Lying at the base of a mountain that many claim to be made of silver is the Bolivian town of Potosí. Located in the southern region of this South American country is a locale steeped in history and commerce. One of the world’s highest cities (at 4,090 m / 13,420 ft) it dates back to 1545 CE where it made its mark as a mining town. The mountain of Cerro Rico was an abundant source of silver for years. The silver made Potosí very rich and popular, much to the benefit of the Spanish. It even earned the moniker of “Imperial City”.
Today the mines are still there and used in mining for tin. Visits can be arranged. Sadly the working conditions are horrible for the workers yet many rely on the mine for their livelihood. The influence of the silver through the centuries can be seen in the colonial-era architecture of the town, many which have been well preserved and lending it a very colourful appearance. The long history of Potosí led to it’s addition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
The Caribbean island of Barbados has sun and beaches to spare as most islands in the Caribbean Sea do. As much as I am looking forward to upcoming travels to warmer climes and would love to showcase that aspect of Barbados, I have chosen instead to take a look at the capital of this sun-soaked isle: Bridgetown.
This vibrant and colourful capital city is home to 110,000 people, lying on the southwest coast of the island. Often referred to as “The City” by locals, it is a wonderful mix of history, culture, and modernity. In 2011 UNESCO added Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison to their list of World Heritage Sites. This area of the city has retained much of its historic layout and architecture (including the serpentine layout of medieval roads) for centuries. The examples of colonial-era British architecture and St Ann’s Garrison show some of the roots of commerce, the port, and the military standings of its history.
These days it has a variety to offer those visiting here. The history of course is the backdrop as is the sea. Carlisle Bay, a natural harbour, is the place to go for fun water sports, sun-seekers, and taking in the local cuisine. Head to the Careenage, the waterfront of the city and stroll along the boardwalk to take you along various points of interest in the city. Once you have seen the sites you can shop to your heart’s content at local markets, cool malls and designer shops. As for you rum aficionados I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that Bridgetown is where this amber elixir was born. Bridgetown certainly seems to be a wonderful place to spend some time while on this warm island.
An ancient city set deep into the forests of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains in the South American country of Colombia is where we visit today. Ciudad Perdida, built most likely by the Tairona peoples, it was a significant hub for the ruling powers through to the arrival of Spanish. Believed to be built 650 years prior to Machu Picchu, it is constructed with terraces along the side of the mountain as well as roadways and plazas. It is a great example of pre-Colombian engineering. Despite being “discovered” in the 1970s the local tribes of Arhuaco, Wiwas, and Koguis have been aware of the it long before then. It has since been researched and restored (through the Global Heritage Fund) and today is considered one of Colombia’s most incredible multi-day hikes for those with a sense of adventure.
Hiking through the tropical forest to the “Lost City”can only be done with a tour group. Independent hiking is not allowed. Length of tours will vary dependant on how far you chose to hike each day to complete the 43 km / 27 mile trek. The route is not accessible by vehicle, only by foot (or helicopter). It is know to have steep inclines, varying weather, and an incredible views along the way.
When the word pyramid is uttered it is safe to say most people associate the word with the Great Pyramids of Giza. And rightly so – they are incredible to see and have survived over several millennia. They, however, are not the only pyramids in the world nor the only ones in Egypt (though they are the only ones I saw). So today we will take a look at some of Egypt’s other pyramids as well.
Egypt’s first pyramid is also the world’s first – the Pyramid of Djoser (or Zoser). Located in Saqqara, which is northwest of Memphis, it served as a large funerary complex or necropolis for the city in ancient times. This first pyramid was built by Imhotep for the Pharoh Djoser as a step pyramid. Construction ran from 2630 -2611 BCE and it was made up of “mastabas” built one atop another, always smaller that they went up, forming a step-like appearance.
The Pyramids of Dahshur, located 40 km / 25 miles south of Cairo is where you will find a number of pyramids from both the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Here is where you will find the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid. They are among the oldest in Egypt and were built during the reign of Pharoh Sneferu. Both are examples of moving the pyramid style to smooth sided as opposed to the step style.
Heading south of Cairo for about 100 km/60 miles you will encounter the archaeological site of what is believed to be the second pyramid built. The Pyramid at Meidum (or Maydum) was possibly built by Huni towards the end of the third dynasty. This pyramid is sometimes referred to as the “collapsed pyramid” due to its state of disrepair. Originally it began as a step pyramid but was later converted to true pyramid.
Our final pyramids, out of the 118 in Egypt, are the most recognized of all of them – The Pyramids of Giza. Built on the Giza Plateau south of Cairo, the complex is home to the pyramids of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure (the last one I have been inside). The largest pyramid was built by Pharaoh Khufu with his son, Pharoh Khafre, building the second one. Although Khafre’s appears taller it is only because it is higher on the plateau. The smallest was built by Pharoh Menkaure.