By Janet Steinberg
Special to Journal & Topics
Some of the world’s most famous structures transport you to the past, while others propel you into the future…from structures dating back to ancient empires to grand monuments of the New World. While no article or photograph can do justice to the world’s great landmarks, allow me to whet your appetite to start planning, packing, planing and photographing in person!
EPHESUS, TURKEY: The legendary remains of the 3,000-year-old ancient city of Ephesus are located a short drive across the Asia Minor countryside from the port city of Kusadasi. Located 10 miles inland from the Aegean Sea, the Marble City of Ephesus may well be the most extensive excavation in the world. Walking along the blazing white marble Arcadian Way, one might have difficulty relating to Anthony, Cleopatra or King Croesus, all of whom are said to have walked these spooky streets. But moviegoers will have no trouble imagining Charlton Heston gliding through the ancient ruins in his chariot.
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC: Fred and Ginger, (The Dancing House), was named after famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. This “dancing house” exudes the grace of the Hollywood couple who dominated big-screen musicals decades ago. The once-controversial ultra-contemporary building, whose twirling twin towers seem to dance, was awarded Best Design of 1996 by Time Magazine. Architect Frank Gehry designed the sunken structure that adjoins two Art Nouveau houses built by the grandfather of former Czech President Václav Havel.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: The Getty Center, draped across two ridges atop a hill, is a magical blend of the fluidity of glass and metal and the raw look of travertine marble. Lots of travertine marble…about 16,000 tons…which took 100 cargo trips to deliver it from the same Italian quarry used to build the Colosseum in Rome, the Trevi Fountain and the Colonnade of St. Peter’s Basilica. The Getty Center is a destination in itself. You can spend an entire day eating and reveling in the sheer beauty of the Getty Center.
FLORENCE, ITALY: The Great Synagogue of Florence (Florence), an onion-domed Moorish masterpiece built in 1882, is a national monument and one of the finest synagogues in Europe. With its beautiful frescoes and Venetian mosaics, the synagogue is a survivor. Look closely, in this building which was used as a garage by the Nazis, and you will see bayonet marks inflicted by the Nazis on the doors of the Holy Ark. The synagogue was also badly damaged by floods and muddy waters from the Arno River in November.
BILBAO, SPAIN: Hailed by Time magazine as “the building of the century,” the undulating Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, was designed by architect Frank Gehry for $100 million. From a distance, this splendid, bizarrely shaped sculptural masterpiece of limestone, titanium and glass that opened in 1997 looks like a massive steel sculpture. Gehry describes his building on the banks of the Nervion River as a ship that ran aground. Others have compared the silhouette of the Guggenheim Bilbao to a roller coaster, a mermaid, a waterfall, a hula girl and a fish. Philip Johnson, the dean of American architects, called the building “the most important building of our time”.
CAIRO, EGYPT: The Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest and largest of the Giza pyramids, is the only remaining member of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The pyramid is said to have been built in 2560 BC as a tomb for the Egyptian pharaoh Khufu (Cheops in Greek). Tourists will be shocked that the Great Pyramid and its neighboring Sphinx are no longer located in a remote desert. Cairo has emerged from its desert location with a Pizza Hut and KFC nearby.
BARCELONA, SPAIN: Visitors from all over the world come to Barcelona to follow the Gaudi Route, an architectural tour of the works of this pioneer of the modernist movement in architecture. La Pedrera, one of Gaudi’s last works, illustrates the inseparability of art and technique. Casa Batllo, designated a historical monument in 1969, is another example of Gaudi’s modernism. People of all faiths flock to Barcelona to visit Gaudi’s Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia. This stunning structure, with its surreal spiers, is said to resemble a fondant wedding cake. Initiated by Gaudi in 1882, it is still a work in progress.
Now it’s your turn to think and decide… Where do you want to go first?
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