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#981 Alhambra Palace, Granada, Spain


The crown jewel of beautiful Andalusia lies in the city of Granada (pomegranate!): The Alhambra Palace. An amazing Islamic structure in Europe, it was the last stronghold of the Moors before they were conquered by Isabel and Ferdinand, and expelled by the Inquisition.

The name comes from the Arabic name al qala'at al-hamra (red castle), and began in the 9th century as a fortress until the Nasrid emirs turned it into palace in the 13th and 14th centuries. Napoleon occupied it and almost blew it up, but the world didn't really take notice until the Romantics brought it to the world's attention in the 1830s. And what a beauty it is! A spectacular mix of architecture, history, gardens, and archaeological remnants, it tumbles over the hill and overlooks the modern town.
In the Medina
The Bathhouse
The large gated entrance - Puerto Justicia.
View from the Mexuar entrance way inside the Palacio Nazaries.
Patio del Cuarto Dorado (the golden room) in the Palacio Nazaries
The amazing muqarnas (stalactites) and the floral motifs made with wet plaster in the Palacio Nazaries  
The Torre de Comares of the Palacio de Comares and the Patio de los Arrayenes (Patio of the Myrtles)
Amazing muqarnas in the Patio de los Leones in the Palacio Nazaries
Patio de los Leones in the Palacio Nazaries
Patio de los Leones in the Palacio Nazaries
Jardines del Partal
View from the Torre de la Vela of the Alcazaba looking back towards the Palacio Nazaries and the Palacio de Carlos V 
Alcazaba
Palacio de Carlos V
Gardens of the Generalife
View of the Alhambra palace from the Summer Palace.
Postcard of the Alhambra Palace with the Sierra Nevada behind.
Source: Lonely Planet 'Spain' 4th Edition.


#982 Jerash (Gerasa), Jordan

If you needed to learn as much as you could about the Romans from visiting just one of their ancient cities, Jerash would be a good pick. Buried under soil for centuries, it is among the largest, best-preserved cities. Originally a neolithic then a Bronze Age settlement, it was a Greek city before becoming part of the Roman province of Arabia, one of the Decapolis. It reached a height of approximately 800,000 inhabitants and began its decline with a Persian invasion in 614, followed by a major earthquake a century later.

What's amazing is the quantity and different types of structures that were in Jerash. You can see the impressive colonnaded Oval Forum above with the main road leading out behind it. Jerash also has a large hippodrome (circular racing track), two large temples to Zeus and Artemis (turned into a fortress during the crusades), and two theatres, which are so intact as to still be quite usable.There is also large archway dedicated to Hadrian, the Corinthium column, two baths, small temples, more than 13 churches, one of which was built above a synogogue, an almost complete circle of city walls,


The hippodrome.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerashhttp://almashriq.hiof.no/jordan/900/930/jerash/jerash.html

#983 Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

If I had to pick my favorite ancient site in the world for sheer spectacularity (probably not a word), and for richness of journey in visiting it, I think the Sigiriya Rock Fortress in the plains of central Sri Lanka would have to be it. A volcanic plug with the surrounds completed eroded away, it is a sheer rock face to climb up. The easiest, most logical way is not the way to go of course -- you must climb a series of stairs up the sheer side and view the superb 6th century rock paintings of the "Sigiriya Damsels" (believed to be celestial nymphs called apsaras) and their accompanying commentary graffiti (from as early as the 6th century) before you're allowed to emerge onto a level platform half way up. There, giant paws of a now crumbled rock lion form the gateway for more stairs up to the top. On top, several palace ruins, sacred pools and reservoirs vie for your curiosity with traditional monks standing contemplatively with picturesque umbrellas. Perhaps a stop for lunch or a snack to view the vast landscape below to the temples and other sacred sites nearby.

If the rock itself is not enough, it is surrounded by vasts lanes of water and boulder gardens, terraces and ruins, showing the advanced architecture, engineering and planning of the time.
It originated during the golden age of Sinhalese civilisation, when the area was called Rajarata and it's in the centre of the "Cultural Triangle" which includes the two great cities Anuradhapura and Polonnoruwa, and many Buddhist relics, monuments, caves and other fascinations. Sigiriya was built around 477 by Kasyapa, who feared an invasion from his half brother Moggallana after he overthrew his father King Dhatusena. Later it became a monastic refuge, only to be retaken by the tropical jungle.  



Source: Lonely Planet Sri Lanka (9th Edition)

#984 Santorini (Thira), Greece

Ancient Thira road.
Very few islands in the world can claim the spectacular vistas and incredible history that Santorini does. A massive circular volcanic ridge, with the smaller islands of the newer volcano growing in the center, it is a beautiful island among beautiful islands in the Aegean Sea. History wise, it was the home to many cultures, from Dorians, Hellenists, Romans, Byzantines, and others! It's most famous moment in history was the cataclysmic eruption in 1650BC (the biggest eruption in recorded history) which caused several massive tsunamis across the Mediterranean that saw the beginning of the end of the Minoans culture in Crete (and also the burial of the Minoan settlement of Akrotiri on Santorini itself). Its many volcanic eruptions have changed it from circular to the moon shape it is today. To the north are the sunset viewing spots of Oia, the main town of Fira. In the central area are the resort towns of Kamari and Perissa with Ancient Thira on the steep mountain between. Further south along the caldera is Akotiri.
View from the hilltop city of Ancient Thira towards Kamari.
Main center of Fira looking toward Oia.
Fira atop the caldera ridge.
Small islands of Palia Kameni (left), which appeared in 197BC and Nea Kameni, which appeared in 1707BC with town of Fira behind.
Fira Skala landing point of cruise ships.
Looking toward Fira from Imerovigli.
Fira
Many tourists gather for sunset photos in Oia.
View of the other half of the volcano - the island of Thirasia (separated in 236 BC).
Source: Lonely Planet Greece

Sri Gethuk Waterfall, Grand Canyon of Yogyakarta


Exotic Grand Canyon in northern Arizona, the United States would no longer be denied. Grand Canyon is a natural formation of ravines and steep cliffs are decorated by the flow of the Colorado River. Name of the Grand Canyon and then spoofed into Green Canyon to name a tourist attraction in West Java are quite similar, the flow of the river that divides the high cliffs. Gunungkidul as an area that is often assumed to be dry and barren region was also similar to the beauty store, the green of the river which divides the canyon with a beautiful waterfall that never stops flowing in every season. The waterfall is known as Sri Gethuk Waterfall.


Based on a story that people believe, the waterfall is a storage place kethuk which is one of Jin's gamelan instruments Anggo Meduro. Therefore, it is called by the name of Sri Gethuk Waterfall. That said, at certain times of the Hamlet Menggoran gamelan is often heard coming from the direction of the waterfall. 
 
This waterfall can be reached for approximately two hours from the city of Yogyakarta. Initially, I thought that the way to the sights completely smooth. Apparently when entering the village Bleberan, poor road infrastructure and a bit rocky. However, all of it paid by the beauty of Sri Gethuk Waterfall.