6 Oldest Theaters in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

6 Oldest Theaters in the World

As ancient civilizations developed, citizens grew an appetite for different forms of entertainment. Along came theater, with its many forms written to please audiences. Today, theater buffs will love learning more about the first constructions where comedies, tragedies and concerts took place. All of them are popular attractions in their own corners of the world. These are the oldest theaters in the world.

The Roman Theater of Orange, France

The Roman Theater of Orange, France

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Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981, the Roman Theater of Orange dates back to the 1st century. It sits near the French city of Avignon, and is so well preserved that people today still attend the Chorégies festival during the summers.

Originating in 1869, Chorégies is the oldest festival in France today. The acoustic wall of the theater, which is completely intact, is the key that allows the opera and lyrical theater performances to take place with an impeccable sound.

The Theater of Mérida, Spain

The Theater of Mérida, Spain

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Built between the years 15-16 B.C.E., the Theater of Mérida was sponsored by Consul Marcus Agrippa. It could seat up to 6,000 spectators, who were divided into their social rank. Its original architecture is considered classical Roman, but later restorations introduced a melange of design and decoration.

Considered one of Spain’s (many) gems, this theater is currently used in an annual winter festival.

The Theater of Taormina, Italy

The Theater of Taormina, Italy

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The Taormina Theater, also known as the Graeco-Roman Theater of Taormina, is located in the eastern part of Sicily. It is constructed in a particularly privileged area, as visitors can see the Etna Volcano and the Mediterranean Sea while walking around the top of the theater.

Built in the 2nd century B.C.E., the theater was constructed by the Greeks and later extended by the Romans. Currently, it hosts the Taormina Arte festival every year.

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The Theater of Epidaurus, Greece

The Theater of Epidaurus, Greece

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This Greek theater is said to have the best acoustics in the world. In fact, tour guides famously have their groups dispersed throughout the theater and show them that no matter where they are standing, they will hear a match drop on the floor on stage.

Located near the town of Ligurio, the Theater of Epidaurus rests in the middle of a pine forest. It was designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century B.C.E. Archaeologists believe that he made use of the natural unevenness of the land to build it.

The Theater at Delphi, Greece

The Theater at Delphi, Greece

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Further up along the hill where we can find the Temple of Apollo, sits the beautiful Delphi Theater. Its position at the top grants spectacular views of an entire valley.

The theater was built in the 4th century B.C.E. with limestone from Mount Parnassus. Archaeologists estimate that its 35 rows held around five thousand spectators who enjoyed plays, poetry readings, musical events and various festivals that were carried out periodically in Delphi.

History also shows us that this theater was remodeled several times. The seats in the lower rows were built during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

The Theater of Dionysus, Greece

The Theater of Dionysus, Greece

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The Theater of Dionysus was the largest construction of its kind in ancient Greece. It is located in the northern part of the Acropolis of Athens and dedicated to Dionysus, god of the wine and theater. In fact, it was tradition for worshipers to pray to him in a manner that attracted spectators. Later, these rituals became the classic tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes.

Even though this theater was built in the 5th century B.C.E., records show that it carried on being a popular venue for many centuries. In fact, around the year 407, the performance time was extended to about six hours and the entry fees were deemed expensive.

3 Ancient Structures That Have Remained Untouched

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Ancient Structures That Have Remained Untouched

Since the dawn of history, humans have created impressive structures that served as a record of their existence and ingenuity. Some structures like the pyramids of Giza leave us awestruck because of their engineering feats. And others like the Great Wall of China were more than just a pretty façade, but a necessary aspect of a national defense strategy.

Regardless of the stories behind why these structures were built, what matters now is that we can still experience them. And if you’re gathering inspiration for a vacation steeped in history, these ancient structures should be on your bucket list. Because of the cultural and historical importance of these structures, it is impossible to find a historical place that hasn’t been aided by modern conservation efforts.

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The Parthenon – Athens, Greece

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Today, when you think of a place of worship, you probably picture a churchtemple, or mosque designed for a monotheistic (one deity) religion. But in ancient times, pantheistic religions (worshiping multiple gods) were much more common. So, it wasn’t strange to erect multiple structures within a civilization that were dedicated to multiple deities. One of the most notable ancient pantheistic religions was in Greece. The Parthenon in Athens is a perfect example and was constructed to allow local Athenians to celebrate and worship Athena, the goddess best known for presiding over wisdom. In other words, Athena is the patron god of Athens, and the city felt it wise to honor her.

But the Parthenon as you know it today wasn’t the first version. In fact, it’s the third version (Parthenon III) that replaced two earlier structures built in 570 BCE (Parthenon I) and 480 BCE (Parthenon II). Incidentally, Parthenon II was destroyed during the Battle of Marathon around 490 BCE by the Persians. But in case you’re concerned that the current Parthenon is too modern, don’t be. It was constructed between 447 and 438 BCE.

Carnac Stones – Brittany, France

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So, the Parthenon is a fairly straightforward ancient site that doesn’t require a suspension of belief for you to enjoy it. Its architecture is in line with other buildings from that era. But there are other ancient structures in other parts of the world that defy logic and continue to confound historians and experts. The Carnac Stones in the Brittany region of France is the perfect example of an ancient structure that’s out of place with other architecture and scientific advancements of its time. Officially, the Carnac Stones were compiled sometime between 3,300 and 4,500 BCE. They’re comprised of 3,000 prehistoric stones that serve as a representation of well-known geological alignments from that era.

For years, scientists struggled to understand what the Carnac Stones meant until they stumbled across geoglyphology in 2004. Geoglyphology is a way in which an ancient culture marked its physical territory. The concept isn’t unique to Carnac as multiple ancient cultures around the world used it to outline their areas of influence. But Carnac’s version of geoglyphology is unique — often viewed as a methodology too advanced for its time. Consider that Stonehenge was erected during the same time period but was considered far easier to decipher.

Aqueduct of Segovia – Segovia, Spain

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Every structure serves a form of functionality, but some buildings or edifices are more utilitarian than others. The Aqueduct of Segovia is one such phenomenon. It embodies the architectural style of the Roman Empire while also serving an essential purpose — supplying water to the city of Segovia. In fact, the aqueduct was so efficient that it served as a water supply from the Frio River when it was first developed during the first century CE until the 20th century.

As if that’s not impressive enough, try to comprehend the fact that this stone structure was created with little to no mortar. Today the aqueduct is just over 8.5 miles long and features an average height of nearly 100 feet. To this day, the Aqueduct of Segovia is considered one of the best-preserved representations of a Roman aqueduct. Even though the structure continued to be used well into the 20th century, it wasn’t maintained as it should be. It wasn’t until the 1970s that a serious conservation effort was launched to preserve its remaining portions. In 1985, the Aqueduct of Segovia officially became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Oldest Structures You’ll Ever See

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There are so many impressive ancient structures in the world that it was hard to narrow it down to just the three we listed here. But each of the ones we selected feature an interesting piece of trivia that you probably didn’t know until today. Whether you choose to visit these places or draft a different itinerary, we hope that you’ll appreciate the ingenuity and creativity of the ancient people who created these.

4 Places You Must See While in Spain

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4 Places You Must See While in Spain

Near the western edge of Europe, tucked between Portugal and France, you’ll find the Kingdom of Spain. Established centuries ago, when kings and queens ruled the world’s greatest territories, Spain has become a destination for tourists from all over. Centuries-old history is scattered throughout the coastal plains and inland deserts.

When it comes to visiting Spain, there is plenty to see, but you would be remiss if you didn’t engage the rich history and beautiful landscapes. To do that, you’ll have to set aside some time in your itinerary to visit these five must-see places.

The Guggenheim, Bilbao

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Travel to New York City, and you’ll be told to head up to East 89th Street to see the impressive architecture and vast collection of art of the Guggenheim Museum. Cross the Atlantic Ocean, and you’ll be told very similar directions. The Guggenheim in Bilbao is a visual treat the moment you walk up to its golden facade. The structure itself is a work of art, an indication that what’s housed inside is among some of the most fascinating pieces of art you’ll ever see.

Maybe you didn’t come to Spain to look at art, but the Guggenheim is an exception to whatever rule you may have against museums. It’s an iconic destination, a must-see location that captures a bit of the local culture while sharing the incredible talents of the artists contained within rotating exhibits.

Segovia

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Trying to fit everything Spain has to see in one trip is madness, but if you can squeeze in a stop at Segovia, it makes up for the bounty of things you will have to miss. Located not far from Madrid, Segovia feels like the old Spanish cities you’ve likely seen portrayed in movies. Contained within the World Heritage City are artifacts that date back to the 14th century.

Signs of a Roman presence can be seen at the aqueduct, a towering structure made up of 166 arches that span more than 10 miles of the structure. There’s a legend surrounding the aqueduct that claims it was the product of a pact between the devil and a girl who sold her soul for water.

Along with the aqueduct, Segovia is home to a 16th-century cathedral, a 13th-century castle, the antiquated wall that was built to enclose the city and keep it protected, and an abundance of churches. There is a ton of history waiting in Segovia, so long as you take the time to explore it.

Monte Perdido National Park

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Not every visit has to be somewhere man-made or historical. The Monte Perdido National Park offers enough beauty and expansive lands to fill an entire day’s worth of activities, should you want to escape the cities. In 1997, the park was declared a World Heritage Site, which automatically increases its appeal.

Within Monte Perdido National Park, nature-lovers will find a diverse assortment of fauna to marvel at as they go about their daily routine uninterrupted. Though it’s the natural beauty of Monte Perdido that draws visitors, there is a touch of manmade history scattered about in the form of nearby castles, shrines, and fortresses. The mountainous landscape may keep some of these wondrous sites out of immediate view, making them treasures as you explore the 15.6-acre park.

Alcazaba

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Jutting out of facing of a grassy cliff, Alcazaba was constructed between 1057 and 1063 at the behest of the King of the Berber Taifa of Granada, Badis. Its foundation was pulled from the remains of a nearby Roman theater, which were repurposed into a defensive structure.

After the region of Malaga was conquered by Muhammed II Ben al-Ahmar in 1279, Alcazaba underwent renovations that gave it an appearance similar to buildings found in the kingdom of Nasrid. Despite its ornate appearance, Alcazaba, which is Arabic for “citadel,” served as a defense for Malaga. Turrets, battlements, machicolations, and arrow slits indicate the true purpose of the otherwise decorative structure was to protect the city’s people from incoming invaders.

Several restorations have kept the building intact, providing visitors to Spain yet another fascinating piece of history to experience and explore.

With no shortage of unforgettable locations to visit in Spain, it’s a safe bet that you won’t be able to see even a fraction of them in one visit. There are many fascinating places to visit all over the globe, but don’t rob yourself of the stunning Kingdom of Spain by visiting once and never returning. Five places only scratch the surface of Spain’s greatest sites, structures, and cities, so be prepared to be enticed into returning at least one more time.

7 Up-and-Coming Wine Regions

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Up-and-Coming Wine Regions

When people think of high-end wine producers, regions such as Napa Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Piedmont are the powerhouses that usually make the list. However, if you want to try something new, without significantly sacrificing on quality, consider sourcing wines from one of these seven up-and-coming wine regions.

Anderson Valley, California, U.S.A.

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Given its remote location several hours north of San Francisco, the Anderson Valley doesn’t see as many vineyard hoppers as Napa and Sonoma. That doesn’t mean the wines aren’t worth it, though. The cool climate has shown tremendous success with both pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, perfect as well for producing French-style sparkling wines. Today, Anderson Valley produces some of the best sparkling wines in the country.

Rias Baixas, Spain

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Rias Baixas is located along the Galician coast in Spain. There are a number of small inlets, called rias, where you’ll find nutrient-rich waters. The water plays a big role in making Rias Baixas wine so delicious. One wine variety that has shown significant success is albariño, a white wine with a nice blend of minerality and acidity.

Finger Lakes, New York, U.S.A.

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New York is one of the largest wine producers in the country, thanks in part to the Finger Lakes region that is producing some phenomenal cool-climate wines, especially rieslings. There are more than 200 brands of rieslings produced in the Finger Lakes region alone. Impressive for a wine region that only really established itself in the early 1980s.

Kakheti, Georgia

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The country of Georgia has been producing wines since at least 6,000 B.C., based on archaeological excavations that uncovered qvevri, a traditional winemaking vessel that allowed ancient winemakers to ferment wine underground. Today, wines produced in this mountainous region of Georgia utilize both traditional and modern techniques. UNESCO has since recognized the importance of the qvevri winemaking tradition, adding it to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Beqaa Valley, Lebanon

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Lebanon is another place where winemaking traditions date back quite a ways. Even in modern times, Lebanese wineries have faced their share of challenges, including Château Musar, which still managed to produce wine throughout the horrific civil war that tore Lebanon apart between 1975 and 1990. When the war ended, there were only around five wineries left in Lebanon. By 2014, that number had jumped to almost 50. While French grapes primarily dominate here, there are some local Lebanese wine grapes like merwah and obaideh present.

Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

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When most people think about Mexico and drinks, they probably picture tequila, mezcal and beer, not wine. Mexico is bucking the stereotypes and demonstrating that it has areas that are capable of producing award-winning wines as well. The mountainous terrain helps cool the hot summer days, allowing the grapes to flourish.

Texas Hill Country, Texas, U.S.A.

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The hot and dry climate of Texas is not the ideal condition you’d think of for an up-and-coming wine region, but Texas Hill Country is producing some pretty incredible wines, especially big reds. The climate is working well for varietals like tempranillo, syrah and tannat.

10 Cities All Architecture Lovers Need to Visit Before They Die

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Cities All Architecture Lovers Need to Visit Before They Die

From towering skyscrapers to the ancient Colosseum, the world is filled with architectural marvels. And since architecture is best enjoyed in person, here are 10 cities that architecture lovers simply must visit.

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

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It’s called the “City of Big Shoulders” for a reason. Chicago is home to some of the oldest skyscrapers, such as the Manhattan Building, built in 1891; the Reliance Building, built in 1895; and Chicago Savings Bank Building, completed in 1905. Most of Downtown Chicago was destroyed in the Chicago Fire of 1871, but the iconic Chicago Water Tower, built in 1869, was left standing. Built solely of yellow Lemont limestone, seeing the 182-foot tower firsthand should be on every architecture lovers bucket list.

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

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Rome is home to some of the world’s most photographed structures, including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Trajan’s Market. Had it not been for the Romans, designs like the arch and the dome would never have come to be. Rome’s classical structures are a must see. That’s a given. But the city’s Baroque style buildings, which were mostly constructed during the 17th century, are also well worth your time. The sheer grandness of structures like St. Peter’s Basilicaand the Trevi Fountain can’t be captured in a photograph. Few things in life will leave you as awestruck as taking a stroll inside St. Peter’s, with its massive dome, and looking up. You may never want to look down again.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

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Influenced by the legendary 19th century Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona’s architecture, much like the city itself, is imaginative and colorful. One sight that’s a must see is Gaudi’s Casa Batllo. The façade of the building is constructed of broken ceramic tiles, thus creating an eye-popping mosaic that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Other structures that are inspired by Gaudi’s vivid imagination include Jean Nouvel’s Tower, which is designed to resemble a geyser of water shooting through the air, and Frank Gehry’s Fish.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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In addition to being home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai skyline is filled with twisty-turny steel buildings. If you find yourself wandering in this desert city, be sure to check out the Burj al Arab, which is designed to look like an Arabian dhow ship, as well as the curving Cayan, with its seemingly impossible 90-degree twist. There’s also the famed underwater zoo located in the Dubai Mall, which features 300 different species of aquatic life, including all types of fish, sting rays and sharks.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

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Fueled by government investment, Shanghai has grown rapidly in recent years. It’s almost as if a glossy new structure pops up each month. The architecture in Shanghai is modernistic, and best represented in buildings like the Hongkou Soho office building, with its pleated exterior. Shanghai is also home to the second tallest building in the world, the Shanghai Tower, which features a twisted, glass façade that stretches upward for 2,073 feet.

Paris, France

Paris, France

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The birthplace of Art Deco and Gothic architecture, Paris is a city whose rich architectural history stretches back centuries. Gothic style, which is marked by colorful stained glass windows and flying buttresses, can be seen in a number of Paris cathedrals, including the Sainte-Chapelle, the St-Gervais-et-St-Protais and, most famously, Notre-Dame, which was in the news earlier this year after sustaining serious damage during a 15-hour fire. Paris’s famed Art Deco buildings, with their notable exteriors that feature numerous horizontal lines, began popping up shortly before World War I and were dominant in the ’20s and ’30s. Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and the Grand Rex movie palace are two prominent structures that exhibit this style. This is a small sample of the numerous architectural wonders in the City of Light.

Moscow, Russia

Moscow, Russia

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The Russian capital is home to some of the most recognizable architecture in the world with a style known simply as Russian architecture. Arguably the most renown structure in the Russian style is Moscow’s Saint Basil’s Cathedral. Constructed in the 16th century during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the cathedral is known for its vibrant, onion-shaped domes. Moscow is also home to more recent architectural wonders like the Ostankino Tower, which was completed in 1967 and was for a period of time the tallest building in the world, and a group of Moscow skyscrapers known as the Seven Sisters. The seven buildings, which were built during the reign of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, are wide and blocky, and scattered throughout Moscow. They were constructed in the Stalinist style of Russian architecture, which borrows elements of the Russian baroque.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

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Several ancient monuments from Athens’s classical era are still standing, most notably the Parthenon, with its enormous stone columns. There is also the Theatre of Dionysus, which was the birthplace of Greek tragedy and the first theater ever constructed. And what would a historically rich city like Athens be without its ancient temples? During its heyday, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which was completed around the 2nd century, had an unthinkable 104 columns, although only a few remain standing today.

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

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The most populous city in Turkey is known for two distinct styles of architecture: Byzantine and Ottoman. The Hagia Sophia, which was constructed in the 6th century, is a church that is emblematic of the Byzantine style, with its massive dome and elegiac mosaics depicting Christ and other biblical figures. The Ottoman style of architecture also flourished in Istanbul. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries a number of imperial mosques were constructed throughout the city, including Faith Mosque, Yeni Mosque\ and Bayezid Mosque. The mosques all have the key features of the Ottoman style, with extensive use of domes and columns, and are an absolute marvel to experience in person.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

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From the Art Deco masterpiece that is the Chrysler Building (1930), to the Gothic Revival design of the Woolworth Building (1913), to the more recent green design of the Conde Nast Building, New York City’s skyscrapers employ a wide range of stylistic elements. The character of the city can also be seen in the architectural designs used in its residential neighborhoods. From the brownstones in Brooklyn to the tenements on the Lower East Side, New York’s five boroughs are an architectural cornucopia whose styles are as diverse as the city itself.

9 Beautiful European Cities By The Sea

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Europe’s long and varied coastline is dotted with settlements whose inhabitants have, for centuries, made their living from the sea. Today, many feature historic mansions, charming historic squares and quaint harbors that draw as many tourists as fishermen. Though some have grown into cities, others are constrained by the physical landscape to remain impossibly beautiful coastal towns.

Rovinj, Croatia

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The gem of Istria covers a tiny headland, huddled around a harbor full of fishing boats. For centuries, the steeple of St Euphemia has risen like a beacon from the mass of terracotta roofs which surround it. On the ground, explore cobbled streets and narrow alleyways to discover a liberal scattering of gift shops, cafés and bijou apartments.

Portree, Scotland

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The largest town on Scotland’s Isle of Skye welcomes visitors with the sight of rows of brightly-painted cottages. Life centers around the busy harbor, but those with time on their hands are advised to take a hike. The Scorrybreac trail and the path up the headland known locally as The Lump are two of the best local walks.

Oia, Greece

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Few Greek towns have made such an impact as Santorini’s Oia, and you only have to set eyes on the place to understand why. The town’s whitewashed homes and businesses cling to the rocky flanks of the dormant volcano overlooking the azure lake that fills its caldera. Its intense beauty has drawn artists and photographers for years, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Vernazza, Italy

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Though visitors would not be disappointed with any of the Cinque Terre settlements, there’s something about Vernazza that’s especially compelling. The cupola-topped bell tower of Santa Margherita di Antiochia Church stands tight against the waterfront but for the best views, climb the steps to the tower of the ruined Castello Doria and look out over the glittering sea.

Tavira, Portugal

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There are many contenders for stunning coastal towns along Portugal’s beautiful Algarve, but Tavira is a stand out. The town itself is located inland of a long sandy beach and the salt pans are home to a wide variety of seabirds including waders, spoonbills and flamingos. In the heart of the medieval town, you’ll find a castle built in the 13th century on the site of a mosque and Santa María do Castelo Church, which houses the tombs of seven knights allegedly ambushed by the Moors.

Visby, Sweden

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Located on the Baltic coast, the Hanseatic port of Visby lies on the island of Gotland. Its 13th-century ramparts, historic warehouses and the former homes of wealthy merchants make this one of the most delightful towns in Sweden. Pull up a chair at one of the pavement cafés that grace Stora Torget, the main square, and people watch over a cup of coffee. But when you can drag yourself away, the Gotland Museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the town’s Viking past.

Cadiz, Spain

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In their rush to tick off the sights of Seville, Cordoba and Granada, visitors sometimes overlook Cadiz, but to do so would be a shame. In the 17th and 18th centuries, merchants built watchtowers to ensure they knew their ships had returned to port. Today, 126 of the 160 remain. Get a bird’s-eye view from the Camera Obscura at the top of Torre Tavira before taking a stroll at ground level to gaze up at these interesting structures.

Aeroskobing, Denmark

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Nicknamed “the fairytale town of Denmark,” Aeroskobing, or Ærøskøbing as it’s written in Danish, is a stunner of a coastal town. Cobbled streets, winding alleyways and historic houses give the place bags of character. Don’t miss the Priors House, which dates from 1690, the town’s cook house – built to reduce the risk of fire breaking out on the wooden boats that docked in port – and Ærøskøbing Church in the market square, the third to grace this spot.

Fowey, England

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Pronounced “Foy,” well-heeled Fowey made its money on the export of china clay, which these days manifests itself in the pastel-colored houses and cosy pubs that jostle for position around this characterful Cornish harbor. The town that inspired Daphne du Maurier to write Rebecca makes a handy base for sampling the famous local mussels and for exploring the rest of the Polperro heritage coastline.

Enthusiastic advocate for independent travel and passionate geographer, Julia considers herself privileged to earn a living doing something she loves. When not roaming the globe, you’ll find her windswept but smiling, chatting away to her two dogs as they wander the Essex marshes.

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7 Jaw-Dropping Architectural Masterpieces

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7 Jaw-Dropping Architectural Masterpieces

Of all the artistic works we humans have come up with over the years, our architectural achievements may be the most powerful. Great architecture combines form and function; it serves a purpose while acting as a symbol of the culture that created it. Much of our understanding of ancient cultures comes from the architecture they left behind, making it a crucial part of world history and our understanding of civilization as a whole.

If you get a chance, pay a visit to a few of these jaw-dropping masterpieces to get a full idea of how powerful architecture can be.

Wat Rong Khun (White Temple), Chiang Rai, Thailand

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Created in 1997 by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the White Temple is one of the newest architectural wonders on this list, though it certainly deserves its place. A sparkling wonder of white plaster and glass, the White Temple is an artistic expression that combines traditional Thai beliefs with modern culture.

Though the exterior of the temple was designed in the Buddhist fashion common in Thai temples, the interior contains an expansive series of pop culture imagery, including depictions of Spider-Man, The Terminator, Michael Jackson, and more. Yes, really. And while photos of the inside of the temple are prohibited by Thai law, seeing the exterior alone should be enough to give you an idea of the grandeur of this bizarre project.

Great Wall of China

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Yes, China’s Great Wall certainly makes our list. And while it’s not the easiest architectural wonder for Americans to reach, it’s worth the trip. Sections of the 13,000+ mile wall were built as far back as the 7th century BCE, with new additions and revisions made over the next several thousand years.

There’s not much else to say about this one, because you already know it! The Great Wall of China is one of the most enduring works out there, with historians agreeing that it’s one of the most impressive architectural feats in human history.

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran

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Known casually as “the Pink Mosque,” the design of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is stunning.

This isn’t your grandma’s mosque; rather than the plain grays and slates typical of religious buildings, the Pink Mosque features a kaleidoscope of color, with pink floor tiles, rainbow stained glass, and painted geometric patterns adorning every interior wall. The outside is similarly impressive, but for this one, you really need to go inside to see its most impressive elements.

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

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Another architectural favorite, the Colosseum is one of those ancient works that always seems to capture our imaginations. Completed around 80 AD, modern scholars believe that the Colosseum represents the brutality of Imperial Rome, noting its dark history of public executions, gladiator matches, and violent chariot races.

Despite its brutal history, it’s hard to ignore the Colosseum’s beauty as an architectural achievement. Reported to hold anywhere from 50,000 to 80,000 spectators in its prime, it dwarfs many modern arenas and serves as a constant (and fragmented) reminder of a lost world.

Santorini/Thera, Greece

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If you ever find yourself in Greece, stop by the island of Santorini. One of many islands on the Aegean Sea, Santorini doesn’t feature one specific architectural achievement. Instead, the whole island can be considered an architectural achievement, acting as a modern representation of ancient Cycladic architecture.

On the island, you’ll see a series of white painted villages dotting red island cliffs, with residents adorning their homes in bright yellow, cyan, and red. Combined with the lush greenery of the region and its proximity to the deep blue Aegean, the whole island bursts forth in vivid colors and unique cliffside architecture unlike any you’ll see in the world.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA

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The Golden Gate Bridge is a masterpiece of engineering if we’ve ever seen one. The bridge’s impressive length of 1.7 miles is matched by its height, standing a cool 220 feet above the waters of the Golden Gate Strait. Designed primarily by Charles Alton Ellis, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most enduring modern architectural works in the United States, even being named one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World” by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

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One of the most visually striking buildings on this list, the Sagrada Familia basilica is an unfinished Roman Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudi in 1852. However, despite Gaudi devoting his life to the building’s creation, he would die with less than a quarter of the project complete. And while a current team of architects is working to finish what Gaudi started, the fact that the church is unfinished is a selling point to many of the basilica’s 2.5 million annual visitors. With a surprisingly modern design approach that blends traditional church architecture with Gothic elements, this one is worth a visit—finished or not.

Monuments to Culture

From China to Italy to right here in the U.S., our architectural monuments are more than just buildings. They’re tributes to our culture. If you ever get a chance to scope out one of these engineering marvels, we suggest you take it. These wonders won’t be around forever, and when they go, they’ll take huge chunks of history with them.

7 Up-and-Coming Wine Regions

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Up-and-Coming Wine Regions

When people think of high-end wine producers, regions such as Napa Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Piedmont are the powerhouses that usually make the list. However, if you want to try something new, without significantly sacrificing on quality, consider sourcing wines from one of these seven up-and-coming wine regions.

Anderson Valley, California, U.S.A.

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Given its remote location several hours north of San Francisco, the Anderson Valley doesn’t see as many vineyard hoppers as Napa and Sonoma. That doesn’t mean the wines aren’t worth it, though. The cool climate has shown tremendous success with both pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, perfect as well for producing French-style sparkling wines. Today, Anderson Valley produces some of the best sparkling wines in the country.

Rias Baixas, Spain

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Rias Baixas is located along the Galician coast in Spain. There are a number of small inlets, called rias, where you’ll find nutrient-rich waters. The water plays a big role in making Rias Baixas wine so delicious. One wine variety that has shown significant success is albariño, a white wine with a nice blend of minerality and acidity.

Finger Lakes, New York, U.S.A.

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New York is one of the largest wine producers in the country, thanks in part to the Finger Lakes region that is producing some phenomenal cool-climate wines, especially rieslings. There are more than 200 brands of rieslings produced in the Finger Lakes region alone. Impressive for a wine region that only really established itself in the early 1980s.

Kakheti, Georgia

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The country of Georgia has been producing wines since at least 6,000 B.C., based on archaeological excavations that uncovered qvevri, a traditional winemaking vessel that allowed ancient winemakers to ferment wine underground. Today, wines produced in this mountainous region of Georgia utilize both traditional and modern techniques. UNESCO has since recognized the importance of the qvevri winemaking tradition, adding it to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Beqaa Valley, Lebanon

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Lebanon is another place where winemaking traditions date back quite a ways. Even in modern times, Lebanese wineries have faced their share of challenges, including Château Musar, which still managed to produce wine throughout the horrific civil war that tore Lebanon apart between 1975 and 1990. When the war ended, there were only around five wineries left in Lebanon. By 2014, that number had jumped to almost 50. While French grapes primarily dominate here, there are some local Lebanese wine grapes like merwah and obaideh present.

Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

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When most people think about Mexico and drinks, they probably picture tequila, mezcal and beer, not wine. Mexico is bucking the stereotypes and demonstrating that it has areas that are capable of producing award-winning wines as well. The mountainous terrain helps cool the hot summer days, allowing the grapes to flourish.

Texas Hill Country, Texas, U.S.A.

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The hot and dry climate of Texas is not the ideal condition you’d think of for an up-and-coming wine region, but Texas Hill Country is producing some pretty incredible wines, especially big reds. The climate is working well for varietals like tempranillo, syrah and tannat.

The (Five) Most Popular Destinations for Studying Abroad in 2020

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The Most Popular Destinations for Studying Abroad in 2020

College is a time of self-discovery and exploration, and nothing quite ticks off that latter category like studying abroad. Many American college students jump at the chance to see another country while completing their higher education, and of the countries they are most likely to visit, all are in Europe. The ease with which students can travel to other nearby destinations, alongside their accommodations to English speakers and long-standing romanticism surrounding many of these countries, explains their popularity. The following are the top five most popular destinations to study abroad.

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Germany

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The powerhouse of the European Union is also one of the most popular destinations for international students. Of all students studying abroad, 4 percent attend universities in Germany. The country houses several world-renowned institutions of higher learning and offers many courses in English, making it a popular choice for American students. As of 2016, the country also passed a law to waive normal tuition fees for international students in lieu of nominal administrative fees totaling only a few hundred euros per semester – a far cry from American tuition fees. Add all of that to the rumpus of Oktoberfest, and it’s no wonder that so many Americans choose Germany as the locale of their semester(s) abroad.

France

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With a world-famous reputation for art, history, and fine cuisine, it comes as no surprise that many young Americans jump at the chance to study in France. Six percent of all students studying abroad attend their classes in France. In addition to its long history of art, food and fashion, France also has an extensive number of universities—around 100. In other words, there are plenty of choices for students looking to visit La République. The world-renowned reputation of the country draws in countless students looking to add the backdrop of France to their college of experience.

Spain

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Siestas in the afternoon and fiestas in the evening more or less sum up the dream of a college experience for countless students, and in these regards, Spain is more than accommodating. Nine percent of international students attend universities in Spain. With the chance to work on a valuable American second language, enjoy the year-long procession of different festivals, and the many beaches of Spain, countless students flock to the nation to continue their studies.

Italy

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Art, history, and food are a recurring theme in this list, and Italy delivers in all three of these categories. There is nothing sufficient to scare off students with wanderlust as 11 percent of students choose Italy for their destination to study abroad. Many college programs in Italy allow for students to complete their courses in mostly English, though students will inevitably wish to brush up on their Italian if they intend to venture out to the major cities to take in a breath of the local culture.

United Kingdom

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Our friends on the other side of the pond are no stranger to young Americans looking to continue their studies. With English as the national language, the U.K. offers an easy option for American students eager to see the world but are less than fluent in a second language. However, the ease stops there, as English university programs are notoriously challenging. Nonetheless, students tend to adapt to the grading curve and cost of living, as student satisfaction rates in the U.K. are ranked at 90 percent. With that in mind, many students jump at the chance to add “a semester at Cambridge” to their CV—and maybe enjoy a pint with some bangers and mash.

7 European Train Routes You don’t Want To Miss

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

7 European Train Routes You Can’t Miss

Europe is so much better by train. From capital city termini to remote village halts, almost every corner of Europe is reachable by rail. It’s even easier with the EuroRail, which offers incredible passes and deals on tickets to help you hop around Europe on the cheap. Here are 7 European destinations you must get to by train.

Jungfraujoch, Switzerland
The Swiss do rail travel better than anyone else in Europe, and they don’t let something as insignificant as a mountain stand in the way of connectivity. Jungfraujoch has the distinction of being the highest railway station in Europe. Travellers pass close to the Eiger, Jungfrau, and Mönch mountains before their train dives into a tunnel. At the summit, 3454 metres above sea level, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the Bernese Oberland and snow on the ground even in the height of summer.

Paris, France
The two busiest stations in Europe are both located in the French capital, making this city a must for every train enthusiast. Eurostar links Gare du Nord – top of the list – to London. This high speed service makes a twin centre city break a tempting possibility. Tick off the Eiffel Tower, cruise along the Seine, and take in the view from Sacre Coeur before emerging from the English Channel to tour St Paul’s Cathedral, ride the London Eye, and watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

Flåm, Norway
One of the most beautiful rail journeys in Europe – and probably the world – is the one that links Flåm and Myrdal in western Norway. Beginning beside the Aurlandsfjord, the train climbs past tumbling waterfalls and icy glaciers to the mountains, condensing the country’s most dramatic vistas into one incredible hour’s ride.

Venice, Italy
Nothing screams luxury train travel like the Venice-Simplon-Orient Express. Step back in time to a glamorous age of train travel which has captured the hearts and imaginations of all those fortunate to have boarded its exquisite Art Deco carriages. In Venice, alight to explore a magical city riddled with waterways leading to a plethora of churches, palaces and hidden squares.

Madrid, Spain
When it comes to greenery, Atocha Station in Madrid surpasses all others. This delightful station is likened by some to an indoor botanical garden, with verdant palms and lush planting interspersed by platforms and commuters. Catch the high speed AVE service to Sevilla and Cordoba for Moorish architecture, flower-adorned alleyways and sultry late night flamenco.

Lviv, Ukraine
For something off the beaten track, catch a train across Ukraine to the beautiful city of Lviv. Modern, high speed trains make easy work of the distance, taking five hours to link the two in contrast to the slow overnight sleepers that were the traditional method of travel. Cafe culture’s king, but first, climb to Lviv’s mountaintop High Castle for panoramic views across the city and beyond.

Moscow, Russia
For a truly epic European rail adventure, why not begin in Asia? The Trans-Siberian railway is a must for any bucket list, but travel east to west and you’ll be saving the best for last. Moscow is bold, brash and buzzing with energy. Get around by metro and you’ll see some of the most splendidly decorated stations in the world – with mosaics, stained glass and bronze sculptures, Moscow’s underground feels more like a museum than a transit network.

Have you taken a train ride in Europe? Share with us your favourite journeys – we’d love to compare notes.

This blog was originally published on The Discoverer

Source: World Atlas | Date Updated: January 7, 2019
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