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Mysterious Mystical Places
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MYSTIC PLACES
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India
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Egypt
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Cambodia
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Istanbul, Turkey
  Colosseum
Rome, Itally.
  Chartres Cathedral
Chartres, France
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Miyajima, Japan
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Kyoto, Japan
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Updated: May 5, 2004


Throughout the history of the world past civilisations have attempted to leave behind eternal monuments that would show those who followed that they once lived, thereby in doing so achieved for them a form of immortality. Stonehenge, Gaza Pyramids, Macho Piccho, are all example of such monuments; these are each statements to the memory of every individual from that civilisation. So now the banner has been passed to this generation, will our memory be lost in the sands of time or will our dance of life be remembered though those structures we leave behind. We each hope the monuments we leave will ensure that it will be remembered that in fact we did indeed pass this way, that we leave for future generations the seeds of knowledge that will help them on their journey. Are we destined only to become the dust that blows restlessly upon the earth as internal punishment for our mediocre life, or will we become immortal through the things we leave behind us for future generations as a memorial to our passage through this life.

Construction began in 1631, and over 20,000 workmen and master craftsmen worked laboriously for 22 years to give shape to the emperor's passionate dream! The most skilled architects, inlay craftsmen, calligraphers, stone-carvers and masons came from all across Indian and lands as distant as Persia and Turkey. The material was brought in from all over India and central Asia and it took a fleet of 1,000 elephants to transport it to the site. The complex was finally completed in 1653 at a cost of 32 Million Rupees (approx USD 68000) on the banks of river Yamuna in Agra, the capital of the Mughal monarchs. Tahj Mahal stands in the city of Agra, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, on the banks of the Yamuna River. It was built in the memory of the beautiful Arjumand Bano Begum, who won the heart of a Mughal prince. She was married at 21 to Emperor Jahangir’s third son Prince Khurram and stayed loyally by his side through good times and bad: in the luxurious royal palaces of Agra as well as the transient tents of war camps.

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About 2,550 B.C., Pharaoh Khufu, the second pharaoh of the fourth dynasty, commissioned the building of his tomb at Giza. Some Egyptologists believe it took 10 years just to build the ramp that leads from the Nile valley floor to the pyramid, having taken 100,000 laborers 20 years to construct the pyramid itself. On average, the over two million blocks of stone used to build Khufu's pyramid weigh 2.5 tons, and the heaviest blocks, used as the ceiling of Khufu's burial chamber, weigh in at an estimated 40 to 60 tons. The Great Pyramid, it rises about 450 feet (having lost about 30 feet off the top over the years) and covers 13 acres. It presides over the plateau of Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo, and is the last survivor of the Seven Wonders of the World. Five thousand years ago Giza, situated on the Nile's west bank, became the royal necropolis, or burial place, for Memphis, the pharaoh's capital city. Giza's three pyramids and the Sphinx were constructed in the fourth dynasty of Egypt's Old Kingdom,

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The Khmer or Angkor Civilization came into existence during the period from 802  to 1431 A.D. and stretched as far as the modern Thailand-Burma Border in the West and Wat Phou of Laos in the North during its peak. The compound at Angkor Wat covers an area of 1,500 by 1,300 metres (4,920 by 4,265 ft.) and is surrounded by a vast moat 180 metres (590 ft.) wide. The word "Angkor" is derived Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language, of "Nagara" which means "City".  Angkor Wat literally means "City of Temple" and Angkor Thom "The Magnificent City". The Temple of Angkor Wat was dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu by King Suryavarman II, who reigned between AD 1131 and 1150. The Temple was constructed over a period of 30 years, and illustrates some of the most beautiful examples of Khmer and Hindu art. Covering an area of about 81 hectares, the complex consists of five towers, which are presently shown on the Cambodian national flag. These towers are believed to represent the five peaks of Mount Meru, the Home of Gods and Center of the Hindu Universe. Angkor Wat features the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which runs along the outer gallery walls, narrating stories from Hindu Mythology.

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The Parthenon, dedicated to Athena Parthenos, the patron goddess of Athens. Built between 447 and 432 B.C. during the Age of Pericles, this monument remains the international symbol of ancient Greece and is probably the best example of classical ancient Greek architecture, especially of the Doric order the earliest and simplest of the classical Greek styles. The Parthenon was masterminded by Pericles who took personal responsibility for the whole project. The Pantheon was the grandest building on the acropolis, it featured numerous architectural innovations, and sat on a base 70 meters long and 26 meters wide. Constructed in the 'Doric' style it had 17 columns along its length and eight columns along its width, each of which was over 10 meters high and 2 meters in diameter. Right-angled buildings tend to create an optical illusion that can make them look top heavy. To compensate for this effect, the Parthenon's columns utilize an architectural effect called entasis, and get gradually thinner from the middle up.

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Istanbul's Imperial Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I (Sultan Ahmet Camii) is called the Blue Mosque on account of the roughly 20,000 blue glazed tiles which cover its exterior, it is located in Sultanahmet square. The mosque (built 1603-17) is the masterwork of Ottoman architect Sedefkâr Mehmet Aga. It's built on the site of the Great Palace of Byzantium, on the southeastern side of the Hippodrome.
The construction of the complex began with a large ceremony in 1609. The ceremony was attended by the great religious leaders of the day, such as Seyhulislam Mehmed Efendi, and notable state figures like Aziz Mahmud Hudai,Sadrazam Davut Pacha and even sultan himself were present at the laying of the foundations. The construction of the magnificent complex lasted for a quite a time, with the mosque being completed in 1617 and rest of the structures in 1619.

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The Colosseum was originally called the Flavian Ampitheatre after its builders, the emperors Vespasian and Titus, both of the Flavian family. Construction began around 70 AD in a low lying area between the Palatine, Esquiline, and Caelian hills that had once formed the pond of Nero's Domus Aureus. The ampitheatre probably came to be called the "Colosseum" because a colossal statue of Nero once stood near it. The Colosseum was completed in 80 AD and seated more than 50,000 spectators. Its opening was celebrated with 100 days of games in which thousands of animals and gladiators were killed. Occasionally the Colosseum was flooded in order to stage small naval battles, though these more commonly took place in large basins, called naumachias, that were specially dug for that purpose. The emperor had his own entrance to the Colosseum, and from his private "box seat" he decided the fate of defeated gladiators. The floor of the arena was wood covered with sand. Beneath the floor was a maze of passageways, and temporary holding pens for the animals. It is estimated that 50,000 people could enter and be seated in 15 minutes.

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The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres - Cathédrale de Chartres. The town of Chartres had been a center for the cult of the Virgin throughout the middle ages since it possessed a statue of Mary, reportedly carved by St. Luke, as well as the "sacred Tunic," supposedly worn by the Virgin at the time of the birth of Christ. The people of Chartres believed that this sacred relic acted as their protector. When the first "early Gothic" cathedral (as well as much of the town) burned in 1194, the rebuilding was considered futile, since the townspeople believed they had been deserted by their protector. However, a representative of the Pope persuaded the citizens to rebuild the cathedral. Now it is one of most famous cathedrals in France, defined as an exemplar of the "High Gothic" style. The facade, executed earlier (before the fire), is early Gothic.

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Machu Picchu was not a city at all. It was probably built by Pachacuti Inca as a royal estate and religious retreat in 1460-70. Its location, on a remote secondary road in nearly impassable terrain high above the Urubamba River canyon cloud forest, almost ensured that it would have no administrative, commercial or military use. Any movement in that direction to or from Cusco and the Sacred valley upriver would have been by other Inca roads, either the high road near Salcantay or by the Lucumayo valley road. Travel was restricted on these roads except by Inca decree. Machu Picchu was the only major Inca structure to remain undiscovered by the Spaniards, and remained lost and hidden for some 400 years until 1911, when it was accidentally found by Hiram Bingham.

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Itsukushima Shrine dates back to the end of the 6th century and the existence of the shrine is recorded in a historical document written in 811. The Taira Family, one of the warrior class leaders who acquired political power in the 12th century, esteemed the shrine highly and backed up reconstruction of the shrine buildings around 1168, which formed the basic composition of the buildings remaining today. Not only because of the shrine but also as an important point of traffic through the Seto Inland Sea, the island continued to be taken good care of by subsequent political leaders. The buildings and gate of the shrine were frequently damaged by fires and typhoons in the 13th and 14th centuries and were once devastated, but all the buildings were restored to their original form in 1572 and have been maintained since then. Because the Otorii (a large shrine gate) and shrine buildings are built on the coastal edge, they appear as if they are afloat on the sea when the tide is in. The roofed corridor connecting the shrine buildings is designated as a National Treasure. Due to its distinctive architectural style and its cultural importance as a symbol of Japanese aesthetics, Itsukushima Shrine was registered on UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage list in December 1996.  

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The Temple of the Golden Pavilion or Kinkakuji temple, this temple which is properly called Rokuon-ji. It was built in 1392, in the Kamakura period, which ran from 1185 to 1332, as a villa for a court noble, but the compound was greatly improved by Yoshimitsu, the third Shogun Ashikaga, who retired here after he abdicated the throne in 1394.. He built the famous golden pavilion and designed the garden. After Yoshimitsu's death, Kinkaku was made into a Zen Buddhist temple named Rokuonji in accordance with his will. Arson destroyed the pavilion in 1950, but it was reconstructed in 1955. The site of Kinkaku-ji, however, seems to have been primarily rice paddies and farmland, and was passed from its owner, the head of the Office of Shinto Worship, to Saionji Kintsune (1171-1244). Saionji built the first structures on the site, the Saion-ji family temple and a villa known as Kitayamadai.

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Stonehenge is also an astronomical computer; it is designed so that Midsummer sunrise and Midwinter moonrise fall within the horseshoe. Stonehenge could also be used to mark or calculate other astronomical events. Stonehenge began as a Neolithic monument, built and re-built in several stages over a very long period time, culminating in a final building stage in the early bronze age. The first Stonehenge, called Stonehenge I, was a circular monument; radio-carbon dating dates it to 2180 B.C. E. At about 1800 B. C. E. two small circles of bluestones were erected around the central area, and the entry way was altered to align with the parallel lines of the double ditches which run from Stonehenge to the horizon, and down to the river Avon, and which are usually called the Avenue. At about 1550 B. C. E. the bluestone circles were moved so that the present sarsen stones and trilithons (the large outer ring of stones, and the smaller inner ring) formed of three-stone structures made of two stones and a cap. The bluestones were then placed in their present position, as an inner horseshoe and a smaller circle.

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The Umayyad Mosque is the most outstanding monuments of Damascus. It is built on a sacred ground on which were erected temples of different Religions. Hence, the history of the mosque itself somewhat represents the whole history of Damascus. It was built by the Omayyad Caliph al-Walid ibn Abdul Malek in 705 A.D. when Damascus was the capital of the Arab Islamic Empire. It was constructed on the site of what has always been a place of worship: first, a temple for Hadad, the Aramean god of the ancient Syrians three thousand years ago; then, a pagan temple (the temple of Jupiter the Damascene) during the Roman era. It was later turned into a church called John the Baptist when Christianity spread in the fourth century. Following the Islamic conquest in 635, Muslims and Christians agreed to partition it between them, and they began to perform their rituals side by side.At the end of the 2nd millennium Rezon the Aramean leader established his kingdom in Damascus. He was well known for defending the whole area and uniting the Arab Aramean kingdoms. In 732 B.C. the Assyrians took power untill 605 B.C., when Damascus went under Chaldean rule. In 538 B.C. the Akhemaeans ruled over Damascus area. During this period the geographer Estrabon mentions Damascus as the most famous city in the west of Asia. When Nabateans, under the rule of Al-Hareth III rose to power (87 B.C.) they made Damascus their Capital. In 105 A.D. the Romans destroyed the Nabatean kingdom, and established a Roman state with Bosra as its capital. After the Roman Empire dissension, Damascus like the other parts of Syria, Came under the rule of the Byzantine Empire during which the influence of the Ghassanites increased. In 635 A.D. the Arab Moslems took over damascus from the Byzantines, and it became the capital of the first Arab state at the time of the Omayyads. Following the decline and fall of the Omayyads, 749 A.D. Damscus went through different periods: Abbassid, Tolonian, Ikhshidian, Fatemite, Ayyoubite, Mamluk, ottoman and the French Colonization seeing prosperity sometimes, and suffering neglect and deterioration other times. However, when independence was achieved in 1946, the city started to regain its importance as a significant cultural and political center in the Arab world.

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