Sigiriya is called Lion Mountain or Lion Rock in English.
Image Credit: Photograph by SylvainB/Shutterstock.
One of the most well-known sites in Sri Lanka, Sigiriya is a granite monolith that rises above the jungle in the center of the island nation.
The sides of the rock are nearly vertical, and people who climb to the flattened summit must navigate a series of stairs that are not for the faint of heart.
The views from this nature-made tower are tremendous (as long as you do not suffer from vertigo), but the real attractions are the remnants of an ancient civilization that visitors encounter during the climb.
The most captivating relics are frescoes that date back to the 5th century. The mountain also includes a series of tiled staircases and ancient gardens.
Historians say that the monolith was site of a fortress in the 5th century by a powerful Sri Lankan king. These military structures were subsequently turned into a Buddhist monastery.
Mount Mayon, also known as the Mayon Volcano, is an active stratovolcano on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, renowned for its almost symmetric conical shape.
Mayon is considered to have the world’s most perfectly formed cone due to its symmetry, which was formed through layers of pyroclastic and lava flows from past eruptions and erosion.
Photo: MARK ALVIC ESPLANA/INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON
The volcano is located on the convergent boundary where the Philippine Sea Plate is driven under the Philippine Mobile Belt.
The lighter continental plate floats over top of the oceanic plate, forcing it down into the Earth’s mantle, and allowing magma to well up from the Earth’s interior. The magma exits through weaknesses in the continental crust, one of which is Mount Mayon.
In fact, Mayon is the most active volcano in the Philippines having erupted over 49 times in the past 400 years.
Despite this, the volcano has managed to retain its perfect cone shape without suffering any major slides or collapse.
It’s been compared to the Eiffel Tower and is celebrated by architects around the world, but after a century of looming over Moscow the Shukhov Tower may be destroyed.
Built from 1920 to 1922 after a design by Vladimir Shukhov, the 525-foot radio tower was commissioned by Lenin to broadcast into distant Soviet territories.
Also known as the Shabolovka Tower, it was originally meant to be much taller — 1,150 feet — and was curtailed by a steel shortage due to the Civil War.
Architects and Moscow citizens aren’t ready to let the lattice tower go, with thousands of locals and numerous architects such as Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster, and Elizabeth Diller expressing their dismay at its demise.
They argue that it should be preserved as the architectural and engineering achievement that it is.
Photographer Richard Pare, co-author of the open letter to President Putin, told the BBC: “It is a transcendent structure.
The sensation of standing underneath it is so uplifting, it makes you feel weightless. It soars upwards.”
What was likely a wondrous metropolis of ornate, gleaming temple spires ritual artistry, the former city of Bagan on the plains of central Burma is possibly even more beautiful and mysterious now that it is a jaw-dropping ruin.
During its hey day around the 12th century, the city of the capitol of the kingdom of Pagan containing well over 10,000 Buddhit temples, stupas, and pagodas.
Eventually the city was brought to ruin by natural disasters and hordes of rampaging mongols who made light work of the Buddhist inhabitants of the city. Down the centuries thousands of the temples and pagodas crumbled under their own weight or were destroyed leaving only a little over 2,000 of the structures today.
However this has done little to diminish the scope of the city’s grandeur.
“Bagan, Burma” by Corto Maltese 1999 – Originally uploaded to Flickr as View over the plain of Bagan. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.
The almost impossibly ornate temples that remain rise up out of the overgrown foliage bursting from the plains look like the creations of a lost civilization, and while that is not strictly true as many of the inhabitants of Bagan would sire the generations that created modern Myanmar, a sense of mystery still pervades the city.
Still covering 26 square miles of land, the thousands of remaining temples and religious monuments are now a protected historical site. while some of the structures have fallen into complete ruin, many others look almost as if they haven’t aged a day thanks to modern restoration efforts.
Bagan can be toured on foot giving one impressive perspective to the old city although the preferred method of experiencing the ruins (technically known as the Bagan Archaeological Zone today) is via hot air balloon.
Balloon rides are offered that bring visitors to a vantage point where they can view the thousands of temples at once.