Best Ruins That I Have Visited So Far

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 Best Ruins That I Have Visited So Far.

“The shattered wall,
the broken tower
have a story to tell –
from the touchstones of ruins
and ancient texts
we make a pilgrimage.” Michael Alexander,

Architectural ruins connect us to the past and bring history alive. There is something about visiting the sites of these ancient civilizations that fascinates me. You can see the potential that people all over the world and thousands of years ago had for greatness. Some of these amazing structures were built long before all the machinery, transport and communication tools that we have now. 

 Peru, Machu Picchu

The purpose of Machu Picchu will always remain a mystery. It is probably a religious and spiritual site.  The Inca trail leading up to Machu Picchu (it takes four days  of camping out in the Andes if you want to do it) was built to always face the snow-capped mountains because that is what they worshipped .How they transported all that granite up there  remains a mystery. It is believed that they quarried  it on site. No other civilization has managed to assemble so many colossal stone blocks so seamlessly cut with stones or bronze.  There is no mortar holding them together and they are earthquake-proof constructions.

 Chile, Easter Island, Rapa Nui Park

Who carved such enormous statues? How did they move them and raise them up onto platforms? The missionary’s stories, the explorer’s diaries, the archaeologist’s shovel, the anthropologist’s bones and the Rapa Nui oral tradition have all revealed something of the story. No one agrees on any of the answers to these questions. Archaeologists have proposed methods for moving the statues, using various combinations of log rollers, sledges and ropes .In the Rapa Nui oral tradition, the Moai were infused with mana, a spiritual force from the ancestors and the Moai walked.The Rapa Nui stories make just as much sense of the unknown as the scientific theories. There is no proof that it did not happen that way.

Turkey, Cappodocia

The dramatic landscape is the result of volcanic eruptions that happened millions  years ago. Wind and water eroded the land leaving these odd surreal land formations, fairy chimneys, caves and underground cities. Goreme Open Air Museum is a group of cave churches and monasteries from the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. The most famous and most restored one is Karanlik Killse (Dark Church) which is filled with elaborate Byzantine frescoes. Early Christians escaping from Roman persecution found shelter in Cappadocia.

Turkey, Ephesus

The ancient city of Ephesus was built in the tenth century. It was a large city (over 250,000 inhabitants in the first century BC) and a major port for trade routes into Asia Minor. Ephesus was known in antiquity for its sacred shrines, the most famous being the temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (only foundations and sculptural fragments remain). Ephesus came under Roman control in 129 BC, and continued to prosper under Emperor Augustus as capital of the Roman province of Asia. It was also an important centre of early Christianity and its greatest Christian monument was the 4th century church of St. John the Evangelist.

 Turkey, Pergamon

Pergamon was one of the key Roman cities of Anatolia and the well-preserved remains hint at the grand spectacle that the city was during its glory days. Excavations reach back to the second century B.C. It  has one of the largest libraries in the world and one of the steepest theatres.

Cambodia, Ta Prohm 

Yes,Ta Prohm is the temple where Angelina Jolie played Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. Ta Promh has been left the way it was originally found.  It was built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The jungle had completely engulfed the entire complex when it was discovered in the last century. It was amazing to see how the massive trees have grown around and atop the structures, their roots seemingly strangling and holding up the temple’s towers and other buildings.

Cambodia, Angor Wat

Angor Wat is the largest temple in the world and the world’s largest religious building constructed of stone. It is often described as one of the most extraordinary architectural creations ever built, with its intricate bas-reliefs, strange acoustics and magnificent soaring towers. It was built by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century. Angkor Wat was shifted from Hindu to Buddhist use sometime around the late 13th century. The temple is still used by Buddhists today. It is architecturally and artistically breathtaking. No photograph can capture the immensity of this monument.

Jordan, Petra

 Petra is a city of rose-colored stone, carved out of rock by the Nabateans in the third century BC. Like Macchu Picchu, there isn’t a lot of information known about it. It is one of the dryest places on earth and how they got water for the thirty thousand people who lived here is a mystery. Stephen Spielberg brought it to us in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. 

Thailand, Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya was the old capital of the Thai kingdom from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century.  The site resembles a  graveyard of temples,  headless Buddhas (beheaded by the Burmese in the thirteenth century) and ruins showing what it might have looked like.

Myanmar, Bagan

Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay region of Myanmar. From the ninth to the thirteenth centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan kingdom. During the kingdom’s height between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2,200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

Mexico, Tulum

The ancient walled city perched on the edge of a cliff in Quintana Roo overlooking the Caribbean ocean was a major trading and religious centre between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries. Tulum was built to be a seaport fortress, with steep ocean cliffs providing protection from the East, and a large limestone wall enclosing the rest of the city on three sides. 

Acropolis, Greece

The Acropolis looms over Athens, and is impossible not to recognize.This citadel includes the famous white-columned Parthenon, as well as the fifth century, Propylaia, Erechtheion and Temple of Athena Nike. The Parthenon temple was dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom and war who planted the first olive tree on this very spot to found the city of Athens.

Italy, Colosseum

The Colosseum has been regarded as an iconic symbol of Rome since the Middle Ages.  Built in eighty A.D, it is a massive structure and is the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire. Being able to seat close to 50,000 spectators, it was the premier venue for wild beast shows and bloody gladiator combat.

Italy, Forum

Once the centre of public and political life in Ancient Rome, the Forum is a sprawling labyrinth of ancient ruins, including the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Titus and the House of the Vestals. You’re standing in the very center of the ancient city, surrounded by the remains of famous temples and political buildings. The people of Rome saw the funeral of Julius Caesar here, along with the execution of Cicero and countless triumphal processions.

 Italy, Pantheon

The Pantheon was built as a temple dedicated to the worship of  Roman gods. In 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV and Emperor Phocas converted it into the Christian church we see today. The Pantheon is considered a rotunda, a circular drum structure. Perfect mathematically, the Pantheon’s dome has an opening in the center.  In fact, the Pantheon in Rome still holds the world record for having the largest unsupported concrete dome.

Croatia, Diocletians Palace 

Diocletian’s Palace was built in the fourth century as a retirement seaside residence for the Roman Emperor, his family and seven hundred or so servants and guards in Split. The rectangular structure (520 x 620 feet) was two stories, fronted the sea and was built more like a fort than a palace. It is the most complete Roman ruins of a palace in existence today. It is not a museum .Three thousand people live and work on the grounds and there are many shops and restaurants. It is best seen when not besieged  by cruise ships.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

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Things I Have Learned In Croatia

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Things I Have Learned In Croatia

At the entrance to the Rector’s Palace in Dubrovnik, there is a sign from the middle ages that says, “keep your personal affairs outside, attend to public business only. “

When entering a jazz concert at the Rector’s Palace, during the Summer Festival, you are handed a program and a moist towelette. (which you will need because there is no air conditioning or windows. You will also be putting cold water on your face during the intermission. ) But it will be worth it, the musicians were great.

At the Dominican church in Dubrovnik the columns are filled in halfway up. This is so you can’t see the ankles of the women as they walked up the stairs.

In the old city in Dubrovnik, you will find War Photo Limited. It is a museum devoted to war photojournalism. The exhibitions are different conflicts throughout the world. The lesson is that war is bad no matter what side you are on.  It is very well done and graphic- not good for children.

American Express is not as welcome in Croatia as American tourists.

Bosnia Herzekovina is a good place to buy cheap liquor, cigarettes, bootleg movies and drugs.

Croatians refer to communism as the time of the Yugoslavia.

If you like oysters, you must go and see the oyster beds and have lunch in Ston. Even if you don’t like oysters (me), you should go. If you like wine tasting, you can do that on the way.

If you need to get money from a bank in Dubrovnik any American passport will do.

Croatians are very proud that they have five star hotels. They mention it all the time. ” You want room service? No problem,  this is five star hotel. You need towels? No problem,  this is five star hotel.”

This is not us.

The old city of Dubrovik and Diocletian’s Palace are both UNESCO protected sites. In the 1991 battle for independence, the old city of Dubrovnik was in flames. The UN did not go in and protect it. We aren’t really sure what UNESCO protected site means.

Georgio Armani has a black yacht.

Walking the walls around the old city  in Dubrovnik is good way to look into people’s backyards and see their plants and  hanging laundry.

If you are walking the walls of the old city, and it is summer,  try not to be behind a hairy sweaty man with his shirt off, where it gets very narrow and crowded.

The Adriatic Sea is twice as salty as the Pacific which is why the fish tastes so much better. They have been soaking in brine for their entire life.

The stone used to build Diocletian’s Palace in 300AD and the stone for the White House both came from the island  of Brac. Diocletian used thousands of Christian slaves, Im not sure what religion the slaves that built the White House were.

Diocletian’s palace, located in Split was built in the fourth century. It  is the most complete Roman ruins of a palace in existence today. . It is not a museum . Three thousand people live and work  on the grounds and there are many shops and restaurants. It is best seen when not besieged  by cruise ships ( the bane of summer travel for me)

Apparently no dogs are allowed in the Palace.

The Meridian Lav in Split is Eastern Europe’s Grand Wailea/Club Med. ( and don’t ever mention Borat here –they don’t think it is funny)

A table with a view of the sea  in Split is a whole different thing.

Everywhere in Croatia is a photo opportunity.  Here we are waiting for the  car ferry to Hvar.

Bubba Gumps is spring break in Hvar.

I cant get enough of Hvar harbor -a view from the room.

Hvar is the number one grower of high quality lavender. Yes, I brought back a lot of lavender oil.

One of the most beautiful days I have ever had was to rent a boat and go out around Hvar with my daughter . The beaches are rocky but the water is so blue and clean that you don’t mind cutting up your feet.  ( They sell Crocs everywhere  –now I know why)

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It is great to eat seafood in a restaurant  in Cavtat when the owner is walking in wearing a bathing suit and carrying the fish. It is not so great to do the meet and greet with the fish beforehand.

My favorite foods are grilled octopus and squid. I was so happy to have it  every day in  Dubrovnik, Hvar and Split. After a while everything becomes like chicken.

According to my kids, when I am speaking to someone who’s second language is English, English becomes my second language as well.

On a serious note Dubrovnik and Hvar could be among the most beautiful places in the world and we had a great time.  It has some of the best seafood I have ever eaten.  Croatia  is one of my most favorite places and I can’t wait to go back. (Hvar, Dubrovnik)

Ugodan let

JAZ