Puzzle: Santa Maria Della Salute, Venice, Italy

Santa Maria Della Salute, Venice, Italy, med
Size
: 750 pieces
Dimensions: 59.69 cm x 39.37 cm
Producer: Sure-Lox, The Canadian Group

Puzzle:  This puzzle is a bit challenging due to large areas of almost uniformed-coloured sky, and the tightly-fitting side-view of the buildings with many small details, but Sure-Lox pieces come to the rescue by fitting into place unambiguously. The domes of the church, its walls, and the border between the sky and the buildings are good places to start. The blue and white poles in the water, the lower building in the bottom left corner, the water, and the buildings in the bottom right are some of the easier regions to complete next. From that point on, the rest of the puzzle can be assembled.

Notes: Santa Maria della Salute, commonly known simply as the Salute, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica located in the Dorsoduro sestiere of the Italian city of Venice. It stands on a narrow finger of land between the Grand Canal and the Bacino di San Marco making the church visible when entering the Piazza San Marco from the water. The Salute is part of the parish of the Gesuati and is the most recent of the so-called plague-churches.

In 1630, Venice experienced an unusually devastating outbreak of the plague. As a votive offering for the city’s deliverance from the pestilence, the Republic of Venice vowed to build and dedicate a church to Our Lady of Health (or of Deliverance, Italian: Salute). The church was designed in the then fashionable baroque style by Baldassare Longhena, who studied under the architect Vincenzo Scamozzi. Construction began in 1631. Most of the objects of art housed in the church bear references to the Black Death. [Wiki]

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Puzzle: Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia, med
Size
: 500 pieces
Dimensions: 48.5 cm x 35.5 cm
Producer: Sure-Lox, The Canadian Group

Puzzle: A simple puzzle to do, and due to Sure-Lox well-fitting pieces a fast one. The uniform colour of the sky and the highlights on the water are good places to start, as well as the larger white/lilac building. The orange flags and the building behind them, as well as the darker skyscrapers pave way for the rest of the pieces to fall into place.

Notes: Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia. It is on Australia’s south-east coast, on the Tasman Sea. Inhabitants of Sydney are called Sydneysiders, comprising a cosmopolitan and international population.

The site of the first British colony in Australia, Sydney was established in 1788 at Sydney Cove by Arthur Phillip, commodore of the First Fleet, as a penal colony. The city is built on hills surrounding Port Jackson, which is commonly known as Sydney Harbour, where the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are prominent structures. [Wiki]

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Puzzle: Garden’s Gate

Garden's Gate, med

Size: 750 pieces
Dimensions: 59.69 cm x 39.37 cm
Producer: Sure-Lox, The Canadian Group

Puzzle: A serene puzzle to do, and being smaller with well-fitting together Sure-Lox pieces, is not too challenging. The red of the maple leaves on the tree, the lantern, the gate, the bright white/yellow regions of sunlit sky, and the wall with smaller rocks are good places to start. Once the wall is complete, tree trunks and leaves, as well as darker tree areas can be filled in.

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Puzzle: Old Mill

Old mill, med
Size
: 1000 pieces
Dimensions: 73 cm x 48.57 cm
Producer: Sure-Lox, The Canadian Group

Puzzle: A serene puzzle, not very challenging. The bridge, the waterfall, the flowers in the bottom left corner, the mill building, and the rocks are good places to start. The tree trunks provide vertical guides, the dark area with the wheel at the bottom of the building is distinct, and the rest of the grass, forest, and sky pieces can be filled in without much trouble.

Notes: A watermill is a structure that uses a water wheel or turbine to drive a mechanical process such as flour, lumber or textile production, or metal shaping (rolling, grinding or wire drawing).

Typically, water is diverted from a river or impoundment or mill pond to a turbine or water wheel, along a channel or pipe (variously known as a flume, head race, mill race, leat, leet, lade (Scots) or penstock). The force of the water’s movement drives the blades of a wheel or turbine, which in turn rotates an axle that drives the mill’s other machinery. Water leaving the wheel or turbine is drained through a tail race, but this channel may also be the head race of yet another wheel, turbine or mill. The passage of water is controlled by sluice gates that allow maintenance and some measure of flood control; large mill complexes may have dozens of sluices controlling complicated interconnected races that feed multiple buildings and industrial processes. [Wiki]

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Puzzle: Sri Mariamman Temple

Sri Mariamman Temple, med
Size
: 1000 pieces
Dimensions: 48.1 cm x 67.95 cm
Producer
: Mega Puzzles, Structures series, 2013, No. 50941AAN, A 27053 PP

Puzzle: Another puzzle from the Structures series (see Astronomical Clock, Prague, Czech Republic, Galleries Lafayette, Paris, and Church of the Savior, St. Petersburg for more). A delight for the eyes, this puzzle is complex due to many similarly-coloured small regions and a large number of small detail. It requires some time and attention, but is definitely a pleasure to do. Any small uniformly-coloured areas are good places to start: be that the red dress of a figure in the bottom right corner, the blue steps at bottom right, the blue figure in the middle, and so on. Other good regions to do is the borders between areas – such as the vertical dividers on the left side and the balcony ledges. The various geometrical patters decorating the building can also be assembled. Putting all these pieces together requires focus and reveals many small details not easily noticed from just looking at the picture on the box.

Notes: The Sri Mariamman Temple is Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple. It is an agamic temple, built in the Dravidian style. The Sri Mariamman Temple was founded in 1827 by Naraina Pillai, eight years after the East India Company established a trading settlement in Singapore.

Built in the South Indian Dravidian style, this temple features a gopuram that rises above the main entrance along South Bridge Road. It is richly embellished with six tiers of sculptures of Hindu deities, other figures and ornamental decorations. The tower tapers up towards to a moulded ornamental ridge. The scale of each tier and its sculptures is slightly smaller than that of the tier immediately below it. This helps to create the illusion of height and adds to the symbolic importance of the building. Flanking the gopuram are a sculpture of Murugan on the right and Krishna on the left (as one enters). The sculptures are all of plaster, which allows for fine detailing. They are painted in a variety of bright colours, which adds to the visually spectacular quality of the gopuram. [Wiki]

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Puzzle: Church of the Savior, St. Petersburg

Church of the Savior, St. Petersburg, med
Size
: 1000 pieces
Dimensions: 67.95 cm x 48.1 cm
Producer
: Mega Puzzles, Structures series, 2013, No. 50941AAN, A 27053 PP

Puzzle: Another eye-candy puzzle from the Structures series (see Astronomical Clock, Prague, Czech Republic and Galleries Lafayette, Paris for more), with many distinct regions. There are many ways of approaching it: top semi-circle with windows, bottom light yellow semi-circle, central piece in reds, oranges, and yellows, winged by distinct blue regions, the chandeliers, the top corner regions separating distinct regions of colour by diagonal guides, flower border outlining the central area, the pillars with figures and horizontal flower borders, circles with faces. Once the distinct regions are done, they can be put together, and the rest of the pieces easily fit in. Beautiful puzzle, very enjoyable to do.

Notes: The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg, Russia. It is also variously called the Church on Spilt Blood and the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, its official name. This Church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory.

The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics—according to its restorers. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day—including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church’s chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture. [Wiki]

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Puzzle: Galleries Lafayette, Paris

Galleries Lafayette, Paris, med
Size
: 1000 pieces
Dimensions: 67.95 cm x 48.1 cm
Producer
: Mega Puzzles, Structures series, 2013, No. 50941AAN, A 27053 PP

Puzzle: A non-trivial puzzle from the Structures series (see Astronomical Clock, Prague, Czech Republic and Church of the Savior, St. Petersburg for more), with a repeating radial pattern. Due to many similar regions and repeated geometrical patterns, this puzzle is challenging. The easiest place to start is the top left corner with the distinct orange, green and blue part of the dome, followed by its golden border and brown and golden thick supports that fan out of the dome, with flower patterns inside. Several white supports spreading from the dome can be used as guides. The yellow centres of the large flowers within the stained glass pattern can be positioned based on their differences, and the blue and green flowers can be assembled in place. The circular brown guides supporting the white and blue glass make it easier to complete the bottom right corner. Overall not a quick but an enjoyable puzzle to do, natural light is a plus.

Notes: The Galeries Lafayette (is an upmarket French department store company located on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. In 1895, Théophile Bader and his cousin Alphonse Kahn opened a fashion store in a small haberdasher’s shop at the corner of rue La Fayette and the Chaussée d’Antin, in Paris. In 1896, their company purchased the entire building at 1 rue La Fayette; in 1905 they acquired the buildings at 38, 40 and 42, boulevard Haussmann and 15 rue de la Chaussée d’Antin. Bader commissioned the architect Georges Chedanne and his pupil Ferdinand Chanut to design the store at the Haussmann location, where a glass and steel dome and Art Nouveau staircases were finished in 1912. [Wiki]

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Puzzle: Golden Hall, Edoras, 3D

Golden Hall, Edoras, LotR, closeup, med

Size:  742 pieces (foam-backed), 29 cardboard accessories
Dimensions: 42 cm x 49.5 cm x 22 cm
Producer: Wrebbit 3D, Lord of the Rings series, 2012, #02003, made in Canada

Instructions:

  1. Remove and sets aside red dotted pieces (they are not a part of the actual puzzle).
  2. Assemble puzzle sections flat as you would a 2D puzzle.
  3. Once all sections are assembled, build the 3D puzzle using the supports provided and embellish with decorative pieces.

Puzzle: I have made this puzzle a few months ago, but did not get around to documenting it until now. It carries sentimental significance to me because I love all things Tolkien, and the designs are tugging at my heart strings, but the implementation could be better. Foam is not the greatest material to hold up a 3D puzzle, as I have previously found out with a Taj Mahal puzzle made by Wrebbit (not to be confused with the CubicFun one made of paper), and after discovering the CubicFun puzzles earlier this autumn I don’t think I would assemble another foam 3D one, unless the subject was as attractive to me as the Golden Hall of Edoras.

Below are the progress photos of the assembly – the process itself was not easy since foam does not hold together that well, so the intermediary stages of the structures being attached to each other have no photos to them: I had enough trouble keeping them holding together.

Here is the base surrounding the hall:

Golden Hall, Edoras, LotR, base surrounding, med

And here is the overview of all the rest of the assembled components, followed by close-ups:

Golden Hall, Edoras, LotR, assembled pieces whole, med

Golden Hall, Edoras, LotR, assembled pieces 6, med

Golden Hall, Edoras, LotR, assembled pieces 5, med

Golden Hall, Edoras, LotR, assembled pieces 4, med

Golden Hall, Edoras, LotR, assembled pieces 3, med

Golden Hall, Edoras, LotR, assembled pieces 2, med

Golden Hall, Edoras, LotR, assembled pieces 1, med

The assembled hall looks good from far away, but pieces do not fit together very well, making for a choppy composition and crooked angles. Additionally, some of the embellishment pieces on the roof are printed only on one side which I find a disappointing approach: cutting corners on such little details makes the entire building look unfinished.

Golden Hall, Edoras, LotR, assembled front, med

Golden Hall, Edoras, LotR, assembled side 2, med

Golden Hall, Edoras, LotR, assembled side 1, med

Golden Hall, Edoras, LotR, assembled back, med

Golden Hall, Edoras, LotR, assembled back side, med

Golden Hall, Edoras, LotR, assembled angle, med

Notes: The city of Edoras was built on a hill in a valley of the White Mountains (Ered Nimrais) by Rohan’s second King, Brego son of Eorl the Young. Before this, Rohan’s capital was at Aldburg in the Folde.

As Rohan consisted of mostly small villages and farmsteads, Edoras was Rohan’s only real city, and holds the Golden Hall of Meduseld. It was here that Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, and Gandalf meet with King Théoden. They were admitted by Hama, the door warden who permitted Gandalf to keep his staff with him. [Lord of the Rings wiki]

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Puzzle: Gateway Solitude

Gateway Solitude, med
Size
: 500 pieces, 1 missing
Dimensions: 33.9 cm x 45.4 cm
Producer: Wrebbit, Perfalock foam puzzle series, 2003, 22406

Puzzle:
I felt like assembling a foam puzzle which I haven’t done lately. The fit is unique and takes getting used to, but quite pleasant. A good starting point was the walkway, since it provided a vertical guide and split the bottom of the puzzle into three distinct regions. The gate and the brick pillars came afterwards, followed by the flower bunches, the trees, and the sky. Simple and enjoyable puzzle to do.

Notes: IntroducingPerfalock, the first puzzle that goes anywhere without going to pieces! Make it, move it, mount it, and it won’t fall apart. Precisely crafted out of flexible foam, Perfalock pieces fit together so perfectly you can barely see the seams! Its unique backing material means that Perfalock puzzles stay together without messy glue. Perfalock from Wrebbit. We make great puzzles happen. [Puzzle box]

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Puzzle: Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany, med
Size
: 500 pieces
Dimensions: 36.0 cm x 49.3 cm
Producer
: Ravensburger, Otto Maier Verlag, 1984, #14 138 8

Puzzle: Yet another puzzle of this beautiful castle, in addition to the 500-piece, the 1000-piece, and another 500-piece puzzles I’ve assembled previously. This one features clear photography, good angle, and pieces that fit together well. The easiest places to start are the sky and clouds, the orange part of the castle, the green of the grass, the boundary between the castle and the sky, and the sky and the trees, followed by the rest of the castle. The houses in the background and the trees around the castle can then follow.

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Puzzle: Spectacular Interior

Spectacular interior, med
Size
: 750 pieces
Dimensions: 59.69 cm x 39.37 cm
Photographer:
Tibor Bognàr
Producer
: The Canadian Group, Sure-Lox, 2006, #42510-41

Puzzle: Not an easiest puzzle to make – good lighting is a bonus. Easiest places to start are the blue of the dome, the bright gold of the centre, the figures in the alcoves, the darker parts on the edges, and the golden pillars. Pillars provide good vertical guides, and pillar tops can serve as horizontal ones. The pieces fit together well making for a fun but a bit challenging puzzle to assemble.

Notes: It is unfortunate that no information is given on the box on where this photo was taken. If you know where this is, I would love to know.

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Puzzle: Trevi Fountain, Italy

Trevi Fountain, Italy, med
Size
: 500 pieces
Dimensions: 48.3 cm x 35.6 cm
Producer
: Sure-Lox, The Canadian Group, #42210-17

Puzzle: This puzzles was a little more challenging than a usual 500-piece puzzle, since so many parts of the building look alike and carry the same colour scheme. However, with Sure-Lox pieces fitting snugly into place, it was very pleasant to do nonetheless. The sky and water are best places to start, as are the dark areas on the edges. The windows, the balconies, the archway, the roof, and the regions close to the water are distinct enough to follow. The rest are a matter of completing the gaps between the earlier-placed pieces. I have done another 500-piece puzzle of a close-up of the Trevi Fountain.

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Puzzle: Ludwig’s Castle, Bavaria, Germany

Ludwig's Castle, Bavaria, Germany, med

Size:  500 pieces
Dimensions: 45.5cm x 35.5cm
Producer: Leap Year

Puzzle: Not a bad puzzle as far as the picture goes, but the manufacturing process appears to be faulty: many pieces are bent out of shape and do not fit together well, taking away from the assembling experience. The puzzle itself is relatively easy to put together: the sky, the fields, and the castle are good places to start. The trees are a little more challenging, so good lighting is good to have for assembling the bottom part. Overall, nothing special: showing more castle and less of the tree area would make this puzzle more enjoyable. There are better puzzles depicting this castle, I’ve previously put together two: in 1000 pieces and 500 pieces.

Notes: Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as a homage to Richard Wagner. Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and by means of extensive borrowing, not with Bavarian public funds. [Wiki]

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Puzzle: Astronomical Clock, Prague, Czech Republic

Astronomical Clock, Prague, Czech Republic, med
Size
: 1000 pieces
Dimensions: 48.1 cm x 67.95 cm
Producer
: Mega Puzzles, Structures series, 2013, No. 50941AAN, A 27053 PP

Puzzle: Beautiful puzzle, somewhat complex due to many similar grey parts: good lighting is a plus. The obvious areas to start with, are the blue and yellow circles of the clocks and the framing surrounding them. The colourful figures on the sides and the wall can follow. The rest of the pieces are then easier to fit in, guided by the completed coloured areas – one can use the vertical and horizontal guides of the columns and the ledge between the two parts of the clock.

Notes: The Prague astronomical clock, or Prague orloj, was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still working. The Orloj is mounted on the southern wall of Old Town City Hall in the Old Town Square. The clock mechanism itself is composed of three main components: the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; “The Walk of the Apostles”, a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures—notably a figure of Death (represented by a skeleton) striking the time; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months.  [Wiki]

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Puzzle: Taj Mahal in 3D

Taj Mahal, complete side, med

Size:  87 pieces
Dimensions: 28.4 cm x 28.4 cm x 18 cm
Producer: CubicFun, 3D Puzzle series MC, #MC081h, complexity 4/5
Original packaging: http://www.cubicfun.com/index.php?m=Products&a=show&id=49&bid=1

Puzzle: Following the St. Basil’s Cathedral puzzle, I have gone on a search for other higher-complexity puzzles made by CubicFun, and found a couple in a nearby toy store (Mrs. Tiggy Winkles). The only two they had were the Taj Mahal and the Eiffel Tower. As I’m not a big fan of modern architecture, I got the Taj Mahal one and have opened it the same night. Less complex than St. Basil’s Cathedral, it was still a lot of fun to put together.

Here is the box, the booklet (see below for the historical information contained therein) and sheets with puzzle pieces.

Taj Mahal, sheets, med

I have done this in three stages:

1. Separating all the pieces from the sheets in which they were embedded.

Taj Mahal, sorted, med

2. Punching out the holes in the pieces (I used a tip of a mechanical pencil).

Taj Mahal, punched, med

3. And putting together the puzzle itself. Below are the progress photos (this time I had enough willpower to stop briefly to snap a few photos):

Taj Mahal, base, med

Taj Mahal, walls, med

Taj Mahal, roof, med

Taj Mahal, four towers, med

Taj Mahal, complete, med

Taj Mahal, complete front, med

 

Overall a pleasant puzzle to do. I have aired the sheets overnight and did not have a reaction to the material this time, as I did with the St. Basil’s cathedral. Once the pieces were separated and the holes punched through, the assembly took less than 1.5 hours. I will definitely be looking for more puzzles made by this company.

Notes from the puzzle booklet:

“The world’s famous architecture we build it. India’s Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal, it is well-known, was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his Empress Mumtaz Mahal. As symbols of undying love go, it is one of the most deservedly famous and best examples of unparalleled excellence in Indo-Persian architecture.

Taj Mahal is regarded as one of the eight wonders of the world, and some Western historians have noted that its architectural beauty has never been surpassed. The Taj is the msot beautiful monument build by the Mughals, the Muslim rulers of India.

The Taj Mahal (also “the Taj”) is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Turkish, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”.

While the white domed marble and tile mausoleum is most familiar, Taj Mahal is an integrated symmetric complex of structures that was completed around 1648. Ustad Ahmad Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer of the Taj Mahal.

In 1631, Shah Jahan, emperor during the Mughl empire’s period of greatest prosperity, was griefstricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their fourteenth child, Gauhara Begum. The court chronicles of Shah Jahan’s grief illustrates the love story traditionally held as an inspiration of Taj Mahal. The construction of Taj Mahal begun soon after Mumtaz’s death with the principal mausoleum completed in 1648. The surrounding buildings and garden were finished five years later.

After his wife’s death, Shah Jahan gave up most of the pleasures and comforts that his royal position brought him. He had always had an avid interest in architecture, and now thought of erecting a commemorative monument in his queen’s memory. A one of a kind monument of such remarkable beauty that it would last over the centuries and awe all lokers.

Shah Jahan has planned to build a tomb for himself that would be a twin to the Taj Mahal, only in black marble, on the exact opposite side of the Yamuna and connected to the Taj with a marble bridge. But before his project was launched, he was over-thrown from power by his son Aurangzeb and imprisoned. He spent his last years in confinement in the Red Fort from where he could gaze at the Taj Mahal.

Four minarets, one at each corner of the plinth, facing the chamfered corners, frame the tomb.

The focus of the Taj Mahal is the white marble tomb, which stands on a square plinth consisting of a symmetrical building with an iwan, an arch-shaped doorway, topped by a large dome.

Archaeological Survey of India interprets that the Yamuna itself was incorporated into the garden’s design and was meants to be seen as one of the rivers of Paradise.

The Taj Mahal complex is bounded by crenellated red sandstone walls on three sides with river-facing side open.

There are two grand red sandstone buildings. The western building is a mosque and its opposite is the jawab.

The dome is made of white marble, but the tomb is set against an awesome backdrop of the river and it is this background that works its magic of colors, and through the reflection of these colors transforms the view of the Taj. The colors change at different hours of the day and during different seasons. Like a jewel, the Taj sparkles in moonlight when the semi-precious stones inlaid into the white marble on the main mausoleum catch the glow of the moon. The Taj is pinkish in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden when the moon shines. These changes, they say, depict the different moods of a woman.

To people the world over, the Taj Mahal, mausoleum of Mughal Emperor shah Jana’s chief wife, Mumtaz Mahal, is synonymous with India. Its curving, gently swelling dome and the square base upon which it rests so lightly is a familiar image from hundreds of brochures and travel books. The Taj is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular buildings of the world. Renowned for its architectural magnificence and aesthetic beauty, it counts among man’s proudest creations and is invariably included in the list of the world’s foremost wonders. As a tomb, it has no match upon earth, for mortal remains have never been housed in greater grandeur.

It has been said of the Mughals that they designed like giants and finished like jewelers, a fact amply brought out in the Taj Mahal. The wife of a British officer, Colonel Slleman, while writing home, described it thus: “I cannot tell what I think. I do not know how to criticize such a building but I can tell what I fee. I would die tomorrow to have such another over me.”

The poet Rabindranath Tagore has perhaps said it best of all: “You know Shah Jahan, life and youth, wealth and glory, they all drift away in the current of time. You strove therefore, to perpetuate only the sorrow of your heart. Let the splendor of diamond, pearl and ruby vanish. Only let this one teardrop, this Taj Mahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time, forever and ever.””
[Puzzle booklet]

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Puzzle: St. Basil’s Cathedral in 3D

St. Basil's Cathedral, front, med

Size:  173 pieces
Dimensions: 42 cm x 35 cm x 60 cm
Producer: CubicFun, 3D Puzzle series MC, #MC093h, complexity 6/7
Original packaging: http://www.cubicfun.com/index.php?m=Products&a=show&id=59&bid=1

Puzzle: Every 3D puzzle I have done until now has been somewhat of a disappointment: from poor assembly instructions to flimsy construction, to pieces that do not cleanly separate and fit together poorly, to a disappointing result, – I have pretty much given up on 3D puzzles. This one I have received as a gift from my love who knows I like architectural pieces, and I must say – this is the best 3D puzzle I have ever put together, and I want more :)

The print is bright, the pieces separate well and fit together firmly, the instructions are very clear and all pieces are clearly marked.

Here is the box, the booklet (see below for the historical information contained therein) and sheets with puzzle pieces.

St. Basil's Cathedral, set, med

I have done this in three stages:

1. Separating all the pieces from the sheets in which they were embedded.

St. Basil's Cathedral, sorted, med

2. Punching out the holes in the pieces (I used a tip of a mechanical pencil).

St. Basil's Cathedral, punched through, med

3. And putting together the puzzle itself. I got so into it that I refused to stop even to snap a photo until the entire puzzle was done. Very high addictive potential :)

St. Basil's Cathedral, side, med  St. Basil's Cathedral, back, med  St. Basil's Cathedral, another side, med

One thing I did find a bit of a concern, is that I had something close to a mild allergic reaction while separating the initial pieces from the sheets. ‘Tis the season for environmental allergies to which I am susceptible, but this seems to have been specifically connected to me working with the puzzle. I must test this theory on another one of the series. Perhaps next time I’ll let the sheets air out first. It was not a strong reaction. The box states that the puzzle is made of paper and expandable polystyrene (EPS) foam board, which the company’s site claims to be non-toxic. I’ve had similar reactions to very old second-hand puzzles (perhaps the ones that came from smoking households?), but that is very rare.

The company’s site could use some work – it appears they did most of their coding in ASP and failed to test in multiple browsers. As a result, among other things, their pagination does not work in Firefox, but I have deduced that adding &page=2 (or whatever page number one is looking for) allows one to browse through their products, and I must say – I have bookmarked quite a few for further puzzling adventures.

Overall a beautiful puzzle, a pleasure to assemble, sturdy to move around and complex and good-looking enough to leave assembled as a model. My almost-3-year-old has been admiring it for several days now.

Notes from the puzzle booklet:

“We build the world’s famous architecture.
St. Basil’s Cathedral

The famous St. Basil’s Cathedral was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible and built on the edge of Red Square between 1555 and 1561. The cathedral was built to commemorate Ivan the Terrible’s successful military campaign against the Tartar Mongols in 1552 in the besieged city of Kazan.

St. Basil’s is a delightful array of swirling colors and redbrick towers. Its design comprises nine individual chapels, each topped with a unique onion dome and each commemorating a victorious assault on the city of Kazan.

The riot of color and shapes that is St. Basil’s Cathedral is unmatched anywhere else in the world. The French diplomat Marquis de Custine commented that it combined “the scales of a golden fish, the enamelled skin of a serpent, the changeful hues of the lizard, the glossy rose and azure of the pigeon’s neck” and wondered at “the men who go to worship God in this box of confectionery work.”

A popular historical legend says that Ivan had the architect, Postnik Yakovlev, blinded to prevent him from building a more magnificent building for anyone else. In fact, Postnik Yakovlev built a number of churches after Saint Basil’s, including one in Kazan’.

St. Basil’s Cathedral is a symmetrical architectural ensemble consisting of eight chapels surrounding the ninth temple, which is the highest one. It is topped with a hipped roof. Each chapel bears the name of a saint. The central temple is dedicated to the Intersection of the Blessed Virgin. The chapels are conjoined by the system of passages. The cupolas that top the chapels are different from each other. Each cupola is decorated with windows, niches, and cornices. The cathedral impress as a festive and elegant one.

The powerfully eastern design of St. Basil’s reflects both its location between Europe and Asia and its historical origins. Since the Kazan Qolsharif mosque had been the principal symbol of the Khanate captured by Ivan the Terrible, some elements from the mosque were incorporated into the cathedral to symbolize the victory.

The interior is a maze of galleries winding from chapel to chapel and level to level via narrow stairways and low arches. The walls are painted in floral and geometric patterns.

The church’s design is based on deep religious symbolism and was meant to be an architectural representation of the New Jerusalem – the Heavenly Kingdom described in the Book of Revelation of St. John the Divine. The number eight carries great religious significance; it denotes the day of Christ’s Resurrection and the promised Heavenly Kingdom. The eight-point star itself symbolizes the Christian Church as a guiding light to mankind, showing us the way to the Heavenly Jerusalem and it represents the Virgin Mary.”

[Puzzle booklet]

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Puzzle: Dinotopia: Festival of Children and Hatchlings by James Gurney

James Gurney - Dinotopia - Festival of Children and Hatchlings, med

Size:  1000 pieces
Dimensions: 76.2 cm x 60.96 cm
Painting: Dinosaur Parade
Artist: Steve A. Roberts
Producer: Springbok, Hallmark, 1992, PZL6183

Puzzle: The puzzle is quite appealing visually, but not made well: the pieces are large, thick, and do not fit together without a significant effort. There are many distinct colour regions and guides to make this puzzle trivial to assemble: the steps,  the building, the border between the sky and the trees, the distinct hides of the different dinosaurs, the flags, the crowd, and the saddles. The rest of the pieces can be filled in based on those.

Notes: “Dinotopia – A Land Apart From Time

Professor Arthur Denison and his son, Will, set out in 1860 on an ocean voyage to explore uncharted territories. What they found was more incredible than anything they might have imagined. When a typhoon ripped them from their schooner and into a raging sea, dolphins swam to the rescue and carried the pair to the tropical shore of the lost island of Dinotopia.

The father and son soon found, much to their astonishment, that Dinotopia was a land where all manner of dinosaurs lived peacefully and quite happily with human beings.

Accompanied by their faithful guide, Bix, a Protoceratops and one of the few dinosaurs who could “speak” human languages, Professor Denison and Will began to explore the wonders of Dinotopia.

They visited Waterfall City, which seemed to float on a sea of mist while gigantic waterfalls cascaded all around its walls. In Treetown they lived in rustic tree houses and slide down the neck of a Brachiosaurus whenever they wanted to visit the lowlands. They explored the dreamland of air and stone called Canyon City. And in Sauropolis, capital of Dinotopia, they witnessed the wonderfully lavish Festival in Honor of Children and Hatchlings. Gradually the enchantment of this lost world captivated both Professor Denison and Will, and they knew in their hearts that Dinotopia had become their true home, the place where they could “breathe deep, seek peace” and live in harmony with all.

The artist and author of Dinotopia, James Gurney, has created fantasy art for the covers of more than 70 books and has painted scenes of ancient worlds for several National Geographic articles. A few years ago he began a series of oil paintings of a fantasyland where dinosaurs and humans lived in harmony, and these paintings eventually led to the creation of the uniquely beautiful book Dinotopia. Gurney lives with his wife, Jeanette, also an artist, and their two sons in the Hudson Valley of New York State.” [Puzzle box]

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Puzzle: Summer’s Light by John O’Brien

John OBrien - Summer's Light, med

Size:  1000 pieces
Dimensions: 51 cm x 69 cm
Artist: John O’Brien
Producer: Empire, Puzzle Makers, Rooms with a View collection, #64020-001

Puzzle: Beautiful puzzle, gentle colours, the pieces fit together well. The repetition of the window parts makes for a bit of a challenge to assemble the  largely-similar window grids, but there is enough variation in the room furnishings bordering the backdrop to make the assembly enjoyable. I have started with the window tops and continued with windows themselves, although it might be easier to first focus on the armchairs and sofa, corner tables, plants, the rug and the floor. Either way the large sections separating the windows provide good vertical guides whereas the rug pattern and the rug/floor border make for horizontal guides that can direct the assembly.

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Puzzle: Venetian Interior by John O’Brien

John OBrien - Venetian Interior, med

Size:  1000 pieces
Dimensions: 51 cm x 69 cm
Artist: John O’Brien
Producer: Empire, Puzzle Makers, Rooms with a View collection, #64020-001

Puzzle: This puzzle is a pleasure for the eye. Lots of vibrant colours and small details. The pieces fit together well. The easiest regions to start are the vertical guides of the balcony doors and the white tall window, the street with the sky and buildings, the paintings and their frames, the dark red border decoration at the top of the walls, and the green of the walls themselves. The cupboard, the chairs and love seat, and the fireplace can come next, with the rug pattern to follow. The rest of the small details can then be filled in.

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Puzzle: In the Concert Room by John O’Brien

John OBrien - In the Concert Room, med

Size:  1000 pieces
Dimensions: 51 cm x 69 cm
Artist: John O’Brien
Producer: Empire, Puzzle Makers, Rooms with a View collection, #64020-001

Puzzle: Leisurely puzzle to make, with pieces fitting together reasonably well. Many possible places to start: vertical guidelines of the gold embellishments on the white walls, the opening into the street with buildings and draperies, the border of the floor and the rug, the red regions of the furniture and the darker regions of the paintings, the fireplace, and the side tables with flower vases. The harp and the piano, the furniture pieces, and the rug can then follow, and the rest is relatively simple. Lots of little details, visually a very rich puzzle for the eyes.

Notes: A concert hall is a place where concerts of classical music take place. [Wiki]

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