Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park – UNESCO World Heritage Site 

Mesa Verde National Park is located in southwest Montezuma County, Colorado in United States. It is one of the largest archaeological preserve which has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It was named as the `Number One Historic Monument in the World by Conde Nast Traveler and National Geographic magazine called it`one of the 50 Places to visit in a lifetime’. Its canyons were created by erosion from the receding ancient oceans as well as waterways resulting in Mesa Verde National Park elevations that ranged from around 6,000 to 8,572 feet being the highest elevation at Park Point.

Now the terrain in the park is a transition zone between the low desert plateaus as well as the Rocky Mountains. The park was created by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to protect some of the well preserved cliff dwelling in the world or according to him to preserve the works of man.

 Mesa Verde National Park seems to be the only cultural National Park which was set aside by National Park System and covers an area of 81.4 square miles towards the Four Corners, featuring numerous ruins of homes and villages that were built by the Ancient Pueblo inhabitants, known at times as the Anasazi. One will find over 4000 archaeological sites with over 600 cliff dwellings of these people at the site.

Known for Cliff Dwellings Structures

Mesa Verde is known for its cliff dwellings that are structures built with the caves and beneath outcroppings in cliff which include the Cliff Palace. This is considered to be the largest cliff dwelling in North America.

The term Mesa Verde when translated into English from Spanish means ‘green table’, which is considered to contain some of the best and notable preserved archaeological sites. The structures within these alcoves were of blocks of hard sandstones which were held together and plastered with adobe mortar.

Specific constructions were often similar though they were generally unique in form due to individual typography of various alcoves along the canyon walls. The cliff dwelling of Mesa Verde was a contrast to the earlier constructions and villages on the top of the mesas, reflecting a region wide trend towards the growing regional population into close and defensible quarters during the AD 1200 era.

World Class Archaeological Sites

The structure here showed a trend of the inhabitants that moved towards time masonry techniques on former jacal wall which were commonplace in architectural design. Mesa Verde National Park offers the tourists glimpses into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people.

Scientist has done research on the ancient dwellings of Mesa Verde by making comparisons between the Ancestral Pueblo peoples and their contemporary indigenous descendants who continue to live there. There are twenty four Native American tribes in the southwest who have ancestral affiliation with the sites at Mesa Verde.

The entrance of the Park is nine miles east of Cortex and 35 miles west of Durango in South-western Colorado on the US Highway 160. One can schedule a day or two to explore and enjoy the beauty of Mesa Verde National Park and experience the world class archaeological sites with the beautiful canyons and plateaus of Mesa Verde Country.

Benefits Of A Cabin

A cabin in the woods probably doesn't seem like much of a vacation, but when you spend time with a large group, you will find that there are several benefits of staying in a cabin. There are many to choose from, and when looking at our cabins, you will find that there are various sizes as well as amenities that are offered.

The cost of the vacation is often lower when you stay in a cabin, especially with a large group. Each person can split the cost, or you can divide the cost up by family if there are a few families staying together. It is usually less than staying at a hotel for a few days, and the environment is often better. You can wake up in the morning, sit on the front porch, and look out to see the mountains, enjoying fresh air and the beauty of nature.

Another benefit is that you get to spend time together that you might not get to spend if you were to stay in hotel rooms. You can play board games, watch movies and simply talk about life in general. A cabin is an ideal location for a reunion or to celebrate a special event like a wedding or anniversary.

Tours of San Antonio

San Antonio
There are a lot of things to see and do in San Antonio. Visitors to this south Texas city who are having a hard time deciding what to see can take a guided tour. Inside San Antonio Tours is one of the companies in San Antonio that offers these tours.

This company offers small group tours with no more than 14 people. The small size of the group makes it easy for curious tourists to ask the tour guide questions about the attractions they see.

Orientation tours and highlight tours are available. The orientation tours leave from downtown hotels at 9:30 a.m. and end at 4:00 p.m. Travelers who take these tours will see downtown San Antonio, the Alamo, the River Walk, two missions and La Villita. La Villita is a square block of galleries, shops and restaurants. The tour stops for lunch in an area within walking distance of a variety of restaurants.

Highlight tours leave from downtown hotels at 1:30 p.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. These shorter tours take travelers to one mission instead of two and spend less time in the downtown area.

Travelers can also arrange to have the tour company pick them up outside the downtown area. Private tours are available.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Robben Island, South Africa

Robben Island
Robben Island – `Seal Island’

Robben Island is located in South Africa’s Table Bay which is around 4.5 miles from Cape Town’s beaches. The name is Dutch for `seal island’ and Robben Island is roughly oval in shape measuring around 3.3 km long north-south, 1.9 km wide having an area of 5.07 km.

The island is composed of Precambrian metamorphic rocks which belong to the Malmesbury group. It is flat and a few metres above sea level due to the outcome of ancient erosions. This island is well known for the fact that Nobel Laureate and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela was kept a prisoner on Robben Island for 18 years out of the 27 years he served in prison before the fall of apartheid.

Besides him, Kgalema Motlanthe also served as President of South Africa spending 10 years on the island as a political prisoner along with Jacob Zuma present President of South Africa. When the Dutch came to settle in Cape in the 17th century, they used the island as a prison, which continued till the year 1991.

Used as Prison/Hospital/Military Base 

Towards the 19th century, African chiefs from various tribes were banished and sent to this island as well as Muslim leaders from Dutch colonies in the East Indies who were also imprisoned. Besides them, soldiers and civilians were also sent to prison on this island.

Several of the prisoners were charged with false crimes while others were charged with no crimes at all. Between the 17th and the 20th century, this island was used as a prison, a hospital for socially unacceptable groups as well as a military base. During the period of the 19th century, several people suffered from mental sickness.

Leprosy patients were also isolated on Robben Island since the climate seemed to be healthy and they could be kept away from the society and lepers were confined to a community on the island till 1931. Robben Island is considered a South African National Heritage Site as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Symbolizes Triumph of Human Spirit/Freedom/Democracy over Oppression

What remains from its episodic history are the 17th century quarries, the tomb of Hadije Kramat who died in the year 1755, the 19th century `village’ administrative buildings including a chapel and a parsonage, a small lighthouse, the leper’s church, the only remains of a leper colony, derelict World War II military structures surrounding the harbour and the stark and functional maximum security prison of the Apartheid period of the 1960s.

The buildings of Robben Island, bears testimony of its amazing history while at the same time symbolizes thetriumph of the human spirit, freedom and democracy over oppression. The island is now a popular tourist destination which can be reached by ferry from the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town.

 It is open all year round and depending on the weather, tours of the island and prison are led by guides who were earlier prisoners on the island. The land on the island is owned by the State except the island church. The Robben Island Museum operates as a site or as a living museum.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Centre Pompidou

Centre Pompidou
Centre Pompidou – Complex Building-High Tech Architecture

Centre Pompidou which is also known as Centre Georges Pompidou is a complex building in Beauborg area of the 4th arrondissement of Paris which is near Les Halles, rue Montorgueil and the Marais. The Centre Pompidou has delighted and amazed many visitors since it was opened in 1977 not for its outstanding collection of modern art, the largest in Europe but for its radical architectural statement.

It had been designed in accordance with the style of high tech architecture by a team of architectures comprising of Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano together with Gianfranco Franchini. Moreover, it also houses the Bibliotheque publique d’information or the Public Information Library, which is a vast public library, the Musee National d’Art Moderne one of the largest museum of modern art in Europe and IRCAM, a centre for music and acoustic research. The Centre is known locally as Beaubourg, due to its location and is named after Georges Pimpidou, the President of France from 1969 to 1974, who had commissioned the building and officially opened by Valery Giscard d’Estaing on 31 January 1977.

Ultra Contemporary Artistic Hub

The former President Georges Pompidou who always wanted an ultra-contemporary artistic hub finally got it and competition winning architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers designed the building from the interior out with utilitarian features like pipes, air vents, plumbing together with electrical cable as part of the external façade, sparing the exterior space for events and exhibitions.

The sculpture, Horizontal, a free standing mobile which is twenty five feet high created by Alexander Calder was placed in 2012 in front of the Centre Pompidou. The vibrant and dynamic arts centre is a delight with its irresistible cocktail of galleries as well as cutting edge exhibitions, dance performances, hand-on workshops, cinemas together with other entertainment venues.

The exterior on the other hand is an awesome area to linger and watch the street performers together with the fanciful fountains. The Centre Pompidou has attracted over 150 million visitors since 1977.

Main Attraction – Musee National d’Art Moderne

The Musee National d’Art Moderne, which is France’s national collection of art that dates from 1905 onwards is the main attraction which is on the 4th and 5th floors, a fraction from the 100,000 pieces which are on display, include the work of cubist, surrealist and fauvists together with pop art and contemporary works.

Entry from rue du Renard to the large Bibliotheque Publique d’Information takes up some of the first and the whole of the second and the third floors while the sixth floor has two galleries for temporary exhibitions together with a hyperindustral restaurant – Georges which has a magnificent view of Paris and can be accessed through a free lift or elevator.

Admission to the rooftop is included with the museum and exhibition charges or one could purchase a panorama ticket to go to the roof. On the first Sunday of every month there is also a free admission to the museum. On the ground floor and in the basement, there is extra space for cinemas as well as more exhibitions.