A triumph of Gothic architecture, the Notre-Dame stands in the heart of Paris on the Ile de la Cite near the attractions of the Latin Quarter. An island in the Seine River, the Ile de la Cite is the historical and geographical center of Paris. On this small plot of land, the Romans built the Gallo-Roman city of Lutetia, and from the 6th century to the 14th century, the Kings of France resided here. The Notre-Dame Cathedral was founded in 1163 by King Louis IX (Saint Louis) and Bishop Maurice de Sully, and the construction took more than 150 years. The cathedral was first created in Early Gothic style, while later additions (the west front and the nave) show the transition to High Gothic style. Tourists are immediately struck by the ornamental design of the facade, with its profusion of sculptures and gargoyles, while elaborate flying buttresses provide structural integrity for the enormous building. Look out for the 21 figures above the doorway in the Gallery of Kings, who lost their heads during the Revolution. (The heads are now on display in the Musee de Cluny.)
Nepal and Himalaya are an awesome destination if you are searching for ancient history mixed with trekking and adventure exploration. The Bodhanath Stupa, just outside of Kathmandu, is one of the largest stupas of its kind in the world, and dates to sometime around the 6th century, possibly even earlier. Like Bhaktapur, it lies on the old trade route to Tibet and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The stupa sustained minor damage during the 2015 earthquake but is otherwise in good condition. The stupa itself is a symbol of enlightenment but at Boudhanath the symbolism is particularly clear. Each different shape represents one of the five elements, earth, water, fire, air, and sphere, which are also the attributes of the five Buddhas. Brought together in the form of the stupa, their unity reflects in abstract fashion the structure of the universe itself.
Join the most exclusive Hotel Member Club and enjoy amazing benefits. China is an awesome place if you are searching for adventure and ancient history feeling. An easy 15-kilometer commute from Beijing, the sumptuous Imperial Summer Palace (Yíhé Yuán) is set amid more than 700 acres of beautiful parkland and is one of China’s most visited attractions. While the palace itself was built in 1153, its large lake was added in the 14th century to enhance the Imperial Gardens. Highlights include the magnificent Hall of Well-being and Longevity (Renshou Dian) with its throne, and the beautiful Great Theatre, a private three-story structure built in 1891 to satisfy the imperial family’s love of opera and still used for performances of traditional Chinese plays and musical events. Other highlights include the Hall of Happiness and Longevity (Le Shou Tang Hall), with its lovely gardens and courtyards, as well as many miles of picturesque pathways and walking trails. If time allows, try to also take in the ruins of the Old Summer Palace, said to have once been one of the country’s most elaborate and architecturally attractive palaces, but which was sadly destroyed by colonial forces in the mid-1800s.
Thailand and Phuket are an awesome destination if you are looking for ancient history mixed with modern attractions exploration. A visit to one of the floating markets is a fun way to do some shopping and eating while supporting local vendors and observing local commerce in action. Some do seem to cater more to the tourist crowds than to be part of the fabric of local Thais’ daily lives, but there are others that make for a nice authentic travel experience. You’ll need to get up early to visit a floating market, as vendors are out in their long wooden boats first thing in the morning with their goods, fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, and tasty dishes. There are several floating markets near Bangkok, Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak being among the most popular. You can go it alone or join a guided tour, which can include visits to local houses and shops.
Switzerland is a dream country but also one of the most expensive. Not having your legal papers in order can cost you a lot here. So we will talk about the amazing locations and also the practical advices regarding insurance and other legal matters. Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city, a major transportation hub, and a top starting point for travelers. The city lies at the northwestern end of Lake Zurich astride the river Limmat. Beyond its buttoned-up façade, this affluent banking capital boasts a rich line-up of cultural treasures. A great place to begin a walking tour is the cobbled streets of the Old Town with its quaint shops, cafés, and galleries. Mile-long Bahnhofstrasse, one of Europe’s finest shopping strands, beckons with designer stores selling fashion, watches, and jewelry. Venturing away from the boutiques, visitors will find more than 50 museums and 100 art galleries. A top pick is the Kunsthaus Zürich, the museum of fine arts, with an impressive collection of art from the Middle Ages to the present day. Another favorite is the Rietberg Museum, focusing on non-European art with many works from China, India, and Africa. A short stroll from Zürich’s main station, the Swiss National Museum, in a Gothic chateau, spotlights Swiss cultural history. Families will love the Zurich Zoo with an elephant park, penguin parade, and Madagascar pavilion. From the city, take a train ride to Uetliberg Mountain for panoramic views of the city and countryside.
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