world heritage site

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“Skellig Michael (Irish: Sceilig Mhichíl), or Great Skellig (Irish: Sceilig Mhór), is an island (the larger of the two Skellig Islands) in the Atlantic Ocean, 11.6 km west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. A Christian monastery was founded on the island at some point between the 6th and 8th century, and was continuously occupied until its abandonment in the late 12th century. The remains of the monastery, along with most of the island itself, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Skellig Michael was uninhabited prior to the foundation of its monastery. Folklore holds that Ir, son of Míl Espáine, was buried on the island, and a text from the 8th or 9th century states that Duagh, King of West Munster, fled to “Scellecc” after a feud with the Kings of Cashel, although it is not known whether these events actually took place.

The monastic site on the island is located on a terraced shelf 600 feet above sea-level, and developed between the sixth and eighth century. It contains six beehive cells, two oratories as well as a number of stone crosses and slabs. It also contains a later medieval church. The cells and oratories are all of dry-built corbel construction. A carefully designed system for collecting and purifying water in cisterns was developed. It has been estimated that no more than twelve monks and an abbot lived here at any one time. A hermitage is located on the south peak.”

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Close to the solstice by Geoff Eccles
Via Flickr:
Standing Stones of Stenness, Orkney Islands

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Wieliczka salt mine, Poland

In southern Poland, Lake Wessel lies inky and unmoving in the deep. Filling the bottom of an old salt mine, it’s just one component of the UNESCO World Heritage Site which has been a functioning mine since the 13th century. Featuring supreme carpentry, centuries-old brickwork and ornate salt-crystal chandeliers in cavernous dining rooms, this fantastical setting is a favorite for the Polish film industry. The mine’s attractions include dozens of statues and four chapels carved out of the rock salt by the miners. The older sculptures have been supplemented with new carvings made by contemporary artists. About 1.2 million people visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine annually. 

(Source, source)

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Persepolis - Iran

The ancient ruins are all that remains of Persepolis. Known in Persian as Parseh (پارسه) which literally meant “City of Persians”. The city was the ceremonial capital of the first Persian Empire (the Achaemenid Empire) which dated from 550-330 BCE. The oldest parts of the site date back to 515 BCE.

Persepolis was chosen by King Cyrus the Great (founder of the first Persian Empire & first King of Iran) as the capital of Persia, but it was during the rule of King Darius I (522-486 BCE) that the terraces & great palaces were built, they were mostly finished during the rein of King Darius’s son & King Cyrus’s great-great-grandson Xerxes I (486-465 BCE).

The city was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 BCE upon his conquest of Persia. Some scholars & historians suggest it was an act of revenge for the burning of Athens during the second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BCE.

Persepolis today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Summer Triangle over the Great Wall : Have you ever seen the Summer Triangle? The bright stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair form a large triangle on the sky that can be seen rising in the northern spring during the morning, and rising in the northern fall during the evening. During summer months, the triangle can be found nearly overhead near midnight as three of the brightest stars on the sky. Featured here, along with the arch of the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy, the Summer Triangle asterism was captured this spring over the Great Wall of China. This part of the Great Wall, a World Culture Heritage Site, was built during the 6th century on the Yan Mountains. At the summit is Wangjinglou Tower from which, on a clear night, the lights of Beijing are visible in the distance. via NASA

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Bizkaia Bridge, a World Heritage Site.

This bridge is the oldest transporter bridge in the world and it was built in 1893 designed by Alberto Palacio, one of Gustave Eiffel’s disciples.  It was the first to use a combination of iron technology and new steel cables which started a new form of constructing bridges which was later imitated throughout the world.

This bridge was the solution given to the problem of connecting the towns of Portugalete and Getxo without disrupting the maritime traffic of the Port of Bilbo and without having to build a massive structure with long ramps.  The service was only interrupted once, for four years, during the Spanish Civil War, when the upper section was dynamited.

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Naqsh-e Jahan Square - Isfahan, Iran

When Shah Abbas I of the Safavid dynasty moved the capital of Persia to Isfahan in 1598, he decided to completely rebuild the city & poured almost all of the country’s artistic & architectural wealth into it, making it the pinnacle of Safavid Persian art & architecture. This led to the Persian proverb, “Esfahan nesf-e jahan - Isfahan is half the world.” The square became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

The square was built between 1598-1629. By building it, Shah Abbas managed to gather the main three components of power in Persia in one place making them easier to control: the power of the clergy represented by the Shah Mosque, the power of the merchants represented by the bazaar, & the power of the monarchy & the Shah himself represented by the Ali Qapu Palace where he lived.

The city has retained much of its former glory with its many beautiful mosques, palaces, bridges, gardens, parks, boulevards, bath houses, minarets, bazaars, & the churches & cathedrals in the historic Armenian quarter.

The Shah Mosque built between 1611-1629 is situated on the south side of the square (1,2,3,4,5,6), the Sheikh Lofollah Mosque built between 1603-1619 on the east side (1,2,3,4,5,6), the Ali Qapu Palace built in 1597 on the west (1), & the Keisaria Gate at the north opens up to the Grand Bazaar.