World Tour 4: Iceland – Luxembourg

World Tour – 4 lets you keep globetrotting around the world. Before you arrive in a city, print the Encircle Photos travel guide and identify the places you want to visit. The use the travel guide and interactive map on your cell phone when exploring a city.

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Panoramic View of Gullfoss on Golden Circle, Iceland - Encircle Photos

1 Panoramic View of Gullfoss on Golden Circle, Iceland

The visual climax of Golden Circle is Gullfoss, the best waterfall in Iceland and frequently rated among the world’s top ten. From its origin at the Langjökull Glacier, the Hvítá River flows for 25 miles before reaching this arrowhead-shaped fissure. This was carved by a glacier outburst about 10,000 to 13,000 years ago. Then the torrent of brown water cascades three times before seeming to disappear into the earth. This sensational view from near the visitor center is enhanced by dancing rainbows. You can enjoy this dramatic display of nature for free.

Gullfoss, 801 Selfossi, Iceland
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Geothermal Pool at Blue Lagoon on Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland - Encircle Photos

2 Geothermal Pool at Blue Lagoon on Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland

One of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions is Blue Lagoon. The spa’s proximity to the Keflavík Airport makes this the perfect haven for relaxation before or after an international flight. Hop onto one of their easy transports so you can hop into their soothing geothermal pools with temperatures ranging from 98° to 104° Fahrenheit. Bláa Lónið also makes a perfect day trip from Reykjavík. It is less than 30 miles away. Advance reservations are highly recommended because droves of tourists want to experience why National Geographic lists Blue Lagoon among the 25 Wonders of the World.

Nordurljosavegur 9, 240 Grindavík, Iceland
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Welcome to Reykjavík, Iceland - Encircle Photos

3 Welcome to Reykjavík, Iceland

Velkominn to the world’s most northern capital city. 65% of Iceland’s 333,000 people live within the Capital Region, primarily located on Seltjarnarnes Peninsula in the southwest corner of the island. Tourists focus on central Reykjavík. The city is clean, charming, safe, walkable and very scenic. Visual highlights are Lake Tjörnin shown here and Faxaflói Bay. Cultural offerings include museums and performing arts venues. There are plenty of restaurants and stores for exercising your credit cards. And Reykjavík’s location makes it an excellent hub for day trips to explore Iceland’s renowned glaciers, geysers, waterfalls and landscape on the western and southern coasts.

Fríkirkjuvegur & Sóleyjargata, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
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Gatklettur Arch Rock at Arnarstapi on Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Iceland - Encircle Photos

4 Gatklettur Arch Rock at Arnarstapi on Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Iceland

As you walk toward the coastline of Arnarstapi, the stunning beauty of Gatklettur is revealed. You will be awestruck. Arch Rock features a stone bridge over a circular opening created by the sea. The azure waters of northern Faxa Bay can be calm and transparent or have violent, crashing waves.

Gatklettur, Arnarstapavegur, Arnarstapi, Iceland
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Introduction to Jökulsárlón in South Iceland - Encircle Photos

5 Introduction to Jökulsárlón in South Iceland

No Icelandic vacation is complete without visiting Jökulsárlón. The lagoon formed in the early 1930s as the melting of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier began to accelerate. The lake has grown to almost ten square miles and is the country’s deepest at about 800 feet. More important than measurements is Jökulsárlón’s magical beauty. Sparkling icebergs in unique shapes and colors are suspended in aquamarine water. These 1,000 year old ice shards are a blend of whites with blue crystals resembling jewels. The black stripes are ash bearing witness to a millennium of volcanic activity.

Jökulsárlón, Iceland
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Observing Powerful Skógafoss in South Iceland - Encircle Photos

6 Observing Powerful Skógafoss in South Iceland

One of Iceland’s most spectacular sites is Skógafoss. This powerful display (classified as a ledge and cataract waterfall) is 49 feet wide and plunges 197 feet. You can get very close to feel the incredible energy of the Skógá River as it cascades over the cliff that once loomed above the ocean; the coastline has since receded three miles away. Then climb about 500 steps to the elevated observation platform. This assent is also the start of Fimmvörðuháls, a popular 14 mile hiking trail winding between the Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull glaciers.

Skógafoss, Skogar, 861 South Iceland
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Lone House on Elliðaey Island in Westman Islands, Iceland - Encircle Photos

7 Lone House on Elliðaey Island in Westman Islands, Iceland

Westman Islands consists of 15 islands. The third largest and perhaps most intriguing is Elliðaey. The 110 acre islet was formed by volcanic activity 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. Ellidaey has been uninhabited since 1960 when the last of five families moved away. Then what is the single house perched at the base of the green cliff named Mount Bjargholl? A hunting lodge. It was built in 1953 by the Elliðaey Hunting Association. This retreat has no water, electricity or other amenities except a sauna. Members thoroughly enjoy the scenic solitude after a day of puffin hunting.

Elliðaey, Iceland
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Chinese Fishing Net Cheena Vala Fisherman in Cochin, India - Encircle Photos

Chinese Fishing Net Cheena Vala Fisherman in Cochin, India

Cochin, also called Kochi, India is a modern city of two million. However, the best known area for tourism is Fort Kochi. Here you’ll find Chinese fishing nets that started in the 14th century. They consist of a giant cantilever that suspends a large net, lowers it into the sea and then raises it again by ropes. You can buy the fresh fish and crustaceans, most of which are still wiggling in colorful bowls. These two fishermen are taking a rest from the exhausting work of raising and lowering the huge boulders that operate the cantilevers.

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Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India - Encircle Photos

8 Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India

Near the Gateway of India on Mumbai’s harbor is the five-star Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. It has hosted world dignitaries and celebrities for over 100 years. A few weeks after our visit in 2008, terrorists conducted 12 attacks around the city, killing 167 people. 31 of them died in this hotel when it was seized and burned during a three-day gun battle. It has since been restored.

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India
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Abandoned Fishing Boats at Low Tide in Port Blair, India - Encircle Photos

9 Abandoned Fishing Boats at Low Tide in Port Blair, India

A welcome sign declares Port Blair to be the gateway to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Home to an Indian Navy and Coast Guard base, these islands are in the Andaman Sea and closer to Thailand than India. Near Haddo Wharf, however, was a less impressive fleet. These abandoned fishing boats emerged from the mud during low tide.

02 Foreshore Rd, Haddo, Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands 744102, India
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Desmond Castle in Adare, Ireland - Encircle Photos

10 Desmond Castle in Adare, Ireland

Desmond Castle’s history is as intriguing as the reflection on the River Maigue is beautiful. Although sections were built during the 13th century, the Fitzgeralds are credited with most of the construction. This was a Welsh-Norman family. They became powerful feudal leaders in Ireland and given the title Earls of Kildare during the 14th century. Their reign ended after an unsuccessful insurrection against King Henry VII of England in 1536. Adare Castle was then transferred to the Earls of Desmond. They in turn launched two failed rebellions against the crown. Their stronghold was seized by Queen Elizabeth I’s troops circa 1570. The final demise came in 1657 when it was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s army. Some of Desmond Castle was restored during the late 1990s. Tours of the medieval castle can be arranged from the Heritage Centre from June through September.

N21 Limerick Road, Gortaganniff, Adare, Co. Limerick, Ireland
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Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork, Ireland - Encircle Photos

11 Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork, Ireland

The late 19th century Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral sits on a hill where its namesake established a monastery in 606 AD. The French Neo-gothic structure faced with Cork limestone was designed by William Burges. He was 35 when he won the competition. Unfortunately, this eccentric yet brilliant architect died before the sculptures on this magnificent façade were finished. You may enjoy seeing his work on Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch in my Wales gallery.

6 Bishop St, The Lough, Cork, Ireland
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Introduction to Dingle, Ireland - Encircle Photos

12 Introduction to Dingle, Ireland

The town of Dingle is as delightful as your drive is scenic. But you may be confused by the road signs. Since 2006, it is officially called by its Irish name Daingean Uí Chúis. This coastal village of less than 2,000 residents welcomes tourists with rows of colorful shops, restaurants and pubs serving cold pints along with Irish music. One tavern – Foxy John’s – doubles as a hardware store. Now that’s convenient. You will also find local exquisite crafts such as Irish crystal. No, not Waterford. Dingle Crystal. Since 1998, Sean Daly has been handcrafting his six Celtic designs into stunning glassware. This is his store on Green Street. You will also want to visit the factory on the outskirts of town.

1 Green St Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland
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Guinness Brewery in Dublin, Ireland - Encircle Photos

13 Guinness Brewery in Dublin, Ireland

The St. James Gate area of Dublin has a tradition for crafting beer dating back to the late 17th century. Its most famous brewmaster was Arthur Guinness. In 1759, he signed a 9,000 year lease for a vacant brewery. Now that is visionary! Since then, his recipe propelled the company into the world’s leader of dry stout. Although it is brewed in more than 60 countries, its largest location has dominated the same neighborhood for over 250 years. It is fun to tour the seven levels of their plant open to tourists called the Guinness Storehouse. Then finish with a pint of stout in the Gravity Bar.

St James's Gate, Ushers, Dublin 8, Ireland
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The Long Walk in Galway, Ireland - Encircle Photos

14 The Long Walk in Galway, Ireland

The Long Walk is a row of colorful buildings stretching along the river towards Galway Bay. They were constructed during the 18th century by descendants of John Eyre. He was a captain in Oliver Cromwell’s army. After they conquered Galway in 1652, the Eyre of Eyrecourt acquired considerable property in the city. The land was handed down for generations. This quay is now an Architectural Conservation Area. The graceful mute swan is swimming towards Claddagh, a former fishing village.

7 Claddagh Quay Galway, Ireland
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History of Kilkenny Castle in Kilkenny, Ireland - Encircle Photos

15 History of Kilkenny Castle in Kilkenny, Ireland

The first tower built along the bluff overlooking the River Nore was a motte and bailey design constructed towards the end of the 12th century by Richard de Clare. Also known as Strongbow, he was a Norman lord and the 2nd Earl of Pembroke. His son-in-law and very successful knight, William Marshall, is credited with building this marvelous castle. It was finished in 1219, six years before he died as the British Isles’ second richest man. After a period of ownership by Gilbert De Bohun, the elaborate citadel transferred to James Butler in 1391. The Butler family maintained ownership until Arthur Butler sold it to the city in 1967. The rose garden in the foreground is part of the 49 acre estate.

The Parade, Collegepark, Kilkenny, Ireland
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Stone Amphitheater at Cliffs of Moher near Liscannor, Ireland - Encircle Photos

16 Stone Amphitheater at Cliffs of Moher near Liscannor, Ireland

You are immediately impressed at your first glimpse of the Cliffs of Moher. As you walk south along the edge, the views get more incredible. Nature spent 300 million years dating back to the Carboniferous Period carving this amphitheater of Namurian shale and sandstone. At the base is a network of water caves. No wonder this has been the location of numerous movies such as “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and “The Princess Bride.”

Ballard Rd Lislorkan North, Co. Clare, Ireland
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Ladies View along the Ring of Kerry, Ireland - Encircle Photos

17 Ladies View along the Ring of Kerry, Ireland

One of the most picturesque landscapes along N71 is at Ladies View. In the foreground is Upper Lake, the smallest of the three Lakes of Killarney within Killarney National Park. What looks like a river in the background is called Long Range. It channels the flow to Lough Leane and Muckross Lake at the Meeting of the Waters. This lookout acquired its name after the personal assistants to Queen Victoria admired the scenery during Her Majesty’s visit in 1861.

N71 Ladies View Derrycunihy Derrycunihy, Co. Kerry, Ireland
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Master Cutter at Waterford Crystal in Waterford, Ireland - Encircle Photos

18 Master Cutter at Waterford Crystal in Waterford, Ireland

During the Waterford Crystal tour, you will be mesmerized while watching the various stages of the process – blowing, polishing, marking, cutting, etc. Each master specializes in only one stage. The craftsman who had the greatest influence on Waterford Crystal was Jonathan Gatchell. While a clerk in 1783, John Hill taught him how to mix, polish and cut glass. Gatchell worked at the plant for forty years. He became a co-owner in 1799 and then sole proprietor from 1810 until 1823.

28 The Mall, Waterford, Ireland
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Young Man Covered in Dead Sea Mud at Dead Sea, Israel - Encircle Photos

Young Man Covered in Dead Sea Mud at Dead Sea, Israel

The Dead Sea is bordered by Israel and Jordan and is one of the saltiest bodies of water on earth. This high salinity lets you float effortlessly on the surface without swimming or treading water. The thick, almost tar-like black mud is reported to have cosmetic, medicinal and therapeutic values. Mostly it’s just fun to cover yourself from head to toe and let the mud harden in the hot sun.

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Old City from Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Israel - Encircle Photos

19 Old City from Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Israel

The Old City of Jerusalem measures only .35 square miles yet contains several of the world’s holiest sites. Glistening on the right is the Dome of the Rock. The Foundation Stone inside is believed to be the junction of Heaven and Earth, where God created the world and covers the Ark of the Covenant. The blue dome in the center is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is where Jesus was crucified and buried. The silver dome on the left atop Temple Mount is al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site. Muhammad arrived here during the Night Journey that began at Mecca. Intrigued? Join the 3.5 million people who visit the Old City of Jerusalem each year.

Rehavam Overlook, Rabaa al Adwaya, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Israel
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Greek Temple of Concordia in Agrigento Sicily, Italy - Encircle Photos

20 Greek Temple of Concordia in Agrigento Sicily, Italy

At the tip of Italy’s boot is Sicily. It is one of the most diverse islands in the world. In addition to great food and wine, it has mountains, an active volcano, mining, forests, rivers, farming, dry lands and beautiful coasts, all scattered among quaint towns and major cities. But most of all it has history that dates back 10,000 years. An example is The Valley of Temples in Agrigento along the southern coast. Here are seven Greek temples built in the Doric style from the ancient city of Akragas. My favorite is Concordia from 167 BC. This Roman goddess was responsible for agreeable marriages.

Temple of Concordia, Via Giuseppe la Loggia, 92100 Agrigento AG, Italy
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Ponte Vecchio East Side and Arno River in Florence, Italy - Encircle Photos

21 Ponte Vecchio East Side and Arno River in Florence, Italy

Begin exploring Florence early in the morning before the tourists arrive. The scenery is magical as evident by this scene from Lungarno degli Archibugieri (north riverbank). Watch a rower glide along the Arno. Overlook an art class painting Ponte Vecchio. This 105 foot, stone arch span was constructed in 1218 and rebuilt in 1345. This bridge is the only one to survive World War II and the devastating flood of 1966. Wow, this Florence icon is gorgeous!

Ponte Vecchio, 33 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
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Duomo di San Martino and Bell Tower in Lucca, Italy - Encircle Photos

22 Duomo di San Martino and Bell Tower in Lucca, Italy

The first stone for the Lucca Cathedral was laid in 1063 and dedicated to St. Martin when it was finished seven years later. The five-story bell tower, called a campanile in Italian, was part of that original construction. The western façade for the Duomo di San Martino Roman Catholic Church was built in the early 13th century.

Via Duomo, 55100 Lucca LU, Italy
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Cityscape and History of Messina, Italy - Encircle Photos

23 Cityscape and History of Messina, Italy

When Messina was founded during the 8th century BC, it was called Zancle after its first king, Zanclus. According to mythology, he and the giant Orion built the city. Since then, Messina has been ruled by several nationalities including the Greeks, Romans, Goths, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans and Spanish. The street along the small boat quay is Via Vittorio Emanuele II. It honors the first leader of the Kingdom of Italy from 1861 until 1878. The namesake for the parallel road is Giuseppe Garibaldi. He is called the “father of the fatherland” for his military role in unifying Italy during the mid-19th century. Seen here in the Piazza Unification of Italy is the Palace of the Prefecture. Despite being ravished by wars, earthquakes and tsunamis plus the Black Death plague, Messina has prospered as the “Doorway to Sicily.”

Viale della Libertà, Batteria Masotto, 98121 Messina ME, Italy
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Pisa Cathedral and Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa, Italy - Encircle Photos

24 Pisa Cathedral and Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa, Italy

The centerpiece of the Piazza del Duomo or Cathedral Square is the medieval Pisa Cathedral. Construction on Italy’s first Pisan Romanesque church began in 1063. The spectacular marble façade of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta features blind arcades, arches, columns, three bronze doors and a dome. Wow, it is beautiful! Did you also notice the iconic leaning bell tower behind it?

Piazza del Duomo 1, 56126 Pisa PI, Italy
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Building of Eumachia at Forum in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

25 Building of Eumachia at Forum in Pompeii, Italy

During the 1st century, Eumachia was the daughter of a prominent banker named Lucius Caecilius Lucundus. She became independently wealthy on her own merits. As part of several philanthropic acts, the priestess funded this building along the eastern edge of the Forum. It was dedicated to Concordia of Augusta. The large structure housed the fuller’s guild. A fullo was a worker who either spun or washed cloth.

Forum at Pompeii, Via Villa dei Misteri 3, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Colorful Houses along Palazzata in Portovenere, Italy - Encircle Photos

26 Colorful Houses along Palazzata in Portovenere, Italy

Portovenere, Italy, is one of several charming maritime villages in Cinque Terre. Called Portus Veneris during the first century BC, it was named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Enjoy your stroll along Palazzata where these pastel houses hug the shores of a peninsula. Then, take an excursion boat past the three nearby islands that are filled with caves. They inspired the scandalous romantic Lord Byron to write his poetry. This is why the area is nicknamed the Gulf of Poets.

P. Marina, 6 19025 Portovenere SP, Italy
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Fisherman along Harbor in Rapallo, Italy - Encircle Photos

27 Fisherman along Harbor in Rapallo, Italy

Rapallo is a lovely northern Italian resort town along the Ligurian Sea and a short drive from Genoa. It is blessed with moderate, year-round weather, a picturesque harbor, historic sites, excellent shopping and seafood restaurants plus one of Italy’s oldest golf courses. Or you can just sit along the rocks, cast out your fishing line and enjoy the view.

Lungomare Vittorio Veneto 1, 16035 Rapallo GE, Italy
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Arena and Hypogeum inside Colosseum in Rome, Italy - Encircle Photos

28 Arena and Hypogeum inside Colosseum in Rome, Italy

You will exclaim “wow” repeatedly as you walk inside the Colosseum. The 272 foot by 157 foot arena once accommodated 50,000 up to 80,000 people. The stone passageway in the center is called a hypogeum. This was a highly sophisticated, underground system used to reset stage props and channel gladiators and animals into the amphitheater. When scheduled to appear, they were raised into position using elevators, pulleys and hydraulic lifts. The arena could also be flooded for mock naval battles. The hypogeum was covered with a wooden base similar to the one in the photo and then blanketed with a layer of sand.

Piazza del Colosseo 00184 Roma RM, Italy
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Casino Municipale di Sanremo in San Remo, Italy - Encircle Photos

29 Casino Municipale di Sanremo in San Remo, Italy

Since it opened in 1905, the Municipal Casino in San Remo, Italy, has become famous for its prestigious and refined gambling plus its origin of the stud poker game called Telesina. Interesting, in 1924, the dictator Mussolini closed every Italian gambling facility, except this one. Also behind this Liberty style façade is the Ariston Theater which offers concerts, plays and opera performances.

Corso Imperatrice, 15 18038 Sanremo IM, Italy
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Romantic Couple in Gondola on Canal in Venice, Italy - Encircle Photos

30 Romantic Couple in Gondola on Canal in Venice, Italy

The perfect, romantic fantasy is snuggling next to your partner while floating in a gondola through the narrow canals of Venice such as this one named Rio de San Luca. Too often, living a dream falls short of your imagination. But this reality is one experience that you will always fondly remember.

S. Marco, 4231, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
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Main Keep of Hiroshima Castle in Hiroshima, Japan - Encircle Photos

31 Main Keep of Hiroshima Castle in Hiroshima, Japan

In 1589, Mōri Terumoto (a feudal lord or daimyō) commissioned this castle while the settlement was called Gokamura (five villages). He renamed the area Hiroshima meaning “wide island.” For nearly twenty years, “Carp Castle” was occupied by Fukushima Masanori before serving twelve generations of the Asano family from 1619 until the end of the feudal system in 1871. It was then a military base when destroyed by the atomic blast in 1945. Only this five-story main keep (tenshu) was reconstructed following the original Azuchi-Momoyama design. Inside of Hiroshima Castle is a simple yet fascinating museum.

21 Motomachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 730-0011, Japan
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Kagoshima City Museum of Art in Kagoshima, Japan - Encircle Photos

32 Kagoshima City Museum of Art in Kagoshima, Japan

Kagoshima City Museum of Art exhibits traditional and modern works by local artists plus select pieces from famous painters like Monet, Renoir, Picasso and Warhol. There are about 2,000 pieces in the collection. You will be impressed from the moment you walk beneath the large glass dome. People familiar with the unconventional realism style of French sculptor Auguste Rodin will recognize the bronze “Eustache de Saint Pierre” in front. This cast was one of the figures in “The Burghers of Calais” ensemble finished in 1889. It depicts the capitulation of Calais to England in 1347 when the town leaders were forced to surrender wearing nooses around their necks.

4-36 Shiroyamacho, Kagoshima-shi, 892-0853, Japan
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Earthquake Memorial Park at Meriken Park in Kobe, Japan - Encircle Photos

33 Earthquake Memorial Park at Meriken Park in Kobe, Japan

Two events have virtually destroyed Kobe. The first was during World War II air raids. The second was the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995. This 6.9 magnitude tremor killed almost 6,500 people and injured another 43,000. 120 of the 150 quays at Port Kobe were damaged or destroyed. These leaning lampposts along crippled Meriken Wharf were retained as part of the Earthquake Memorial Park. To learn more about this local disaster, visit the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Museum a short distance away.

2 Hatobachō, Chūō-ku, Kōbe-shi, Hyōgo-ken 650-0042, Japan
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Main Gate at Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, Japan - Encircle Photos

34 Main Gate at Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, Japan

Fushimi Inari Taisha was established in 711 at Mount Inari as the first shrine dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Today, Japan has over 30,000 shrines honoring Inari. This is the primary one. Your excitement will build as you approach the entrance and see the first magnificent building in the background: Rōmon. According to legend, Japanese lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi commissioned the Tower Gate in 1589 after his prayers to Inari Ōkamito were answered to cure his ailing mother. This structure is also known as Sakura-mon meaning Plum Blossom Gate.

Japan, 〒612-0882 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Fushimi Ward, Fukakusa Yabunouchicho
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Itsukushima Shrine at Miyajima, Japan - Encircle Photos

35 Itsukushima Shrine at Miyajima, Japan

The Itsukushima Shrine was founded in 593 by Saeki Kuramoto. He considered the island to be a deity (kami). Hence the name: Itsukushima means “Island of Worship.” The Main Shrine was built in 1168 using a shinden-zukuri syle and reconstructed in 1571. Throughout its history, sailors and fisherman have prayed here to the three daughters of Susano-o no Mikoto, the goddesses of the sea, transport and fortune. The Main Shrine is connected to the Marodo and Tenjin Shrines plus the Noh Theatre. They are all painted a bright vermillion to ward off evil and disease. They are also built on piers to accommodate the ebbs and flows of the changing tide. In the background are the Toyokuni Shrine and the Five-storied Pagoda.

Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 739-0588, Japan
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72 Sages Statues at Confucian Shrine in Nagasaki, Japan - Encircle Photos

36 72 Sages Statues at Confucian Shrine in Nagasaki, Japan

At Confucian Shrine (Kōshi-byō) at Nagasaki are life-size figures of Confucius disciples. The 72 Sages reached the state of perfection by mastering the Six Arts, the core of Confucian teachings. The 1.8 ton statues stand in front of two corridors called Ryobu. Inside are the Marble Stones of the Analects with the inscriptions of the famous philosopher’s written words. The lion is one of two guarding the stairs leading to Taisei Hall. Each shíshī (stone lion) weighs 2.4 tons. This female is depicted playing with a cub. The male version has his paw on a sphere.

10-36 Ouramachi, Nagasaki, 850-0918, Japan
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Main Worship Hall at Shizuoka Sengen Jinja in Shizuoka, Japan - Encircle Photos

37 Main Worship Hall at Shizuoka Sengen Jinja in Shizuoka, Japan

The largest structure at Sengen Jinja stands an impressive 82 feet. The main hall of worship is a combination of two shrines, each with their own stairs and entrance. Kanbe Jinja was established during the 1st century BC and is dedicated to Okuniushinomikoto (god who ruled Japan) and Niniginomikoto (Japanese Emperor ancestor) plus Tokugawa Ieyasu. The building also houses Asama Jinja, founded in 901. Enshrined is Sakuya, the kami of Mount Fuji. People pray at this haiden for long life, a good marriage and a healthy child at birth.

102-1 Miyagasaki-chō, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka, 420-0868, Japan
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Introduction to Tokyo, Japan - Encircle Photos

38 Introduction to Tokyo, Japan

Welcome to Japan’s capital and the world’s most populated metropolitan area with about 38 million people across 23 special wards. The list of accolades for Tokyo seems endless: first in global economic power; home to the most Fortune Global 500 companies; most livable city; number one in safety; and first in shopping, nightlife, cleanliness plus overall experience. While gazing over this cityscape, you would expect the street level to be crowded and chaotic. Just the opposite. You will find the Japanese to be serene, friendly, helpful and justifiably proud as you explore their countless landmarks and attractions.

2 Chome-8-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo 163-8001, Japan
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Single Tree on Citadel Hill in Amman, Jordan - Encircle Photos

39 Single Tree on Citadel Hill in Amman, Jordan

The Hill of the Citadel in Amman, Jordan, can trace its history back to the New Stone Age or the Neolithic period around 7500 BC. Once named Rabbath Ammon, it was attack by King David of Israel in the 10th century BC and was subsequently ruled by many Middle Eastern powers. In the third century BC, it was called Philadelphia after a Ptolemaic ruler. Today, the mostly Roman ruins include the Temple of Hercules, a Byzantine church and a mosque. On the pinnacle of this historic hill or jabal stands a single, stoic tree that grows in solid rock and is a sentry to current history.

Amman Citadel K. Ali Ben Al-Hussein St. 146, Amman, Jordan
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Arch of Hadrian in Ancient Jerash, Jordan - Encircle Photos

40 Arch of Hadrian in Ancient Jerash, Jordan

Jerash, originally called Gerasa, was a major city in Jordan. Some believe it was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC or at least began to grow significantly in the early 4th century. Hadrian’s Arch is the spectacular entrance. Historically, commoners walked through one side while the other arch was reserved for nobles. Regardless of how you pass through, you will immediately feel the grandeur of ancient Roman times. The streets are lined with endless columns. Also impressive are two amphitheaters, a forum, a hippodrome and temples.

Arch of Hadrian, 20 Wasfi At-Tal, Jerash, Jordan
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The Treasury Viewed as Emerging from The Siq in Petra, Jordan - Encircle Photos

41 The Treasury Viewed as Emerging from The Siq in Petra, Jordan

The word “breathtaking” is often overused. Yet it is the perfect way to describe seeing Al-Khazneh as you exit The Siq. This rose-colored, classic façade has a dozen columns, Corinthian capitals plus statues of gods and goddesses. 2,000 years ago it was a temple or royal tomb. It has also been called The Treasury of the Pharaoh. This is based on a legend that an Egyptian king buried his treasures inside of the crown-shaped urn while pursing the Israelites during the Exodus. In the center niche is a statue of Al-‘Uzzá. “The Most Mighty” was the Arabian goddess of love and the protector of Petra. Also notice the small horizontal lines flanking the second story. These were ladders used during The Treasury’s construction.

Al-Khazneh al-Siq St, Petra, Jordan
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Bedouin Camels near Uum Sayhoun, Jordan - Encircle Photos

42 Bedouin Camels near Uum Sayhoun, Jordan

The three dromedary camels standing at the base of a cliff are not tourist props. These one-hump camelids are part of a livestock herd raised by a Bedouin. Bedouins are a group of nomadic people who live among the hills and valleys of Ma’an Governorate. Approximately 1.2 million Bedouins reside in Jordan. However, most are no longer “desert dwellers” like the Arabic name suggests. If you look closely on the right you will see a sleeping bag and evidence this spot has been a campsite for several days. There are approximately 18,000 camels raised in Jordan. They cost about $6,000 USD.

Uum Sayhoun, Jordan
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Profile of Very Old Monk in Ban Xang Hai in Laos - Encircle Photos

43 Profile of Very Old Monk in Ban Xang Hai in Laos

When I gestured to this elder monk whether I could take his photo, he stood there calmly without a word or emotion. I was mesmerized by his inner peace and the wisdom etched on his face. He clearly had reached the Fourth Path of a Buddhist monk called Arhat which, among many other things, is characterized by a constant feeling of good will for all beings.

Ban Xang Hai, Laos
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Downstream Falls and Pools at Kuang Si Falls near Luang Prabang, Laos - Encircle Photos

44 Downstream Falls and Pools at Kuang Si Falls near Luang Prabang, Laos

The initial 200 foot drop of the Kuang Si Falls is spectacular. However, the subsequent falls and pools that form downstream are very unique and beautiful. The tan, rust and cream colored ledges are limestone deposits called travertine. The aqua blue pools are cold yet an ideal swimming hole for a hot afternoon in Laos.

Kuang Si Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos
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Monks Collecting Offerings during Sai Bat in Luang Prabang, Laos - Encircle Photos

45 Monks Collecting Offerings during Sai Bat in Luang Prabang, Laos

Each morning before dawn, hundreds of monks walk single file in their saffron robes along the streets of Luang Prabang collecting alms from local people while distributing food into the baskets of the poor. Even the neighborhood dogs join this tradition in hopes that some sticky rice will fall their way.

Haw Pha Bang, Sisavangvong Road, Luang Prabang, Laos
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Bock Ruins and Alzette River Falls in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg - Encircle Photos

46 Bock Ruins and Alzette River Falls in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Since the Roman times, the city of Luxembourg has a very long history of building forts and being conquered. The most significant period of fortification growth occurred under French King Louis XIV. He commissioned Sebastien Le Prestre de Vauban to manage 3,000 workers to build 160 fortresses in the city from 1685 through 1688, thus earning it the nickname the “Gibraltar of the North.” Much of the defenses blew up in a 1554 gunpowder explosion. The citadel was further dismantled after Luxembourg became an independent state in 1867. However, some of the ruins can still be explored.

10 Montée de Clausen, 1343 Luxembourg
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Vianden Castle’s Fortified Wall in Vianden, Luxembourg - Encircle Photos

47 Vianden Castle’s Fortified Wall in Vianden, Luxembourg

This close up view of the Vianden Castle is from the courtyard. Behind this fortified wall are the lower and upper chapels, the latter which has an interesting history. In the 12th century, the parishioners of Vianden had to attend mass in Germany at the Basilica of Roth. After the chapel was built, the German archbishop became so angry that he had Henry I, who was known as the Sun Count, excommunicated in Rome.

Vianden Castle Montée du Château, 9408 Vianden, Luxembourg
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Yellow Fields of Rapeseed Flowers in Countryside, Luxembourg - Encircle Photos

Yellow Fields of Rapeseed Flowers in Countryside, Luxembourg

In the springtime, the green rolling hills in Luxembourg’s countryside are carpeted with yellow fields of rapeseed flowers. They are a spectacular sight. The plant’s seeds are used for producing cooking oil, biodiesel and animal feed. A significant share of the sparsely populated northern region of Luxembourg, called Oesling, is devoted to small, family-owned farms.

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