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How could an old Spanish Monastery be located in North Miami Beach? Herein lies the interesting background of this story.
This Monastery was built between 1133 – 1141 A.D. near Segovia, in Northern Spain. It became known as the Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux. — St. Bernard was a Cistercian monk and influential church leader, and the founder and abbot of the Abbey of Clairvaux. Cistercian monks lived in this Monastery for nearly 700 years. After a social upheaval in the 1830’s, the Monastery’s Cloisters were seized and converted into a granary and stable.
Enter legendary American publisher, William Randolph Hearst (of California’s Hearst Castle fame). In 1925, Hearst purchased the Cloisters and the Monastery’s outbuildings (the church was not part …
The combination of its natural beauty and fascinating archaeological record (chronicling the country’s long history) makes Ireland a compelling place to visit. There are many fabulous places to see when visiting Ireland, each seeming better than the last one you stopped at. I think the most fascinating place we visited on the Emerald Isle — surpassing even the fabulous Dingle peninsula — was Brú na Bóinne. This place is truly unique and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated just an hour’s drive north of Dublin, it’s home to the most ancient structures I’ve ever been in and is well worth going out of your way to see.
Specifically I’m talking specifically about visiting Newgrange and Knowth, two sites in a complex …
One of the most remarkable buildings I’ve ever been in was this small ancient church on Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula, said to be the best preserved early Christian church on the Emerald Isle.
The Gallarus Oratory was built between the seventh and eight century A.D and is exclusively made of layered angled stone — no mortar was used. The process is known as dry-stone corbelling and is based on a building technique used in Ireland for thousands of years. The angled stones allow water to run off and to keep the interior dry. The technique results in thick heavy walls and a building shaped like an upside down boat; it’s obviously effective because over 1200 years later …
I grew up on the glaciated plains of central Canada, land as flat as a pancake, and vividly recall my first visit to the mountains as a child, that being a trip to the Banff. I was fascinated by the Rockies, have loved mountains ever since and go out of my way to visit them whenever possible.
The coastal regions of Sri Lanka are fairly flat. Given that and the relatively small size of the island, I was surprised to see what impressive peaks (over 2500 m high) are situated at its center. These mountains, lush and green, are known as the Hill Country and a visit here is mandatory for anyone traveling to the island. The temperature stays cool year round (people who live here actually own …
The Sinhalese name for this city is Maha Nuvara (Senkadagalapura), impossible for the British to pronounce so they just called it Kandy. Located in the forested foothills of the central mountains, about 1500 feet above sea level, Kandy is appealing to Sri Lankans as well as to visitors. The weather is cooler and less humid than on the coast, especially at night. Kandy is the second largest city in Sri Lanka and the gateway to the Hill Country and Cultural Triangle, so there’s lots to see and do. It’s easily accessible by road and train from Colombo, offering scenic journeys through coconut and rubber plantations and rice paddies. I’ve visited Kandy four times and enjoyed each visit.
Like Polonnaruwa …
The eastern most point visited when touring Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle is Polonnaruwa. The ruins in this ancient capitol are the best preserved and most varied in Ceylon and it’s well worth the effort to visit them. The city’s historic sites can be visited in one day, although it gets quite hot in the afternoon so be sure to bring your water bottle. Polonnaruwa is another UNESCO World Heritage site.
A Brief history of Polonnaruwa
King Aggabodhi IV (7th century) was the first Sri Lankan monarch who began to develop Polonnaruwa. He built it as a “vacation residence” for royalty, an alternative to the historic royal home in Anuradhapura. King …
“You absolutely must go to Sigiriya!”, Arthur C. Clarke insisted during my first visit to Sri Lanka. “There are other countries with beautiful weather and beaches, but there’s only one Sigiriya.” I think Arthur loved this place more than any other in his adopted homeland — with perhaps the exception of his favorite beaches and diving spots — to the point where he featured it as one of the two peaks central to his book, “The Fountains of Paradise” (the other being Adam’s Peak, also in Sri Lanka and to be discussed in a future post). In his office Arthur had large aerial photos of both Sigiriya (showing …
Dambulla is known for its Cave Temples which predate Christ. Legend has it that a Sri Lankan King, driven out of Anuradhapura, found a hiding place and refuge within these caves. When this king regained his throne he decreed the caves should be a shrine and began fashioning them into the temple complex you can visit today. Subsequent kings progressively added to the shrine, including Buddha carvings and gilding the caves’ interior; the last additions were the interior paintings finished around 200 years ago, including over 1500 Buddha images. As with most of the other ancient sites around Sri Lanka, Dambulla is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Most tourists who stop at Dambulla do so while traveling from …