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.


Friday, 6 February 2015

Update

For the last few months, you might have noticed this little thing on the sidebar.
 

You also have noticed that although we've rolled into 2015, it hasn't yet changed. With 39 Wonders still to visit before I can declare myself complete, we'd hope to at least begin planning a few visits for this year. Well, here's what's happening.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Longlist: Milan Cathedral

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, Milan Cathedral.