in San Francisco hundreds of years ago stumbled upon this ruin like structure but this sadly was not the case. Nonetheless, the history is still very interesting into how this building was designed and why it was created.
The City was just recovering from the terrible earthquake and fire of 1906 and at the same time the nations of Europe were going through tough economic and political troubles. These troubles then would lead to the start of World War I. The civic leaders of San Francisco had an idea to bring the world together by encouraging trade, to show the future of the world as it could be, and to demonstrate that a rebuilt San Francisco would be truly an international city. (GO SAN FRANCISCO!)
Bernard R. Maybeck was chosen as the architect for the Palace of Fine Arts. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, and his design reflects the impression of a Roman ruin. The inspiration for the Palace was meant to create a feeling quiet sadness and solemnity, which can be apparent as you walk around. From the stillness of the pond to the very top of the columns, where you’ll notice the “weeping ladies” facing inwards. The inspiration of the weeping ladies came to Maybeck while he was visiting a museum in Munich. He was struck by the Hungarian artist István Csók’s depiction of a scene where the notorious Polish princess Elizabeth Bathory is seen throwing freezing water on her naked servants.
The Palace of Fine was meant to be destroyed but the people of San Francisco couldn’t bare destroying such a beautiful monument. Over time the plan was to let the Palace fall to ruins and in the meantime was used for many purposes. After WWII it was used as a military storage depot, a warehouse for the Parks Department, a telephone book distribution center, and even temporary Fire Department headquarters. With time and a lot of donations, fund raising a non profit was created to restore the place of fine arts. In 1970, the Palace of Fine Art Theater was opened and continues to be theater to this day, continuing the legacy of Maybeck.
If you haven’t visited, definitely add the palace of fine arts to your list. It’s great place to escape the city and enjoy a nice stroll, lunch in the grass and feed the swans.1