These city destinations will "offer you offer glimpses into humanity's past and the ingenuity that people brought to creating wonders without computers or heavy machinery." Some of these places you may have heard of and some you may not have. So grab a cup of your favorite tea (okay, coffee is allowed on this flight, too) and settle into your armchair. No passport required. Ready for take-off?
Our first stop is in Angkor Wat, Cambodia. "In the 12th century, the Khmer took their vast understanding of the known universe and sought to recreate it in miniature. The result was Angkor Wat, a sprawling city designed to impress with meticulously arranged moats and towers, and walls covered in astonishingly detailed bas reliefs of Hindu deities. The ancient Khmer took a broad view of scenes worth preserving. While many are celestial or holy in theme, other murals detail mundane acts like preparing supper. Angkor Wat isn't so much a city as it is a complex of temples that were originally were built to honor the Hindu god, Vishnu. By the 12th century, these fabulous temples had be rededicated and were now serving to honor the Buddhist religion. This temple complex stretches over 500 acres within the Angkor Archeological Park, a large area covering more than 150 square miles. The main temple receives packs of tourists, but many lesser-known temples offer a chance to wander through old Khmer capitals, which were built from the 9th century onwards.
Our next stop is Istanbul, Turkey. Istanbul loves to depict itself as the city straddling two continents. What's most remarkable is the way the city straddles great periods of history that pile up and fold over themselves more naturally than anywhere else in the world.
Construction by successive empires from Byzantium to Constantinople to modern Turkey has bequeathed Istanbul an instantly recognizable skyline that merges elements from all those eras. In the historic core around the iconic Hagia Sophia, the Byzantine-era Hippodrome circus sits a short stroll away from the Ottoman Empire's Topkapi Palace, which houses artifacts including Moses's staff. Surrounding it all is a thriving modern city with top-notch dining, galleries, and architecture that make Istanbul one of the world's most important cultural centers.
Our final stop, at least on today's journey, is Tikal, Guatemala. Hidden in the jungles of Guatemala, Tikal was a Mayan citadel that reflects more than 1,000 years of cultural achievements beginning from 600 BC. Jaguars and pumas prowl the surrounding wilderness, but the palaces, temples, and plazas within the site represent some of the earliest pinnacles of human achievement. The stepped pyramids are icons of Mayan culture that rise above the canopy. Equally impressive are the sporting courts, temples and palaces that ring the main plaza. Most of the ancient causeways that link Tikal's 3,000 structures have been cleared of vegetation, so visitors can now wander among the buildings much as the ancients did.
There are many more cities and places that I want to tell you about but they will have to wait for another day. In the coming weeks, I'll try to bring you a few more of these exotic locales. But until then, it's back to reality. I hope you enjoyed your trip!
Tomorrow is Frankenstein Friday. That can only mean one thing...Fun Facts about Frankenstein. Won't you please stop back by? Until then, I wish you safe travels on your journey through Thursday.