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Perched atop the crest of a rocky promontory, the Acropolis of Athens is a stunning spectacle of Greek Antiquity, and is counted among the most significant architectural complexes ever built. At the centerpiece of this ancient citadel is the abode of Goddess Athena – the remarkable Parthenon, which became the paragon of classical Greek architecture. Scattered across the rest of this legendary religious complex are several other monumental remnants of the world's first democracy, a sea of historic structures that were stupendously planned and constructed by statesman Pericles of Athens. The Propylaea forms an arresting gateway to the Acropolis of Athens, while the Temple of Erechtheion on the complex's north side pays ode to Poseidon and Athena. The Ionic Temple of Athena Nike rests on the southwest corner of the Acropolis and dates back to 420 BCE. A stoic symbol of victory, this temple stands as a treasured link to the ancient world.
The thundering waters of Niagara Falls tumble and plummet from heights of up to 51 meters (167 feet) and an average collective width of approximately 1204 meters (3950 feet) on the United States and Canada Border. One of the largest in the world, the falls are comprised of The Horseshoe Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and the American Falls. Over 60,000 cubic meters (200,000 cubic feet) of water rush over the brink at an astonishing speed every minute. Each of the falls is unique and offer spectacular vistas of one of the world's most visited natural wonders. Come the winter holiday season, the falls are beguilingly decked out with a light show for the annual Winter Festival of Lights.
Every spring from March to May, the Keukenhof Gardens burst forth in a riot of color and are carpeted in reds, pinks, crimsons and yellows. Spread out over 32 hectares (72 acres), the garden blooms with over seven million flowers in hundreds of varieties and hues. Every year visitors flock here to see the national flower - the Tulip which has a special place in the country's history in all its visual glory. During the Dutch Golden Age, Tulip Mania reached such heights that the flower was sold for astonishing rates and the period is considered by some to be the first economic bubble recorded in history. With its landscaped gardens, exhibitions, and annual events, Keukenhof is a popular getaway a short distance from Amsterdam.
Erstwhile residence of Emperor Shah Jahan, the Red Fort is a magnificent sight that symbolizes the artistic, architectural and historic legacy of the Mughal Empire. Constructed in 1648 along the banks of the Yamuna River, the mighty fort was made using red sandstone. Before 1857, the fort was a small city in itself and now, only a part of the fort is accessible to the public. Come evening, the fort metamorphoses into a luminescent wonder, accentuated by vivid lights and sounds. Boasting spectacular semblances of Mughal, Persian and Timurid architecture, the fort sits amid blankets of verdant lawns. The magnificent Lahori Gate leads into the fort, the grounds of which feature an array of historically significant sites including the Diwan-i-Aam (audience hall), Diwan-i-Khaas (Hall of Private Audience), the Shahi Burj tower, Moti Masjid and more.
Millions of visitors come to see Musée d'Orsay's mammoth collection of French art every year. The building itself, called the Gare d'Orsay, was built as a railway station in 1900, is a striking Beaux-Arts edifice. At 138 meters long (453 feet) and 32 meters tall (105 feet), the opulent principal gallery of the ground floor is a reminder of the building's history. Among the masterpieces in this gallery are the Burial at Ornans by Gustave Courbet and the Gleaners by Jean-François Millet. Fans of impressionism should head directly up to the fifth floor, where works by the greatest masters of this genre can be found.
The beauty of the 19th-century Dalí Theatre-Museum lies partly in the fact that it was designed by Dali himself. Built on the ruins of the Spanish Civil War, this museum is an architectural jewel in the riverside town of Figueres, which also happens to be Dali's birthplace. The building is the very embodiment of Dali's bountiful imagination, and the red fortress like structure topped by giant egg sculptures and figurines, crowned by a geodesic dome, is surreal to say the least. Dali's showmanship shines through in the one-of-a-kind artworks showcased here like the Wind Palace Room, Mae West Room and the Palace of the Wind. The Dalí Joies jewelry collection, pieces designed by the Surrealist master himself, and created by master craftsmen, is truly exceptional and an homage to his talent. Dali himself is interred in the museum premises, an apt resting place for the iconic artist.
Bordered by the St. Lawrence River, Old Québec or Vieux-Québec is the historic heart of the modern day City of Quebec. Divided into two distinct parts, the Upper Town and Lower Town, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a gateway into the history of the province. The Upper Town is set atop the Cap Diamant and is the city's historic administrative and military hub. Its most iconic landmark, the Citadelle with its star shaped design is an arresting edifice while the Chateau Frontenac is a mesmerizing vision of Victorian grandeur. The Upper Town is also one of the sites of the Carnaval de Quebec, considered to be among the largest winter festivals on the globe. The Lower Town, at the base of the mount, is the livelier of the two with a bustling market and vibrant Old Port. Amid hundreds of historic buildings, tourist attractions, pubs and restaurants lie dozens of boutiques, galleries, souvenir shops and other distinctive establishments. The Church of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is another of Old Québec's many treasures.
The Baseball Hall of Fame Museum holds some of the game's most prized collections. See thousands of baseball artifacts and photographs telling the story of baseball's history. There is also a research library where enthusiasts can read about the history and future of America's enduring love for the sport. Visit the museum store and take your pick from the various caps, shirts, gloves and mugs on display.
Closely interwoven bands of layered rock skirt a sea of gigantic ancient boulders, coming together to form a surreal panorama that melts into Arizona's vast landscape. From high above the topmost point of the canyon, the mighty Colorado River appears as a muddy sliver, belying the tumultuous nature of its waters that carved through ancient layers of rock and birthed the steep canyons surrounding it. Over several millennia, the river snaked its way through the rugged landscape, constantly deepening and pushing the edges of the canyon, oblivious that its aggressive course unraveled years of geological history. For years, the canyon was home to indigenous Native American tribes, before Spanish explorers and American trappers settled into the river basin. Today, the Grand Canyon continues to instill a deep sense of wonder and mystique in whoever visits it, an eternal ocean of auburn rock that spreads majestically under deep blue skies.
Gaudi's masterpiece, the Casa Batlló is one of the most unique residential buildings ever constructed in the Modernista style. Its facade bedecked with a rainbow of colored tiles gives way to the entrance hall that evokes an underwater sojourn complete with wave-like walls, turtle-shaped skylights, and a staircase that resembles the spine of a mythical creature. The upper level Noble Floor features windows that open out onto Passeig de Gràcia and are flooded with natural light and the connected outdoor patio is a kaleidoscope of hues wrought in glass and tile. From the terrace, it's easy to understand why the house is called casa del drac locally, as the roof tiles resemble Sant Jordi's dragon. A marvelous expression of both creativity and architectural acumen, the Casa Batlló stands as a testament to Gaudi's psychedelic genius.
The Louvre Museum houses one of the largest collections of artworks and antiquities in the world. The museum is located inside the Louvre Palace, which was built in the 12th Century as a fortress by Philip II. After Louis XIV, he decided to move his court to Versailles, the palace was occupied by a variety of institutions related to the arts. The museum was first opened under the National Assembly in 1793. The establishment is divided into sections, including drawing, painting and sculpture, and houses antiquities from Egypt, Rome, Greece, and several other cultures. Visitors to the museum can explore its many wings and see some of the most famous works like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Liberty Leading the People.
The dry, barren landscape of the Chihuahuan desert disappears into a subterranean cavern that is home to some of the most magnificent geological formations. Carved by now-evaporated waters of an inland sea several millennia ago, the Guadalupe Mountain holds as many as 119 clandestine caves. Craggy formations, each fascinating in its distinct form, stay suspended from the cave's roofs, the karst-like remnants of limestone that was dissolved by sulfuric acid over great many years. A geological repository of sorts, the Carlsbad Caverns Park is home to a plethora of patterns, from The Big Room, a 4000 feet (1,220 meter) long chamber, to the Bat Cave, a guano-laced corridor that houses a majority of the caverns' bat population. The Lechuguilla Cave is perhaps the most fascinating, fabled for intricately contoured stalactites that cling to the roof, in what is deemed to be the second-deepest limestone cave in the United States.