Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

This ancient Wonder was not listed as wonder because of its size it got place as Wonder because of its beauty though this also a burial place of a king, it fascinated its visitors for years. Being a burial place of a King haven’t mean that it got place in list of Wonders and neither it got that because of the size like pyramid. It became famous because of its astonishing beauty. It’s situated in the southwest Turkey’s city Bodrum on the Aegean Sea.

The ancient Persian kingdom was expanded to Mesopotamia, Northern India, Syria, Egypt, and Asia Minor because of such vast empire the king failed to have control over it, and it became hard to keep control on all those captured lands. From 377 to 353 BC King Mausollos of Caria and he moved his capital to Halicarnassus. There is nothing that we can found about Maussollos life except construction of his tomb. The idea about this project was conceived by his wife and sister Artemisia and its believed that construction of tomb was started in King’s life.

The Mausoleum was completed around 350 BC, it was completed 3 years after the death of the Maussollos.

It was having rectangular structure, with base dimensions of about 40m X 30m. The total height of Mausoleum was 45m (140 ft). Its height descended almost 20m (60 ft) for the stepped podium, 12 m (38 ft) for the colonnade, 7m (22ft) for the pyramid and 6 m (20ft) for the chariot at the top.

For almost 16 centuries The Mausoleum remained in good condition until it was struck by earthquake that damaged its roof and colonnade. The Knights of St. John of Malta invaded in early 15th century and there they decided to build a massive crusader castle and it is said that blocks and stones of Mausoleum was used in that castle’s construction. Today that massive castle still stands in Bodrum, and the stones and blocks of Mausoleum can be seen in walls of the castle. On the site of Mausoleum only its foundations remain.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Colosseum

The most famous monument of Ancient Rome is the Colosseum. Its real name is Flavian Amphitheatre. The Emperor Vespasian started it between 70 and 76 AD and his son Titus in 80AD completed it. Titus dedicated the Colosseum to the Vespasian death year after. It was having a grand opening by holding 100days worth of games there. The site where it was built there Nero was having a huge villa for himself. While Vespasian wanted to build something for people rather than for himself. It was given name the Colosseum because it was built near that place where Nero erected a huge statue of colossus of himself. That statue was 100 feet high and was the largest gilded bronze statue of its time depicting him as god of the sun. It was moved away latterly and it taken 24 elephants to move it from there.
The Colosseum was the great source of recreation and entertainment for all Roman Empire people enjoys to go to theater to watch plays and concerts, and stadium the chariot races and the amphitheater to watch the bloody sports. There were so many types of furious fights were held in the Colosseum like gladiatorial combats, fights with beasts and individual fights. The Colosseum was having capacity of having 50,000 people. Sometimes people spend whole day in the Colosseum watching sports.

The games were really wild and bloody and for almost 4 centuries men died for that only to provide entertainment to crowd. There were the training schools for the gladiators; most of those gladiators were the criminals and slaves.

At first there were fights to the death between wild animals such bear against buffalo, buffalo against elephant, and elephant against rhinoceros. There were fights between men and beasts also such fights were called venations.

The Amphitheater building from outside is built of travertine and interior haves tufa and bricks. Its outside was decorated with the Greek columns but that don’t support the architecture. The enclosing boundary of the Colosseum is of 527m and its height was 50m. It was having 80 entrances and all were having numbers except the 4 main entrances that were wider than other others were reserved for the Emperor. The Colosseum entrances were designed in such way that crowd could get out in five minutes. Its interior was divided into three parts: the arena, the podium, and the cavea.

Presently the two third of the original building had been removed and so many rows of seats in the cavea are missing. Though its structure was similar to other amphitheaters but in size it was lot bigger.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Paricutin Volcano

It was of 20 February 1943 when a Mexican farmer in the Mexican state of Michoacan he was readying his fields for springs sowing when ground nearby opened a crack about 150 feet long. He described that then he felt thunder and the trees were trembling then he seen in the hole the ground swelled and raised itself 21/2 meters high, then a kind of smoke or fine dust-gray like ashes began to rise with a loud whistling sound continuously and there was smell of sulfur in the air. He got so much frightened and tried to help unyoke one of the ox teams.

Eventually that was the volcano which born under the feet of the farmer.  Pulido and the other people escaped from that place. The next morning when they came back they saw that the cone was grown to the height of 30 feet and was uttering with great force. During the daytime it grew 120 feet more and in that night incandescent bombs blew more than 1,000 feet up into the darkness and then a slag like mass of lava rolled over Pulido’s cornfields.

This sudden volcano’s appearance stunned the whole scientific world as well as to that unlucky farmer also. Volcanic eruptions around the world are common but the birth of an entirely new volcano from the surface of the earth is purely rare.

If we look on the history about birth of new volcanoes in North America only two volcanoes have appeared in historic times. One was in Western Mexico’s Jorullo in 1759 almost 50 miles southeast of Dionisio Pulido’s property. The second was born 183 years later in the field of Pulido it was named Paricutin, on the name of nearby village, that village was destroyed because of that volcano appearance.

Paricutin and Jorullo both appeared in the Mexican Volcanic Belt. This belt is about 700 miles from east to west across southern Mexico. According to the geologists that dramatic volcanic eruptive activity deposited a layer of volcanic rock some 6,000 feet thick, which created a high and fertile plateau. During summer season the heights dramatically drags in moist breezes from the Pacific Ocean that make its climate pleasant and ideal that made its lands rich farmlands that’s why this belt is the most populous.

Although this region is already having three largest cities of the region, Mexico city, Puebla and Guadalajara that’s the area around 200 miles west of the capital and was still a peaceful backwater inhabited by Tarascan Indians in the early 1940s. This zone is loveliest place of Mexico that never experienced any volcanic activity during historic times. Though hundreds of no longer burning cones rose around the small valleys, the only breakout of a volcano in human memory had been that of distant Jorullo.

The Tarascan is not having any folk legends regarding volcano births in that area. But the dramatic appearance of Paricutin made them to look back to know to get the indication from past about the great change.

If we look in history record about this area its year wise is like this:

  • In 1941 destruction of wooden cross on a hillside.
  • In 1942 a plague of locusts.
  • In the beginning of 1943 a series of earthquakes started.
Now if we look on the above signs sequence 1st one was a sacrilege, 2nd was biblical retribution and 3rd is a series of earthquakes a resident of this area he told that time there was so many noises coming from the center of the earth.

A day before the break out of volcano in February 19 almost 300 earthquakes shaken the ground then on February 22 the new cone started rising and fiery skyrockets descending. The geologists who were monitoring and mapping the behavior of Paricutin from last nine years arrived. Paricutin was constantly under observation. Because of that constant observation the geologists gained a treasure of information including unique fleeting glimpses of ephemeral features.

New volcanic phenomena and process were sometimes obliterates almost as soon as they were recorded, especially during Paricutin’s first year of violent, explosive growth and change. The cone topped 1,100 feet that year, that’s the four-fifths of its final height and time of its eruption the explosions echoed all over the state of Michoacan, the ash snowed on faraway from Mexico City and almost all the vegetation for miles around the crater was destroyed.

The summer of 1943 was the most violent period of the volcano. Lava rose to about 50 feet below the mouth of the volcano till its outer edge. That opened a new passage explosively at the cone’s base, fountaining lava high into the sky. The lava destroyed all nearby villages that year.

After few years lava flow continued with little interruption. In 1952 right nine years after the birth of the Paricutin, the volcano experienced its last major spasm of activity. But till then all villages and farms were already relocated with help of government.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Monasteries of Meteora, Greece

There are so many beautiful monasteries around the world. But these six monasteries located in Greece that I am going to tell are the most unique ones. These monasteries are build on natural rock pillar on the edge of the Pindus Mountains in central Greece, these six spectacular Monasteries are known as “Monasteries of Meteora” means floating in the air.

1. The Monastery of St. Stephan

This monastery was founded in 14th century. Now its convent for nuns. It is located almost on the outskirts of Kalambaka, a bridge there makes it easy to get there.

This monastery was badly damaged in World War II and the afterwards in civil war. So many precious and priceless water color paintings on walls were erased and others were totally were destroyed. Fortunately the Monastery’s most sacred asset the head of St. Charlambos was saved, about that its famous it wards off the illness.

Recently the nuns have been attempting to restore the sections of the monastery that are declining.

This monastery has a small museum having collection of ecclesiastical robes and objects.

Most of all this monastery haves a fascinating view.

2. The Monastery of the Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity Monastery looks familiar, it probably can be that you seen in James Bond movie For Your Eyes only.

Aside from that great honor, the Holy Trinity Monastery boasts one of the most spectacular positions of the six Meteora monasteries – Agia Triada is perched atop a slender pinnacle and accessible only by 140 steep steps.

The one monk who lives there welcomes visitors and shows them around the monastery’s church, refectory and courtyard. Visitors to Holy Trinity can also see the winch system used to bring people and supplies to the mountaintop monasteries.

3. The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron

If you are not having time to visit all six monasteries of Meteora then visit only one Great Meteoron Monastery. Though other monasteries are worth visiting but this one is top on all.
The Great Meteoron Monastery was founded in the 14th century but monks built the present monastery in 16th century that visitors see now.

The lovely church at the Great Meteoron is in the shape of a Greek cross and topped by a 12-sided dome. Inside there are so many watercolor elaborated wall paintings.

The frescoes in the dome feature Christ, the four evangelists, the apostles, and the prophets. Church fathers are by the altar and liturgical feasts are depicted along the walls of the nave. The narthex is decorated with rather frightening images of the Last Judgment and Punishment of the Damned.

Outside the church is a pleasant shady courtyard and a small museum containing icons and illuminated manuscripts. The wine cellar is well stocked with barrels of the sacred drink.

4. The Monastery of Saint Nikolaos Anapafsas

The Monastery of Saint Nikolaos Anapafsas is a little 14th century monastery approached by a relatively gentle path on the otherwise rugged Meteora in Greece.

It features splendid frescoes by the 16th century Cretan painter Theophanes the Monk.

5. Roussanou Monastery

Roussanou Monastery is on top of the rocky peaks of Meteora in Thessaly, Greece. Standing tall and strong still yet centuries passed.

It was founded in the 13th century and now functions as a convent for nuns. The site includes octagonal domed church and beautiful courtyard. Its now easily accessible, thanks to its new bridge.

6. Varlaam Monastery

Varlaam Monastery is named for the monk who first built a tiny chapel on this rocky promontory in the 14th century.

In the 16th century two brothers from the monastery at loannina enlarged the chapel and founded the monastery. According to legend, they had to drive away the monster who lived in a cave on the summit before they could move in.

Today, a narrow bridge that runs from the main road on the Meteora can access Varlaam Monastery. Varlaam Monastery’s most pleasant features are the garden and the monk who sometimes sits there and chats with visitors. The old refectory is now a museum.

Varlaam contains frescoes by the well-known iconographer Frangos Katelanos and houses a collection of relics, carved wooden crosses, icons, embroidered epitaphoi and   many other ecclesiastical treasures.

North of the church is the “Parekklesion of the Three” (dedicated to the Three Bishops: St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, and St. John Chrysostom), which was built in 1627 and decorated in 1637.

The busiest tourist season at Meteora is between May and September. The mountain range to the east and north of Meteora experiences baking heat in summer and severe cold in winter with heavy snowfalls. Summer is the driest time. Storms occur year round, especially at higher altitudes. Most visitors to Meteora stay in Kalambaka or Kastraki, the two closest villages to Meteora.

In my opinion these Monasteries are the standing human hand build wonders of world still standing tall having so many stories along them. A sacred but fascinating place to visit.