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Most Beautiful Places Most Beautiful Monuments...
Most Beautiful Monuments...



After the death of Philip of Alsace at the Siege of Acre, during his return visit to the Holy Land, The Gravensteen became the permanent seat of the counts of Flanders until the 14th century. After their departure, the castle was used first as the royal mint, then as a courthouse, then as a prison, and finally as a textile factory, before it was abandoned altogether and fell into decay.

Private houses were attached to the castle and a substantial amount of its stonework was removed for use in the construction of other buildings. By the end of the 19th century the castle was a forlorn ruin, and plans to demolish it were announced.

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Pyramid of Kukulcan (Chichen Itza)


Sitting at the centre of the ancient Mayan site of Chichen Itza on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, the pyramid of Kukulcan has a pleasing symmetry and an imposing bulk, but perhaps its true majesty lies in the secrets of its construction - over 1000 years ago. The pyramid is a giant calendar. It consists of nine levels faced with a total of 52 panels - the number of years in the Mayan- Toltec cycle. The staircases on each face of the pyramid have 364 steps. Add the square platform at the top, and you have 365 - the number of days in the solar year. Most impressively, at the spring and autumn equinoxes the shadow cast by the sun on the northern staircase appears to cause a massively long 'snake' to crawl down the building and link with the stone serpent's head at the foot of the staircase.

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Jaisalmer Fort


Jaisalmer Fort sits in the Thar Desert in the westernmost part of Rajasthan. Located on a former trade route used to transport spices and silks between Arabia and India, Jaisalmer, more than anywhere else in India, appears to have stepped out of the Tales of the Arabian Nights - a collection of ancient folk tales. This is partly due to its location in a remote and inhospitable desert. and partly because of its appearance. Made rich from trade, its merchants built havelis, or merchants houses, with finely detailed windows and balconies that owe more to Arab style than Indian.

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Belém Tower


During the 16th century, Lisbon played a prominent role in international trade. Because of the established sea routes it became a natural port of call, and King João II devised a plan to protect the city by building three fortresses on the Tagus to form a triangular defence. The king died in 1495, and the building of the tower in the Belém district was left to his successor, Manuel II. Dedicated to the patron saint of the city, St. Vincent, the tower was designed by the architect Francisco de Arruda, recently returned from North Africa, and work was completed in 1520.

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Overlooking Granada, the Alhambra presents a hard and unyielding face to the world, its square towers displaying martial symmetry. This severity is softened when you approach from the back, as terraces of ornate gardens, interspersed with pools of running water, seek to emulate the shady, cool gardens of the Koranic heaven.

After the heat and dryness of North Africa the Moors must have thought they had reached heaven when they conquered Granada. The Sierra Nevada. snow-capped for much of the year, provided the conquerors with water for the fountains and pools that helped to make this corner of Spain paradise on Earth.

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Taj Mahal


The most evocative views of the Taj Mahal are across the Yamuna River, and getting to the Taj is part of the magic. Although it is quicker to take a boat across, taking a cycle-rickshaw through the village of Katchpura is more atmospheric. In the cool of a pre-dawn morning, you will pass villagers sleeping on low charpoy beds outside their small dwellings, often passing so close that they could reach out and touch you.

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Saint Peter’s Basilica


Saint Peter´s Basilica is simbol of the force and the platform which, when the time again became ripe, would explode as the glorious centre of a rejuvenated Rome. By the third century, the Roman Empire had grown too big for its own good. Emperor Diocletian, aiming to make his cumbersome and restless dominions more manageable, divided the Empire into Eastern and Westem parts. The East was governed from Constantinople and the West from Ravenna, and then Milan. No longer the political focus of the Mediterranean and the conquered European world, the splendid city of Rome went into decline. However, before the Western Empire fell apart, two developments ensured that through its dark years, Rome's light would diminish but not extinguish. One was the establishment of the papacy. The second was the Basilica erected by Emperor Constantine, that great saviour of the Christians, over St Peter's grave.

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Angkor Wat


Although the trees that surround Angkor have been tamed, it is still possible to imagine how this ancient city was “lost” to the outside world for centuries until the French explorer Henri Mahout discovered it smothered in the jungle in 1860.

Angkor was the capital of the Khmer civilization, which spanned some 500 years, until it was sacked by Thai invaders in 1431. It reached its zenith in the 12th century, first with the building of the temple that came to be known as Angkor Wat and later with the construction of Angkor Thom, a royal city-within-a-city.
The temple was built by King Suryavarman II as a representation of Mount Meru, the mythical holy centre of Hinduism. Sorrounded by a large moat bridged by a stone causeway, it is a west-facing rectangular stone structure comprising three levels. The uppermost level, formerly open only to priests and the king, is topped with four corner towers and a central sanctuary 65 metres from the ground. Originally devoted to the Hindu god Shiva, the temple later became a Wat, or Buddhist monastery, and is now accepted as a spiritual monument by the predominantly Buddhist Cambodians. Images of the Buddha can be found among its vaulted galleries.

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