Chichén Itzá (“the mouth of the water warlocks’ well”, between you and me) is one of the biggest archeological zones in the Yucatan
peninsula, Mexico. It was built by the Maya civilization, probably by the time of its decline (around 1546, if you prefer).
was a city or ceremonial centre, which had lots of influences from different cultures. For example, the most important building (Kukulcan Temple) was created in honor to
Kukulcán, the Mayan representation of the Toltec god,
Quetzalcoatl. Other important buildings are El Caracol, Templo de los Guerreros y de las 1000 Columnas (the
Temple of the Warriors and 1000 Columns), El Castillo and a special place where people could play a ball game.
However, the most important part of the city was called
Cenote Sagrado, a big hole where they made offerings
for Chaac, the lord of rain. These offerings were usually young women dressed in ceremonial clothes and lots of jewelry or important prisioners. Jade, knifes, gemstones, treasures and skeletons were found here by archeologists, and no, they haven’t finished exploring! Chichén Itzá was named part of the World Heritage by the
UNESCO and in July 2007 it was Seven World Wonders.
recognized as one of the
If you ever visit Mexico, this place is definitely a must-
see. You’d learn lost of interesting things about the Mayans and have lots of fun listening to their stories. Of course, it’s best to just lie on a white-sanded beach, but nothing is perfect, not even the Taj Mahal (keep reading to get the joke!)
Petra is an important archeological site in Jordan and the main city of the Nabataean Empire. It was built during the VII century BC and its name (stone in Greek) suits it perfectly: the city is
not made of stone; it was dug and sculpted in one! This city is located between the Aqaba Gulf and the Dead Sea, from 800 to 1696metres above the sea level. It was sculpted in the mountains’ stone between passageways and little canyons made by the water erosion for hundreds of years. This allowed its villagers to stay hidden and protect themselves from attacks. As it is a really deserted area, the Nabataeans created a system that let them distribute water throughout the village. However, it also caused lots of problems: there were many floods that partially destroyed the buildings. Petra has a long history, as it’s one of the oldest cities in the world. It was built by the Edomites; during the VI century it became the main city of the Nabataean Empire; in 63 BC it was conquered by the Romans; and it became part of the Byzantine Empire. It was almost completely abandoned during the Middle Age, and it was rediscovered in 1812 by Jean Louis Burckhardt. The most important buildings are the Royal Graves, the Al Khazneh (The Treasure), Al Dier (The Monastery) and its many aqueducts. It was named World Heritage Site on December 6 1985 and became part of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World in 2007. This is a place some people will love and others will hate. It depends on how much you like history classes: I’m a history geek, so this is the perfect tour for me; but if you just keep asking ‘Why is this important? They’re all dead!’ just wait for the next plane back home.
The Taj Mahal (Crown Palace) is a complex of buildings created during 1631 and 1654 in the city of Agra, India. It is considered the most beautiful palace, as it combines different types of architecture: Mughal, Islamic, Persian, Indian and Turkish. The emperor Shah Jahan was heartbroken when his favorite wife Arjumand Bano Begum (known as Mumtaz Mahal) died while giving birth to their fourteenth daughter. He loved her so much that he decided to create a palace in her honour. 20,000 labourers built it, and it is said they got their hands removed so they would never be able to make anything as beautiful. Shortly after the palace was built, Shah died; he was buried next to his wife, ruining part of the perfect symmetry the palace had in its inside. The Taj Mahal is made of marble and red sandstone. Its decorations were made out of 28 different types of gemstones, including jasper, crystal, jade, turquoise, lapis, sapphire and carnelian. It cost around 500
million dollars (you really must love someone to spend that much money on their grave!) The palace has nine different buildings, organized in a perfect symmetry, located alongside the Yamuna riverside. These buildings are the Main Gateway, two areas with secondary graves, two outdoor patios, the main entrance esplanade, the darwaza (access fort for normal people), the jabaz, the mausoleum and, finally, four minarets (if you are interested in a virtual tour trough the Taj Mahal, check www.airpano.com) It was recognize as a World Heritage Site in 1983, and on July 7 2007 it became one of the Seven World Wonders. For me, the Taj Mahal is the most beautiful wonder of the world. You should definitely visit it if you like Indo-Arabian culture and are interested in ancient architecture- or if you are just a hopeless romantic! Maite Soto Quiroga