The American Taj Mahal... that's what they label the model of it in the museum, anyway.
Its actual name is Bok Tower... or the Singing Tower. Comparing it to the (cough) Taj Mahal may be a bit of a stretch, but it truly is a beautiful structure. It's named in honor of Edward Bok, who was a long-time editor of The Lady's Home Journal, a Pulitzer-prize winning author, and a philanthropist. (Busy dude, huh?) The 205-foot tower, which is made of marble and coquina, is the centerpiece of a 50-acre garden, and the whole kit and kaboodle was established by Bok in 1929 as a gift to the American people. (What a guy.) Oh, and ya know why the tower is also referred to as singing? Because it houses a huge 60-bell carillon. A song is played on it at the top and bottom of each hour, and twice a day, the carillonneur plays a full 30-minute concert.
How about some more pictures?
Here's a closer look at the tower's front door. And just look at that marble! The colors are gorgeous, aren't they?
This shot shows the back of the tower. The black thing below the balcony is a sundial. (Dontcha love the red door? I like it better than the fancy brass one in front.)
This is the arched entrance to get into the gardens. In case you can't read the inscription, it says, Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it. Evidently, this must have been an expression of Bok's personal philosophy. He certainly lived up to it with the establishment of these gardens.
A small garden outside of the museum.
This is inside the museum. The outline of the bell on the wall behind the girls shows the approximate size of the carillon bells. (!)
No picture can adequately depict how beautiful these gardens are. In some areas, there are primitive-looking plants with unbelievably enormous leaves, and all kinds of exotic ferns. (Like the tasmanian tree ferns, my favorite.) Walking on some of those paths gives you a sense of stepping back in time, almost like you should be on the look-out for dinosaurs. Or dragons. The area in this picture has lots of blooming flowers, both on the ground, and from hanging baskets all over the place.
Not all the plants were labeled, so I'm not sure what this one is. Sure is pretty, though.
A lot of the trees there are draped with Spanish moss, like these beside the canal. Lots of fish in the water, too. Looked like carp... you know, goldfish on steroids.
This gives you a better idea of the canal-tower configuration.
These are, without a doubt, the largest lily pads I ever saw. They're about the size of extra large pizzas. (Maybe I was just getting hungry?)
All in all, Bok Tower Gardens is a fabulous place to spend the day. Be forewarned, though. Even though Bok gave these gardens to the American people as a gift, Florida still expects you to pay handsomely for the pleasure of seeing them.
I must say, it was one of the high spots of our visit. Hmmm, gotta go. For some reason, I have the sudden urge to make pizza...
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
You can't stay on the mountain forever. You have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know. [Edwin Louis Cole]