Angkor Wat in Cambodia

January 16th, 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Museums, Exhibitions, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage

Buddhist monks in front of the Angkor Wat © flickr.com - sam garza/cc-by-2.0

Buddhist monks in front of the Angkor Wat © flickr.com – sam garza/cc-by-2.0

Angkor was the capital city of the Khmer Empire, which also recognized as Yasodharapura and flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. Angkor was a megacity supporting at least 0.1% of the global population during 1010–1220. The city houses the magnificent Angkor Wat, one of Cambodia‘s popular tourist attractions. The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagara, meaning “city”. The Angkorian period began in AD 802, when the Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declared himself a “universal monarch” and “god-king”, and lasted until the late 14th century, first falling under Ayutthayan suzerainty in 1351. A Khmer rebellion against Siamese authority resulted in the 1431 sacking of Angkor by Ayutthaya, causing its population to migrate south to Longvek.   read more…

Union for the Mediterranean: Bon voyage!

January 12th, 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean

Union for the Mediterranean © AndrewRT/cc-by-sa-3.0

Union for the Mediterranean © AndrewRT/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is an intergovernmental organization of 43 countries from Europe and the Mediterranean Basin: the 28 member states of the European Union and 15 Mediterranean partner countries from North Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Europe. It was created in July 2008 at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, with a view to reinforcing the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed) that was set up in 1995 and known as the Barcelona Process. The Union has the aim of promoting stability and prosperity throughout the Mediterranean region. It is a forum for discussing regional strategic issues, based on the principles of shared ownership, shared decision-making and shared responsibility between the two shores of the Mediterranean. Its main goal is to increase both North-South and South-South integration in the Mediterranean region, in order to support the countries’ socioeconomic development and ensure stability in the region. The actions of the organization fall under three, interrelated priorities—regional human development, regional integration and regional stability. To this end, it identifies and supports regional projects and initiatives of different sizes, to which it gives its label, following a consensual decision among the forty-three countries. The region has 756 million inhabitants and is scenic, architecturally and culturally very diverse. Cities, lakes, mountains, beaches and national parks offer everything that promises fun, recreation and perfect vacations. The cultural offers are numerous. In addition to many UNESCO World Heritage sites, there are numerous galleries, museums, theaters and opera houses. Of course, there are plenty of shopping and entertainment possibilities. However, holiday pleasure is not untroubled in all countries. At present, Syria and Libya in general, Mauritania (Sahara and Sahel) and Lebanon (North Lebanon and the border regions to Syria and Israel), Palestine (Gaza Strip) should be partly avoided. In all other countries of the Levant and North Africa, increased caution, vigilance and prudence are recommended. At the end of each country portrait is a link to the U.S. Department of State, in order to be able to find out about the current security situation on the ground.   read more…

Theme Week Vatican City – St. Peter’s Basilica

December 29th, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Architecture, General, UNESCO World Heritage

Tiber, Ponte Sant'Angelo and St. Peter's Basilica © Rabax63/cc-by-sa-4.0

Tiber, Ponte Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s Basilica © Rabax63/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, or simply St. Peter’s Basilica, is an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City, the papal enclave within the city of Rome. Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter’s is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and the largest church in the world. While it is neither the mother church of the Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, St. Peter’s is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. It has been described as “holding a unique position in the Christian world” and as “the greatest of all churches of Christendom“.   read more…

Theme Week Vatican City – Vatican Museums

December 28th, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Architecture, General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage

Main complex of the Vatican Museums © F. Bucher/cc-by-2.5

Main complex of the Vatican Museums © F. Bucher/cc-by-2.5

The Vatican Museums (Italian: Musei Vaticani; Latin: Musea Vaticana) are Christian and art museums located within the city boundaries of the Vatican City. They display works from the immense collection amassed by popes throughout the centuries including several of the most renowned Roman sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world. The museums contain roughly 70,000 works, of which 20,000 are on display, and currently employ 640 people who work in 40 different administrative, scholarly, and restoration departments. Pope Julius II founded the museums in the early 16th century. The Sistine Chapel, with its ceiling decorated by Michelangelo and the Stanze di Raffaello decorated by Raphael, are on the visitor route through the Vatican Museums. In 2017, they were visited by 6 million people, which combined makes it the 5th most visited art museum in the world. There are 54 galleries, or sale, in total, with the Sistine Chapel, notably, being the very last sala within the Museum. It is one of the largest museums in the world. In 2017, the Museum’s official website and social media presence was completely redone, in accord with current standards and appearances for modern websites. The Museums had 6,427,277 visitors in 2017, making them the fourth-most-visited art museum in the world.   read more…

Theme Week Vatican City – Apostolic Palace

December 27th, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Architecture, General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage

Pope Benedict XVI during the traditional weekly mess © Oliver-Bonjoch/cc-by-sa-3.0

Pope Benedict XVI during the traditional weekly mess © Oliver-Bonjoch/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Apostolic Palace (Latin: Palatium Apostolicum; Italian: Palazzo Apostolico) is the official residence of the Roman Catholic Pope and Bishop of Rome, which is located in Vatican City. It is also known as the Papal Palace, Palace of the Vatican and Vatican Palace. The Vatican itself refers to the building as the Palace of Sixtus V in honor of Pope Sixtus V. The building contains the Papal Apartments, various offices of the Catholic Church and the Holy See, private and public chapels, Vatican Museums, and the Vatican Library, including the Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms, and Borgia Apartment. The modern tourist can see these last and other parts of the palace, but other parts, such as the Sala Regia and Cappella Paolina, are closed to tourists. The Scala Regia can be seen into from one end but not entered.   read more…

Theme Week Vatican City – St. Peter’s Square

December 26th, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Architecture, General, UNESCO World Heritage

© Greudin

© Greudin

St. Peter’s Square (Italian: Piazza San Pietro) is a large plaza located directly in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City, the papal enclave inside Rome, directly west of the neighbourhood or rione of Borgo. Both the square and the basilica are named after Saint Peter, an apostle of Jesus and the first Catholic Pope. At the centre of the square is an ancient Egyptian obelisk, erected at the current site in 1586. Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed the square almost 100 years later, including the massive Doric colonnades, four columns deep, which embrace visitors in “the maternal arms of Mother Church”. A granite fountain constructed by Bernini in 1675 matches another fountain designed by Carlo Maderno in 1613.   read more…

Theme Week Vatican City – Vatican Gardens

December 25th, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Architecture, General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage

© Marek.69/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Marek.69/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Gardens of Vatican City (Latin: Horti Civitatis Vaticanae), also informally known as the Vatican Gardens (Italian: Giardini Vaticani) in Vatican City, are private urban gardens and parks which cover more than half of the country, located in the west of the territory and owned by the Pope. There are some buildings, such as Radio Vatican and the Governor’s Palace, within the gardens. The gardens cover approximately 23 hectares (57 acres) which is most of the Vatican Hill. The highest point is 60 metres (200 ft) above mean sea level. Stone walls bound the area in the North, South and West. The gardens and parks were established during the Renaissance and Baroque era and are decorated with fountains and sculptures. There is no general public access, but guided tours are available to limited numbers. The gardens also enshrine 16 Marian images venerated worldwide at the designation of the Roman Pontiff, who is the owner of the gardens.   read more…

Theme Week Vatican City

December 24th, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage

Palace of the Governorate of the Vatican City State © Staselnik/cc-by-sa-3.0

Palace of the Governorate of the Vatican City State © Staselnik/cc-by-sa-3.0

Vatican City is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. Established with the Lateran Treaty (1929), it is distinct from yet under “full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction” of the Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes). With an area of 44 hectares (110 acres), and a population of about 1,000, it is the smallest state in the world by both area and population. The Vatican City is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotalmonarchical state (a type of theocracy) ruled by the pope who is, religiously speaking, the bishop of Rome and head of the Catholic Church. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergy of various national origins. Since the return of the popes from Avignon in 1377, they have generally resided at the Apostolic Palace within what is now Vatican City, although at times residing instead in the Quirinal Palace in Rome or elsewhere.   read more…

Canada: Bon voyage!

December 8th, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, General, UNESCO World Heritage

© George F.G. Stanley

© George F.G. Stanley

Canada has a large domestic and foreign tourism industry. The second largest country in the world and a population well over 36,5 million, Canada’s incredible geographical variety is a significant tourist attractor. Much of the country’s tourism is centred in the following (busiest) regions: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver/Whistler, Niagara Falls, Vancouver Island, Canadian Rockies, British Columbias Okanagan Valley, and the national capital region Ottawa. The large cities (cities in Canada) are known for their culture, diversity, as well as the many national parks and historic sites. There are 17 World Heritage sites in Canada, including one of the oldest, Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories, and one of the newest, the Red Bay Basque Whaling Station in Newfoundland and Labrador. Of these 18 sites, 8 of them are Cultural Heritages and 10 are Natural Heritages. Canada is divided into ten provinces and three territories. Domestic and international tourism combined directly contributes 1% of Canada’s total GDP and supports 310,000 jobs in the country. Most visitors arriving to Canada in 2015 came from the following countries of residence: United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and India. Canada ist host to 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.   read more…

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