San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts beckoned to me for years as I sped by on the freeway, rushing to meetings or interviews or other important events.
This beautiful and mysterious structure stood unperturbed as I pressed the gas pedal, speeding past it in my preoccupied intensity.
But a couple of weeks ago, Sweetheart Al and I decided to actually drive off the freeway and go see the Palace. What we discovered was the power of beauty to calm and inspire.
This amazing architectural beauty covers 148,000 square feet on a park-like 17-acres.
The rotunda itself is 1,100 feet wide and 162 feet high.
We felt antlike as we wandered through, exclaiming over the elegant, graceful splendor of it all.
Originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, it was rebuilt in 1965 and stands handsomely on the edge of a lagoon in the Marina District. It’s the only surviving structure from the Exposition still situated on its original site.
The Palace includes 30 Corinthian columns, which frame a wide walkway in the colonnade.
As we wandered the walkway, and stood transfixed beside the lagoon, we agreed that this is one of the most beautiful sites in San Francisco.
Designed by Architect Bernard Maybeck, it feels like a living fairytale, with its frescos and soaring design. I would not have been surprised to see Grecian gods or Roman royalty walking through the rotunda.
A swan couple floated on the lagoon as human couples and families watched them. I heard a young mother say to her daughter, "Let’s go in the palace and see if we can find the princess."
I wanted to follow them on their journey of discovery. Had I missed the princess?
As the sun rose and the budding trees glowed and flowers opened, I felt like we were visiting a magical kingdom designed for no purpose but to fill our souls with peace and joy.
The Palace of Fine Arts is a place of utter beauty, serving no commercial purpose. There is no gift store or coffee shop to lure dollars from pockets into cash register drawers. There are no electronic gadgets to tweak technology-addictions. There is nothing but beauty and calm, an unruffled radiance of architecture, mirrored-water and flora.
Please enjoy the photo I’ve posted here -- which I took while we were there. And then, when you can, visit this wondrous place and let it fill your heart with peace.