Bran Castle

Bran Castle is a secret residence of the vampires.

  • Bran Castle is a large castle found in central Romania in Europe, along the border of the historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia.
  • ‘Bran Castle’ is popularly known as ‘Dracula’s Castle’, especially by tourists, and is also known as ‘Bran Fortress’.
  • It is thought that a wooden castle was built on or near the site of the present-day Bran Castle, built by the Teutonic Knights around 1212 and named Dietrichstein, however it is believed to have been destroyed in 1242.
  • Bran Castle is situated on a cliff at an elevation of 762 metres (2500 feet), and is surrounded by valleys and hills and is major tourist destination in Romania.
  • King Louis I of Anjou ordered the original construction of Bran Castle in 1377, which was built by choice by residents from the nearby town of Brașov, at their own expense.
Castle Bran, Green, Place, Transylvania, Dracula, Blue, Red, Orange, Romania
Bran Castle
Image courtesy of Rob/Flickr
  • Bran Castle was completed by 1382, in record time, and was built for the purpose of defending Transylvania’s border and included a customs station.
  • Bran Castle was popularised by the renowned novel Dracula, which describes a similar residence to Bran Castle for Count Dracula, although further analysis has revealed there a major differences in the descriptions.
  • Queen Marie, the last queen consort of Romania, was quite fond of Bran Castle as a residence, and was given the castle in 1920 by the town of Brașov, and later her daughter Princess Ileana inherited it, however in 1948, it was taken by the communists and eventually made into a museum.
  • In 2015, the owner of Bran Castle was Archduke Dominic of Austria-Tuscany, also known as Dominic von Habsburg and son of Princess Ileana, who acquired the castle in 2006, after the Romanian government gave over the rights of the castle to the traditional owners.
  • Bran Castle has had various owners and caretakers over the centuries, and has been used by royalty and the forestry, among others, and it has also undergone various renovation and restoration projects.
Bran Castle, 2015, Wikipedia,
Medieval Fortress, 2013, Bran Castle,
Morris E, Bran Castle, Romania: In Search of Dracula – and the Buried Heart of a Long-Dead Queen, 2015, Exploring Castles,



Who would know a wharf like Bryggen would attract such a history?

  • Bryggen is a wharf, as well as a block of buildings that sits adjacent to it, in Norway’s Bergen, in Europe, that has been a major trading point throughout history.
  • ‘Bryggen’ can be translated from Norwegian as ‘the wharf’ and it is also called ‘Tyskebryggen’, meaning ‘German wharf’, in reference to the Germans that originally lived and worked there.
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Convention designated Bryggen as a World Heritage Site in 1979, due to its cultural and historical significance.
  • Bryggen was used as a trade centre from the 1100s, although it was not until the mid 1300s when the Hanseatic League began to expand in the area, that trade began to boom.
  • The buildings located along Bryggen are similar in style, often three storeys tall with a gabled tiled roof and timber cladding.
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Image courtesy of Kamil Porembiński/Flickr
  • Just over 60 historic buildings exist in Bryggen, which equals around 25% of what was initially there, however most of these buildings are not completely original, as many have been rebuilt or restored over the centuries, primarily due to majors fires in 1476, 1702 and 1955, although authentic techniques and materials have been used as much as possible.
  • The mostly wooden buildings of Bryggen can be seen in a variety of colours, such as white, brown, red, mustard and orange, and they were mostly used for storing goods and trading purposes, as well as housing merchants.
  • The buildings that make up the area of Bryggen, include St Mary’s Church which was constructed in the 12th century and is the oldest building in the area; and two museums, one of which is a modern construction built in 1976; while many of the old buildings house restaurants, shops, and workshops for artisans.
  • Over 500 hundred historic runes that refer to or describe the daily life of the residents of Bryggen up until the late 1300s, were discovered during excavations after the major fire in the area in 1955.
  • In 2011, Bryggen was visited by nearly 870,000 tourists, and is among the most popular destinations in the region.
Bryggen – the historic wharf in Bergen, 2015, Visit Norway,
Bryggen, 2015, Wikipedia,
Bryggen, 2015, UNESCO World Heritage Convention,


Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was once a monument of beauty, but is now the building blocks of construction.

  • The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was a tomb located in modern day Bodrum in south-west Turkey, in western Asia, which was built on a hill overlooking Halicarnassus, and made of marble and other stone.
  • The ‘Mausoleum at Halicarnassus’ is also known as the ‘Tomb of Mausolus’, and the term ‘mausoleum’ that is used today in reference to grand burial sites was derived from the Greek word ‘Mausoleion’, the name that was applied to this particular site.
  • The Persian ruler Artemisia II of Caria is believed to have had the Mausoleum built at Halicarnassus for the remains of her husband and brother, Mausolus, and her own remains were also entombed there.
  • The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was built around 353 BC, the year Mausolus died, by the Greek architects Satyros and Pytheos, and sculptors Timotheus, Bryaxis, Leochares and Scopas, all contributed to the design.
  • The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was famous for its aspiring beauty of architecture, decorative aspects and sculptures, including life-size (or larger) statues of lions, chariots, horses and human figures.

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Seven Wonder of Ancient World, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Structure

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Image courtesy of Carole Radato/Flickr
  • The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus has been listed under the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and it was the second longest surviving construction on the list, after the Pyramid of Giza.
  • The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus reached a height of around 45 metres (148 feet) and the rectangular shaped building had dimensions of roughly 30 by 40 metres (98 by 131 feet), and included 36 pillars, while the structure was topped with a pyramid-like roof.
  • Between the mid 1100s and the late 1400s it is thought that the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was devastated by a number of earthquakes.
  • Crusaders destroyed much of the visible remains of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus in the late 1400s and early 1500s, using much of the stone and debris to extend or fortify the Bodrum castle, some of which can be seen today in the structure.
  • The ruins of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus were discovered by Charles Thomas Newton, a British archaeologist, in the mid 1800s, under the direction of the British Museum, after he successfully used deduction and logic to correctly choose and determine the site location; while art pieces buried by the earthquakes are now displayed in the British Museum.
The Mausoleum at Haliciarnassus, 2000, Bodrum Pages,
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, 2011, The Museum of UnNatural History,
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, 2015, Wikipedia,
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, n.d, Social Studies for Kids,


Hagia Sophia

Nothing can tear down Hagia Sophia.

  • Hagia Sophia is a building located in Turkey’s city of Istanbul, in Europe, initially built as an Eastern Orthodox church, and the UNESCO World Heritage Convention included it as part of the ‘Historic Areas of Istanbul’ World Heritage Site in 1985.
  • ‘Hagia Sophia’ translates as ‘holy wisdom’, and it is also known as the ‘Church of the Holy Wisdom’ in English, as well as ‘Sancta Sophia’ in Latin and ‘Ayasofya’ in Turkish.
  • Two churches were previously constructed on the site of Hagia Sophia, in 360 and later in 415, however both were destroyed by arson due to riots.
  • The third and existing Hagia Sophia building was built from early 532 until late 537, under orders of Emperor Justinian I, and in excess of ten thousand people are said to have contributed their work to the construction of the church.
  • Hagia Sophia is made primarily of stone and brick, with marble low relief work and pillars common throughout the building.
Hagia Sophia, Temple, Place, Constantinople, Istanbul, Turkey, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Musuem
Hagia Sophia
Image courtesy of Dennis Jarvis/Flickr
  • A dome tops the construction of Hagia Sophia, which spans 31 metres (102 feet) in diameter, and the dome has been reconstructed or renovated on a number of occasions, which has caused its originally spherical shape to be a little skewed.
  • A number of disasters have been inflicted onto Hagia Sophia, particularly during its earlier years, from earthquakes to fires, though the current building has survived over 1400 years.
  • Hagia Sophia was used as an imperial mosque from 1453, and in 1935 it was turned into a museum after orders by the then Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
  • The paintings, mosaics, and other artwork in Hagia Sophia have become increasingly jeopardised by water from leaks, as well as increased humidity.
  • Hagia Sophia reaches a total height of 55 metres (180 feet) and has the base dimensions of 73 by 82 metres (240 by 270 feet).
Hagia Sophia, 2015, Encyclopaedia Britannica,
Hagia Sophia, 2015, Wikipedia,
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, 2015, Sacred Destinations,


Potala Palace

Potala Palace is quite high up.

  • Potala Palace is a historic Buddhist building located on Red Mountain, Red Hill, or Marpo Ri as it is known, in Tibet’s Lhasa, in Asia.
  • The construction of the Potala Palace began in 1645, taking three years to build the outside structure, and it was completed in the 1690s.
  • Potala Palace was created due to the recommendation of the adviser of the Head of State and fifth Dalai Lama, Lozang Gyatso, and it was suggested that the location would be advantageous for political reasons.
  •  A smaller palace originated on the site of Potala Palace, which was built in the 600s, while sections of the older building are still evident in some parts.
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Convention designated Potala Palace a World Heritage Site in 1994, which was expanded to include other surrounding historical buildings in 2000 and 2001.
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Potala Palace
Image courtesy of Will De Freitas/Flickr
  • Since 2003, numbers of tourists that can enter Potala Palace each day have been limited, so as to reduce damage to the building, however it remains a popular tourist attraction.
  • Potala Palace is split into two differently purposed buildings, or palaces, as they are called – one for general living and one for religious purposes, marked via white and red colours respectively, and known as Potrang Karpo (White Palace) and Potrang Marpo (Red Palace).
  • Potala Palace extends to an area of more than 130,000 square metres (1.4 million square feet) and is 110 metres (161 feet) in height.
  • To prevent destruction caused by earthquakes, the base of Potala Palace is said to have been reinforced with copper during the original construction.
  • The palace, officially ‘Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace’, has been known as ‘Bùdálā Gōng’ in Pinyin, and the name ‘Potala’ is a reference to a sacred mountain in India.
Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa, 2015, UNESCO World Heritage Convention,
Potala Palace, 2015, Wikipedia,


The Louvre

“A place for bringing together monuments of all the sciences and arts” – The Louvre

  • The Louvre is one of the greatest and largest museums on Earth, located in France’s Paris, Europe, and it is officially known as the ‘Louvre Museum’, or ‘Musée du Louvre’ in French.
  • The Louvre started out as a fortress, built in 1190 by King Philip II of France; and the fortress was converted into a palace in the 1500s.
  • The Louvre first opened in August 1793 after ownership rights of the palace were forfeited by King Louis XVI, due to his arrest in 1792 as a result of the French Revolution, and the museum opened with 537 art pieces in its collection.
  • Under the direction of Napoléon Bonaparte in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the Louvre, called ‘Musée Napoléon’ at the time, acquired thousands of artworks through raids, although around 5000 of these were given back to their original owners after his abdication.
  • The Louvre is known for its four glass and metal pyramids that were completed in 1989, with the largest covering the main entrance to the building and reaching more than 21 metres (69 feet) in height.

The Louvre, Mona Lisa, Glass Pyramid, Beauty, Scene, Ten Random Facts, Museum, France, Paris

The Louvre
Image courtesy of JH Images/Flickr
  • The Louvre saw 9.7 million visitors in 2012, a record breaking year, making it the most popular and visited museum in the world, while 70 percent of visitors are said to be foreigners.
  • Despite having around 35,000 artworks on display, the Louvre is said to have in its collection approximately 380,000 pieces.
  • The Louvre is famed for housing the Mona Lisa, ever since 1797, and other collections include sculptures, paintings, prints, drawings, Egyptian artefacts, and Greek and Roman relics.
  • On a single visit, it is not humanely possible to view each artwork on display in the Louvre, as doing so would take more than 12 days straight, if each piece was viewed for 30 seconds without stopping over the period.
  • The Louvre covers a total of 60,600 square metres or 15 acres (652,300 square feet or 6 hectares) in area, and spreads beyond its original building.

Visit the Louvre using The Paris Pass! The Paris Pass has also provided additional facts that you can view here.

25 Interesting Facts About The Louvre, 2015, Unpublished Text Document, The Paris Pass, Paris
Louvre, 2015, Wikipedia,


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