Showing posts with label World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Show all posts

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cook Island, New Zealand

Cook Island
Cook Islands – Formed by Volcanic Activity

The Cook Islands is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand located in Polynesia between French Polynesia to the east and Tonga to the west. This archipelago comprises of 15 inhabited islands which are spread out over 2.2 million square km of ocean with no land between the tropical Cook Island and the Antarctica.

Its main population centres are on the island of Rarotonga which has an international airport. One will also find larger population of Cook Islands in New Zealand especially in the North Island. These islands were formed due to volcanic activity and while the northern group tends to be older, it consists of six atolls that are sunken volcanoes topped with coral growth.

The climate here is moderate to tropical. The islands are self-governing in free association with New Zealand which holds the primary responsibility with regards to external affairs, in consultation with Cook Islands government. The Cool Islands nationals are the citizens of New Zealand who can obtain New Zealand government services, though the New Zealand citizens are not the nationals of Cook Islands.

Not a United Nations Member State

Cook Island1
Besides, the Cook Islands is also not a United Nations member state, though with Niue, have full treaty making capacity which has been recognized by United Nations Secretariat and is now a full member of the WHO and UNESCO UN specialised agencies.

It is also an associate member of the Economic as well as Social Commission for Asia as well as the Pacific – UNESCAP, together with a Member of the Assembly of States of the International Criminal Court.

The languages of the Island include English, Cook Islands Maori or Rarotongan and Pukapukan. The dialect of Cook Island Maori are Penrhyn, Rakahanga-Manihiki, the Ngaputoru dialect of Atiu, Mitiaro and Mauke, the Aitutaki dialect and the Mangaian dialect.

Cook Island Maori and its dialectic variants are somewhat related to both Tahitian as well as to New Zealand Maori while Pukapukan is closely related to the Samoan language. Cook Islands Maori and English are the official languages of Cook Islands.

Economic Base – Tourism/Agriculture 

Music here is varied with Christian songs which are quite popular though traditional dancing and songs in Polynesian languages also remain popular. Its economic development is hindered due to the isolation of the country from foreign markets, limited size of domestic markets, periodic devastation from natural calamities, lack of natural resources together with inadequate infrastructure.

 Tourism and agriculture is the economic base with major exports made from copra and citrus fruit and manufacturing functions are limited to fruit processing handicrafts and clothing. During the 1980s and 1990s, the country had lived beyond its means and maintained bloated public service incurring a large foreign debt but with subsequent reforms which included the sale of state assets, the encouragement of tourism, the strengthening of economic management and a debt restructuring agreement, they managed to have some investment, growth and progress.

Cook Islands’ currency is the New Zealand Dollar though they issue their own banknotes and coins which include two varieties of highly unusual $3 banknotes and the triangular $2 coins. Cook Islands money can be utilised only within the Cook Islands.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Quebec Four Centuries of History

Quebec City is around four hundred years old with four centuries of history marked by encounters with the First Nations, terrible epidemics, battles between the English and French as well as acts of men and women after whom the streets have received their names.

This city has grown and developed all along the centuries with its amazing history, culture, economic success together with its urban transformation, neighbourhood life accompanied with the French language. Quebec City, the crown jewel of French Canada is one of North America’s oldest and most magnificent capital cities of Canada’s Quebec province.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

The picturesque Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a living museum with narrow cobblestone streets with 17th and 18th century houses along with soaring church spires with the addition of the splendid Chateau Frontenac towering above it all.

Its population of 491,142 in 2006 made Quebec the second most popular city and the tenth most popular city in Canada and is known for its location on Saint Lawrence River and its historic Old Quebec featuring fortified city walls which are the only ones left in northern North America.

Main Attraction – The Old Town

The attraction of this destination is the Old Town which is split between the Haute Ville; the Upper Town perched above the St. Lawrence River on the Cap Diamant cliffs and the Basse Ville, the Lower Town where Samuel de Champlain had established the first French foothold in the year 1608.

The Old Town is filled with museums, mansard roofed houses along with Cobblestone Street which are tempting to be explored. Beyond the walls, through the historic town gates of Porte St. Louis and Porte St Jean, four more neighbourhoods are accessible namely St Jean Baptiste, Colline Parementaire, Montcalm and St. Roch each having awesome restaurants, shopping and nightlife.

Winter and Summer Entertainment

The vast Plains of Abraham, where the British defeated the French in 1759, is presently enshrined as a national part, offering excellent recreational opportunities.

There is plenty of entertainment in this city where in summer, musicians, actors and acrobats in period costume go on the streets bringing about a festive spirit with fireworks and song.

In winter, during the months of January and February, Quebec’s Winter Carnival is the biggest and most colourful winter festival while fall and spring bring in beautiful foliage all around.

French Speaking Province

The province of Quebec is a French speaking city and is known for its architecture and various annual festivals, the most popular being the Winter Carnival with skiing, ice sculpture and ice castle. Quebec City was the first city to be established in Canada with goals of being a permanent settlement rather than a commercial outpost like St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador or Port Royal Nova Scotia.

The French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1535 built a fort and stayed there for a year and returned in 1541 to build a permanent settlement though it was abandoned in 1542. Presently Quebec City is one of the largest cities of Canada and most of the economy is based on tourism, transportation, defence and service sector. A major part of the city’s jobs are through the provincial government being the capital city and its main industrial product from the city are paper and pulp, metal, wood items, chemicals and electronics.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Seville – Largest Historical Centres of Europe

Seville was founded by Hercules and its origin was linked with Tartessian civilization. It lies on the banks of the Guadalquiver River and is one of the largest historical centres in Europe. It is locally a Spanish city, the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Andalusia as well as the province of Seville.

The inhabitants of this city are known as sevillianos/sevillanas or hispalenses, called after the Roman name of the city, Hispalis. In 2011, this city had a municipal population of around 703,000 and a metropolitan population of around 1.5 million which has made it the fourth largest city in Spain as well as the 30th most popular municipality in the European Union.

Three UNESCO Heritage Sites

It has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in its Old Town namely the Alcazar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies, where the historical records of the American continent are kept, the Fine Art Museum, one of the second largest picture gallery in Spain besides convents, parish churches and palaces.

The minaret of La Giralda, the cathedral is one of the largest in Christendom and part of the treasure includes Casa de Pilatos, Torre del Oro and the Town Hall. To visit the old city with the Cathedral and the Giralda tower, one can climb the steps inside the tower for a great view of the city.

Close to it is the royal Mudejar palace with beautiful gardens with the Santa Cruz quarter having cramped streets, flowered balconies with richly decorated facades and hidden patios. It has a harbour which is located about 80 km from the Atlantic Ocean and is the only river port in Spain.

The quarter of Triana on the other end of the river, La Macarena, Santa Cruz and San Bartolome, the street of Las Sierpes, and La Maestranza bullring, together with Maria Luisa part and the riverside walk are all the images of Seville.

A Joyous Town with Impressive History

Seville is universally considered being a joyous town with all its important monuments and impressive history and is the largest town in Southern Spain, the city of Carmen, Don Juan and Figaro. The people of Seville are known for their wit and sparkle while the city is full of vitality.

 Moreover, the Sevillians are known to be great actors with their extraordinary performance at their annual Feria de Abril which is a weeklong event with food, drink and dance that takes place day and night in over a thousand especially mounted tents for this occasion.

Besides this, it enables men to parade on fine horses while the women dance in their brilliantly coloured gypsy dresses to the tune of the music. During the Holy week, Semana Santa, a religious festival is held where hooded penitents march along in long processions followed by large baroque floats on which is mounted the image of Christ or the Virgin amidst a crowd of cheerful Sevillians.

Some of the sights which should not be missed in the old city, are the Casa de Pilatos which has a large sixteenth century mansion that blends with the Mudejar, Renaissance and Gothic styles, harmoniously with exuberant patios and gardens.

Crossing of the Triana Bridge over the large Guadaquiver River and the lively quarter of Triana with its charming narrow streets all around the church of Santa Ann together with the traditional ceramic factories are worth exploring.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Siena – World Heritage Site

Siena, a city in Tuscany, Italy is the capital of the province of Siena and the historic centre of Siena has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Siena is one of the most popular tourist attractions for traveler to Tuscany and is famous for its cuisine, museums, art, medieval cityscape and the Palio, a horse race which is held twice each year.

This historical town of Siena Italy is located conveniently between Florence and Rome and is a home to a various historical landmarks as well as tourist attractions. One of the most amazing towns square is the Piazza del Campo, where the Siena Town Hall and Civic Tower are found with many great restaurants.

Visitors come to Siena, Italy from Rome or Florence at Siena’s central train station or one can take an intercity bus to reach this medieval city. The closest airport to Siena is the Amerigo Vespucci Airport in Florence while the Pisa’s Galileo Galilei Airport is also some distance away. Besides this, there are also two to three buses daily between Siena and Bologna Airport.

Reach Siena by Train from Pisa

One can also reach Siena by train from Pisa as well as Florence by changing at Empoli while the Siena railway station is at the bottom of a long hill outside the city walls where travelers with luggage can hire taxi or bus from the stop near the station.

Buses are also available from Florence as well as from Rome, Milan and from various other towns in Tuscany and beyond. Siena is linked by road to Florence by a superstrada, which is a form of toll free autostrada and the same to Florence is indicated on some road signs with the letters SI-FI, related to province abbreviations.

No automobile traffic is allowed within the city and several huge car parks are available immediately beyond the city walls. The car parks, La Fortezza and Il Campo are the nearest to the centre while free lots are located further on. Commercial traffic is only allowed during morning hours within the city.

An Intriguing Medieval City

Siena is an intriguing medieval city which was once a major military, trading and banking center. This walled city rivaled Florence in prestige and power and is a home to various beautiful cathedrals and churches. The Siena Cathedral is one of the examples of Italian Romanesque Gothic architecture and its main façade was completed in 1380.

 Its axis runs north south which is unusual for a cathedral and this was because it was intended originally to be the largest cathedral in the world with an east west nave and a north south transept. On completion of the transept and the building towards the east wall, they fell short of funds and the rest of the cathedral remained abandoned.

The famous Gothic octagonal pulpit by Nicola Pisano is inside which is supported on lions with the labyrinth inlaid on the flooring, traversed by penitents on their knees. There are also some preserved renaissance frescos by Domenico Ghirlandaio within the Sacristy and below the Duomo in the baptistery, is the baptismal font by Donatello, together with Lorenzo Ghiberti, Jacopo della Quercia and other 15th century sculptors.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Siem Reap – A Gateway to Millennium Old Ruins

Siem Reap
Siam Reap literally translated in today’s Thailand means `Defeat of Siam’, which refers to the centuries old conflict that took place between the Siamese and Khmer people during the rule of the Ayutthava Kingdom towards the 18th century which is referred as Nakhom Siam. It stretches along the Siem Reap River nestling between rice paddies and serves as the gateway to millennium old ruins of Angkor, the Angkorian era Khmer Empire. Being listed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Angkor Archaeological Park covers dozens of temple ruins and Bayon. Ta Prohm as well as the legendary Angkor Wat has great artistic and archaeological significance in line with the Pyramids, Machu Pichu and the Taj Mahal. Siem Reap now serves as a town to the world with famous heritage sites of the Angkor temples to explore and due to these attractions, this forgotten town has now been transformed into a major tourist hub. It is a vibrant town filled with modern hotels and architectural styles and in spite of international influences; Siem Reap and its people have still retained the town’s culture, image and traditions.

Angkor Wat Interesting Place to Explore

During the past two decades, this town has been making progress in growth wherein this small little town has growth of more than 100 hotels in around the town where tourist have a wide option in making a choice. First timers would find Siem Reap an appropriate choice for a perfect destination. Exploring the town is easy and exciting with many interesting and attraction sites to visit including Angkor Wat which is full of history, restaurants, museums, relaxation, night markets, adventure activities and friendly locals. Siem Reap is a cluster of old villages which was originally developed around individual pagodas and overlaid later with French colonial era center. One can see the colonial and Chinese style architecture in the town center and around the Old Market. Since the earliest days of tourism in the 19th century, it was a tradition to treat visitors to Siem Reap with an Apsara dance performance, a taste of classical Khmer culture and no visit to Cambodia was complete without attending a performance.

Contemporary Galleries and Boutiques

Siem Reap is an excellent place for shopping for all kinds of Cambodian products. In addition to classic souvenirs, it also has unique and a variety of contemporary art galleries, trendy shops and fashion boutiques with shopping venues scattered across the town especially in places along Sivutha Blvd, areas near Phsar Chas also known as the Old Market and near Pub Street. Near the Pub Street especially Alley West, several distinctive small contemporary galleries and boutiques are found. Traditional items and souvenirs can be purchased from downtown traditional market, Phsar Chas. The most prominent feature of this town is the Tonle Sap Lake which is a huge dumbbell shaped water body, stretching across the northwest of the country. During rainy season, the lake is the largest freshwater lakes in Asia rising to 12,000 km2 and during dry weather it reduces to 200 km2 draining into the Tonle Sap River and eventually emerging with the Mekong River at the chaktomuk confluence at Phnom Penh. A unique hydrologic phenomenon causes the Tonle Sap River to reverse its direction during the wet season, filling the lake.