The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a stunning place taking the Shropshire Union Canal canal across the Dee valley in North Wales. Water to one side and a vertiginous drop to the river below on the other, it is a place not to be missed. Now designated as a World Heritage Site, it was designed by Thomas Telford and William Jessop and opened in 1805
I visited Delphi in Greece in 1989. This is the Tholos which sits below the main sanctuary in a magnificent isolated setting. From the 6th century BC Delphi was the religious centre and considered the actual physical centre of the ancient Greek world. It was the location of the 'Delphic Oracle' though which the god Apollo spoke and was the location for the Pythian Games where every four years, from 586 BC, athletes from all over the Greek world competed. It is also a site where the architecture exploits a dramatic natural setting at the foot of Mount Parnassus to maximum effect. Temples and statues are arranged along a processional route up the hillside to the Temple of Apollo. Well worth a visit. The site declined once the Roman Empire took up Christianity and was closed by Emperor Theodosius I in 381. One great bronze column with three serpents heads was taken from outside the temple by Constantine the Great and erected pride of place in the hippodrome in his new Roman capital of Constantinople in 324. It remains there today a testament to the enduring reputation of this special place in the ancient world.
The entrance gate at Machu Picchu reminded me of another gate with a heavy lintel within a huge stone block wall at Mycenae in Greece. This one is important in the history of architecture for it is surmounted by a triangular carved stone showing two lions flanking a column. Mycenae is a bronze age site predating the classical Greece of Athens and Olympia and the gate was the earliest exposed Bronze Age carving known and written about in the classical period. As such it was understood to symbolise the start of Greek architecture - the architecture which had such a profound impact upon Roman and then European architecture. The crest of the Royal Institute of British Architects takes the carving as its inspiration.
This week Machu Picchu in Peru. A fifteenth century Inca city which was never discovered by the Spanish. A World Heritage Site in a jaw dropping location that you can now visit from the comfort of home via Google Streetview. There are Inca trails up to the site and a fine walk to the top of a nearby mountain overlooking the site. The city is thought to have been abandoned around 1550 at the time of the Spanish conquest. In the foreground is the city gate leading through an area of housing. Further down the hill the D shaped building is the location of a sun temple and royal tomb. The open green is the town square with nobles' houses, the jail and the industrial area on the far side. Some day I will visit properly.
Been exploring around Mt Fuji in Japan this week. This is a view from the Chureito Pagoda which was built in the traditional way in 1963 as part of the Arakura Sengen Shrine. It functions as a peace memorial commemorating the citizens of Fujiyoshida who died in wars from the mid-1800s until World War II. 400 steps lead up from the shrine to the Pagoda but it is clearly worth the effort, especially in April when it is surrounded, as illustrated here, by Cherry blossoms.
You can also explore Angkor Watt in Cambodia another World Heritage Site- the site is reputed to be the largest religious site in the world with associated structures across a vast area. Originally constructed as a Hindu temple it was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple by the 12th century. Kehmer art had a profound influence over much of southest Asia and played a fundamental role in its distinctive evolution. It is a visual pleasure to walk around.
The Khazneh el Faroun, or Treasury of the Pharaoh, Petra, Jordan, from its access route along the Siq gorge.
I have discovered that you can take a guided walk though the ruins of Petra on Google Street View, and what a place it is. Located in the dessert beside a valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba, it is thought to have been founded in the 4th century BC but flourished with up to 20,000 inhabitants in the first century AD. It is an extensive complex with the remains of many rock cut tombs, a theatre, and a colonnaded market place. It was home to the Nabataean people who were only conquered by the Romans in 106 AD. The city's wealth came from being on a trade route. This and the city declined after sea routes emerged and it was hit by a devastating earthquake in 363 AD. It was largely abandoned by the early Islamic era. It was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1985.
Happy Winter Solstice Day. This is Newgrange Co Meath, which on mornings around the winter solstice- if it isn't too cloudy- a beam of light penetrates the roof-box and travels up the 19 metre passage and into the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens so that the whole chamber is dramatically illuminated. Newgrange is thought to be over 5,000 years old, It was excavated and restored between 1962 and 1975 and is now part of the Brú na Bóinne wolrd heritage landscape.
Marks of Time
Sketches of buildings in the North West of Ireland and further afield with a little information about their history.