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

 

Travel Things That You Will Probably Do Only Once In Your Lifetime

Travel Things that You Will Probably Do Only Do Once In A Lifetime.

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli

There are many things I would like to do again in my lifetime, go back to Croatia and Turkey, spend more time in the Amazon, eat street food in Thailand and sushi at Tsukiji etc. Then there are things that I know I will only do once. (Croatia)

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Climb to the top of the Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument , etc. Any monument that you climb is a “one and done” for me. (Washington)

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Shop at Harrods in London or Ginza Mitsukoshi in Tokyo. The largest department store in the world is a one time visit – especially for the food areas. i can’t focus enough to buy anything. There are better places to be in these cities. (Tokyo)

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Climb to the top of some big mountain like Kilamanjaro, Everest or the Matterhorn. If you are capable of doing this, it is great for your quadriceps but words like summit and base camp are frightening to me. (Kilamanjaro)

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Visit the coffee shops in Amsterdam. If that is where you are spending all your time in Amsterdam, you have a problem.

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See the Aurora Borealis.

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Walk the Camino de Santiago.

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Take a gondola ride in Venice. I had every intention of doing this but after getting woken up every morning to gondoliers singing Volare, I felt like i had done it and took a boat instead.

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Visit the Grand Canyon – still have not done this

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Walk the Great Wall of China.

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Visit the Acropolis, Stonehenge, the Colosseum, Ephesus, Delphi, the Moabs or other famous ruins. They stay the same just a bit older.

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Go to Oktoberfest in Munich, Carnaval In Rio, Running With the Bulls In Pamplona, La Tomatina in Spain, Kumbh Mela in India ,Burning Man in Nevada, Dia De Los Muertos in Mexico, Chinese New Year in China and the International Balloon Festival in New Mexico.

I still have a lot to do.

Fly Safe,
JAZ

All Roads Lead to Ephesus

All Roads Lead to Ephesus

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”      Heraclitus

Ephesus is considered  to be one of the great outdoor museums of Turkey.

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Heraclitus was born in Ephesus.

The Odeon doubled as a concert hall and a meeting place ( the Senate). It was built by   a wealthy couple in 2 AD. It seats 1500 and probably had a roof since there is no drainage.

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Toilets in Ephesus were side by side with no partition. Slaves sat on them first to warm them up for their masters.

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The Celsius Library in Ephesus with 12,000 scrolls,  was the third largest library in the ancient world,  after Alexandria and Pergamon.

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The first church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was in Ephesus. The Virgin Mary lived her last years in a cottage near Ephesus. Many Popes have visited her house. It is one of the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse.

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Before it was a Roman city, Ephesus  was an ancient Greek city of Asia Minor, near the mouth of the Menderes River, in what is today Western Turkey, south of Smyrna (now Izmir). One of the greatest of the Ionian cities, it became the leading seaport of the region. Its wealth was proverbial. The Greek city was near an old center of worship of a native nature goddess, who was equated with the Greek Artemis.  In 550 B.C., a large temple was built.

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (Artemis (Diana) is very popular and has many temples) is  one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It covers an area as big as a soccer field but today has turned into a swamp.  There is one remaining column and you can only see the ruins of the foundations of this marvelous construction of the Hellenistic Age. It was  made of marble and full of sculptured columns, capitals and shafts. It was twice the size of the Parthenon in Athens.  The most beautiful  ruins that remain of this temple are  exhibited today in the British Museum in London. You can find it in the Hall Of The Stolen Goods.

The statue of many-breasted Artemis was the symbol of the temple but also of abundance, hunting and wild life. The genuine statue of Artemis, removed during the fire, is  exhibited in the Selcuk Museum in Turkey.  Many copies of this statue found during the latest excavations date back from the Roman period.

The first advertisement of the antiquity, which shows the way to the brothel, is on the Marbel Street in Ephesus.

The Grand Theatre in Ephesus has seating capacity of 24,000 people.

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Ephesus is the best preserved classical city of the Eastern Mediterranean, and among the best places in the world enabling one to genuinely soak in the atmosphere of Roman times.

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Ephesus  was once a seaport and  is now located  6 miles away from the sea.

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Ephesus was discovered in Selcuk, Izmir in Western Turkey.

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Some scholars estimate the number of people living at Ephesus to have exceeded 250,000 inhabitants during Ephesus III.  This  would make it perhaps the fourth largest of its day behind: 
1) Rome; 
2) Alexandria; and 
3) Antioch.

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Got columns?

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Ephesus was the world capital of the slave trade from 100 B.C. to  100 A.D.

Sign at Ephesus – Personally, I think all children need attention.

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Ephesus terrace houses are located on the hill, opposite the  Hadrian temple.  They are also called  “the houses of rich“. They tell a lot about family life during the Roman period.

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There are six residential units on three terraces at the lower end of the slope of the Bulbul Mountain. The oldest building dates back to 1 BC and continued in use as a residence until  7 AD. The excavations of the terrace houses started in 1960.

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 Ephesus Terrace Houses are covered with protective roofing which resembles Roman houses. The mosaics on the floor and the frescos have been consolidated and two houses have been opened to the public as a museum.

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They had interior courtyards (peristyle) in the center, with the ceiling open.. On the ground floor there were living and dining rooms opening to the hall, and upstairs there were bedrooms and guest rooms.

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The heating system of the terrace houses were the same as that in the baths. Clay pipes beneath the floors and behind the walls carried hot air through the houses. The houses also had cold and hot water. The rooms had no windows, only illuminated with light coming from the open hall, so that most of the rooms were dim.

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An ancient Roman cat  is guarding the ruins.

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Heraclitus is right.  it is my second time in Ephesus. I was there in my early twenties. They have done a lot more excavation. i am a lot more interested in it now.  I  have changed also.

‘All is flux”  and fly safe,

JAZ

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