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Stonehenge is a Neolithic monument located in Wiltshire, England. It is made up of a ring of standing stones, each around 13 feet high and 7 feet wide. The stones weigh more than 25 tons. Stonehenge is one of many features of this area. There are several burial mounds surrounding the site. Similar to other prehistoric monuments of the Neolithic and Bronze Age, there are many questions and quite a bit of mystery surrounding the structure.
Archeologists differ on when they believe the structure was built, some dating as far back as 3100 BC. Researchers also differ as to what Stonehenge was used for, some believing it was used as a burial ground, a place of healing, an astronomical observatory, a religious site, and even a mortuary for those who would later be buried in the area. More mystery surrounds how these prehistoric cultures would have had the technology and ability to move the massive bluestones that make up the structure. These stones would have been moved from a quarry several miles away and then lifted into place without the help of wheels and pulley systems that had not been invented yet.
Stonehenge is deeply rooted into English history and culture. In the 12th century, author Geoffrey of Monmouth included it in his The History of the Kings of Britain, a fanciful tale in which the wizard Merlin builds Stonehenge. J.M.W. Turner, one of the most famous landscape artists of the Romantic period, depicted Stonehenge in his paintings, helping to make the sight more popular. Today, more than 1.3 million people visit the site each year.
Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of the most important buildings in American history. It is the building where both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were signed. Today it is part of Independence National Historic Park in Philadelphia and is visited by more than 500,000 people each year.
Independence Hall was constructed in 1753 to be the home of the colonial Pennsylvania Legislature. For many years it was actually used as the capitol building until the capital of Pennsylvania was moved to Lancaster in 1799. During the American Revolutionary War, Independence Hall was where the Continental Congresses met to discuss the founding of a new nation as well as a new government for the former British Colonies.
On June 14th, 1775, the Second Continental Congress gathered inside of Independence Hall and voted for George Washington to be the Commander-in-Chief of the newly formed Continental Army. At the same time, the Continental Congress named Benjamin Franklin as the very first Postmaster General. A little more than a year later, the Declaration of Independence was signed which officially proclaimed that the American Colonies would be leaving the British crown. In 1787, the Constitution of the United States was drafted and adopted after the Articles of Confederation failed. The Constitution created the laws for how the United States would be governed.
Photo by Xiquinho Silva
Juliette Gordon Low House
The Juliette Gordon Low House was the childhood home of the founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low. It is located in the historic district of Savannah, Georgia. The home is more formally known as the Wayne-Gordon House. The house was originally built for a former Savannah mayor named James Moore Wayne. During the Civil War, James Moore Wayne was a Supreme Court Justice of the United States, and he was one of the few Southern men to remain in the American government and not leave to become members of the Confederacy. The house was constructed for him in 1818, and although no one is very sure the architect who designed it, there are many historians who believe it was William Jay. William Jay was a very famous Savannah architect who was originally from England. The style of the house fits the style that William Jay designed in, and William also received a fine for leaving construction garbage in the area at the same time the house was being built.
Juliette Gordon Low was born in the house on Halloween night in 1860 and she grew up in the beautiful house in downtown Savannah. Years later, after marrying Andrew Low and living in both Savannah and Scotland for many years, Juliette Gordon Low became a widow and started to travel the world. She met Robert Baden Powell in England, and he told her about his boy’s organization called the Boy Scouts. Juliette became friends with Robert’s sister who had founded the Girl Guides and it gave Juliette an idea. When she went back to Savannah she decided to start her own girls’ group and call it the Girl Scouts. Although only 18 girls signed up at first in 1912, now the Girl Scouts have more than 3.7 million members.
Giverny is a commune in Northern France that sits on the right bank of the River Seine. A commune is a district in France. The village of Giverny is about 50 miles away from Paris and has some of the most scenic landscapes in all of France. This beauty drew many Impressionist artists from other countries to the area in the early 1900s. Giverny is most known for being the site of artist Claude Monet’s garden and home. Today, Giverny and Monet’s Gardens are a popular tourist attraction in France.
Before 1890, Claude Monet was traveling on a train towards Paris when he first saw the village of Giverny. He immediately decided he wanted to move there and had purchased his home by 1890. In the coming years, Monet set to building grand gardens and pathways that he could paint in his signature Impressionist style, including some of his most famous pieces such as The Waterlily Pond, Green Harmony (1899).
Many artists moved to Giverny in the early 1900's to be close to Monet. Noted artist Frederick Carl Frieseke spent each summer from 1906 to 1919 in a home next door to Monet, and artists Richard E Miller, Lawton Parker, Guy Rose, Edmund Greacen, and Karl Anderson became resident artists of the village. In 1910, all six of these artists were given a show at Madison Gallery in New York and the six artists became known as the “Giverny Group”.
The White House, in America’s capital city of Washington D.C., is the home and office of the President of the United States. It has been the home of every president since 1800, so the first president, George Washington, did not live there. George Washington did not know what kind of house should be built for the president, so Thomas Jefferson suggested a contest. The contest was advertised in newspapers around the country, and George Washington picked a simple but classic design by an Irish man named James Hoban. The crews started building in 1792 and it took 8 years to finish. John Adams, and the first lady Abigail, moved into the house in 1800. Because the house is made of sandstone, it wasn’t white yet, but was a grey color instead.
During the War of 1812, the White House was burned by the English. James Madison and the first lady Dolly Madison were living in the White House then. When British troops got close to Washington D.C., Dolly called for a horse-drawn carriage to take them all to safety, but not until the painting of George Washington was saved from the White House. Today, the painting of George Washington is the only item that has been in the White House since it opened. When the War was over, crews painted the house white to cover the burned parts, and people started calling it the White House. President Theodore Roosevelt officially named the home The White House in 1901. It takes 570 gallons of paint to cover the whole building and the color is called “Whisper White”. In 1992, a renovation was done and 32 layers of paint were removed!
Every president has decorated the White House a little differently, adding things that they like. There’s a bowling alley, a movie theater, a running track, a tennis court, a swimming pool, a golfing green, and many other fun activities for the President and his family to enjoy when they aren’t working.
The White House is one of the most popular places to visit in the country. More than 30,000 people visit the White House every week!
Photo by mmarchin
The Roman Forum (Foro Romano) is located in Rome, Italy. It was an open-air location in the heart of the ancient city where many events took place - including political, religious, important meetings, criminal trials, buying and selling of goods, gladiator fights, and social activities. The Forum opened about 500 BC around the time that the Roman Republic was founded.
The area is rectangular in shape and is situated between Capitoline Hill and Palatine Hill which was where many of the ancient city’s magnificent monuments and significant temples were. The Forum was beloved by the ruler Julius Caesar who took a great interest in it. During his time, it was improved and expanded. Arches, statues, basilicas, and other artistic touches and architectural buildings were added.
Over 4.5 million visitors come to see the Roman Forum each year, making it one of the most popular destinations in the country of Italy.
The Forum was in use for about 1400 years. It wasn't until the Roman Empire fell that it became abandoned. It wasn't until 1803 when it was rediscovered again.
It took over 100 years to fully excavate the Forum.
The Romans would build new structures on top of old ruins. Archeologists have been able to uncover many centuries of remains because of this.
Rome was founded by Romulus after he killed his twin brother Remus. It is believed that Romulus is buried within the Roman Forum. His grave is marked by a large piece of black marble.
The Liberty Bell is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is seen by many people as being the symbol of American independence from Great Britain. The Liberty Bell is famous for a couple of reasons, and it is easy to recognize because it is cracked. Bells were used before cell phones and sirens to let people know something important was happening. Some bells were rung to let people know there was a fire, and at times they were rung when someone important had died. Sometimes bells were rung to let people know good things had happened. When the Declaration of Independence was read out loud to the people of Philadelphia on July 8th of 1776, the Liberty Bell was one of the many bells that were rung in celebration.
The first time the Liberty Bell cracked was on its first ringing in America. It had been purchased by the city of Philadelphia from a metal workshop, called a foundry, in London, England. They paid 199 dollars for the bell, and it was brought over by ship to America in 1752. The very first time the bell was rung, the rim of the bell cracked. The government of Philadelphia tried to send the bell back to England on the ship it arrived on, but they would not take it back with them. Two metal-workers in Philadelphia offered to fix the bell, instead. Their names were John Pass and John Stow. Neither of them had fixed a bell before, and on their first try they didn’t do very well. When the townspeople rang the bell, it sounded funny so John Pass and John Stow had to try again.
During the Revolutionary War, people in Philadelphia were afraid that the bells in their city would be melted down by the British to become round bullets to be used in musket guns. To stop this from happening, the Liberty Bell was put on a horse-drawn wagon and taken to Allentown, Pennsylvania and hidden under the floor of a church. The Liberty Bell didn’t go back to Philadelphia until after the British were gone, in 1778. Today, the Liberty Bell is in its own building next to Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
There are a lot of different stories about how the bell became cracked the second time. Most people think it happened when Chief Justice John Marshall died, and the bell was rung in his memory in 1835. Other people think it happened between 1841 and 1845 when celebrating the birthday of George Washington, or on the 4th of July. Either way, the crack in the bell has never been fixed and you can still see the crack today.
Photo by William Warby
Old North Bridge
Old North Bridge is located in Concord, Massachusetts. This bridge served an important role at the Battle of Concord, which was the first battle of the American Revolutionary War. Although the original bridge is gone, a wooden replica was constructed to replace it in 2005. The bridge and a nearby park make up what is called Minute Man National Historical Park, which is a popular place for tourists to go and visit while they are in Boston.
The first day of the American Revolutionary War was on April 19th of 1775. Starting with the Battle of Lexington and leading into the Battle of Concord, the Old North Bridge was where "the shot heard 'round the world" happened, when American soldiers fired against British soldiers in hopes they would retreat, which they did. The British soldiers and American soldiers proceeded to face each other down across the North Bridge. This action was seen as the first steps towards Independence during war time.
The original bridge was taken down in 1973 by the town of Concord because it was no longer usable. A bridge was constructed a few hundred yards away and was dismantled and rebuilt several times over, until 2005 when a replica of the original Old North Bridge was built in its original location. In 1911, a grandson of Major John Buttrick, who led the colonial forces to Old North Bridge during the Revolutionary War, built a mansion overlooking the site of the bridge. Today, that mansion is owned by the National Park Service and features beautiful gardens.
Old South Meeting House
The Old South Meeting House was built in 1729. It was used as a church and meeting point by the people of Boston. Its large size made it an ideal location for the massive public protests that took place from 1768 to 1775. There, Patriots and Loyalist would argue and debate the rules and regulations passed by the British Parliament.
On December 16, 1773 the Old South Meeting House was the location where over 5000 people came to protest British taxation. The protest didn't go well and people began to leave to further protest in the streets. A large group of people, led by the Sons of Liberty, left the meeting house and went down to the harbor where they dumped chests full of tea into the water. This event would come to be known as the Boston Tea Party.
In 1775, the British occupied the building to prevent any more large gatherings. They gutted the building and filled the inside with dirt so they could practice horse riding.
After the British evacuated Boston, Thomas Dawes created a plan to rebuild its interior. Unfortunately, a lot of the original artifacts were lost and destroyed by the British army.
In 1872, the meeting hall was almost destroyed by the Great Boston Fire. It was saved just in time by the arrival of a fire engine from Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
The congregation built a new church after the fire called Old South Church located in Copley Square. They still return once each year to the Old South Meeting House for services on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
The congregation had many famous members including:
- Phillis Wheatley, the first published African American female poet
- Samuel Adams, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States
- William Otis, inventor of the steam shovel
- William Dawes, one of several men, including Paul Revere, to warn the colonists of the approaching British army
- Benjamin Franklin when he was a little boy
Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is a 102-story tall skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan, in New York City. Constructed between 1930 and 1931, the structure cost more than $40 million dollars to construct, which today would amount to more than $534 million dollars.
It is one of the most famous pieces of Art Deco architecture in the United States, joining the Chrysler Building, in Chicago, as one of the most recognized Art Deco styled structures. The Empire State Building was the tallest man-made structure in the world from 1931 until 1970 when it was surpassed by the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Until the construction of the Empire State Building, the plot of land was owned by the Astor family, and on the site was constructed the Waldorf-Astoria which was remained open until the 1920s when it was sold to Bethlehem Engineering Corporation. Eventually, the building was sold to Empire State Incorporation, which was a combination of influential New Yorkers, including members of the du Pont family, and Al Smith, a former governor of New York. Together, they designed a 50-story structure which eventually increased to 102-stories. During construction, more than 4 stories were added per week. It took just 13 months of total construction time to finish. President Herbert Hoover officially opened the building to the public, illuminating the building’s iconic lighting.
In 1945, a B-25 Mitchell bomber, piloted by Lieutenant Colonel William Franklin Smith Jr, crashed into the side of the Empire State Building between the 79th and 80th floors. Flying through thick fog, the pilot did not see the skyscraper. Unfortunately, fourteen people were killed. Betty Lou Oliver, an elevator operator, survived falling 75 stories inside of the elevator, which still today stands as the longest survived elevator fall recorded.
It tooks just 20 months design, plan, and construct the Empire State Building.
The tower on top of the skyscraper was originally designed for airships to dock and drop off passengers.
The Battle of Bunker Hill
The Battle of Bunker Hill is one of the most famous battles of the American Revolutionary War. It is also known as the Battle of Breed’s Hill. During the war, the British colonies in America fought against the British Crown for their independence and the right to rule themselves. The American Revolution started in 1775 and didn’t end until 1783. The Battle of Bunker Hill took place in June of 1775, in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Today, Charlestown is part of Boston. The Battle of Bunker Hill was part of the Siege of Boston, which took place early in the Revolutionary War.
The British won the Battle of Bunker Hill but they had more casualties than the Americans. The battle showed the British that the new American Army, made up of the colonists, was much stronger than they had originally thought. Even though the Continental Army lost the Battle of Bunker Hill, the number of casualties they caused to the British Army, and the way the British Army was unable to fight back, gave the Americans a big confidence boost. General George Washington took over the command of the Continental Army two weeks later and brought with him enough cannon and heavy guns to drive the British out of Boston in March of 1776.
One of the American men who died in the Battle of Bunker Hill was General Joseph Warren. He was a doctor who was very good friends with Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock. Just three days before the Battle of Bunker Hill, Joseph Warren was given the job of Major General. He died during the battle, just a few days after his 34th birthday. His death was a very sad moment for all those fighting in the American Revolution, but it helped to inspire the soldiers to fight even harder.
The Eiffel Tower is in Paris, France. It is an iron tower and it is named for the engineer who designed it, Gustave Eiffel. Gustave Eiffel also helped to build the State of Liberty in New York City. The Eiffel Tower has become a national symbol of France and is known world-wide. When it was first built in 1889, it was the tallest structure in the world. The Eiffel Tower held that honor until the Chrysler Building was constructed in New York City 41 years later.
Even though the Eiffel Tower is today considered to be one of the most recognizable symbols of France, it was not very welcome at first. When the Tower was first proposed, a group of engineers, artists, and writers got together and wrote letters to the French Government asking them for it not to be built. They believed that the Tower would not be able to be built and stay up for long because it seemed impossible, but they also thought that it was ugly. One of the men who protested the Tower was named Guy de Maupassant. Supposedly, Guy ate lunch everyday in the dining room of the Eiffel Tower because it was only place that he could not see the Tower.
During World War II, the French government shut down the elevators that were in the Tower so that Hitler and the Germans could not use them. Adolph Hitler commanded his generals to destroy the Eiffel Tower along with the rest of Paris, but his generals disobeyed his orders.
It takes 60 tons of paint to cover the Tower, and it gets painted every seven years. It’s painted in three different colors from bottom to top, lighter at the top and darker at the bottom. Today the Eiffel Tower is the most visited monument in Paris. Almost 7 million people go to the Tower every year!
Sainte-Chapelle, or Holy Chapel, is a royal chapel located along the River Seine in Paris, France. Built in the Gothic style, the Sainte-Chapelle was built within the medieval Palais de la Cite, which was the residence of the King of France until the 14th century ended. The Sainte-Chapelle is considered to be one of the highest achievements of the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture, a period that lasted between 1240 and 1350. The Rayonnant architecture in the Sainte-Chapelle is seen in the buttresses and the vertical height of the chapel.
In 1238, King Louis IX of France commissioned the Saint-Chapelle to be constructed to house his large collection of Passion relics (physical remains of the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ), which included the original Crown of Thorns worn by Christ during his crucifixion. Today, the Crown of Thorns is housed in the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Consecrated (declared sacred) on April 26th of 1248, the royal chapel has one of the most extensive 13th-century stained glass collections in the world.
During the French Revolution, much of the Sainte-Chapelle suffered damage. Most of the relics were dispersed throughout the country or were damaged and destroyed. Many of the reliquaries, including the grande chasse (or reliquary box) was melted down for the gold. The steeple and baldachin (canopy over the altar) were removed from the structure. It would not be until the end of the 19th century that the church was restored, with much of the chapel today being a re-creation. Thankfully, more than two-thirds of the stained-glass windows are original and authentic.
Old North Church
Old North Church is in the North End section of Boston, Massachusetts. It is where the famous signal known as “One if by land, two if by sea” was carried out during the American Revolutionary War. Old North Church is the oldest standing church still in Boston today, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also Boston’s most visited historic site! The church was built in 1723, and was used as an Episcopal church.
In 1775, before the American Revolution began, Boston was a hot bed of revolutionary activity. “Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere” is one of the most famous opening lines of any poem in American history. It tells the story of the time just before the first battles of the American Revolutionary War, Lexington and Concord. American Patriots had stock piled ammunition in Concord and the British Army was marching towards the town to seize the ammunition and put down any hopes of rebellion. The patriot group, The Sons of Liberty, found out about the British plans and decided to try to stop them. Two members of the Sons of Liberty were asked to watch the movement of the British Army and alert the others by lighting lanterns in the church steeple- one if the British were coming by land, and two if they were coming by sea. Paul Revere and 30 other riders went through Boston to alert everyone to the British army’s movements after two lanterns were placed in the Old North Church steeple on April 8th, 1775.
The church was mostly made up of members that were loyal to the British crown. The fact that it was used by the Sons of Liberty to warn the colonists of the British Army makes the event even more amazing.
The Boston Tea Party
Over 200 years ago, before the United States of America became an independent nation, England ruled Massachusetts. British Parliament had recently passed the Tea Act to save the East India Company from going into Bankruptcy. The act would make tea cheaper for the colonies but it left a previous tax in place that only the colonists would have to pay.
To them, it was another example of how they were being taxed unfairly.
If they were going to be taxed, then they wanted representation within the British government.
Their frustration grew and so did the tension until one day that frustration led to a party, but not the kind you're used to. This party ended with 342 chest of tea being dumped into Boston Harbor and soon a war would follow.
It was December 16, 1773. Just a few weeks earlier the Sons of Liberty demanded that 3 ships carrying tea to Boston return home to England. If they were going to be taxed on the tea, then they didn't want it.
The governor of Massachusetts disagreed.
He had given the ships' captains 2 weeks to unload their cargo. Now, it was the final day of his demand. 5000 colonists piled into the Old South Meeting House to protest. As you can imagine, a meeting with this many angry people did not go well.
People began to leave the meeting hall to plan further protests. A group of 116 men - led by the Sons of Liberty - went down to the harbor where the 3 ships were docked.
They climbed on board and began unloading the tea...right into the water.
Afterwards, many of the men left the state to avoid punishment. The British Parliament, already frustrated with the colonists behavior, wanted to send a message. They shut down business in Boston and enacted several laws called the Intolerable Acts to show off their power and put an end to the colonial resistance.
It didn't work.
In fact, it made things worse.
The colonists viewed the acts as a violation against the rights of Massachusetts. Instead of complying with the new laws, the Constitutional Congress was created to protest them. A few months later, in April 1775, the American Revolution would begin...and from there, a new nation would soon be born.
After the Boston Tea Party, drinking tea became less popular. It was considered unpatriotic. Instead, people began to drink more coffee.
The names of the 3 ships were the Dartmouth, the Beaver, and the Eleanor.
Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence, Italy. “Palazzo Vecchio” is Italian. It means “Old Palace” in English.
Palazzo Vecchio is a beautiful building that overlooks the gallery of statues. From here, you can see the Piazza della Signoria, an “L” shaped square that holds the statue that Michelangelo created of David.
The people who lived in Florence had the idea to build the palace in 1299. They wanted it to be the symbol of power for their city. They placed it right above the ruins of the Uberti Ghibelline towers where they had a very important victory over the Guelph faction.
The Palazzo Vecchio is built on top of an ancient Roman theater that was once part of the Roman colony of Florentia. You can purchase tickets to view the underground ruins.
Inside the Palazzo, there are many famous paintings. A microcosm in the palace keeps art and history safe for visitors to enjoy. A massive hall named Salone dei Cinquecento was built in 1494. It has paneled ceilings and walls decorated with frescoes, gold, and large statues. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti painted the two large murals on the walls. Unfortunately, the work of these great artists was never completed.
Leonardo da Vinci started painting the Battle of Anghiari. Michelangelo Buonarroti painted the Battle of Cascina.
Michelangelo never finished the painting because he was called by Pope Julius II to Rome to paint the Sistine Chapel.
Da Vinici's work was destroyed in the process of painting the wall. He was experimenting with different painting processes which mixed wax with the paint pigments. In an attempt to speed up the drying time, he used a coal fire to heat the room. The heat from the fire melted the wax off the walls ruining the painting.
The Alamo is located in San Antonio, Texas. It is a Spanish mission which was built in 1718 and is the location where the Battle of the Alamo was fought between Mexican troops and Texans and Texas immigrants in 1836.
It took place over issues with the cotton industry, immigration rights, slavery, and Federalism. Mostly though, the conflict was over money. Although the battle only lasted 13 days, it was very gruesome (about 600 Mexicans and between 180-250 Texans died).
When Santa Anna and the Mexican army stormed the Alamo, the Texas army led by James Bowie and William Travis fought back valiantly, using anything they could. That is why the Alamo came to stand for courage and resistance to oppression. “Remember the Alamo” is a popular coined phrase which is said to remind people everywhere to stand up for their rights.
The Alamo was the scene for other wars before the Battle of the Alamo. In fact, 6 flags have flown over it from different nations.
Today, the Alamo is toured by visitors from all around the world. You are able to walk inside the church mission and you can stroll around the grounds too. The Long Barrack where the army officers slept can be viewed as well.
A guided tour or an audio tour are available for a small fee.
A Disney mini-series in the 1950's, Davy Crockett, was based on life of David Crockett, a U.S. Congressman who fought and died in the battle.
The battle would provide a rallying cry for the fight for Texas independence. On April 21, 1836, Sam Houston with 800 Texans defeated Santa Anna's Mexican army of 1,500 men at San Jacinto.
Plymouth Rock is considered to be one of the main symbols of early American settlement in the New England area of the United States. In 1620, 102 English Pilgrims who were looking for a new life left England on the Mayflower ship and landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. According to legend, Plymouth Rock is the exact location that the Pilgrims first landed when they arrived in the New World. These original settlers did not write anything about specific rocks when they arrived. There are only two records that were kept by the Pilgrims who landed in Plymouth. One was written by William Bradford. His journal is now called Of Plymouth Planation. The second one is named Mourt’s Relation, but neither talk about the exact landing site of the Mayflower or any rocks in the area. It wasn’t until many years later that anyone wrote about the Plymouth Rock itself.
The man who first designated the specific granite boulder as the landing site of the Pilgrims was Elder Thomas Faunce, who was angry to learn that a ships’ wharf was going to be built where the Plymouth Rock was located and was going to bury it. Because other Plymouth townspeople knew that Elder Faunce had been born to one of the earliest settlers while the Pilgrims were still alive, they believed him and helped him save it. The wharf was built but Plymouth Rock was saved and preserved.
Since Elder Faunce saved Plymouth Rock, it has been a popular symbol of Americana. Only about a third of the stone is visible above ground, and it’s believed to be around 4 tons (that’s as much as a baby blue whale!). Historians think that the current Plymouth Rock is only about half of its original size, because during the 18th and 19th century people would chip away at the stone to take home souvenirs.
In 2020, the Plymouth Rock will celebrate it’s 400th year of history for the United States. Plymouth, Massachusetts is planning a big celebration, including having an Ultimate Thanksgiving feast much like the original settlers and the Wampanoag Native Americans had.
The Tower Bridge crosses the River Thames close to the Tower of London. It is a suspension bridge that was constructed between 1886 and 1894. The Bridge connects the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Southwark. The Tower Bridge is one of the most iconic symbols of London and sometimes gets confused with the London Bridge, which is more than a half a mile upstream.
In 1877 a Special Bridge or Subway Committee was formed to find a solution to the Thames River crossing problem. Over 50 designs were submitted, and ultimately a Gothic Style bridge designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette was chosen. In 1885, an Act of Parliament authorized the construction of the bridge, which took more than 8 years to complete. Five different contractors worked on the project which employed 432 construction workers. In total, the cost was $1,184,000, more than $124 million today. The then Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VIII and his wife opened the bridge on June 20th of 1894.
In 2008 a renovation and facelift was announced which included stripping off the red, white, and blue paint from the 1970s down to bare metal. It was a large task to ensure the stripped paint would not fall into the Thames River. During the 2012 London Summer Olympics, the 5 Olympic rings were hung from the Tower Bridge. Today, more than 40,000 people (motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians) cross the bridge each day.
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge in California that connects San Francisco and Marin County. The Bridge takes drivers over a mile-wide strait that connects the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. A strait is a narrow body of water that connects two larger bodies of water. The Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937 and was the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world.
Before the Golden Gate Bridge was built, the quickest way to get from one side to the other was by boat. There was a ferry boat that operated starting in 1820 to take travelers from San Francisco to Marin County. Although many people in the area asked for a bridge to be built, engineers believed that one could never be constructed because the winds there are very strong, and the strait had strong currents and tides which would make construction very hard. It wasn’t until 1933 that construction began using a design by an architect named Irving Morrow. Construction took four years, and unfortunately, 11 men died while the bridge was being built. Building bridges was a very dangerous job. On February 17, 1937, a worker’s platform collapsed and the net below it failed. There was a total of 31 men working on the platform, and 19 of them were caught in the net. Sadly, 12 of them fell into the icy water of the strait and 10 of them passed away.
Today, around 110,000 cars drive over the bridge every day. Walkways were built on the bridge when it first opened, so people can walk or bicycle across it. The Golden Gate Bridge has been named one of the Modern Wonder of the World and is one of the most photographed sites in California.
The Space Needle is an observation tower located in Seattle, Washington. It is one of the main landmarks of the city, as well as the majority of the Pacific Northwest. The Space Needle was constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair at the Seattle Center, which drew more than 2.3 million visitors to the Emerald City. Today, the structure is one of the tallest buildings west of the Mississippi River at 605 feet tall, and around 20,000 people use the elevator each day to get a bird’s eye view of the city. The elevators travel at 10 miles per hour and take around 41 seconds to go from top to bottom.
Designed to withstand a variety of different weather patterns, the Space Needle has 25 lightning rods, can endure an earthquake up to a 9.0 magnitude, and withstand winds of up to 200 miles per hour. The observation deck at the top of the Needle sits at 520 feet above the city and features a restaurant called the SkyCity which rotates. You can see the downtown Seattle skyline, as well as surrounding islands, the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, and mountain peaks such as Mount Rainier and Mount Baker.
In August of 2018, the Space Needle unveiled its most recent addition, the first and only revolving glass floor in the world. At 500 feet above the ground, 50 stories up, “The Loupe” offers a 360 degree view of the city below. Ten layers of tightly bonded glass ensures that no cracks or accidents happen.
The oldest bridge in Florence, Ponte Vecchio opened in 1345 and countless visitors continue to cross it today. A timeless symbol of the city, the original Roman crossing stood here as the only bridge over the Arno River until 1218, with the current bridge rebuilt following a flood. While we know that the bridge was constructed as part of a system of defense, it’s a mystery as to who designed it, though evidence points to Dominican friars, who had an excellent sense of harmony, proportion and use of numbers.
It’s easy to imagine the early residents of Florence bustling about Ponte Vecchio, with shops here since the 13th century, from fishmongers and tanners to butchers. The latter once tossed foul-smelling waste right into the river, causing a stench that led Ferdinand I to decree in 1583 that only jewelers and goldsmiths could have shops on the bridge.
Remarkably, Ponte Vecchio is Florence’s only bridge that managed to survive World War II, with all the others bombed and destroyed. Today, it’s a lively spot packed with tourists. By arriving just before dawn, you can enjoy serene magical views of the river and a colorful sunrise without the crowds. After dark, the shops’ wooden shutters create a look of wooden chests and suitcases that make it especially inviting for an evening stroll. Another perspective can be enjoyed underneath, through the occasional concert, theater presentations and boat rides.
Benito Mussolini changed the three windows in the center of the bridge to one large window in 1939 so Adolf Hitler could admire the view during his visit. This may have saved the bridge from demolition during World War II. When the Germans retreated, they destroyed all the nearby bridges. Ponte Vecchio was not destroyed. Instead, only the buildings at the ends were knocked down to block the path of Allied forces.
The bronze statue found on the bridge is of Benvenuto Cellini. He was a master goldsmith and artist from Florence. The statue was put up in 1901 to celebrate his 400th birthday.
The Telefónica Building in Madrid, Spain is a 292-foot-tall skyscraper that was built in 1929. With 14 floors, it was the tallest building in Madrid until 1953 when it was overtaken by the Edificio España. The Telefónica Building was designed by architect Ignacio de Cárdenas who had studied under an American architect named Lewis S Weeks in New York City, New York. Much of the design of the Telefónica Building is American in style, but Cárdenas added churrigueresque design to the outside so that it blended in better with the other buildings in Madrid. Churrigueresque design is a style of Baroque architecture that is very elaborate and detailed.
Construction of the Telefónica Building started in 1926 and the building was finished in March of 1929. When the front doors officially opened in January of 1930, the final cost was 32 million pesetas, the former currency of Spain. More than 1000 people worked on the building! From 1936 to 1939, the Spanish Civil War took place,. The Telefónica Building was used as a watchtower by the Republican forces. It was also the Offices of the Foreign Press during that time, so it became a target of bombings. American author, Ernest Hemmingway, sent his reports from inside the Telefónica Building during the Civil War.
For many years, the Telefónica Building could be seen from many different angles in the Madrid skyline. It stood out because it had a red lit clock that could be seen from far away. In 2013, the color was changed to blue.
Photo by Javier Paredes
The Vatican is located in Rome, but it’s an independent state governed as an absolute monarch with the pope as the head of what is the world’s smallest country. Encircled with a two-mile border, it has its own militia to protect the pope, as well as 800 full-time citizens and temporary residents. Covering just over 100 acres, it’s only about one-eighth the size of Central Park in New York City. The name Vatican City was taken from Vatican Hill, first used in the Lateran Treaty which was signed in 1929 to establish the modern city-state. Within the Vatican are a number of cultural and religious sites, including the stunning St. Peter’s Basilica that was built upon an earlier 4th-century church, completed in 1626 after 120 years of construction. It also hosts the Vatican Museums, a massive complex of museums and galleries showcasing elaborate frescoes, paintings, sculptures, classical antiquities and tapestries, as well as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. The chapel is famous for its frescoes which include works by Botticelli, Perugino, Domenico Ghirlandaio, along with the ceiling and Last Judgment by Michelangelo. The Vatican is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site, added in 1984. It remains the only one that is made up of an entire state. It prints its own stamps, mints its own euros, issues passports, and has its own anthem and flag. There is no taxation as souvenir sales, stamps and museum admission fees generate the Vatican’s revenue.
Christ Church Burial Ground
Christ Church Burial Ground is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is an early-American cemetery that is also the final resting ground of Benjamin Franklin and his wife, Deborah. Christ Church cemetery belongs to Christ Church, an Episcopal church, located in downtown Philadelphia. Christ Church was founded in 1695 and in the time before and during the American Revolutionary War was the church where many famous participants of the war effort practiced their faith, including George Washington.
Another prominent name in American history buried in Christ Church burial ground is Benjamin Rush. Not only was Benjamin Rush a signer of Declaration of Independence, he is also considered to be the father of American Psychiatry”. In 1773, Dr. Rush also founded Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Also buried there is Commodore William Bainbridge, who became very well known during the War of 1812 as the captain of “Old Ironsides”, the USS Constitution.
Today Christ Church is available for visitors to Philadelphia to go and see for a small fee. The burial site of Benjamin Franklin is visible from the street. One of the most popular things to do when visiting Benjamin Franklin’s grave site is to leave pennies.
Photo by angela n.
Basilica di San Lorenzo
The Basilica di San Lorenzo is a large and beautiful church built outside the city walls of Florence in the year 393. It’s the burial place for the Medici family who were rich and powerful rulers in Italy.
The Basilica di San Lorenzo was the cathedral church of the city for three hundred years and was the official seat of the bishop during that time. It was also the parish church of the Medici family until the church was rebuilt years later.
Inside the Basilica di San Lorenzo is a decoration and sculpture by the famous artist, Donatello. There is also the Laurentian Library that was influenced by Michelangelo and the Old Sacristy by Bruenelleschi where church furnishings and vestments are kept. There is a cloisture of enchanting green space in the center where you can look up at the sky. In the cloisture, there is a round-arch arcade with elegant columns created by Brunelleschi’s disciple, Antonio Manetti Ciaccheri between 1457 and 1460.
In the museum area, there is a crypt belonging to Donatello and the tomb of his close friend, Cosimo di Medici. The main part of the church has gorgeous arches and columns that stretch up to the ceiling for all to admire.
The front exterior of the basilica was never completed. Michelangelo wanted it to be covered in smooth marble but today it is still made of rough stone.
Hanging Houses of Cuenca
The Hanging Houses of Cuenca are located around 85 miles east of Madrid, Spain. Also known as the Casas Colgadas, these houses literally hang off the cliffs above the River Huecar. The houses are known as “rascacielos” which means skyscrapers, and at one point they were very common along the cliffs. Today, not many remain.
The City of Cuenca was originally the capital of the Spanish province of Cuenca, and has been a city in the Iberian Peninsula since 714 AD. Although the area seems fairly uninhabitable, the city sits between the Jucar and Huecar Rivers, providing strategic access to the Iberian Peninsula. Because of this, a fortress city was built which included the Hanging Houses. Although not originally constructed with the city of Cuenca, there is evidence these homes were built as early at the 15th century thanks to some panoramic sketches of the town by artist Anton van de Wyngaerde.
The Hanging Houses were added to the World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996, but the most well known of the houses became a heritage site of its own in the 1980s when it became a museum dedicated to Spanish Abstract Art.
Photo by Turol Jones
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, known as Sacré-Coeur, is the second most visited monument in the city. Sacré-Coeur sits on the summit of Montemarte, the highest point in the city. From here, you can see all of Paris. The view from the top of the dome is second only to the Eiffel Tower.
Sacré-Coeur was built between 1875 and 1914 by the architect Paul Abadie. Before its construction, this area had already been used as a place of worship for hundreds of years. The druids of ancient Gaul erected temples dedicated to Mercury and Mars. Later the Romans would build their own temples. The L'Eglise Saint-Pierre, was built nearby in the 12th century. It was destroyed during the French Revolution in 1789.
The Franco-Prussian War and the "Commune" Revolution in 1871 were two bloody battles between France and Germany and the Vatican. The French people built Sacré-Coeur as a symbol of penance for the violence they had caused. Unforunately this did not end the violence. Sacré-Coeur was completed in 1914, the same year World War I began.
The bell in Sacré-Coeur is called "Savoyarde". It was cast in the Alps in the commune of Quintal, near Annecy. It took 21 horses to deliver the bell to the top of the hill in 1895. It is one of the largest (3 meter diameter) and heaviest (19 tons) bells in the world. It can be heard from 10km away.
The white stone used to build the basilica is the same used for the Arc de Triomphe and the Alexandre III bridge. When the stone gets wet it releases calcite which cleans the stone and helps it keep its white color.
The two equestrian statues on the front of the basilica represnt Joan of Arc and King Saint Louis.
Located in the Vatican Palace, the Sistine Chapel is a large 15th-century chapel where the Pope lives, and in which popes are chosen and crowned. One of the main attractions of the Vatican City, it serves as the pope’s own chapel, used for important ceremonies and masses, but it’s perhaps most famous for its remarkable fresco paintings by Renaissance artist Michelangelo. The ceiling is one of Michelangelo’s most famous works, created between 1508 and 1512, with the painter working from a high platform with his arms stretched over his head, brush in hand. When entering the chapel, you can almost see him working while he wipes sweat from his eyes, toiling year after year often in intense heat, breathing in the terrible smell from the wet plaster used to create the masterpiece he never really wanted to paint in the first place. The artist considered himself more of a sculptor, with no experience painting frescoes – in fact, it’s been said that when he painted, he essentially painted sculpture on his surfaces. As you gaze up at the chapel ceiling, it’s easy to see this was the case, with his monumental figures embodying both beauty and strength.
In 1509, Michelangelo described the physical toll the project took to his friend Giovanni da Pistoia. In a poem he wrote about his spine being “knotted” from bending himself over and that his stomach was “squashed” under his skin.
The Pantheon is considered the most well-preserved and important building from ancient Rome. It is remarkable that it stands in such glory today. Initially built in 27 BC, it was dedicated to Romulus, the mythological founder of Ancient Rome and as a temple to all gods, - the word Pantheon means “honor all Gods.”
After being damaged by fire, it was rebuilt by the Romans in 125 AD, making it nearly 1,900 years old. The ancient Pantheon boasts the world’s single largest unsupported dome, measuring 142 feet in diameter and height. When the great artist Michelangelo saw this wonder for the first time, he was said to have exclaimed that it looked “more like the work of angels, not humans.”
The structure was way ahead of its time, with the exact composition of the material still unknown, although it appears structurally similar to modern concrete. All we know for certain is that it was built in a way to withstand the ravages of time and has managed to survive barbarian raids, somehow remaining intact with its majestic splendor and grand beauty throughout the centuries.
With the rise in Christianity and abandonment of pagan gods, an altar was added in 609 AD, transforming it into a Christian church. It is still a church today, hosting mass on Saturday evenings, Sunday mornings and holy days.
Statue of Liberty
Sculptor: Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi
The Statue of Liberty is in New York City, on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. The Statue is seen by many people to be the symbol of freedom, and as a welcoming sign to immigrants who came to the United States looking for a better life. The Statue of Liberty is a woman, holding a torch high above her head in one hand and a tablet in the other that has the date July 4th 1776 written on it in Roman Numerals. She is wearing a robe and broken chains are around her feet. She is known as Lady Liberty.
In 1870, the French decided that they would pay for the statue if the Americans would build the base for the statue to stand on. The American government did not pay for the pedestal the state was supposed to stand on, so a couple of different fundraising events took place to make the money for it. 120,000 people donated, most of them giving less than 1 dollar per person.
Lady Liberty was built by a man named Gustave Eiffel, who also built the Eiffel tower in Paris, France. The Statue of Liberty came over to the United States in pieces. The head and the torch were finished first, and these two parts were shown in Philadelphia and other cities before being put together with the rest of the statue. She was unveiled and dedicated by President Grover Cleveland, who had been the governor of New York, in 1886.
The Statue of Liberty is made from copper. Because she is outside in the rain and snow, she has turned a minty green color, which is called oxidizing. It took 30 years for the outside of the statue to turn from dull brown to green. At first, the government thought that the oxidized green color was damaging the statue, so they were going to paint it. People were angry about the statue being painted, so scientists did some tests and discovered that the green color actually protected the statue. The amount of copper it took to create the Statue of Liberty could make 30 million pennies.
The statue has had some changes over the years to help keep it protected. One of the biggest changes was in 1984 when the original torch was removed and a new torch was added. The new torch is copper with gold to reflect the sun. Today, the United States government is building a new museum so that everyone can visit and learn about the Statue of Liberty and her history. You will also be able to see the original torch when the museum opens.
Aqueduct of Segovia
The Aqueduct of Segovia is located in Segovia, Spain, and is one of the best preserved elevated Roman aqueducts still remaining in the world today. It is so important to the culture of Segovia that the aqueduct is featured on the city’s Coat of Arms.
Although it is hard to pinpoint the actual date of inscription for the aqueduct, or the date it was constructed, it is assumed that it was built sometime in the 1st century AD, when the Emperors Domitian, Nerva, and Trajan were rulers of Rome. The reason no one is able to date the aqueduct is because the original date inscription was located in the top portion that has now mostly crumbled with age. Each of the three tallest arches along the top of the aqueduct would have displayed large bronze letters to indicate the name of the builder and when it was constructed. Two of the original niches are still visible.
The original purpose of the Aqueduct of Segovia was to transport water from the Rio Frio into the city of Segovia. First the water was gathered in a tank known as the Big House, or El Caseron, and then it flowed towards a large water tower to be distributed through the city. Thirty-six semi-circular arches had to be rebuilt during the 15th century after being destroyed by the Moors in the 1000s. Amazingly, the granite blocks fit together so precisely that they did not require mortar to hold them together.
Photo by Eric Titcombe
Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor
The Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor, or the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is a Roman Catholic Church that is in Barcelona, Spain. One of the most amazing things about this Church is that it is built on the summit of Mount Tibidabo. Although the Church is of Neo Gothic design, it is a relatively new church, open and completed in 1961.
The Catholic Church decided that they wanted to build a church on the summit of Mount Tibidabo at the end of the 1800s because the Catholic diocese had heard a rumor that a Protestant church and a casino was going to open there. In 1886, Saint John Bosco was given the area of land and groundbreaking took place in 1902. The construction of the massive church took place in stages, with the crypts being built first from 1903 to 1911, and then the main part of the church from 1915 to 1951. Finally, the towers were added and finally finished in 1961.
On the top of the church is a massive statue of Jesus Christ made from bronze and standing 23 feet tall. This was the second statue of Jesus that was placed on the top of the Sagrat Cor. The first was placed in 1935, but was destroyed in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. The one you see today was placed when the church doors opened in 1961.
Photo by Emma
Horseshoe Falls is located along the Niagara River at the Canadian-Untied States border between Terrapin Point on Goat Island, part of New York, and Table Rock in Ontario. Horseshoe Falls, or Canadian Falls, is the largest of the three waterfalls that together make up Niagara Falls,. More than 90% of the water flow goes over Horseshoe Falls. The other 10% goes over American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
The border between Canada and the Untied States was made official in 1819 by the Treaty of Ghent that stated that the northeastern end of the Horseshoe Falls was to belong to New York while the other portion would belong to Ontario. At one point, Goat Island and Terrapin Rocks were connected by a series of bridges, but the area was filled in the 1950s and renamed Terrapin Point. This was done in order to divert water and create dams to force water away from Terrapin Point. Unfortunately, it destroyed around 400 feet of the Falls themselves.
At 167 feet high, the Canadian Falls is actually a rather small waterfall. By comparison, Angel Falls in Venezuela are the tallest in the world at 3,212 feet. The fact that Canadian Falls is the tallest of the three at Niagara is a tricky figure, because technically Bridal Veil and American Falls measure 176 and 188 feet high. However, American and Bridal Veil both have a large number of rocks at their base limiting their overall height. Each year, around 30 million people visit Niagara Falls as tourists.
Temple Mickve Israel
The Temple Mickve Israel is a Jewish synagogue located in Savannah, GA’s historic district. It is one of the few examples of a gothic style synagogue in the United States and is the home of the third oldest Jewish congregation in the country. Founded in 1735, the congregation was formed by 42 Jewish settlers who came to the new Georgia colony looking for religious freedom. The Temple Mickve Israel was constructed in 1876 and has been used by the congregation ever since. Mickve Israel means “The Hope of Israel”.
Many of the original congregation members came to Savannah from London but had left their home countries of Spain and Portugal in the 1720 fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. The Spanish Inquisition was a time period in which the Catholic Church was punishing anyone who was not a member of the Catholic faith. Wealthy Jews in London paid for many Jewish settlers to go to Savannah, including the original members of the church and many who followed later. One of the many ships coming to Savannah with Jewish settlers brought with them a Sefer Torah. A Sefer Torah is a handwritten copy of the Torah, or the Jewish holy book. They are very rare. The one that is in Temple Mickve Isreal is one of the oldest in the United States.
The Temple Mickve Isreal also has many Presidential letters in its library, dating all the way back to the very first president of the United States. When George Washington was elected president, the leader of the congregation wrote him a letter, and President Washington wrote him back. Since then, more than 10 presidents have written to the congregation including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Barak Obama.
Alcazar of Segovia
The Alcazar of Segovia translates to the Fortress of Segovia. It is located in Segovia, Spain. The Alcazar of Segovia is one of the most recognizable castles in Spain because it is distinctly shaped like the bow of a ship, breaking from the side of a rocky crag at the intersection of two rivers in the Guadarrama mountains.
Like many different fortifications in Spain, the Alcazar began as a Roman Fort but little of the original structure remains. The Moors also used the space as a fort until around 1120 when it was rebuilt from wood and was used by King Alfonso VIII as their primary residence.
Although the Alcazar was originally built as a fortress, it has since served as a royal palace, a state prison, an Artillery College, and a military academy. Most recently, the Alcazar has served as the Museum of the Royal College of Artillery. In pop culture, many will recognize the castle as being the French home of Sir Lancelot in the 1967 musical film Camelot.
Photo by Eric Titcombe
Santa Maria delle Grazie
Santa Maria delle Grazie is a gothic church located in Milan, Italy. It is home to one of the most famous paintings in the world called “The Last Supper”. The talented artist Leonardo da Vinci painted the masterpiece between 1494 and 1498. The artwork represents the last dinner Jesus and his disciples shared together before Jesus’ crucifixion. The details of the painting are spectacular. There are even traces of silver and gold in the picture. Leonardo used tempura and oil to paint the picture. The painting is unique because it’s painted on the wall of the church. It is a huge painting of 8.80 meters wide and 4.60 meters high.
Through the years, the art has deteriorated so it has been restored from time to time. To protect the painting, only 25 people are allowed to visit the room every 15 minutes so it is kept at a perfect temperature. Many people find the painting to be shrouded in mysteries that have never been solved. The picture remains in its original place in the dining room of the church’s convent. It is considered one of the most important pieces of history in the city and possibly in the entire world.
Duke of Milan, Francesco I Sforza had the church built in 1463. It was completed 34 years later in 1497.
On August 15, 1943, the church was hit by allied bombs. The bombs damaged most of the refectory but they did not damage the painting.
The Colosseum or Coliseum is a large oval amphitheater in the city of Rome, Italy. The structure is also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre and was built between 70 and 80 AD under the Roman emperor Vespasian and finished under Emperor Titus. More modifications were made to the Colosseum between 81 and 96 AD under Emperor Domitian. Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian are known as the Flavian Dynasty, hence the name Flavian Amphitheatre. Many historians believe the name Colosseum came from the colossal statue of Nero that was nearby. Successors of Nero altered the statue to look more like Helios, or Apollo, the Sun God. Despite having links to the pagan religion of the Romans, the statue remained standing throughout much of the religiously intolerant Middle Ages.
The Colosseum is huge, and was estimated to have been able to hold between 50,000 and 80,000 people when it was still active. The space was used for battles between gladiators, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and even as a large stage to put on Classical mythology plays. When the Roman Empire fell, the Colosseum fell into disuse, but found different purposes during the Medieval era. The marble was removed and used in other buildings in Rome including St Peter’s Basilica. The Colosseum was used for everything from housing, various workshops, a fortress, a Christian shrine, and even a zoo.
Despite its condition, the Colosseum remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome with thousands of people visiting each year. Starting in 2011, a private company was contracted by the Italian government to restore the Colosseum, costing 25 million euros. The first stage was to clean and restore the exterior with the second stage being to replace the floors to be used to provide more extensive guided tours.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is in Paris, France, and is one of the city’s most famous monuments, after the Eiffel Tower. It took many years to build, with the first work starting in 1806 and completed 30 years later in 1836.
The person who wanted it to be built was Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon Bonaparte was a very successful French military leader. Napoleon was the emperor of France for 10 years and he built a very large empire across Europe until it fell apart in 1815. Even though he only reigned for 10 years, he is considered to be a very famous commander, and people still study his military style today. Napoleon wanted to honor the French Revolution, when he came to power in France, by building the arch and then decorating it with carvings of different battles and the names of different military leaders.
The Arc de Triomphe looks much older than it really is because it is based off a much older arch, the Arch of Titus that is in Rome, Italy. The Arch of Titus was built during the Roman Empire by Emperor Domitian and is more than 1900 years old. However, the Arch of Titus is an honorific arch and the Arc de Triomphe is a triumphal arch. A triumphal arch has two pillars, an arch, and then a flat top.
Underneath the arch is a newer memorial that was added after World War I. Many soldiered died during World War I and not all of them were able to be identified later by their families. Those people were buried underneath the arch in what is called “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”. Above the tomb is an eternal flame so that we will never forget their sacrifice even though we may not know their names.
The Notre Dame de Paris is also called the Notre Dame Cathedral. Its name really means Our Lady of Paris. It took almost 200 years for the church to be completely built. The groundbreaking took place in 1163 and it wasn’t finished until 1345, more than 650 years ago. It is one of the most well-known churches in the entire world and is very much admired by architects.
The reason why architects like the Notre Dame so much is because it was one of the first buildings in the world to use a flying buttress. A flying buttress is roof support that arches away from a building and looks pretty. Because of all the large and fragile windows on large stone churches, buttress, or supports, were needed to keep the roof from caving in. A flying buttress was pretty but also very strong. The Cathedral is also covered with chimera statues, or gargoyles. They look like monsters and mythical beasts. Some of them look like dragons, others like goats, and some even like monkeys.
One of the things that makes the Notre Dame so special is that it has a reliquary in its treasury. A reliquary is a group of items that are very important. In the Notre Dame, these items are important to the Catholic Church because they are believed to have belonged or been important to Jesus Christ. One of those items is the Crown of Thorns which Jesus was said to wear while carrying the cross. Another relic is what is believed to be a piece of the cross Jesus was crucified on, as well as one of the nails that held Jesus to the cross.
Recently, on April 15, 2019, Notre Dame was severly damaged by a fire. The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, has vowed to have it rebuilt in 5 years. This is an ambitious schedule. We hope that it comes true so we can visit the inside of the cathedral again soon.
Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is located about 12 miles away from Paris, France, in Versailles. This palace was the home of the Kings and Queens of France from 1682 until the start of the French Revolution in 1789. Before the grand palace was constructed there, King Louis XIII had built a more modest hunting lodge. It was while King Louis XIII was staying at his hunting lodge that the Day of the Dupes took place, where his own mother conspired to overthrow the government and take control. It was after the Day of the Dupes that King Louis XIII decided to tear down the hunting lodge and build a grand palace. Over many years the grounds and house expanded until the structure became what it is today - more than 720,000 square feet.
It wasn’t until Louis XIV that the palace started to grow into the massive building it is today. King Louis XIV invited many of the nobles and high-ranking French officials to stay with him in the Palace. Because of this, King Louis was able to maintain more control over the French government because all the noblemen were staying away from their own homes. The Palace of Versailles was extremely expensive to run, though. It was estimated by historians that the cost of maintaining the palace and to feed the staff and Royal Family took as much as 25% of the entire national income of France. High excess by the French crown would eventually lead to a revolution of the French people. In 1789, the King and Queen of France were forced to go back to Paris by the French people and the Palace was closed. A few years later, the new Convention Government declared that all royal property was to be sold at auction, and that included the furniture, art, equipment, and books. Even the fleurs-de-lys, the symbol of the French Monarchy, were ordered to be chiseled off the outside of the Palace.
The Palace of Versailles is today part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s list of World Heritage Sites. UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites help to preserve places of outstanding importance to the heritage of humankind as a whole. There are only 754 of them today.
American Falls is a cataract waterfall located in New York along the border of the United States and Canada. A cataract waterfall is a large and powerful waterfall with only one down pouring location. American Falls is the second largest of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls, and falls completely within the United States, unlike the larger Horseshoe Falls which falls two-thirds within Canada and one-third within the United States.
The height of American Falls ranges between 70 and 110 feet although it appears to be much taller. This is because of the large number of rocks at the base of the falls known as a talus. The distance from the top of the falls to the river is actually 188 feet. Rock falls happen with some regularity in the area, with the most recent happening in 1954 when Prospect Point collapsed to the north. This caused a large number of rocks and boulders to go down the river towards the American Falls, and modified the ledge to become a “W” shape.
Because of the massive number of rocks that flowed downstream to the ledge, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers decided to survey the rockfall and try to determine how to stop the falls from becoming a series of rapids. To do this, they completely blocked the flow of water over the American Falls from June to November of 1969. It was determined by the Corp of Engineers to not alter the rock wall in anyway but to allow nature to take its course.
The Segovia Cathedral is located in the main square of the city of Segovia in Spain. It is a massively large Gothic-style Catholic Church that is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was constructed in the mid-16th century, between 1525 and 1577. When it was built, its late-Gothic style was considered very outdated elsewhere in Europe. The designer, Juan Gil de Anatanon, built the church with three large vaults, a bell tower, a massive ambulatory, as well as side chapels and exquisitely designed glass windows.
The original (and first) Cathedral built in Segovia was closer to the ancient Alcazar but during the Revolt of the Comuneros in 1520-1521 the cathedral was severely damaged. The siege of the original cathedral lasted several months which led to the construction of a new cathedral of Segovia.
Photo by Graeme Churchard
Castello Sforzesco was built in 1450 by Francesco Sforza. Francesco was an Italian military leader and the Duke of Milan from 1450 until his death in 1466. When construction was complete, Francesco used it as his home.
In 1494, Francesco's son Ludovico Sforza became Lord of Milan. He, along with his wife Beatrice d'Este, would host large festivals and gatherings at the castle. Beatrice d'Este belonged to the highest class of Renaissance women and her great taste for the arts could be seen in the paintings and decorations throughout the caste. They hired many of the best artists of the time including Leonardo da Vinci, who painted the frescoed ceiling of the "Sala delle Asse."
In 1526, the Treaty of Madrid gave Spain parts of Italy. During this time, the Spanish converted the castle into a citadel (a fortress). There were about 1000 to 3000 men assigned here. The Spanish improved the fortification and expanded the length of the surrounding walls.
Most of the castle was demolished during the period of Napoleonic rule. Around this same time, both Piazza Castello and Piazza d'Armi were constructed.
When Italy united in the 19th century, the castle was no longer used by the military. It was used by the city instead. In 1880, the Via Dante was built to connect the castle with the Duomo. The central tower, Tower Filarete, was rebuilt based on 16th centrury drawings and dedicated to King Umberto I.
Allied bombings in 1943 (World War II) severely damaged the castle. After the war, it was rebuilt and used as a museum.
Before Castello Sforzesco, Castello di Porta Giova stood in this location in the 14th century. It was destroyed around 1447 leading to the construction of the new castle.
The Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is in the capital city of the United States, Washington, D.C. It was built in 1922 to honor the 16th president of the United State, Abraham Lincoln. For many people, it symbolizes race relations in the country, as well as freedom and equality.
During the Civil War, the American North fought the American South over states’ rights and over the right to own slaves. During that time, Abraham Lincoln was the President of the United States, and he fought to preserve the country as one. President Lincoln was shot and killed five days after the Civil War ended. Most Americans consider him to be one of the greatest presidents. The Lincoln Memorial was built to honor Abraham Lincoln, and two of his most famous speeches are carved into the walls. One of them is the Gettysburg Address. In 1863 at the Gettysburg battlefield, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his “Gettysburg Address”, which is one of the most well-known Presidential speeches in American history. The other speech carved into the memorial is his Second Inaugural Address, the speech he gave when he was reelected as President of the United States.
Many important speeches and rallies have taken place in front of the Lincoln Memorial. In 1963, 250,000 people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial and heard Doctor Martin Luther King Junior deliver his very famous and moving “I Have a Dream” speech. Although most Americans think of Abraham Lincoln as being one of the best presidents, not everyone agrees. The Lincoln Memorial is sometimes vandalized. Vandalized means to damage on purpose.
One fun fact about the Lincoln Memorial is about his hands. If you look at how President Lincoln’s hands are sitting, they form the American Sign Language signs for A and L, his initials.
Carpenter's Historic Hall
Carpenter’s Hall is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in an area known today as the U.S. Historic District. Not only is the house important on its own, it also is part of the reason the area of Philadelphia is considered to be so historic. The Carpenter’s House started construction in 1770 and wasn’t finished for five years. It was built to be the Meeting Hall for the Carpenter’s Company of the City and County of Philadelphia, which is the oldest craft guild in the United States. A guild is a group of workers who all do the same job who come together to work towards a common goal. But, Carpenter’s Hall was also the location of the First Continental Congress in 1774, where British Colonial citizens first met to discuss the potential of becoming an independent nation.
The First Continental Congress met in Carpenter’s Hall starting on September 5th in 1774 until October 26th of 1774. The reason the group could not meet in Independence Hall at the time was because more moderate members of the Pennsylvania colonial government were meeting. It was in Carpenter’s Hall that the First Continental Congress decided to bar the import of slaves to the colonies, and to discontinue the slave trade within the colonies. During the Revolutionary War, Carpenter’s Hall was used as a hospital by both British and American soldiers, and weapons and equipment were stored in the basement. After the war, in 1791, the first floor of the building was used as the First Bank of the United States under Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton.
Today, Carpenter’s Hall is one of the many historic sites that make up Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.
Photo by Xiquinho Silva
Mount Rushmore is a national memorial located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Made up of four massively large sculpted heads, it features the likenesses of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Each of the sculptures are more than 60 feet in height and are situated nearly 6000 feet above sea level, making it the highest government memorial in the country.
Gutzon Borglum was the lead designer and project manager at the site from 1927 to 1941 along with the help of his son, Lincoln Borglum. A South Dakota historian by the name of Doane Robinson came up with the idea to make the massive carving into the Black Hills in the hopes of driving up tourism to the area. Originally, the design was to be carved into an area known as The Needles, an area of eroded granite pillars with much significance to the Native American groups living in the area. In addition, Robinson was wanting to carve American West figureheads, such as Red Cloud, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Lewis and Clark, but was overruled by Borglum who believed that the presidents would have more universal appeal to tourists.
Construction on the monument lasted until 1941, 6 months after Gutzon Borglum passed away. By this point, funding had run dry and the grand plan of carving the monuments from head to waist had to be abandoned. Mount Rushmore remains a very popular place to visit each year, just as Doane Robinson had wanted. In 2016, nearly 2.5 million people visited the national memorial.
The Royal Observatory, or the Old Royal Observatory, is located in Greenwich along the River Thames. The Observatory is famous for sitting along the Prime Meridian, giving its name to Greenwich Mean Time (also known as Universal Time). For years, the Observatory has played a major role in the history of astronomy and navigation, and is currently number 000 (first on the list) among the International Astronomical Union.
Commissioned in 1675 by King Charles III, the first stone was laid on August 10th and was completed the follwoing year. John Flamsteed was the first Astronomer Royal, and thus the main house is often known as Flamsteed House in reference to him. By 1767, the Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne had begun the publication of the Nautical Almanac based on the observations he made at the Observatory. This was the first almanac that had data dedicated to the determination of longitude at sea.
The Royal Observatory has a brass strip that runs through the courtyard. This brass strip was put in place in the 1960’s to mark the Prime Meridian. The Prime Meridian is used around the world for mapping and timekeeping. It was important for helping ships to navigate their positions at sea.
If you look at the top of the observatory you will notice a large red ball. This ball helped mariners to synchronize their clocks before heading out to sea. Each day, at exactly 1pm, the ball would be dropped. Ships in port could see the ball dropping and they would align their clocks to match Greenwich Mean Time.
Today the Royal Greenwich Observatory is located in Cambridge and the Greenwich site has been converted into part of the National Maritime Museum and has been incorporated into the Royal Museums Greenwich. The Museum features a new planetarium as well as the Annie Maunder Astrographic Telescope, which is a cluster of four separate instruments.
Betsy Ross House
The Betsy Ross House is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is believed to be the location where Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. There are many who believe and many who don't, that this is where Betsy Ross was living when she, as a seamstress and flag-maker, sewed the first American flag, usually called a Betsy Ross flag. The reason why many people believe that the current house is one that belonged to her is because her grandchildren and current descendants say it was. But, most historians believe that the actual house would have been next to the one that is here today. The traditional story told is that Betsy Ross met with George Washington and Robert Morris, a relation of hers, and they discussed the need for a new flag. Betsy Ross accepted the challenge and created the iconic early American flag. The reason why most historians do not believe that Betsy Ross was responsible for creating the first American flag is because records of her doing this did not show up in history until around the time of the Centennial, or 100th anniversary of the United States, in 1876. Her two grandsons, William J. and George Canby, wrote a letter to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1870 claiming that their grandmother had made the flag herself. Many historians believe that she was one of many who helped create the flag, and that her most lasting alteration was to change the stars from having six-points to five-points.
Known as the “Birthplace of Old Glory”, the house that stands there today was in very rough shape in the 1930s. In 1937, a radio mogul named A. Atwater Kent offered a large sum of money to have the house restored so that it could be brought back to its original glory. Much of the original structure was salvaged. Workers also used parts from demolished houses from the same period for the reconstruction. In 1941, Kent offered the house to the City of Philadelphia as a present so that it could become a museum and tribute to Betsy Ross. During the United States Bicentennial in 1976, the remains of Betsy Ross and her third husband, John Claypoole, were moved to the courtyard of the house. A Bicentennial is a 200th anniversary.
Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
The third largest church in Italy, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore has been a symbol of grandeur in Florence ever since its completion. The Italian Gothic building was finished in the 15th century, built on the site of a 7th-century church – the remains of that very church can be viewed in its crypt.
It stands tall over the city as its third and last cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin of the Flower in 1412. The first stone of the façade was laid in 1296. It was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio who worked on the cathedral for six years, through 1302. The magnificent Renaissance dome that dominates the building was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. Gazing at the structure today, note the basilica’s exterior with its marble panels in varying shades of pink and green, a white border and a more recent elaborate Gothic Revival façade that dates to the 1800s.
The interior holds very significant works of art, including impressive frescoes painted by Andrea del Castagno in 1456 and Paolo Ucello in 1436. Ucello also frescoed a clock on the inside wall with its four heads of saints. One of the most popular things to do in Florence is to climb to the top of the dome where you’ll be surrounded by lavish frescoes while taking in an awe-inspiring vista of the city’s endless red roofs.
It took over 140 years to complete the cathedral. The domed rooftop was the biggest challenge to complete as the technology to build it didn't exist in 1293 when it was designed. They started bulding the cathedral anway and the roof was left open until Fillipo Brunelleschi came up with the final design over 120 years later.
The cathedral was under construction for 80 years before Fillipo Brunelleschi was born.
The city of Florence held a competition to find a design for the domed roof. It was during this compeition where Brunelleschi won with the help of his sculptor friend Donatello. Brunelleschi had not built anything before coming up with his design.
Old State House
The Old State House in Boston, Massachusetts, is part of the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a 2-and-a-half-mile long path that visits 16 different sites that were important to American History. The Old State House is the oldest public building in Boston, and today is a museum that people can go and visit to learn more about Boston’s history during the American Revolutionary War.
Built in 1713, no one is certain who designed the first version of the State House. In 1747, there was a fire in the building, so the entire inside of the building had to be rebuilt, but the bricks on the outside were undamaged. One of the original features of the building were wooden statues of a lion and a unicorn, which represented the British Crown. The Old State House had several purposes. The basement of the building was warehouses, the first floor was a Merchant’s Exchange for shopping, and the second floor was for different parts of the government. On March 5th of 1770, the Boston Massacre took place in front of the Old State House. Five colonists were shot and killed by British soldiers, and the Old State House was featured in many of the sketches of the attack, which were used to help promote the need for Independence.
On July 18th of 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read to happy crowds of people from the eastern balcony of the Old State House. The lion and the unicorn were removed from the building and burned in a big fire. Almost 200 years later, on July 11th of 1976, Queen Elizabeth II of England and her husband toured Boston and stood on the eastern balcony, where she said that "If Paul Revere and Samuel Adams could have known that a British monarch would stand on the balcony of the Old State House and be greeted with such kind words… well, I think they would have been extremely surprised!"
Palacio Real de Madrid
The Palacio Real de Madrid, or the Royal Palace of Madrid, is the official home of the Spanish Royal Family in the city of Madrid, Spain. Although the very large house is the royal family’s official home, King Felipe VI and his family do not live there today. The Royal Palace of Madrid is owned by the Spanish State and is used only for state ceremonies. The Palace is very big, with more than 1.45 million square feet of space and has 3,418 rooms. It is the largest royal palace in all of Europe!
Before the Palace was used by the Spanish royal family, it was originally built for Muhammad I between 860 and 880 when Madrid was under Arabic (Moorish) control. When it was first constructed, it was designed to be a fortress to protect the Moorish people who were living in the area. Over the centuries, the building was expanded to be a royal palace and was redesigned on the inside to be more opulent and more lavish. Beautiful pieces of priceless art were hung inside, including Renaissance pieces by Caravaggio, Baroque pieces by Velazquez, and Romantic pieces by Goya. While visiting the Palace, you can see all this beautiful artwork, and will also get to see the official Spanish Royal Crown and Scepter.
In front of the Palace is a beautiful square known as the Plaza de la Armeria. The Plaza was first built by King Phillip II in 1553 when he wanted an area for royal stables. Today it is used as part of the outbuildings of the Palace, along with the Sabatini Gardens, the Campo del Moro Gardens, and the Plaza de Oriente. You can visit all of these areas to see the statues and lavish gardens.
Photo by JEAN ROBERT THIBAULT
The USS Constitution is a wooden navy ship that is located today in Charlestown, Massachusetts, which is part of Boston. It was originally launched in 1797 and was named by George Washington after the American Constitution. She was one of six ships that had been paid for by the American Government to help fight against pirates. The USS Constitution was built in Boston and the metal bolts and copper pieces were made by Paul Revere. Her first job was in the Quasi-War with France when she was used to protect American merchants on the open water. In 1805, the Treaty of Peace and Amity was signed on the deck of the USS Constitution between America and Tripoli, which said that American ships would no longer be targeted by pirates.
The USS Constitution became very well-known during the War of 1812. There were several incidences on the ocean that made the Constitution become legendary in American history. In June of 1812, off the coast of New Jersey, the USS Constitution was surrounded by 5 British warships. Suddenly, the wind died down and the Constitution was able to keep pace in front of the warships for 36 hours and escape. Only one month later the Constitution encountered the British ship Guerrière and they shot cannon back and forth at one another. For twenty minutes, the cannon balls flew and when the battle was over, the Guerrière was destroyed and the Constitution was mostly intact. This is when the USS Constitution got the nickname of “Old Ironsides” because it looked like cannonballs bounced off her sides like she was made of iron rather than wood. This unexpected victory made the ship a war hero, and she would go on to capture more British ships before the War of 1812 was over.
Today, the USS Constitution is the oldest warship on the water. It has been floating in the Charlestown Naval Harbor in Boston since 1934 and thousands of people go to visit her each year.
Photo by Jorge Cancela
Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa was built in 1173 and completed many years later in 1392. It took over 200 years to build because of wars and, at times, a lack of money.
Four architects and engineers were responsible for building it. The Leaning Tower of Pisa got its name because of how much it leans. It started tilting to one side during its construction due to the soft ground it is built on. The city’s name Pisa even translates to mean “marshy land”.
Throughout its construction, the builders tried to straighten it but their attempts failed. The ground was just too soft. It is believed that the only reason it didn’t topple over during construction was because the building delays gave it a chance to settle. Some of the other tall buildings nearby lean too.
The tower is about 60 meters tall and has 296 steps going up to the top. It was one of the first circular buildings of its time. It weighs 15,000 tons. There are seven bells In the tower that are rung for different occasions.
Construction of the tower was stopped for almost 100 years due to war.
The tower used to lean more than it does today. Restoration work was completed in 2001 that adjusted the towers lean from 5.5 degrees to just under 4 degrees.
The tower was built as a free standing bell tower for the nearby cathedral.
Trevi Fountain is located in the Trevi district of Rome, Italy. Its origins date all the way back to 19 BC, when Marcus Agrippa, a Roman consul and lieutenant to Julius Caesar, commissioned an aqueduct to provide water for the baths he had built in the city. It was used to fill three fountains in Rome’s Via del Corso in the 12th century. While there were restorations and new aqueducts put in place here over the years, the fountain you see today was built in baroque style between 1732 and 1736, making it nearly 300 years old. The opulent masterpiece stands 85 feet high and is about 160 feet wide, as the city’s largest and most famous fountain.
The fountain is visually stunning, featuring a marble statue of the Roman Sea God Neptune at the center surrounded by Tritons, the messenger of the sea. Many come to toss three coins into the water as legend tells that those who do will enjoy several benefits. To enjoy them, you’ll have to turn your back to it and throw each coin with your right hand over your left shoulder. Throwing the first means you’ll get to return to Rome. The second coin leads to discovering your true love and a third means it will lead to marriage. There is an average of $3,500 worth of coins tossed in every day, and they all go to a good cause, support programs for the poor in the city.
Barcelona is famous for its grand architecture, which includes some impressive works by Antonio Gaudi, including Park Guell. Commissioned by Eusebi Güell who wanted to create a stylish park for the city’s aristocracy, his idea was to have his friend Gaudi convert plots of land he’d purchased in 1899 into an English-inspired garden city. Gaudi commenced the work in November of 1900, devoting himself to building the walls, entrance pavilion, roads, viaducts and the main entrance stairs, among other features. Following Güell’s death in 1918, the land was sold to city hall to be transformed into a public park, which opened the year Gaudi died in 1926. Since then, it’s become one of Barcelona’s most important points of interest.
Walking through Park Guell feels like a stroll through a real-life fairytale with its remarkable stone structures, wavy shapes that look like flowing lava, covered pathways with columns shaped like trees, and fantastical buildings with lots of colored glass and ceramic mosaics. From the entrance is the Dragon Stairway, an icon of the park with the famous dragon sculpture separating its three sections. Along it are other symbols, like a snake and the emblem of Catalonia. The last few steps hold a Greek-theater shaped bench, designed to take advantage of summer shade and winter sun. At the top of the park is a terraced area for enjoying a jaw-dropping view of the park with the magnificent city serving as the backdrop.
The Appian Way is an ancient road built in 312 BC by Appius Claudius Caecus for the purpose of transporting military supplies. It is called the “Queen of Roads” because it has lasted so long.
The Ancient Appian Way was Rome’s gateway to the East before modern streets and highways were built. It was a straight line to the important town of Capua and then stretched for 400 miles to Brindisi where Roman ships sailed to Egypt and Greece.
The road was very advanced for its time. Huge paving blocks made of basalt form the sturdy base. There’s a strip where animal-powered vehicles traveled and elevated sidewalks for people to walk.
Many famous men walked on the street, like Julius Caesar and St. Peter of the Bible. Now, the first 10 miles of the road is preserved as a regional park called Parco dell’ Appia Antica. There are Roman monuments along the roadway and a church where St. Peter had a vision of Jesus.
The road can be accessed by bike, on foot, and parts of it by car.
The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain is a Roman Catholic Church and Basilica that is mostly unfinished. A Basilica is a large building used in ancient Rome as a court of law, or a building similar to a Roman basilica but used as a Christian Church with special privileges granted by the Catholic Pope. The Sagrada Familia is an active construction site and has been in the process of being built since 1882. There are many reasons why the Sagrada has been under construction for so long, including the Spanish Civil War, being funded only by private donations, and continual changes to the design and structure. Even by 2010, the building was only half way completed. It is estimated that the building structure will be completed in 2026 and the decorations by 2032.
One of the most interesting parts of being in constant construction is being able to view the distinct differences in weathering and aging of the façade. You can see where new stonework has been added to the weather stained older sections. The styling of the building is both Gothic and Art Nouveau in its design and is unlike many of the other structures in Barcelona. One of the most interesting pieces in the Sagrada is the 1,492 pipe organ that was installed in 2010. Because the church is so big, additional organs will have to be installed to fill the space with music. These organs will be able to be play separately or together, with a combined 8,000 pipes.
Today, you can visit the completed portions of the structure. These areas include the Nave, the Crypt, the Museum, the Gift Shop, and two of the towers (Passion and Nativity). Although the original structure was completely funded by private patron donations, today the construction of the church is paid for by ticket sales to the site.
B. Free Franklin Post Office
The B. Free Franklin Post Office and Museum is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is the only colonial-themed post office still operated by the United States Postal Service. That’s because it is the oldest and original Post Office in the United States and founded by Benjamin Franklin when he served as Postmaster General. There are many strange things about this post office. It is the only one in the country that does not wave an American Flag because when the B. Free Franklin first opened they did not have a flag waving. The B. Free Franklin Post Office also does not have a Zip Code and it has many rules for those who work there! The post clerks who work in the B. Free Franklin Post Office have to wear Colonial-style clothing, and they aren’t allowed to use ballpoint pens. Instead, they have to use quills in inkwells.
The postmark "B. Free Franklin" is from when Ben Franklin was still the Postmaster General. Instead of using stamps, people wrote their names in the top corner of the envelopes. The people who received the letters at the time paid for the postage and not those who sent them. Ben Franklin used to sign his envelopes as B. Free Franklin as a way to protest British rule over the colonies.
If you go inside the B. Free Franklin Post Office today you will see may postal artifacts, including figurines and photographs.
Granary Burying Ground
The Granary Burying Ground is the 3rd oldest cemetery in Boston. Established in 1660, there are over 2300 grave markers and about 5000 people buried here.
Some of the people buried here include:
- John Hancock
- Paul Revere
- Samuel Adams
- Robert Treat Paine
- James Otis
- Benjamin Franklin’s parents
- The 5 victims of the Boston Massacre
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Robert Treat Paine all signed the Declaration of Independence. James Otis, an early supporter of the Patriots, coined the phrase “Taxation without Representation is tyranny.”
The Puritan Churches did not believe in religious icons or imagery. It was only when someone died when they would show their beliefs about the afterlife through carvings on the gravestones. As you look around you will still see these carvings on the stones today.
Livestock grazing on Boston Common was used to cut the grass. The headstones where later reorganized into rows during the Victorian era to make it easier to cut the grass using modern technology - the lawn mower.
One of the top attractions in Paris, the Louvre is the largest, and arguably most impressive, art museum in the world. Its collection was first established in the 16th-century, as the private collection of King Francis I. One of his works was the famous Mona Lisa painting.
The Louvre became a national art museum, opened to the public in 1793, set within a huge palace that was constructed at the site of a 12th-century fortress. It showcases works spanning from ancient civilizations to the mid-1800s in a massive 675,000-square-foot space. The most popular works, the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Winged Victory, are just three among 35,000 pieces, with all sorts of fantastic surprises to discover in room after room. Discover these and many more with the institution hosting some of most coveted treasures around the globe in its three wings, the Denon, the Sully and the Richelieu, arranged in a horseshoe shape. Tucked into the middle is a giant glass pyramid surrounded by three small pyramids known as the I.M. Pei’s Pyramide.
A 90-minute tour provides a great way to navigate the museum’s highlights, including top works and the medieval moat, with expert guides that provide fascinating insight into the palace’s history and its most impressive places. They’re offered in English multiple times daily, bringing more structure to a visit to help you get the most out of your time.
Park Street Church
The Park Street Church was built many years after the American Revolution in 1809. Over 200 years later, it is still an active congregation.
Before the 1800's, the Old Granary stood here. It was used as a public storage for grain until rats and other pests caused it to be shut down. A new church was constructed in its place.
In 1809, 26 charter members came together to form the Trinitarium Evangelical congregation. Here, they built the largest and most recognizable building in Boston. It was so tall, that ships coming into the harbor could see the steeple as they arrived.
The Park Street Church was built in a style inspired by Christopher Wren (a famous architect in London). Its steeple was 217 feet tall, making it the tallest building in Boston until 1867 and the tallest in the United States until 1828.
In 1829, William Lloyd Garrison gave his anti slavery address from here. During his speech, he talked about why slaves should be treated as equal citizens and be given their freedom. He argued that there was no legal or religious reason for slavery. He continued to fight for the end of slavery until it was abolished by a Constitutional ammendment in 1865.
Sunday school children performed America (My Country 'Tis of Thee) for the first time here in 1831.
Cattedrale di Pisa
The Cattedrale di Pisa is a medieval Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It’s the seat of the Archbishop of Pisa.
Construction began in the year 1063. Pisa had been at war with Muslims in Sicily, Italy. They used spoils of the war to pay for the new cathedral. At the same time, St. Mark’s Basilica, in Venice, was being constructed. There was a contest to see which project would be the most beautiful and luxurious.
The cathedral is absolutely breathtaking. On the outside, it is decorated with bronze objects, marble of different colors, and mosaic work.
The inside is amazing too. It has a wooden ceiling with gold leaf paint. There is also a painting inside the dome which was done in honor of the Virgin in all her glory with the saints. The famous artwork was painted by two artist, Orazio and Girolamo Riminaldi.
The cathedral has a number of important organs inside. The Serassi organ was made between 1831 and 1835. There is also an organ made by Mascioni of Cuvio in 1977.
A fire swept through the cathedral in 1595. Repairs had to be made to fix the damage.
Solitude Mountain Resort
Top elevation: 10,488ft (3,197m)
Base elevation: 7,988ft (2,435m)
Vertical: 2,494ft (760m)
Location: Utah, United States
Top elevation: 11,068ft (3,374m)
Base elevation: 8,530ft (2,600m)
Vertical: 2,538ft (774m)
Location: Utah, United States
Top elevation: 11,000ft (3,353m)
Base elevation: 7,760ft (2,365m)
Vertical: 3,240ft (988m)
Arco della Pace
The Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace) was built in the early nineteenth century to celebrate the peace between European nations that was reached in 1815. Luigi Cagnola was the creator.
The Arco della Pace is part of the “Foro Bonaparte” which was built like a Roman Forum to honor Napoleon’s victories. Napolean was a powerful French military leader and emperor.
Construction of the first part of the arch began in 1807. Napoleon was ousted as the emperor in 1814 and the building stopped. Years later, the work was finally finished. A big ceremony was held in 1839 when the arch became official. The Emperor Ferdinand l of Austria led the big event and the people of Milan were very happy to have the arch finally completed.
The design of the Arco della Pace is very elaborate. It has a large passageway in the center with two smaller ones on each side. It is clad in elegant marble and has beautiful sculptures and columns.
There are four big statues that stand in front of it. On top of the arch are three more statues. There are two statues on each side of the arch which were supposed to face the city of Paris but actually face the opposite way.
The arch was originally built to display Napoleon’s victories. Unfortunately for Napoleon, construction stopped when the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy was conquered by the Austrian Empire. Instead of displaying his victories, one of the scenes shows the Battle of Leipzig which led to his defeat.
The arch is 25 meters tall and the statues on top are made of bronze. An inscription on top reads Sestina della Pace meaning Poem by Peace.
Location: Utah, United States
Top elevation: 10,750ft (3,280m)
Base elevation: 8,755ft (2,669m)
Vertical: 1,750ft (530m)
Deer Valley Resort
Location: Utah, United States
Top elevation: 9,570ft (2,920m)
Base elevation: 6,570ft (2,000m)
Vertical: 3,000ft (910m)
Mission San Diego de Alcala
Mission San Diego de Alcala was founded on July 16, 1769 by a Spanish friar named Junípero Serra. It was the first of twenty one missions to be started in California with the goal of spreading Christianity in the region.
Prior to the Spanish arrival, the Kumeyaay people had lived here for 12,000 years. The first Spanish ships arrived in 1542. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo named the bay San Miguel in honor of the saint's feast day. It would later be renamed San Diego when another Spanish explorer, Sebastián Vizcaíno, arrived in 1602.
The missions were used to settle areas of California for Spain to ensure that Russia did not control the territory. The Spanish colonization threatened the Kumeyaay people and on November 4, 1775 they raided the mission. It was set on fire and burned to the ground.
Father Serra led the rebuilding of the church. Eventually the Spanish and Kumeyaay people would work together to harvest the land. Many even converted to catholicism.
After the Mexican-American War, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo made the San Diego area a United States territory.
Today, the mission still serves as an active parish. Much of the history of this area and artifacts can be found in the mission's museum.
In 1976, Mission San Diego de Alcalá was named a basilica. This is a special priveledge that can only be given by the pope.
The current church is the fifth to be built on this site.
The Paul Revere House
The Paul Revere House is located in Boston, Massachusetts, and was the home of silversmith and Patriot Paul Revere. The house was built in 1680 and is the oldest house in downtown Boston. Paul Revere was not the first man to live in the house, but he purchased the home in 1770 and lived there with his wife Sarah and their children, and then his second wife Rachel after Sarah died, and their children.
Paul Revere is an American Patriot who was a member of the secretive group known as the Sons of Liberty. He is most well-known for his Midnight Ride on horseback just before the battles of Lexington and Concord at the start of the American Revolutionary War. Because Revere was a silversmith, he used his metalworking skills to make engravings and other pieces with political themes that backed the American cause.
Paul Revere sold his house in 1800 and it changed hands several times. The bottom half of the house was turned into stores and has been everything from a candy shop, to a bank, to a cigar factory, to a vegetable business. It wasn’t until 1902 that Paul Revere’s great grandson bought the house so that it could be restored and turned into a museum. The doors to the museum opened in 1908 and was one of the very first house museums in the United States.
Photo by Nick S.
Alcatraz Island is located in San Francisco Bay, just off shore from San Francisco, California. Although the island was originally home to just a lighthouse, in 1828 a prison was built there to house military prisoners. Around 100 years later, in 1934, a federal prison was opened there and was run by the American government until 1963. It is one of the most notorious prisons in American history because of the high-profile people who were sentenced to prison there, and for the fact that many people believed that it was inescapable.
The federal prison, or penitentiary, was a maximum-security prison that was used to house some of America’s most notorious criminals. One of these people was Al Capone, the American gangster who was famous during Prohibition for being the head of the Chicago crime ring known as the Chicago outfit. Even though it was believed that you could never escape from Alcatraz, 36 different prisoners tried to escape 14 different times. Three men named Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin successfully escaped in 1962. Even though the men were able to get out, Alcatraz continued to be known as “The Rock”.
Today, people believe Alcatraz to be one of the most haunted places in the United States. Native Americans in the San Francisco bay area believed the island to be inhabited by evil spirits before it became a prison. But, in recent years, ghost investigators have visited the island and believe that its the site of many ghosts and spirits of prisoners who had been on the island.
The Spainish Steps climb from its base at Piazza di Spagna to the church at the top, the Trinita dei Monti. Altogether, there are 135 steps.
Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi were the architects who built the stairway from 1723 to 1725. They were chosen because they won the right in a contest in 1717. The idea for the project was originally birthed in the 1580’s by Pope Gregory Xlll. It never came to pass until Sanctis and Specchi made it happen over 140 years later.
Piazza di Spagna at the base contains the Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Longboat), built in 1627 to 1629. Legend has it that Pope Urban Vlll arranged for the fountain to be installed when he was inspired by a longboat after the Tiber flood.
On the right corner of the stairs is the house where John Keats, an English poet lived before he died in 1821. The former cardinal Lorenzo Cybo de Mari’s palace is a short ways on down.
At the stairway’s top ramp is the Pincian Hill where the Villa Medici is. A manger scene is displayed there at Christmastime.
Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
The Magic Fountain was designed by Carles Buïgas in 1928 for the 1929 Universal Exposition. It sits on the former site of The Four Columns. The fountain uses 3620 jets and over 700 gallons of water to create the impressive visual display.
It took just 1 year to complete Buïgas' ambitious project. Over 3000 workers were used to get the fountain ready on time. The first show debuted just one day before the start of the Universal Exposition. In the 1980's, music was added to the show to enhance the performance.
The Four Columns were originally created by Josep Puig i Cadafalch in 1919. They were built to symbolize the four stripes on the Catalan flag. The columns were removed in 1928, along with many other Catalanist symbols, in preparation for the 1929 Universal Exposition. The Prime Minister of Spain, Miguel Primo de Rivera, did not want these politcal statements to be seen. A replica of these columns was rebuilt nearby in 2010.
The fountain was damaged during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930's. It was shut down until it was repaired in 1955 with the help of Carles Buïgas.
Duomo di Milano
The Duomo di Milano took 6 centuries to complete. It was constructed between 1386 to 1965 and dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente (The Nativity of Saint Mary). It is the largest basilica in Italy, 3rd largest in Europe.
The first cathedral was built in this location in 355 AD. A basilica was added to in 836. In 1075, a fire damaged these buildings leading to the construction of the Duomo.
Work began in 1386 under the new ruler of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti and his the cousin, Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo. They used this as an opportunity to prove to the nobles and working class that they were better off under Visconti than they were under his predessor Barnabò.
By 1402, about half the cathedral had been completed but construction would slow down following Gian Galeazzo Visconti's death this same year. The cathedral would slowly evolve over the next 300 years with different architects continuing the project.
On May 20, 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte, a few days before being crowned King of Italy, ordered that the exterior of the Duomo be completed. He said that the expenses would be paid by the French treasurer but they were never paid. Napoleon was successful in jump starting the project. During the 1800's, the arches and spires would be completed. The statues were finished and new stained glass windows were put in to replace the old one.
On January 6, 1965 construction was completed when the last gate was inaugurated. After 579 years, the work was done.
The Duomo di Milano has about 3400 statues.
The nearby canals were built to bring marble to the cathedral during its construction.
I was the first President of the United States. My term lasted from 1789 to 1797. As the first president, it was my duty to set the standard for our nation's future leaders by not acting like a King. It was important to give authority and talk with with my cabinet leaders before making decisions that would shape our new nation.
I was selected to be the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army by the Second Continental Congress in 1775. I led the army of the United Colonies from June 1775 to December 1783. Four years later, I became the President of the United States.
I was born in Boston in 1706. I grew up here working as a printing apprentice for my brother before running off to Philadelphia at age 17 to seek a new start.
Growing up in the printing industry helped me to appreciate free speech. I always believed that "without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech." Later, I would get involved in politics and would go on to serve in the Continental Congress and as the Ambassador to France.
I am the only person to have signed The Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Peace with Great Britain, and the Constitution of the United States. It gave me great pride to see and be part of this new nation built on liberty and justice for all.
I was a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia in the 1700's. I published the Pennsylvania Gazette when I was 23. Later, I would publish Poor Richard's Almanack, a yearly book filled with weather information, recipes, and predictions. I would often write articles for my newspapers but I wouldn't always use my real name.
I was the 16th President of the United States. I led the United States through the Civil War, helping to end slavery and bring a divided nation back together again.
I was shot by John Wilkes Booth while attending a play at Ford's Theater. I was taken across the street to Petersen House where doctors tried to save me. I would pass away that evening but my legacy of standing up for human rights would last forever.
Martin Luther King Jr
I was a social activist and Baptist minister during the 1950's and 60's. I sought equal rights for African Americans through non-violent protests. It was my life's mission to help people realize that "all men are created equal". In 1964, I became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Before becoming well known for my midnight ride, I was a silversmith in Boston. I was the third of twelve kids in my family. At the age of 13, I left school to become an apprentice to my father. The silversmith trade helped me to meet many important people and gave me the connections I would need when I became active in the American Revolution.
I rode my horse from Charlestown to Lexington warning residents of the British army's advance from Boston. I was captured in Lincoln but not before the warning was out and the militia were able to gather.
I helped inspire the black community and drive action in the civil rights movement by refusing a bus driver's orders to give up my seat in the "colored section" of the bus to a white passenger. My resistance led to a court case that ruled bus segregation was unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment which provides protection for equal treatment.
I formed a group of Imagineers in the 1950's to design a theme park that adults and kids could enjoy together. Disneyland opened in July 1955. It was broadcast to more than 70 million tv viewers. Since then, many millions more visit Disney parks each year in Orlando, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
In June 1937, I completed Guernica, a large anti-war painting done using only gray, black, and white oil paints. I created this piece in response to the Nazi Germany and Italian warplanes that bombed Guernica, a Spanish village in northern Spain. It was my hope that bringing worldwide attention to the Spanish Civil War would help to end the fighting. The painting is now on display in the Museo Reina Sofia, just a few steps from here.
My family moved to Barcelona in 1895 after my sister passed away. I've always felt a special connection to the city. Today, the Museu Picasso in Barcelona holds over 4,200 pieces of my work.
I became the Prime Minister of Spain on June 1, 2018. I was born in Madrid and now live in the Palacio de La Moncloa, the Palace of Moncloa. The palace has been the official residence of each Prime Minister of Spain since 1977.
Sir Christopher Wren
In 1669, I was assigned the task of designing St Paul's Cathedral. The Great Fire of London burned down many of the churches in the area. St Paul's Cathedral was one of about fifty churches that I helped rebuild. At first, we tried to renovate what was left of the existing structure but in the early 1670's we demolished it entirely and started over. Today, St Paul's Cathedral is one of the most famous sites in London. Over 300 years later, its dome is still one of the highest in the world.
Sir Christopher Wren
In 1675, I received commission from King Charles II to design the Royal Observatory. This was a special project for me as it combined my love of science and mathematics with my love of architecture.
I was born into slavery in 1822. In 1849, I escaped and found freedom in Philadelphia. Shortly after, I returned to help guide others to freedom through a network of safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. Over the course of several missions, more than 70 people were led to safety. I \"never lost a passenger\". Later, I worked for the Union Army as a scout and a spy before becoming the first woman to lead an armed expedition during the Civil War. My knowledge of marshes and rivers, helped lead to the successful raid at Combahee Ferry and the safe rescue of over 700 slaves.
I was a computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral through the 1940's and into the 1960's. I was one of the first computer programmers to work with the Harvard Mark I. In the early days of computing, it was a difficult task programming computers in machine code. I worked on a program (called a compiler) that would take English terms and convert them into this code. My work on the first compiler led to the COBOL programming language which is still in use in many business systems today.
As a military general, I conquered much of Europe in the early 1800's defeating the Austrian, British and Russian armies. I went on to become the first emperor of France reigning from 1804 to 1814.
I belonged to the acting company, The King's Men (previously known as The Lord Chamberlain's Men) which built the Globe Theatre on this location in 1599. It has since been rebuilt. On 29 June 1613, the theatre caught fire during a performance of Henry VIII. The modern theatre that is here today was built in 1997 to be an approximation of the original design.
I was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire on 26 April 1564. As an English poet and playwright, I produced many plays, sonnets and poems including Hamlet, Othello, and Macbeth. Many of my works continue to be studied and performed to this day.
Queen Elizabeth II
I became Queen of the United Kingdom along with six other Commonwealth countries in 1952. I am married to the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh with whom I've had four children. I am the longest living, longest reigning British monarch and the world's longest female head of state. In 2017, I became the first British monarch to reach a Sapphire Jubilee when I honored as being Queen for sixty-five years.
If you look up over Buckingham Palace today and see the Royal Standard flag, it means that I'm currently in residence within the palace.
I was one of the most powerful politicians of the Roman Republic. My accomplishments as a Romain general helped me to gain this power. During the Gallic Wars from 58 BC to 50 BC, my army achieved several victories against the Gallic tribes expanding the Roman Republic into Gaul (present-day France and Belgium).
Shortly after the Gallic Wars, I marched my army back to Roman Italy, under arms, leading to the Great Civil War (Caesar's Civil War). Again, I achieved victory and assumed control of the government giving me a position of power and influence over the Roman Republic.
John F Kennedy
I was born in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1917 and graduated from Harvard University not far from here. A year after graduating, I joined the Naval Reserves and commanded PT boats during World War II. I earned the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for my services. When the war ended I became a politician representing the 11th congressional district of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives before becoming elected to the U.S. Senate in 1953. In 1960, at the age of 43, I became the second youngest person to be elected as President of the United States.
Susan B Anthony
I fought for social equality and women's rights in the 1800's. Together, with my lifelong friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton, we formed the New York Women's State Temperance Society (1851), the Women's Loyal National League (1863), the American Equal Rights Association (1866), and the National Woman Suffrage Association (1869). We campaigned for equal rights for women and African Americans.
In the late 1800's, Elizabeth and I continued to push the United States government for women's rights. On March 8, 1884, I testified before Congress in support of women's suffrage. In 1919, Congress voted to pass the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. I passed away in 1906 but I can rest easy knowing our work led to this important law.
Leonardo da Vinci
In 1496, I began my work on The Last Supper. The Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza asked for my help in renovating the church. The painting represents an important moment in Jesus Christ's life. It was during this meal that Jesus would tell the 12 disciples (followers) that one of them would betray him.
I wanted to try a different style for this painting. Instead of doing a traditional fresco on wet plaster, I chose to paint The Last Supper on a dry wall. This would allow me to add more detail and luminosity to the painting. Unfortunately, this technique combined with the humidity from the painting being done on a thin outside wall led to quick deterioration. I completed the painting in 1498. By 1499, you could start to see some damage.
I was born in Florence on May 12, 1820. As a young woman, I found that I had a strong desire to devote my life to the service of others. I entered into nursing in the 1840's. My family wasn't happy with my decision. You see, I was fortunate to grow up in an affluent family but the expectation was that I would become a wife and a mother. Nursing was not what women of my "status" were suppose to do.
I worked hard to educate myself in the nursing field. My love for mathematics helped me illustrate the need for improved sanitation at military hospitals. It was important to me to do what I could to help people in need and show the significance that trained nurses could have in world.
During the Crimean War, I trained and worked with other women volunteer nurses to help save the lives of thousands of soldiers. I found that the poor care that was being given to the soldiers was costing them their lives. A lack of medical supplies, poor hygiene, and bad working conditions were leading to infections that were often fatal. I pleaded to the British Government for help. This lead to new working conditions. Prefabricated hospitals were built in England and sent to the war. The result was a dramatic reduction in death rates.
My work during the Crimean War led to the nickname "The Lady with the Lamp". It came from an article in The Times (a British newspaper) that talked about how I would make my rounds each evening to check on the wounded soldiers.