Meteora beyond monasteries: a unique place in central Greece.

We are always in Greece…..this time for discover monasteries on rock pillars, once accessible only by frayed ropes. It’s well known, that the Orthodox church has always had the ability for picking spectacular locations for its sacred buildings, and Meteora is no exception. Even if it weren’t the site of the second most important monastery complex in Greece, it would still be a place absolutely to visit. In the foothills of the Pindus mountains, above the central Greek plains of Thessaly, is a series of geological wonders that stick out…

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A trip in the Dogon Villages of Bandiagara Escarpment.

The Bandiagara Escarpment slices across the hot and dusty lands of the Sahel in Mali for over 160km. Bandiagara is a wonder of nature, where the cliffs rise almost 500 meters in the sky and range in geographic diversity from desert to cascading waterfalls plummeting into the plains below. We are in central Mali, about 90 km to the east of Mopti, where we can see an incredible sandstone cliff with a high plateau above and sandy semi-desert plains below. It’s known as the Bandiagara Escarpment, this cliff stretches for…

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Chinguetti: the incredible libraries of a country lost in the desert.

Today it’s only a village hidden in the desert of Mauritania, which with its sands inexorably advances to the south, swallowing what remains of an ancient culture. Chinguetti is almost a ghost town, divided into two by a ravine of sand, which separates the newer part from the ancient city. But Chinguetti is a sacred place of Islam, where, between the 13th and 17th centuries, thousands of pilgrims stopped on their way to Mecca, and caravans of merchants carrying wool, dates, and came back with precious goods like gold, ivory…

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Serpent d’Océan: the 130 meter skeleton that emerges from the Nantes Coast.

It is called Serpent d’Océan, but is not the skeleton of an animal that actually existed, in fact it’s a sculpture located in Saint-Brévin-les-Pins, near Nantes, in correspondence with the estuary of the Loire river. The author is the artist Huang Yong Ping, of Chinese origins and French national, who used the traditional iconography of China’s mythological dragons to design the approximately 130-meters-long art monster. The artist completed the work in 2012, when was unveiled as part of the Estuaire art exhibition which invites international artists to create large-scale works…

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Batroun, Lebanon: one of the oldest cities in the world.

We are in Batroun, a coastal city in northern Lebanon, located 50 km north of Beirut and 30 km south of Tripoli. This is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a history of human occupation going back to at over 5,000 years. Despite this, very little is known about its history. Once was a flourishing city and port in Phoenician times (3000 – 64 BC) and one of the most important Phoenician cities in the region. Its name derives from the Greek, Botrys (or Bothrys), which was…

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Anchors graveyard in Portugal…rust in peace!

The Cemetery of Anchors in Santa Luzia, Portugal, is surely a different place from the conventional touristic destinations. Here the dead anchors honor the victims of Portugal’s fishing industry. No one knows who placed the first of the hundreds of anchors along the sand dunes of Praia do Barril Beach. But one leads another, and locals people continued adding rusted old weights to honor the small tuna fishing community that once were on all this area, a symbolic memorial to the abandonment of this way of life. Historical reference indicate…

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The ruins of Choustník castle, history and legends.

There are, of course, some legends linked to the Choustník castle, located in the South of Czech Republic. Perhaps the most popular is about the origin of the castle. A beautiful and brave magician fell in love with the daughter of Emperor Bedrich Rudobrad. The Princess returned his love, but the Emperor was contrary to their love. The lovers therefore fled, and after a long travel they settled in the region of Tábor and built a castle. After a while the emperor forgot his anger and went to look for…

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Bouvet Island, the most remote place of the world.

This place is known as “the loneliest place on earth,” in fact is an uninhabited frozen isle between South Africa and Antarctica and is the most remote island (and place) in the world. It’s located approximately 2260 km away from the nearest humans (which are the 271 people who live on the island of Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited island in the world), and is populated by vegetation (only lichens and mosses), seals, seabirds, and penguins. The highest point, with 780m, is the top of the dormant volcano…

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Waldviertel Pyramid, an austrian pyramid of unknown origin.

Lost in the forest between Zwettl and Gross-Gerungs, there is a pyramid high approximately 7 meter. The pyramid is made of loosely stacked natural stones, in a circular layer style with 14 meters of diameter, like a wedding cake overly big. It is the only known structure like this found in Europe. This pyramid is all a mistery…because its origin and its age are totally unknown. Some people believe it to be a ancient Germanic monument, but this is very unlikely because there aren’t archeological evidence of a known prehistoric…

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The ruin of Hrad Zlenice

Zlenice castle was built after 1300 on a rock promontory above the confluence of the Mnichovický creek and the Sázava river. The name of this castle was mentioned first time in 1318, was named after the deserted settlement of Zlenice on the opposite bank of the Sázava river. There were ramparts, a lower castle, stables, and granaries, and the Mnichovsky creek flew around the castle making it thus accessible from two sides only with a draw bridge. At the beginning of the second half of the 14th century this area belonged…

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The Eyes of God (Проходна)

Prohodna, in bulgarian Проходна, is one of the best known caves in Bulgaria, a country full of caves, and is located in the Iskar Gorge, one of largest karst regions, 2 km away from Karlukovo Village and 112 km away from Sofia. If it’s so famous, is especially thanks to the strange symmetrical holes in the cave’s ceiling, which offers a rather striking subterranean image. Known as “the Eyes of God”, these holes are located in the middle chamber of the cave, long 262 meter, illuminating the interior and providing…

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Porto: Igreja de São Francisco and its Catacombs.

Ancient catacombs, with portals to the dead located in the church’s cellar, form the foundation for this church ghotic in structure and Rococo in decoration. The exterior of the church of São Francisco’s Gothic reflects the modest style of the Franciscan order, while the extreme wealth of the patrons influenced the interior’s gold stylings. Below the church’s three interior, thera are the catacombs that hold tombs for members of the Franciscan order and in a corner of the crypt, in front of a door to nowhere lies a glass, grated…

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Livraria Lello of Porto, the bookshop inspired Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.

The Livraria Lello of Porto, opened in 1906, is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, and hides an Neo-Gothic interior behind a Art-Nouveau façade. The first impression that you have when you first enter here, is that you’ve entered a church, and not in a bookstore, and remains one of the world’s most stunning shops, probably of any kind. The beautiful Neo-Gothic interior have a stained glass ceiling, carved wood paneling, and a great curvaceous staircase that stretches across the store. Was designed by Xavier Esteves and…

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Dolnì Vitkovice of Ostrava (Cze): once industrial site, now playground of science, technology, and art.

Not even 20 years ago, Ostrava, the third-largest Czech city, was known as the “Czech Republic’s Iron Heart,” especially for this huge industrial plant born in 1830 and now transformed into a playground of science, technology, and art. The plant had an ironworks, a coal colliery, and six coke furnaces, and was the only one in Europe that processed iron from start to finish in one location, only because the site was so massive. In 1828, the archbishop Rudolph Johann of Habsburg organized the construction of the site’s first puddling…

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The lookout tower on the Petřín hill of Prague: the little sister of Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The Petřín Lookout Tower (Petřínská Rozhledna), where tourists can see one of the most beautiful view of Prague, was built as part of the Jubilee Exhibition in 1891 inspired by the Eiffel Tower. In fact, when in 1889 the members of the Czech Tourist Club visited the world exhibition in Paris, they were so impressed by the view of the famous Eiffel Tower, that they decided to create a similar dominant above the capital of Czech Republic. It was decided that a five-time smaller imitation of the Eiffel Tower would…

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The musical organ played by the Sea in Zadar, Croatia.

There is a place, in the Adriatic sea, where you can really listen to singing the Sea, thanks to a work of art and architecture of extraordinary and unique beauty in the world. This incredible experimental musical instrument, at all hours of the day and night, emits a melodious sound thanks to the strength and harmony of the waves. The Sea Organ (in original language morske orgulje) is located on the shores of Zadar, Croatia, and is the world’s first musical pipe organs that is played by the sea. It’s…

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Krzywy Las (crooked forest) in Poland, the mysterious forest with over 400 curved pine trees.

Just outside the town of Gryfino and Nowe Czarnowo, in the West Pomeranian region of Poland, there is Krzywy Las, or Crooked Forest, where the pine trees look like stick figures, and it’s certainly one of the most unusual of Europe. On some 400 trees, the trunks buckle out 90 degrees and the curious fact it’s that all pointing in the same direction, north. No one knows for certain what caused this unusual stand of the trees in a normal forest, the town was mostly destroyed during the second World…

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Isola del Liri, the only Italian city whose historical center is crossed by a waterfall.

Isola del Liri is an Italian municipality in the province of Frosinone, holder of an enviable record: it’s one of the few cities in the world to be crossed by a waterfall. Another curiosity is that the waterfall in Isola del Liri is not just one but two, one more big, the “Cascata Grande”, and the other less impressive but with the same jump, the “Cascata del Valcatoio”. Isola del Liri is a natural islet created by the namesake river, and has been inhabited since Roman times. Of Volscan origin,…

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Becherel, France. The medieval burg with 700 inhabitants and 15 bookshops.

Bécherel is an ancient medieval village famous in the world for the average bookshops per capita, which reaches the incredible number of a one bookshops for every 44 inhabitants. It officially became a Book Town in 1989 when was held the first Fête du Livre, that now it’s an annual event, which takes place at Easter and is the frame of a series of events throughout all the year including a reading festival in October. And also a book market takes place in the town on the first Sunday of…

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The Austrian Grüner See, the lake that fills up only 4 months a year.

This time i want speak about the Grüner See (in english Green Lake), a lake in Styria, Austria in a village named Tragöß, surrounded by the snow-capped Hochschwab Mountains and forests. The emerald green waters of this mountain lake offer the chances to do some of Austria’s most unusual dives, in this nation not particularly famous for scuba diving. But apart from that, something unique happens in this lake. You can find fish swimming among the benches and the branches of the trees, or small crustaceans sheltered among the blades…

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The dragon and the Saint: the story of Beatus-Höhlen, a splendid place in Switzerland.

The first mentioning of Beatenberg, in Switzerland, was in 1275. The earliest trace of a settlement in this area are dates back in the early medieval graves, just near the Beatushöhlen (Saint Beatus cave). According to legend, Saint Beatus was a Scottish (or maybe Irish) monk living around 100 AD, who was sent to evangelize the Helvetii. After finding success in the Jura Mountains, he moved into the Beatenberg area, where chose the cave in which to spend his pious hermitage. To his annoyance, however, he discovered someone was already…

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A regular upside down house in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

It seems that in the city of Kasnoyarsk, Russia, the natural attractions were not enough to attract a consistent number of tourists to the sunny and fresh (-18°C stimated in January) of one of the major transport hub in Siberia. The municipal administration, really very active from the point of view of cultural initiatives, has therefore decided to provide the copious local population (more than 1 million people) with a new attraction that could entertain and intrigue even tourists looking for something “different”. This house is totally normal, except It’s…

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The magnificent baroque library of Prague: a paradise for all books lovers of all the world.

The Prague National Library was opened in 1722, and still today is one of the most beautiful libraries of all the world. With over 20,000 volumes, it is almost a sacred temple for all book lovers. The ceiling frescoes were made by Jan Hiebl, and through his pictorial work there are many symbols that represent the importance of education along with hagiographies Jesuits’s saints. Inside there is also an entire room dedicated to Mozart, with the original writings made by the master of Salzburg. The rare books collected by the…

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The Astronomical Clock of Prague: with 600 years of activity it’s the oldest still functioning.

The Astronomical Clock in Prague Old Town is an amazing example of ingenuity and medieval art. It is one of the main attractions of the city, and every day count hundreds of tourists. Behind this place there are some legends, and like every legend have always spread, and it’s not so important if are true or false, and if you want believe or not, it’s only your choice! The Old Town Astronomical Clock has been often exciting emotions in people, positive or negative, and based on them legends have came…

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Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, a wonderful medieval castle lost in France.

The Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers is a medieval castle located in the middle of a wood near the village of Les Trois-Moutiers, in the Poitou-Charentes region of France. The castle dates back to the thirteenth century, when it was the stronghold of the Bauçay family, directly dependent of the King of France. During the Middle Ages it was conquered twice by the English, and then became one of the most famous places for sumptuous parties and vast events. During the French Revolution it was sacked and abandoned, but at the…

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Burg Eltz: A great medieval castle owned by the same family for over 800 Years.

The burg Eltz is a majestic castle located on the top of a rock within a small wooded valley in western German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Probably for luck or strategy, we don’t know the reasons, the castle has been mostly spared from the ravages of war, in fact it is also famous for being one of the few German castles on the left side of the Rhine river to have been left unscathed over the centuries. Probably one of the reason is that the Elzbach River, a tributary on the…

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Burg Hohenzollern, one of the most visited castles in Germany.

Hohenzollern Castle, in German Burg Hohenzollern, is the ancestral abode of the imperial House of Hohenzollern. Swabian counts and princes, the kings of Prussia and even the German emperors have their roots here at Hohenzollern Castle in the heart of Baden-Württemberg between Lake Constance, the Black Forest and Stuttgart. The proud fortress on conical mount Zoller offers majestic panoramic views over more than 100 kilometres which already prompted Emperor William II to say: “The views from Hohenzollern Castle are truly worth the journey”. The first fortress on the mountain was…

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A small trip down the three towers of San Marino, Guaita, Cesta and Montale.

This time we speak about the Three Towers of San Marino a group of towers, located on the three peaks of Monte Titano and depicted on both the national flag and coat of arms. The first Tower, the Guaita, is the first Tower built in San Marino and the most famous, and dates back to the 11th century. Over the years it was enlarged and rebuilt numerous times, and achieved utmost splendour in the XV century during the war that San Marino fought and win against the Malatesta Family from…

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The Castle of Monselice, and its three different historic periods.

The majestic architectural complex of the castle of Monselice, is a collection of different buildings and three different historical periods. Between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries the castle (born as a military and defensive bulwark), has been transformed into a stately home, until it became a Venetian villa during the Renaissance period. The oldest part consists of two buildings built between the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The second part consists of the great tower of Ezzelino, which takes its name from its famous developer, Ezzelino III, vicar of Emperor Federico…

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Peschiera’s Castle, the oldest possession in Lombardy of the Borromeo family.

The Borromeo Castle of Peschiera (Peschiera Borromeo – Milan) is the oldest possession in Lombardy of the Borromeo family, originally from San Miniato in Tuscany. The Borromeo, who were merchants and bankers, moving to Lombardy had developed their commercial and financial activities abroad, and in 1435, the Banco Filippo Borromeo & Compagni set up a branch in London to increase traffic with United Kingdom too. In 1432, Vitaliano Borromeo obtains from the Duke Filippo Maria Visconti, who had for him high esteem, the right to fortify Peschiera which, born as…

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