Acropolis and the Parthenon

In ancient Greece, many cities had an elevated, fortified area known as an acropolis ("top of the city"). The acropolis is where the inhabitants of a city would seek refuge during an invasion. The most well-known acropolis, the Acropolis, is the one in Athens. The Acropolis contains the ruins of some of the world's greatest architectural monuments, in particular, the Parthenon, Erechtheum and Propylaea. (Actually, my theory is that these are the Greek names for the Three Stooges.) The Parthenon, originally built as a temple, is one of the most famous ruins in the world because it is considered to be the supreme example of Doric architecture. (Greek buildings with columns were built according to one of three styles, called "orders", Doric, Ionic or Corinthian.) The main structures on the Acropolis were built in the fifth century B.C., and were richly adorned with color, statures, friezes and other art. The Parthenon, which has become the archetype of a Greek temple, is in relatively good condition. In total, it had 64 columns, 27 on the outside and 37 on the inside. Today, people visit the Acropolis and Parthenon for two main reasons. First, when you are in Athens, you go to see the Acropolis because everyone else does. Second, you can stand at the top, imagine the ancient Greek city below you, pretend that the ruins of the buildings are intact, and marvel at the architectural achievements of an ancient people.


Web:

http://academic.reed.edu/humanities/110tech/parthenon.html
http://www.athensguide.com/athacrop.html
http://www.dragonridge.com/greece/Acropolis.htm
http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/the_parthenon.html


Castles

Indulge in your fantasies of knights, dragons and history galore by touring some of the many castles around the globe. You'll find a huge list of castles, including some of the best places in the world to play hide-and-go-seek.


Web:

http://www.castles.org/
http://www.dupontcastle.com/castles/


Cathedrals

The Gothic style of cathedrals was predominant in Europe from around 1150 to 1400. Gothic emerged in France and coincided with the rise of the monarchy as the central form of government. (Gothic cathedrals were not called gothic in their days of creation. The style was referred to as the "Modern" or "French" style. The term "Gothic" was coined in the sixteenth century by an Italian artist and historian named Giorgio Vasari. The expression was originally a negative term referring to the Goths who, Vasari felt, were responsible for ruining the classical artistry of the Roman empire.) However, today the Gothic cathedral is admired as a breathtaking work of art. This Web page offers a tour of various cathedrals such as Notre Dame, Canterbury and Chartres.


Web:

http://www.elore.com/elore04.html


Easter Island

Easter Island is a triangle of volcanic rock in the South Pacific, 2,300 miles (3,700 km) west of Chile. Although the island is small -- only 73 square miles (177 sq. km.) -- it has the distinction of being the most isolated inhabited island in the world. (Imagine what it is like to try to have a pizza delivered there.) Easter Island was discovered by Dutch explorers on Easter Day 1722 (hence the name). Today, however, we use the Polynesian name of Rapa Nui to refer to the island, as well as the people who live there and their language. What makes Rapa Nui notable are the hundreds of giant human-like figures, called moai, carved out of volcanic rock. Although this may not sound like much, take a look at the pictures. Truly, the moai of Rapa Nui are among the most incredible ancient relics ever discovered. Although they must have taken the original natives many years to build, the actual origins of the moai are unknown. (My theory is that the natives needed something to do while they waited for their pizza.)


Web:

http://www.crystalinks.com/easter.html
http://www.mysteriousplaces.com/easter_island/
http://www.netaxs.com/~trance/rapanui.html


Famous Mountains

Do you find mountains interesting? If so, here are photographs and information about some of the most famous mountains in the world: Mount Fuji (Japan), Mount St. Helens (Washington state, U.S.), Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Mount Kailash (Tibet) and Mount Everest (Nepal). After looking at the pictures, I have a new goal in life. I want to climb to the top of Mount Everest and throw a penny off the top. (Mountain trivia: Of the highest mountains in the world, all of the top 10 are in Nepal and Kashmir.)


Web:

http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/mshnvm/
http://www.jerberyd.com/climbing/mountains.htm
http://www.mnteverest.net/
http://www.mt-fuji.co.jp/index-e.html
http://www.planet101.com/mountain10.htm
http://www.tanzania-web.com/mtkil/


Golden Gate Bridge

In 1579, the English explorer Francis Drake discovered a strait connecting the Pacific Ocean with San Francisco Bay. This strait became known as the Golden Gate. Although the name was used long before the California Gold Rush of 1849, the Gold Rush made the Golden Gate -- the entrance into Northern California -- an indelible part of the California mystique. The idea of building a bridge across the Golden Gate Strait was discussed as early as 1872. However, it was not until 1937 that a suspension bridge was built to span the strait. The Golden Gate Bridge runs north and south, connecting the city of San Francisco to Marin County. The bridge, which took a little over four years to build, is one of the most beautiful structures in the world. It is not the longest suspension bridge in the world, but it is easily the most famous.


Web:

http://www.goldengatebridge.org/research/facts.html
http://www.thoma.com/thoma/ggbfacts.html


Great Barrier Reef

A coral is a very small, sedentary sea creature with a hard outer covering. Corals grow where there is warm, clear sunlit seawater. They form colonies in which many tiny animals attach to one another. As individual corals die, their outer coverings remain and build up in layers. Eventually, over many years, more and more corals live and die, and a coral reef is created. The reef forms a colorful, natural barrier that serves as a home for many different types of marine life. The largest coral reef in the world is the Great Barrier Reef, a collection of over 2,900 individual reefs and 618 small islands off the coast of Queensland, Australia. It is 1,430 miles (2,300 km) long, covering 21,000 square miles (349,000 sq km) and, in places, is more than 400 ft (122 m) thick. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park surrounds the reef and is the largest protected marine area in the world. The reef itself is home to a great many different types of animals, including 1,500 species of fish, 215 species of birds and 47 ex-rugby players from Sydney, all of whom are named Nick.


Web:

http://www.acn.net.au/articles/1999/02/gbr.htm
http://www.barrierreef.net/DiscoveryCoast/
http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/
http://www.greatbarrierreef.com/
http://www.ozramp.net.au/~senani/barrier.htm
http://www1.minn.net/~eck/reef.html
http://www2.eis.net.au/~nqtds/infocomm/1overv1.html


Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is a long series of fortifications, averaging 25 feet (7.6 m) in height, which extend 3,700 miles (6,000 km) across northern China. The wall was designed as a military structure to protect China against invasion. Much of the wall was built in the third century B.C. by 300,000 laborers, most of whom were criminals, conscripted soldiers and slaves who died in the process. Originally, there were a large number of small walls, which were later united into a few very long segments. The present form of the wall dates from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Interestingly enough, after all the effort and expense that went into building the wall, it didn't work. China was successfully invaded, a number of times, by nomads from the north. (By then, of course, it was too late for the Chinese to get their money back.)


Web:

http://www.beijingtrip.com/attractions/greatwall/
http://www.chinavista.com/travel/greatwall/greatwall.html
http://www.travelchinaguide.com/china_great_wall/
http://www.walkthewall.com/


Labyrinths

A labyrinth is a place to walk: a circular, single-path maze, used for meditation and spiritual focus. Labyrinths are constructed with a pathway that winds around and around, back and forth. For example, a labyrinth that measures only 40 feet in diameter might take an hour or more to traverse completely. The idea is that, while you are walking, you are free from the normal distractions of everyday life, which allows you to focus on the pattern and create a walking meditation. There are a wide variety of labyrinths in the world: old, new, large, small, indoors and outdoors. Some labyrinths are elaborate works of art, others are simple homemade creations. Are you interested? Would you like to walk a labyrinth or even make your own? Start here.


Web:

http://www.earthsymbols.com/symbols.html
http://www.geomancy.org/labyrinths/
http://www.gracecathedral.org/labyrinth/
http://www.labyrinthina.com/laby.htm
http://www.labyrinthos.net/


Pompeii

We often think of ancient people as being different from us. Actually, human nature doesn't really change. One way to appreciate this is to study an ancient city, and one of the best-preserved cities in the world is Pompeii. Two thousand years ago, Pompeii was a flourishing city in what is now southern Italy, close to Naples at the foot of a mountain named Mt. Vesuvius. In 79 A.D., Mt. Vesuvius erupted in a massive explosion, completely burying Pompeii and the nearby city of Herculaneum. In 1748, Pompeii was rediscovered and, since that time, extensive excavations have revealed much about life in Roman times. For example, did you know that the Romans kept dogs as pets and wrote graffiti on their walls? They also baked fresh bread, wore brightly colored clothes and decorated their houses with knickknacks and family portraits. They worked hard to survive and care for their families -- until one day, a nearby volcano erupted and their world changed forever.


Web:

http://users.ipa.net/~tanker/pompeii.htm
http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~jhauser/pictures/history/Rome/Pompeii/
http://www.etrav.net/pathways/html/pompeii.asp
http://www.harcourtschool.com/activity/pompeii/


Pyramids

When I was an undergraduate, I had a friend named Stu. I remember once driving with Stu and his father. We were talking about whether or not humanity should spend a lot of money on space exploration, when Stu's father asked "Why build pyramids?" He was trying to tell us that human beings, by their nature, have always striven to achieve greatness, and that human nature doesn't change. The most famous pyramids are the ten large ones built by ancient Egyptians between 2630 and 2472 B.C. Each of these massive structures was created as a tomb for a single Egyptian pharaoh (king). During his lifetime, a pharaoh would build his own pyramid so that, after he died, his mummified body could be preserved for all eternity. Pyramids were built as part of a group of other structures, including temples, chapels, other tombs and large walls. The largest pyramid in the world, built for the pharaoh Khufu, is the Great Pyramid at Giza, southwest of modern Cairo. It contains many stones weighing several tons and, originally, stood 482 feet (147 m) high. Here is some important information that may save your life one day: the names of the pharaohs for whom the pyramids were built are Zoser, Sekhemkhet, Khaba, Huni, Snefru (2), Khufu, Djedefra, Khafra and Menkaura.


Web:

http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/pyramids/
http://www.egypt-tehuti.com/pyramids.html
http://www.eyelid.co.uk/pyr-temp.htm
http://www.gizapyramid.com/
http://www.guardians.net/egypt/pyramids.htm
http://www.powerup.com.au/~ancient/pyra1.htm
http://www.touregypt.net/monument.htm


Roadside America

When it comes to offbeat and just plain strange, there is no country on Earth like the United States. Just imagine: a huge country with millions of miles of highways, cheap gas, and lots of tourist facilities, all combined with the enormous cultural freedom to do exactly as you wish, without the artificial restrictions of good taste, attractive appearance or tradition. Would you like to see scary museums, mystery spots, gas chambers, or pet cemeteries? How about a place to see really big fake cows? America: is there any place you'd rather be?


Web:

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/


Sacred Places

Is nothing sacred? Not at all. Lots of stuff is sacred, including a large number of places around the world that people regard with intense emotion -- places such as the Ellora caves in India; the Asklepion shrine in Athens; the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem; Lourdes in France; Mount Sinai in Egypt; Mecca in Saudi Arabia; and on and on. Actually, I bet you'll be surprised at how many sacred places there really are in the world.


Web:

http://www.arthistory.sbc.edu/sacredplaces/sacredplacesintro.html
http://www.sacredsites.com/


Sedlec Ossuary

It's grotesque, or artistically magnificent, depending on how you think about it. The Sedlec Ossuary is a small Christian chapel on the outskirts of the Czech town of Kutna Hora. What makes it unique is that it is decorated with the bones of 40,000 people. Here's how it happened. In the early 1300s, the area suffered from the plague and about 30,000 people died. Their remains were added to an existing cemetery, and around 1400, a chapel was built in the middle of the cemetery. In 1511, a monk gathered the existing bones and put them in a crypt to make room for new burials. In 1870, a woodcarver was hired to use the bones, by then 40,000 sets strong, to decorate the inside of the chapel. And now they are all finally resting in peace.


Web:

http://www.eurodata.com/articles/sedlec.htm
http://www.ludd.luth.se/users/silver_p/kutna.html


Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

There were many wonders in the ancient world. Traditionally, we recognize seven of these as being extra special. They are the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria. Except for the pyramid, most of these will probably not be familiar, so take a few moments and explore some of the most impressive creations in history. By the way, the only one that is still around is the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza, Egypt. Even into the nineteenth century, when it was about 4000 years old, this pyramid was still the tallest building in the world.


Web:

http://ce.eng.usf.edu/pharos/wonders/
http://www.cleveleys.co.uk/wonders/sevenwondersoftheworld.htm
http://www.crystalinks.com/seven.html


Stones and Megaliths

A megalith is a structure made out of huge stones. There are a large number of ancient megalithic monuments in western Europe and the British Isles dating back to 2000-1500 B.C. Typically, the stones are arranged singly, in rows or in a circle. Although no one knows for sure why these monuments were erected, it is thought that they were used for religious purposes or as part of a funeral ceremony. The most well-known megalith monument is Stonehenge, located on Salisbury Plain in the south of England. However, around the world, you will find many other stone circles, as well as cairns, stone settlements, stone rows, dolmens (chamber tombs) and manmade mounds.


Web:

http://www.anima.demon.co.uk/stones/
http://www.bass100.freeserve.co.uk/
http://www.henge.org.uk/
http://www.stonehenge-avebury.net/
http://www.stonehenge.uklinux.net/
http://www.stonepages.com/


World's Tallest Buildings

In 1956, Frank Lloyd Wright proposed a skyscraper, called "The Illinois", which would be a mile high (over 1,600 meters). The structure was never built, but man's quest for such buildings has flourished. If you love tall buildings, this is the place for you. Not only will you find enough information to satiate your desires, you will feel right at home among those who worship tall buildings as more than just jumbo-sized structures. Tall buildings speak deep to our psyche, in an innate sexual way (which I would explain were this not a family book). So what is the tallest building in the world? It's more or less a tie. Officially, the tallest buildings in the world are the Petronas Towers, a pair of buildings in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which reach a height of 1,483 feet (452 meters). However, the Sears Tower in Chicago, a close second at 1,454 feet (443 meters), is actually 1,730 feet (527 meters) if you count the antenna on top. (In Chicago, they count the antenna on top.)


Web:

http://www.high-rises.co.uk/worlds_tallest.html