Sanctuary of the Silver Lady
Hidden in plain sight, the Sanctuary of the Silver Lady inauspiciously opens to a narrow alleyway. Its entrance can only be seen once touched, and is a delicately barred gate of silver whose reflectiveness emulates the brick walls around and opposite it. Its minimal, symmetric and Art Nouveau styled filigree surrounds a small round plate of silver reminiscent of the full moon.
The gate opens to a dark, narrow arched corridor of brick and delicate silver framework (similar to the gate), seemingly leading straight into the building. It opens into a round open-air courtyard (20’ diameter) surrounded by the 5-story building on all sides; the way it’s built makes it feel like the building is protectively hugging the courtyard. The building’s curved walls have no windows but a long spiral staircase of similar delicate metalwork winds its way to the top of the building, where a grate spans. Although the courtyard opens to the sky, when looked down at from above or from the roof the courtyard simply doesn’t seem to exist.
In the middle of the courtyard is a white marble pavilion with a rounded mirror-and-silver dome roof whose overhang curls back inward and around the 13 pillars with irregular, flowing lines and shapes. The marble of the foundation extends about two feet around the pavilion, the top set flush with the ground but the bottom sinking in half a foot. Filled with water, it creates a shallow moat around the pavilion that can be easily crossed over; even so, there are 8 marble stepping stones within the moat, carved to reflect the 8 phases of the moon. Beyond the marble edged moat, grass and a variety of (now overgrown) flowering bushes and small trees hug the walls, interspersed by 4 marble, silver-filigree accented bookshelves (now empty and carved with various animal forms).
A delicate but hardy staircase circles the entirety of the room, gradually spiraling up in half-steps to a fine silver grate over the manse’s top opening. The grate has a gate door as well, which opens out onto the rooftop of the surrounding buildings. From above and outside the Sanctuary, this grate simply blends in to look like the rooftop around it.
Within the pavilion is a slender but large marble pedestal table surrounded by four marble benches, both inlaid with silver and ivory elements in the symmetrical lines mimicked elsewhere, all culminating into the center of the pedestal. Shards of mirrors and silver hang from the ceiling like stars, flickering with light when they move.
The gate to the manse opens only when someone whispers to the moon, “When the Silver Lady turns away, I walk gratefully in her shadows,” and kisses it.