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Mysterious Mystical Places
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Mysterious Mystical Places
Page Two
Mysterious Mystical Places
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Mysterious Mystical Places
Page Four - This Page
MYSTIC PLACES
  Potala Palace
Lhasa, Tibet
  The Cathedral of Segovia
Spain
  Alhambra Palace
Granada, Spain
  Neuschwanstein Castle
Bavaria, Germany
  Hagia Sophia
Istanbul, Turkey
  Church of Santa Della Salute
Venice, Itally
  Mosque de Cordoba
Spain
  Newgrange
Ireland
  Dome of the Rock
Jerusalem, Israel
  Lourdes
France
Forbidden City
Beijing, China
Abu Simbel
Egypt


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Updated: May 17, 2006


For what purpose does man expand energy, resources and cost to erect the monument that became the wonders of the world. Is it human pride, self gratification, personal satisfaction of some king or ruler, place built in reverence and praise of their Gods, or a desire to preserve and give immortality to their culture and preserve the memory for all time that once they did indeed walk upon the face this earth. Scattered all over the globe are these monument to human ingenuity, purserverance, determination, tenacity, desires, ability, and pride of the architects, builders and artisans who created and brought into reality the ideas and dreams of religious and public leaders, kings, and princes and others. This is our heritage and should be highly valued as such, and the messages therein should be a guiding light for our lives.

The Potala Palace, winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century, symbolises Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration in Tibet. The complex, comprising the White and the Red Palaces with their ancillary buildings, is built on the Red Mountain in the centre of the Lhasa valley, at an altitude of 3,700 m. Also founded in the 7th century, the Jokhang Temple Monastery is an exceptional Buddhist religious complex. Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama's former summer palace, constructed in the 18th century, is a mastrepiece of Tibetan art. The monastery-like palace, reclining against and capping Red Hill, was the religious and political center of old Tibet and the winter palace of Dalai Lamas. The palace is more than 117 meters (384 feet) in height and 360 (1180 feet) in width, occupying a building space of 90 thousand square meters. Potala is composed of White Palace and Red palace. The former is for secular use while the later is for religious.

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The Cathedral of Segovia is located in one corner of the Plaza Mayor, at the center of the city. Formerly, it was built close to the "Alcazar". This made difficult the war operations, being destroied during the war of the Communities, and rebuilt at its present location. Emperor Charles I of Spain and V of Germany wanted it to be built again. Architect Juan Gil de Ontañon (the same who built Salamanca's Cathedral) begun it at 1525. When he died, Garcia de Cubillas continued the works untill 1558, when the main nave was concluded. A second stege of the works was conducted by Juan's son: Rodrigo Gil de Ontañon. When he died, at 1577, Martin Ruiiz de Chertudi continued. Juan de Mugaguren finished the coverture of the transept at 1615. Under Roman rule in 80 BC, the settlement to be know as Segovia, was on the front lines of Muslim and Christian conflict until Christian forces captured the city in 1085 AD.

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The Alhambra seen from east. The round structure is the 16th century Palacio of Carlos 5. To the far left of it lies the Torre de Comares, part of the Serallo, and where the Salón de Embajadores lies. In between is the Lions' Court and the Mexuar. In the back from this lies the Alcazaba, overlooking the city of Granada. This palace structure was started after the Reconquista, the reconquering of Spain performed by the Christian kings, started. Alhambra was started as late as 13th century, but Alhambra consists of palaces built by several rulers, each had his own. The carrying idea behind several of the buildings of Alhambra is nothing less than an attempt to create a duplica of Paradise on earth. The romantic design is made up of a mixture of slender columnar arcades, fountains, and light-reflecting water basins. Most prominent is the Lion Court. Granada was lost to the Christians in 1492, and when the Reyos Católicos, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella died some years later, Granada was chosen for their burial. Perhaps the Muslim dreams of Paradise moved even the cold hearts of the two. The Alhambra consists of 3 parts: The Royal Palace, which is the most famous, which in itself consists of 3 parts: The Mexuar, the Serallo and the Harem, where the Lions' Court is the centre. In addition to the Alhambra comes the gardens of Generalife and the fortress of Alcazaba.

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Neuschwanstein Castle is one of three built for King Ludwig II von Bayern of Bavaria in the 19th Century. This is King Ludwig's magnificent and most famous castle, built in neo-Romanesque style and in imitation of a medieval German knight's castle. Each of the rooms are decorate with paintings which are scenes from Richard Wagner's operas. The entire fourth floor is a theater that Ludwig had built so Wagner's operas could be performed there. With its turrets and mock-medievalism, its interior styles ranging from Byzantine through Romanesque to Gothic its a real fairy-tale fantasy come true. The castle had revolutionary facilities such as running water on each floor, flushing toilets, hot water in kitchens and bathrooms, and a warm-air heating system. For this he became known as Mad King Ludwig of Neuschwanstein Castle. Construction of Neuschwanstein Castle on the side of a mountain in the German Alps (3306 feet above see-level) began in 1869 and came to a sudden halt on June 13, 1886... the day King Ludwig died. Neuschwanstein is set with towers and spires and is spectacularly sited on a high point over the Pöllat River gorge. After seeing this Castle Walt Disney built a replica of it in Disneyland.

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Hagia Sophia stands on the site of an earlier basilican church erected by Constantius II in 360, some 30 years after Byzantium had become the capital of the Roman Empire. This church was burned in 404 and rebuilt by Theodosius II in 415, only to be again destroyed by fire in 532. The present structure, which is entirely fireproof, was built in 532-37 by the Christian Emperor Justinian I as a Byzantine church, which it functioned as for the next 900 years and was constructed from designs of his imperial architects Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus As a result of severe earthquakes, the dome collapsed in 558, but it was rebuilt by 563 on a somewhat higher curve. With the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Islamic-faithed Ottomans took over Constantinople (now Istanbul) so Hagia Sophia became a mosque, and in subsequent years all the interior figure mosaics were obscured under coatings of plaster and painted ornament; most of the Christian symbols elsewhere were obliterated. It served the Muslims for almost 500 years. The Ottomans painted over the Christian mosaics - and erected the four defining minarets we see today. In 1934, Turkey changed the Hagia Sophia's status from mosque to museum and uncovered the priceless Byzantine mosaics. The four slender minarets, which rise so strikingly at the outer corners of the structure, were added singly and at different times; the crescent supplanted the cross on the summit of the dome, and the altar and the pulpit were replaced by the customary Muslim furnishings.

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The Ciesa di Santa Maria della Salute is a famous Venetian landmark, guarding the entrance to the Grand Canal. This gigantic, white, domed 17th–century church was designed by Longhena demonstrates serenity and grandeur through its bold Baroque architectural style. The architect Baldassare Longhena was only 32 when he participated in the design competition to build a great shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary in gratitude for liberation from a terrible plague that from 1630 to 1631 killed 47,000 victims in Venice alone. The city fathers prayed for divine intervention, promising to build a church in honor of the Virgin Mary if God would switch off the plague. Within weeks, the epidemic faded away, and the massive Santa Maria della Salute Church was built to fulfill the Venetians' side of the bargain. For this reason, the church takes the name "Salute" meaning health and salvation. Baldassare Longhena's original idea of a classically inspired white octagonal temple covered by a colossal cupola, with a Palladian-style facade and bizarre Baroque decorations, effortlessly conquered the avant-garde judges. The luminous interior features six chapels with one altar each and a beautiful polychrome marble floor. The Baroque church was finished in 1687.

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Córdoba was the capital of the Spanish Muslim dynasty of the Ummayads (756-1031). The Great Mosque of Córdoba (La Mezquita) was founded 785 CE. It was added to and expanded over the next two hundred years to make it the third largest structure in the Islamic world. The prayer hall (23,400 square meters) is filled with almost 500 hundred slender columns and superimposed striped arches; a forest sprouting from the marble floor. Previously the site had been occupied by a Christian church dedicated to Saint Vincent that had been built by the Visigoths around 500 CE. Before that, when Córdoba was a provincial capital in the Roman Empire, the site was occupied by a temple dedicated to Janus, the double-headed god of doorways and gates. When Córdoba was captured by the Christian Spanish king of Castile, Ferdinand III, in the 13th century, the mosque reverted to a Christian sanctuary. Then in 1523, the local clergy, with the support of Emperor Charles V, built a cathedral in the middle of the mosque.

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The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange was built about 3200 BC. Newgrange is a great circular mound of earth and stone 250 feet in diameter encircled by a ring of standing stones. The interior is solid except for a single stone-lined and -capped passage 62 feet long and 3 feet wide which terminates close to the centre of the mound in main chamber with a corbelled vault 20 feet high and three recessed chambers. The kidney shaped mound covers an area of over one acre and is surrounded by 97 kerbstones, some of which are richly decorated with megalithic art. The best known feature of Newgrange today is its orientation to the winter solstice sunrise. The entrance faces south-east and as the sun rises over the days around December 21, its rays enter the specially contrived roof-box structure over the door and penetrate 20 meters into the mound to illuminate the chamber. Newgrange, The Mansion of the Boyne, probably the most impressive neolithic site in Ireland. The mound got its current appearance during its excavation and restoration between 1963 and 1975.

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This is the oldest Muslim building which has survived basically intact in its original form. It was built by the Caliph Abd al-Malik and completed in 691 CE. The building encloses a huge rock located at its center, from which, according to tradition, the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven at the end of his Night Journey. In the Jewish tradition this is the Foundation Stone, the symbolic foundation upon which the world was created, and the place of the Binding of Isaac. The Caliph Omar is said to have cleared the waste which had accumulated on the rock during the Byzantine period. About 1000 BC, Urusalim was captured by David, founder of the joint kingdom of Israel and Judah, and became the Jewish kingdom's capital. In the earlier wandering years of the Israelites, their most sacred object, the Ark of the Covenant, was periodically moved about among several sanctuaries, but following David's capture of Urusalim, the Ark was moved to that city around 955 BC. The Ark was a portable shrine containing the two stone Tablets of the Law that the prophet Moses had received upon Mt. Sinai. David renamed his city Jerusalem, meaning 'City of Peace' in Hebrew, and chose Mt. Moriah as the site of his future temple. An ancient Semitic tradition stated that the bare rock atop the mount was held in the mouth of the serpent Tahum, and that this place was the intersection of the underworld and the upper world. It was also considered to be the site where Abraham had built an altar on which he prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. At this same site, the patriarch Jacob gathered stone from the altar upon which his father Isaac was to be sacrificed, and using this stone as a pillow spent the night sleeping upon the rock. Upon waking from a stunning visionary dream, Jacob anointed the stone pillow with oil he had received from heaven and the stone then sank deep into the earth, to become the foundation stone of the great temple that would later be built by Solomon. This hallowed site is known as Bethel, meaning "Gate or House of Heaven."

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In 1858, a fourteen-year-old peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous had a series of eighteen visions of the Virgin Mary who appeared in a niche in the grotto of Massabielle near Lourdes, a village on the Gave de Pau river in the foothills of the Pyrenees in southern France. The first apparition occurred on 11 February 1858. During her ninth apparition, on 25 February, Bernadette claimed to have been directed to a spring that had hitherto not existed in the grotto. Its discovery by Bernadette, witnessed by hundreds of onlookers, was eventually declared miraculous. Later studies have shown that the water is pure and contains chlorides of soda, lime and magnesia, bicarbonates of lime and magnesia, silicates of lime and aluminium, oxide of iron, sulphate of soda, phosphate, and organic matter. Subsequently, however, the water was claimed to be capable of healing the sick and lame. Of the many thousands of pilgrims who visit Lourdes every year, some claim to be have been miraculously healed. It is estimated that the spring has produced 27,000 gallons of water each week since it first emerged during Bernadette's visions.

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The Forbidden City, called gugong, in Chinese, used to be the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Construction of the palace complex started in 1407, the 5th year of the Yongle reign of the third emperor of the Ming dynasty, and was completed 14 years later in 1420. It was said that a million workers including 100,000 artisans were driven into the long-term hard labor. Stones needed were quarried from Fangshan, suburb of Beijing. The Forbidden City stands in the center of Beijing. It is protected by high walls and a moat on all four sides and consists of dozens of halls and courtyards. The emperors of two dynasties, the Ming and the Ching, lived here with their families and hundreds of court ladies and palace eunuchs. From their throne in the Forbidden City they governed the country by holding court sessions with their ministers, issuing imperial edicts and initiating military expeditions. It is said that the Emperor of Heaven has his palaces in the region of the North Star, of which purple is the symbolic color. It was the home of 24 emperors of the Ming and Ching dynasties. After the republican revolution of 1911, the last emperor of the Ching Dynasty, then still a child, abdicated the next year. But he and his family and their entire entourage were allowed to stay in the palaces. They were finally expelled by republican troops in 1924.

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Abu Simbel is a temple built by Ramesses II (c.1279-1213 B.C.E.) in ancient Nubia, where he wished to demonstrate his power and his divine nature. Four colossal (65 feet/20 meters high) statues of him sit in pairs flanking the entrance. The head and torso of the statue to the left of the entrance fell during ancient times, probably the result of an earthquake. This temple faces the east, and Re-Horakhty, one manifestation of the sun god, is shown inside the niche directly above the entrance. The alignment of the temple is such that twice a year the sun’s rays reach into the innermost sanctuary to illuminate the seated statues of Ptah, Amun-Re, Ramesses II, and Re- Horakhty. The temple was cut out of the sandstone cliffs above the Nile River in an area near the Second Cataract. When the High Dam was being constructed in the early 1960s, international cooperation assembled funds and technical expertise to move this temple to higher ground so that it would not be inundated by the waters of Lake Nasser. This temple was dug on the western mountain range in 1290-1224 BC in Abu Simbel, and was dedicated to the triad Amon-Ra, Ptah and Ra-Harakhte, by Ramses II. Next to this temple there is the so-called Small Temple of Abu Simbel: the Temple of Hathor, dedicated to Hathor (the wife of the Sun God) and to Ramses II's favorite wife: Queen Nefertari.

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