In recent times
Come to a LEGO town named “Salo”! Salo is tiny, but growing. It has houses, a church, a bell tower, and more big buildings under construction. In just 1 month, it’s accumulated a lot of history.
Salo didn’t start as a lonely home with a single family living alone. In fact, the very first building was a magnificent ancient temple.
It was a white marble temple with 6 columns across the front, and 10 along its length. Even its roof was gleaming white. On the corners of this roof stood 6 simple, gray stone frog statues.
There were no houses around it. People gather at this temple for the sole purpose of worship.
The cult statue
They worshiped large, wooden statue of their god inside the temple’s rear. However, they knew their god wasn’t really in that statue, or the temple. They found their god all around. They found him in nature, in their happiness, and in their livelihoods.
He wasn’t their only god. In fact, they didn’t converse with him, but rather respected and stayed in touch. More than anything, their god was numinous, and mysterious in the most ecstatic of ways.
To make the temple as special as possible, the ancients of Salo built many miniature temples around the main structure, like a mother duck and her ducklings. Some were for less powerful spirits, others simply made the main temple appear bigger to onlookers.
With time, more and more religious structures crowded the small sacred ground which the ancients of Salo held dear and guarded for their god. Soon, there were so many objects that the ancients of Salo had to build a storage house. In this house, they stored the original golden crown of the god’s statue, a gold cup, and a crystal chandelier.
Not built in one day
The ancients of Salo built the large marble temple in relatively little time. However, they embellished the decorations over generations. They thought of the flowers on the temple’s roof as lily flowers and pads. They colored the flowers dark pink, and the leaf pads a rich green. Silver frogs replaced the old stone ones.
A pond set in stone
The ancients painted the column capitals outside green and blue. Both symbolized pond water and the algae skimmed from the top. The temple was a cosmic model of a tranquil waterside.
Inside the temple, the marble walls shone bare. The people allowed nothing to distract or pollute the god’s home. Of course, no one went inside to pray. Everyone stood outside at the altar to offer. Only priests went inside to swiftly do their duties. Whenever they cleaned up the temple, they drew a gold-dusted curtain over the entrance to the god’s home.
Temple to Infancy
The god of Salo, with his water, lilies, and shiny frogs, stood for so much. Above all, he stood for innocence, childhood, infancy, youth, and purity. His marble housing was a dedication from the ancients of Salo to those qualities.
They invested in his ability to give and strengthen those virtues and privileges of life. Not just to the people who prayed, but to their towns, and communities, and their world. Their god protected the life and health of their crops, rivers, animals, and children.
Their rejuvenation for mutual prosperity and livelihood through the ages was at the tip of his beneficent hands. The sun and moon shone every day by his power to bring back and keep things fresh and alive. In fact, the statue of the god inside the temple had no hands, for his hands reached across all the feelable and known world.
Second LEGO Temple
The last addition to the original site was a tall, thin marble column with a gold cap. This column, of all things, lit the minds of the ancients the most.
At some point, the ancients set their minds and hearts on building a second temple. They squirmed over it for a long time, before planning it. It was going to be much larger than their first. To support it, they were going to use the column mentioned before, all around.
They built it as an octastyle (8 front columns) dipteral (2 rows of columns all around) Ionic temple.
All that effort…wasted?
The strange thing is that the ancient people of Salo didn’t like this larger temple. Then why did they build it? Did they just want the glory of a big temple? Different people, sly and naive, would give different answers. Some would’ve said they dedicated to their own dignity, in the face of outsiders.
As time went on, and people continued to revere the older temple of their god, it was almost as if the larger temple ceased to exist to them. It wasn’t a part of their world, which became more and more religiously focused over time on that one temple, to which all other things, big or small, helped illuminate as the center of their real world.
The destruction of the LEGO temples
Sometime in the temple’s history, there was a terrible accident. There are 2 possibilities for what happened. However, they both come from an ancient enemy attack. The first is that a large stone was flung by attackers straight into the middle of the temple. People never found such a stone there.
The other is that there was an explosion of some kind. In any case, the god within was gone for sure. The attackers also destroyed the smaller temples and statues.
How to move on?
The regional people living around the temple were distraught. It wasn’t just because their temple was destroyed. In addition, they no longer had the resources to give it a full repair. What were they to do? The temple was too important to give up.
The people gave the temple a partial repair. It was a sad case of making do. The middle of the walls and columns were gone. The people built a new back wall across what was left of the front. They also built a more ordinary roof above this enclosed section.
New beliefs and ways
Over the years, Christianity came into the land. However, for Salo, it only came into the hands of a handful of people, perhaps 30. They still didn’t live in the area, but rather came in from nearby villages. But the great throngs which once paid homage to the god were long gone.
Each was lost to death, illness, or the sword. The crowd itself was a monument lost to time. To those who remained, it seemed very appropriate to convert the temple ruins into a makeshift church.
First, the repaired front half of the temple was christened. A large, wooden cross was erected on the lap of a former ancient statue. A simple, limestone altar was placed within this new church.
Then, over time, the remaining front columns were pulled down and destroyed to make it easier to view the church. For the early Christians of Salo, the “pagan” remains were stripped away, and the glory of the new faith was given room to breath.
Still like pretty LEGO things
Over time, the church was enlarged out of a continuous desire to trump the ancient pagan past, and to raise the glory of God on their home soil. A simple, small basilica was built on the temple. It reused the doorway of the ancient temple, but knocked out anything else.
Later, it was made taller and longer along the back. To do this, the villagers of Salo had to pull away much of the temple’s remaining back wall to build a larger church apse.
Ironic results of persistence
Something strange happened. The townsfolk began to take interest in the old temple remains. The church’s “old ass” became more seductive than its Christian face. This was a problem for local Church fathers. The colors of the temple’s columns and roof statues had long vanished, but there were still faint coats to be seen. These were enough to tempt the Salo Christians about the wonders of the pagan past.
To address this, the fathers gave the church a plaster makeover, making it a brilliant light yellow.
A religious facelift
They also redecorated the inner columns with limestone plaster, and added a large triple arch at the front of the church. The cross on the statue was coated in silver.
The fathers also pulled down all but one of the ancient lily flowers from the back of the church’s roof. Overall, this helped to refocus attention on the church itself. But this worked far better than any church father would have expected, imagined, or believed. The people of Salo began to think about staying near the church. A new village was to be built around it.
The basic parts of the new LEGO town
This basic, modular house was the most important ingredient for the growth of a new settlement. It wasn’t just a site of religious gathering anymore. It was to be a fully functioning town. Each house unit was able to house around 4 people.
Along with this house was a much smaller type of building. It could’ve served as a granary, but was used for almost any other storage purpose as well.
Economics of LEGO Reuse
There were early plans to turn the enormous base of the larger temple into a castle. However, they didn’t know how to make the castle as defendable as possible. In addition, the town was so small, and the base so large, that an effective castle would have dwarfed the town many times over.
The plans were put off for a long time. There was also a silent fear that those who looked to live higher up on the temple base would be “corrupted”. Best to stay down along with everyone else. Such was the feeling among the early townsfolk of Salo. Eventually, the massive walls became the backbones of a massive church.
It’s hard to exaggerate, and understand, the effect of the massive church on the town. For years, it not only effectively formed the northern “boundary” of the town. It was the edge of their world. They had transformed the ruined marble steps of the temple into the most sacred house of God. Beyond it lay a faithless world.
The tiny, narrow strip of land between the church to the north and their fields to the south was the only place they dared to live while their numbers were low.
Enter at your own peril.
Just north of the large church lay the marble columns pulled out from the church’s inside. It was as if its bones marked the edge of the world where God ruled. Beyond was Hell. That cemetery was where faith died, and demons thrived.
Despite the growing pressure to expand in some direction, no one dared to move beyond the edge of the church. The town got more and more crowded, and they kept thinking it was good for themselves.
Attacks from without
On a normal afternoon, a disturbance shattered the happiness of the townsfolk of Salo. An enormous, demonic bat shrieked over the town, and perched atop the bell tower. Its weight shook the tower.
It didn’t attack anyone, but flew around, causing people to trip and flee here and there. To everyone’s horror, the bat landed atop the unfinished apse of the larger church. It then went in. But it never came out. To a few people who witnessed the attack from within, the bat had perched atop the blue metal cross.
What purpose, they thought to themselves, was there in believing there was good in confined themselves like olden days? The demons had already fouled the town. They had already invaded, and left their mark. To these people, Salo from then on, was to be a town of God, forever under attack from within.
The outside world
Outside ambassadors began making their way to Salo, and introducing them to the outside world. They openly expressed the lamentable “poverty” of Salo. Whereas in other places, kings and nobles ruled in sumptuous palaces, in Salo, there seemed to be no king. And to the outsiders, no king meant no herald of God on Earth. Even with their enormous church, outsiders viewed the people of Salo as faithless.
A “duke” began to become more prominent in Salo. To those who believed in demons within the town, it was as if the duke rose with no opposition whatsoever. But no one left. Where would they have gone?
Why care so much about what others think?
The duke built a small palace in Salo. It would do the work of satisfying ambassadors, and hopefully encouraging them to aid Salo in opening up to the outer world a little more.
The town was still tiny. The large church was still almost as big as the rest of the town. But even the church soon took second place in the attention of “Saloans” already anxious about all the changes happening, even if all the change was about growth.
New LEGO Farms
For years, the main agriculture of Salo was cereal grass fields. However, these grains were quite special. These were nearly 2 people tall. Organized irrigation systems kept the fields watered. As one may expect, they were too laborious to cultivate. They soon developed a new, systematic farm.
It consumed the efforts and attention of all the townsfolk, and in some ways, as as important a monument as either the church, or the whole town itself.
In the end, a new crop supply of artichoke, cauliflower, and lettuce grew in a grid system of farms. Each person was responsible for a section, and the farms would systematically grow with the town’s population. In addition, Salo moved the farms north, and built a low flood wall across the southern town. It traced the narrow strip of land which the town had previously confined itself to.
The politics of LEGO flood walls
There were concerns that the duke used the wall to block farmers from view of the palace. The duke decided to lower the walls, and install openings and gates along the wall. Two famous gates emerged, the Zagoza gate, and another unnamed gate. These gates reflected the increasingly defensive position of the town, as it grew bigger, stronger, but more unsure of itself.
The growth and change which did happen was too much for some in so little time. Even though all that came was more houses, bigger churches, better farms, and more people. Perhaps it was the ducal palace. Perhaps it was the bridge.
Comfort in the known, for now
Luckily, all this fear changed for the better by a quiet miracle. They discovered a marble statue base just northeast of the big church. All of a sudden, the people of Salo felt a little more comfortable expanding northward along the church’s back end.
For all the Christian piety in Salo, the town seemed remarkably attached to its pagan past. But we all feel a little attached to the comforts of what we know, don’t we?
What will you be when you grow up?
There were many more treasures from the past to discover. With any luck, Salo will find itself comforted and ready to grow each time it holds hands with its marble history. But there are only so many more marble hands for Salo to hold, before it must begin to grow on its own.
But it may not always grow as one. Soon after, the duke pondered the possibility of using one of the church’s enormous side aisles as a new throne room. There would be a new throne, a new entourage, new ceremonies, and new rules in a place which everyone had built.