I have always had a passion for and fascination with the solemn sentinels that watch over us as we walk the streets of a major city. Carved in stone and marble, cast in plaster or copper, they are the inanimate guardians that so often go unnoticed.

Unless we are tourists in a foreign city, we rush along, eyes straight forward, anxiously looking for a clock to make sure we are not late, or the next bus station or sign to the metro, underground, T, U-Bahn – whatever it is nicknamed in the city you are in -, trying to keep on schedule. Ticking off items on our to-do-list, we try not to loose track of our children.

Do you ever look up? I don’t mean to check for rain, or to see where that airplane is headed, or to look for the nearest street sign or traffic light. I mean look up a building. Above the ground floor. At the Belle Etage. At the roof…

If you do, you will find them. The solemn beauties of architecture. The immortal creatures that look down on us mortals with a hint of soul in their marble eyes. So often, they are hidden and unnoticed. No spot light to draw attention to them, no huge arrow pointing at them. They are fused to the building, destined to look down on us and watch over us without being noticed.

I want to share some of my favorite solemn sentinels with you – eternal inhabitants of Vienna, Austria; Boston, MA, and Lyon, France; the cities I have lived in and I have had the pleasure to walk around in with my head tilted up…

VIENNA, 1. District ‘Innere Stadt’

These are the guardians of the Wiener Hofburg

Sandstone beauties watching over the corner Tuchlauben/Naglergasse/Bognergasse

Fierce sentinels of the Wiener Hofburg and the Heldentor

Boston and Lyon will follow….