Archive for the ‘Amazing’ Category
Nothing really prepares you for the staggering beauty of the amazing ancient city of Petra, which was carved into the sheer rock face on the slope of Mount Hor in a great rift valley among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Wadi Araba, and originally developed over 2600 years ago by an Arab Tribe.
Petra is located in southwestern Jordan about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of the Dead Sea, surrounded by towering hills of rust-colored sandstone which gave the city some natural protection against invaders.
Enclosed by towering rocks and watered by a perennial stream, Petra not only possessed the advantages of a fortress but controlled the main commercial routes, turning it into an important center of trade for silk, spice and other routes that linked China, India and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome.
Although the city may have been accessed from the south in ancient times, the only entrance to the city is through a 2 kilometer dry water course called the Siq — a dark, narrow gorge of dazzling rock formations and colors only 10 to 13 feet (3 to 4 meters) wide in areas — flanked on either side by soaring cliffs over 300 feet (100 meters) high.
As you reach the end of the Siq you catch the first glimpse of Petra’s most elaborate and awe-inspiring ruin, Al-Khazneh — the “Treasury” — hewn directly out of the sandstone cliff, and just the first of the many wonders that make up Petra.
The “Treasury,” named as such in the mistaken belief that the urn contained gold. The massive façade is sculpted out of the sheer rock face with deeply-carved architectural elements, and dwarves everything around it at 105 feet (35 meters) wide and 140 feet (43 meters) high, making it the largest freestanding structure in Petra. It was carved in the early 1st century as the tomb of an important Nabataean king and epitomizes the engineering genius of these ancient people.
As you enter the valley you’re overwhelmed by outstanding architectural achievements — hundreds of elaborate rock-cut tombs with intricate carvings. Unlike the houses which were destroyed mostly by earthquakes, about 500 tombs survived which were carved to last throughout the afterlife.
The Nabateans believed that the soul departed from the body and continued to live after death, so it should therefore continue to be fed and clothed by its living descendants, which is why there are so many tombs at Petra.
At the foot of the mountain called en-Nejr, a little farther from the Treasury is a massive Roman-style theatre which could seat 3,000 people. It stands at the point where the valley opens out into the plain the site of the city, placed to bring the greatest number of tombs within view.
The amphitheatre was actually cut into the hillside and into several of the tombs during its construction. Nearly enclosing it on 3 sides are rose-colored mountain walls, divided into groups by deep fissures, and lined with tombs cut from the rock in the form of towers.
There are obelisks, temples, sacrificial altars, and streets lined with rows of columns. A flight of 800 rock cut steps leads you high above, overlooking the valley, where the impressive Ad-Deir Monastery is located.
Also known as ad-Dayr in Arabic, the Monastery is so huge that the doorway is taller than many houses. The façade is some 165 feet (50 meters) high and 130 feet (40 meters) wide. The door is a staggering 30 feet (9 meters high). Its name, like most Petra structures, does not reflect reality; it was possibly a Nabataean temple.
According to Arab tradition, Petra is the spot where Moses struck a rock with his staff and water came forth, and where Moses’ brother Aaron is buried at Mount Hor, known today as Jabal Haroun or Mount Aaron.
The Wadi Musa or “Wadi of Moses” is the Arab name for the narrow valley at the head of which Petra is sited. A mountaintop shrine of Moses’ sister Miriam was still shown to pilgrims at the time of Jerome in the 4th century, but its location has not been identified since.
The 13th century shrine built by the Mameluk Sultan Al Nasir Mohammad to commemorate the death of Aaron, the brother of Moses, can be seen on top of Mount Aaron in the Sharah range.
There are 2 museums within the site — Petra Archaeological Museum and the Petra Nabataean Museum — which display finds from excavations in the Petra region and an insight into Petra’s intriguing past.
Excavations have revealed that the Nabateans had the ability to control the water supply that led to the rise of the desert city, in effect creating an artificial oasis. The area is known to have flash floods and archaeological evidence shows the Nabateans controlled them by the use of dams, cisterns and water conduits. Water could be stored water this way even during prolonged periods of drought, and the city prospered from its sale.
This road, built from the period when the Romans invaded Petra in 106 AD, runs across the valley floor, and was once lined with temples, palaces, shops, and houses.
History of Petra : So far, no method has been found to determine when the history of Petra began. But evidence suggests Petra — from the Latin word “petrae” meaning rock — was first established around the 6th century BC by the Nabataean Arabs, a nomadic tribe who settled in the area and laid the foundations of a commercial empire that extended into Syria.
This part of the country was traditionally assigned to the Horites, likely cave-dwellers, the predecessors of the Edomites. The habits of the original natives may have influenced the Nabataean custom of burying the dead and offering worship in half-excavated caves.
The town grew up around its Colonnaded Street in the first century AD and by the mid-first century had witnessed rapid urbanization. Following the flow of the Wadi Musa, the city-center was laid out on either sides of the Colonnaded Street on an elongated plan between the theater in the east and the Qasr al-Bint in the west.
Among the most remarkable of all Nabataean achievements is the hydraulic engineering systems they developed including water conservation systems and the dams that were constructed to divert the rush of swollen winter waters that create flash floods.
In 131 AD Hadrian, the Roman emperor, visited the site and named it after himself, Hadriane Petra.
Despite several attempts by the Seleucid king Antigonus, the Roman emperor Pompey and Herod the Great to bring Petra under the control of their respective empires, Petra remained largely in Nabataean rule until around 100AD, when the Romans took over.
It was still inhabited during the Byzantine period, when the former Roman empire moved its focus to Constantinople. The Byzantine community recycled many standing structures and rock-cut monuments, while also constructing their own buildings, including churches — such as the recently excavated Petra Church with the extraordinary mosaics. Among the rock-cut monuments they reused is the great tomb or the Ad-Dayr (known as The Monastery), which was modified into a church.
In 363 an earthquake destroyed many buildings, and crippled the vital water management system. A devastating earthquake had a severe impact on the city in 551 AD, which all but brought the city to ruin. With the rise of Islam, Petra became a backwater community.
The Crusaders constructed a fort there in the 12th century but soon withdrew. After the Arabic occupation, it lost its importance little by little, the trade routes changed that went through Petra, and after that it just lapsed into silence.
The long-hidden city remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was rediscovered by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, disguised as an Arab sheik. Gaining the trust of the local tribesmen, he learned of the secret gorge which led to the “City of Rock,” and was determined to see it.
Petra remained accessible only to Europeans accompanied by local guides with armed escorts until after World War I.
Petra was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 when it was described as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage,” and classed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World on July 7 2007.
It’s the world’s fourth largest island, and is home to 5% of the world’s plants and animal species, of which more than 80% are endemic to Madagascar. They include the lemur infra order of primates, the carnivorous fossa, three bird families and six baobab species. Aside from this, there are numerous scenic views in the island.
The Maldives holds the record for being the flattest country in the world, with a maximum natural ground level of only 2.3 m (7½ ft). Maldives is one of the best diving spots in the world.
The only island shared by three countries which is split between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. Visiting this island would mean you have visited three counties in all. The island is also the third largest in the world. Mount Kinabalu which is located in the island is a major center of biodiversity.
Borneo is also known for its extensive cave systems. Clearwater Cave has one of the world’s longest underwater rivers. Deer Cave, thought to be the largest cave passage in the world, is home to over three million bats and guano accumulated to over 100 meters high.
Manitoulin Island is the largest freshwater island in a lake in the world. It is a Canadian island in Lake Huron, in the province of Ontario with an area of 1,068 sq.mi/2,766 sq. km.
The Blue Lagoon in Iceland – A Geothermal Spa which is Iceland’s most unique and popular attraction.
Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe with an average about three inhabitants per square km. Almost four-fifths of the country are uninhabited and mostly uninhabitable, the population being concentrated in a narrow coastal belt, valleys and the southwest corner of the country. Iceland has some of the world’s highest levels of economic freedoms as well as civil freedoms. As of 2007, Iceland is the most developed country in the world with fellow Nordic country Norway according to the Human Development Index and one of the most egalitarian, according to the calculation provided by the Gini coefficient.
Strokkur, a geyser, is in the process of erupting. Lying on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Iceland is one of the most geologically active areas on Earth.
It is the only place in the world where tall rainforests are found growing on sand dunes. There are long uninterrupted white sandy beaches surrounded by sand cliffs, over 100 freshwater lakes, some tea-colored and many crystal-clear creeks.
Palau Samosir is the largest island on another island situated in Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia. It is 245 sq. m/630 sq. km.
The island is a popular tourist destination with lots of wild animals in its jungle like orang utan and many others.
Great Britain is the largest island of the British Isles, the largest island in Europe and the eighth-largest island in the world. It is the largest island ever joined to a continent by a fixed link, which is now tied to Europe by the Channel Tunnel.
Channel Tunnel is a 31.35 mile long rail tunnel beneath the English Channel connecting Folkestone to Coquelles near Calais. It consists of three separate tunnels; two 7.6m diameter single tracks, single direction rail tunnels which are 30m apart, and one 4.8m diameter service tunnel between them.
Isla Ometepe, in Lake Nicaragua, is the world’s tallest lake island. Concepcion Volcano rises 5,183 feet / 1,580 meters above lake level. The Island of Ometepe was formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua in the Republic of Nicaragua. Its name derives from the Nahuatl words Ome – two and Tepetl – mountain, meaning two mountains.
Concepcion and Maderas volcanoes are joined by a low isthmus to form one island, giving it the form of an hourglass. Ometepe has an area of 276 sq. km. It is 31 km long and 5 to 10 km wide. The island has a population of 35,000, and an economy based on livestock, agriculture, and tourism.
Lake of the Woods is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area. It is over seventy miles long and wide, and contains over 14,552 islands and 65,000 miles (105,000 km) of shoreline, which would amount to the longest coastline of any Canadian lake, except that the lake is not entirely within Canada.
Some of the many telescopes operated by various universities from the world are positioned atop the highest island mountain in the world – Mauna Kea. It is above the clouds and because of this, the remote location, the lack of light pollution, and its position near the equator, make this one of the very best places on earth to watch the stars and planets. It also has a mars like surface and seems like you are on another planet.
Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, one of five volcanoes which together form the island of Hawaii. Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world when measured from base to summit, since its base is located on the seafloor about 19,000 feet (5,800 m) beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean, bringing its total height to about 33,000 ft (10,000 m). In the Hawaiian language, Mauna Kea means “white mountain”, a reference to its summit being regularly snow-capped during the Northern Hemisphere winter.
Curiouser and Curiouser:
Have a look…
1. Catherine the Great (1729 – 1796)
The reign of Catherine II, the German-born czarina of Russia, began when she overthrew her alcoholic, incompetent, and purportedly impotent husband, Frederick (the not so Great), in 1762. If there was one thing Catherine the Great would not stand for, it was impotence.
Although grossly overweight, Catherine loved men – a great many of them, in fact – over the course of her 34-year reign. And then, it was rumored, she died during a botched attempt to make love (if it can be called such a thing) to a horse. The rumor may have been spread by Catherine’s Polish enemies, who resented her for annexing much of Poland. (On the list of European royalty’s leisure activities, “overrunning Poland” has historically been a close second to “Sex.”)
At any rate, Catherine never had sex with a horse, and one wonders why anyone felt compelled to make up such a story, since her actual death was plenty humiliating. While straining on the toilet, she had a stroke.
2. The Tale of Two Georges
In what seems to be an outlandish coincidence, England’s king George II (1683 – 1760) also died of a stroke while on the commode. Some sources say that although he was quite happily married to his wife, Queen Caroline, George took mistresses as to maintain his reputation. After all, a mistressless king could be seen as weak or worse still, impotent.
His son, George III, however, broke that streak of monarchial infidelity when he married the notoriously homely Princess Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1761. Seeing her for the first time on their wedding day, George is said to have winced in disgust, but the two came to love one another immensely (and frequently – they had 15 kids), and George III was never unfaithful.
3. Another Royal Horse
Some Roman historians claimed that Caligula intended to make his horse consul, but that appears to have been kind of a Roman urban legend. Roman historians despised Caligula so intensely that it’s difficult to sort out the actual facts of his reign. And while Caligula did like his horse (he apparently built Incitatus a house), there’s no reason to believe he “liked him” liked him.
4. Jahangir (1569 – 1627)
Jahangir had little to do with the day-to-day running of the empire – that work was accomplished by his favorite wife, Nur Jahan. (The Taj Mahal was built for Jahan’s niece, Mumtaz Mahal.)
While Jahan became one of the most powerful women of the 17th century, Jahangir busied himself with loving. He supposedly had 300 wives (296 more than allowed by the religion, Islam, he supposedly followed), 5,000 female concubines, and 1,000 male concubines. Jahangir also kept a massive herd of 12,000 elephants, but we won’t speculate.
5. And, of Course, Prince Charles! (1948 – )
Instead, they engaged in all manner of hints and innuendo. This led to the strange phenomenon of the royal family issuing a statement denying allegations that had never publicly been made. The rumor: Prince Charles had a love affair with his advisor Michael Fawcett.
Scandalous, sure, but unlikely – it seems the prince only has eyes for Camilla. After decades of courtship, they finally wed in 2005.
1. If you’re straight, kiss someone of the same gender. If you’re gay, kiss someone of the opposite sex. Hey, you never know until you try.
2. Do it in a bathroom stall at a bar.
3. Amass a collection of sex toys to pleasure yourself – and your partners – with.
4. Learn how to bring yourself to orgasm in less than three minutes.
5. Have at least one steamy vacation fling with someone who doesn’t speak your language.
6. Pee on someone, or get peed on.
7. Have all your favorite smut sites bookmarked and ready at the touch of a button.
8. Give or get anal sex the right way (i.e. without being wasted, with lots of lube!)
9. Master the art of mind-blowing head.
10. Have sex on ecstasy.
11. Have a fuck buddy on retainer.
12. Have steamy sex with an ex.
13. For the ladies: Buy sexy lingerie just for yourself, and wear it alone when you’re feeling frisky.
14. Stop comparing your sex life with your friends’.
15. Ask for the brand of condoms you want in a loud voice at the drugstore with no shame.
16. Let someone tie you up.
17. Turn down sex with someone you dig – just to make ’em wait.
18. Sleep with a much younger person (nobody underage, perv).
19. Sleep with someone much older.
20. Get tested for STDs – and do it on a regular basis.
21. Visit a strip club or peep show with your partner.
22. Masturbate in your office bathroom.
23. Have sex with someone you hate but think is hot.
24. Make another person’s fantasy come true.
25. Try at least one Internet date.
26. Use a webcam to get down and dirty with a faraway friend.
27. Have sex in the ocean.
28. Give a sexual favor to get backstage.
29. Swallow (sans gagging or protesting).
30. Be the one to not call the next day – or ever.