The 16th century Sultan Ahmet Mosque (or Blue Mosque) is an awe-inspiring culmination of two different centuries, the Ottoman and the Byzantine Empires and is believed to be the last great mosque of the classical period. Despite there being more than three thousand mosques in Istanbul, the Blue Mosque dominates the cities skyline with it’s six spires (or minarets).
Posts tagged ‘UNESCO’
Unlike its neighbours Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent; Brussels is a shadow of its former Flemish roots, but despite the shiny big city vibe it’s still has a Flemish heart. We spent a weekend wandering amongst the Christmas market stalls, adding a few more beers to our Belgian beer roll and searching for that famous peeing boy.
Lying in the shadow of Mount Sinai, Saint Catherine’s Monastery has been a popular place of religious pilgrimage for over fifteen centuries. A UNSECO World Heritage Site, the monastery is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world. Whilst staying in Sharm el Sheikh we took a day trip to the site of the burning bush and to see where Moses received the Ten Commandments.
If the competition for ‘Venice of the North’ was based on canal coverage Amsterdam would win hands down. The city is home to more than one hundred kilometres of canals and 1,500 bridges, I’m assuming; all dug by hand sometime during the 17th century. In an effort to escape some of the crazy that is Amsterdam we spent an hour pottering along the cities charming canals.
According to Colin Farrell’s character in In Bruges, Bruges is a s#@$hole, according to everyone else Bruges is a delight. We spent a rainy day in early October wandering the cobbled streets of the city; drinking beer, eating waffles and looking for that so-called shitty part of Bruges.
Sandwiched between France, Germany and Belgium, Luxembourg is one of the tiniest countries in Europe, but that doesn’t stop it from boasting about having the highest GDP per capita or that it’s one of the least populated. The entire city of Luxembourg is also a UNESCO world heritage site, which should give you an idea of what to expect when you arrive, along with plenty of Belgium beer and beautiful vistas of course!
Luxembourg City is one of the richest cities in the world, it’s also one of the prettiest. This past weekend we spent 24 hours in the stunning city; sampling Luxembourg’s lagers and admiring the UNESCO vistas. Here are my top ten photos from the weekend.
After some toast, coffee, eggs and moon cake we met up with Bajing and our driver and headed for the Great Wall. We were heading for the Juyong Pass or Juyongguan part of the Great Wall. Roughly 50 kilometers from Beijing City it’s one of the three great passes of the wall. The other two are Jiayuguan and Shanhaiguan. According to Wikipedia -
“The present Pass was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) and received much renovation later. It is a very important strategic place connecting the inner land and the area near the northern border of China.”
At the bottom of the wall it quickly became apparent that the actual climb was going to be reasonably difficult, there were more than 2,000 steps to the very top and there were at least this many people doing the exact same thing as us! We were given two hours to get as far as we could and then back down again. I found it pretty gruelling. Many of the steps were uneven and some parts were very steep. We made it to the tower in the middle of the picture below.
Exhausted, we were whisked off for lunch at a Cloisonné Factory. After some more tasty Chinese food – pork dumplings, broccoli, egg fried rice and sweetand sour pork we headed downstairs for a look around the factory. Cloisonné is an ancient Chinese decorative art created with copper wires and colored enamel. The factory was huge and there were an equally impressive range of products for sale. Unfortunately not as cheap as we were expecting!
Next stop was Ming Tombs. The tombs are home to 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). We made a brief stop at the Changling tomb, home to Emperor Zhu Di and his empresses. This is one of only two tombs open to the public, the other, Dingling, is underground. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of the gardens around the tombs; however our craving for nature was met with delight at our next stop – The Temple of Heaven.
The temple grounds are filled with ancient trees and roses. The temple itself was built in 1420, during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who was also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City (which we’d be checking out tomorrow). In the 16th century the Jiajing Emperor built three other temples in Beijing – the Temple of Sun, the Temple of Earth and the Temple of Moon.
The Temple of Heaven is the only one still standing. At the centre of the complex is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. Wikipedia states it’s “a triple-gabled circular building, 36 meters in diameter and 38 meters tall, built on three levels of marble stone base constructed of wood with no nails.” All the buildings on the temple grounds have dark blue roof tiles representing the sky or heaven.
After a quick visit to the Yuan Hou Silk factory, where we got to see silk worms in action it was duck for dinner followed by a Kung Fu show.
The show was one of the highlights of our trip. Chun Yi, the Legend of Kung Fu (at the Red Theatre) is a big production, similar in style to a Cirque De Soleil show. The show follows the story of a young boy who is dropped off at a Buddist temple by his mother, learns kung fu and progresses towards enlightenment to become the next leader of the temple.