9

The Ancient Town of Fenghuang, China

The town of Fenghuang is located in the Hunan province in China along the banks of the Tuo Jiang River. The town is exceptionally well-preserved and relatively untouched by modern urbanization.

The legacy of the Ming And Qing dynasties are preserved within the town, spanning 300 years of ancient heritage. In the ancient town zone, preservation of over 200 residential buildings, 30 streets, and hundreds of other ancient features and landmarks of the town has continued for hundreds of years.

Because of its unique geographical location, Fenghuang never suffered from the destruction of any natural disaster or suffered invasion from any wars. Even during the war of resistance against Japanese invasion, the isolated town of Fenghuang did not suffer occupation. In 1949, Fenghuang was peacefully liberated.

In the following 50 years, Fenghuang was spared any large-scale construction that occurred in nearby districts. As the people of Fenghuang cherish their valuable heritage, the local government has conducted strict control over all construction, continuing the preservation and the authenticity of the ancient town.

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7

"City of Ghosts"

High on the Ming Hill, Fengdu, the “City of Ghosts,” is situated at the northern end of the Yangtze River. It attracts tourists from all over and even many visitors from within China as it is the place to learn about Chinese ghost culture and the afterlife.

The city has been around for nearly 2,000 years, filling it with a spooky sense of the past. Its origin story begins back in the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE), when two officials decided to run away to the area and live out their lives, where they eventually, the story goes, became immortal. Yin and Wang, the names of the officials, were combined during a later dynasty to mean “King of the Underworld.” Locals deemed this a gathering place for spirits. The Ghost City that developed is a complex of Buddhist and Taoist temples adorned with macabre demon statues dismembering humans as they guard the entrance to the netherworld.

Most of the popular landmarks in the City of Ghosts bear names that reference the afterlife: “Last Glance at Home Tower,” “Nothing-to-be-Done Bridge,” “Ghost Torturing Pass.” Covering the sites are statues and other artistic depictions of ghosts and devils, terrifying works that represent what happens to those who haven’t lived good lives after theirs is taken from them.

The giant face seen in the pictures is called The Ghost King, and it holds a Guinness World Records title as the biggest sculpture carved on a rock. At 138 meters tall and about 217 meters wide, The Ghost King can be seen from all around the city.

KINGDOM COME

Worship. Stars. Revolution. The future is burning.

The City is the power, the city is alive and older than anybody could imagine. The city is light and spires and humanity running through the same spaces for aeons. The city is angry. It is ruled by the God Queen in whose throne the ancient alien power of the gods are bound, who holds the power of the city in her conductor hands, in her sparking, untouched heart. Her brother, the shining warrior prince, is the iron fist to her divinity, and is brutal as only the old gods were, with a mind like the shining vault of heaven. Together they are of an ancient dynasty with secret knowledge of forbidden ceremonies, who hold dominion over all understanding of the heavens and the electrical soul of the roiling City.

But their doom is lurking in the shadows, dancing in blood and guerrilla tech in the underground: the wild, joyously violent messiah who will tear apart their rigid and ceremonial rule, who leads an ecstatic hedonistic cult that threatens the civilized and stagnant peace of the city. In this, he walks hand in hand with his mad scientist, she who lives in the guts of the City, who shapes and reshapes bodies with savage surgery and living metal that when the people dance in revelry; so too might the City. Together they will show the people the forbidden way to the stars.

The City is rising.

[In pre-production Summer 2013, by C.O.I.N, learn more here]

6

The Medieval Village Built with Diamond Dust

Do the pictures look familiar? Nördlingen was the town shown in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in 1971, when in the final scenes the glass elevator is floating over a town. From an aerial vantage point, Nördlingen is more than just a quaint Bavarian town in Germany — It is located in the middle of a giant meteorite crater called the Nördlinger Ries that is 15 million years old.

Nördlingen is an ancient village, first mentioned in recorded history in 898 AD. In 1998 the town celebrated its 1100th Anniversary. The town was also the location of two battles during the Thirty Years’ War, a war which took place between 1618-1648. The map in the second picture was made during that time. Today it is one of only three towns in Germany that still has a completely established city wall, the other two being Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Dinkelsbühl.

Stone buildings in the town contain millions of tiny diamonds, all less than 0.2 millimeters across. The impact that caused the Nördlinger Ries crater created an estimated 72,000 tons of them when it impacted a local graphite deposit. Stone from this area was later quarried and used to build the town’s ancient stone buildings.

sources 1, 2, 3, 4

2

The Magnificent “Dead Cities” of Ancient Syria

Known as the Dead Cities, or Ancient Villages of Northern Syria, there is an incredible collection of 700 abandoned settlements that lay in the Al-Bara region. Ranging from single monuments to almost-complete villages, these ghostly sites date back before the fifth century CE. They are situated in an area known as Belus Massif, and contain numerous remains of Christian Byzantine architecture.

The ruins are believed to have been abandoned between the 8th and 10th century, and include churches, public houses, dwellings, and even wine presses. Restorative work is currently taking place on the sites, and the local inhabitants are welcoming to visitors.

The Dead Cities, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are believed to have flourished on the major trade routes of the Byzantine Empire, where they were established. But when the Arabs conquered, they lost the majority of their business, and many inhabitants moved to areas of increasing urbanization. As a result, the Dead Cities have an “eerie” feel to them – as if the inhabitants simply vanished without trace.

Ptolemais in Cyrenaica (Libya)

The town was most probably founded in 7th or 6th century BC by settlers from Barca. Soon it became one of the founding city-states of the Pentapolis Federation. In 331 BC, the union was dissolved after all of its towns surrendered to Alexander the Great. After his death, the area formed part of the Ptolemaic empire. In early 1st century the region was conquered by Rome and became a separate province.

In 365, a major earthquake struck the region and destroyed all of the five major cities of the area (Cyrene with its port Apollonia, Arsinoe, Berenice, Balagrae and Barca). Ptolemais survived the tragedy in relatively good condition, and it was there that the most important authorities were moved. It served the role of a capital of Cyrenaica until 428, when it was destroyed by the Vandals. During the reign of Justinian I the city was rebuilt, but it never regained its powers and was again destroyed by the Arabs in the 7th century.

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