Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park
Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park: My 95th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park:

In 1932 Waterton Lakes National Park (Alberta, Canada) was combined with the Glacier National Park (Montana, United States) to form the world’s first International Peace Park. Situated on the border between the two countries and offering outstanding scenery, the park is exceptionally rich in plant and mammal species as well as prairie, forest, and alpine and glacial features.

Glacier might be my favorite national park in the US. The views are breathtaking and mountains are magnificent.


Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

The Glacier/Waterton International Peace Park is a transnational property listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its natural value in 1995. The park is attributed to both the United States and Canada, specifically the state of Montana in the US and Alberta in Canada.

The Waterton/Glacier International Peace Park was established to unify two separate parks: Waterton Lakes National Park (Canada) and Glacier National Park (US). Both of these parks were previously designated by UNESCO as Biosphere Reserves but they were unified as one property by UNESCO in its World Heritage Site list.

Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

This national park consists one half of the Waterton/Glacier International Peace Park property listed by UNESCO. It is located in southwest of Alberta, Canada and shares border with the Glacier National Park in Montana. Established in 1895, this is the fourth national park in Canada and named after the lake within the park’s premises: Waterton Lake. The park consists of over 500 square kilometers of rugged mountains and wilderness.

The Waterton Lakes National Park is open all year round and is managed by Parks Canada. With more than 400,000 visitors per year, there are hiking and lake trails within the park. There are also several wildlife that inhabit the park including mule deer, wolverines, river otters, bobcats, grizzly bears, black bears, moose, foxes, elks and many more.

Glacier National Park

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

The Glacier National Park is dubbed as the Crown of the Continent, which forms half of the UNESCO site Waterton/Glacier International Peace Park. It is located in the state of Montana and along the US-Canada border. The park measures over 1 million acres in land area and encompasses two mountain ranges including some parts of the Rocky Mountains. It also consists of more than 130 lakes (most of them unnamed) and several species of plants and animals.

The site of the current location of the Glacier National Park was once home to the Native Americans. Meanwhile, the mountains that are located within the Glacier National Park formed for more than 170 million years. When it was recognized as one unit with Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park as a UNESCO site, it was the first international peace park established in the world.

How to Get Here

Glacier/Waterton International Peace Park

If you want to visit the Waterton/Glacier International Peace Park, you have two options: to travel via Montana or Alberta in Canada.

To access the Waterton Lakes National Park, you can drive via Highway 2 South from Calgary or via Highway 5 from Lethbridge. There is no bus service that can take you to park. But you can book a cab in advance to take you from the nearest station to the park.

Getting to the Glacier National Park is easier than most people think. If you are traveling from an international destination, you must fly into the Glacier Park International Airport. You can then take the Amtrak Empire Builder to the park. If you prefer a roadtrip, it takes 10 hours to get to the park from Seattle or 4 hours from Spokane.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 8:50 pm

UNESCO World Heritage Site #94: Yellowstone National Park

UNESCO World Heritage Site #94: Yellowstone National Park
UNESCO World Heritage Site #94: Yellowstone National Park

From the World Heritage inscription:

The vast natural forest of Yellowstone National Park covers nearly 9,000 km2; 96% of the park lies in Wyoming, 3% in Montana and 1% in Idaho. Yellowstone contains half of all the world’s known geothermal features, with more than 10,000 examples. It also has the world’s largest concentration of geysers (more than 300 geyers, or two thirds of all those on the planet). Established in 1872, Yellowstone is equally known for its wildlife, such as grizzly bears, wolves, bison and wapitis.

Not only is Yellowstone the first national park in the world, but it is also one of the best. You’d be hard pressed to make a top 10 list of attractions in the natural world and not put Yellowstone on the list. Between the geology and the wildlife, Yellowstone has it all.

Statue of Liberty

UNESCO World Heritage Site #93: Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty: My 93rd UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Statue of Liberty for the Statue of Liberty:

The Statue of Liberty, a hollow colossus composed of thinly pounded copper sheets over a steel framework, stands on an island at the entrance to New York Harbor. It was designed by sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi in collaboration with engineer Gustave Eiffel and was a gift from France on the centenary of American independence in 1876. Its design and construction were recognized at the time as one of the greatest technical achievements of the 19th century and hailed as a bridge between art and engineering. Atop its pedestal (designed by American architect Richard Morris Hunt), the Statue has welcomed millions of immigrants to the United States since it was dedicated in 1886.

The Statue is a masterpiece of colossal statuary, which found renewed expression in the 19th century, after the tradition of those of antiquity, but with intimations of Art Nouveau. Drawing on classical elements and iconography, it expressed modern aspirations. The interior iron framework is a formidable and intricate piece of construction, a harbinger of the future in engineering, architecture, and art, including the extensive use of concrete in the base, the flexible curtain-wall type of construction that supports the skin, and the use of electricity to light the torch. Édouard René de Laboulaye collaborated with Bartholdi for the concept of the Statue to embody international friendship, peace, and progress, and specifically the historical alliance between France and the United States. Its financing by international subscription was also significant. Highly potent symbolic elements of the design include the United States Declaration of Independence, which the Statue holds in her left hand, as well as the broken shackles from which she steps.

The Statue of Liberty is one of the few cultural World Heritages sites in North America that is from the post-colonial era. There is a smaller replica of the statue in Paris, which is also in a World Heritage site.


Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is not only the most iconic landmarks in the US, but it has also become one of the country’s most important symbols of freedom and independence. This is a colossal neoclassical sculpture that towers above the Liberty Island in New York Harbor. This copper statue is actually a gift from France to the United States in 1886. The sculpture’s design was a work of French artist Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. It was built by Gustave Eiffel, the same one responsible for the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The Statue of Liberty was modeled after a Roman goddess Libertas, which is a robed female figure. The same figure holds a torch above her head. Meanwhile, her other hand carries a tablet with inscriptions of the date of the US independence. At her feet lies a box of chains.

History of the Statue of Liberty

It was in the year 1865 when Frenchman Eduoard de Laboulaye proposed the idea of giving a monument to the United States. This idea took 10 years to come into fruition when sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was commissioned to create a sculpted monument. He was given the year 1876 as a completion date for this project, which was in time for the centennial celebration of the American Declaration of Independence. This project was a joint effort between France and the USA. The statue was given the name “Liberty Enlightening the World”.

Based on the agreement, the Americans were responsible for building the pedestal for this monument. Meanwhile, the French people were to build the sculpture monument. The assembly will then be done in the United States.

There were a few hiccups towards the completion of this project, though. On the French side, they were struggling to raise the funds needed to complete the monument. Meanwhile, the US side got sufficient amount of monetary assistance for the project coming from art exhibitions, prizefights and more. In fact, the poem “The New Colossus” was written by poet Emma Lazarus in 1883 in order to raise funds for the statue’s pedestal.

In France, Bartholdi commissioned Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, an engineer, to help him deal with the structural issues of his sculpture design. The use of a massive iron pylon and skeletal framework were needed for the copper skin to stand upright. As for the pedestal, it was designed by Architect Richard Morris Hunt.

Preservation Efforts

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is not just a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is also recognized as a New York City landmark and is listed in the New Jersey Register of Historic Places. According to the UNESCO listing, it is considered culturally valuable as it depicts the “masterpiece of the human spirit”. It is also a potent symbol of liberty, peace and human rights.

Hence, the conservation efforts are strong to preserve the State of Liberty for future generations. In 1982, President Ronald Raegan appointed a private sector that is dedicated for solely restoring the Statue of Liberty. Together with the National Park Service and the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, they worked to raise $87 million for the restoration of this symbolic monument. To this day, this remains as one of the largest private and public partnership America has ever seen.

A team of engineers, architects and conservators worked together to help ensure that the Statue of Liberty will remain intact for the next century. Some of the holes on the copper skin were repaired while reinforcing the internal iron structure. The rusting iron bars were also replaced with new ones. Meanwhile, the torch was replaced with an exact replica of the original torch created by Bartholdi after the latter was severely damaged.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 8:50 pm

Westminster Abby and St. Margaret’s Church

UNESCO World Heritage Site #92: Westminster Abby and St. Margaret’s Church
Westminster Abby and St. Margaret’s Church: My 92nd UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Westminster Abby and St. Margaret’s Church:

The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret’s Church lie next to the River Thames in the heart of London. With their intricate silhouettes, they have symbolized monarchy, religion, and power since Edward the Confessor built his palace and church on Thorney Island in the 11th century AD. Changing through the centuries together, they represent the journey from a feudal society to a modern democracy and show the intertwined history of the church, monarchy, and state.

The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret’s Church continue in their original functions and play a pivotal role in society and government, with the Abbey being the place where monarchs are crowned, married and buried. It is also a focus for national memorials of those who have served their country, whether prominent individuals or representatives, such as the tomb of the Unknown Warrior. The Abbey, a place of worship for over 1000 years, maintains the daily cycle of worship as well as being the church where major national celebrations and cultural events are held. The Palace of Westminster continues to be the seat of Parliament.

Westminster School can trace its origins back to 1178 and were re-founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1560. It is located around Little Dean’s Yard.
The iconic silhouette of the ensemble is an intrinsic part of its identity, which is recognized internationally with the sound of “Big Ben” being broadcast regularly around the world.

The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret’s Church together encapsulate the history of one of the most ancient parliamentary monarchies of present times and the growth of parliamentary and constitutional institutions.

In tangible form, Westminster Abbey is a striking example of the successive phases of English Gothic art and architecture and the inspiration for the work of Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin on the Palace of Westminster.

Westminster is London. When you think of London you think of Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster Abby. In addition to the abbey you can also enter parliament, which is something I did back in 1999 when I visited London. If I had to list one thing everyone should do if they only have a brief layover in London, it is to visit Westminster.


Westminster Abby and St. Margaret’s Church

The Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret’s Church is recognized as one unit in the listing of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK. This cultural site was designated as a UNESCO property in 1987. The Church of St. Margaret is located within the same grounds as the Westminster Abbey in Parliament Square of London. This is an Anglican Parish Church that was built in dedication to Margaret of Antioch.

Meanwhile, the Westminster Abbey is a Gothic abbey church located within the city of Westminster. The Westminster Abbey is located west of the Palace of Westminster. It is not just a notable religious building in London but also the site of coronation and burial site for the English and British monarchs.

About Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey, which is known formally as Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster, is a large gothic church in London. Sometime in the 16th century, the abbey was considered a cathedral. But from 1560 moving forward, it is not considered an abbey or cathedral but as a Church of England “Royal Peculiar”. This type of church is therefore directly responsible to the sovereign.

The church was founded in the 10th century but the construction of the current building was started in 1245, as initiated by Henry III. The king chose the site for his burial. The abbot and monks became a powerful force during the period of the Norman Conquest due to its proximity to the Palace of Westminster (that was the seat of government). Despite of that, there were no royal connections extended to the abbot and monks that run this church.

It was also during this same period wherein the Westminster Abbey started its tradition as a famous coronation site. In fact, many Norman kings had this as their coronation site. But no other king was buried here until Henry III did.

Work on the church continued since it was started in 1254 until mid-16th century. It was architect Henry Yevele who did most of the work on the church during the reign of Richard II. By the 18th century, the Western towers were added to the abbey. Aside from coronation of kings, there were also several royal weddings that were held at the Westminster Abbey with Prince William and Kate Middleton being the latest.

About St. Margaret’s Church

Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret’s Church is one UNESCO property consisting of two important structures to the history of England. The second one is St. Margaret’s Church. It was founded by Benedictine monks in the 12th century. This allowed the local people to have a place of worship, particularly those who did not have access to the Abbey.

In 1614, it was considered as the parish church of the Palace of Westminster when they considered the Abbey as a highly liturgical church. Hence, parliamentary services were held in the St. Margaret’s Church instead of the Westminster Abbey. Just like the latter, this church also held many royal weddings including that of Winston Churchill and Clementine Hozier. There were also weddings held here from that of British royal family’s extended members.

Palace of Westminster

Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret’s Church

This is the final component of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Westminster area. This is where two houses of the UK’s Parliament hold their meetings in: House of Commons and House of Lords. It is also known by the name Houses of Parliament and lies in the northern bank of the River Thames.

The name of this building was derived from the Westminster Abbey. It is owned by the British monarchs and is still considered as a royal residence even though it is currently used mostly for ceremonial purposes. It served as the first royal palace in the UK since it was built in the 11th century. Hence, it served as the primary residence of the Kings of England until a fire in 1512 that nearly destroyed the entire complex.

In an effort to rebuild the Palace of Westminster, a design competition was held that architect Charles Barry won. Therefore, he is credited for the Gothic Revival style of the new building.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 9:48 pm

Las Vegas/Blog World Recap

Street artist on Venice Beach
Street artist on Venice Beach
I’m finally out of Vegas and have arrived in Newport Beach, CA. I’m staying at the Newport Beach Fairmont, courtesy of Fairmont Hotels. After a week at Circus Circus, staying here is like Jed Clampet moving from a shack in Kentucky to a Beverly Hills Mansion.

Sunday I drove Rob of Bloggeries.com to Los Angles from Vegas. He is starting his own trip around the world and is leaving tonight to Thailand on a one way ticket. We hung out on Venice Beach and watched all manner of people out doing their thing. It was nice to see someone else setting out on their own adventure.

Saturday night I was invited to see the Cirque du Soleli show, Mystere, at Treasure Island with Pam Mandel of Nerds Eye View. I’ve seen several Cirque shows before. I saw Love when I was in Vegas at the start of my trip, I saw La Nuba in Orlando, and I saw Dralion when it came to town in Minneapolis. Even though Mystere is one of the oldest Cirque shows in Vegas, it didn’t disappoint. My comment to Pam was that Cirque should be a new Olympic sport.

Thai dinner with Jim Bennett, Jen Leo, Jessica Speigel, Trisha Miller and myself
Thai dinner with Jim Bennett, Jen Leo, Jessica Speigel, Trisha Miller and myself
I’d also like to mention that I got to meet Drew Bennett of BenSpark.com. (Drew also posts a daily photo and has been doing it longer than I have) He was sitting in a session that I was at and asked a question. I introduced myself to him and we started talking about photography. He pulled out a point and shoot camera to take a photo of us and I made the comment that I seldom get to take photos of myself when I travel. (which many other people have commented on as well) Without skipping a beat, he went into his bag and pulled out an xShot 2.0, which is an extending metal rod where you can attach your camera at one end. So I really want to thank him for that.

The big question for those of you with blogs who are reading this, is was it worth going to Blog World Expo? The short answer is: Not really. I have no regrets going, but I don’t know if I’ll be coming back. Blog World seemed mostly designed for new bloggers. None of the panels were particularly enlightening. I’d get more business information by attending Affiliate Summit and you meet more and better people in the travel industry by attending Travel Blog Exchange (the 2010 conference is happening in New York June 26-27).

You can take some OK images with an iPhone
You can take some OK images with an iPhone
I did meet some interesting people that had nothing to do with travel, but they were few and far between. There were a lot of “social media consultants” (I have no idea what the hell that is) and other marketing types that just sort of provided chaff for the conference. The reality is, the only real reason to attend conferences is to meet with people in person. Given my niche of travel blogging, there aren’t many people who really care to talk to me. The entire weekend I hung out with the same group of travel bloggers.

To anyone who noticed the giant hole in the crotch of my jeans this weekend, I apologize. That is one of the hazards of living out of a bag with not much clothes in reserve. I’m buying a new pair today.

Kew Gardens

World Heritage Site #91: Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens: My 91st UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Kew Gardens:

Set amongst a series of parks and estates along the River Thames’ south-western reaches, this historic landscape garden includes work by internationally renowned landscape architects Bridgeman, Kent, Chambers, Capability Brown and Nesfield illustrating significant periods in garden design from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The gardens house extensive botanic collections (conserved plants, living plants, and documents) that have been considerably enriched through the centuries. Since their creation in 1759, the gardens have made a significant and uninterrupted contribution to the study of plant diversity, plant systematics, and economic botany.

The landscape design of Kew Botanic Gardens, their buildings, and plant collections combine to form a unique testimony to developments in garden art and botanical science that were subsequently diffused around the world. The 18th century English landscape garden concept was adopted in Europe and Kew’s influence in horticulture, plant classification and economic botany spread internationally from the time of Joseph Banks’ directorship in the 1770s. As the focus of a growing level of botanic activity, the mid 19th-century garden, which overlays earlier royal landscape gardens is centered on two large iron framed glasshouses – the Palm House and the Temperate House that became models for conservatories around the world. Elements of the 18th and 19th century layers including the Orangery, Queen Charlotte’s Cottage; the folly temples; Rhododendron Dell, boundary ha-ha; garden vistas to William Chambers’ pagoda and Syon Park House; iron framed glasshouses; ornamental lakes and ponds; herbarium and plant collections convey the history of the Gardens’ development from royal retreat and pleasure garden to national botanical and horticultural garden before becoming a modern institution of conservation ecology in the 20th century.

The Kew Gardens are one of the most underrated attractions in London. I went there on Sunday morning and had a wonderful time. Most of the visitors seemed to be locals, as opposed to the mobs of foreigners you see at the Tower of London or Westminster Abby. It took me a while to get there because of construction with the Underground, but if everything is working the trip shouldn’t be too onerous.


Kew Gardens

The Kew Gardens is a botanical garden located in Southwest London, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inscribed in 2003, this garden is considered as the largest and most diverse collection of botanical species in the world. The garden was founded in 1840 and currently features over 30,000 different species of plants. The herbarium, which is also part of the garden, is the largest of its kind in the world. There are over 7 million plant specimens that had been preserved on-site.

Aside from being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Kew Gardens is also one of the major tourist attractions in London and in the UK. It is currently managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which is an important botanical research and educational institution that is internationally acclaimed. The Kew Gardens have over 1.35 million tourist visitors per year.

Before You Go

Kew Gardens

Before you visit the Kew Gardens, here are a few things you need to know:

  • The admission rate for adults is 15.50 pounds (every ticket includes a voluntary donation) or 14 pounds. Meanwhile, children that are aged 4 to 16 must pay an admission fee of 2.50 pounds. Finally, children below the age 4 are free to enter the gardens.
  • The garden is open daily starting at 10 AM. It closes at 6:30 PM from Mondays to Thursdays. From Fridays to weekends, the closing time is extended until 8:30 PM.
  • If you are visiting the garden via bike, you can leave your bike at the gate. There are designated bike racks for you to use.
  • The use of public transport is encouraged for those who want to visit the Kew Gardens. There is limited parking space available on-site.

Top Features of Kew Gardens

In order to make the most of your time exploring the Kew Gardens in London, you need to try these features and attractions on the site:

Treetop Walkway

In 2008, a new treetop walkway was opened in the Kew Gardens. The entire walkway measures 18 meters in height and 200 meters in length. This is a great spot for visitors to enjoy a canopy view of the woodland glade. The floor to the walkway consists of perforated material, which flexes as you step on it while the entire structure can also be swayed by wind. There are two ways to climb the walkway: by stairs or lift.

Palm House

Kew Gardens

The Palm House is one of the most distinctive features in the Kew Gardens. It was built in 1844 and was completed 4 years later. This continues upon the glass house design principles that were innovated by John Claudius Loudon and Joseph Paxton. The structure is made of wrought iron arches as its frame while these are held together by horizontal tubular structures. The central nave of the Palm House measures 19 meters in height with a walkway of up to 9 meters in height.

Great Board Walk Borders

This is one of the latest features of the Kew Gardens to open. The Great Board Walk Borders measure 320 meters on each side of the board walk path. It currently holds the recognition as the longest double herbaceous border in the UK.

Sackler Crossing

This bridge, which opened in 2006, is made of granite and bronze. It was co-designed by John Pawson and Buro Happold. The bridge features a minimalist style and is designed to be like a sweeping double curve made with black granite. There are also posts on each side of the bridge that are made out of bronze. From afar, these posts look like one solid wall, but when you approach the bridge, they are actually individual entities.

Alpine House

The Davies Alpine House opened in 2006 and is the third version of the original alpine house that opened in 1887. The entire structure measures at a height of 16 meters but the apex of the roof rises up to 10 meters more. This was specifically chosen to facilitate in the natural airflow of the building such as to allow proper ventilation needed by the plants that are housed within this structure. The newly revamped Alpine House features automated blinds that prevent overheating during the summer time.

Nash Observatory

This observatory was originally built for the Buckingham Palace. But in 1836, it was transferred to its current location in Kew Gardens. This building is famously used for weddings, private events and other exhibitions.


Kew Palace

The Palace of Kew, or Kew Palace, is the smallest out of all the royal palaces in Britain. In 1631, this palace was built by a Dutch merchant named Samuel Fortrey. The construction method used for this palace is known as Flemish bond. Hence, this building along with its gabled front has a Dutch architecture feel to it.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 9:45 pm

Tower of London

UNESCO World Heritage Site #90: Tower of London
Tower of London: My 90th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Tower of London:

The Tower of London is an internationally famous monument and one of England’s most iconic structures. William the Conqueror built the White Tower in 1066 as a demonstration of Norman power, sitting it strategically on the River Thames to act as both fortress and gateway to the capital. It is the most complete example of an 11th-century fortress palace remaining in Europe. A rare survival of a continuously developing ensemble of royal buildings, from the 11th to 16th centuries, the Tower of London has become one of the symbols of royalty. It also fostered the development of several of England’s major State institutions, incorporating such fundamental roles as the nation’s defense, its record-keeping, and its coinage. It has been the setting for key historical events in European history, including the execution of three English queens.
The Tower of London has Outstanding Universal Value for the following cultural qualities:

For both protection and control of the City of London, it has a landmark siting. As the gateway to the capital, the Tower was in effect the gateway to the new Norman kingdom. Sited strategically at a bend in the River Thames, it has been a crucial demarcation point between the power of the developing City of London, and the power of the monarchy. It had the dual role of providing protection for the City through its defensive structure and the provision of a garrison, and of also controlling the citizens by the same means. The Tower literally ‘towered’ over its surroundings until the 19th century.

The Tower of London is perhaps the largest tourist trap of all the World Heritage sites I’ve visited. It is worthy of being on the list, but they really sock it to you with the entrance fee and all the other touristy stuff surrounding it.


Tower of London

The Tower of London is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. However, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized for its cultural value and inscribed on 1988. This historic castle is also known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London. The castle is located next to the River Thames’ northern bank in central London.

The Tower of London is also recognized as the massive White Tower. This structure is one of the best examples of Norman military architecture. It was William the Conqueror who commissioned the building of the castle as part of the Norman Conquest of England to protect London. He strategically chose its location near the banks of the River Thames so that this structure can act as both fortress and gateway to London. This imposing fortress also bears witness to many layers of history and is considered as one of the most important symbols of royalty in London.

History of Tower of London

The Tower of London was founded about a millennium ago and has been expanded upon with the different kings and queens it has come under the rule of. It has therefore played a crucial part in the English history. With that said, it is also the oldest palace and fortress in Europe. The initial construction was officially started in 1078 but it has undergone several works and constructions over the period of many centuries. Many believe that whoever controlled the Tower of London controlled the country as well.

Tower of London

When William the Conqueror commanded the building of the Tower of London, it was resented because many viewed it as a symbol of oppression by the ruling elite. By 1100, the castle was used as a prison even though this was not the primary purpose of building it in the first place. It also served as a grand castle and royal residence in the early part of the building’s history. This is more than just a tower but is a complex consisting of many buildings that were built within two concentric rings of defensive walls.

The most notable expansions done on the original structure were done during the rule of Kings Edward I, Henry III, and Richard the Lionheart. These expansions were undergone some time in the 12th and 13th centuries. However, the current layout at the site of the Tower of London has been the same since the 13th century although there were some minor works done.

The peak of the use of the castle as a prison started in the 17th century. This prison also served as holding place for many of the notable figures who had fallen into disgrace, which includes Elizabeth I. In fact, the term “sent to the Tower” became popular at that time to mean one is going to be imprisoned. Despite of its reputation as a place of torture and death, the prestige and historical significance of the Tower of London could not be overshadowed by this part of dark history. It remains as one of the internationally famous structures and tourist attractions in London today. In fact, it has become an iconic landmark of London, along with the Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye, to name a few.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 10:10 pm

Maritime Greenwich

UNESCO World Heritage Site #89: Maritime Greenwich
Maritime Greenwich: My 89th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Maritime Greenwich:

Symmetrically arranged alongside the River Thames, the ensemble of the 17th century Queen’s House, part of the last Royal Palace at Greenwich, the palatial Baroque complex of the Royal Hospital for Seamen, and the Royal Observatory founded in 1675 and surrounded by the Royal Park laid out in the 1660s by André Le Nôtre, reflects two centuries of Royal patronage and represents a high point of the work of the architects Inigo Jones (1573-1652) and Christopher Wren (1632-1723), and more widely European architecture at an important stage in its evolution. It also symbolises English artistic and scientific endeavour in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Greenwich town, which grew up at the gates of the Royal Palace, provides, with its villas and formal stuccoed terraces set around St Alphege’s church rebuilt to Hawksmoor’s designs in 1712-14, a setting and approach for the main ensemble.

Inigo Jones’ Queen’s House was the first Palladian building in Britain, and also the direct inspiration for classical houses and villas all over the country in the two centuries after it was built.

The Royal Hospital, laid out to a master plan developed by Christopher Wren in the late 17th century and built over many decades by him and other leading architects, including Nicholas Hawksmoor, is among the most outstanding group of Baroque buildings in England.

The Royal Park is a masterpiece of the application of symmetrical landscape design to irregular terrain by André Le Nôtre. It is well loved and used by residents as well as visitors to the Observatory, Old Royal Naval College and the Maritime Museum.

The Royal Observatory’s astronomical work, particularly of the scientist Robert Hooke, and John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal, permitted the accurate measurement of the earth’s movement and also contributed to the development of global navigation. The Observatory is now the base-line for the world’s time zone system and for the measurement of longitude around the globe.

Maritime Greenwich is a really interesting place to visit. It is the location of the Prime Meridian and is where the clocks made by John Harrison, who solved the problem of longitude, are located. Greenwich is not connected to the underground but is easily accessible from central London by train or ferry. This is not on everyone’s itinerary when they visit London, but really should be.


Maritime Greenwich

The Maritime Greenwich is a collection of buildings in an outlying district in London. These buildings reflect the artistic and scientific endeavors in England during the 17th and 18th centuries. The entire property covers a total of more than 109 hectares in land area. There were several properties that were inscribed into this particular listing in 1997. These properties include the Queen’s House, Royal Naval College, National Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory, and the Greenwich Royal Park.

Aside from the importance of these buildings, they were also creations of some of England’s best architects at that time. Hence, this site encompasses a unique historic townscape.

How to Get Here

Getting to the Maritime Greenwich is very easy. From central London, you can travel via train and it will only take about 10 minutes. You can also take the boat and opt for a more fun journey to this UNESCO site. It will take you around the same amount of time to travel via rail.

Once you get to any one of the sites included in this UNESCO property, it is easy to get to the other buildings and structures. They are all within walking distance of each other.

About the Maritime Greenwich

As mentioned above, the Maritime Greenwich is composed of several historical structures and properties. You can find out more about each of these structures below:

The Royal Observatory

Maritime Greenwich

This is one of the most important structures within Maritime Greenwich. The Royal Observatory is home to a number of instruments that played a vital role in the astronomical measurement to determine the longitude and other navigational developments that was ahead of its time. These timepieces were invented by John Harrison to establish the longitude of the earth. All of the instruments that he used are contained within this observatory. Therefore, this building serves as one of Britain’s most important facility for the new developments on timekeeping/

Queen’s House

This is a former royal residence that was built sometime in the early 17th century. It is located a few miles down the river from London by architect Inigo Jones. The construction this building was initially commissioned for Anne of Denmark, the queen of King James I. The Queens’ House is currently recognized as one of Britain’s most important architectural feature being the first ever classical building that was constructed in the country. It also features a combination of Roman, Palladian and Renaissance architectural style.

Royal Naval College

Maritime Greenwich

This building served as a Royal Naval training establishment from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. There were courses available here for those aspiring naval officers. In fact, there were also advanced training being done here for the naval officers. The college itself was founded in 1873 and the building was designed by architect Sir Christopher Wren. Initially, these buildings were designed to serve as the Greenwich Hospital to give care for the disabled sailors.

National Maritime Museum

The leading maritime museum in the UK, the National Maritime Museum is another important component of Maritime Greenwich. This is also considered as the largest museum of its kind in the world. The museum is a non-departmental public body that is run and managed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. This is the best museum to go to if you want to learn about Greenwich’s association with sea and navigation, which dates back to the earliest parts of history.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 10:08 pm

Defense Line of Amsterdam

World Heritage Site #88: Defense Line of Amsterdam
Defense Line of Amsterdam: My 88th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Defense Line of Amsterdam:

Extending 135 km around the city of Amsterdam, this defense line (built between 1883 and 1920) is the only example of a fortification based on the principle of controlling the waters. Since the 16th century, the people of the Netherlands have used their expert knowledge of hydraulic engineering for defense purposes. The center of the country was protected by a network of 45 armed forts, acting in concert with temporary flooding from polders and an intricate system of canals and locks.

Most of the defense fortifications surrounding Amsterdam are in private hands. Finding locations to take photos of was difficult because the few places you can visit were closed when we went to go visit them. We ended up driving past and viewing about 5 fortifications but were only able to get a handful of photos because they are mostly hidden from view and heavily shadowed. Despite the name of the site, there are no actual locations inside of Amsterdam.


Defense Line of Amsterdam

The Defense Line of Amsterdam, also known as Stelling van Amsterdam, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was inscribed in 1996. This is a ring of fortification around Amsterdam that stretches up to 135 kilometers in length. The property consists of 42 fortifications in total, which was built on lowlands on some of the parts of Amsterdam that were vulnerable to flooding during the time of war. This made it possible to create flooding with a depth of 30 cm that made it impossible for boats to traverse through them. In a way, the structure capitalized on Netherlands’ age-old struggle against flooding in order to fend off possible attackers. Meanwhile, there were also buildings constructed near the fortification wall and they were all made of wooden materials. This made it possible to easily burn the structures down so as to remove any obstruction.

The fortification on the Defense Line of Amsterdam was constructed in the late 19th century and was completed in the early part of the 20th century. However, the invention of tanks and airplanes by the time the fort was completed made it almost obsolete. Today, the fort is under the control of the town councils and the nature department. It is also open for visitors who wanted to view the site.

About: Defense Line of Amsterdam

The 135-km defense line of Amsterdam provides a circular defense of about 15 to 20 kilometers in the capital city. The defense line consists of several structures such as 36 forts, 2 coastal forts, 2 fortresses, 4 batteries, and 2 coastal batteries. In addition to the aforementioned structures, there are also additional mini structures to provide further defensive purposes including secondary batteries, depots and inlet sluices. All of these structures had the sole purpose of defending the National Keep, which served as the last line of defense for the Kingdom of Netherlands.

These defensive structures were put in place by the army knowing that the Netherlands was constantly under threat from three other superpower nations at that time: UK, France and Germany. But prior to building these complicated and massive defensive structures, there were defendable earthworks that were constructed in place. From then on, bombproof buildings were constructed. When there was no war, these forts were abandoned and unoccupied.

Defense Line of Amsterdam

Within each fort, there was heavy artillery although small caliber guns were the ones mostly used. The guards that were assigned in each fort (especially in the coastal forts) were sent there for the purpose of closing out nearby accesses to Amsterdam and those within the circular defense. Some of the access areas that were closely guarded included roads, railroads, and large waterways. In addition to the forts and other buildings that make up the Defense Line of Amsterdam, there were also special canals that were built.

Despite the effort and planning involved to build the Defense Line of Amsterdam, it never saw combat service. At the turn of the 20th century, aircrafts were already being used and it rendered the defence line obsolete. It was decommissioned in 1963 although it was still being maintained. But due to the role it played and how it provided a glimpse into the combat and military aspect of Netherland’s history, it was still recognized by UNESCO as a cultural heritage site.

Planning Your Trip

Are you interested in visiting the Defense Line of Amsterdam? Here are some tips to use to prepare for your trip:

  • It is important to research the route for each fort. This will make it easier for you to know how to travel to and what modes of transportation to use for easy access to each route. You can travel by car, bike or public transport.
  • There are bikes for rent in train stations in Amsterdam, or within the vicinity of the Defense Line of Amsterdam. You can rent some to make it easier to explore and see as many forts as possible.
  • If you decide to bring your own car, you must keep in mind that the roads leading to the fort are narrow. Therefore, that might leave some parts of the UNESCO site inaccessible to cars. There are no parking facilities at the site so you must look for a secure parking spot on the roadside on your own.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in The Netherlands.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 9:37 pm