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Picture 1


Construction began on this stunning church over one hundred years ago in 1882. Despite continuous construction, it is only about halfway finished today! If all goes as planned, the building could be complete as soon as 2026, the one hundredth anniversary of the death of the church's chief architect who dedicated most of his life to the design and construction of this ornate building.

The church was born of a desire to protect and strengthen Christianity during a time when people were beginning to lose the faith amid the prosperity brought on by the country's Industrial Revolution. The church, originally located more than a mile from the city, is now in the heart of the second largest city on the Iberian Peninsula. In 1992, this city had the honor of hosting the Olympics, allowing the city to show the world its rich culture, numerous museums, and modern architecture.

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Picture 2


Construction began on this church in 1883 as a memorial to an assassinated leader. The exterior design was inspired by St. Basil's Cathedral in the current capital city[,] and the interior is covered in over eighty thousand square feet of mosaics-more than any other church in the world.

The church was built in "The City of Three Hundred Bridges" which was designed to be the "Gateway to Europe." In its three hundred year history, the city has been known by two different names, in honor of a patron saint and a former leader. Today the city is home to almost five million people, making it the second largest city in the country and the northernmost city of its size. It is also a major cultural center with world-renowned ballets, operas, and orchestras.

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Picture 3


This unsteady looking bell tower has actually been standing for over eight hundred years. Perhaps its good fortune is due, in part, to the fact that it was built in the Field of Miracles. Construction began on this tower in 1173, but after only five years, it became obvious that something was not right. With only three floors of the tower completed, construction was stopped for almost one hundred years. Architects hoped that by allowing the ground beneath the tower to settle, they would be able to prevent the tower from toppling over. Four additional floors, built on an angle to make the tower appear to be more vertical, were added by 1284 when the locals were defeated in a battle with the Genoans. It wasn't until 1372 that the tower was complete when the belfry was added to the top level.

Today, this bell tower is one of the most popular tourist sites in a boot-shaped European country famous for its pasta and cheeses. Although temporarily closed because of fear the structure was nearing collapse, the tilt has been corrected by almost a foot. This should keep the tower safe from collapse for another 300 years.

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Picture 4


The iron giant seen here sees more visitors than any monument in the world, around six million per year. It is surprising that the world finds this tower so fascinating-it was almost torn down in 1909, until it found use supporting an antenna for telegraph transmissions.

The tower, which bears the name of the engineer who designed it, was built in 1889 as an entrance to the World's Fair. From the time it was built until the construction of the Chrysler Building in New York City in 1930, it was the tallest structure in the world. Many citizens of the "City of Lights" opposed its construction, calling it an eyesore and a disgrace to the city. Today, however, it is considered one of the world's greatest architectural designs. My, how things have changed!

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Picture 5


The mountain in the distance is the treasure of the city of almost three million which lies at its feet. The city was originally developed as a refueling point for ships sailing from Europe to India in the 1600s. Today it is the legislative capital city, and the third largest city, in a country which claims three capital cities-one for each branch of the government: executive, judicial, and legislative. The city is the economic center for its province, but has also developed a thriving tourism industry, largely due to the mountain seen here. Locals say that it is one of the most spiritual places on Earth and attribute the mountain's presence to the laid back atmosphere in the city, where many people have adopted a slower pace of life which has come to be known as "Africa time."

While there are as many as three hundred fifty different paths to reach the top of this mountain, six hundred thousand visitors each year choose to ride the cableway to the summit. The cableway was built in 1929 and comfortably carries passengers up nearly three thousand five hundred feet in only four to five minutes. When you arrive at the top, you will find yourself in a unique environment. The mountain is home to several species of plants and animals which are found nowhere else on Earth, namely the Ghost Frog and Silver Tree. One of the most common animals seen on the mountain is the local dassies, or rock hyrax. The animals, similar to a rabbit that has short ears and a long tail, are quite friendly and will often approach visitors in search of a bite to eat.

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Picture 6




The city seen in this picture is, historically, one of the most important in the world for the study of time and space. The Royal Observatory was built here in 1675 to study the nighttime sky for the purpose of improving maritime navigation. It was the hope of the Observatory that sailors could one day determine their exact position at sea based solely on the position of the stars. After a disaster at sea in the early 18th century, the government felt compelled to offer a reward, equivalent to about two million dollars in current dollars, to anyone who could find a way to determine longitude at sea. After almost sixty years, John Harrison claimed the prize when he made a clock that was capable of keeping accurate time, despite changes in temperature, pressure, and humidity. His fourth design was used to sail to the Caribbean island of Jamaica and was remarkably only two miles off the true location.

In 1884, this city became the official basis for world time when twenty-five nations voted that this city should be the location of the line marking zero degrees longitude. After the decision was made, a strip of metal-first brass, and now stainless steel-has marked the line for the world to see. Although the old system of keeping time has been replaced by a more accurate method, the city maintains the metal strip despite the fact that it is technically one hundred meters off the true mark.

The city constructed the world's largest dome, seen in the distance in the picture above, to hold a celebration of the beginning of the third millennium. Although more than six million visitors came to the dome in its first year, the exhibit was closed on December 31, 2000, and has seen very little use since then. Current plans are to reopen the dome as a site for sporting events, with the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships and several events of the 2012 Summer Olympics already scheduled.



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Picture 7


This is the site of one of the world's most famous beaches, located on America's fiftieth state. In the distance you can see a majestic mountain, jutting out toward the ocean. The mountain is actually an extinct volcanic tuff cone, formed by a series of volcanic eruptions which created a crater at the top of the mountain that is more than one-half mile in diameter. It was originally called Le'ahi, which means "the brow of the tuna," in the native tongue, but it is now know by a name given by British sailors in the 1800s. As the sailors approached the island, they saw calcite crystals in the lava sparkling in the sun and assumed that the soil was filled with gemstones which many believe to be "a girl's best friend."

This volcanic crater is one of the most famous features on the island, called "The Gathering Place," and is only minutes away from the state capital. More than one million people each year come to climb the mountain and see the beautiful panoramic views from the top.

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Picture 8


What is this strange beast laying before you in the desert? The head, at least what is left of it, appears human, but the body is that of an animal. Four paws and even a tail are still visible, thanks to years of protection by being buried under the sand. Today this statuesque creature is slowly being restored in an attempt to bring it back to its former glory before the wind, humidity, and smog from the nearby city of Cairo destroy it forever.

The monument sits in a quarry as a part of an ancient complex which includes several temples. In the distance, massive tombs, perhaps the region's most famous landmarks, stand as a reminder of the great civilization that made its home here more than four thousand years ago.

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Picture 9


You are looking at one of the many canals that run through this city on the Adriatic Sea. The town is built on an archipelago of more than one hundred twenty islands that are connected by almost four hundred bridges. Although more traditional forms of transportation have made their way to the northern edge of the city, automobiles are not an option in a majority of the city-making this place the largest car-free zone on the continent! More than one hundred fifty canals run through the city, essentially becoming the city's streets. Vaporetti, motorized water buses, run regular routes around the city and serve as the city's public transportation. Gondolas were the traditional mode of transportation throughout the city's history, but they are now usually reserved for tourists and special occasions such as weddings or funerals.

The city was founded during the fifth century, although it did not begin to flourish for almost four hundred years. Due to its position on the sea, the city became an important trade center and was the birthplace of a great explorer who is best remembered for his book detailing his family's journey to India and China, The Travels of Marco Polo.

Today this city which was built on a series of underwater woodpiles is gradually sinking under its own weight and poor planning. Rising sea levels further aggravate the problem. During the twentieth century, the city fell approximately nine inches into the sea, flooding basements and sending the city's residents higher and higher in their multi-level homes. A three billion dollar plan has been developed to save the city, at least temporarily. The plan calls for a series of barriers to be built on the sea bed that will "part the sea" and shelter the city from flooding due to high tides and takes its name from a biblical figure that famously parted the Red Sea.



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Picture 10


To see this view of this city of sails, you will have to hop on a ferry on the mainland, or perhaps from Waiheke Island. This city boasts the highest number of boats per capita than any other city in the world-1 boat for every 11 residents! Citizens of this country, who share a nickname with a local bird and a furry fruit grown in the area, are known for their love of the outdoors and willingness to try anything in the name of adventure. In fact, the tower in the distance, the tallest in the southern hemisphere, is a popular site for base jumping. The country's mild but diverse climate makes it perfect for adventure sports. In this small country, about the size of California, you can go sailing, glacier climbing, hiking in the rainforest, hot air ballooning, or zorbing, just to name a few. It is still a largely agricultural nation, with sheep outnumbering people 12 to 1, so don't expect an abundance of nightlife, especially in the south...but if you are seeking an adventure in Middle-earth , you've come to the right place.


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