Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate is a symbol and landmark of many things, as decided by history.

  • Brandenburg Gate is a large gateway that consists of five openings, that spans across the entrance to a public square, that is now called the ‘Pariser Platz’, in Berlin, Germany not far from what once was the city palace.
  • ‘Brandenburg Gate’ is known as ‘Brandenburger Tor’ in the German language and it was historically the beginning of the road from Berlin to Brandenburger.
  • The Brandenburg Gate is one of the eighteen original gates of the ‘Berliner Zoll- und Akzisemauer’, or in English – ‘Berlin customs and excise wall’, which surrounded Berlin, and is the only gate still in place.
  • The construction of the Brandenburg Gate was authorised by Prussian king, Friedrich Wilhelm II (Frederick William II), built from 1788 to 1791, replacing a simple pre-existing structure, and the new gate was to symbolise peace.
  • Extensive damage was inflicted upon the Brandenburg Gate as a result of ammunition during World War II, and together in 1956 to 1957, East and West Berlin restored the gate.
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Brandenburg Gate
Image courtesy of james j8246/Flickr
  • The Brandenburg Gate was effectively closed for almost 30 years, after the Berlin Wall that divided East Berlin and West Berlin, was completed in 1961, and it was re-opened in 1989 and later renovated from 2000 to 2002, with private funds.
  • Originally vehicles travelled through the Brandenburg Gate; however, since 2002 the road has only been open to foot traffic, and as such has been paved with cobblestone.
  • Brandenburg Gate reaches an approximate height of 26 metres (85 feet) and spreads 65.5 metres (215 feet) in width.
  • A statue is located on the top of the Brandenburg Gate, known as the Berlin Quadriga, which depicts the goddess of peace or victory in a chariot drawn by four horses, which was placed there in 1793, and was once stolen by Napoléon Bonaparte.
  • The Brandenburg Gate was designed by Prussian architect Carl Gotthard Langhans, in the Greek revival neoclassical style, and it is decorated with bas-relief, and has twelve columns.
Bibliography:
Brandenburg Gate, 2016, Penguin’s Berlin Guide, http://berlin.barwick.de/sights/famous-places/brandenburg-gate.html
Brandenburg Gate, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandenburg_Gate
Brandenburg Gate, n.d, Visit Berlin, http://www.visitberlin.de/en/spot/brandenburg-gate
Maranzani B, Brandenburg Gate: A Brief History, 2013, History, http://www.history.com/news/brandenburg-gate-a-brief-history

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Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel would have been a terror of a fortress.

  • Mont Saint-Michel is an islet that contains a monastery, a village, and a fortification, situated roughly 600 metres (0.4 miles) away from the coast of France’s Normandy, in Europe.
  • Mont Saint-Michel sits at the mouth of the Couesnon River, and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, as well as the surrounding area, and due to its unique location and historical significance, it is visited by around 2.5 million people each year, making it the most popular tourist site in France outside of Paris.
  • ‘Mont Saint-Michel’ is also known as ‘Mont St-Michel’, and ‘Le Mont St-Michel’ in French, and is translated into English as ‘Saint Michael’s Mount’; and the island is now mainly a tourist attraction and includes accommodation, restaurants, shops, and other facilities for visitors, though it still houses a community of nuns and monks.
  • Originally, Mont Saint-Michel was the site of a Gallo-Roman settlement from 500s to 600s AD, and was called ‘Mont Tombe’ at the time, and in the 1840s and 1850s it was home to more than 1,000 people, while in 2015, its population was 50.
  • Legend says that the first church of Mont Saint-Michel was built under the orders of the bishop Saint Aubert, early in the 8th century, but only after ignoring the instructions of Archangel Michael on a number of occasions, who is said to have commissioned the building, and subsequently had a hole burnt into his skull.
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Mont Saint-Michel
Image courtesy of Mike Norton/Flickr
  • Before modern times, Mont Saint-Michel was of strategic importance as it was only accessible at the quick-changing low tide, which meant that most attacking garrisons would drown or be forced to retreat.
  • In later centuries, due to a number of reasons including the building up of a causeway, silt began to mound around Mont Saint-Michel; however in 2006 a project was initiated by the government to restore the site using a hydraulic dam, and ridding the area of unnatural impediments, to enable the tides to flush out the silt naturally.
  • A bridge was completed in 2014, which connects the mainland to Mont Saint-Michel, and during a supertide in March 2015, the bridge became fully submerged.
  • To reach the top of the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel, which was built and expanded upon from the 11th to the 16th centuries, one is required to ascend approximately 900 steps.
  • The island of Mont Saint-Michel covers an area of approximately 5 hectares (12.6 acres), with a natural height of around 80 metres (262 feet).
Bibliography:
History, 2010, Mont Saint Michel, http://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com/en/histoire.htm
Mont Saint-Michel, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont_Saint-Michel
Mont St-Michel, Pontorson, 2016, Sacred Destinations, http://www.sacred-destinations.com/france/mont-st-michel

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Lion City

Would you brave the depths to see Lion City?

  • Lion City is an ancient city that has been abandoned and submerged in the water of Quindao Lake of Zhejiang, China.
  • It is thought that construction of Lion City began in 621 AD, and the city eventually rose to economical importance, with many features built at a later stage.
  • ‘Lion City’ was named after the nearby Five Lion Mountain and is known as ‘Shī chéng’ in Chinese.
  • The enormous Xin’an Dam and hydroelectric station project initiated by the Chinese government and completed in 1959, was the cause of the Lion City flooding and submerging, as well as other cities and towns, causing a total of almost 300,000 people to be displaced.
  • In 2001, Lion City was ‘rediscovered’ by a diving club, at the invitation of the Chinese government, and further explorations have since been organised.
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Part of Lion City
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • Lion City is approximately 0.43 square kilometres (0.17 square miles) in area, and it is situated between 26 and 40 metres (85 to 131 feet) deep under water; and it is notable for featuring five city gates, an abnormal quantity as most ancient cities would have only four gates.
  • Most statues, sculptures and art, and other stone or wooden structures of Lion City, have been remarkably preserved, due in part to lack of exposure to air, and relatively stable water temperatures of 10 to 20 degrees Celsius (50 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Lion City was designated a protected site in 2011 by the Zhejiang Province, which coincidentally was also the year that curiosity and awareness of the city grew, especially as new photographs of the city were released.
  • For expansion of Lion City’s increasing tourism, a submarine for casual exploration has been built, though by the end of 2015 it had not yet been used due to site preservation concerns; and a concept for an underwater tunnel has been presented, but its purpose may be purely for transporting vehicles across the lake.
  • Lion City is best visited from April to October due to warmer air and water temperatures, and even then, only experienced divers can venture, particularly due to conservation concerns and lack of underwater visibility.
Bibliography:
Graaf M, China’s Atlantis, 2014, Daily Mail Australia, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2561147/Chinas-Atlantis-How-Lion-City-purposely-flooded-make-way-power-station-remains-completely-intact-130ft-underwater-50-years.html
Galloway L, China’s Atlantis of the East, 2014, BBC Travel, http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20140711-chinas-atlantis-of-the-east
Lingren Z, The Ancient Underwater City of Thousand Islands Lake, 2013, Chinese National Geography Press, http://www.chinascenic.com/magazine/the-ancient-underwater-city-of-thousand-islands-lake-222.html
Lost Underwater Lion City: Rediscovery of China’s ‘Atlantis’, 2012, Love These Pics, http://www.lovethesepics.com/2012/06/lost-underwater-lion-city-rediscovery-of-chinas-atlantis/
Qiandao Lake, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qiandao_Lake
Wang C, Dive the Ancient Ruins of Lion City in Qiandao Lake, 2015, Underwater Photography Guide, http://www.uwphotographyguide.com/dive-qiandao-lake-china

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Fountain

You can watch fountains for simply ages.

  • Fountains are structures that generally pour or spurt water, often upwards, and then typically collects in a reservoir.
  • Fountains are commonly used for ornamental purposes, although they can be used as drinkable water sources or to bathe.
  • The earliest known fountains were created by Ancient Greeks in the 500s BC, and they utilised gravity to pull water from aqueducts that were situated at a higher level, to make drinking water available to residents of the cities.
  • Fountains can have water that sprays, bubbles, or overflows, and they are usually found out of doors, however the may be installed inside buildings.
  • Large public drinking water fountains were mostly discontinued by the 1900s, however small variants emerged, typically able to be activated by the user, and modern ones are commonly found in parks, schools and sports centres.

Fountain, Water, Spray, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Invention, Architecture, Contemporary, Melbourne Australia

  • In 2015, ‘King Fahd’s Fountain’, which spurts salt water in the air to heights of 260 metres (853 feet) or more, was the highest, permanent, constant fountain in the world, and it is located in the Red Sea in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in the Middle East, and started operating in 1985.
  • Fountains are often ornately sculptural or artistic in form, and can be stylised and decorated, however more contemporary pieces are generally sleeker and plainer.
  • Some fountains are engineered to coincide with music, and also lights, using a computer-based program for spectacular displays.
  • Some fountains are used as a method for humans to cool down during hotter days, with people being able to move under the sprays of water.
  • Modern fountains usually utilise pumps, typically powered by electricity, often to spray water in an upward direction, and those used for ornamental purposes typically reuse the same water by recirculating it.
Bibliography:
Fountain, Wikipedia, 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fountain
Moffat C, Fountains: Sculpture of Water, Bronze & Stone, 2010, Fountains in Art History, http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/sculpture/Fountains.html

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Shanghai Tower

Shanghai Tower is nothing short of spectacular.

  • Shanghai Tower is a skyscraper of an extreme height, located in China’s Shanghai, Asia, in the Pudong district, situated on what was once a golf driving range.
  • Shanghai Tower reaches a height of 632 metres (2,073 feet), and in 2015 it had the status of being the second tallest tower on earth and the tallest in China and Asia.
  • The 133 floors of Shanghai Tower, five of which are underground, include a total area of 420,000 square metres (4,520,842 square feet).
  • The construction of Shanghai Tower commenced in late 2008, and was completed in late 2015, and it was built as the last and tallest of a group of three Chinese skyscrapers situated in Shanghai, which began early development in 1993.
  • Gensler, an American architect company, in cooperation with Jun Xia, a Chinese architect, were the creators of the design of Shanghai Tower.
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Shanghai Tower as of May 2015
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • Shanghai Tower twists at an incline of 120 degrees, and the exterior is double-layered, which provides a buffer zone to the building, helping to insulate it, and as a result is said to save millions of dollars in energy related costs over a period of time.
  • The curvature of Shanghai Tower allowed for 25% less steel material to be used in construction than typically required, reducing the cost by millions, and it reduces the impact of wind on the tower by 24%.
  • A variety of government financing, loans and shareholder investment contributed to the financing of Shanghai Tower, which reached a total cost of approximately 2.4 billion USD.
  • Shanghai Tower can generate its own energy through wind turbines on the top levels, and it exploits the earth’s heat for use in cooling and heating components.
  • Up to 16,000 individuals can inhabit Shanghai Tower, with more than 25 floors designated specifically as hotel accommodation, while other floors include office space; and there are eight atriums, known as ‘sky lobbies’, which contain eateries, gardens and shops, that promote community behaviour in the building.
Bibliography:
Hewitt D, A Look At The Shanghai Tower, The Newest And Tallest Symbol Of China’s Rise [PHOTOS], 2015, International Business Times, http://www.ibtimes.com/look-shanghai-tower-newest-tallest-symbol-chinas-rise-photos-1944507
Shanghai Tower, 2016, The Skyscraper Center, http://skyscrapercenter.com/building/shanghai-tower/56
Shanghai Tower, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_Tower

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Křivoklát Castle

You don’t ever want to get trapped in Křivoklát Castle.

  • Křivoklát Castle is a castle of Gothic style, found in the western Czech Republic in Central Europe, and it was originally a royal residence.
  • Currently Křivoklát Castle has been adapted as a museum featuring sculpture, weaponry, hunting trophies, and paintings.
  • Křivoklát Castle is said to have existed in 1110 AD, most likely on a different site, while construction on the current site began in the 1200s under orders of the kings of Bohemia.
  • Křivoklát Castle is situated in an elevated position, in a highly lush environment set among forests, and there are plenty of walking tracks available to explore the area.
  • Among other things, Křivoklát Castle features a chapel, an extensive library with 52,000 books, a large cylindrical tower, and a grand hall.
 Křivoklát Castle, Krivoklat, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Castle, Building, Construction, Czech Republic, Europe
Křivoklát Castle
Image courtesy of Elena Pleskevich/Flickr
  • At an annual tourist rate of 250,000 people, Křivoklát Castle is ranked second among the most popular castles in its homeland.
  • Křivoklát Castle has undergone many additions and repairs over the centuries, and some parts were rebuilt due to damage from fires, and attacks.
  • Křivoklát Castle was notorious for its status as an unforgiving prison from the 1500s to 1600s, and as such, tools used for torture purposes are on display in the castle.
  • In 1826, a fire raged through Křivoklát Castle, although the castle was renovated and repaired in the 1800s and 1900s; and the castle was bought by the Czech government in 1929.
  • An entrance fee is payable at Křivoklát Castle and a variety of guided tours are available, as well as exhibitions and festivals at various times in the year.
Bibliography:
Hrad Křivoklát, 2015, Hrad Křivoklát, http://www.krivoklat.cz/
Křivoklát Castle, 2011, Prague Guide, http://www.prague.fm/6826/krivoklat-castle/
Křivoklát Castle, 2015, Czech Tourism, http://www.czechtourism.com/c/krivoklat-castle/
Křivoklát Castle, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C5%99ivokl%C3%A1t_Castle
Prague to Krivoklat – Krivoklat Castle Tours, 2015, Private Prague Guide, https://www.private-prague-guide.com/krivoklat-prague/

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