Friday, April 2, 2010

Machu Picchu: The Lost City of the Incas

On July 24, 1911, Machu Picchu was brought to the attention of the world by American historian Hiram Bingham, a lecturer at Yale University. He undertook archaeological studies and completed a survey of the area and coined the name ‘The Lost City of the Incas’, which was the title of his first book.

Bingham was searching for the city of Vilcapampa, the last Inca refuge and spot of resistance during the Spanish conquest of Peru. After years of explorations around the zone, he was led to the citadel by Quechuas, the people who were living in Machu Picchu in the original Inca infrastructure. Bingham made several more trips and conducted excavations on the site through 1915.

Machu Picchu was declared a ‘Historical Sanctuary’ of Peru in 1971. It was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1983, describing it as "an absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to the Inca civilization".

On July 7, 2007, Machu Picchu was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The World Monuments Fund placed Machu Picchu on its 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world because of environmental degradation.

In January 2010 heavy rain caused flooding which damaged roads and railways leading to Machu Picchu trapping over 2,000 tourists and 2,000 locals. So Machu Picchu was temporarily closed.

On April 1, 2010 Machu Picchu has formally reopened. It is estimated that Peru had lost some $200m in revenue because of the closure, according to Peru's tourism minister. About 90% of Peru's tourist revenue comes from the Cuzco region, where Machu Picchu is situated.

New Seven Wonders of the World: Petra

Petra, a historic and archaeological city in Jordanian that has rock cut architecture and water conduits system, established around the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, is a symbol of Jordan. It is the most visited tourism attraction in Jordan, on the slope of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), a valley extending from Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra is a World Heritage Site since 1985, and it was chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.

Temple of the Sun at Machu Picchu

The Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows dedicated to Inti, the Inca people’s sun god and their greatest deity at Machu Picchu, a pre-Columbian Inca site located 2,430 meters (7,970 ft) above sea level situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Primavera, painting by Sandro Botticelli

Photo: Primavera (1482), icon of the springtime renewal of the Florentine Renaissance, also at the summer palazzo of Pierfrancesco de' Medici, as a companion piece to The Birth of Venus and Pallas and the Centaur. Seen from left to right are Mercury, the Three Graces, Venus, Flora, Chloris and Zephyrus.

The masterpieces of Sandro Botticelli, Primavera (1482) and The Birth of Venus (1485) were seen at the villa of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici at Castello in the mid-16th century, and until recently, it was assumed that both works were painted specifically for the villa. But recent studies suggest the Primavera was painted for Lorenzo's townhouse in Florence, and The Birth of Venus was commissioned by someone else for a different site. The influence of Gothic realism is tempered by Botticelli's study of the antique. But the subjects themselves remain fascinating for their ambiguity. The complex meanings of these paintings continue to receive widespread scholarly attention.

Mulberry Street in Little Italy in 1900s

Photo: Mulberry Street in Little Italy in 1900s. Little Italy, a neighborhood in lower Manhattan, New York City, was once known for its large population of Italians. Now much of it has been engulfed by Chinatown as a large number of immigrants from China moved to Little Italy. Currently the section of Mulberry Street, between Broome and Canal Streets, is all that is left of the old Italian neighborhood. The street is lined with about two dozen Italian restaurants, which are popular with tourists. In 2010, Little Italy and Chinatown were listed together as a single historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation.

Lake Garda, view to Nago-Torbole

Photo: view from Monte Creino to Nago-Torbole and the northern part of Lake Garda. Nago-Torbole is a municipal town in the Province of Trento in the Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, located about 30 km southwest of Trento on the north shore of Lake Garda.

Sunset on Lake Garda viewed from Malcesine

Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy

Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy, is located in Northern Italy half-way between Venice and Milan. The lake and its shoreline are located among the provinces of Verona, Brescia, and Trento. Being easily accessible from the north via the Brenner Pass, the lake is a major tourist destination and it has a number of exclusive hotels and resorts along its shore.