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Buthrotum, Albania

May 4th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

Buthrotum (Albanian: Butrint or Butrinti) is an ancient city and an archeological site in Albania, close to the Greek border. It was known in antiquity as Βουθρωτόν Bouthroton in Ancient Greek and Buthrotum in Latin. It is located on a hill overlooking the Vivari Channel. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Butrint has been the site of an Epirot city, a Roman colony and a bishopric.

Buthrotum was originally a town within the ancient region of Epirus. It was the one of the major centres of the local Chaonian tribe with close contacts to the Greek colony on Corfu and Illyrian tribes to the north. According to the Roman writer Virgil, its legendary founder was the Trojan seer Helenus, the son of King Priam, who had married Andromache and moved West after the fall of Troy. The historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus wrote that Aeneas visited Butrint after his own escape from the destruction of Troy.

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Robben Island, South Africa

May 1st, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

Robben Island (Afrikaans Robben Eiland) is an island in Table Bay, 12 km off the coast from Cape Town, South Africa and is located at 33.806734° S 18.366222° E. The name is Dutch for "seal island" (or to be strictly accurate, "island of seals", because Robben is plural). [Incidentally, "Seal Island" is a different island in nearby False Bay.] Robben Island is roughly oval and about a kilometer wide. It is flat and only a few metres above sealevel, as a result of an ancient erosion event. The island is composed of Precambrian metamorphic rocks belonging to the Malmesbury Group.

Robben Island was first inhabited thousands of years ago by stone age people, at a time when sealevels were considerably lower than they are today and people could walk to it. It was then a flat-topped hill. Towards the end of the last Ice Age the melting of the ancient ice caps caused sealevels to rise and the land around the island was flooded by the ocean. Since the end of the 17th century, Robben Island has been used to isolate certain people — mainly prisoners — and amongst its first permanent inhabitants were political leaders from various Dutch colonies, including Indonesia.

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The Old Town in Baku, Azerbaijan

April 27th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

The centre of Baku is the old town, which is also a fortress. In December 2000, the Inner City of Baku with the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower became the first location in Azerbaijan classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Most of the walls and towers, strengthened after the Russian conquest in 1806, survived. This section is picturesque, with its maze of narrow alleys and ancient buildings: the cobbled streets past the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, two caravansaraies (ancient inns), the Maiden Tower (nice view of the harbor), the baths and the Djuma Mosque (it used to house the Carpet and Applied Arts Museum, but now is a mosque again; the carpets got moved to the former Lenin museum). The old town also has dozens of small mosques, often without any particular sign to distinguish them from the next building.

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Hwaseong - “Brilliant Fortress”, Suwon, South Korea

April 24th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

Hwaseong ("Brilliant Fortress") is located in Suwon, South Korea, 30 kilometers from Seoul. It was built from 1794 to 1796. King Jeongjo constructed the fortress complex to honor and house the remains of his father Prince Sado who was forced to commit suicide by being shut in a rice chest by King Yeongjo.

The fortress was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1997.

The architecture of the fortress combines traditional Eastern and Western styles, which makes it very distinctive from other Korean buildings.

The fortress has four gates, "Hwaseomun" (west gate), "Janganmun" (north), "Paldalmun" (south) and Changnyongmun (east). The Janganmun and Paldalmun gates are the larger of the four main gates and resemble Seoul's Namdaemun in roof design, and stone and wood work. Paldalmun was burned down during the Korean War and was reconstructed in 1975. Janganmun survived destruction and is from the original construction of the fortress. Both the north and south gates are topped with two-story wooden pavilions while Hwaseomun and Changyongmun, the west gate and east gate respectively, had one story pavilions. The north gate's grand design reflected King Jeongjo's desire to move the capital to Suwon. The four main gates are encircled by miniature fortresses which housed guards to protect the gates.

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Shuri Castle, Japan

April 24th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

Shuri Castle is a gusuku (Ryūkyūan castle) in Shuri, Okinawa. It was the palace of the Ryūkyū Kingdom. In 1945, during the Battle of Okinawa, it was almost completely destroyed, with only a few walls standing as high as a few decimeters. In 1992, it was reconstructed on the original site based on photographs, historical records, and memory.

The date of construction is uncertain, but clearly it was in use as a castle during the Sanzan period. It is thought that it was probably built during the Gusuku period, like the other castles of Okinawa. When King Shō Hashi unified the three sections of Okinawa and established the Ryūkyū Kingdom, he used Shuri Castle as a residence. At the same time, Shuri flourished as the capital, and continued to do so during the second Sho dynasty.

For 450 years from the beginning of the 15th century, it was the royal court and administrative center of the Ryūkyūan Kingdom. It was the focal point of foreign trade, as well as the political, economical and cultural heart of the Ryūkyūs.

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The Buda Castle, Budapest, Hungary

April 22nd, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

The Buda Castle (Hungarian: Budai Vár) is the historical castle of the Hungarian kings in Budapest, Hungary. In the past it was also called Royal Palace (Hungarian: Királyi-palota) and Royal Castle (Hungarian: Királyi Vár) .

The Buda Castle was built on the southern tip of Castle Hill, next to the old Castle District, (Hun: Várnegyed), which is famous about its medieval, Baroque and 19th century houses and public buildings. It is linked to Adam Clark Square and the Széchenyi Chain Bridge by the Castle Hill Funicular.

The Buda Castle is part of the Budapest World Heritage Site, declared in 1987.

Medieval palace

The first royal residence on the Castle Hill was built by King Béla IV of Hungary between 1247 and 1265. There is no archeological evidence about this residence so it remained unsettled whether it was situated on the southern tip of the hill or on the northern elevation near the Kammerhof.

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An archaeological site located in Qal’at al-Bahrain, Bahrain

April 18th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

Qal'at al-Bahrain is an archaeological site located in Bahrain. It is composed of an artificial mound created by human inhabitants from 2300 BC up to the 1700's. Among other things, it was once the capital of the Dilmun civilization, and served more recently as a Portuguese fort. For these reasons, it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. Qal'at al–Bahrain( also known as the Bahrain Fort or Portuguese fort) is an archaeological site and historic fort.

It is a typical tell – an artificial mound created by many successive layers of human occupation. The strata of the 300x600-metre tell testify to continuous human presence from about 2300 B.C. to the 16th century A.D. About 25% of the site has been excavated revealing structures of different types: residential, public, commercial, religious and military. They testify to the importance of the site, a trading port, over the centuries. On the top of the 12m high mound, there is the impressive Portuguese fort, which gave the whole site its name, qal'a, meaning fort. The site was the capital of the Dilmun, one of the most important ancient civilizations of the region. It contains the richest remains inventoried of this civilization, which was hitherto only known from written Sumerian references.

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Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China

April 18th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

The Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven is a complex of Taoist buildings situated in southeastern urban Beijing, in Xuanwu District. Construction of the complex began in 1420, and was thereafter visited by all subsequent Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is regarded as a Taoist temple, although the worship of Heaven, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, pre-dates Taoism.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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