Chichen Itza, Yucatan (Mexico)
One of the top tourist hotspots in the world, Chichen Itza is the most famous temple city built in Yucatan, Mexico by the Maya civilization. This impressive archaeological site served as the political and economic center of the Mayan civilization and rose to prominence in 600 AD. "Chichen Itza" literally means "At the mouth of the well of the Itza" and consists of numerous splendid stone architectures of which the magnificient Kukulkan Pyramid occupies the centrestage. Known locally as “El Castillo” (the castle), the Kukulkan Pyramid has recently been voted as one of the new seven wonders of the world and is actually a temple dedicated to Kukulkan, the Plumed Serpent. Every year on the fall and spring equinox, during the rising and setting of the sun, the side of the building casts a shadow which appears as a plumed snake along the steps of the structure.
Machu Picchu, Cuzco (Peru)
A marvellous Latin-American construction, the Machu Picchu is an ancient fortress city of the Incas situated in the Andes Mountains, south-central Peru. Also known as "The Lost City of the Incas", the construction of Machu Picchu began around 1430 AD during the glorious days of the Inca Empire but was abandoned in the 16th century at the time of Spanish invasion. The site was rediscovered by U.S. explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911. The architecture has been constructed with polished dry-stone walls and consists of several buildings, primary of which are the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows.
Colosseum, Rome (Italy)
The Colosseum of Rome is considered to be one of the greatest pieces of Roman architecture. A marvellous specimen of Roman engineering, the Colosseum is an elliptical amphitheatre situated in the centre of Rome. The biggest amphitheatre ever to be built in Rome, it has a capacity of 50,000 spectators and was primarily used for gladiatorial contests, royal speeches and dramatic performances. The construction of the Colosseum began between 70 and 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian and ended in in 80 AD during the regin of Titus. Some changes were, however, made later during the rule of Emperor Domitian. Made of travertine stone and iron clamps, the Colosseum today attracts millions of visitors in Rome annually. In recent years it has become a sign of the international campaign against capital punishment as well as a symbol of Roman Christianity. Every Good Friday, the Pope leads a torchlit "Way of the Cross" procession around the various levels of the amphitheatre. The image of this magnificient sttructure can also be found on the Italian version of the five-cent euro coin.
Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Undoubtedly a modern marvel, "Christ the Redeemer" ("O Cristo Redentor" in Portuguese) is a statue of Jesus Christ that weighs 635 tons, stands 98 ft (30 m) wide and 120 ft (38 m) high with its pedestal. Constructed of reinforced concrete and soapstone, this wonderful piece of architecture is located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the top of the Corcovado mountain (2,300 ft) in the Tijuca Forest National Park overlooking the city. It was in 1921 that the Catholic Circle of Rio proposed for the construction of the statue which recieved acceptance. The statue was designed by Heitor da Silva Costa, a local engineer, and sculpted by French sculptor Paul Landowski. The whole structure took nine years to be completed, from 1922 to 1931, and was opened on October 12, 1931. The cost of construction was $250,000, which came from donations by Brazilian Catholics, collected by the Catholic Circle of Rio. The statue depicts Jesus Christ with his head bent and arms stretched wide open, a stance that reminds of the crucifixio that the messiah underwent to propagate his message of peace to us. It is a significant symbol of Brazil's Christianity.
The most popular spot of Jordan, the Petra is an ancient rock city that contains about 800 magnificient rock structures including a mausoleum, a two-storeyed temple, a shrine, a palace, general dwellings and a royal treasury - the "Khazneh el-Farun" - which is the most popular of all the bulidings. This beautiful city was carved out of rocks and inhabited by the Nabataeans more than 500 years before Christ's birth. These industrious Arab people turned it into an important business center and Petra quickly became an important trade route linking the Asian countries with the south Arabian nations Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome. The city was later under the domination of the Crusaders which ended with the Muslim conquest. But then Petra was completely abandoned and rediscovered only in 1812 by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.
Taj Mahal, Agra (India)
One of the most popular Indian tourist spots and a world attraction, the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum located in Agra, India. Constructed of pure-white marble, this exquisite piece of Islamic arcitecture was created under the orders of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who dedicated it to his departed wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The building of this structure began in 1632, and took 22 years to complete. This typical Muslim style under the orders of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who dedicated it to his departed wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The domed memorial is flanked by two red sandstone buildings, a mosque on one side and an identical building on another. It contains the sarcophagus of Mumtaz Mahal as well as Shah Jahan. The entire process of construction involved more than 20,000 workers and the marble and semi-precious stones required for the walls were specially fetched from Rajasthan, Persia, Russia, Afghanistan, Tibet, China, and the Indian Ocean. The structure was designed by Muslim architects Abd ul-Karim Ma'mur Khan, Makramat Khan, and Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, who is thought as the main designer.