In the very heart of jungles, surrounded by a stripe of water around the perimeter, a huge regular-shaped rectangle that seems like it is giving geometry classes to the starts overlooking it is situated. Silent skies saw times of shiny glory and painful descent of this amazing object. Over five centuries it had been the prime pearl of the mysterious Khmer Empire, its crowning glory and its enemies’ envy.
World’s larges religious complex – Angkor Wat – effortlessly sets records and boggles its guests’ imagination just as easily. To find something that’s never been lost… French globetrotter Henri Mouhot, who spent many years working as his native language teacher in Russia, thought his eyes were deceiving him. A wearisome tour into the depth of unexplored jungles brought him to an immense monument of Medieval Ages that seemed like it was opening an ancient capital of Khmer Empire Angkor. An amazed explorer was welcome by Angkor Wat – Temple-City, the silent keeper of Cambodia’s lost grandeur. By means of lips and pictures of the Frenchman it would for the first time win hearts in colonial Europe, where for a long time they were failing to believe in the existence of architectural diamond in tropical wilderness of South-East Asia.
But actual discoverer of the temple was Portuguese monk Antonio da Madalena. Three centuries prior to the “discovery” of the Frenchman this was how he described what he had seen in Cambodia: “… construction… that has all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of”. And although by that time the temple was ravaged by enemies of Khmers, it threw a Western outsider off his feet with its perfect proportions and truly unique architectural style.Photo thesuburban.com
Fancy Taj Mahal that instead of white domes is decorated with stone lotus buds and replace white pomposity with gravity of gray sandstone – and you will get a vague image of Angkor Wat that outdoes Indian pearl in both scale and age. 200 meter wide moat filled with water surrounded the complex from all the sides with only two bridges leading to the isle. And it wasn’t for no reason that so-called gopuras (that means towers in Hindu culture) were overlooking entrance gate. They used to complete Temple City’s security and emphasize its grandeur.
When you’ve found your way inside Angkor Wat, first thing you pay attention to is thousands men, deities and legendary animals that live lives of their own on kilometers-long bas-relieves and give visual idea of what was going on in the Empire and its capital many centuries ago. All of them are scenes from Khmer and Hindu epics “Mahabharata” and “Ramayana”. Wall paintings are our wordless fellows on our way to the heart of the temple, central sanctuary with the highest tower. In order to climb to it you’ll have to take almost upright stairs.Photo fodors.com
Such difficulties do not scare tourists away; their daily inflow to Angkor Wat constitutes impressive 20 thousand persons. Guests of the Temple City are told about its controversial history that doesn’t answer the question why inhabitants of Khmer capital abandoned it in 15th century. Tour guides also let tourists in on secrets of bas-relieves and at the same time explain principles of the complex’s five towers location from the perspective of Hinduism. They astonish travelers even more when they describe methods of construction of Angkor Wat because stones of the temple were worked into places to fit each other with pinpoint accuracy without the use of connective mortars at that. There is also a legend suggesting that the Temple City was built from top downward. However, even scientists have troubles explaining such a phenomenon.Photo angkorfocus.com
Nevertheless, we should bear in mind that in our times (that may be excessively cynical ones) everything great makes it into mass culture sooner or later. Angkor Wat, too, failed to avoid such a fate. This territory became shooting location for movies, the most famous of them being about Lara Croft, in which Angelina Jolie, mother of many children, turns out to be stronger than all the men of the globe. Also, in January, 2011 British rock musicians Placebo performed a charity concert there and even eliminated all unprintable words from their songs – seemed like nothing other than a tribute to sanctuaries around. This is why one should get to Cambodia as soon as possible until it becomes irrevocably touted to the utmost. By the way, previously they had little liking of outsiders in the Temple City – there was a reason it was surrounded with a huge moat where crocodiles were raised.
Should we have a look at notes of those who plan their trips to Spain, next to the darling of all hearts, Barcelona, Montserrat is bound to rank second. Also, the mountain of the abbey is a must-visit spot for local dwellers, too – they believe it necessary to visit Catalonia’s religious heart at least once a year.
Stereotypes are terrible. They form a definite picture of the world in our heads, and it is not so easy to change. Take, for instance, the concept of skyscraper: imagination of 90% people immediately provoke skyline of American cities, familiar from movies and TV. It is quite logical, but nowadays panorama of the best luxury skyscrapers is in other direction – keep moving to the East. For Arab structures may outdo Western ones in all respects.
Sauntering through picturesque nooks of Grand Dame Europe we look around without even suspecting how many interesting things there are beneath our feet. If you are annoyed with standard tours that include marathon race around museums and monuments, we suggest you have a look at good Old World from a different perspective. Or more specifically, look under its feet.
What do you imagine when you hear the word "abbey"? I'm sure most people will first of all think of Westminster. But what if I said that in fact it is no longer an abbey? So what makes these medieval buildings so special? Let's look at the example of buildings from different European countries.
"A small territory with a great mission" is the motto under which on February 11, 1929 Lateran Treaty between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See recognized Vatican as a sovereign territory. It was an agreement which opened doors for curious patrons who for centuries had been trading gossip about "What is kept inside Vatican castles?".
Why have three wives if there is a chance to get hold of jewels? And as soon as a name of a king becomes “nourished” with a collection of family relics, one can start thinking about the one and only who will continue a reputed kin. Knowing that Thirty Years’ War was about to begin, Christian IV of Denmark and Norway ordered to build a castle that would be impossible to destroy.
Majestic and beautiful, contradictory and frightening ... The UNESCO World Heritage List includes into their ranks important works of culture, history, or objects of environmental importance. According to UNESCO rules, a heritage site must be a masterpiece and be of value to a specific era, contain information about unique traditions, reminisce about historical events, or include the habitat of rare species.
Buddhists say: to get rid of suffering, one should get rid of desire. There are special places for that. Today we suggest you to check out our top five of stunning temples, where Buddhists and tourists are looking for a way to harmony for their souls.
The architecture of temples has interesting and sometimes controversial history. Quite often the novelties and fundamentals of movements in architecture started with the building of temples with sophisticated design. The Polish Roman Catholic churches are rather bright in their beauty.
Mosque, is a prayer building with a dome. It has adjacent minaret towers, there can be not more then nine minarets; stepping inside a pilgrim sees ancient writings which are lines from the Quran. Only Arabic words adorn the walls, portrait painting is prohibited. Today we will tell our readers about the most extraordinary treasures of the Muslim world.
Sometimes it happens that you look at a postcard with a picture of a city and instantly realize that this is Kyiv, or Moscow, or Rome or your native village. And it isn’t courtesy of your geography teacher but back-breaking efforts of artisans with whose hands commonly familiar architecture masterpieces were created. Today we recall Italian conqueror of marble Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Seoul of South Korea that blisteringly turned from an ancient city of a poor country into a prospering capital of an advanced state over 20th century, definitely deserves respect; as much esteem is earned by those municipal officials and patriots who, in times of explosive industrialization, managed to preserve glorious heritage of the past – royal palaces of Joseon dynasty.
When we hear about "water city", Venice immediately comes to mind, doesn’t it? Tranquil gondolas, narrow waterways, gentle light of the evening sun and ancient architecture create that heady romantic cocktail which attracts tourists from all over the world to the Italian city.
Georgia, which a little more than ten years ago hit the path of serious reforms, has changed much, not only becoming more democratic and more successful, but the state has also updated its look. Architects from around the world successfully worked here creating over all the territory a number of important and unique objects symbolizing country rebirth.
OUTLOOK prepared for you a gallery of statues created in honour of the famous fictional characters of children's books which seem to come to life in their own city. Immerse yourself in the world of childhood, browsing the article, and maybe find your favorite characters!
First exhibition of paintings in the world’s most visited museum the Louvre was opened on 1793. But its building was well-known far beyond France, though the edifice was not used with such lofty cultural purposes.
They have been on duty for many years. Beaten down, crippled, lost friends in battles, they are still staring into endless sand landscapes to see whether an enemy is approaching, and every day they lose their memories crumb by crumb. About thirty palaces and castles live out their remaining days scattered throughout the deserts of Jordan. Once majestic, terrifying and awaking mystical awe, even now these fortified palaces are able to captivate a traveller.
Approximately 53% of the world's population lives in cities, which in contrast to villages where highways are almost the same, consist of many routs: long and short, wide and narrow, beautiful and plain. There are no criteria: someone admires Rio slums more than Broadway Avenue. We will not judge what is best or worst, but just focus on data.
Where to look for Clementin, the narrowest hotel in Czech Republic merely 3.28 meters wide, how to chose between Pilsner Urquel, Krušovice and Gambrinus, when to feed gold-colored carps and why tram 91 has no peer? Elvira Matrosova learned about these and more. And despite the fact that this city stands on Vltava (Wilth-ahwa – literally means Wild water), it is aristocratic, consistent and calm yet far from Puritanism.