Virtual Cruise: Eastern Hemisphere

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Virtual Cruise: Encircle Eastern Hemisphere - Encircle Photos

Virtual Cruise: Encircle Eastern Hemisphere

Your Virtual Cruise Encircles 100 coastal destinations in the Eastern Hemisphere. You set sail from Saint Petersburg and explore countries along the Baltic Sea, Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic. Then visit the United Kingdom, Ireland and Western Europe before enjoying cities on the Mediterranean, Ionian and Adriatic Seas. Next stops are Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. After Vietnam, China, South Korea and Japan, you arrive in Tokyo. These 100 destinations in the Eastern Hemisphere are a few of the 800+ cities available from Encircle Photos. Enjoy exploring the world daily! All Aboard!

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Grand Cascade Statues at Peterhof Palace near Saint Petersburg, Russia - Encircle Photos

1 Grand Cascade Statues at Peterhof Palace near Saint Petersburg, Russia

Grand Cascade features 64 fountains, 37 Romanesque sculptures, 16 side vases, 29 bas-reliefs plus statues of dolphins, lions, ducks, turtles and frogs. The original collection totaled 225 pieces by six sculptors. The artworks were initially constructed with lead. They were replaced by gilded bronze versions nearly a century later. Prior to the German occupation in 1941, many of the statues were buried around the property. Unfortunately, most of those left unprotected were destroyed or stolen. This exquisite ensemble was painstakingly reproduced from 1947 through 1950. The Grand Cascade is worthy of countless superlatives.

Razvodnaya Ulitsa, 2, Petergof, Sankt-Peterburg, 198516, Russia
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Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki, Finland - Encircle Photos

2 Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki, Finland

High on a hill in the Katajanokka neighborhood is the stunning Uspenski Cathedral. The Byzantine-Russian church was built in 1868 using bricks from the Bomarsund Fortress after it was destroyed during the Crimean War. The church’s best architectural feature is a dozen gilded onion domes representing the Apostles. They surround the larger central dome symbolizing Christ. Uspenskin Katedraali was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Uspenski Cathedral is Western Europe’s largest Orthodox church. It is also the seat of the Archdiocese of Helsinki.

Kanavakatu 1, 00160 Helsinki, Finland
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Gilded Crown on Skeppsholm Bridge in Stockholm, Sweden - Encircle Photos

3 Gilded Crown on Skeppsholm Bridge in Stockholm, Sweden

This gilded crown sits on the railing of a wrought-iron bridge called Skeppsholmsbron. Built in 1861, the Skeppsholm Bridge connects the Blasieholmen peninsula with the Skeppsholmen islet. Once a naval base, the island has been transformed into parks and a cultural center for museums. In the background is the channel called Ladugårds-landsviken. The buildings are along Stranvågen Boulevard.

Skeppsholmsbron 111 48 Stockholm, Sweden
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Gable Houses at Neuer Markt in Rostock, Germany - Encircle Photos

4 Gable Houses at Neuer Markt in Rostock, Germany

These six gabled houses – Neuer Markt 11 through 16 – were constructed from the Middle Ages through the 19th century. They were rebuilt after being heavily damaged during WWII. The most interesting building along the New Market is Rats Apotheke at Neuer Markt 13. This Town Hall Pharmacy originated in 1260. Back then, the Neuer Markt was also the location of a pillory. Its wooden frame secured a criminal’s head and hands during public humiliation.

Neuer Markt 12, 18055 Rostock, Germany
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Lighthouse and Teapot Landmarks in Warnemünde, Germany - Encircle Photos

5 Lighthouse and Teapot Landmarks in Warnemünde, Germany

The two famous landmarks in Warnemünde stand side-by-side along the Seepromenade pedestrian walkway parallel to the Baltic Sea. After getting a bite to eat in the uniquely shaped Teepott, consider exploring the lighthouse. Guided tours are conducted by volunteers from the Warnemünder Lighthouse Society. If this light looks vaguely familiar, then you probably saw the marketing material for the 2010 movie Shutter Island starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Seepromenade 3, 18119 Rostock, Germany
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Brandenburg Gate and Quadriga of Victory in Berlin, Germany - Encircle Photos

6 Brandenburg Gate and Quadriga of Victory in Berlin, Germany

Since 1793, Victoria has held an iron cross while riding a horse-drawn chariot (quadriga) atop the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. The Roman goddess of victory was seized by Napoleon after his triumphal march in 1806. The sculpture was returned in 1914. She then witnessed the ravages of WWI and WWII plus the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Throughout history, this landmark has symbolized military success, the Nazi Party and freedom.

Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin, Germany
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Børsen Entrance Ramp in Copenhagen, Denmark - Encircle Photos

7 Børsen Entrance Ramp in Copenhagen, Denmark

In the early 17th century, King Christian IV had a vision to develop a grand district called Christianshaven. The plans called for building the Børsen. It was Denmark’s stock exchange until 1974. In addition, the grand hall on the first floor housed about 50 merchant booths. Can you imagine going to market in this magnificent Dutch Renaissance landmark?

Børsgade 2 1215 København K, Denmark
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Malmöhus Castle in Malmö, Sweden - Encircle Photos

8 Malmöhus Castle in Malmö, Sweden

Malmö’s first castle was built in 1434. In 1537, King Christian III of Denmark constructed this Renaissance fortress called Malmöhus. The citadel served Danish kings until Sweden’s independence in 1658. Then, it became a defense against the Danes. From 1828 to 1909 it was a prison. Since 1937, Malmöhus has been the home of the Malmö Museum except for a short period in 1945 when it sheltered survivors of German concentration camps. The museum has a collection of art, city history, natural history and maritime exhibits.

Malmöhusvägen 6, 211 18 Malmö, Sweden
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Lipstick Building and Barken Viking Ship in Gothenburg, Sweden - Encircle Photos

9 Lipstick Building and Barken Viking Ship in Gothenburg, Sweden

Side-by-side at Gothenburg’s harbor are two of its famous landmarks. On the left is the Barken Viking, the Nordic countries’ largest sailing ship at 387 feet. The four-masted barque was launched in 1906 as part of Denmark’s merchant fleet, decommissioned in 1950 and is now a hotel and restaurant. On the right is the distinctive Skanska Skyscraper. Although formally called Lilla Bommen, the red upper floors earned it the nickname The Lipstick Building. Near the top of Läppstiftet’s 282 feet height is the Götheborgs Utkiken observation deck.

Jussi Björlings plats Christina Nilssons gata 1, 411 04 Göteborg, Sweden
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Norwegian Royal Palace Close Up in Oslo, Norway - Encircle Photos

10 Norwegian Royal Palace Close Up in Oslo, Norway

Since 1849, the Norwegian Royal Palace has been the residence of the country’s king, queen and royal family. Det Kongelige Slott is also where most of the monarch’s work is conducted and the venue for receiving guests. Guided tours of about a dozen of the 173 rooms are available during the summer. The Royal Palace is protected 24/7 by sentries who are part of the King’s Guard.

Slottsplassen 1, 0010 Oslo, Norway
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Cannon at Christiansholm Fortress in Kristiansand, Norway - Encircle Photos

11 Cannon at Christiansholm Fortress in Kristiansand, Norway

While Christian IV was the king of Denmark and Norway from 1588 until 1648, he commissioned Christiansholm Fortress. The military post was active until 1872. This original bronze cannon is one of eight that once protected the citadel. The stone walls of the circular tower are 16 feet thick. Today, Christiansholm Festning is a major tourist attraction, a small gallery and a special event facility.

Østre Strandgate 52B, 4610 Kristiansand, Norway
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Rosenkrantz Tower at Bergenhus Fortress in Bergen, Norway - Encircle Photos

12 Rosenkrantz Tower at Bergenhus Fortress in Bergen, Norway

The origin of Bergenhus Fortress is debated among historians. Evidence suggests this location along the harbor was first occupied about 1070 by King Olaf Kyrre, the founder of Bjørgvin (now Bergen). When the city was Norway’s capital for nearly a century (1217 – 1314), this medieval fortress was the royal residence. Magnus VI, the king of Norway from 1263 to 1280, ordered the construction of this tower during his reign. It was expanded to five floors during the governorship of Erik Ottesen Rosenkrantz in the 1560s and given his name. Rosenkrantz Tower later served as a gunpowder magazine from the 1740s until 1930s. The tower is now a key feature of tours.

Bergenhus Fortress, Vågen, 5003 Bergen, Norway
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Kjosfossen along Flåmsbana near Flåm, Norway - Encircle Photos

13 Kjosfossen along Flåmsbana near Flåm, Norway

Kjosfossen is the crescendo of your journey aboard the Flåm Railway. About 2.75 miles before reaching Myrdal Station, your train screeches to a halt. Everyone rushes out with cameras in hand to admire Kjosfossen from a viewing platform. The source of the thundering waterfall is a mountain lake named Reinungavatnet. The wide current zigs, zags and crashes among rocks while descending 738 feet. The cascade then becomes the Flåmselvi. The river flows through the valley before emptying into the fjord at Flåm. Also located at this waterfall is the Kjosfoss Power Station. It harnesses the water flow to generate power for Flåmsbana.

Kjosfossen Falls, Rallarvegen, 5718 Myrdal, Norway
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Waterfall Cascading Down Mountain at Geirangerfjord near Geiranger, Norway - Encircle Photos

14 Waterfall Cascading Down Mountain at Geirangerfjord near Geiranger, Norway

A delightful experience when entering Geiranger by ship is cruising through a Norwegian fjord. The Geirangerfjord is so spectacular it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This grand entrance to the town is 9.3 miles long. It is best toured in the early spring when enormous waterfalls cascade down the side of the snowcapped Åkerneset mountain.

Geirangerfjord, Stranda Municipality, Norway
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From Ashes to Art Nouveau in Ålesund, Norway - Encircle Photos

15 From Ashes to Art Nouveau in Ålesund, Norway

At the end of the 19th century, Ålesund was a cramped seaside town of 10,000 people living in aged wooden houses. These were the perfect kindling for a devastating fire on January 23, 1904. The flames began in a factory at 2:00 AM. By the end of the day, nearly 80% of the homes were smoldering ash. These Norwegians were determined to quickly rebuild (a goal they achieved by 1907). With the aid of German Emperor Wilhelm II, the townspeople favored a version of Art Nouveau architecture called Jugendstil. This style was popular in Germany from 1895 until 1910. As a result, Ålesund today has a harmonious charm featuring plenty of towers and turrets. They are accented here by the Ålesundet Canal and spring tulips.

Lorkenestorget 6002, Ålesund, Norway
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Atlantic Puffin at Stórhöfði on Heimaey in Westman Islands, Iceland - Encircle Photos

16 Atlantic Puffin at Stórhöfði on Heimaey in Westman Islands, Iceland

Sometimes it is unexplainable why a place or thing is high on your bucket list. So was my quest to photograph an Atlantic puffin while in Iceland. Immediately after disembarking the ferry to Heimaey, I drove my rental car to the southernmost tip off the island. The cliffs surrounding Stórhöfði hosts the world’s largest colony of common puffins from mid-April through August. These birds are adorable. Standing only eight inches tall with a 21 inch wingspan, their colorful beaks and triangular eyes accented with a red ring makes them appear like an animated Disney character.

Puffin Lookout, Stórhöfði, Iceland
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Seljalandsfoss in South Iceland - Encircle Photos

17 Seljalandsfoss in South Iceland

Seljalandsfoss is one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls. It is invigorating to watch the Seljalandsá River from the Eyjafjallajökull glacier rush over the ledge and plunge 197 feet. The resulting spray causes rainbows to dance in the sunlight. Most exciting is the chance to explore a narrow trail behind the foss. You will feel the water’s power and hear its roar. You will also get wet. So, wear rain gear, good hiking shoes and your biggest smile.

Þjóðvegur & Þórsmerkurvegur, Iceland
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Gunnuhver Hot Springs at Geopark on Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland - Encircle Photos

18 Gunnuhver Hot Springs at Geopark on Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland

Gunnuhver Hot Springs is a spectacular display of geothermal activity at the Reykjanes UNESCO Global Geopark. The closer you get along the boardwalk, the more you are awed by the thundering power of the boiling water within its 65 foot wide fissure and the giant fog of scalding, thick steam. The namesake is an 18th century woman. Locals suspected Gudrun (or Gunna) was a witch. Her ghost was accused of killing a judge and terrorizing the peninsula until tricked into falling in this cauldron.

Möðruvellir 4, Möðruvallavegur, Iceland
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St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland - Encircle Photos

19 St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland

The first church on this site in central Old Town was from the 12th century. After an extensive fire in 1385, it was rebuilt and then expanded and restored through the 19th century. The High Kirk of Edinburgh is dedicated to Saint Giles, a 7th century Greek hermit. St. Giles’ Cathedral is considered to be the Mother Church of Presbyterianism. On the right is a statue of the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry. This Queensberry Memorial honoring Walter Montagu Douglas Scott was created by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm in 1888. It adorns the West Parliament Square, a plaza constructed in 1632.

High St, Edinburgh EH1 1RE, UK
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Northwest Highlands Gateway at Inverness, Scotland - Encircle Photos

20 Northwest Highlands Gateway at Inverness, Scotland

Inverness is a great, one-day stop during any road trip through Scotland. But its location at the northern tip of the Great Glen, a 62 mile long valley, also makes this the perfect base while exploring the lochs, mountains and islands throughout the Northwest Highlands. Whichever you select, make sure you stay at least for one sunset. That is when the city’s landmarks, such as the Old High and St Columba’s High Churches plus the Greig Street Footbridge, are bathed in a wonderful golden hue.

42 Huntly St, Inverness IV3 5HR, UK
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Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland - Encircle Photos

21 Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland

This Spanish Baroque, red sandstone building by architects John Simpson and Edmund Allen is stunning inside and out. It opened in 1901 as part of the six-month Glasgow International Exhibition. The Palace of Fine Arts was then converted into the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The collection includes 8,000 objects in 22 galleries of historical artifacts and armaments, excavated wildlife plus art by famous European masters such as Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Monet. Best of all, admission is free. Surprisingly, this glorious façade was designed as the gallery’s backside (although it now serves as the main entrance). The original entry faced Kelvingrove Park where the exhibition was held.

1385 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8AG, UK
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Titanic Belfast Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland - Encircle Photos

22 Titanic Belfast Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland

The RMS Titanic’s maiden voyage began on April 10, 1912. At 11:40 p.m. on April 14, the Olympic class ship and pride of the White Star Line struck an iceberg before sinking into the North Atlantic about 2 1/2 hours later. Over 1,500 of its 1,317 passengers and 885 crew were killed. These are some of the facts you will learn while visiting Titanic Belfast. Its 126 foot, metallic exterior is shaped like ship prows but locals call it the Iceberg. Inside the eight floor facility are exhibitions telling the story of the ill-fated ship from construction to expeditions below the sea.

1 Olympic Way, Queens Road, Belfast BT3 9EP, UK
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Riverside View of Custom House in Dublin, Ireland - Encircle Photos

23 Riverside View of Custom House in Dublin, Ireland

A previous custom house was built in 1707 along Essex Quay. It was replaced in 1791 with this Neoclassical building constructed with Portland stone and designed by James Gandon. The Custom House served as a dock and warehouse for vessels plus conducted custom and excise taxation services. Now it offices the Department of Environment and Community plus other local government functions. The landmark has a commanding view of the River Liffey from its position on the north bank.

16 George's Quay, Dublin, Ireland
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South Channel Elbow of the River Lee in Cork, Ireland - Encircle Photos

24 South Channel Elbow of the River Lee in Cork, Ireland

The North Channel of the River Lee is fairly straight. The South Channel has more of a serpentine flow. Together they create an island where the historic center of Cork was built. This gorgeous scenery along a side street named Crosse’s Green is where the South Channel makes its sharpest turn. A Dominican priory was established near here in 1229. Then this area became a major industrial center until the 1970s when it fell into a sharp decline. Now it is a quiet neighborhood that few tourists see and enjoy.

6 Crosse's Green, The Lough, Cork, Ireland
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The Cavern Club in Liverpool, England - Encircle Photos

25 The Cavern Club in Liverpool, England

Avid fans of the Beatles rush down Mathew Street in Liverpool to catch their first glimpse of this neon sign. On May 25, 1960, Ringo Starr made his initial appearance here playing with the Hurricanes. On February 9, 1961, the Beatles first played with Pete Best on the drums. 18 months later, Ringo joined the band. The Fab Four’s first gig at The Cavern Club was on August 19, 1962. You will love reliving the birthplace of Beatlemania and the British Invasion.

10 Mathew St, Liverpool L2 6RE, United Kingdom
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Western Towers of Caernarfon Castle in Caernarfon, Wales - Encircle Photos

26 Western Towers of Caernarfon Castle in Caernarfon, Wales

This view of the 13th century Caernarfon Castle from near the Aber Swing Bridge on the south bank of Afon Seiont provides a panorama of the western defenses. Let’s start on the left and look right. The arched opening is Water Gate leading from the quay to Castle Ditch Street. Behind it is the Well Tower. In the foreground is Eagle Tower and next to it is Queen’s Tower. These are three of a dozen towers encircling Caernarfon Castle. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, spelled Caernarvon in English, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Wales. The warm hue of the façade is courtesy of a wonderful sunset.

Caernarfon Castle Castle Ditch, Caernarfon LL55 2AY, UK
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Queen Elizabeth in Opening of Parliament Procession in London, England - Encircle Photos

27 Queen Elizabeth in Opening of Parliament Procession in London, England

Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in 1952. She is the Queen of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and a dozen other countries. In her role as Head of State, Her Majesty delivers the annual Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament ceremony inside the Palace of Winchester. She and her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, arrive in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach. The 18 foot carriage was built by W. J. Frecklington in 2010 and put in service in 2014. It is drawn by six Windsor Grey horses. Notice her crown. There are 1,333 diamonds weighing 320 carats in the George IV State Diadem. It has been worn by every queen since it was commissioned in 1820.

Palace of Westminster, Westminster, London SW1A 2PW, UK
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I Amsterdam Sign and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands - Encircle Photos

28 I Amsterdam Sign and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam in the Netherlands has 800,000 people who ride 880,000 bicycles. It’s a charming, very walkable city of concentric canals. The Rijksmuseum in the background contains a million pieces of art, mostly from Dutch artists such as Rembrandt. Across the street are the giant, red and white “I amsterdam” letters that have become the city’s slogan. Tourists have taken more smart-phone photos of their family and friends in front of this sign than any of the city’s wonderful architecture, historic landmarks (such as Anne Frank’s House) or cultural novelties (like the Red Light District).

Hobbemastraat 18, 1071 XZ Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Stadhuis and Brabo Fountain in Antwerp, Belgium - Encircle Photos

29 Stadhuis and Brabo Fountain in Antwerp, Belgium

The centerpiece of Grote Markt square is Stadhuis, a mid-16th century, Renaissance city hall decorated with colorful flags. Below the Virgin Mary statue is the Hapsburg coat of arms. This Spanish dynasty ruled central Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries. More interesting is the 1887 statue of Silvius Brabo. He liberated sailors from paying tolls after defeating a giant named Druon Antigoon. The hero is about to throw his enemy’s severed hand into the Schelde River. The Flemish word for this is handwerpen. According to legend, this is how Antwerp got its name.

Grote Markt 1, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
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Flower Market and Guildhalls at Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium - Encircle Photos

30 Flower Market and Guildhalls at Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium

These 17th century guildhalls are a few of the magnificent buildings encircling Grote Markt in Brussels. Grand Place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An array of fresh flowers is sold daily in the market. Every other August since 1971, this central square is adorned with a million fragrant flowers. The Tapis de Fleurs Association creates a 252 by 78 foot floral blanket with intricate designs resembling a tapestry. The biennial event is called Flower Carpet.

Grand Place 21, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
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Eiffel Tower, Seine River and Pont d’léna Bridge in Paris, France - Encircle Photos

31 Eiffel Tower, Seine River and Pont d’léna Bridge in Paris, France

What started as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair drew harsh criticism from the Parisian elite. But Gustave Eiffel believed his 81 story structure – consisting of over 18,000 pieces – would be as important as the Egyptian pyramids. He was called mad and insane. Today, the famous architect is considered visionary for creating one of the world’s most iconic structures. The Eiffel Tower is shown along with the Pont d’léna Bridge and the Seine from the Avenue de New York.

Place de Varsovie, 75016 Paris, France
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Torre de Belém in Lisbon, Portugal - Encircle Photos

32 Torre de Belém in Lisbon, Portugal

In the early 16th century, King Manuel I ordered a fortification to be built along the Tagus River to protect Lisbon from invasion. This 100 foot, limestone tower with exquisite turrets, canon portholes and the hexagon bastion on the right was finished in 1519. The Torre de Belém’s unique architectural style is named Manueline after the Portuguese king. The Tower of Belém failed twice during battle and was later used as a prison.

Av. Brasília & Av. Torre de Belem 1400-038 Lisboa, Portugal
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Welcome to Casco Antiguo in Seville, Spain - Encircle Photos

33 Welcome to Casco Antiguo in Seville, Spain

Most of the city’s major landmarks are in Casco Antiguo, the Ancient District of Seville. Many day trippers do not get beyond two city squares where three UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located. This is Plaza del Triunfo. Behind the horse-drawn carriage is La Giralda. This famous bell tower is attached to the Seville Cathedral seen on the left. On the other side of the plaza is the General Archive of the Indies. Behind this view is Plaza del Patio de Banderas where you will enter the Alcázar.

Plaza del Triunfo, Seville, Spain
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Place des Nations Unies in Casablanca, Morocco - Encircle Photos

34 Place des Nations Unies in Casablanca, Morocco

Casablanca’s primary square is Place des Nations Unies. Major roads intersect here like a hub with spokes. The Place of the United Nations is surrounded by major hotels, restaurants and office buildings. The centerpiece is the Zevaco Dome, named after its designer Jean-François Zevaco. The globe-shaped sculpture is colloquially called Kora ardia. In the background is the clock tower of the Old Medina and its western wall. Some of these enclosures date back to the 16th century.

Avenue des Far & Boulevard Hassan I, Casablanca 20250, Morocco
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Barbary Macaque on Rock of Gibraltar in Gibraltar - Encircle Photos

35 Barbary Macaque on Rock of Gibraltar in Gibraltar

This captivating face is a Barbary macaque, one of about 600 wild monkeys living on the east side of the Rock of Gibraltar. Experts cannot agree on how or when they arrived from Morocco. Yet the population is growing and so are the numbers of tourists who visit them each year. The best place to see them is at Apes’ Den. Some people call them apes (they are not). The locals call them monos (meaning monkeys). You will call them adorable as they pose for your selfie or group photo.

Apes’ Den, Old Queen's Rd, Gibraltar GX11 1AA, Gibraltar
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Sailing into the Port in Málaga, Spain - Encircle Photos

36 Sailing into the Port in Málaga, Spain

Regardless of how you sail into Málaga – whether aboard a scrappy sailboat or a luxury cruise ship – you will be impressed with this charming jewel along the southern coast of Andalusia, Spain. This metro area of about 1.6 million people has attracted residents for nearly 3,000 years. Fans of history will delight in exploring fascinating sites ranging in age from the 1st century BC through the end of the 16th century. Among the highlights are a Roman theatre, medieval fortresses and the Cathedral of Incarnation seen in the background. After disembarking at one of the piers (this is Muelle Dos), use the 276 foot bell tower as your beacon to start your walking tour. At the end of the day, return to enjoy the delightful attractions at the port.

Paseo del Mulle Uno, 29001 Málaga, Spain
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Granada Cathedral, Epicenter of Granada, Spain - Encircle Photos

37 Granada Cathedral, Epicenter of Granada, Spain

1492 was a monumental year in Spanish history. While the Catholic Monarchs financed Columbus’ discovery of the New World, they also conquered Granada. This final defeat of the Nasrid Kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula ended the 700 plus years of the Spanish Reconquista. Granada remains a visual testament to the historical events from the mid-13th century though the 16th century. One of the most significant is the Cathedral of Granada, built on the foundation of a grand mosque. This epicenter of Granada is a great place to begin your tour of the city.

Granada Cathedral, Plaza de las Pasiegas, 18001 Granada, Spain
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Roman Theatre of Cartago Nova in Cartagena, Spain - Encircle Photos

38 Roman Theatre of Cartago Nova in Cartagena, Spain

After the Romans defeated the Carthaginians in 209 BC during the Second Punic War, they renamed the city Carthago Nova. It grew in strategic importance and wealth thanks to silver and lead mining and active trade in the port. When Julius Caesar proclaimed it to be a Roman colony in 44 BC, the city gained further status and success. While Augustus was Emperor of the Roman Empire (27 BC to 14 AD), he heavily invested in prestigious infrastructure. The Roman Theatre of Cartago Nova was built during this era. It is hard to understand how this archeological gem from 4 BC was buried for 1,800 years until discovered in 1987. Now sit on one of the 6,000 seats within the 288 foot wide theatre. Imagine hearing music from the orchestra pit. Pretend to watch a grand performance on stage. Marvel at the remnants of pink marble columns that once supported a 53 foot magnificent structure. This is an incredible experience!

Plaza Ayuntamiento, 9, 30202 Cartagena, Murcia, Spain
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City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain - Encircle Photos

39 City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain

Tourists to Spain are attracted by the country’s countless historic landmarks. So, it is a visual surprise to behold the architectural gems at the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia. This complex of cultural venues was created from 1998 until 2009. Before completion, Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias was voted one of the 12 Treasures of Spain. Three of the modernistic buildings seen here were designed by Santiago Calatrava. On the left is L’Hemisfèric, a giant IMAX Cinema and planetarium. In the center – resembling a whale skeleton – is El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe. This 131,000 square foot science museum opened in 2000. At the far end is L’Àgora, the youngest structure finished in 2009. Concerts and sporting events are held beneath The Agora’s 262 foot high, elliptical shape.

Av. del Professor López Piñero, 3, 46013 València, Spain
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Font de la Cascada at Ciutadella Park in Ciutat Vella District in Barcelona, Spain - Encircle Photos

40 Font de la Cascada at Ciutadella Park in Ciutat Vella District in Barcelona, Spain

The centerpiece of the artificial lake in Parc de la Ciutadella is the Font de la Cascada. The elaborate, two-tiered waterfall is fronted by four dragon sculptures. Inside of the arch is a sculpture by Venanci Vallmitjana of Venus on a clam shell. This imagery is a tribute to “The Birth of Venus” painted by Sandro Botticelli in 1480. The fountain was designed by Josep Fontsére with the help of a young student named Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí would become Barcelona’s most famous architect.

Parc de la Ciutadella, Passeig de Picasso, 21, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
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Artist Painting the Mediterranean in Nice, France - Encircle Photos

41 Artist Painting the Mediterranean in Nice, France

It is easy to see why this artist was inspired to paint the Mediterranean Sea lapping along the Bay of Angels that stretches parallel to Quai des Etats-Unis. The promenade was named to honor the U.S. assistance to the Allied Forces during WWI. In the background along the cliff is Parc du Chateau, a hillside park. And protecting the town’s port is the 625 foot forested Mont Boron. The elevation offers wonderful panoramic views of Nice.

30 Quai des États-Unis, 06000 Nice, France
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Jardin Exotique Garden Blooming Cacti and Succulents in Éze, France - Encircle Photos

42 Jardin Exotique Garden Blooming Cacti and Succulents in Éze, France

These are some of the 1000 species of succulents and cacti that have hugged the edge of a cliff in Éze, France, since 1933. A dirt path winds up a hill through the three-acre Jardin Exotique garden. Most of the plants are described on plaques. But you hardly have time to read them because you are mesmerized by their beauty while fascinated by the breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea.

20 Rue du Château, 06360 Èze, France
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Monte Carlo Casino Entrance in Monte Carlo, Monaco - Encircle Photos

43 Monte Carlo Casino Entrance in Monte Carlo, Monaco

Since 1869, the Casino de Monte-Carlo has generated so much money for the Principality of Monaco that the ruling Grimaldis stopped taxation. This action made Monte Carlo a tax haven and playground for the wealthy. Today, the residents are 80% to 90% foreigners. Monaco has become one of the world’s most expensive places to live. This is probably okay because the country also has the most millionaires per capita. Ironically, no local residents are allowed inside the casino. You must present a foreign passport to gain entry.

Casino Monte Carlo, Place du Casino, 98000 Monaco
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Andrea Doria Castle and Fishing Boat in Portovenere, Italy - Encircle Photos

44 Andrea Doria Castle and Fishing Boat in Portovenere, Italy

Perched high above the colorful buildings and fishing boats lining the shore in Portovenere, Italy, is the Andrea Doria Castle. Built by a wealthy Genoese family in 1161 and named after an admiral, the pentagonal shape is now in partial ruins. The historic landmark provides a spectacular, panoramic view of the Gulf of La Spezia. This Cinque Terre town makes a perfect, one-day visit.

Via Olivo, 17 19025 Portovenere SP, Italy
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Leaning Tower of Pisa and Duomo in Pisa, Italy - Encircle Photos

45 Leaning Tower of Pisa and Duomo in Pisa, Italy

The Leaning Tower of Pisa was built from 1173 to 1372 as a freestanding bell tower behind the Pisa Cathedral, a portion of which is on the left. From this angle you can see how much the tower still tilts despite the 1990 through 2001 restoration that corrected it to within four degrees. This could also be partially an optical illusion because the Duomo is also leaning.

Piazza del Duomo 1, 56126 Pisa PI, Italy
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Skyline View of Duomo from Piazzale Michelangiolo in Florence, Italy - Encircle Photos

46 Skyline View of Duomo from Piazzale Michelangiolo in Florence, Italy

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Cathedral of Florence, is enormous. The Duomo is 526 feet long and the dome is 375 feet tall. There is only one place where you can fully appreciate its grandeur. That viewpoint is at Piazzale Michelangiolo, also known as Michelangelo Square.

Piazzale Michelangelo, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
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San Michele in Foro Façade Detail in Lucca, Italy - Encircle Photos

47 San Michele in Foro Façade Detail in Lucca, Italy

High on top of the San Michele in Foro sits a 13 foot sculpture of the Archangel Michael. This Roman Catholic basilica in Lucca, Italy was dedicated to him when it was commissioned to be rebuilt in the late 11th century by Pope Alexander II. The original structure was a Roman forum dating back to the late 8th century. This exquisite marble façade was added during the 12th century.

Piazza San Michele 1, 55100 Lucca, Province of Lucca, Italy
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Panoramic View of Roman Forum in Rome, Italy - Encircle Photos

48 Panoramic View of Roman Forum in Rome, Italy

This panoramic view from west to east will orient you to the Roman Forum. The elevated landmarks you see on the left are: Temple of Antoninus and Faustina (141 AD), Temple of Romulus (307 AD), Column of Phocas (608 AD) and Santa Francesca Romana (10th century) and the church’s campanile (bell tower). From the middle two columns to the right are: Arch of Titus (81 AD), Temple of Vesta (7th century BC), Temple of Castor and Pollux (495 BC) and Basilica Julia (46 BC). Collectively, they represent over 1,100 years of ancient Roman architecture.

Via del Tulliano 00186 Roma RM, Italy
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Temple of Vespasian at Forum in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

49 Temple of Vespasian at Forum in Pompeii, Italy

Some experts believe this temple along the eastern edge of the Forum was built to honor Vespasian. He was a Roman Emperor from 69 until 79 AD. His credits include being the founder of the Flavian dynasty and the builder of the Colosseum in Rome. Others speculate this sanctuary honors Augustus. He was the founder of the Roman Empire and was its first emperor from 27 BC until 14 AD.

Forum at Pompeii, Via Villa dei Misteri 3, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Madonna Della Lettera in Messina, Italy - Encircle Photos

50 Madonna Della Lettera in Messina, Italy

The gilded statue on a 197 foot pedestal is Madonna della Lettera. Since it was erected in 1934 on a breakwater at Forte del Santissimo Salvatore, the 23 foot monument has been a proud testament to the Virgin Mary. In 42 AD, she sent a Holy Letter to Messina citizens after they were converted to Christianity by Apostle Paul and then followed him to Palestine to visit her. The inscription at the base was the last sentence of her letter. It means, “We Bless You and The City.”

Via S. Raineri 98122 Messina ME, Italy
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History Behind Fortified Walls at Mdina, Malta - Encircle Photos

51 History Behind Fortified Walls at Mdina, Malta

The word Mdina means “city surrounded by walls.” Most cars are banned from entering so it is often referred to as the “Silent City.” The history speaks volumes about Mediterranean civilization. Archeological evidence suggests the first settlement was around 5200 BC. When the Phoenicians arrived in the 7th century BC, they named the island Malat. This translates to “safe haven.” The Romans called it Melite from 218 BC until 870 AD. It was then conquered by Arabs. They built these ramparts and made Mdina the island’s capital city. The Muslims eventually lost control to the Kingdom of Sicily who ruled from 1194 until 1530. Then the Knights Hospitaller from the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem dominated until 1798 when they were attacked by Napoleon’s French troops. In recent history, Malta was part of the British Empire from 1800 until the country’s independence in 1964. If you look closely, you will notice a rectangular indentation in the wall. This was the original entry into Mdina before the current Main Gate was built in the early 18th century.

Mdina Rd, Attard, Malta
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Doge’s Palace Western Façade in Venice, Italy - Encircle Photos

52 Doge’s Palace Western Façade in Venice, Italy

The Doges of Venice were the political and military leaders of the republic for 1,100 years from 697 until 1797. This opulent Venetian Gothic palace was started in 1340 to be the home for the doge plus his governmental council and law courts. The Palazzo Ducale was not finished until 1442. If you look closely above the exquisite arcades and loggia, you will see the sculpture of Doge Francesco Foscari kneeling below the winged lion of Saint Mark.

Piazza San Marco, 1, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
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High Altar inside the Cathedral of Saint Domnius in Split, Croatia - Encircle Photos

53 High Altar inside the Cathedral of Saint Domnius in Split, Croatia

The Katedrala Svetog Duje’s high altar is spectacular. Built in 1767 by Giovanni Morlaiter, it is crowned by a semi-dome with paintings by Matej Pončun. On either side are two large gilded angels suspending a regulatory. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Domnius. He was the Bishop of Salona when he was beheaded at the command of Diocletian in 304 AD. Ironically, the relics of Split’s patron saint are now in the mausoleum built in 305 AD for the Roman emperor who ordered his death. Conversely, Diocletian’s remains have disappeared.

Ul. Kraj Svetog Duje 5, 21000, Split, Croatia
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Harbor View of Stari Grad Korčula, Croatia - Encircle Photos

54 Harbor View of Stari Grad Korčula, Croatia

The Island of Korčula is about 29 miles long and is located just off the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. This makes it the sixth largest of the 1,200 islands in the Adriatic archipelago. Its jewel is along the northeastern shore: the Old Town of Korčula. Stari Grad was fortified during the 10th century, took on its current design in the 13th century and reached its peak during the 16th century. This medieval city may be small – it is about the size of a football field – but it is a delight to explore.

ACI Marina, Šetalište Frana Kršinića, 20260, Korčula, Croatia
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Fort Lovrijenac next to Old Town Dubrovnik, Croatia - Encircle Photos

55 Fort Lovrijenac next to Old Town Dubrovnik, Croatia

In the early 11th century, the sea-facing, 40 foot thick walls of Fort Lovrijenac were constructed in three months to fend off a pending Venetian attack. Nicknamed “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar,” St. Lawrence Fortress stands on a 121 foot cliff along Pile Bay near the western edge of Old Town. Above its entrance is an inscription from the Aesop fable “Of Dog and the Wolf.” It says, “Freedom is not sold for all of the gold in the world.” Fans of the HBO series “Game of Thrones” will recognize this as part of King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms.

Ul. od Tabakarije 29, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia
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Tourism Capital of Budva Riviera in Montenegro - Encircle Photos

56 Tourism Capital of Budva Riviera in Montenegro

One look at Budva and it is very easy to see why it has become the tourism capital of Montenegro. The Budvanska Rivijera offers the allure of a medieval fortified town, beautiful beaches, a thriving nightlife, gambling in several hotels, cultural centers and a Mediterranean climate with plenty of sunshine. No wonder it attracts over 40% of the country’s tourists.

Merit Casino Avala Mediteranska 2, Budva 85310, Montenegro
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Old Fortress from Garitsa Bay in Corfu, Greece - Encircle Photos

57 Old Fortress from Garitsa Bay in Corfu, Greece

This view of the Old Fortress from Solomos Square along Garitsa Bay shows how enormous it is: 1,968 feet long and 656 feet wide. The huge wall in the foreground is one of two bastions flanking its main gate. They are named Martinego and Savorgnan after the engineers who designed them. The Greek temple is St. George’s church. At the peak is a lighthouse called Castel a Terra. On the left is a bell tower. This fort survived three attacks by the Ottomans during the Sieges of 1537, 1571 and 1716.

Agoniston Politechniou, Kerkira 491 00, Greece
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Close Up of Loggerhead Sea Turtle in Argostoli, Greece - Encircle Photos

58 Close Up of Loggerhead Sea Turtle in Argostoli, Greece

Loggerhead sea turtles regularly breed in the Koutavos Lagoon nature reserve in Argostoli, Greece during the spring and summer months. These magnificent marine creatures typically weigh more than 300 pounds and can live up to 65 years. Their head and shells glow with a rainbow of colors as they swim in the sapphire waters surrounding the Ionian Islands.

Ioannou Metaxa & Kerkiras, Argostoli 281 00, Greece
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The Parthenon Temple on the Athenian Acropolis in Athens, Greece - Encircle Photos

59 The Parthenon Temple on the Athenian Acropolis in Athens, Greece

This is the world’s most famous Doric temple. The Parthenon was dedicated to the goddess Athena when it was built on a citadel overlooking Athens, Greece. It is one of several archaeological ruins at the Acropolis of Athens. Others include temples and sanctuaries plus two theaters and remnants of other structures. Most of these buildings were constructed during the 5th century BC.

The Parthenon Temple, Zeus' Triangle, Athina 105 58, Greece
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Petros the Pelican in Mykonos, Greece - Encircle Photos

60 Petros the Pelican in Mykonos, Greece

In 1954, a fisherman found an injured great white pelican and nursed him back to health. For over 30 years, Petros the Pelican was a celebrity and the official mascot of Mykonos Island. After he was killed by a car in 1985, his legacy lived on when three other pelicans became permanent residents. Jackie Kennedy-Onassis donated Irene. Another wounded bird is called Nikola. The Hamburg Zoo gifted this one who carries on the name Petros.

Mykonos Waterfront, Mikonos 846 00, Greece
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Library of Celsus Ruins in Ephesus, Turkey - Encircle Photos

61 Library of Celsus Ruins in Ephesus, Turkey

Ephesus was a Greek city of half a million people dating back to 10 BC. This archeological gem is located on Turkey’s western coast. Although only a small portion has been excavated, it is an amazing collection of Greek and Roman ruins. The site includes temples, a theater and a basilica. The most impressive is the two-story, 52 foot façade of the Library of Celsus. It once contained over 12,000 scrolls. This magnificent structure was built as a tomb in 117 A.D.

Celsus Library Acarlar Mahallesi, 35920 Selçuk/İzmir, Turkey
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Hagia Sophia at Sunset in Istanbul, Turkey - Encircle Photos

62 Hagia Sophia at Sunset in Istanbul, Turkey

Two previous churches were built on the site of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. They were destroyed in 404 and 532 AD. The current masterpiece has a 185 foot dome. Construction required 10,000 workers and materials from quarries in Turkey, Syria, Egypt and Ephesus. When finished in 537, it was the world’s largest cathedral. 900 years later, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople and converted the Byzantine cathedral into an Islamic mosque. In 1934, Hagia Sophia became a museum. Touring this landmark is an incredible excursion.

Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Ayasofya Meydanı, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
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Dome of the Rock in Moonlight on Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel - Encircle Photos

63 Dome of the Rock in Moonlight on Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel

The Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel is of historical and religious significance to Muslims, Christians and Jews. Built on the Temple Mount in 691 AD, the dome is covered by an aluminum bronze alloy with gold. The greatest significance is inside. The Foundation Stone (the Rock) represents the spiritual joining of Heaven and Earth. This famous landmark is maintained by the Jordanians.

Dome of the Rock, Old City, Jerusalem
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The Treasury Carved into a Cliff in Petra, Jordan - Encircle Photos

64 The Treasury Carved into a Cliff in Petra, Jordan

Al-Khazneh is a magnificent example of 1st century Nabataean architecture and the most photographed façade in Jordan. The 141 foot tall Treasury was carved into a massive cliff along the valley of Wadi Musa. Some believe this Valley of Moses is near where the prophet miraculously drew water from a rock during the Exodus. The Treasury is also where Harrison Ford sought the Holy Grail during the climax of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”

Al-Khazneh al-Siq St, Petra, Jordan
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Burj Al Arab Hotel on Jumeirah Beach in Dubai, UAE - Encircle Photos

65 Burj Al Arab Hotel on Jumeirah Beach in Dubai, UAE

The iconic Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai is shaped like a sailboat or ship’s mask, is 66 floors tall and built on a man-made island. This seven-star rated hotel is frequently voted the most luxurious in the world. Amenities include a personal butler, chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce and a 24-carat gold iPad to serve as a “virtual concierge.” On Jumeirah Beach, the dress code is considerably different than the typical modesty around Dubai.

Jumeira Road & 17 A St, Umm Suqeim 3, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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Woman Entering Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai, India - Encircle Photos

66 Woman Entering Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai, India

Mumbai is wall-to-wall people with a population of about 20 million. The atmosphere is crowded and dizzying. But the world’s seventh largest city can also be elegant and beautiful. This woman is wearing a satin saree or sari, an unstitched cloth draped over the body. She is entering the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum. When the city’s oldest museum opened in 1857, it was the Victoria and Albert Museum. The name honored the then reigning queen of the United Kingdom and her husband.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Road, Byculla, Mumbai 400027, India
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Whole Black Pepper in Burlap Gunny Sack in Cochin, India - Encircle Photos

67 Whole Black Pepper in Burlap Gunny Sack in Cochin, India

This burlap gunny sack contains whole black peppers or peppercorns. The crop originated in southern India before 2000 BC. As the seasoning became popular, it was called black gold and used as currency. The much-prized spice was heavily traded with the ancient Greeks and Romans. Today, pepper represents 20% of the world’s spice trade. The International Pepper Exchange is located in Kochi (also called Cochin), India. Vietnam is the world’s top producer of pepper, followed by Indonesia and then India.

5 Jew Town Rd, Jew Town, Kochi, Kerala 682002, India
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Half-man Half-bird Gold Statue at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand - Encircle Photos

68 Half-man Half-bird Gold Statue at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

This golden figure of a half-man, half-bird is called a Kinnara. It originally comes from Hindu mythology but has been adapted in Thailand. The creature, which can fly between the mystical and human worlds, marries a Kinnaris. Their love is everlasting and their life is one of perpetual pleasure. This statue is at Wat Phra Kaew in the Grand Palace.

Na Phra Lan Rd, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand
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Longtail Boats Beached at Maya Bay on Phi Phi Ley, Thailand - Encircle Photos

69 Longtail Boats Beached at Maya Bay on Phi Phi Ley, Thailand

The longtail is an iconic way to navigate the rivers, coastline and coves in Thailand. These colorful wooden boats at Maya Bay are called ruea hang yao. They are powered by an old car engine that drives a six foot driveshaft with a propeller at the end capable of swiveling 180 degrees. Initially used by fishermen, today they are usually hired by sightseeing tourists.

Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi, Amphoe Mueang Krabi, Chang Wat Krabi 81000, Thailand
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KOMTAR Tower Skywalk in George Town, Penang, Malaysia - Encircle Photos

70 KOMTAR Tower Skywalk in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

On the 65th floor of KOMTAR Tower is a traditional observation deck plus the vertigo-inducing Rainbow Skywalk. This cantilever glass bridge provides a panoramic view of George Town from 816 feet. Many of the city’s 680 high-rises and skyscrapers are clustered along Gurney Drive seen at the top of this photo. This waterfront area is attractive for its promenade, shopping centers, hotels, restaurants and bars plus legendary street cuisine served from countless stalls and carts. This is a great chance to try Malaysian food at its best.

KOMTAR, Lebuh Tek Soon, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
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Iconic Blue Mosque in Shah Alam, Malaysia - Encircle Photos

71 Iconic Blue Mosque in Shah Alam, Malaysia

About a 45 minute drive from Kuala Lumpur is one of Malaysia’s most iconic sites: the Blue Mosque. It is located in Shah Alam, the capital city of the state of Selangor. This Islamic structure features four slender minarets. They each reach a height of 460 feet, making them the world’s tallest when construction ended in 1988. The Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque is also Southeast Asia’s second largest mosque.

Blue Mosque, Persiaran Masjid St., 40000 Shah Alam, Malaysia
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Water Spouting from Merlion Statue in Merlion Park, Singapore - Encircle Photos

72 Water Spouting from Merlion Statue in Merlion Park, Singapore

Melion is a lion with a fish’s tail representing Singapore’s origins as a fishing town plus its early name which meant lion city. The 28 foot statue spews water into Marina Bay near the financial and commercial district. Soon after its creation in 1972, this 70 ton statue of cement and porcelain symbolized Singapore. This country is only the size of San Francisco yet has the world’s highest GDP, including 188,000 millionaire households or 17% of its five million residents.

1 Fullerton Rd, Singapore 049213
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Tribesman in Traditional Face Paint Huli Wigman in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea - Encircle Photos

73 Tribesman in Traditional Face Paint Huli Wigman in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

The tribesmen of Papua New Guinea are proud people despite their extreme poverty. The average family lives on less than $400 a year. Many tribes have a limited connection to the modern world. This man is wearing the traditional face paint of a Huli Wigman from the Southern Highlands.

Bramell St, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
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Giraffe Overlooking Skyline from Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia - Encircle Photos

74 Giraffe Overlooking Skyline from Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia

A popular daytrip from central Sydney is a fun-filled visit to Taronga Zoo Sydney. The 69 acre zoological garden is located in the suburb of Mosman along the North Shore of Sydney Harbour. Opened in 1916, the zoo exhibits over 4,000 animals along winding walkways and terraced landscape. Most of the 350 species are endemic to Australia. Among the exceptions are the residents of the Giraffe Encounter. This herd stretches their long necks for spectacular views of Sydney’s skyline. The non-profit zoo is managed by Taronga Conservation Society, a government agency of New South Wales.

Taronga Zoo, Bradleys Head Rd, Mosman NSW 2088, Australia
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Skyline of Melbourne, Australia - Encircle Photos

75 Skyline of Melbourne, Australia

Spectacular! This is one of countless superlatives applicable to describe the capital of Victoria plus Australia’s second largest city with 4.7 million residents. It was founded as a British colony in 1835 and named in honor of William Lamb, the 2nd Viscount Melbourne. He was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at the time. Within two decades, Melbourne’s population and riches boomed during the Victorian gold rush. Their prosperity surged through most of the 20th century. Today, Melbourne is home to international companies, a diverse collection of arts and sports plus is often ranked as one of the world’s most livable cities.

Station Pier, Waterfront Pl, Port Melbourne VIC 3207, Australia
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Lake Pearl at Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden near Burnie, Australia - Encircle Photos

76 Lake Pearl at Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden near Burnie, Australia

The walking trails at Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden wind you through rhododendrons and other plants from 25 Asia-Pacific and Middle East countries plus America. The plants are arranged by their place of origin. Along the way you will encircle three ponds called Lake Grebe, Sea of Japan and Lake Pearl with its picturesque gazebo. Guided tours by knowledgeable volunteers on an electric buggy are available. Before or after your leisurely visit, save time to enjoy their tea room. But this lovely experience is only open three days a week on a seasonal basis. So, check its availability before you go.

55 Breffny Rd, Romaine TAS 7320, Australia
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Cityscape of Hobart, Australia - Encircle Photos

77 Cityscape of Hobart, Australia

If you arrive at Hobart aboard a cruise ship, you will be treated to this cityscape as you berth at Macquarie Wharf No 2. Welcome to the capital of Tasmania. Since the former Hobart Town began as a British penal colony, it has grown to 225,000 residents. The namesake was Robert Hobart, 4th Earl of Buckinghamshire. Lord Hobart was the Secretary of State for War and Colonies when Hobart was settled in 1804. In the foreground is the Port of Hobart along Sullivans Cove. In the background is Mount Wellington. Just below the broadcast towers at the 4,170 foot summit are the Organ Pipes, a cliff of dolerite columns.

Macquarie Wharf No 2, Hunter St, Hobart TAS 7000, Australia
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Introduction to Milford Sound at Fiordland, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

78 Introduction to Milford Sound at Fiordland, New Zealand

The masterpiece of Fiordland National Park – the country’s largest park – is Milford Sound. Piopiotahi (Māori name) is the northernmost of the fjords along the southwestern coast of New Zealand. This incredible 9.9 mile inlet of the Tasman Sea is defined by sheer summits like Mount Kimberley (The Lion) at 4,271 feet on the left, the snow-capped Mills Peak at 5,987 feet and the 3,966 foot Cascade Peak on the right. Savor the pristine scenery above water during a sightseeing cruise. Marvel at the waterfalls. Enjoy seeing dolphins, penguins, fur seals and whales in the water. And stop at Harrison Cove (center) to view marine life at 32 feet below the surface at the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory. You will soon understand why Milford Sound is rated among the top destinations not only in New Zealand but also the world.

Milford Sound, Southland 9691, New Zealand
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The Octagon in Dunedin, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

79 The Octagon in Dunedin, New Zealand

The bullseye of Dunedin’s central business district (downtown) is The Octagon. These are two, eight-sided wedges defined by a ring called Moray Place. Many of the city’s historic landmarks – such as St. Paul’s Cathedral – are within or along the outer boundaries of this core. Accenting the inner plaza since 1897 is this bronze statue of Robert Burns by sculptor Sir John Steell. Burns became the National Poet of Scotland during the late 18th century and is best remembered for penning “Auld Lang Syne.” His brother, Reverend Thomas Burns, co-founded the Otago settlement and the First Church of Otago in 1848. He was part of the Otago Association. These members of the Free Church of Scotland called their new colony Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh. To this day, Dunedin is still called Edinburgh of the South.

The Octagon, Dunedin, 9016, New Zealand
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Introduction to Akaroa, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

80 Introduction to Akaroa, New Zealand

Akaroa, New Zealand is nestled on the east side of Akaroa Harbour on Banks Peninsula. The small town of less than 650 residents is along the eastern coast of the South Island. The popular resort community is about a 1.5 hour drive 50 miles south of Christchurch. This is also a frequent port-of-call for cruises ships. The name Akaroa means “Long Harbour” in the Kāi Tahu Māori language.

Beach Road & Bruce Terrace, Akaroa 7520, New Zealand
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The Beehive among Parliament Buildings in Wellington, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

81 The Beehive among Parliament Buildings in Wellington, New Zealand

The architectural standout on the 11 acre Parliament Buildings campus is the Executive Wing. Within its ten floors are offices for the Executive Branch including New Zealand’s prime minister plus cabinet ministers. Locals lovingly call it The Beehive because its round and tapered design by Sir Basil Spence resembles a traditional skep bee house. The iconic structure was topped with copper before opening in 1977.

1 Molesworth St, Pipitea, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
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Vintage Car Tour at Art Deco Festival in Napier, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

82 Vintage Car Tour at Art Deco Festival in Napier, New Zealand

A very popular attraction in Napier is the Vintage Car Tour. They are available throughout the year and almost hourly during the Art Deco Festival. Let the 1930s costumed driver open the door of a beautifully maintained classic auto like this 1936 Packard 120B Convertible. Then sit back and relax for 75 minutes while you motor around Napier and the suburbs of Ahuriri and Marewa. Along the way you will hear about the earthquake, the rebuilding, the Art Deco architecture, the homes from the 1930s and all of the reasons why Napier is such an amazing city.

105 Marine Parade, Napier 4110, New Zealand
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Brief History of Tauranga, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

83 Brief History of Tauranga, New Zealand

Central Tauranga is on the Te Papa Peninsula meaning flat land. The original Māori tribes called their settlement Tauranga-moana. The first Europeans were British Anglicans. The Church Missionary Society purchased land from the Indigenous people in 1835 to establish a mission station. In 1864, the British military built Camp Te Papa at Monmouth Redoubt at the northern edge of today’s central business district. As the town grew during the late 19th century and early 20th century, the Borough Council bought waterfront property for recreational use. In 1916, the East Coast Railway finished laying tracks parallel to the harbor. All of these historical events are evident as you walk along The Strand. The last major development was the construction of a bridge across the harbor in 1988. It connected Tauranga with its neighboring peninsula capped by Mount Maunganui. The Mount is a 761 foot lava dome formed two to three million years ago.

Tauranga Harbour, Tauranga 3110, New Zealand
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Central Business District Skyline of Auckland, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

84 Central Business District Skyline of Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city with a metro population over 1.6 million residents. Tāmaki-makau-rau (its Māori name) is located near the middle of the North Island on an isthmus fronting Waitematā Harbour (also called Auckland Harbour). The land was first settled by the Māori people. After selling it to the British Crown in 1840 during the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand became a self-governing colony. William Hobson, New Zealand’s first governor, named the settlement after George Eden, the Earl of Auckland. From those colonial times, Auckland has blossomed into a wonderful community filled with culture, entertainment, sports and a thriving economy. These are just a few reasons why Auckland is often ranked among the world’s most livable cities.

Queens Wharf, Auckland, 1010, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1141, New Zealand
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Guatma Buddha in Shrine of Xá Lợi Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - Encircle Photos

85 Guatma Buddha in Shrine of Xá Lợi Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

This gold-coated statue in the shrine of Xá Lợi Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is Siddhārtha Gautama. He is considered to be the Supreme Buddha who taught in the Himalayan foothills until his death around 400 BC. The Buddha is depicted in meditation atop a lotus blossom. In 1963, under orders of the South Vietnamese president, the pagoda was viciously attacked as part of a Buddhist persecution that led to hundreds of deaths and the jailing of 1,000 monks.

89b Bà Huyện Thanh Quan phường 7, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
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Woman Pulling Cart at Dong Ba Market in Hue, Vietnam - Encircle Photos

86 Woman Pulling Cart at Dong Ba Market in Hue, Vietnam

Hue is located in central Vietnam near the east coast of the South China Sea. The city was heavily damaged during the Vietnam War and does not seem to have fully recovered. There are several historic attractions worth visiting such as Thai Hoa Palace and Tombs of the Emperors. Among the most interesting is Dong Ba Market along the Perfume River. It is enormous at 52,500 square feet. Most of the vendor stalls are housed in a gray building that bustles with activity. Other merchants huddle outside under makeshift canopies and the mud. Life in Hue is rudimentary.

2 Trần Hưng Đạo, Phú Hoà, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam
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Sunrise over Isles and Fishing Boats in Gulf of Tonkin, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam - Encircle Photos

87 Sunrise over Isles and Fishing Boats in Gulf of Tonkin, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

In the northern part of the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam is Ha Long Bay. This geological marvel is one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Legend declares dragons created the 1,600 limestone isles. From afar they look like the backbone scales of a giant, swimming sea creature. Watching the sun rise on this mystical place was breathtaking, particularly as the local fishermen embrace the wind and waves of a new day.

Gulf of Tonkin, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
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Busy Street with Chinese Signs in Hong Kong, China - Encircle Photos

88 Busy Street with Chinese Signs in Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong, China is a vibrant and exciting city yet also very congested. The aerial view of the harbor skyline with its 1,200 skyscrapers is impressive and beautiful from the summit of Victoria Peak. However, up close at street level, parts of downtown can be overwhelming with hundreds of signs competing for the attention of thousands of people. After a day at ground level, you feel exhausted as if you have bumped into all seven million ethnic Chinese.

Tung Choi St & Bute St Mong Kok, Hong Kong
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Tallest Skyscrapers at Night in Shanghai, China - Encircle Photos

89 Tallest Skyscrapers at Night in Shanghai, China

The 160 skyscrapers in Shanghai ranks fourth among cities worldwide. A stunning way to see the four tallest buildings is after dark from a waterfront promenade named The Bund. The Pudong District, also known as The East Bank, dazzles with lights and colors that magically sparkles across the Huangpu River. On the left is the Oriental Pearl Tower at 1,535 feet. In the center with the dramatic hole near the top is the Shanghai World Financial Center (2,073 feet). In front of it with the diamond-shaped crown is Jin Mao Tower (1,380 feet). The tallest building in China at 2,073 feet is the Shanghai Tower. It also boasts of having the world’s highest observation deck at a vertigo-inducing 1,843 feet.

414 Jiangxi Middle Rd, Huangpu, Shanghai, China
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Gate of Heavenly Peace at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China - Encircle Photos

90 Gate of Heavenly Peace at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China

Facing Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China is the Gate of Heavenly Peace. This is the entrance to the Imperial City. It was first built in the Ming Dynasty in the early 15th century. The 1.5 tonnes portrait over the gate is of Mao Zedong. He was also called Mao Tse-tung or Chairman Mao while he was the head of the Communist Party of China from 1949 until 1976. This passage leads to the Meridian Gate or the southern entrance to the Forbidden City. The Chinese Imperial palace contains over 900 buildings.

Gate of Heavenly Peace, Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China
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Yongyeon Pond in Jeju City, South Korea - Encircle Photos

91 Yongyeon Pond in Jeju City, South Korea

When you muster up the courage to look down while crossing Yongyeon Bridge, you will be treated with the picturesque serenity of Yongyeon Pond. According to legend, this deep, still basin was formed when rainwater fell from a dragon while flying to heaven. Hence its name: Dragon Pond. Suddenly, your eyes will catch a motion. Then a splash. Soon other flying fish will break the surface, spin, and dive back. Delightful! If your camera is ready but your courage is not, then you can savor this view from a red pavilion perched at the upper edge of the ravine.

Yongyeon Pond, Cheju, Jeju-do, South Korea
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Colorful Buildings on Yeong Island in Busan, South Korea - Encircle Photos

92 Colorful Buildings on Yeong Island in Busan, South Korea

From the Nampo-dong neighborhood, this scene across Nampo Port displays the colorful buildings etched into the side of Mt. Bongnaesan on Yeong Island (Yeongdo District). If you like this view, then you will love nearby Gamcheon Culture Village. It is famous for the kaleidoscope of structures clinging to a central Busan foothill. The neighborhood features narrow alleys, steep roads and an array of fascinating murals and public artwork. Gamcheon began as a settlement (some would say slum) for Korean War refugees. It swelled into a vibrant and visually stunning community thanks to a transformation orchestrated by the Ministry of Tourism in 2009. They also gave it the moniker “Machu Picchu of Busan.” Walking maps are available. But within minutes, you are bound to get lost in this delightful maze.

117-7 Nampo-dong, Jung-gu, Busan, South Korea
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History of Nagasaki Port in Nagasaki, Japan - Encircle Photos

93 History of Nagasaki Port in Nagasaki, Japan

Nagasaki Port was established in 1571 to accommodate Portuguese merchants who were active trade intermediaries between China and Japan. The port’s founding by a Jesuit missionary led to an influx of Catholics. In 1614, Catholicism was banned by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the powerful defacto ruler of Japan. This sparked a period of intense religious persecution and martyrdom. Then, in 1633, the Tokugawa shogunate adopted a closed country policy called kaikin or sakoku. This self-imposed isolationism existed until 1858. Nagasaki was Japan’s only port allowed limited international trade during this time. With the advent of the Meiji period (1868 – 1912), Nagasaki fortunes returned with heavy industry and shipbuilding. The prosperity ended abruptly on August 9, 1945 when the world’s second atomic bomb was dropped. Today, the city of 425,000 people, plus the port and shipbuilding, have fully recovered. The harbor welcomes about fifty cruise ships a year to the Matsugae International Terminal.

Matsugae-machi, Nagasaki, 850-0921, Japan
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Footbridge to Tsurumaru Castle Ruins in Kagoshima, Japan - Encircle Photos

94 Footbridge to Tsurumaru Castle Ruins in Kagoshima, Japan

Shimazu Tadatsune (1576 – 1638) was a feudal lord (daimyo) of the Satsuma Domain, a region encompassing much of today’s Kagoshima Prefecture. In 1602, he voluntarily professed his loyalty to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate and rulers of Japan until 1868. As a result, Shimazu Tadatsune was allowed to remain the head of the Shimazu clan. He managed his fiefdom (hon) from the Tsurumaru Castle after it was finished in 1604. Also called Kagoshima Castle, it remained the center of local political power until it was burned in 1874 and then seized by the imperial army at the end of the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877. All that remains today is the moat beneath this footbridge and a few stone walls. Most interesting are the bullet holes from the Battle of Shiroyama.

7 Shiroyamachō, Kagoshima-shi, 892-0853, Japan
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Great Torii at Miyajima, Japan - Encircle Photos

95 Great Torii at Miyajima, Japan

At the mouth of an inlet at Miyajima is the famous Great Torii, the floating gate to Itsukushima Shrine. The original torii was built in 1168. The current version – number eight – dates from 1875. The free-standing, vermillion O-Torii Gate is 55 feet tall, weighs 60 tons and is constructed from cedar and camphor. Some of these trees are over 500 years old. At low tide, you can walk out to admire this national treasure but the exposed seabed is muddy. At high tide, boat rides are available to sail around the six pillars.

Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 739-0588, Japan
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A-bomb Dome at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan - Encircle Photos

96 A-bomb Dome at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan

At 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, a squadron of B-29 aircraft flew over Hiroshima and the Enola Gay released “Little Boy,” the world’s first atomic bomb. Energy equivalent to 16 kilotons of TNT detonated 1,900 feet above the city, resulting in 4.4 miles of destruction and fire. 30% of the population were instantly killed. The A-Bomb Dome is the ruins of the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall which opened in 1915. The hollow shell was preserved in remembrance of the horror. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is across the river from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

1 Chome-10 Ōtemachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0051, Japan
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Meriken Park in Kobe, Japan - Encircle Photos

97 Meriken Park in Kobe, Japan

If you are sightseeing through Japan’s major cities aboard a cruise ship, you may be tempted to skip a port and sleep in. Vacations with all of that extravagant food and fresh sea air can be so exhausting. If you don’t have time to see all of the highlights in this Kobe travel guide, at least disembark to explore Meriken Park near the cruise terminal. Several of the city’s landmarks are at this waterfront park including Kobe Port Tower, Kobe Maritime Museum, Kawasaki Good Times World and the Earthquake Memorial Park. Part of this headland was called the Meriken Wharf during the Meiji period. The name was a mistaken understanding by the Japanese of the word America.

2 Hatobachō, Chūō-ku, Kōbe-shi, Hyōgo-ken 650-0042, Japan
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Golden Pavilion at Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto, Japan - Encircle Photos

98 Golden Pavilion at Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto, Japan

During the 14th century, nobleman Saionji Kintsune built the Kitayama-dai villa here. In 1397, it was acquired and expanded by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. He called his lavish retirement estate Kitayama-den Palace. During the 15th century, his son, Yoshimochi, converted the elegant property into Rokuon-ji (Deer Garden Temple). More commonly, this national treasure is referred to as Kinkaku-ji or the Golden Pavilion Temple. The surrounding lake is aptly named Kyoko-chi meaning Mirror Pond. Dotting the reflective water are ten islets. The results: absolutely stunning!

1 Kinkakuji-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, Japan
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History of Sunpu Castle in Shizuoka, Japan - Encircle Photos

99 History of Sunpu Castle in Shizuoka, Japan

While Imagawa Norikuni was shogun of Suruga Province (present day Shizuoka Prefecture) during the 14th century, he built a fortification here. Starting in 1585, Tokugawa Ieyasu (who founded the 300 year Edo Period of Japanese rulers) began transforming it into Sunpu Castle. By the early 17th century, Sunpu-jō had a system of moats and a keep to protect his palace. It soon burned down but was elaborately rebuilt. At the start of the Meiji Restoration (1868), when the Tokugawa shogunate ended, Sunpu Castle ceased to be their residence. In 1889, the property was donated to Shizuoka City. From 1896 until 1949, it served the Imperial Japanese Army. Then the ruins of Sunpu Castle became a free park. A few structures were historically recreated in the 1990s. On the left is Tatsumi Yagura. The tower’s name means armory (arrow storage) in southeast corner. On the right is the East Gate.

Sunpujōkōen, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka-ken 420-0855, Japan
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Seimon Ishibashi Bridge at Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan - Encircle Photos

100 Seimon Ishibashi Bridge at Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo’s most iconic site is the Imperial Palace viewed from Kyuden Plaza. The bridge leading to the main gate is Seimon Ishibashi. It is commonly called Nijūbashi. A nickname is Meganebashi meaning Eyeglasses Bridge because of its stone-arch design. In the foreground is Nijubashi-moat. This is one of several defensive waterways around the 1.3 square miles of the palace grounds. In the upper right corner is the main palace. The Kyūden is reserved for official ceremonies.

1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to 100-0001, Japan
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