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May 5, 2009

The 100 most beautiful places in the world – Part 2

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50. The Kilauea and the Hawaii volcanoes


K?lauea is an active volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, one of five shield volcanoes that together form the Island of Hawai?i. In Hawaiian, the word k?lauea means “spewing” or “much spreading”, in reference to the mountain’s frequent outpouring of lava. Issuing lava continuously at Pu?u ???? since January 1983, K?lauea is currently the most active volcano on the Earth, an invaluable resource for volcanologists, and also the planet’s most visited active volcano. The volume of erupted material could pave a road across the world 3 times. Lava less than 1000 yrs old covers 90% of Kilauea.

49. The Buddhist temple of Borobudur


Borobudur is a ninth-century Mahayana Buddhist monument in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. The monument comprises six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. A main dome, located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupa.

48. Milford sound and the Mitre peak

Mitre Peak is an iconic mountain in the South Island of New Zealand. It is one of the most photographed peaks in the country. The distinctive shape of the peak in southern New Zealand gives the mountain its name, after the mitre headwear of Christian bishops. It was named by a survey crew from the HMS Acheron.

47. The Giants’ Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is located on the northeast coast of Ireland, about two miles (3 km) north of the town of Bushmills. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, and a National Nature Reserve in 1987 by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the Giant’s Causeway was named as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven and eight sides. The tallest are about 12 metres (36 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres thick in places.

46. Great Mosque of Cordoba

The Mezquita (Spanish for “mosque”) of Cordoba is a Roman Catholic cathedral and former mosque situated in the Andalusian city of Córdoba, Spain. Originally built as a church, after the Muslim conquest the building was confiscated for use as a mosque and greatly expanded until it became the second-largest mosque in the world. It is regarded as perhaps the most accomplished monument of the Umayyad dynasty of Cordoba. After the Spanish Reconquista, it was returned to its original use as a church. Today it houses the main church of the diocese of Cordoba in Spain.

45. The limestone basins at Huanglong


Huanglong is a scenic and historic interest area in Songpan County in the northwest part of Sichuan, China. It is located in the southern part of the Minshan mountain range, 150 km north-northwest of the capital Chengdu. This area is known for its colorful pools formed by calcite deposits, especially in Huanglonggou (Yellow Dragon Gully), as well as diverse forest ecosystems, snow-capped peaks, waterfalls and hot springs. Huanglong is also home to many endangered species including the Giant Panda and the Sichuan Golden Snub-nosed Monkey. Huanglong was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1992.

44. The Colosseum Italy

The Colosseum or Roman Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an elliptical amphitheatre in the center of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. It is one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering.

43. The Piana rocky inlet and the Girolata gulf

The Gulf of Porto-Girolata and the reserve of Scandola are located on the Western coast of Corsica; their surface of 120 km2 is divided into terrestrial environment and marine environment.

42. The Yellowstone national park


Yellowstone National Park, established by the U.S. Congress as a national park on March 1, 1872, is located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, though it also extends into Montana and Idaho. The park was the first of its kind, and is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of the most popular features in the park. It has many types of ecosystems, but the subalpine forest is dominant.

41. The maya city of Chichen Itza


Chichen Itza is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Maya civilization located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the Yucatán state, present-day Mexico.

40. The Potala, dalai-lama’s palace

The Potala Palace is located in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region. It was named after Mount Potala, the abode of Chenresig or Avalokitesvara. The Potala Palace was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, India, after an invasion and failed uprising in 1959. Today the Potala Palace has been converted into a museum by the Chinese.

39. Aerial view of Rio bay


Rio de Janeiro, is the second largest city of Brazil and South America, behind São Paulo, and the third largest metropolitan area in South America, behind São Paulo and Buenos Aires. It is the state capital of Rio de Janeiro. The city was the capital of Brazil for nearly two centuries, from 1763 to 1822 during the Portuguese colonial era, and from 1822 to 1960 as an independent nation. It is also the former capital of the Portuguese Empire (1808 – 1821). Commonly known as just Rio, the city is also nicknamed A Cidade Maravilhosa, or “The Marvelous City”.

38. The Vatican and the Saint Peter’s basilica


Vatican City, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, the capital city of Italy. At approximately 44 hectares (110 acres), and with a population of around 900, it is the smallest country in the world by both area and population.

37. Moai statues of the Easter island


Moai are monolithic human figures carved from rock on the Polynesian island of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) between 1250 and 1500 CE. Nearly half are still at Rano Raraku, the main moai quarry, but hundreds were transported from there and set on stone platforms called Ahu around the island’s perimeter. Almost all moai have overly large heads three-fifths the size of their bodies. The moai are chiefly the ‘living faces’ (aringa ora) of deified ancestors (aringa ora ata tepuna). The statues still gazed inland across their clan lands when Europeans first visited the island, but most would be cast down during later conflicts between clans.

36. The Cappadocia and the Goreme valley


Cappadocia, was an extensive inland district of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). The name continued to be used in western sources and in the Christian tradition throughout history and is still widely used as an international tourism concept to define a region of exceptional natural wonders characterized by fairy chimneys (image below) and a unique historical and cultural heritage. The term, as used in tourism, roughly corresponds to present-day Nev?ehir Province of Turkey.

35. Venice and its canals


Venice is a city in northern Italy, the capital of the region Veneto, a population of 271,367 (census estimate January 1, 2004). Together with Padua, the city is included in the Padua-Venice Metropolitan Area (population 1,600,000). The city historically was an independent nation. Venice has been known as the “La Dominante”, “Serenissima”, “Queen of the Adriatic”, “City of Water”, “City of Bridges”, and “The City of Light”. It is often cited as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

34. The rice terrace fields of Banaue

The Banaue Rice Terraces are 2000-year old terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the Batad indigenous people. The Rice Terraces are commonly referred to by Filipinos as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.[1][2][3] It is commonly thought that the terraces were built with minimal equipment, largely by hand. The terraces are located approximately 1500 meters (5000 ft) above sea level and cover 10,360 square kilometers (about 4000 square miles) of mountainside. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps are put end to end it would encircle half the globe.

33. The carnival of Rio

The Brazilian Carnival, properly spelled Carnaval, is an annual festival in Brazil held four days before Ash Wednesday, the day of fasting and repentance that marks the beginning of Lent. On certain days of Lent, Roman Catholics and some other Christians traditionally abstained from the consumption of meat and poultry — hence the term “carnival,” from carnelevare, “to remove (literally, “raise”) meat.” Carnival celebrations are believed to have roots in the pagan festival of Saturnalia, which, adapted to Christianity, became a farewell to certain pleasures of the flesh in a season of religious discipline to practice repentance and prepare for Christ’s death and resurrection.

32. The caves of Carlsbad


Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a United States National Park located in the Guadalupe Mountains in southeastern New Mexico. The primary attraction of the park for most visitors is the show cave, Carlsbad Caverns. Visitors to the cave can hike in on their own via the natural entrance, or take the elevator (the exit for everyone) directly to the Underground Lunchroom some 750 feet (230 m) below.

31. The blue mosque in front of Hagia Sofia

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is the national mosque of Turkey, and is a historical mosque in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey and the capital of the Ottoman Empire (from 1453 to 1923). The mosque is one of several mosques known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior.

30. The Perito Moreno glacier

The Perito Moreno Glacier is a glacier located in the Los Glaciares National Park in the south west of Santa Cruz province, Argentina. It is one of the most important tourist attractions in the Argentine Patagonia.

29. The Galapagos archipelago


Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, 972 km west of continental Ecuador. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site: wildlife is its most notable feature.

28. Karstic peaks at Guilin, along the Li river


Guilin is a city in China, situated in the northeast of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on the west bank of the Li River. Its name means “forest of Sweet Osmanthus”, owing to the large number of fragrant Sweet Osmanthus trees located in the city. The city has long been renowned for its unique scenery.

27. Muslim fervour at Mecca


Mecca is a city in Saudi Arabia. Home to the Masjid al-Haram, it is the holiest city in Islam and plays an important role in the faith. As of 2008 the annual Hajj pilgrimage attracts two to three million pilgrims to the city, and presents both opportunities for the city’s economy, and challenges for its infrastructure. Culturally, the city is modern, cosmopolitan and ethnically diverse.

26. Bali island


Bali is an Indonesian island, the westernmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east. It is one of the country’s 33 provinces with the provincial capital at Denpasar towards the south of the island.

25. Mount Everest


Mount Everest – also called Sagarmatha – is the highest mountain on Earth, as measured by the height above sea level of its summit, 8,848 metres (29,029 ft). The mountain, which is part of the Himalaya range in High Asia, is located on the border between Sagarmatha Zone, Nepal, and Tibet, China.

24. Lunar scenery at the south of Altiplano and the colorful lagoons

The Altiplano, in central South America, where the Andes are at their widest, is the most extensive area of high plateau on earth outside of Tibet. Lake Titicaca is its most known geographical feature.

23. White immensity of Antarctica

Antarctica is Earth’s southernmost continent, underlying the South Pole. It is situated in the Antarctica region of the southern hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14.0 million km² (5.4 million sq mi), it is the fifth-largest continent in area after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice, which averages at least 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) in thickness.

22. The Ngorongoro crater

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area or NCA is a conservation area situated 180 km (112 miles) west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. The conservation area is administered by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, an arm of the Tanzanian government, and its boundaries follow the boundary of the Ngorongoro Division of Ngorongoro District. It covers an area of 8,288 km² (3,200 square miles) – about the size of Crete.

21. The precolombian pyramids of Teotihuacan


Teotihuacan is an enormous archaeological site in the Basin of Mexico, containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas. Apart from the pyramidal structures, the archaeological site of Teotihuacan is also known for its large residential complexes, the so-called “avenue of the dead”, and its colorful well-preserved murals.

20. Fjords and the Preikestolen cliff


Preikestolen or Prekestolen, also known by the English translations of Preacher’s Pulpit or Pulpit Rock, and by the old local name Hyvlatonnå, is a massive cliff 604 metres (1982 feet) above Lysefjorden, opposite the Kjerag plateau, in Forsand, Norway. The top of the cliff is approximately 25 by 25 metres (82 by 82 feet) square and almost flat, and is a famous tourist attraction in Norway.

19. Sand dunes of the Sahara

The Sahara is the world’s largest hot desert. At over 9,000,000 square kilometers (3,500,000 sq mi), it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as the United States or the continent of Europe. The desert stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean. To the south, it is delimited by the Sahel: a belt of semi-arid tropical savanna that comprises the northern region of central and western Sub-Saharan Africa.

18. Pagan, the thousand pagodas plain


Bagan is one of the richest archeological sites in the world and the highlight of every tour through Myanmar. In between 11th and 13th century the kings of Bagan dynasty ruled the country and ordered thousands of pagodas and temples to be built. Today about 20 temples and pagodas are most interesting due to temple architecture or ornamentic design. The stupa of the Shwezigon Pagoda, the only one covered with gold in Bagan, became the prototype for many pagodas built in later centuries. The terraces of Shwesandaw Pagoda offer the best location to watch the sunset. To witness the birth of a new day most of the “early birds” prefer the terraces of Minyeingon Pagoda. The visit of only some of the most important temples and pagodas will take two days minimum.

17. The Bora-Bora island


Bora Bora is an island in the Leeward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the Pacific Ocean. The island, located about 230 kilometres (140 mi) northwest of Papeete, is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. In the center of the island are the remnants of an extinct volcano rising to two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, the highest point at 727 metres (2,385 ft). The original name of the island in the Tahitian language might be better rendered as Pora Pora, meaning “First Born”; an early transcription found in 18th- and 19th century accounts, is Bolabolla (or “Bollabolla”).

16. The Halong bay


Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Qu?ng Ninh province, Vietnam. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes.

15. The Abu Simbel temple


Abu Simbel is an archaeological site comprising two massive rock temples in southern Egypt on the western bank of Lake Nasser about 290 km southwest of Aswan. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Nubian Monuments”, which run from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae (near Aswan).

14. The salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni (or Salar de Tunupa) is the world’s largest salt flat at 10,582 km² (4,085 square miles). It is located in the Potosí and Oruro departments in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes, 3,650 meters high. The major minerals found in the salar are halite and gypsum.

13. The Niagara waterfalls

The Niagara Falls are voluminous waterfalls on the Niagara River, straddling the international border between the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of New York. The falls are 17 miles (27 km) north-northwest of Buffalo, New York and 75 miles (120 km) south-southeast of Toronto, Ontario, between the twin cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York.

12. The amazonian virgin forest

The Amazon rainforest, also known as Amazonia, or the Amazon jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America. This basin encompasses seven million square kilometers (1.7 billion acres), of which five and a half million square kilometers (1.4 billion acres) are covered by the rainforest. This region includes territory belonging to nine nations. The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with 60% of the rainforest, followed by Peru with 13%, and with minor amounts in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. States or departments in four nations bear the name Amazonas after it. The Amazon represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests, and it comprises the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest in the world.

11. The city of Angkor


Angkor is a name conventionally applied to the region of Cambodia serving as the seat of the Khmer empire that flourished from approximately the ninth century to the fifteenth century A.D. (The word “Angkor” itself is derived from the Sanskrit “nagara,” meaning “city.”) More precisely, the Angkorian period may be defined as the period from 802 A.D., when the Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declared himself the “universal monarch” and “god-king” of Cambodia, until 1431 A.D., when Thai invaders sacked the Khmer capital, causing its population to migrate south to the area of Phnom Penh.

10. The great coral reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world, composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi). The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia.

9. The Victoria waterfalls

The Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders) is a waterfall situated in southern Africa on the Zambezi River between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The falls are some of the largest in the world.

8. The great wall of China

The Great Wall of China or is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in China, built, rebuilt, and maintained between the 5th century BC and the 16th century to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire from Xiongnu attacks during the rule of successive dynasties. Several walls, referred to as the Great Wall of China, were built since the 5th century BC. One of the most famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang; little of it remains; it was much farther north than the current wall, which was built during the Ming Dynasty.

7. The Nabatean city of Petra


Petra is an archaeological site in the Arabah, Ma’an Governorate, Jordan, lying on the slope of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. It is renowned for its rock-cut architecture. Petra is also one of the new wonders of the world. The Nabateans constructed it as their capital city around 100 BCE.

6. Migrating animals in the Serengeti park

The Serengeti National Park is a large national park in Serengeti area, Tanzania. It is most famous for its annual migration of over one million white bearded (or brindled) wildebeest and 200,000 zebra.

5. The great canyon of Colorado

The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River in the United States in the state of Arizona. It is largely contained within the Grand Canyon National Park — one of the first national parks in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, and visited it on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery.

4. The pyramids and the sphinx


The Egyptian pyramids are ancient pyramid-shaped masonry structures located in Egypt.

3. The Taj Mahall

The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum located in Agra, India, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

2. The Iguazu waterfalls


Iguazu Falls, Iguassu Falls, or Iguaçu Falls are waterfalls of the Iguazu River located on the border of the Brazilian state of Paraná and the Argentine province of Misiones. The falls divide the river into the upper and lower Iguazu.

1. The inca city of Machu Picchu


Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian Inca site located 2,430 metres (8,000 ft) above sea level. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows. The river is a partially navigable headwater of the Amazon River. Often referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas”, Machu Picchu is one of the most familiar symbols of the Inca Empire.

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