From Van Morrison to Vilnius, a look at some of Europe’s more Unusual Musical Landmarks
Some time ago, I blogged about the array of landmarks across Europe which pay homage to some of the great names in the world of pop music. From Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris’ Père-Lachaise cemetery to the ABBA Museum of Stockholm, be it reminders of The Beatles in Hamburg, Reykjavik’s Peace Tower or the John Lennon Peace Wall in Prague, it seemed that I had just scratched the surface. Here’s a further look at a number of popular pop music pilgrimage sites across Europe…
Given their New York origins, Berlin is the somewhat surprising venue for the RMCM, a museum devoted to punk rock band, The Ramones. And, yet this fascinating collection of Ramones memorabilia has been amassed by superfan, Florian Hayler, who attended over 100 concerts by the group since 1990. A year after Johnny Ramone’s death, the Ramones Museum opened in 2005, relaunched in 2008 as the ‘Home of the Fast Four’ following a move and expansion and today the collection contains photographs, gig set lists, souvenirs, concert T shirts and flyers. There are also regular live music gigs and a cafe, too. You’ll find the museum (open daily from 12pm) located just off Oranienburger Strasse close to the New Synagogue. http://www.ramonesmuseum.com
Perhaps Belfast’s most famous son, Van Morrison’s Northern Irish roots have without doubt played a pivotal role in shaping his music and lyrics and if you happen to be city breaking in Belfast, take a trip to the east of the city to 125 Hyndford Street to see the two-up, two-down terraced house where Van the Man was born and lived as a child. Whilst it’s now privately owned, the house displays a small brass plaque placed by the Belfast Blues Appreciation Society, although it is alleged that Morrison himself was less appreciative of this gesture, claiming a breach of his privacy!
On the other side of the Irish border, The Little Museum of Dublin devotes its second floor to its U2: Made in Dublin exhibition. This fan-curated collection of memorabilia charts the history of the band from its origins in 1976 all the way through to the present day and features photographs, signed albums and other musical paraphernalia, in addition to some more obscure U2-related offerings including a Trabant car, a Gibson explorer and a sculpture of the devil, MacPhisto. Open daily from 9.30am, the museum is situated right in the heart of the city on St Stephen’s Green. Bono and The Edge have even visited without anyone realising!
Although there’s no connection between the Lithuanian capital and Frank Zappa, Vilnius plays host to the world’s first statue devoted to the American musician and free thinker, sculpted from brass by a local artist, Konstantinas Bogdanas and erected in 1995 by the musician’s devoted local fan base. You’ll find it just to the west of Old Town on Kalinausko Street.
And finally, just a stone’s throw from the mighty Alhambra in Granada lies the Placeta Joe Strummer, a small square named in commemoration of The Clash frontman who spent his final years in this southern Spanish city following the break-up of the group in the early 80s. Unveiled last year by Strummer’s widow, the placeta overlooks the Sierra Nevada in the distance and offers an unusual yet poignant place of pilgrimage to remember this legendary singer.