Monday, July 27, 2015

Cartagena, Colombia


Cartagena/Cartagena de Indias – UNESCO Heritage Site

Cartagena, also known as Cartagena de Indias, is a city towards the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region as well as the capital of the Bolivar Department. The city was established on June 1, 1533 and was named after Cartagena, Spain though the settlement of this region surrounding Cartagena Bay of various native people dates back to 4000 BC.

At the time of the colonial era, Cartagena played an important role in the administration as well as the expansion of the Spanish empire and was a centre of political and economic activity which was due to the presence of royalty and affluent viceroys. Towards 1984, the colonial walled city of Cartagena and the fortress had been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city initially, was the first Spanish colony on the American continent as well as one of the first sanctuaries of freed African slaves in the Americas.

Presently it is populated by an ethnic mix representative of Colombia’s own range. According to the 2005 census, the port city comprises of a population of 892,545. It is the 5th largest city in Colombia as well as the second largest in the region following Barranquilla.

Important Trading/Slave Port

The Cartagena urban area is also considered to be the fifth largest urban in the country wherein economic activities comprises of maritime and petrochemicals industry together with tourism.Cartagena was also an important trading port especially for precious metals where gold and silver from mines in the New Granada and Peru were laden in Cartagena on the galleons that were bound for Spain through Havana.

Besides this, Cartagena was also a slave port where Cartagena and Veracruz – Mexico, were the only cities that were authorized for the trade of African slaves. The first slaves is said to be transported by Pedro de Heredia and were utilised as labourers incane cutting to open roads, to destroy the tombs of the aboriginal populations of Sinu as well as to construct buildings and fortresses. Cacheu, the agents of the Portuguese company, sold slaves from Cartagena to work in mines in Venezuela, the Nuevo Reino de Granada, the West Indies and the Viceroyalty of Peru.

Popular Tourist Destination

Cartagena is the most popular city in the country for tourists and tends to get crowded during December holidays as well as the holy week, when schools are closed and most of the Colombians are on a vacation. The city has two interesting sites to explore where tourist tend to go, namely the walled colonial city `Ciudad Amurallada, which is amazing with several fancy restaurants, clubs and hotels together with long strip of hotel towers and condos near the beach, which are known as Bocagrande. Visiting the elite neighbourhood of Castillogrande is also appealing which is filled with recently built condos, a serene beach to soak up some sun as well as places to do some jogging.

Cartagena a modern port city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast has at its core, the walled Old Town, comprising of 16th century plaza, cobblestone streets with colourful colonial buildings. Having a tropical climate, it is a popular beach destination. Nearby shores like the Isla de Baru and Isla del Rosario, known for their coral reefs and scuba diving, can be reached by boat.
Historic Old Town
Cartagena’s most appealing charm is its historic old town which is surrounded by the city wall where the main entrance is the Clock Tower building. The walled city comprises of the neighbourhoods Centro, San Diego, Getsemani as well as the modern segment La Matuna while the oldest section of Cartagena is surrounding the Plaza Trinida in Getsemani. Its 500 hundred year old coral stone forts together with the great parts of its walled city are amazingly intact, representing some of the beautiful examples of civil as well as military architecture of the Spanish colonial era.

Castillo de San Felipe, a fortress which had been designed by Richard Carr, the Dutch engineer, had been built in 1657 by the Spanish for the purpose of protection against the pirates at the time of shipping gold out to Europe. In the proximity of San Felipe fortress is the 150 m high La Popa hill that provides amazing glimpses over Cartagena as well as the harbour region. Santa Cruz monastery, of 17th century has beautifully restored courtyard together with fine image of the Virgin of La Candelaria.

Tourists are advised not to walk up here, since it could be a bit dangerous. Most of the churches in the historic area are worth exploring especially the Iglesia de San Pedro Claver, which was built in honour of the priest St Pedro Claver, who was the first saint of the new world for his work with the slaves. Besides this, La Catedral, near Plaza de Bolivar and the Iglesia de Santa Domingo are also worth visiting.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Gran Via, Madrid


Gran Via – Decorative & Upscale Shopping Street

Gran Via is a decorative and upscale shopping street which is located in central Madrid.The street presently is known as the Spanish Broadway and seems to be one of the streets that has more nightlife in Europe and is known as the street that never sleeps. It leads from Calle de Alcala close to Plaza de Cibeles to Plaza de Espana.

The lively street is the city’s most important shopping centre, comprising of a number of hotels and large movie theatres and is also famous for the grand architecture dominant among several of its building. Presently most of theatres are now being replaced by shopping malls. They are considered as a showcase of the early 20th century architecture with patterns that range from Vienna Secession style, Plateresque, Neo-Mudejar, Art Deco among various others.

What makes the street special is the architectural design of most of the buildings and while walking through this amazing street, ensure to look and admire the regularly lavishly decorated grand edificious. Towards mid-19th century, urban planners in Madrid decided to create a new thoroughfare connecting the Calle de Alcala with the Plaza de Espana. The project needed several building in the centre of the city to be demolished.

Created Buildings in Latest Architectural Styles

The construction had not started for years even after the first plans were made and the media derided the project sceptically calling it the `Gran Via’ or `Great Road’. Eventually in 1904, it was approved and the construction began a couple of years thereafter and the last section of the street was finally completed in 1929. This road gave rise to opportunities for architect who had the potential in creating large buildings in the latest architectural styles and the first appealing building started with the Calle de Alcala which is the most famous of them all, the Edificio Metropolis or Metropolis building.

After the design of architects Jules & Raymond Fevrier, the landmark was constructed between 1907 and 1911 and the original statue had been replaced in 1975 by a statue of a winged Goddess Victoria. Going further along the Gran Via towards the left area,is another landmark, the Edificio Grassy, another corner building with a small tower which was built in 1917.

Gran Via – The Calle de Princessa

One can see the tower of the Telefonica building, a skyscraper which was constructed between 1926 and 1929 for the Spanish telecommunication company,from the Edificio Grassy. The construction of 88m/290 ft. building was the largest in Madrid and would have been appropriate in Chicago. The architect of the Telefonica building was an American – Louis S. Weeks.

Walking further in the direction of the Plaza de Espana, the Gran Via crosses a small square known as the Plaza del Callao which is the heart of cinematic Madrid. It comprises of six movie theatres one of which, is the Capital, situated in an amazing Art Deco building.

The last section of the Gran Via was constructed between 1925 and 1929 and leads to the Plaza de Espana, which is a large square dominated by two skyscrapers that were built in 1950, namely the symmetric Edificio de Espana and the Torre de Madrid. It is here that the Gran Via tends to become the Calle de Princessa that leads to the north of the Arco de la Victoria.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tiber Island, Rome


Tiber Island – Amazing History

Tiber Island is a small island also known as Isola Tiberina which is located in the middle of Rome’s Tiber River. The island has amazing history which originallywas a home to an ancient temple of Asclepius the god of healing and is associated with healing since the Roman Republic era.

 As per legend it is said that from god’s temple a snake had come to the island from a boat where the island itself resembles a boat. Towards the 16thcentury, a hospital was built there which is still functioning. One can take glimpses of the island by going from the Jewish Ghetto to Trasteverse and get views of the river and the island on the bridge and then follow through the tiny squares on the island.

Besides the hospital there is also a church, San Bartolemeno all’Isola on the island and a lovely area to stroll through the Eternal City.Emperor Otto III had ordered the construction of the church in 998 AD, on the foundation of the Temple of Asclepius.

The church was constructed with materials that were taken from ancient structures and was dedicated to Saint Adalbert, the former bishop of Prague as well as a friend of the emperor.

Important During Roman Period – Enabled Crossing of the River

The island measuring about 270 meters in length and 67 meters in breadth at is widest point, was said to be important during the early Roman period since it enabled the crossing of the river. It is connected by two bridges to the main land which have existed since the antiquity, the Ponte Fabricio that travels towards the Theatre of Marcellus on the left bank from the northeast area of the island and the Ponte Cestio that connects the island to Trastevere which is a neighbourhood towards the right bank.

According to legend Tiber Island came to be formed when Roman citizens had expelled the last of the Tarquin Kings and in anger the rebels had thrown wheat sheaves that had been stolen from the king into the river. Silt and dirt had accumulated around the wheat and eventually formed an island. However, the island in reality had developed much before the Etruscans ruled over Tome by natural means due to the river getting wider and the current less stronger.

Tiber Island a Mystery/Shrouded in Legend

The island had always been a place of mystery and shrouded in legend which is surrounded by the river and inseparably linked to the origins of Rome. It has been heralded by the Ponte Rotto, the Pons Aemilius, the first stone bridge in Rome, and restored many times due to the turbulence of the Tiber which then had won the battle, besides only a few.

This amazing island in the middle of the Tiber was known as `Intra duos pontes’ by the Romans and the island seems to be connected to the terra firma by two bridges, which were originally made of wood. One of the bridge is Cestio which was built in 46 BC by Lucius Cestius being restored many times with the flooding of the river so that what was a single span bridge ended up with three arches. It was also called Ponte San Bartolomeno and ponte ferrato – bridge strengthened with iron.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Passetto di Borgo, Rome


Passetto di Borgo – Long Elevated Walkway through Centre of Rome

The Passetto di Borgo or Passetto is a raised passage which connects the Vatican City with the Castel Sant Angelo and is around 800 meters long elevated walkway which runs through the centre of Rome. It is located in the rione of Borgo and was erected in 1277 by Pope Nicholas III while parts of the wall seemed to be built by Totila during the Gothic War.

It served as an escape route for the Popes in times of danger on many occasions. When Charles VIII had invaded the city and the pope’s life seemed to be in danger, Pope Alexander VI had crossed it in 1494. During the Sack of Rome in 1527, Clement VII had escaped through this passage to safety, when the troops of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V had massacred most of the entire Swiss Guard on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

 The Assassin EzioAuditore da Firenze fought his way along the Passetto di Borgo on December 28, 1499to reach the Grand Master of the Templars, Rodrigo Borgia. Four years later, after Rodrigo’s son Cesare had him killed by using a poison filled apple and the Passetto was used by Cesare to reach the Apple of Eden which Rodrigo had hidden in the courtyard in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Constructed for the Purpose to EscapeIn Emergency

His attempt was a failure since Ezio had managed to go ahead first to the location and recover it shortly escaping the Vatican district thereafter. Pope Nicholas III who had constructed it, was for the purpose of enabling escapes of the Pope in case of an emergency.

The secret passage was also utilised for another reason, to lead in prisons, characters that were famous without arousing much suspicion and not letting anyone know about it. Passetto di Borgo was also known to inspire the famous American author of the thriller Dan Brown for his latest novel `Hell’ wherein around 50 thousand copies were said to be sold in a single day. Presently in the capital, mainly in summer, the passageways are kept opened for visits of Rome and other tourist who can also get glimpses of it in a beautiful night atmosphere.

In 1906 – Turned into a Museum

In order to reach the Passetto one would have to take the subway to Republic Battistini for 6 stops in Cipro after around 600 meters where one could reach the Vatican walls.The Passetto also played an important role in the Dan Brown novel Angels & Demon wherein the antagonist, a Hashishin had transported four abducted cardinals to the Castle of Sant’ Angelo and the protagonist Robert Langdon as well as Vittoria Vetra had later on used the Passetto as a shortcut to the Vatican City.

In 1630 the upper footway had been covered with a roof by Pope Urban VIII and had it turned into a second gallery.However this addition was removed sooner than 1949 when the restoration work saved the original shape of the passage. Towards 1906, it was turned into a museum and for many years the gallery running through the Passetto remain closed to the tourist since most of its parts became unsteady and insecure.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Stourhead Garden

Stourhead – Britain’s Most Picturesque Garden

Stourhead has been considered as one of Britain’s most picturesque garden for centuries. Situated in the midst of a 2,650 acres estate near Warminster South of Bath, this amazing garden is around a peaceful lake, like a jewel among surging hills. Around the shore, placed in planned spots, one will find several architectural features which include various monuments and an arched stone bridge where each one serves as a focal point for memorable photograph.

The garden had been designed by a wealthy English banker, Henry Hoare II – 1741 to 1780, who had been buying works of art in Italy at the time he had inherited the Stourhead estate and improved with new varieties of trees from America between 1791 and 1838 by Richard ColtHoare, his grandson.

Richard was also responsible in importing several American species which included tulip trees as well as swamp cypresses. The woodland walk seems to be amazing while moving through mature woods that have been planted with a variety of colourful trees.The second garden `Claudian’, of Henry Hoare II was developed in an unusually well-proportioned valley behind the house while the Temple of Flora at Stourhead was built in 1745 and the grotto in 1748.

An Unsurpassable Location

However the key date was 1754 when the lake as well as the Pantheon was completed.The ambition of Henry Hoare II was to make Stourhead an unsurpassable location which gave rise of an installation of remarkable garden features, from medieval cross and classical temples to cosy cottage and modern ice house.

Centred on the Pantheon in Rome, the walk through the estate is based on the journey of Aeneas, the legendary founder of Rome and the five arched bridge was created in 1762, together with the Temple of Apollo in 1765.Stourhead seems to be the perfect example of a garden which has been inspired by great landscape painters of the 17th century.

Later on, Gothic features were added – Alfred’s Tower, a Rustic Cottage as well as Hermitage while the Stourhead woods were under-planted with Rhododendron ponticum after 1791 with the addition of more exotic species in the twentieth century. The latest rhododendrons and the selected azaleas, according to the literature, were added around 1900.

World’s Finest Landscape Garden

Observing the colossal size of the rhododendron hybrids like Cynthia and Pink Pearl towards the shore, it seems that these old standbys could have been the latest introductions around a century ago. Placed in secluded isolation in its own valley, Stourhead in Wiltshire features the world’s finest landscape garden making it appropriate for an outdoor experience.

The magnificent lake is the central design at Stourhead which is edged with classical temples with enchanting grottos together with rare and exotics trees. The Hoare family history can be traced in Stourhead House, which is a majestic Palladian mansion with unique Regency library together with fabulous collections of Chippendale furniture as well as paintings set amidst beautiful lawns and parkland.

 The best time to visit Stourhead is in spring for rhododendron and early summer for azaleas though it can be visited anytime to witness an amazing wonderful landscape garden experience which is one of the great gardens of the world.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Potala Palace

The Potala Palace - Chief Residence of the Dalai Lama - 1959

The Potala Palace is located in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region. It was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama till the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan rebellion. Presently it is a museum and listed as a World Heritage Site.

The Palace has been named after Mount Potalaka, the mythical abode of bodhisattva Avalokitesvara and the 5thDalai Lama began its construction in 1645 after one of his spiritual advisors, Konchog Chophel had indicated that it was an ideal site as a seat of government since it was located between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa.

 Construction of the palace began at the time of Songsten of the Thubet dynasty in the 7th century AD and was rebuilt in mid-17th century by the 5th Dalai Lama during a campaign which lasted for 30 years, reaching its present size after repeated expansion and renovation.

It is located on Red Mountain, 3,700 m above sea level, in the centre of Lhasa valley covering an area of over 130,000 sq. m and stands over 110 m high. The White palace is approached by a winding road that leads to an open square in front of the palace.

Winter Palace Since 7th Century 

The central area is the East Main Hall and most of the ceremonies take place here. The throne of Dalai Lama lies towards the north side of the hall and the walls are covered with paintings portraying religious as well as historic themes while at the top of the White Palace is the personal suite of Dalai Lama.

The building measures around 400 metres east-west and 350 metres north-south with sloping stone wall of 3m thick and 5m thick towards the base together with copper poured into the foundations to protect against earthquakes.

It comprises of 13 storeys of buildings with 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and around 200,000 statues – 117 meters on top of Marpo Ri, the `Red Hill’ which rises more than 300 m, around 1,000 ft. in total above the floor of the valley.

The Potala Palace was the winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century, symbolizing Tibetan Buddhism. The complex contains the White and Red Palaces having their ancillary buildings built on Red Mountains in the centre of Lhasa Valley, at an altitude of 3,700.

Jokhange Temple Monastery – Buddhist Religious Complex

Besides this, founded in the 7th century, is the exceptional Buddhist religious complex, the Jokhange Temple Monastery. Dalai Lama’s earlier summer palace, Norbulingka, which was constructed in the 18th century, seems to be a masterpiece of Tibetan art.

The beauty together with its originality of the architecture of these three sites and the rich ornamentation as well as harmonious integration in the Potala Palace represents Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet.

 The Red Palace is towards the west of the White Palace and its purpose is to house the stupas having the remains of the Dalai Lama. Towards the west of the Red Palace lies the Namgyel Dratshang, the private monastery of the Dalai Lama.

The other significant components of Potala complex are the squares towards the north and south with its massive palace wall that have been built from rammed earth and stones and pierced by gates on the east, south as well as the west ends.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Tokyo Skytree

The Tokyo Skytree – New Television Broadcasting Tower

The Tokyo Skytree, a landmark of Tokyo, is a new television broadcasting tower and a centrepiece of Tokyo Skytree Town located in the Sumida City Ward in close proximity of Asakusa. Having a height of 634 metres, it is the tallest building in Japan and the second tallest structure in the world when completed. At its base is a large shopping complex with an aquarium.Highlights of Tokyo Skytree are the two observation deck offering amazing view of Tokyo.

The two decked which are enclosed are situated at heights of 350 and 450 meters respectively, thus making them the highest observation decks in Japan and some of the highest in the world. The lower of the deck – Tembo Deck is 350 meters high with three levels providing views from all its floors while the top floor features tall, broad windows with the best 360 degree panoramic view of the city. On the centre floor is the souvenir shop and the Musashi Sky Restaurant catering to French-Japanese fusion cuisine and the lowest floor has a café and some glass panel on the ground providing an amazing view all the way down to the base of the tower.

Tembo Deck/Tembo Gallery

The Tembo Deck is connected to a second set of elevators to the 450 meter high Tembo Gallery and has been dubbed as `the world’s highest skywalk’. The Tembo Gallery comprises of a sloping spiral ramp which gains height as it tends to circle the tower. Construction of the steel together with glass tube enables visitor to view down from the great height of the tower and out over the Kanto Region to remarkable distances. With its 110m long glass floor one get the feeling of walking in mid-air.

 Towards the top of the spiral ramp is a conventional observation deck floor with areas for lounging with tall window from where one could get glimpses of Tokyo and this floor is officially situated at 451.2 meters constituting the highest point of the observation decks. Exploring the Tokyo Skytree is done on the 4th floor where tickers are sold for the first observation deck though not for the second deck. The visitors are taken to the top floors of the first observation deck through a fast and smooth elevator ride, where tickets for the second observation deck are sold.

Centrepiece of Large Commercial Development

They can then access the second deck prior to descending back to the lower floors of the first observatory where they could board the elevator below to the tower’s exit on the 5th floor. The appeal of Tokyo Skytree is in the fact that though it is a hi-tech structure, it also arouses a feeling of traditional beauty, featuring amazing techniques like the concave sori curves seen in traditional Japanese architecture and the convex mukuri curves that are found in temple architecture.

The Skytree was completed in February 2012 and the tower opened to the public on 22 May 2012. Being the centrepiece of a large commercial development it was funded by Tobu Railway together with a group of six terrestrial broadcasters lead by NHK. Trains stop at the nearby Tokyo Skytree Station and Oshiage Station where the complex is 7 km north-east of Tokyo Station.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fernsehturm Berlin

Fernsehturm/Berlin TV Tower – Television Tower – Central Berlin

The Fernsehturm or the Berlin TV Tower is a television tower in central Berlin, Germany, close to Alexanderplatz in Berlin. The tower had been constructed by the administration of the German Democratic Republic, between 1965 and 1969 and was proposed as a symbol of Berlin which stands till date since it is visible throughout the central as well as some suburban districts of Berlin.

Fernsehturm Berlin design and the construction presented the architects, building engineers and the structural engineers with many challenges. It was inaugurated on October 3, 1969 prior to the 20th anniversary of the GDR. Walter Ulbricht, the State Council Chairman of the GDR at that time considered it as one of the most important symbols demonstrating supremacy of socialist societies and this construction of the Berlin Television Tower portrayed that a bright future was being constructed in the East.

Though the GDR has since been history for a long time, the Berlin Television Tower still prevails and is accepted as a landmark for the whole of Germany. Each year, there are over a million visitors from various countries going up 200 metres to the observational level to take a breath-taking glimpse of the constantly changing city. Fernsehturm  is the tallest structure in Germany with a height of 368 meters.

The Tower – Most Prominent Symbol of Germany

The Fernsehturm tower has become the most prominent symbols of Germany and is often seen in shots of films that are set in Berlin. Occasionally it is also known as Alex Tower, due to its location near Alexandraplatz. Its original height was 365 meters but was increased to 368 meters after the installation of a new antenna in 1990. The tower is the fourth tallest freestanding structure in Europe after Moscow’s Ostankino Tower, the Kiev TV Tower and the Riga Radio and TV Tower.

The middle of the sphere has a visitor platform which is also called panoramic floor that has a height of 203 meters above the ground and visibility can reach 42 kilometres on a clear day. It also has a revolving restaurant.

The restaurant Telecafe which is designed with an outer ring of revolving tables, serves coffee and snacks with reasonably priced meals, revolves once every 30 minutes and is some meters above the visitor platform at 207 meters. In the interior of the shaft are two lifts which transport visitors up the sphere of the Fernsehturm tower in a span of 40 seconds and is not accessible by wheelchair. It also has a staircase having 986 steps.

2006 FIFA World Cup

The final match had been played in the Berlin Olympic Station to mark the 2006 FIFA World Cup where the sphere had been decorated as a football with magenta coloured pentagons, which reflected the corporate colour of World Cup sponsor and owner of the Fernsehturm, Deutsche Telekom.

Around the base of the Fernsehturm tower lies an exhibition centre together with a restaurant building in a group that comprises of the Neptune fountain which was located on the palace square which had been gifted to the Emperor from the city of Berlin. The waterfalls are the depictions of the four German rivers namely the Elbe, Oder, Rhine and Weichsel.

Enjoying Golf Today

There is something special about the game of golf. In a way, it is an easy game to play. However, it can be very difficult at times when individual wants a golf ball to go a specific direction. Although there are complexities, it is a wonderful sport to do.

Many Tools Available

It is understandable that some people may balk at the prices that are charged by certain companies on the Internet. However, there are plenty of places that offer solid equipment at reasonable prices. At some golf shops, professionals are able to give suggestions and helpful hints as to what clubs would best compliment an individual or couple. Some clubs may work better for an experienced golfer who would like to put additional income towards receiving greater results. People who are beginning may want to invest in clubs that are durable and can be used multiple times. Furthermore, there plenty of golf balls that are available to be purchased. While not all golf balls are created equal, many are at reasonable prices that can fit into the budgets of families, couples and individuals.

Experiencing Places

Whether an individual experiences Chicagoland golf or another location where golf is played, there are plenty of places where young and old can enhance their skills. Driving ranges can help people work on their mechanics and get into good habits as they learn to drive a golf ball in the correct direction. For others, a driving range can be a place to sharpen skills and to ensure that a future golf game will be in wonderful form. The golf course itself can be fun and challenging at the same time. Seasoned golfers may like to hit the links at peak hours in order to get the best experience that is possible. For beginners, coming at slow times can give them freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.

The game of golf has not changed for years. Adults and teenagers are welcome to play whenever it fits their schedules. The result is that they can have a fantastic experience each time.

Monday, July 6, 2015

ArcelorMittal Orbit

ArcelorMittal Orbit – Tall Sculpture/Observation Tower

The ArcelorMittal Orbit, a 114.5 metro tall sculpture as well as an observation tower is located in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, London and is the largest piece of public art in Britain. It was intended to be a lasting legacy of London’s hoisting of the 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games supporting in the post-Olympics renewal of the Stratford region.

Placed in the midst of the Olympic Stadium and the Aquatic Centre, it enables tourists to catch glimpses of the whole Olympic Park from two observation podiums. The Orbit had been designed by Sir Anish Kapoor, Turner-Prize winning artist and Cecil Balmond of engineering Group Arup. It was announced on 31 March 2010 and was expected to be completed by December 2011 and the project came up after Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell decided in 2008 that the Olympic Park required something extra.

Ideas were requested from designers for Olympic tower of at least 100 metres and the Orbit was the agreed choice from nine person advisory panel proposals. The construction of ArcelorMittal Orbit took around 18 months with 560 metres of tube-shapedred steel to create the sculpture’s lattice superstructure.

London’s Most Spectacular Visitor Attractions

The outcome was a bold statement of public art which was both permanent as well as sustainable with around 60% of the 2,000 tonnes of steel utilised in the sculpture drawn from recycled sources which underline the steel’s status as the most recyclable material in the world. Steel was the choice for this project due to its unique properties which included strength, modular structure as well as advantages of weight and speed of construction.

Visitors can now take a trip to the top of the structure via a lift and down too if they prefer though they could also be encouraged to walk down the spiral staircase that has around 455 steps and is designed to allow guest in experiencing the feeling of orbiting around the structure while descending.

Chief Executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, Andrew Altman has commented that `the ArcelorMittal Orbit will become one of London’s most spectacular visitor attractions and a stunning backdrop to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It would not only offer differing views by day and night, but will light up the East London skyline to become a beacon of the incredible transformation of this part of East London’.

Predicted Project Cost …. £19.1 million

The project was predicted to cost £19.1 million wherein £16 million came from Britain’s richest man, the Chairman of the ArcelorMittal steel company, Lakshmi Mittal, the steel tycoon while the balance £3.1 million came from the London Development Agency. ArcelorMittal Orbit is the combination of the name of Mittal’s company as chief sponsor, with Orbit, the original working title for the design of Kapoor and Balmond.

Both the designers were of the belief that Orbit represented a radical advance in the field of architecture with the combination of sculpture and structural engineering uniting both stability as well as instability in a labour which visitors could engage with as well as experience through an incorporated spiral walkway. This structure has gained appraisal as well as criticism for its bold design. It has also been disapproved as a vanity project of questionable lasting use or merit as a public project of art.

 After the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the ArcelorMittal Orbit was closed, while the South Plaza area of the Park where the Orbit is positioned, had undergone reconstruction and was re-opened to the public on 5 April 2014.Boris Johnson had commented that the `114.5 metre high attraction to trump rivals the world over is a calling card for investment in East London’.

Orbit – Hybrid, Network of Art & Structure

It is a symbol of prosperity and growth, backed by one of the world’s most astute business leaders, delivering the strongest message that this part of London is open for business after decades of neglect’. Comments from Anish Kapoor states that `he is absolutely delighted that construction is complete and would like to thank the project team for making this possible and for the work on what is technically a very challenging project’.

He is of the belief that when visitors come to the Park during Olympic, they would be able to go up the ArcelorMittal Orbit for the first time and would be delighted that members of the public would be able to interact with the work in this way.Cecil Balmond had commented that, `Anish and he were conscious from the beginning that the ArcelorMittal Orbit would be a lasting legacy to the city and so wanted to stretch the language of the icon as far as it could go.

The Orbit is a hybrid, a network of art and structure and its dynamic is the non-linear. You could read into it multiple narratives in space’.It is presumed that due to visitors, it would generate around £10 million of revenue yearly creating job opportunities after the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Canton Tower, China

Canton Tower – TV Astronomical & Sightseeing Tower

Canton Tower was previously known as Guangzhou TV Astronomical and Sightseeing Tower. It is also known as Guangzhou Tower, is 600 metre tall and a multipurpose observation tower, located in Haizhu District of Guangzhou, historically known as Canton or Kwangchow, Guangdong, in China. It faces the Haizin Sha Island and Pearl River New city with Guangzhou 21st century CBD District across the river and was completed in 2009.

It began functioning in September 29, 2010 for the Asian Games of 2010. The innovative design of the tower comes from the nickname Xiao Man’s Waist who had a very slender waist and though most of the skyscrapers bear male features, of strong, rectangular, straight and extrovert, the architects desired to build a female tower of complex, curvy, transparent and gracious type.

Their focus was to create a free form tower with a rich and human like personality which would signify Guangzhou as an exciting and dynamic city. The outcome is that, the tower is slender and tall bearing similarities of the figure of a female where the narrow part of the tower considered as the waist is the 66th floor, having a diameter of 30 meters.

3rd Tallest & 5th Tallest Freestanding Structure

The tower temporarily held the title of the tallest tower in the world, substituting the CN Tower prior to being surpassed by the Tokyo Skytree and was the tallest structure in China earlier to the topping of Shanghai Tower on August 3, 2013. Presently it is the third tallest tower as well as the fifth tallest freestanding structure in the world.

The Canton Tower had been designed by Mark Hemel and Barbara Kuit, Dutch architects, of Information Based Architecture along with Arup the international design, engineering as well as business consulting firm which is headquartered in London, United Kingdom.

Toward 2004, Arup and Information Based Architecture won the international competition wherein several internationally huge architectural offices made their contribution in it. The same year, Arup and the IBA team developed the concept design of the tower in Amsterdam. Later on during the progress, IBA collaborated mostly with Arup’s local Chinese office and a Local Design -Institute. Towards 2005, consequently Canton Tower’s ground-breaking began.

Lit by LEDs at Night 

Though the tower was not totally completely, ithad been opened on October 1, 2010, to the public for the 16th Asian Games that was hosted by Guangzhou in November 2010 and the rooftop observatory received it official opening, finally in December 2011.

The tower is lit by LEDs at night, portraying a delightful Rainbow Brite- approved glow which for a brief period of time from 2009 to 2010 was the tallest tower in the world that was when the Tokyo Skytree came on the scene. Canton Tower, a functional TV tower, has massive indoor as well as outdoor observation spaces with two rotating restaurants and is known for its attraction in which 16 tiny cars tend to travel along an oval track that is positioned around the ledge of the tower’s top deck where one can feel the structure sway in the wind and has been referred as the `World’s Highest Ferris Wheel’. It is one of the most amazing attractions which many would not want to miss it during their lifetime.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Los Cabos, Mexico

Los Cabos – Rich History & Landscape 

The history of Los Cabos is very rich as the description of its landscape. Being one of the oldest sections of the southern Baja Peninsula, Los Cabos transforms into `The Capes’, bringing about a lasting history to this area of the world. Los Cabos is situated at the southern area of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula in the state of Baja California Sur and covers the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, which is the municipal seat together with the Resort Corridor that is situated between these two towns.

Till the latter of the 20th century, this was a rural and a remote area and only when the Mexican government started developing Cabo San Lucas for the tourists, did it then spread east to the municipal seat. Its main attraction is the climate as well as geography where the desert meets the sea, together with sport fishing, golf and resorts. Tourism is the main economic activity with around two million tourists visiting this amazing destination each year. With almost 360 days of good sunshine every year, together with various activities to choose from,this destination can entice the tourist with its matchless natural beauty with a great holiday experience.

Ultimate Seaside Escape in Mexico

One could indulge in surfing, snorkelling, kayaking or diving at some of the various appealing locations and have an awesome stay at this awesome destination. To get closer to nature, one could try the ATV ride through the mountainous terrain and learn about the flora and fauna or hop into a Hummer H2 for another amazing ride or even zoom along a Chenowith race for more exceptional adventure.

Whatever activities the tourist may indulge in, one will have an amazing experience at this destination which is full of natural beauty and a time for a great vacation.Los Cabon is the ultimate seaside escape in Mexico with endless summer at the tip of the Baja Peninsula where tourists could come here for all year round, water sports and outdoor activities. Its sister towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo tends to offer various experiences ranging from all night bar crawls to Thursday night Art Walks. In the midst of them, the Corridor offers all-inclusive resorts providing everything for a family vacation or a perfect honeymoon.

Los Cabos – Two Cities – Cabo San Lucas/San Jose del Cabo

Los Cabos with the two cities, cosmopolitan Cabo San Lucas has the well-known rock formation called the `El Arco’, where the Sea of Cortex meets the Pacific Ocean, while the colonial style San Jose del Cabo, which is the Tourist Corridor is a 20-mile stretch of dazzling beaches together with luxurious resorts connecting them with the rustic East Cape, which is the home of the world famous Cabo Pulmo.

It provides an adventure of various water sports activities, tranquillity, delicious food, together with world-class sport-fishing and unparalleled nightlife and visitors could have an awesome time at this destination. With all these amazing activities together with the climate and the geography, Los Cabos has now become Mexico’s outstanding vacation spot, besides being a leader in the global resort section as well as a popular port of call for cruise liners.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Red Square, Moscow

Red Square – City Square in Moscow

Red Square, a city square located in Moscow separates the Kremlin which was a royal citadel earlier and presently an official residence of the President of Russia is said to be the central square of Moscow dues to its main streets being connected to Russia’s important highways, originating from the square. For centuries, it remains to be the heart and soul of Russia.

 In 1990, the Red Square and Kremlinhave been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List due to their complex links to the history of Russia since the 13th century. From late 15th century after the completion of the Kremlin walls, Red Square had been the central point in the political as well as the social history of Russia and the former Soviet Union had many names though the prevailing name is used since the 17th century.

Besides being a market place, the square has also accommodated at several time, the first public library and university of Moscow, public theatre, a printing house and churches. The square has got its name from the word `krasnyi’ meaning beautiful and is meant `red’ in contemporary Russian and has nothing to do with communism or the colour of several of its buildings. Earlier it was known as Trinity Square due to the Trinity Cathedral which was the predecessor of St. Basil’s Cathedral and its name was made official towards the middle of the 17th century

Fire Square – An Area of Violent Fighting

It was well known as `Fire Square due to the number of times that medieval Russia had been burnt and during the time of the Mongol and Tartar invasion, it had become an area of violent fighting where cannon stood ready to defend the square right till the end of the 17th century.

Towards the southern area of the Red Square, outlined by huge porticos of GUM and Kremlin is the icon of Russia – St. Basil’s Cathedral which is a confusion of patterns, colours and shapes, the peak of a style which is unique to Russian architecture. Prior to St Basil’s the style comprised of tent roofs and onion domes which has been used in designing wooden churches.

The amazing history of Red Square is seen in several painting by Vasily Surikov, Konstantin Yuon and many others. The square was a place of various public ceremonies, balls, proclamations and sometimes for the coronation of Russia’s Tsar that took place there. It gradually built up since then and was used for official ceremonies by the Russian government ever since its establishment.

Lenin’s Mausoleum/GUM Department Store/Kazan Cathedral/State Historical Museum

The Red Square is said to be a sacred place with various festive processions being held at the square. During Palm Sunday, it is said that the famous procession on a donkey is prepared wherein the patriarch, is seen sitting on the donkey and is accompanied by the tsar together with the people coming out of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Kremlin.

Other interesting places are the Lenin’s Mausoleum which contains the embalmed body of Vladimir Ilvich Lenin, who was the founder of the Soviet Union. Towards the eastern area of the square is the GUM department store and next to it is the restored Kazan Cathedral. The State Historical Museum, occupies the northern area where its outlines echo the Kremlin towers while towards the northwest lies the Iberian Gate and Chapel which have been rebuilt.