Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Country Review: Mexico

Dates there: 2nd to 19th, 22nd to 29th September 2014: 26 days

Mexico's WondersTeotihuacan, Palenque, Chichen Itza

Also visitedMonte AlbanPuebla Cathedral, Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, Templo Mayor

On the Longlist: Uxmal, Great Pyramid of Cholula, Calakmul, Mayapan, Yaxchilan, Becan, 

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Longlist: Winay Wayna

What's the Longlist? It's the list for all the other great man-made spectacles in the world that haven't quite made my shortlist. I don't feel the need to research them or visit them, but as long as this blog is about the world's best man-made structures, they deserve some kind of mention. Today, Winay Wayna.


Friday, 3 April 2015

Old Pictures: Ayutthaya


Today, the ruins of Ayutthaya are just that: ruins. Set within the modern city of Ayutthaya, the historic UNESCO-rated park of old Ayutthaya is a couple of miles north of Thailand's capital, Bangkok. But Bangkok will forever be the new boy, Ayutthaya was the classic capital of Thailand (or Siam as it was then). It was a majestic city of gold spires and palaces, surrounded by three converging rivers. It all went downhill in 1767, when the Burmese trashed it, but the good news is that the Europeans had been visiting for three centuries before this happened.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Country Review: USA

Dates there: 24th to 28th February, 22nd to 27th July, 6th August to 1st September, all 2014: 37 days

USA's Wonders: Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Mount Rushmore, The Gateway Arch, Walt Disney World, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam

Also visited: The Bean/Cloud Gate, the Chrysler Building, the Bay Bridge, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood sign, Willis Tower/Sears Tower, Hancock Center, Crazy Horse Memorial, Cahokia Mounds, One World Trade Center

On the Longlist: The White House, the Pentagon, United States Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, Mesa Verde

Friday, 27 March 2015

The Longlist: Cahokia

What's the Longlist? It's the list for all the other great man-made spectacles in the world that haven't quite made my shortlist. I don't feel the need to research them or visit them, but as long as this blog is about the world's best man-made structures, they deserve some kind of mention. Today, Cahokia.


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Update: Job

Well, it would seem that I've got myself a job. I now work here:


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Country Review: Greece

Dates there: 4th to 13th April 2014: 10 days

Greece's Wonders: The Parthenon, Meteora

Also visited: Temple of Olympian Zeus

On the Longlist: Mount Athos, Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes, Acropolis of Rhodes.

Original Wonders (no longer with us): The Colossus of Rhodes, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia.

Friday, 13 March 2015

The Longlist: Monte Alban

What's the Longlist? It's the list for all the other great man-made spectacles in the world that haven't quite made my shortlist. I don't feel the need to research them or visit them, but as long as this blog is about the world's best man-made structures, they deserve some kind of mention. Today, Monte Alban.

What do you get if you cross Teotihuacan with Machu Picchu?
 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Old Pictures: The Banaue Rice Terraces

When Burness and I were in Banaue, and went on a three-day trek around the mountainous countryside filled with rice terraces, our guide told us about some old black-and-white photos he had seen. These days the rice terraces are in a permanent state of danger, at risk from neglect as locals prefer to find their fortune in the cities rather than spend their lives farming. The customs and traditions that made the rice terraces possible for up to 2000 years are under threat. Oddly, tourism and the money it brings in is a side-effect of the modern world that actually helps the terraces.

Anyway, although the rice terraces of Banaue and the surrounding area look pretty good today, our guide told us they had once been even better. He told us of these old photos. But he didn't have a copy to show us. I wonder if it might have been these:


Friday, 6 March 2015

Country Review: Spain

Dates there: 29th April to 15th May 2014, 3rd to 5th July 2014: 20 days

Spain's Wonders: Sagrada Familia, The Alhambra, City of Arts and Sciences

Also visited: Granada Cathedral, the Mezquita of Cordoba, Metropol Parasol, Seville Cathedral, the Alcazar in Seville, La Pedrera.

On the Longlist: Burgos Cathedral, Guggenheim Museum, Nou Camp, El Escorial, Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, the Roman Theatre in Merida, Aqueduct of Segovia, Palma Cathedral.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Longlist: The Reichstag

What's the Longlist? It's the list for all the other great man-made spectacles in the world that haven't quite made my shortlist. I don't feel the need to research them or visit them, but as long as this blog is about the world's best man-made structures, they deserve some kind of mention. Today, the Reichstag.


Friday, 27 February 2015

Old Pictures: Angkor Wat

In 1860, as is often popularly recorded, the French explorer Henri Mouhot discovered Angkor Wat lost in the jungle. Fortunately for the world he didn't keep this to himself. He produced a series of pictures.


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Country Review: Fiji

Dates there: 2nd to 6th March 2014: 5 days

Fiji's Wonders: None

On the Longlist: None

You don't go to Fiji for the architecture. You go there for the islands, the beaches, or in my case because I've got a friend there. It's a lovely place and feels a little like an alternative universe, where the relics of British colonialism hang out on a remote island in the middle of nowhere. Danielle and I spent a couple of days in the capital, Suva, with my friend Maebh and her partner Tom, then moved onto an awfully pleasant beachside hotel for a couple of days.

Fiji's archaeological history goes back as far as 900 BC, but they weren't inclined towards Easter Island giant heads, it seems. Fijians preferred just to hang about and enjoy the sun. And why wouldn't you? There are no grand ancient mysterious monuments anywhere, just some humble mounds and boulders which would have had some kind of ceremonial function a long time ago. Mostly, Fijians built stuff like this:


Friday, 20 February 2015

Model Wonders 7: The Lost Edition

In the last couple of weeks the art world has been stunned by the potential discovery of two bronze statuettes thought to have been made by Michelangelo. Well, art world, prepare to be stunned again. My recent editions of Model Wonders, my widely-acclaimed series on small souvenir models of prospective World Wonders, featured gems from the Americas and from Europe, as well as a small cache of other models. It appeared that we'd seen everything - but no! When Danielle and I were in Turkey, Burness joined us for a couple of weeks. Very kindly, when he went home and as we continued travelling, he took a box from me to lighten my backpack. Last month that box was returned. The contents would rock not only the world of art, but the world of everything!

Here they are:


Meteora


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Longlist: Umayyad Mosque aka The Great Mosque of Damascus

What's the Longlist? It's the list for all the other great man-made spectacles in the world that haven't quite made my shortlist. I don't feel the need to research them or visit them, but as long as this blog is about the world's best man-made structures, they deserve some kind of mention. Today, Umayyad Mosque aka The Great Mosque of Damascus.


Friday, 13 February 2015

Old Pictures: The Bodhi Tataung Standing Buddha

Well, this could be a quick one. The The Bodhi Tataung Standing Buddha is the second tallest statue in the world, at 129 metres tall, but it's a new kid on the block and was only completed in 2008. Here's a bunch of photos of it in construction.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Country Review: Brazil

Dates there: 14th to 20th February 2014: 7 days

Brazil's Wonders: The Christ the Redeemer statue.

Also visited: Metropolitan Cathedral, the Maracana Stadium

On the Longlist: National Congress in Brasilia, Itaipu Dam

I'll let you into a little secret: I'm not really that keen on Brazil. I'm not sure it's wholly rational, or perhaps I'm just not able to fully explain it, but I can't find the enthusiasm that other people have, or actual Brazilians have in flowing abundance. Perhaps that last point is key: the Brazilians have an awful lot of enthusiasm for their own country. Too much enthusiasm. I know it's very natural for people around the world to believe that "their" country is the best, and there's nothing wrong with a little patriotism, but when it goes overboard and it seems like everybody is ramming it down your throat about how extra-specially great their country is, then I get a little sick of it. I know that it puts a lot of people off America when Americans go on about being number 1, but in my view Brazil is worst of all. Let's have some quiet confidence please, chaps, not noisy bombast about your own excellence.