Gateway to Heaven

Ships sailing into Galasi must first pass between the islands Etikon and Petorkon. To do that, they must sail beneath the Gateway to Heaven, a massive marble arch that stretches between the islands. It was built by the Metareaus people who once dominated the region as a way to show their gratitude to Ikara, the islands' patron goddess. While few records remain of both the monument and the people who built it, the Gateway to Heaven stands as a testament to human achievement. It was originally called the Blessing of Ikara after the cities Etiki and Petoriki miraculously were left relatively unharmed by a season of exceptionally bad hurricanes. Currently, it is a major tourist destination, though the arch is only a shell of its original glory.

Purpose / Function

The Gateway to Heaven was built as a monument to the power of the Metareaus people and to the goddess Ikara, protector of the cities Etiki and Petoriki. It also could be used as a defensive tower with archers stationed in a level above the crown. However, it is unknown how people could get up there. The Teimerkou manuscript depicts a tower with a drawbridge leading out to the western side of the arch, but it has yet to be properly dated and confirmed as reliable. In modern times, the arch is a popular tourist location. Architectural students and artists often visit the arch to practice and study their crafts. Those who still worship Ikara, the Warriors of Ikara, regard the Gateway to Heaven as a pilgrimage site.

Alterations

When originally constructed, the Blessing of Ikara was painted in bright colors, and gold leaf outlined the motifs. The weapons were coated in bronze, and an account of the arch describes a bronze statue of Ikara on top of the monument. These however are all missing in the present time. Also, the entrances to the higher levels of the arch have been sealed up for unknown reasons. There also used to be free standing towers on either side of the arch, and there is speculation that people once could walk up to the top to admire and worship Ikara.

Architecture

The monument stands 200 feet tall and spans the channel between the islands of Etikon and Petorkon. Every inch of the arch is decorated with reliefs depicting stories of Ikara, the patron goddess of the cities. Paintings of the arch indicate that there were once doors in the gateways, and a recently discovered fresco in the Old Quarter of Galasi suggests that archers could be stationed in the higher levels of the arch to ward off attackers. The intrados is decorated with geometric designs around a massive relief of Ikara looking down on ships sailing underneath. The abutments are lined with depictions of Ikara's warriors each dressed in armor emblazoned with a seahorse and carrying some kind of weapon. A sword and shield or bow an arrow are the most common, but a few figures carry lances, maces, and halberds. The external abutments bear each city's crest but are otherwise plain. It has since fallen into some disrepair, and the marble is no longer the gleaming white it once was. Smoke and ash from steamships have stained much of the arch.

History

Hurricane of 3575

The summer of 3575 was known for an unusually large number of hurricanes. They devastated coastal cities and killed thousands of people. However, Etiki and Petoriki were mostly spared from the damage. Only a few boats were destroyed compared to entire fleets belonging to other cities. The people believed that they were under their goddess' protection and ordered the construction of a monument in her honor. A road would lead from the monument, the Blessing of Ikara, to her temple, the Ikareion.  

Construction

Construction began in 3578. Few accounts survive, but one by the historian Armenion details how the marble slabs were numbered before being worked on by teams of artisans. After completion, the top and bottom faces were carved into to allow a t-shaped connector to fit between two blocks. The whole arch was built in layers. What still remains unknown is how they moved the marble blocks to the upper layers of the arch. Later writings by Ocasta, a priestess of Ikara, suggest that scaffolding was built from the nearby cliffs to the construction site. Blocks could be moved over the scaffolding and into place.  

Restoration

In 5015, a group calling themselves the Warriors of Ikara began petitioning the Etran government to restore the Gateway to Heaven. While it remains structurally sound, they hoped to bring the monument back to its original glory and have the smoke-stained marble washed clean. The project failed to gain much interest, and the Warriors of Ikara hold yearly rallies in hopes of changing public opinion about the arch. In 5035, a much smaller model of the Gateway to Heaven was built in Metopoli, the only city with a predominately Metareaus population.
Type
Archway / Triumphal Arch


Cover image: by Alishahr

Comments

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29 Jul, 2018 21:37

Great details!

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