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Roman Forum

The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum. It was for centuries the center of Roman public life: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; and the nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the citys great men. The teeming heart of ancient Rome, it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history. Located in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archaeological excavations attracting 4.5 million sightseers yearly. Many of the oldest and most important structures of the ancient city were located on or near the Forum. The Roman kingdoms earliest shrines and temples were located on the southeastern edge. These included the ancient former royal residence, the Regia, and the Temple of Vesta, as well as the surrounding complex of the Vestal Virgins, all of which were rebuilt after the rise of imperial Rome. Other archaic shrines to the northwest, such as the Umbilicus Urbis and the Vulcanal, developed into the Republics formal Comitium . This is where the Senate—as well as Republican government itself—began. The Senate House, government offices, tribunals, temples, memorials and statues gradually cluttered the area. Over time the archaic Comitium was replaced by the larger adjacent Forum and the focus of judicial activity moved to the new Basilica Aemilia . Some 130 years later, Julius Caesar built the Basilica Julia, along with the new Curia Julia, refocusing both the judicial offices and the Senate itself. This new Forum, in what proved to be its final form, then served as a revitalized city square where the people of Rome could gather for commercial, political, judicial and religious pursuits in ever greater numbers. Eventually much economic and judicial business would transfer away from the Forum Romanum to the larger and more extravagant structures to the north. The reign of Constantine the Great, during which the Empire was divided into its Eastern and Western halves, saw the construction of the last major expansion of the Forum complex—the Basilica of Maxentius . This returned the political center to the Forum until the fall of the Western Roman Empire almost two centuries later.

Valley of the Kings

The Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the gates of the Kings, is a valley in Egypt where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, tombs were constructed for the Pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom . The valley stands on the west bank of the Nile, opposite Thebes, within the heart of the Theban Necropolis. The wadi consists of two valleys, East Valley and West Valley. With the 2005 discovery of a new chamber, and the 2008 discovery of two further tomb entrances, the valley is known to contain 63 tombs and chambers . It was the principal burial place of the major royal figures of the Egyptian New Kingdom, as well as a number of privileged nobles. The royal tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology and give clues to the beliefs and funerary rituals of the period. Almost all of the tombs seem to have been opened and robbed in antiquity, but they still give an idea of the opulence and power of the Pharaohs. This area has been a focus of archaeological and egyptological exploration since the end of the eighteenth century, and its tombs and burials continue to stimulate research and interest. In modern times the valley has become famous for the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, and is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. In 1979, it became a World Heritage Site, along with the rest of the Theban Necropolis. Exploration, excavation and conservation continues in the valley, and a new tourist centre has recently been opened.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a United States National Historical Park hosting the densest and most exceptional concentration of pueblos in the American Southwest. The park is located in northwestern New Mexico, between Albuquerque and Farmington, in a remote canyon cut by the Chaco Wash. Containing the most sweeping collection of ancient ruins north of Mexico, the park preserves one of the United States most important pre-Columbian cultural and historical areas. Between AD 900 and 1150, Chaco Canyon was a major center of culture for the Ancient Pueblo Peoples. Chacoans quarried sandstone blocks and hauled timber from great distances, assembling fifteen major complexes that remained the largest buildings in North America until the 19th century. Evidence of archaeoastronomy at Chaco has been proposed, with the "Sun Dagger" petroglyph at Fajada Butte a popular example. Many Chacoan buildings may have been aligned to capture the solar and lunar cycles, requiring generations of astronomical observations and centuries of skillfully coordinated construction. Climate change is thought to have led to the emigration of Chacoans and the eventual abandonment of the canyon, beginning with a fifty-year drought commencing in 1130. Composing a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the arid and sparsely populated Four Corners region, the Chacoan cultural sites are fragile; concerns of erosion caused by tourists have led to the closure of Fajada Butte to the public. The sites are considered sacred ancestral homelands by the Hopi and Pueblo people, who maintain oral accounts of their historical migration from Chaco and their spiritual relationship to the land. Though park preservation efforts can conflict with native religious beliefs, tribal representatives work closely with the National Park Service to share their knowledge and respect the heritage of the Chacoan culture. It is on the Trails of the Ancients Byway, one of the designated New Mexico Scenic Byways.

Angkor

Angkor is a region of Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. Angkor was a megacity supporting at least 0.1% of the global population during 1010-1220. The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagarameaning "Holy City". The Angkorian period began in AD 802, when the Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declared himself a "universal monarch" and "god-king", and lasted until the late 14th century, first falling under Ayutthayan suzerainty in 1351. A Khmer rebellion resulted in the 1431 sacking of Angkor by Ayutthaya, causing its population to migrate south to Longvek. The ruins of Angkor are located amid forests and farmland to the north of the Great Lake and south of the Kulen Hills, near modern-day Siem Reap cityin Siem Reap Province. The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields to the magnificent Angkor Wat, said to be the worlds largest single religious monument. Many of the temples at Angkor have been restored, and together, they comprise the most significant site of Khmer architecture. Visitors approach two million annually, and the entire expanse, including Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom is collectively protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The popularity of the site among tourists presents multiple challenges to the preservation of the ruins. In 2007, an international team of researchers using satellite photographs and other modern techniques concluded that Angkor had been the largest pre-industrial city in the world, with an elaborate infrastructure system connecting an urban sprawl of at least 1,000 square kilometres to the well-known temples at its core. Angkor is considered to be a "hydraulic city" because it had a complicated water management network, which was used for systematically stabilizing, storing, and dispersing water throughout the area. This network is believed to have been used for irrigation in order to offset the unpredictable monsoon season and to also support the increasing population. The closest rival to Angkor, the Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala, was between 100 and 150 square kilometres in total size. Although the size of its population remains a topic of research and debate, newly identified agricultural systems in the Angkor area may have supported up to one million people.

Stanford

Stanford University (officially Leland Stanford Junior University) is a private research university in Stanford, California, and one of the worlds most prestigious institutions, with the top position in numerous rankings and measures in the United States. Stanford was founded in 1885 by Leland Stanford, former governor of and U.S. senator from California and leading railroad tycoon, and his wife, Jane Lathrop Stanford, in memory of their only child, Leland Stanford, Jr., who had died of typhoid fever at age 15 the previous year. Stanford was opened on October 1, 1891 as a coeducational and non-denominational institution. Tuition was free until 1920. The university struggled financially after Leland Stanfords 1893 death and after much of the campus was damaged by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Following World War II, Provost Frederick Terman supported faculty and graduates entrepreneurialism to build self-sufficient local industry in what would later be known as Silicon Valley. By 1970, Stanford was home to a linear accelerator, and was one of the original four ARPANET nodes (precursor to the Internet). Stanford is located in northern Silicon Valley near Palo Alto, California. The Universitys academic departments are organized into seven schools, with several other holdings, such as laboratories and nature reserves, located outside the main campus. Its 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus is one of the largest in the United States. The University is also one of the top fundraising institutions in the country, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year. Students compete in 36 varsity sports, and the University is one of two private institutions in the Division I FBS Pacific-12 Conference. It has gained 107 NCAA team championships, the second-most for a university, 465 individual championships, the most in Division I, and has won the NACDA Directors Cup, recognizing the university with the best overall athletic team achievement, every year since 1994-1995. Stanford faculty and alumni have founded many companies including Google, Hewlett-Packard, Nike, Sun Microsystems, and Yahoo!, and companies founded by Stanford alumni generate more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, equivalent to the 10th-largest economy in the world. Fifty-nine Nobel laureates have been affiliated with the University, and it is the alma mater of 30 living billionaires and 17 astronauts. Stanford has produced a total of 18 Turing Award laureates. It is also one of the leading producers of members of the United States Congress.

Red Fort

The Red Fort was the residence of the Mughal emperor of India for nearly 200 years, until 1857. It is located in the centre of Delhi and houses a number of museums. In addition to accommodating the emperors and their households, it was the ceremonial and political centre of Mughal government and the setting for events critically impacting the region. Constructed in 1648 by the fifth Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as the palace of his fortified capital Shahjahanabad, the Red Fort is named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone and is adjacent to the older Salimgarh Fort, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546. The imperial apartments consist of a row of pavilions, connected by a water channel known as the Stream of Paradise . The fort complex is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity under Shah Jahan and although the palace was planned according to Islamic prototypes, each pavilion contains architectural elements typical of Mughal buildings that reflect a fusion of Timurid and Persian traditions. The Red Fort’s innovative architectural style, including its garden design, influenced later buildings and gardens in Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kashmir, Braj, Rohilkhand and elsewhere. With the Salimgarh Fort, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 as part of the Red Fort Complex. On Independence Day, the Prime Minister of India hoists the tricolor national flag at the main gate of the fort and delivers a nationally-broadcast speech from its ramparts.

Palace of Westminster

The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the northern bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London. Its name, which derives from the neighbouring Westminster Abbey, may refer to either of two structures: the Old Palace, a medieval building complex that was destroyed by fire in 1834, and its replacement, the New Palace that stands today. For ceremonial purposes, the palace retains its original style and status as a royal residence and is the property of the Crown. The first royal palace was built on the site in the eleventh century, and Westminster was the primary residence of the Kings of England until a fire destroyed much of the complex in 1512. After that, it served as the home of the Parliament of England, which had been meeting there since the thirteenth century, and also as the seat of the Royal Courts of Justice, based in and around Westminster Hall. In 1834, an even greater fire ravaged the heavily rebuilt Houses of Parliament, and the only medieval structures of significance to survive were Westminster Hall, the Cloisters of St Stephens, the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, and the Jewel Tower. The subsequent competition for the reconstruction of the Palace was won by the architect Charles Barry, whose design was for new buildings in the Gothic Revival style, specifically inspired by the English Perpendicular Gothic style of the 14th-16th centuries. The remains of the Old Palace were incorporated into its much larger replacement, which contains over 1,100 rooms organised symmetrically around two series of courtyards. Part of the New Palaces area of 3.24 hectares was reclaimed from the Thames, which is the setting of its principal 266-metre façade, called the River Front. Barry was assisted by Augustus W. N. Pugin, a leading authority on Gothic architecture and style, who provided designs for the decorations and furnishings of the Palace. Construction started in 1840 and lasted for thirty years, suffering great delays and cost overruns, as well as the death of both leading architects; works for the interior decoration continued intermittently well into the twentieth century. Major conservation work has been carried out since, to reverse the effects of Londons air pollution, and extensive repairs took place after the Second World War, including the reconstruction of the Commons Chamber following its bombing in 1941. The Palace is one of the centres of political life in the United Kingdom; "Westminster" has become a metonym for the UK Parliament, and the Westminster system of government has taken its name after it. The Elizabeth Tower, in particular, which is often referred to by the name of its main bell, "Big Ben", is an iconic landmark of London and the United Kingdom in general, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city and an emblem of parliamentary democracy. The Palace of Westminster has been a Grade I listed building since 1970 and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.

Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles, Château de Versailles is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. When the château was built, Versailles was a small village dating from the 11th century; today, however, it is a wealthy suburb of Paris, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) southwest of the centre of the French capital (point zero at square in front of Notre Dame). Versailles was the seat of political power in the Kingdom of France from 1682, when King Louis XIV moved the royal court from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789, within three months after the beginning of the French Revolution. Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime. First built by Louis XIII in 1623, as a hunting lodge of brick and stone, the edifice was enlarged into a royal palace by Louis XIV. The first phase of the expansion (c. 1661–1678) was designed and supervised by the architect Louis Le Vau. It culminated in the addition of three new wings of stone (the enveloppe), which encompassed Louis XIII's original building on the north, south, and west (the garden side). After Le Vau's death in 1670, the work was taken over and completed by his assistant François d'Orbay. Charles Le Brun designed and supervised the elaborate interior decoration, and André Le Nôtre landscaped the extensive Gardens of Versailles. Le Brun and Le Nôtre collaborated on the numerous fountains, and Le Brun supervised the design and installation of countless statues. During the second phase of expansion of the mansion (c. 1678–1715), two enormous wings north and south of the wings flanking the Cour Royale (Royal Courtyard) were added by the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart. He also replaced Le Vau's large terrace, facing the garden on the west, with what became the most famous room of the palace, the Hall of Mirrors. Mansart also built the Petites Écuries and Grandes Écuries (stables) across the Place d'Armes, on the eastern side of the château, and, in 1687, the Grand Trianon, or Trianon de Marbre (Marble Trianon), replacing Le Vau's 1668 Trianon de Porcelaine in the northern section of the park. Work was sufficiently advanced by 1682, that Louis XIV was able to proclaim Versailles his principal residence and the seat of the government of the Kingdom of France and also to give rooms in the palace to almost all of his courtiers. After the death of his consort Maria Theresa of Spain in 1683, Louis XIV undertook the enlargement and remodeling of the royal apartments in the original part of the palace, the former hunting lodge built by his father. The Royal Chapel of Versailles, located at the south end of the north wing, was begun by Mansart in 1688, and after his death in 1708 completed by his assistant Robert de Cotte in 1710. One of the most baffling aspects to the study of Versailles is the cost – how much Louis XIV and his successors spent on Versailles. Owing to the nature of the construction of Versailles and the evolution of the role of the palace, construction costs were essentially a private matter. Initially, Versailles was planned to be an occasional residence for Louis XIV and was referred to as the "king's house". Accordingly, much of the early funding for construction came from the king's own purse, funded by revenues received from his appanage as well as revenues from the province of New France (Canada), which, while part of France, was a private possession of the king and therefore exempt from the control of the Parliaments. Once Louis XIV embarked on his building campaigns, expenses for Versailles became more of a matter for public record, especially after Jean-Baptiste Colbert assumed the post of finance minister. Expenditures on Versailles have been recorded in the compendium known as the Comptes des bâtiments du roi sous le règne de Louis XIV and which was edited and published in five volumes by Jules Guiffrey in the 19th century. These volumes provide valuable archival material pursuant to the financial expenditures of all aspects of Versailles from the payments disbursed for many trades as varied as artists and mole catchers. To counter the costs of Versailles during the early years of Louis XIV's personal reign, Colbert decided that Versailles should be the "showcase" of France. Accordingly, all materials that went into the construction and decoration of Versailles were manufactured in France. Even the mirrors used in the decoration of the Hall of Mirrors were made in France. While Venice in the 17th century had the monopoly on the manufacture of mirrors, Colbert succeeded in enticing a number of artisans from Venice to make the mirrors for Versailles. However, owing to Venetian proprietary claims on the technology of mirror manufacture, the Venetian government ordered the assassination of the artisans to keep the secrets proprietary to the Venetian Republic. To meet the demands for decorating and furnishing Versailles, Colbert nationalised the tapestry factory owned by the Gobelin family, to become the Manufacture royale des Gobelins.

Alhambra

Alhambra, the complete form of which was Calat Alhamra, is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-11th century by the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. Alhambras Islamic palaces, as we know them today, were built for the last Muslim emirs in Spain and the court of the Nasrid dynasty. After the conquest of Granada by the Reyes Católicos in 1492, some portions were used by Christian rulers. The Palace of Charles V, built by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1527, was inserted in the Alhambra within the Nasrid fortifications. After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the buildings being occupied by squatters, Alhambra was rediscovered in the 19th century by European scholars and travelers, with restorations commencing. It is now one of Spains major tourist attractions, exhibiting the countrys most significant and well known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century and later Christian building and garden interventions. Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the inspiration for many songs and stories. Moorish poets described it as "a pearl set in emeralds," an allusion to the colour of its buildings and the woods around them. The palace complex was designed with the mountainous site in mind and many forms of technology were considered. The parkwhich is overgrown with wildflowers and grass in the spring, was planted by the Moors with roses, oranges, and myrtles; its most characteristic feature, however, is the dense wood of English elms brought by the Duke of Wellington in 1812. The park has a multitude of nightingales and is usually filled with the sound of running water from several fountains and cascades. These are supplied through a conduit 8 km long, which is connected with the Darro at the monastery of Jesus del Valle above Granada. Despite long neglect, willful vandalism, and some ill-judged restoration, Alhambra endures as an atypical example of Muslim art in its final European stages, relatively uninfluenced by the direct Byzantine influences found in the Mezquita of Córdoba. The majority of the palace buildings are quadrangular in plan, with all the rooms opening on to a central court, and the whole reached its present size simply by the gradual addition of new quadrangles, designed on the same principle, though varying in dimensions, and connected with each other by smaller rooms and passages. Alhambra was extended by the different Muslim rulers who lived in the complex. However, each new section that was added followed the consistent theme of "paradise on earth". Column arcades, fountains with running water, and reflecting pools were used to add to the aesthetic and functional complexity. In every case, the exterior was left plain and austere. Sun and wind were freely admitted. Blue, red, and a golden yellow, all somewhat faded through lapse of time and exposure, are the colors chiefly employed. The decoration consists, as a rule, of Arabic inscriptions that are manipulated into geometrical patterns wrought into arabesques. Painted tiles are largely used as panelling for the walls. The palace complex is designed in the Mudéjar style, which is characteristic of western elements reinterpreted into Islamic forms and widely popular during the Reconquista, the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims by the Christian kingdoms.

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Maya people of the Terminal Classic period. The archaeological site is located in Tinum Municipality, Yucatán State, Mexico. Chichen Itza was a major focal point in the Northern Maya Lowlands from the Late Classic through the Terminal Classic and into the early portion of the Postclassic period . The site exhibits a multitude of architectural styles, reminiscent of styles seen in central Mexico and of the Puuc and Chenes styles of the Northern Maya lowlands. The presence of central Mexican styles was once thought to have been representative of direct migration or even conquest from central Mexico, but most contemporary interpretations view the presence of these non-Maya styles more as the result of cultural diffusion. Chichen Itza was one of the largest Maya cities and it was likely to have been one of the mythical great cities, or Tollans, referred to in later Mesoamerican literature. The city may have had the most diverse population in the Maya world, a factor that could have contributed to the variety of architectural styles at the site. The ruins of Chichen Itza are federal property, and the site’s stewardship is maintained by Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia . The land under the monuments had been privately owned until 29 March 2010, when it was purchased by the state of Yucatán. Chichen Itza is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico; an estimated 1.2 million tourists visit the ruins every year.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is a royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire. The castle is notable for its long association with the English and later British royal family and also for its architecture. The original castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I, it has been used by succeeding monarchs and is the longest-occupied palace in Europe. The castles lavish, early 19th-century State Apartments are architecturally significant, described by art historian Hugh Roberts as "a superb and unrivalled sequence of rooms widely regarded as the finest and most complete expression of later Georgian taste". The castle includes the 15th-century St Georges Chapel, considered by historian John Martin Robinson to be "one of the supreme achievements of English Perpendicular Gothic" design. More than 500 people live and work in Windsor Castle. Originally designed to protect Norman dominance around the outskirts of London, and to oversee a strategically important part of the River Thames, Windsor Castle was built as a motte and bailey, with three wards surrounding a central mound. Gradually replaced with stone fortifications, the castle withstood a prolonged siege during the First Barons War at the start of the 13th century. Henry III built a luxurious royal palace within the castle during the middle of the century, and Edward III went further, rebuilding the palace to produce an even grander set of buildings in what would become "the most expensive secular building project of the entire Middle Ages in England". Edwards core design lasted through the Tudor period, during which Henry VIII and Elizabeth I made increasing use of the castle as a royal court and centre for diplomatic entertainment. Windsor Castle survived the tumultuous period of the English Civil War, when it was used as a military headquarters for Parliamentary forces and a prison for Charles I. During the Restoration, Charles II rebuilt much of Windsor Castle with the help of architect Hugh May, creating a set of extravagant, Baroque interiors that are still admired. After a period of neglect during the 18th century, George III and George IV renovated and rebuilt Charles IIs palace at colossal expense, producing the current design of the State Apartments, full of Rococo, Gothic and Baroque furnishings. Victoria made minor changes to the castle, which became the centre for royal entertainment for much of her reign. Windsor Castle was used as a refuge for the royal family during the Luftwaffe bombing campaigns of the Second World War, and survived a fire in 1992. It is a popular tourist attraction, a venue for hosting state visits, and the preferred weekend home of Elizabeth II.

Tower of London

Her Majestys Royal Palace and Fortress, known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was used as a prison from 1100 until 1952, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under Kings Richard the Lionheart, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site. The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history. It was besieged several times and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. The Tower has served variously as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of England. From the early 14th century until the reign of Charles II, a procession would be led from the Tower to Westminster Abbey on the coronation of a monarch. In the absence of the monarch, the Constable of the Tower is in charge of the castle. This was a powerful and trusted position in the medieval period. In the late 15th century the castle was the prison of the Princes in the Tower. Under the Tudors, the Tower became used less as a royal residence, and despite attempts to refortify and repair the castle its defences lagged behind developments to deal with artillery. The peak period of the castles use as a prison was the 16th and 17th centuries, when many figures who had fallen into disgrace, such as Elizabeth I before she became queen, were held within its walls. This use has led to the phrase "sent to the Tower". Despite its enduring reputation as a place of torture and death, popularised by 16th-century religious propagandists and 19th-century writers, only seven people were executed within the Tower before the World Wars of the 20th century. Executions were more commonly held on the notorious Tower Hill to the north of the castle, with 112 occurring there over a 400-year period. In the latter half of the 19th century, institutions such as the Royal Mint moved out of the castle to other locations, leaving many buildings empty. Anthony Salvin and John Taylor took the opportunity to restore the Tower to what was felt to be its medieval appearance, clearing out many of the vacant post-medieval structures. In the First and Second World Wars, the Tower was again used as a prison, and witnessed the executions of 12 men for espionage. After the Second World War, damage caused during the Blitz was repaired and the castle reopened to the public. Today the Tower of London is one of the countrys most popular tourist attractions. Under the ceremonial charge of the Constable of the Tower, it is cared for by the charity Historic Royal Palaces and is protected as a World Heritage Site.

Topkapı Palace

The Topkapı Palace is a large palace in Istanbul, Turkey, that was the one of the major residency of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years of their 624-year reign. As well as a royal residence, the palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments. It is now a museum and as such a major tourist attraction. It also contains important holy relics of the Muslim world, including Muhammeds cloak and sword. The Topkapı Palace is among the monuments contained within the "Historic Areas of Istanbul", which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, and is described under UNESCOs criterion iv as "the best example of ensembles of palaces of the Ottoman period." The palace complex consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. At its peak, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people, and covered a large area with a long shoreline. It contained mosques, a hospital, bakeries, and a mint. Construction began in 1459, ordered by Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Byzantine Constantinople. It was originally called the New Palace to distinguish it from the previous residence. It received the name "Topkapı" in the 19th century, after a gate and shore pavilion. The complex was expanded over the centuries, with major renovations after the 1509 earthquake and the 1665 fire. After the 17th century, the Topkapı Palace gradually lost its importance as the sultans preferred to spend more time in their new palaces along the Bosphorus. In 1856, Sultan Abdül Mecid I decided to move the court to the newly built Dolmabahçe Palace, the first European-style palace in the city. Some functions, such as the imperial treasury, the library, and the mint, were retained in the Topkapı Palace. Following the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, Topkapı Palace was transformed by a government decree dated April 3, 1924, into a museum of the imperial era. The Topkapı Palace Museum is administered by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The palace complex has hundreds of rooms and chambers, but only the most important are accessible to the public today. The complex is guarded by officials of the ministry as well as armed guards of the Turkish military. The palace includes many fine examples of Ottoman architecture. It contains large collections of porcelain, robes, weapons, shields, armor, Ottoman miniatures, Islamic calligraphic manuscripts and murals, as well as a display of Ottoman treasures and jewelry.

St. Peter's Basilica

The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, or simply St. Peters Basilicais a Late Renaissance church located within Vatican City. Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peters is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and remains one of the two largest churches in the world. While it is neither the mother church of the Catholic Church nor the Catholic Roman Rite cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, St. Peters is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom". By Catholic tradition, the Basilica is the burial site of its namesake St. Peter, one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ and, also according to tradition, the first Pope and Bishop of Rome. Tradition and strong historical evidence hold that St. Peters tomb is directly below the high altar of the Basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St. Peters since the Early Christian period. There has been a church on this site since the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. Construction of the present basilica, replacing the Old St. Peters Basilica of the 4th century AD, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626. St. Peters is famous as a place of pilgrimage, for its liturgical functions. Because of its location in the Vatican, the Pope presides at a number of liturgies throughout the year, drawing audiences of 15,000 to over 80,000 people, either within the Basilica or its adjoining St. Peters Square. St. Peters has many strong historical associations, with the Early Christian Church, the Papacy, the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-reformation, and with numerous artists, most significantly Michelangelo. As a work of architecture, it is regarded as the greatest building of its age. St. Peters is one of the four churches of Rome that hold the rank of Major Basilica. Contrary to popular misconception, it is not a cathedral because it is not the seat of a bishop; the Cathedra of the Pope as Bishop of Rome is located in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland from its position on the Castle Rock. Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock since at least the Iron Age, although the nature of the early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603. From the 15th century the castles residential role declined, and by the 17th century it was principally used as military barracks with a large garrison. Its importance as a part of Scotlands national heritage was recognised increasingly from the early 19th century onwards, and various restoration programmes have been carried out over the past century and a half. As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite Rising of 1745. Research undertaken in 2014 identified 26 sieges in its 1100 year-old history, giving it a claim to having been "the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world". Few of the present buildings pre-date the Lang Siege of the 16th century, when the medieval defences were largely destroyed by artillery bombardment. The most notable exceptions are St Margarets Chapel from the early 12th century, which is regarded as the oldest building in Edinburgh, the Royal Palace and the early-16th-century Great Hall, although the interiors have been much altered from the mid-Victorian period onwards. The castle also houses the Scottish regalia, known as the Honours of Scotland and is the site of the Scottish National War Memorial and the National War Museum of Scotland. The British Army is still responsible for some parts of the castle, although its presence is now largely ceremonial and administrative. Some of the castle buildings house regimental museums which contribute to its presentation as a tourist attraction. The castle, in the care of Historic Scotland, is Scotlands most-visited paid tourist attraction, with over 1.4 million visitors in 2013. As the backdrop to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo during the annual Edinburgh International Festival the castle has become a recognisable symbol of Edinburgh and of Scotland and indeed, it is Edinburghs most frequently visited visitor attraction according to the Edinburgh Visitor Survey, more than 70% of leisure visitors to Edinburgh visited the castle.

Palau Reial Major

The Palau Reial Major is a complex of historic buildings located in Plaça del Rei, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It was a residence of the counts of Barcelona and, later, of the Kings of Aragon. It is composed of three distinct edifices: the Saló del Tinell, built by King Peter IV in 1359-1362 the Palatine Chapel of St. Agatha, built under King James II the Palau del Lloctinent, built by Charles V. The Saló del Tinell was built in the 14th century under the direction of architect Guillem Carbonell. Its gothic round arches are founded over 11th-century vaults . The Chapel of St. Agatha was designed by architect Bertran Riquer to act as royal chapel, replacing a previous oratory. It has an octagonal tower from the early 14th century, and it consists of a single aisle with a roof ceiling, and ends with a polygonal apse. The sacristy is built within the ancient Roman walls. By commission of Peter V of Aragon painter Jaume Huguet made the chapel altarpiece dedicated to the Epiphany. Both Saló del Tinell and St. Agatha Chapel are valuated as Catalan Gothic architecture masterpieces. The Epiphany altarpiece is also an outstanding gothic painting. They can be visited as a part of the Barcelona City History Museum MUHBA. Temporary exhibitions are held in them. After the 16th century, the edifice was no longer used as royal residence, and was divided between the Inquisition and the royal administration. In this period the door leading to the Royal Audience Hall was built, with a triangular tympanum . The Palau de Lloctinent was built in 1549-1557 by Antoni Carbonell, in late Gothic-Renaissance style. Also from this period is the so-called Mirador of King Martin, a five-storey tower on a rectangular plan .

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center

The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Manned Spacecraft Center, where human spaceflight training, research, and flight control are conducted. It was renamed in honor of the late U.S. president and Texas native, Lyndon B. Johnson, by an act of the United States Senate on February 19, 1973. It consists of a complex of one hundred buildings constructed on 1,620 acres in the Clear Lake Area of Houston which acquired the official nickname "Space City" in 1967. The center is home to NASA's astronaut corps and is responsible for training astronauts from both the U.S. and its international partners. It has become popularly known for its flight control function, identified as "Mission Control" during the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz, and Space Shuttle program flights. The Manned Spacecraft Center grew out of the Space Task Group headed by Robert Gilruth, formed soon after the creation of NASA to co-ordinate the US manned spaceflight program. The STG was based at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, but reported organizationally to the Goddard Space Flight Center. To meet the growing needs of the US human spaceflight program, plans began in 1961 to expanded its staff to its own organization, and move it to a new facility. This was constructed in 1962 and 1963 on land donated by the Humble Oil company through Rice University, and officially opened its doors in September, 1963. Today, JSC is one of ten major NASA field centers.

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi

Al-Masjid an-Nabawī, also called the Prophets Mosque, is a mosque established and originally built by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, situated in the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia. Al-Masjid an-Nabawi was the second mosque built in the history of Islam and is now one of the largest mosques in the world. It is the second-holiest site in Islam, after al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. It is open 24365. The site was originally adjacent to Muhammads house; he settled there after his Hijra to Medina in 622 CE. He shared in the heavy work of construction. The original mosque was an open-air building. The mosque also served as a community center, a court, and a religious school. There was a raised platform for the people who taught the Quran. Subsequent Islamic rulers greatly expanded and decorated it. In 1909, it became the first place in the Arabian Peninsula to be provided with electrical lights. The mosque is under the control of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The mosque is located in what was traditionally the center of Medina, with many hotels and old markets nearby. It is a major pilgrimage site. Many pilgrims who perform the Hajj go on to Medina to visit the mosque due to its connections to the life of Muhammad. After an expansion during the reign of the Umayyad caliph al-Walid I, it also now incorporates the final resting place of Muhammad and the first two Rashidun caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar. One of the most notable features of the site is the Green Dome in the south-east corner of the mosque, originally Aishas house, where the tomb of Muhammad is located. In 1279, a wooden cupola was built over the tomb which was later rebuilt and renovated multiple times in late 15th century and once in 1817. The current dome was added in 1818 by the Ottoman sultan Mahmud II, and it was first painted green in 1837, hence becoming known as the "Green Dome".

Uxmal

Uxmal is an ancient Maya city of the classical period in present-day Mexico. It is considered one of the most important archaeological sites of Maya culture, along with Palenque and Calakmul in Mexico; Caracol and Xunantunich in Belize, and Tikal in Guatemala. It is located in the Puuc region and is considered one of the Maya cities most representative of the regions dominant architectural style. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its significance. It is located 62 km south of Mérida, capital of Yucatán state in Mexico. Its buildings are noted for their size and decoration. Ancient roads called sacbes connect the buildings, and also were built to other cities in the area such as Chichén Itzá, Caracol and Xunantunich in modern-day Belize, and Tikal in modern-day Guatemala. Its buildings are typical of the Riley Kand Puuc style, with smooth low walls that open on ornate friezes based on representations of typical Maya huts. These are represented by columns and trapezoidal shapes . Entwined snakes and, in many cases two-headed snakes are used for masks of the rain god, Chaac; its big noses represent the rays of the storms. Feathered serpents with open fangs are shown leaving from the same human beings. Also seen in some cities are the influences of the Nahua, who followed the cult of Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc. These were integrated with the original elements of the Puuc tradition. The buildings take advantage of the terrain to gain height and acquire important volumes, including the Pyramid of the Magician, with five levels, and the Governors Palace, which covers an area of more than 1,200 m2 .

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