Sagrada Familia, Roussanou Monastery, and Angkor Wat. These worship sites may represent a variety of faiths, but they are all revered as architectural masterpieces.
From mosques to temples to cathedrals, explore some of the world’s most stunning religious destinations.
NASR AL-MULK MOSQUE, SHIRAZ, IRAN
The “pink mosque” is known for its intricate patterns, colorful details and stunning stained glass windows. Click and drag the image above to explore the mosque in 360 degrees.
CHURCH OF THE TRANSFIGURATION, KIZHI ISLAND, RUSSIA
The 22-domed Transfiguration Church is the focal point of the Kizhi Pogost, part of the national open-air museum of Russia’s Kizhi Island. The construction of the wooden structure began in 1714 and the spectacular church is said to have been built without a single nail.
Imagine walking through an ancient city, then climbing a gate tower to take in a panorama view of the city and its more than 600-year-old walls. You can hear the city’s heartbeat in the air. This is the Ancient City of Pingyao in Shanxi Province, a place that should definitely be on your travel itinerary if you enjoy history or ancient architecture since its origins can be traced back to more than 2,700 years ago and it boasts the most intact Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties buildings than any other city in China.
A famous historic city, the Ancient City of Pingyao beat out three other ancient Chinese cities, Sichuan Province’s Langzhong City, Lijiang in Yunnan Province and She County in Anhui Province, to become the only ancient city in the country to be included as a protected historic site by UNESCO.
Whether you’re skiing, hiking, or just sightseeing, mountains are natural wonders that are worth traveling for.From the majestic Mount Fuji in Japan to Peru’s colorful Rainbow Mountain, we’ve rounded up photos and surprising facts about some of the world’s most picturesque peaks.
Keep scrolling for some serious wanderlust.
Vinicunca, Cusco Region, Peru
Also known as the Rainbow Mountain, Vinicunca translates to “seven-colored mountain” in the local language spoken in the Cusco region of Peru.
The mountain’s colors come from mineral deposits, but they weren’t always easy to see. For years, Vinicunca was hidden under a thick layer of ice.
Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam
A hidden gem in a small, rural province in Northern Vietnam, Mu Cang Chai is home to terraced rice fields that are a shade of green so deep, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a painting.
Who knew that Macao has so many UNESCO Heritage Sites?
Dubbed as the ‘Vegas of Asia’, Macao is known for its huge and glitzy casinos, mouth-watering delights and East-meets-West architecture. Formerly a colony of Portugal, modern-day Macao is still filled with traces of Portuguese culture and traditions – as evident from its food and architecture.
However, did you know that besides being paradise for gamblers and foodies alike, Macao is home to numerous UNESCO Heritage Sites? Food, culture and heritage – Macao is a one-stop destination for all! Ready to get cultured?
1. Ruins of St. Paul’s
The Ruins of St. Paul are the remains of the Church of Mater Dei, a former Portuguese church that was destroyed in a fire. Having gotten its name for standing next to St. Paul’s College back then, the church was never rebuilt.
The People’s Republic of China has a long and varied history with its beginnings in an ancient civilisation dating back to 4,000 BCE, when large settlements could be found along the banks of the Yellow River.
The country is located on the western shore of the Pacific Ocean in eastern Asia, and has an area of 9.6 million square kilometres (3.7 million square miles). Its vast seas have more than 5,000 islands and the continental coastline extends for about 18,000 kilometres (11,180 miles). With over 220,000 kilometres (136,700 miles) of rivers, China’s incredible landscape includes the world renowned and awe-inspiring Yangtze River (Changjiang) and the indomitable Yellow River (Huanghe).
The majority of scholars agree that the recorded histories of China began during the Xia Dynasty from roughly 2100 BCE, and continued throughout various dynasties until 1911.
Camoes Garden is also known as the “white pigeon nest” garden in Mandarin, because at one point, it was home to hundreds of white pigeons who nested there. One of Macau’s oldest garden parks, Camoes garden spans close to 20,000 square meters.
Built in the 1770, it was the house of a wealthy Portuguese merchant Manuel Pereira who enjoyed raising pigeons. After his death the government took over his residence and named the garden after prolific Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes, who spent two years in Macao during his exile and penned many poems at this park. One of his most famous works include Os Lusíadas (Soul of Portugal). There is a bust of Camoes in the garden to celebrate his contribution to the literary world.
Today, Camoes Garden remains a popular local place for walks, taichi and morning stretches.
They call it “a new type of village landscape: one where architecture becomes nature, and nature dissolves into architecture.”
I have long been mad for MAD Architects, who made their name outside of China with the shapely Absolute condos they built in Mississauga, Ontario but have been working everywhere since. They recently completed Huangshan Mountain Village in Huangshan National Park in China. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, up there with the Great Barrier Reef — a site of “superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.” It also has cultural value and is a natural habitat.\
UNESCO world heritage sites usually have to be preserved intact or risk losing their designation. So how did an apartment complex, as beautiful as it is, come to be placed in it? According to MAD, via ArchDaily,
In addressing a report on the deceptive online advertising for two hotels in one of China’s UNESCO World Heritage towns, Lijiang in Yunnan Province, the government has said it will put a zero-tolerance policy into action and prevent unfair competition in order to protect tourists’ rights.
The two hostels in Lijiang were accused of using misleading advertising, dishonorably pushing up online ratings and having low-quality service in the report initiated by a grant from China Central Television (CCTV).
An announcement was made later by the government of Lijiang on Sunday, saying the two hotels – Windflower Snow Moon Hotel and Your Hotel – were shut down and are currently facing investigation.
The screenshot of Lijiang’s government’s announcement online.
Following a CCTV report on hostels misleading and harassing guests, one of China’s most photogenic towns has promised to clean up its act.
In response to a scathing report on hostels misleading customers with false advertising, one of China’s two UNESCO World Heritage towns has said it will implement a zero-tolerance policy for any activity that infringes on tourists’ rights.
The government of Lijiang, in southwestern China’s Yunnan province, made the declaration on Sunday — the day after state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) accused two hostels in the city of immoral business practices. According to its statement, the government has ordered the two hostels to close, pending an official investigation.