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Khajuraho is a co-mingled grouping of Hindu and Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh, India. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the temple collection is especially well-known for its erotic sculptures and architecture.
Most of the temples in Khajuraho were built between 950 and 1050 AD during the Chandela dynasty. It’s thought that the grouping consisted of 85 temples when the region reached its peak of activity in the 12th century; currently only 25 temples remain. These temples vary tremendously in size from tiny to enormous! The most visited temple, Kandariya Mahadev, has an area of about 6,500 square feet and a spire that rises 116 feet. The temples all face the rising sun and are built near water.
While I am not a fan of the provincial capitol of Halifax, I really enjoyed the rural landscapes of Nova Scotia, especially the many colorful and picturesque fishing villages along the coast. The most interesting coastal community we visited was Lunenberg, situated about 90 km from Halifax. It has rows of tidy well-kept homes, nice churches and shops, and a lovely waterfront. Canadians best know Lunenberg as the birthplace of the Bluenose, a racing ship which graces the Canadian dime.
Lunenburg’s history has long been entertwined with the sea. The first mention of an European settlement around here was in the early 1600s, which was a simple Acadian village. The British saw the value of the …
For over 800 years the tower of Seville’s magnificent cathedral (the Giralda) stood as the tallest structure in the city, built at 103 m. Completed in 1195, it was originally the minaret of the Aljama mosque before it became the bell tower of a Christian Church. The structure took 12 years to build.
The name Giralda means “she who turns” after the weather vane on top of the tower. The figure on the weather vane, called El Giraldillo, represents faith.
The Giralda, originally used for calling faithful Muslims to prayer and as an observatory, was highly valued by the Moors. There were plans to destroy it before the Christian conquest of the city in 1248, but a threat by King Alfonso X …
Seville’s cathedral, Santa Maria de la Sede, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The cathedral was built in the 15th century (1401 to 1506 A.D.) on the site of the 12th century Aljama mosque. Portions of the mosque survive within the Cathedral’s structure, most notably the belltower known as Giralda.
Seville’s Cathedral is very popular with visitors and unless you arrive early or late, you’ll likely have to wait in line to purchase your ticket. It’s one of the most magnificent churches I’ve ever seen, and I found it well worth the wait and price of admission. While you wait in line you’ll have time to study and enjoy some of the beautiful craftsmanship adorning the …
One of the most popular attractions within Seville’s fabulous Cathedral is this unusual tomb, constructed in honor of famous resident, Christopher Columbus. The great 15th century explorer, widely celebrated for his successes, died in poverty in Valladolid. The tomb itself is more recent, from 1892, with statues of four royal bearers carrying the suspended tomb.
Columbus traveled far in life but likely even further in death. Posthumously his remains have journeyed from Northwestern Spain to Seville, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, the USA and finally back to Seville. With all that travel, one might begin to wonder if this is indeed the remains of Christopher Columbus, but recent DNA tests were pretty convincing that this tomb does hold Columbus remains.
(Click on thumbnails …
One of the world’s most famous fossil sites is Canada’s Burgess Shale, which contains a large assortment of ancient and amazingly well-preserved (often soft-bodied) marine fossils. Originally discovered at high altitude in the mountains of British Columbia’s Yoho National Park in 1909, the Burgess Shale was one of the important reasons for the designation of the region as a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are two Burgess Shale sites in Yoho National Park you can visit, both long hikes with significant altitude gain. One is to Mount Stephen and the other to Walcott Quarry.
Recently a sister site has been discovered further south in Kootenay National Park, about 25 miles (40 km) south of the original site. That …
Palazzo dei Normanni (Palace of the Normans) is the old Royal Palace in Palermo, Sicily. It was built in the 9th century by the Arab/Islamic rulers for the harems of their emirs. It was expanded and renovated by the Normans who subsequently conquered Sicily in 1072. The Norman kings transformed the building into a multi-functional complex that served as an administrative center and a royal residence. During the period of Norman rule, Sicily thrived and prospered.
The Palazzo sits on the highest spot in Palermo and is the oldest royal residence in Europe. After the Normans left, Palazzo dei Normanni was not used for several centuries. But the palace returned to an administrative role in the second half of the sixteenth century, when the Spanish governors chose …
Jantar Mantar is a walled astronomical observation compound which adjoins the Royal Palace of Jaipur. It’s home to a collection of astronomical instruments — many massive — and was built in the eighteenth century by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh. The site was completed in 1734 and is an interesting hybrid of masonry, brass and science. Although it was abandoned in the 19th century and fell into disrepair, the site has been restored and is well preserved (the best in India). It is notable for being home to the world’s largest stone sundial, but I found all the instruments to be interesting.
Even a non-sophisticated or lay astronomer can have a sense of wonder at complexity of the instrumentation, and …