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Pyramids of Chichen Itza, Mexico

December 8th, 2005 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

[Currently only low quality pictures available]

The name is often represented as Chichén Itzá in Spanish and other languages to show that both parts of the name are stressed on their final syllables. In the Yucatec Maya language (still in use in the area, and written with the Roman alphabet since the 16th century) this stress follows the normal rules of the language, and so it is written without diacritics. Both forms are attested in literature on the subject, including in scholarly works. Other references prefer to employ a more rigorous orthography, using Chich'en Itza. This form preserves the phonemeic distinction between [ ch' ] and [ ch ], since the base word ch'en meaning "well (of water)" begins with a glottalized affricate ( in IPA notation, [tʃʼ]) and not a voiceless (non-glottalized) one ([tʃ]).

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The Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet

December 8th, 2005 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

[Currently only low quality pictures available]

The Potala Palace (Tibetan: པོ་ཏ་ལ, Standard Mandarin:布达拉宫), located in Lhasa, Tibet, China, was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, India after a failed uprising in 1959. Today the Potala Palace is a state museum of China. It is now a popular tourist attraction and an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The site was used as a meditation retreat by Emperor Songtsen Gampo, who in 637 built a first palace there, which was incorporated into the later buildings. The construction of the present palace began in 1645 under the fifth Dalai Lama Lozang Gyatso. In 1648, the Potrang Karpo (White Palace) was completed, and the Potala was used as a winter palace by the Dalai Lama from that time. The Potrang Marpo (Red Palace) was added between 1690 and 1694. The name Potala probably derives from Mt Potala, the mythological abode of Bodhisattva Chenrezig (Avilokiteshvara / Kuan Yin).

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Moai - Statues of Easter Island

December 8th, 2005 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

[Currently only low quality pictures available]

Moai are statues carved of compressed volcanic ash on Rapa Nui (Easter Island). The statues are all monolithic, that is, carved in one piece. However, less than about one-fifth of the statues that were moved to ceremonial sites and then erected once had red stone cylinders pukau placed on their heads. These "topknots," as they are often called, were carved in a single quarry known as Puna Pau. About 95% of the 887 moai known to date were carved out of compressed volcanic ash at Rano Raraku, where 394 moai still remain visible today. Recent GPS mapping in the interior will certainly add additional moai to that count. The quarries in Rano Raraku appear to have been abandoned abruptly, with many incomplete statues still in situ. However, the pattern of work is very complex and is still being studied. Practically all of the completed moai that were moved from Rano Raraku and erected upright on ceremonial platforms were subsequently toppled by native islanders in the period after construction ceased.

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The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

December 8th, 2005 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Italian: Torre pendente di Pisa or simply Torre di Pisa) is the campanile, or bell tower, of the Italian city of Pisa's cathedral.

The tower was intended to stand vertically, but began leaning soon after construction started in August of 1173. It is situated behind the Cathedral and it is the third structure in Pisa's Campo dei Miracoli (field of Miracles).

The height of the tower is 55.86 m from the ground on the lowest side and 56.70 m on the highest side. The width of the walls at the base is 4.09 m and at the top 2.48 m. Its weight is estimated at 14,500 tonnes. The current inclination is about 5.5 degrees. The tower has 294 steps.

(Source: Wikipedia)


The Great Wall of China

August 14th, 2005 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

The Great Wall of China (Traditional Chinese: 長城; Simplified Chinese: 长城; pinyin: Chángchéng), also known in China as the Great Wall of 10,000 Li¹ (Traditional Chinese: 萬里長城; Simplified Chinese: 万里长城; pinyin: W� nlĭ Chángchéng), is an ancient Chinese fortification built from the end of the 14th century until the beginning of the 17th century, during the Ming Dynasty, in order to protect China from raids by the Mongols and Turkic tribes. It was preceded by several walls built since the 3rd century BC against the raids of nomadic tribes coming from areas now in modern day Mongolia and Manchuria.

The Wall stretches over a formidable 6,350 km (3,946 miles), from Shanhai Pass on the Bohai Gulf in the east, at the limit between China proper and Manchuria, to Lop Nur in the southeastern portion of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region

The first major wall was built during the reign of the First Emperor, the main emperor of the short-lived Qin dynasty. This wall was not constructed as a single endeavor, but rather was created by the joining of several regional walls built by the Warring States. It was located much further north than the current Great Wall, and very little remains of it. A defensive wall on the northern border was built and maintained by several dynasties at different times in Chinese history. The Great Wall that can still be seen today was built during the Ming Dynasty, on a much larger scale and with longer lasting materials (solid stone used for the sides and the top of the Wall) than any wall that had been built before. The primary purpose of the wall was not to keep out people, who could scale the wall, but to insure that semi-nomadic people on the outside of the wall could not cross with their horses or return easily with stolen property.

There have been four major walls:

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Taj Mahal, Agra, INDIA

July 2nd, 2005 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

Taj Mahal, Agra, INDIA

Taj Mahal is the name of a monument located in Agra, India. It was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the son of Jahangir, as a mausoleum for his Persian wife, Arjumand Banu Begum, also known as Mumtaz-ul-Zamani. It took 23 years to complete (1630 - 1653).

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The Colosseum, Roma, Italy

June 26th, 2005 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

The Colosseum, Roma, ITALY

The Colosseum measured 48 metres high, 188 metres long, and 156 metres wide. The wooden arena floor was 86 metres by 54 metres, and covered by sand. Its elliptical shape kept the players from retreating to a corner, and allowed the spectators to be closer to the action than a circle would allow.

The Colosseum was ingeniously designed. It has been said that most spectacle venues (stadiums, and similar) have been influenced by features of the Colosseum's structure, even well into modern times. Seating (cavea) was divided into different sections. The podium, the first level of seating, was for the Roman senators, and the emperor's private, cushioned, marble box was also located on this level. Above the podium was the maenianum primum, for the other Roman aristocrats who were not in the senate. The third level, the maenianum secundum, was divided into three sections. The lower part (the immum) was for wealthy citizens, while the upper part (the summum) was for poor citizens. A third, wooden section (the maenianum secundum in legneis) was a wooden structure at the very top of the building, added by Domitian. It was standing room only, and was for lower class women.

Underneath the arena was the hypogeum (literally, "underground"), a network of tunnels and cages where gladiators and animals were held before contests began. There were also numerous trap doors in the arena floor for the various animals hidden underneath. The arena floor no longer exists, and the hypogeum walls and corridors are clearly visible in the ruins of the building. The entire base of the Colosseum was equivalent to 6 acres (160,000 m²).

A most ingenious part of the Colosseum was its cooling system. It was roofed using a canvas covered net-like structure made of ropes, with a hole in the center. This roof sloped down towards the center to catch the wind and provide a breeze for the audience. Sailors manipulated the ropes. The Colosseum also had vomitoria — passageways that open into a tier of seats from below or behind. The vomitoria of the Colosseum in Rome were designed so that the immense venue could fill in 15 minutes, and be evacuated in 5 minutes. Each entrance and exit was numbered, as was each staircase. There were 80 entrances at ground level, 76 for ordinary spectators, two for the imperial family, and two for the gladiators. The vomitoria quickly dispersed people into their seats and upon conclusion of the event disgorged them with abruptness into the surrounding streets — giving rise, presumably, to the name.

(Source: Wikipedia)