Saidaiji Temple was originally built in the 8th century by Anryu Shonin after having a vision of a god with a rhinocerous horn telling him to build the Kannon temple here (he was already enroute to rebuilding the Bizen Kannon Temple which was also said to have come from a vision while he was a priest at Hasedera Temple in Nara).
The original temple was destroyed and rebuilt over the years, but the structures you see today are all still quite old. The pagoda dates back to 1678, the Hondo was built in 1863, the Niomon Gate is from 1740, the Ishimon Gate was built in 1819, etc. The characters used to write the original temple’s name meant “Rhino Temple” which came from the rhino horn but the first character was later changed so that today it means “(Large) Western Temple”.
The temple is impressive. There is a large painting inside the temple on the ceiling of the the Saidaiji Eyo, also known as the Hadaka Matsuri or Naked Man Festival. It’s the largest event held here and the largest Naked Man Festival in the nation! The painting is quite beautiful and the overall architecture of the temple is intriguing. There are many other paintings painted on the actual temple ceiling, as well. The Ishimon Gate is unique, appearing to have a Chinese influence.
The temple is also the first temple of the Chugoku 33 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage route.
Amersfoort is a municipality and the second largest city of the province of Utrecht in central Netherlands. The city is growing quickly but has a well-preserved and protected medieval centre. Amersfoort is one of the largest railway junctions in the country, because of its location on two of the Netherlands’ main east-west and north-south rail lines. The town celebrated its 750th birthday in 2009.
Built in murus dacicus style, the six Dacian Fortresses of the Orăștie Mountains, in Romania, were created in the 1st centuries BC and AD as protection against Roman conquest.
Their extensive and well-preserved remains present a picture of a vigorous and innovative ancient civilization. Today, treasure-hunters sometimes search the area, as Romania lacks legislation in this domain.
The six fortresses – Sarmizegetusa Regia, Costeşti-Cetăţuie, Costeşti-Blidaru, Piatra Roşie, Băniţa and Căpâlna – that formed the defensive system of Decebalus were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, as well as the settlement and fortifications at Feţele Albe.
Dacian Fortress of Sarmizegetusa Regia
The town of Sarmizegetusa Regia was the capital and major fortress of the Dacian kingdom, probably built in the mid first century BCE. It consisted of perimeter walls and fortifications, a sacred precinct, and a settlement area primarily for nobles and supporting servants. It was located at the top of a 1200 meter hill with excellent visibility of the surrounding lands. The sacred precinct was on the east side of the town, with a prominent plaza and circular shrines. There were two settlement areas one on the east side and a larger one on the west. In addition to dwellings they included workshops, storage buildings, and agricultural processing areas. Notable for the time is a distribution system for drinking water that used ceramic pipes.
Dacian Fortess of Costești – Blidaru
The University of Cambridge is rich in history – its famous Colleges and University buildings attract visitors from all over the world. But the University’s museums and collections also hold many treasures which give an exciting insight into some of the scholarly activities, both past and present, of the University’s academics and students.
The University of Cambridge is one of the world’s oldest universities and leading academic centres, and a self-governed community of scholars. Its reputation for outstanding academic achievement is known world-wide and reflects the intellectual achievement of its students, as well as the world-class original research carried out by the staff of the University and the Colleges.
Many of the University’s customs and unusual terminology can be traced to roots in the early years of the University’s long history, and this booklet looks to the past to find the origins of much that is distinctive in the University of today.
The Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge of Višegrad across the Drina River in the east of Bosnia and Herzegovina was built at the end of the 16th century by the court architect Mimar Koca Sinan on the orders of Grand Vizier Mehmed Paša Sokolović. Characteristic of the apogee of Ottoman monumental architecture and civil engineering, the bridge has 11 masonry arches with spans of 11 m to 15 m, and an access ramp at right angles with four arches on the left bank of the river. The 179.5 m long bridge is a representative masterpiece of Sinan, one of the greatest architects and engineers of the classical Ottoman period and a contemporary of the Italian Renaissance, with which his work may be compared. The unique elegance of proportion and monumental nobility of the whole site bear witness to the greatness of this style of architecture.
The Piazza del Duomo (“Cathedral Square”) is a wide, walled area at the heart of the city of Pisa, Tuscany, Italy, recognized as one of the main centers for medieval art in the world. Partly paved and partly grassed, it is dominated by four great religious edifices: the Duomo (cathedral), the Campanile (the cathedral’s free standing bell tower), the Baptistry and the Camposanto.
In 1987 the whole square was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Amazin aerial view of Tevere River, Castle Saint Angelo and Vatican City
Saint Peter Square
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country’s largest and most populated city and comune. The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.
Rome’s history spans over two and a half thousand years. It was the capital city of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, which was the dominant power in Western Europe and the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea for over seven hundred years from the 1st century BC until the 7th century AD. Since the 1st century AD Rome has been the seat of the Papacy and, after the end of Byzantine domination, in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1946 that of the Italian Republic.
After the Middle Ages, Rome was ruled by popes such as Alexander VI and Leo X, who transformed the city into one of the major centers of the Italian Renaissance, along with Florence. The current-day version of St Peter’s Basilica was built and the Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo. Famous artists and architects, such as Bramante, Bernini and Raphael resided for some time in Rome, contributing to its Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
In 2007 Rome was the 11th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy. The city is one of Europe’s and the world’s most successful city “brands,” both in terms of reputation and assets. Its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Monuments and museums such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum are amongst the world’s 50 most visited tourist destinations (the Vatican Museums receiving 4.2 million tourists and the Colosseum receiving 4 million tourists every year).
Reichenau Island lies in Lake Constance in southern Germany. It lies between the Gnadensee and the Untersee, almost due west of the city of Konstanz. The island is connected to the mainland by a causeway that was completed in 1838. Nevertheless, the island is separated from it by a 10-meter-wide Bruckgraben, which is spanned by a low road bridge that allows passage of ordinary boats but not of sailboats through its 95-meter course.
It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2000 because of its monastery, the Abbey of Reichenau. The abbey’s Münster is dedicated to the Virgin and Saint Mark. Two further churches were built on the island consecrated to St Georg, and to Sts Peter and Paul. The famous artworks of Reichenau include the Ottonian murals of miracles of Christ in St Georg, unique survivals from the 10th century. The abbey’s bailiff was housed in a two-storey stone building that was raised by two more storeys of timber framing in the 14th century, one of the oldest timber-frame buildings in south Germany.
Among the Abbey’s far-flung landholdings was Reichenau, a village in the municipality of Tamins in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland, named for the Abbey.
Today the island is also famous for its vegetable farms. The Wollmatinger Ried next to the island is a big nature preserve, a wetland area of reeds which is used by many birds for the stopover during their annual migration.
Museum Island (German: Museumsinsel) is the name of the northern half of an island in the Spree river in the central Mitte district of Berlin, Germany, the site of the old city of Cölln. It is so called for the complex of five internationally significant museums, all part of the Berlin State Museums, that occupy the island’s northern part:
- The Altes Museum (Old Museum) completed on the orders of Karl Friedrich Schinkel in 1830.
- The Neues Museum (New Museum) finished in 1859 according to plans by Friedrich August Stüler, a student of Schinkel. Destroyed in World War II, it was rebuilt under the direction of David Chipperfield for the Egyptian Museum of Berlin and re-opened in 2009.
- The Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) completed in 1876, also according to designs by Friedrich August Stüler, to host a collection of 19th century art donated by banker Joachim H. W. Wagener
- The Bode Museum on the island’s northern tip, opened in 1904 and then called Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum. It exhibits the sculpture collections and late Antique and Byzantine art.
- The Pergamon Museum, the final museum of the complex, constructed in 1930. It contains multiple reconstructed immense and historically significant buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon.
In 1999, the museum complex was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
Cologne Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church in Cologne, Germany. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne (currently Cardinal Joachim Meisner), and is under the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. It is renowned as a monument of Christianity, of German Catholicism in particular, of Gothic architecture and of the continuing faith and perseverance of the people of the city in which it stands. It is dedicated to Saint Peter and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The cathedral is a World Heritage Site, one of the best-known architectural monuments in Germany, and Cologne’s most famous landmark, described by UNESCO as an “exceptional work of human creative genius”. It is Germany’s most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day.
Construction of Cologne Cathedral began in 1248 and took, with interruptions, until 1880 to complete. It is 144.5 metres long, 86.5 m wide and its towers are approximately 157 m tall.The cathedral is one of the world’s largest churches and the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. For four years, 1880-84, it was the tallest structure in the world, until the completion of the Washington Monument. It has the second-tallest church spires, only surpassed by the single spire of Ulm Minster, completed 10 years later in 1890. Because of its enormous twin spires, it also presents the largest façade of any church in the world. The choir of the cathedral, measured between the piers, also holds the distinction of having the largest height to width ratio of any Medieval church, 3.6:1, exceeding even Beauvais Cathedral which has a slightly higher vault.
Cologne’s medieval builders had planned a grand structure to house the reliquary of the Three Kings and fit its role as a place of worship of the Holy Roman Emperor. Despite having been left incomplete during the medieval period, Cologne Cathedral eventually became unified as “a masterpiece of exceptional intrinsic value” and “a powerful testimony to the strength and persistence of Christian belief in medieval and modern Europe”.