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By: Elizabeth Gancher
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Machu Picchu

Named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, Machu Picchu is a survivor of the Spanish conquest; a secret closely guarded by the locals until American historian, Hiram Bingham, unveiled his discovery to the world in 1911. Believed to have been constructed in the 15th Century, the Inca estate sits on the summit of a bluff, surrounded by a dramatic landscape of plunging ravines, towering mountains, and lofty pinnacles that lend the scene an enchanting aura. A mesmerizing tableau of palaces, temples and grand abodes, the origins of Machu Picchu remain unclear even today as historians struggle to uncover the secrets it holds. Although inundated with visitors from across the globe who throng these majestic ruins by the thousands, Machu Picchu retains an air of mystery and isolation from the urban sprawl of the present era; a city that is frozen in time, its streets and facades rife with the echoes of the Inca Empire. Today, it is the most recognizable of the continent's archaeological wonders, a vast complex of ruins amid the luxuriant wilderness of Peru's Cusco Region.

Carretera Hiram Bingham, Aguas Calientes, Peru, 08000

Somewhere between the town of Cusco and the verdant folds of Amazonian jungles, this ancient Inca town has maintained the integrity of its original design. Known as the one of the best preserved Inca sites, second only to the fabled Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo stands frozen in time at the brink of the Sacred Valley. This stunning Peruvian ruin was built during the 15th Century, and is home to a slew of gargantuan monoliths, ancient temples, and sacred structures. Next to the Plaza Hanan Huacaypata, there are 15 blocks with large houses built upon Inca fields of wrought stone. Within the skirt of the mountain that dominates the town, buildings of the Temple of the Sun, the Intihuatana and the Baths de la Nusta create a collective spectacle. A journey through the Ancestral Routes leads one to the prolific knowledge of the hydraulics and agronomy that both old and present inhabitants were privy to. Considered as the main thoroughfare between Cusco and Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo is counted among one of the Inca civilization's greatest treasures lost to time.

Ollantaytambo, Ollantaytambo, Peru
Canals of Xochimilco

A living testament to the ingenuity of the Aztecs, the canals of Xochimilco, meaning "Land of Flowers," are the last vestiges of a once-extensive irrigation and transportation network built by the Aztecs. Artificial islets were created by layering logs, earth, mud and roots tied with vine and planting ahuejote, a native plant whose tough roots bind the walls of the chinampas. Today, Xochimilco has been restored, plied by brightly colored boats that sail down the 14-kilometer (8-mile) stretch of this navigable waterway. Vendors selling handicrafts and local delicacies are joined by mariachi and marimba bands that float by on wooden boats. A whirlwind of colors and sounds, a celebratory air presides over Lake Xochimilco at all times while the weekends are a veritable fiesta with locals heading to the canal to partake of the charms of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are several chinampas along the way, but the most renowned is the Island of the Dolls, instantly recognizable thanks to the numerous dolls strung up in trees.

Xochimilco, Mexico City, Mexico, 16034

Cloaked in an aura of mystery, Teotihuacan, with its majestic pyramidal structures, ritualistic monuments, evocative pictographs and sacred altars is a stellar structure rising out of a long-gone Mayan past. This pre-urban center stands beautifully intact in its pre-Columbian glory, a lost city built somewhere around 100 BCE. At its peak, Teotihuacan was deemed to be the largest city to exist in the Western Hemisphere, spanning an area of nearly 21 square kilometers (8 square miles), not far away from Mexico City. While no one knows who built the city, one theory dictates that an exodus that followed a volcanic eruption lead several Mayans to the Teotihuacan Valley, who built the present-day Teotihuacan. The Avenue of the Dead, the ancient city's main thoroughfare, holds some of its largest structures, from sacrificial tables like the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, and the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, among others. Discovered by the Aztecs, Teotihuacan was worshiped as 'The City of Gods'.

Ecatepec-Piramides Highway, San Juan Teotihuacan, Mexico, 55800
Eilean Donan

The Eilean Donan castle is one of the most visited and important attractions in the Scottish Highlands, and rightly so. Idyllically located on its own little island, overlooking the Isle of Skye, it is at the point where three great sea-lochs meet, Loch Duich, Loch Long, and Loch Alsh. This castle is also the most photographed monument in the country, and its imposing architecture is simply breathtaking. Exuding charm and elegance, the castle is considered to be one of the main places to visit while in the country.

A87, Dornie, United Kingdom, IV40 8DX
Clava Cairns

The Clava Cairns are to be found about a mile from Culloden Battlefield, south of the River Nairn. They have nothing to do with the Battle and in fact date back to at least 2000 BCE. The Cairns are ancient ritual monuments, which originally contained burial chambers. With the surrounding stone circles, this is a place with a special atmosphere, and a real sense of the area's ancient past. The Cairns are owned by the National Trust for Scotland and are maintained by Historic Scotland. There is no official guide, but there are a series of helpful, informative illustrated panels.

Clava Cairns, Inverness, United Kingdom, IV2 7LL
Shanghai Disney Resort

The first Disney park in the country, Shanghai Disney Resort brings the magical world of Disney to life. A place where imagination meets reality, this is where you can meet, hang out with and even share a lighter moment with all the heroes, princes and princesses of your childhood. Comprising a theme parks, several themed restaurants, a water park, four themed hotels and a theater, the excitement and adventure at here seems endless. Here you can enjoy an animated story-telling, catch some of the greatest moments from the world of Disney played out live and even enjoy a scrumptious meal inspired by your favorite character. In a nutshell, this is where you don't just remember your childhood, you relive it.

Huang Zhao Road, Shanghai, China, 200120
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar is (as its name implies) located in a former blacksmith's shop and safe house for smugglers during the 1800s. It boasts of having survived the fire that burned down the French Quarter in the late 1800s and being the oldest building to house a bar in the United States. In the back of the bar, a musician plays a grand piano and croons through drunken sing-a-longs like Piano Man and You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling. The bar has reasonably priced drinks compared to many of its Bourbon Street counterparts and is the best bet on Bourbon Street if your feet are tired from walking and you have had your fill of raucous mayhem.

941 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, LA, United States, 70116
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