Sunday Special – The Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Found within China’s capital city of Beijing is an incredible palace complex that served as the home of emperor’s for a span of over 500 years. The Forbidden City, named so as only emperors, their immediate families, and officials where the only ones permitted inside, is a massive 72 hectares / 178 acres complex that has approximately 980 buildings. Surrounding the complex is a wall standing 10 m / 32.8 ft high and houses 8,700 rooms. Additionally there is a 52 m / 170 ft moat. That is one secure palace! Construction on the complex began back in 1406 CE and was the imperial home through the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Since 1925 the Forbidden City has been under the care of the Palace Museum and in 1987 it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with being deemed the largest collection of preserved ancient wood structures anywhere in the world. Due to its size and historical and cultural importance there are ongoing renovations occurring at the palace so at any time only about 80% of the complex is open for visitors.


Hall of Supreme Harmony, found within Beijing’s Forbidden City – Photo credit: Daniel CaseHall of Supreme Harmony, Forbidden City, Beijing, with tourists 2CC BY-SA 3.0




Sunday Special – The Alhambra, Granada, Spain

In the Andalusian city of Granada you can see the stately Alhambra, a red-brick fortress and former residence of kings standing on the rocky hillside overlooking the River Darro.  It’s name in Arabic, qa’lat al-Hamra, translates as The Red Castle, reflecting the colour of the fortress.  Considered one of the finest examples of Muslim architecture in all of Spain it  is not a surprise that it is one of the most visited places in the country.  The history surrounding this complex spans centuries. Historical records indicate that it was built in the 9th century CE as a minor military fortress though its illustrious history truly began when it was rebuilt in the 13th century and a royal residence was constructed by the Nasrids. Reconstruction the oldest part of the complex (the Alcazaba) took place along with additions of towers and ramparts. Through the centuries it became a citadel with the adding of courts, royal palaces, a medina, army barracks, gardens, and more. It grew in size and splendour.  Later constructions were in the Renaissance style, during the time when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella held court there. In the early 1500s Charles V tore down and began building a new palace that bears his name.  Time went on and the fortress was eventually abandoned through the 1800s and even Napolean had a hand in the destruction of a portion of this incredible complex. Seemingly lost, Alhambra was found again in the 1900s. Extensive restoration of the complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 1984 has given life once again to the is fine example of Moorish design. 


Inside a Nasrid Palace in Alhambra – Photo credit: Ronny SiegelAlhambra in Granada 011CC BY-SA 4.0


Alhambra at night – Granda, Spain – Photo credit: Javier rodriguez jimenez037 (2)fotofrafia nocturna del patio de los leonesCC BY-SA 4.0


Alcazaba portion of Alhambra, Spain – Photo JebulonAlcazaba, Alhambra, Granada, SpainCC0 1.0



Hello on this (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend . I am in beautiful northern BC visiting my sister. Autumn is in full swing with cool air & beautiful fall colours abounding. But today we are heading back to Jordan – specifically to my time in Petra. Seeing the Treasury at Petra was the catalyst for this trip. It was amazing to see it. The whole experience at Petra was wonderful. Even climbing the 800 steps and switchbacks, in the heat, to see the Monastery. Those Nabateans really built a treasure in Petra. Here’s the photo journey.

Little Petra visit:

Our red carpet treatment. Actually they were prepping for an event there that evening.

One of the buildings carved into the sandstone at Little Petra

Caves used by the Nabateans – this one was believed to be used for dining with a large fire burning in the centre for warmth.

A desert sunset

A day at Petra:

The entrance of the Siq – the walkway that leads to Petra

Official signage

We are dwarfed by nature.

At times the Siq narrows significantly.

Nature is incredible!

I am in awe!

Finally…The Treasury. I teared up when I saw it.


One of several tombs built into the rock

800 steps later and I made it to The Monastery. Worth every step.

The view from the stairs to & from the Monastery.

All photos taken (or taken for) and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World

On To Jordan!

The second week of this trip was to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan! So many people said I would love Jordan. That often sets me on edge. What if I don’t like it? I just had a fabulous week in Egypt and met some wonderful people who had such exuberance and positive energy. We had lots of laughs. I was missing it already. Even though I was excited for Jordan I held my breath just a bit. Then I finally exhaled….

Arch of Hadrian. Part of the Roman ruins in Jerash, Jordan

Pink peppercorn trees found inside the Roman ruins. I had no idea they grew on trees!

Roman amphitheatre – there is always one in a good Roman city

The Temple of Artemis (or Diana). My favourite spot in Jerash.

The Cardo Maximus is the main street that runs north-south in a Roman city.

These columns are humongous!! Whoa!

Onto the Dead Sea!

A public beach area of the Dead Sea. Israel is across the way.

The Dead Sea has a salinity level of over 33%. Now that is salty!

It’s warm like bath water

Playing in mud!

Look ma! No hands! And ya just float – can’t sink at all.

Mount Nebo & Madaba

View from Mount Nebo. It is believed that Moses was buried nearby.

Olive trees are plentiful in Jordan. They produce some amazing olive oil! Yum!!

Another view from Mount Nebo.

The Memorial Church of Moses, Mount Nebo

The mosaics in the church are of great historic importance and are absolutely beautiful

The Jordanian Queen has set up a number of community programs. This is at Tree of Life where disabled individuals create mosaics in the traditional method and earn money from their art.

Some of the mosaics made at Tree of Life

St George’s Church – home to the mosaic map

These signs are poppin’ up everywhere

Karak Castle

An interior corridor of Karak Castle

More of Jordan to come!

All photos owned by & taken by or for Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World