First up, is Cairo, Egypt. "For first-time visitors, it's a shock just how close the pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx are to Cairo's chaotic streets. With 22 million people, Cairo is one of the world's biggest cities, built around one of humanity's earliest urban centers.
Tombs at Giza date back 4,500 years, and the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities boasts an incredible collection from the Nile's earliest inhabitants. But the slightly less ancient parts of Cairo are also rich with cultural treasures. The current city was founded more than 1,000 years ago and has one of the world's oldest universities, a rich legacy of Islamic art, and Coptic treasures that are often overlooked." Personally, this is one place that I've long dreamed of visiting. Maybe one day.
Our next stop isn't that far away. It's the city of Persopolis, Iran. "Iran's openness to Western tourism in recent years has helped Persepolis regain its allure for visitors, even if international relations have once more become strained. The city was founded in 518 BC by Darius I, ruler of ancient Persia's Achaemenian Empire, and grew in grandeur until Alexander the Great sacked it two centuries later. Its most remarkable feature is an immense terrace of 125,000 square feet, partially carved out of Mount Kuh-e Rahmat (the Mountain of Mercy). Rulers built ever more regal palaces, temples and halls around the terrace, complete with an underground sewage system and cisterns for freshwater.
Despite a series of protective walls, rising to 30 feet high, Alexander laid waste to Persepolis, whose ruins were only rediscovered in 1618. Today, however, the city is one of the best examples of ancient architecture, especially for the slender columns that remain."
From here, we travel 7,558 km (4696 miles) to Kyoto, Japan. If Tokyo represents the part of Japan obsessed with technology and the future, Kyoto is the part that rakes the sand in Zen gardens and performs graceful tea ceremonies. That's not entirely fair -- Nintendo is based in Kyoto, just one part of the city's thriving tech scene. Perhaps closer to the truth is that as imperial Japan's capital for more than 1,000 years, Kyoto has found a way to respectfully preserve its old traditions while eagerly embracing the new as well. More than 1,000 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines temper the frenetic pace of modern life. Sites such as Nijo Castle, which dates back to 1603, draw people from around the world. Since the city was largely spared bombing during World War II, most are still in use.
Our last stop for this week is the fascinating city of Beijing, China. "China has invested heavily in eye-popping modern architecture for its capital over the last two decades, but with a past that stretches more than 3,000 years, the city has a deep history providing a rich legacy of art, architecture, and education. Just visiting the city's six UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven, could take a week." Six UNESCO World heritage sites all in one city? Be still my heart! But visiting just these spots "would barely allow even a casual glance at the treasures inside the city's legion museums and galleries, much less the alleyways of the hutongs, old neighborhoods reinvented and sometimes rebuilt as a trendy center of the Beijing's modern life."
That's our tour for this week. In the next week or two, I hope to once again bring you a few more of these amazing and ancient cities. I enjoy learning about places for away from my home in Land of Lily Pad and I hope you enjoy learning about them, too!
Tomorrow, to close out my week, I have a fun blog planned so please stop back by. Until then, I wish you