Top Attractions of Chicago USA , Cloud Gate The Bean

Cloud Gate is a large public sculpture which was first unveiled at the opening of Millennium Park in 2004. It soon became one of the city's most photographed attractions, and is now one a famous symbol of Chicago.

Cloud Gate
The Cloud Gate further cemented Chicago's reputation of a city at the forefront of public art and follows in the footsteps of earlier well-known public installations such as Alexander Calder's Flamingo at Federal Center, Picasso's untitled sculpture at the City Hall and Jean Dubuffet's Monument with Standing Beast at the James R. Thompson Center.

The Name

Even before it was given an official title, Chicagoans were quick to dub the reflective steel sculpture 'the Bean' after its peculiar shape and the name stuck. The official name however is Cloud Gate as it represents a gate to the city it reflects.




 Cloud Gate

Cloud Gate was the first public sculpture of Indian-born and London-based artist Anish Kapoor. His work was selected out of two proposals that were submitted in 1999 for a showpiece sculpture in the new, modern Millennium Park, which was scheduled to open in 2000.
Kapoor designed a stainless steel construction consisting of 168 plates, each 1 cm (0.4 inch) thick and seamlessly welded together. The structure weighs 100 tons and measures 10 meters high and 20 meters wide (33 x 66 ft). People can walk through the 3.7 meter high central arch, where they can look up to the large 'dent' and see numerous distorted reflections of themselves.


When the new Millennium Park was officially inaugurated in 2004 after a four year delay, the city was eager to show the sculpture to the public, as it had spent the hefty sum of 23 million dollars on what was to become one of the highlights of the park. 


Reflection of the
Michigan Avenue Skyline
Unfortunately the assembly of the sculpture was well behind schedule and Kapoor was reluctant to unveil the unfinished artwork to the public. And not without reason; the structure was still unpolished and the seams were visible.
As expected, many Chicagoans were highly critical and dismissed the unfinished 'Bean' as a piece of metal. After the inauguration of the park, the structure was put back under wraps. Not until it was completely finished in May, 2006 became its almost magical appeal visible.

Now seamless and polished, the Cloud Gate reflects and distorts the skyline of Michigan Avenue, the sky, and the people nearby, who always seem to have the urge to touch the sculpture's silvery surface. Cloud Gate instantly became an icon of Chicago, and an attraction that every visitor to the city wants to see.


Top Attractions Of Berlin, Germany, Berlin Wall Berliner Mauer

The Berlin Wall, which separated the city in an eastern and western part, was the symbol of the Cold War. Built by the goverment of the DDR to prevent East Germans from escaping to the West, most of the Berlin Wall has been demolished since the border between East and West Berlin opened in 1989.
Berlin after the war
After the second world war, defeated Germany was divided up into 4 parts: an American, British, French and Soviet occupation zone. Berlin was also divided into 4 sectors. In 1948, the Soviet authorities tried to annex the whole city and started a blockade of the US, British and French sectors. The plans failed due to the Berlin Airlift which carried supplies to the Western sectors, and in May 1949 the blockade was lifted. That same year, the Soviet part of Germany became the German Democratic Republic (GDR) with East Berlin as its capital. The other zones became the Federal Republic of Germany with the capital Bonn. The western part of Berlin became a separate enclave surrounded by East Germany.

A 'Protection Barrier'
Until 1961, East Germans could move freely between the Western and Eastern parts of Berlin. But many East Berliner were attracted by the more prosperous West, and by 1961 up to 20,000 East Germans a month flocked to West Berlin. On August 12, 1961 the East German authorities decided to close the border around the
Western sectors of Berlin in order to prevent people from fleeing. Officially, it was an antifascist protection barrier to defend the East against Western aggression.



Berlin Wall East Side Gallery
The next day, early morning August 13, West Berlin was surrounded by barbed wire. Traffic at the border was halted and the underground and S-bahn connecting the different sides of the city were put out of operation. Houses at the eastern side of the border were evacuated and the windows on the border side were bricked up.

Over time, the barbed wire was replaced by a 3.6m high wall. Along the Wall's east side ran a 'death zone',
an area controlled by guards. A total of 302 watchtowers and 20 bunkers were built along the 155km long border. The guards were given the order to shoot at escapees. As a result 192 people were killed in an attempt to cross the border to the West.

Fall of the Wall
After Soviet President Gorbatchev visited West Germany in 1989, Hungary opened its border with Austria. This allowed East Germans to flock to the West. Meanwhile, street protests drawing more and more people put pressure on the GDR government. 
Memorial Berlin Wall
Finally on November 9, 1989, travel restrictions were lifted. Shortly after, border gates opened and people flooded into West Berlin.

Remnants of the Wall
Most of the wall has been dismantled since, but some parts still stand. The most famous one is the 1316m long East Side Gallery. It is located along Mühlenstrasse between Warschauer Strasse and the Ostbahnhof and contains 106 paintings.

The official Berlin Wall Memorial Site can be found at Bernauer Strasse - the site of many escapes from East to West Berlin and also the place where the official destruction of the Wall started. Here you can overlook an intact section of the wall, complete with security zone and watchtower from an observation deck opposite the street.

Other, smaller sections can be found around Potsdamer Platz, the Reichstag, Invaliedenfriedhof, Bornholmer Strasse, Nieder-kirchner Strasse and Zimmerstrasse near Checkpoint Charlie.


Top Attractions Of Berlin Holocaust Memorial (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas)

In May 2005, on the 60th anniversary of the fall of the Nazi regime and the end of World War II, the city of Berlin dedicated their Holocaust Memorial, designed to commemorate the murder of six million Jews at the hands of Hitler and his forces.
The Design
The idea for a Holocaust Memorial was first proposed in 1988 but the design for the monument wasn't approved until 1999. At that time, U.S. architect Peter Eisenman's controversial design was chosen as a fitting tribute to the Jews that died before and during World War II as part of Hitler's plan to exterminate them.

Eisenman's design is quite unique and has drawn both praise and criticism. Occupying about 205,000 square feet (19,000 square meters) of space near the Brandenburg Gate and just a short distance from where the ruins of Hitler's bunker is buried, the Berlin Holocaust Memorial
is made up of 2,711 gray stone slabs that bear no markings, such as names or dates.

The slabs undulate in a wave-like pattern. Each is a five-sided monolith, individually unique in shape and size. Some are only ankle high while others tower over visitors. The paths that are shaped between the slabs undulate as well. Eisenman hoped to create a feeling of groundlessness and instability; a sense of disorientation. Most will agree that he succeeded.


Visitors may walk through the memorial in any direction as there is no set pattern to the stones. The architect has said that he hopes it will merely become a natural part of the city, blending in with its background; used for shortcuts on the way home from work or a place of peace and quiet on a
chaotic day.

Visiting the Holocaust Memorial
The Holocaust Memorial, officially named the Monument to the Murdered Jews in Europe, can be visited at anytime - night or day. A subterranean Information Center, located at the base of the memorial, offers stories of families and individuals who faced the wrath of the Nazi party and provides further information about the design and construction of the memorial. The Information Center is open from 10 am until 8 pm.


Top Attraction Of China The Great Wall Of China



According to legend, the Great Wall was built by the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, Qin Shi Huang (Reigned 221-210 BC), though historical records trace the true origin of the wall to defensive fortifications built in the fifth century BC From the statement "Square walls surround the Kingdom of Chu," we can trace walls with a total length of 500 kilometers in what is now Henan Province dating back to the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-256 BC). In addition to Chu, the kingdoms of Qin, Qi, Wei, Zhao, Han and Yan all had their own separate defensive walls spread about through the Yellow and Yangtze River basins, running in different directions and beginning and ending abruptly. The walls of this period bear little relationship to the wall of today with its predominantly east-west configuration.

In 221 BC, the armies of Qin conquered the abovementioned six kingdoms and unified China. Qin Shi Huang ordered the demolition of the walls separating these kingdoms and rebuilt a new "Great Wall," based on the walls protecting the northern frontiers of Yan, Zhao and Qin. According to the Records of the Historian (shiji), written approximately 100 BC, "General Meng Tian mobilized 300,000 laborers and built a great wall which followed the contour of the land, taking advantage of natural defenses." This wall extended more than 6,000 kilometers from Lintiao (in Gansu Province) to Liaodong. Thus the general plan of today's Great Wall was laid down during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC).

During the Han Dynasty (206 BC- AD 220) Which followed the Qin, in addition to making improvements in the Qin wall, the Han emperors constructed a separate outer wall north of the Yinshan Range with a total length of 10,000 kilometers. This was the longest single wall built in ancient China. After the fall of the Han Dynasty, the wall gradually decayed into ruins. In 1368, the founding year of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Taizu commanded his general Xu Da to direct the reconstruction of the Great Wall. Beginning at the Juyong Pass, the work went on for more than 100 years. Based on the general dimensions of the Qin Wall, the Ming wall stretched from its westernmost point at the Jiayu Pass more than 6,000 kilometers east to the Yalu River. The section, which lies between the Jiayu and Shanhai, passes remains in good condition today and is known throughout the world as the Great Wall of China.





Setting out from Beijing, the most popular destination for visiting the Great Wall is Badaling. Both trains and buses go to the northwest of the city proper in a deep mountain-flanked gully 15 kilometers long. In summer, the peaks here are covered with brilliant stretches of leaves and luxuriant flowers. As early as the 13th century, the area was known for its beauty, and was listed as one of the"Eight Great Sights of Yanjing." The name "Juyong" first appeared in the huainanzi, a philosophical work from the second century BC, in the following annotation: "The Juyong Pass is one of the nine great passes in the country."

To the west of the Juyong Pass is a white marble structure called the Cloud Platform (Yuntai), which was built in 1345 to serve as the foundation for a set of three stone pagodas built at the command of Emperor Huizong, the last ruler of the Yuan Dynasty. At this time, the structure was known as the Pagoda Bridge (Guojieta). After the pagodas were destroyed some time around the fall of the Yuan Dynasty (1368), the Great Peace Temple (Tai' ansi) was built to replace them. But the temple was burned down in 1702 during the reign of Emperor kangxi.

The Cloud Platform is pierced by a hexagonal arched gateway. Both the ceiling and facades are covered with Buddhist carvings, including depictions of the Four Heavenly Kings in relief executed with great detail and expressiveness. Texts of Dharani sutras and an inscription entitled "A Record of Charitable and Pious Pagoda Building" carved in six languages -- Lantsha (Nepalese Sanskirt), Tibetan, Phagspa Mongolian, Uygur, Western Xia and Han -- are valuable for the study of philology. The inner roof of the arch is covered with mandala patterns and Buddha images surrounded by flowers, all fine examples of Yuan Dynasty craftsmanship.

The Juyong Pass area contains many relics associated with popular legends. One of these relics, dating back to the Northern Song Dynasty, is the Five Heroes Temple, which commemorates the ostensible digging of the gully by five men of unusual strength. The fanciful name of the Playing the Zither Gorge (Tanqinxia) is derived from the clear and melodious sounds of the river flowing through it. 


Continuing on from the Juyong Pass, one will arrive at Badaling, the highest point along the entire length of the Great Wall. Between Badaling and Juyong Pass, two Chinese characters Tianxian (Natural Barrier) are carved into a steep and imposing cliff. During the Ming Dynasty, two fortifications were built in this area, the Northern Gate Pass on west and the Juyong Garrison on the east. By climbing up through the pass and looking westward, one will be able to see a chain of mountains stretching away to the horizon with a single defile leading through them. To the north of the ridges near the wall is the platform for Viewing the Capital (Wangjingtai) and on clear days the White Dagoba in Beijing Park can be seen from here. By climbing over another slope and following a flight of stone steps up to the highest point of the southern section of the wall, one can see the dragon-like Great Wall making its way over the mountains.

Strategic platforms were built every 300 to 500 meters along the wall. These platforms served a variety of purposes: for posting patrols and sentries; to serve as observation posts; and as battle platforms for offensive actions and weapon storage. Here there are also reinforcing walls built alongside the wall proper and beacon towers for transmitting military information.

The Badaling section of the Great Wall most frequented by visitors dates from the Ming Dynasty, Constructed of large blocks of granite and bricks, the wall at this point is 6.6 meters high and 6.5 meters wide at its base, narrowing to 5.5 meters on the rampart. It is wide enough to permit five or six horses to stand abreast.

In recent years, the Chinese government has carried out restoration work on the sections of the wall which have collapsed or been eroded by wind and sand. Despite this, the great increase in tourists at the Great Wall in recent years has led experts to suggest the opening of a "second Badaling" to accommodate the great number of visitors. The "second Badaling" is located to the northeast of Beijing proper and can be reached by bus in approximately two hours. Built on the Great and lesser Gold mountains (Jinshan), this section is also called the Gold Mountain Great Wall. According to historical records, the construction of this part of the wall was begun in 1571, and is part of the 1,000-kilometer-long section of the wall between the Shanhai Pass in the east and Changping County in the west, which was the result of cooperation between two famous Ming generals, Qi Jiguang and Tan Lun. In terms of construction it is in no way inferior to the wall at Badaling.

The Great Wall at the Gold Mountain is seven meters high, six meters wide, and built of rectangular slabs of stone. The brick-paved walkway along the top of the wall is four meters wide and the crenellated openings two meters wide. In the merlons (the solid intervals between the crenels) there are small holes for observation and shooting arrows. There are also special openings between the crenels to insert flags for display or signal transmission.

The 158 battle platforms in the Gold Mountain section of the Great Wall were designed in a great variety of shapes-square, circular, oval and multi-cornered. Their interiors are constructed of wood or brick and their roofs are flat, domed or barrel-vaulted. There are also variations in the shape of the archways, which give access to the battle platforms.

To the north of Tiger Mountain is a huge solitary piece of rock, which has in it an indentation one meter in diameter and 20 cm deep called the Spring of Heaven. The water from this spring flows continuously in both the rainy and fry seasons. Near the spring is a defense tower called the Five Eyes Tower. Unique in design, the body of the tower is made of rectangular stone blocks and the roof of polished bricks. Inside there are two large barrel-vaulted ceilings, three corridors, 10 arched openings and a central octagonal dome supported by four brick columns arranged in a square. The stone columns are decorated with relief carvings of flowers, which add a touch of elegance to this otherwise austere building. Standing atop this tower, one can see the Great Wall winding its way along the contours of the mountains. From this vantage point, the wall appears like a ribbon of jade linking the Wuling Mountain (the highest peak of the Yanshan Range) with the Sleeping Tiger Range near Gubeikou.

Leaving the Five Eyes Tower and proceeding along the wall, one comes to the Tower for Viewing the Capital (Wangjinglou), which sits at a strategic point in Tiger Mouth Peak. The tower commands a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. Off to the southwest, the mirror-like surface of Miyun Reservoir appears, the outline of Beijing can be seen in the early morning and the city lights become visible at night. 


The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall was opened to tourists on May 1, 1986. Located 73 kilometers from Beijing proper, it joins the Juyong Pass in the west and Gubeikou in the east. A new 4,000-meter-long pathway has been constructed from the road. It can also be reached by cable car.

This well-preserved section was built about 1,400 years ago and reconstructed later during the Ming Dynasty. History of Ming Military Affairs explains why it was rebuilt.

When Emperor Yongle returned north and reestablished Beijing as the capital, he was exposed to attack on three sides. Harassment increased after the reign of Emperor Zhengtong, so work was begun to strengthen and lengthen the wall at Yalu River in the east.

The strategic importance of Mutianyu was obvious, as many battles took place there. It is said that during the Three Kingdoms period when Cao Cao exterminated Yuan Shao's regime, his army advanced through Mutianyu. In the mid-Ming years, the noted General Qi Jiguang was transferred from the south. As Military Superintendent of Jizhen, he built observation towers and provided storage areas for military weapons.

The highest observation tower in the Mutianyu section is 540 meters above sea level. Crenels and shooting holes are part of the solid construction. To the east, the Great Wall continues across the mountain ridges, to the west, it enters a point of strategic importance at a peak 1,044 meters above sea level.


Top Attractions Of Rome The Colosseum

The Colosseum is probably the most impressive building of the Roman Empire. Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, it was the largest building of the era.

The monumental structure has fallen into ruin, but even today it is an imposing and beautiful sight.

the Colosseum in Rome
The Colosseum

The Flavian Amphitheater

Emperor Vespasian, founder of the Flavian Dynasty, started construction of the Colosseum in 72 AD. It was completed in 80 AD, the year after Vespasian's death.
The huge amphitheater was built on the site of an artificial lake, part of Nero's huge park in the center of Rome which also included the Golden House (Domus Aurea) and the nearby Colossus statue. This giant statue of Nero gave the building its current name.

The Building

Scale model of the Colosseum in the Museo della Civilta Romana
The Colosseum in Imperial Rome

Underground passageways of the Colosseum
The elliptical building is immense, measuring 188m by 156m and reaching a height of more than 48 meters (159 ft). The magnificent structure was clad in marble and 160 larger-than-life statues graced the arches on the upper floors.

The Colosseum could accommodate some 55,000 spectators who entered the building through no less than 80 entrances. Above the ground are four stories, the upper story contained seating for lower classes and women. 

Colosseum in Rome
Colosseum in Rome
The Colosseum today

Colosseum seen from Colle Oppio
Colosseum seen from Colle Oppio

The lowest story was preserved for prominent citizens. Below the ground were rooms with mechanical devices and cages containing wild animals. The cages could be hoisted, enabling the animals to appear in the middle of the arena.


The Colosseum was covered with an enormous awning known as the velarium. This protected the spectators from the sun. It was attached to large poles on top of the Colosseum and anchored to the ground by large ropes. A team of some 1,000 men was used to install the awning.

Bread and circuses

Emperors used the Colosseum to entertain the public with free games. Those games were a symbol of prestige and power and they were a way for an emperor to increase his popularity.

Inside the Colosseum in Rome
Inside the Colosseum
Games were held for a whole day or even several days in a row. They usually started with comical acts and displays of exotic animals and ended with fights to the death between animals and gladiators or between gladiators. These fighters were usually slaves, prisoners of war or condemned criminals. Sometimes free Romans and even emperors took part in the action.

The Colosseum at night

Colosseum at night

Colosseum at night
Night view of
the Colosseum


Hundred-day games were held by Titus, Vespasian's successor, to mark the inauguration of the building in 80 AD. In the process, some 9,000 wild animals were slaughtered.

The Ruins

The southern side of the Colosseum was felled by an earthquake in 847. Parts of the building - including the marble cladding - were later used for the construction of other landmark buildings such as the St. Peter's Basilica and Palazzo Farnese.


Top attractions of New York Empire State Building

More than any other building in the world, the Empire State Building represents the ambition of humans to build towers that reach for the skies. The skyscraper is probably New York's best known building and can be seen on many postcards.
Empire State Building, New York City
Empire State Building

Empire State Building at dusk
Empire State Building at dusk

Spire of the Empire State Building
The spire

Empire State Building
Looking up

Empire State Building at night
The spire at night
The Empire State Building also features in many films, most notably the classic film 'King Kong' from 1933. Even today, though the building has been stripped from its title of the world's tallest building, it is a symbol of New York itself, visited by more than three million people each year.

8th World Wonder

At the time when it was built in the early 1930s on Fifth Avenue, the Empire State Building broke all records and was dubbed 'the 8th world wonder'.
The building had 64 elevators (now 73) and was constructed in only 1 year and 45 days. The skyscraper towered over the neighborhood with its height of 381 meters (1250 ft). As the Empire State Building was one of the last skyscrapers built before the Great Depression hit the real estate market, it wouldn't be topped until 1972, when the twin World Trade Towers dethroned the Empire State Building as the world's tallest building.


The Empire State Building is built on a full city block. Much of it was occupied by the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, which opened in November 1897 as the city's largest hotel with 1050 rooms. It was one the most prestigious in New York and attracted an upper-class clientele. At the end of the 1920s however, the grand and plush design of the hotel had gone out of style and Waldorf-Astoria decided to build a new, larger hotel uptown.

After the site was cleared, construction started on March 17, 1930. Thanks to an efficient design and standardized work - similar to an assembly line - the building would rise at an average of about four and a half floors a week, faster than any other skyscraper at the time. The building was officially inaugurated on May 1, 1931 in the presence of governor Franklin D. Roosevelt.


The Empire State Building was designed by William Frederick Lamb of the architectural firm of Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon. Lamb, influenced by Raymond Hood's Daily News building, came up with a fairly simple design, defined by requirements such as the budget, time limit and New York City's 1916 zoning law. The building would have a classical composition of a 5 story base, a large tower with setbacks (required by the city's zoning law) and a monumental spire. The limestone facade had little or no ornamentation.
What makes the design so great is that for all its simplicity and sheer bulk it has a perfect composition and massing, giving the building a certain grandeur.


The building is topped by an enormous spire. It was designed as a mooring mast and would enable dirigibles such as zeppelins to anchor at the top of the building so that passengers could embark or disembark. This proved to be very unpractical however due to the instability of zeppelins and after the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 the idea was shelved.

Great Depression

The Empire State Building was one of the last skyscrapers completed in New York before the Great Depression hit the real estate market. Demolition of the existing building at the site started just weeks before the stock market crash of 1929. After 1933 - when Rockefeller Center was constructed - no tall skyscraper would be built in the city for almost two decades.
As a consequence the Empire State Building held its title of the world's tallest building for more than 40 years. But the Great Depression also caused a collapse in the demand for office space. The owners had such a difficult time leasing office space that the building became known as the 'Empty State Building'. It would take until the end of the 1940s before the real estate market fully recovered and in the early 1950s the Empire State Building even became the most profitable building in New York City.


View from the Empire State Building
View from the observatory
You can visit the Empire State Building's observation deck on the 86th floor from where you have a magnificent view over the city of New York.

The Empire State Building is situated south of Midtown, away from the skyscraper clusters in midtown and in the financial district downtown, so this is one of the few places in Manhattan where you have an open 360 degree view.

If you're looking for the best view of the Empire State Building itself, you better go to Rockefeller Center's observatory.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...