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Jerusalem's charm is interwoven with its rich spiritual history and antiquity. The Old City is a World Heritage Site, a remnant of this city's foundations and though it occupies a small area, it is base to many important religious sites. East Jerusalem is the location of the Temple Mount, and on the other side stunning examples of ancient Islamic architecture are visible. Apart from a religious presence that looms large, Jerusalem is also a place thriving with splendid historical attractions, museums, distinct neighborhoods, and a wonderful culture that must be experienced. The Israel Museum in Givat Ram which houses a plethora of archaeological treasures, the Bible Lands Museum and the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo are some of the city's most-visited attractions.
Perched on the shores of the largest natural harbour in the world, Sydney is the brash, bold and stunning state capital of New South Wales. Although the area has been populated by native tribes since the Paleolithic era, it was not until 1788 that British explorers first sailed into Port Jackson and founded a penal colony on the site where the Sydney skyline now soars. Positively bubbling with exuberance yet quintessentially laid-back, Sydney boasts a thriving arts and culinary scene, beautiful beaches and marvelous displays of contemporary architecture besides the iconic Opera House. Notorious as one of the world's most expensive, Sydney is also one of the most livable cities, ripe with hip enclaves and ever-evolving culture. There's a constant flurry of new restaurants, bars and nightclubs to try alongside time-tested staples. On the flip side, the urban cityscape is heartily fringed with greenery, riddled with parks and nature reserves teeming with native wildlife. Cockatoos, flying foxes and possums are often spotted mingling with the denizens of the urban jungle, while the koalas of Taronga Park Zoo are always ready for a cuddle. From walking the Harbour Bridge and the stunning views from Sydney Tower to the surfers' paradise that is Bondi Beach and the verdant fonds of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney is a vibrant wonderland of delights.
Built over a lagoon, upon a collection of over 100 small islands, Venice is a city of extraordinary beauty. The city's scenic canals serve as major thoroughfares, reflecting the people and places that surround its teal waters. Gondolas glide past historic buildings in the pink glow of sunset. The Grand Canal forms the city's main waterway, lined on either side by an array of Renaissance and Gothic mansions, culminating at the Piazza San Marco where the eponymous basilica inspires awe. Bedecked in Byzantine mosaics, the basilica is just one of the city's many artistic treasures, while others await down narrow streets. Each morning, the city comes alive to the call of the gondoliers, while by night, Venetian bars are filled with diners eager to sample local cuisine. The lagoon itself is a thing of beauty, formed thousands of years ago and maintained by artificial means. Several small towns and cities occupy the islands, besides the city of Venice.
One of the most recognizable buildings in the world, the Burj Khalifa rises to a staggering height of 829.8 meters (2,722 feet). The towering edifice appears to pierce the sky itself, a glimmering vision of contemporary design that soars high above the rest of the city. Completed in 2010, the skyscraper broke records to become the world's tallest freestanding structure, beating landmark buildings such as the Petronas Towers and CN Tower. Its outdoor Observation Deck is set on the 124th floor and offers breathtaking views of the city, surpassed only by the Sky Deck on the 148th floor. The extravagant interiors only add to the building's appeal with the Armani Hotel on its lower levels and the At.mosphere restaurant on the 122nd floor. Apart from the structure itself, nearby landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa Park and The Dubai Fountain also form part of this downtown complex. The Burj Khalifa is synonymous with the city, as is evidenced by the myriad replicas of its iconic form fitted into souvenir stands and depicted on postcards.
Carved into the sandstone cliffs of the desert canyons and mountain sides of southwest Jordan, the prehistoric city of Petra was hidden away for hundreds of years from the reach of the western world. Painted in the vibrant hues of the undulating landscape, at first sight all you see are the cliffs themselves before the city begins to emerge from the vivid backdrop of the striated rock. This World Heritage Site was named one of the New Wonders of the World in 2007, a rare jewel of rock-cut architecture and evidence of the Nabataeans' ingenuity. Capital of the Nabataean Empire between 400 BCE and 106 CE, the temples and tombs of Petra are carved directly into the rock amid a dramatic landscape of rugged cliffs and barren ravines, a once thriving center of trade and commerce. The Roman conquest of the Nabataean Empire marks the beginning of Petra's decline, yet evidence of additions made by the Romans stand to this date amid the distinctive style of the Greek, Byzantine and Nabataean periods. A sprawling complex of ruins, what has been uncovered makes up a mere 15 percent of the vast city, the rest remains hidden away, buried by the elements and lost in time.
The Kruger National Park is one of Africa's largest game reserves, with its rambling stretch sprawled across 19,485 square kilometers (7,523 square miles) of northeastern South Africa. The vast reserve is home to the Big Five and a pack of the endangered African wild dogs, as well as over 140 other species of large mammals; a number far greater than any other reserve in Africa. A staggering variety of reptiles and amphibians also roam the park while its rivers teeming with fish and over 500 varieties of birds rule the skies. Edged in by the Limpopo to the north, the Mpumalanga province to its west and the Lebombo Mountains to the south, Kruger National Park is also one of the world's largest national parks, its terrain characterized by native grasslands and velds. The rich diversity of the park is just one of its charms, while its archaeological sites and native tribes preserve South Africa's heritage. One of Africa's top destinations for wildlife encounters and safaris, Kruger National Park is closely guarded. Only a limited number of vehicles are granted entry each day to help conserve the habitat's unfettered lure and wild charm.
Set among 3 swanky high-rise buildings in the island city, Marina Bay Sands is the pinnacle of luxury. This architectural marvel has a whopping 57 floors on each of the three towers with indulgent suites and guest rooms suitable for both pleasure and business travelers. The rooms come with flat-screen TVs, minibars, free Wi-Fi and floor-to-ceiling windows which offer unrivaled views of the city. Family rooms feature additional living areas, coffee machines and garden view terraces. The luxury suites offer uninterrupted access to a VIP lounge along with complimentary breakfast. Some suites also come with private gyms and butler service. The property also includes a chic bar, a contemporary restaurant that specializes in international dishes, a rooftop infinity pool, a fitness center and a state-of-the-art spa.
A concrete riverfront walkway that is built around a bend on the Huangpu River, the iconic Bund is dotted with a collection of Shanghai's most monumental landmarks. A labyrinth of nearly 52 buildings of varying shapes, sizes and architectural styles – from Romanesque Revival and Baroque, to Neoclassical and Art Deco – guards the riverfront area from the rest of the city, almost like an open-air repository of structures woven together by the forces of history, culture and commerce. Influenced by the brief colonial era that settled over Shanghai before it became a trading port in 1846, behind the buildings' facade existed a slew of trading houses, banks and even consulates. Some of the most prominent buildings that line the picturesque riverfront include the HSBC Building, which once housed the Shanghai headquarters of the eponymous bank, the Russo-Chinese Bank Building, the Asia Building, the Bank of China building, and the Gutzlaff Signal Tower. While some buildings serve an official purpose even today, some others form cultural and retail hubs in this commercial city.
Sprawled over a massive area, this ancient temple complex is one of the most impressive in the world. The architecture of Angkor Wat reflects traditional ornate and classical designs. The temple has five beautiful towers with lotus shaped domes, which are all carved artistically with models of apsaras. Also known as the Capital Temple, it is dedicated to the Hindu God, Vishnu. If you are interested in history, this place merits a visit for its deep historical relevance in ancient dynasties. A visit to this temple is worth it just to relax in the serene surroundings. Visit around 5a and bring along a picnic to enjoy as you watch the breath-taking sunrise over the temple.
The Valle dei Templi or The Valley of the Temples actually refers to a number of temples that are situated in the ridge between the highway and the city. The temples are supposed to have originated since the ancient Roman era. The onlookers are awed by the tall standing structured spruced over the ridge. Besides temples, there are several museums around that give information on these temples. The open hours vary from different temples and museums, so you can shuffle between different temples as per their hours. To know about the guided tours here, check the website.
Magnificent, stunning, bewitching, sublime – words fail to describe this exalted labor of love that stands on the southern bank of the Yamuna river. One of the most astounding examples of Mughal architecture, the Taj Mahal is swathed in immaculate, ivory-white glory, a resplendent bulwark of precision and symmetry. Constructed by the grief-stricken emperor Shah Jahan after the death of his beloved consort, it's hard to believe that the gigantic edifice is actually a mausoleum that houses both of their tombs. The iconic structure has been constructed entirely out of marble and features outstanding artwork, including the stunning marble inlay work that is interwoven with precious and semi-precious stones. Calligraphic inscriptions from the Holy Quran surround the beautiful vaulted archways. The edifice, flanked by four pillars, has been constructed in perfect symmetry and appears identical from all the sides. At the absolute center of the monument lies the cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal and beside hers, emperor Shah Jahan's, which was added later. The edifice was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983 and is one of the most recognized monuments worldwide.
Rising 390 feet (120 meters) above the blue waters of the Atlantic, the Cliffs of Moher (or Mohair) are truly majestic. Carved out of sandstone and suspended between the ocean and sky, the vertical cliffs capture nature's raw energy and untamed spirit. Named for the old Moher fort that once stood on the southern end of the cliffs, this ancient rock face overlooks the Twelve Pins and Maumturks mountain ranges, Galway Bay dotted with the Aran Islands, and Loop Head. Located along the Wild Atlantic Way with the ocean crashing beneath and birds calling above, it's easy to believe that the Cliffs of Moher are at world's end.