Sunday Special – Joya de Cerén Archaeological Park, El Salvador


The Central American country of El Salvador is home to a significant archaeological site that some call ‘the Pompeii of the Americas’. Joya de Cerén was a pre-Hispanic farming village of approximately 200 people that had been buried under volcanic ash since the 600s C.E. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 though it was discovered in 1976 during a government agricultural project, quite by accident. When the volcano named Loma Caldera erupted around 590 CE the villagers of this Mayan village escaped (no bodies have been located there) yet the town was left as is under blankets of ash. Homes and the wares inside were intact as well as various vegetation of the time.  It is believed that an earthquake prior to the eruption was what prompted the small amount of villagers to flee and therefore avoiding the flow of lava and blackened smoke pouring out of Loma Caldera.  Because of the ash covering the village it was preserved remarkably well allowing archaeologists to learn and understand about Mesoamerican life during that era. 

Located 36 km / 22 miles outside of the capital city  of  San Salvador, Joya de Cerén offers visitors a glimpse of how the life of these humble farmers was before nature drove them from their homes. Tours of the site and the 10 exposed buildings are available. Well preserved housewares such as furniture, clay pots, kitchen items, and food storage are showcased in the park’s modest museum.  This area would certainly be of interest to history buffs  along with El Salvador’s other archaeological sites. It would be like stepping back in time.  Imagine that.

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Preserved structure at Joya de Cerén Archaeological Park – Photo credit: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz), ES Estructura 1 Area 1 Joya Ceren 05 2012 1513, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Housewares at Joya de Cerén Museum, El Salvador – Photo credit: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz), ES Joya Ceren Museum 05 2012 1519, CC BY-SA 3.0

 

 

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Sunday Special – Sintra, Portugal


Sometimes heading out of major city centres for a day trip is what you need. Located 28 km / 17 miles outside of Portugal’s capital of Lisbon is the picturesque coastal town of Sintra. One may see why this locale is a popular destination for those looking to escape the big city for a day, though a longer sojourn to truly experience all this UNESCO World Heritage sight has is suggested. Meander through the narrow streets; explore the historical castles and palaces or take in the views as Sintra is situated atop the mountains that shares its name. When I finally make my way to Portugal I will certainly seek out Sintra. The town sounds simply charming and inviting.

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Pena Palace, Sintra – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain

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View of Sintra, Portugal from the Castle of the Moors – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by By Chris Yunker from St. Louis, United States (Castle of the Moors  Uploaded by tm) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Special – Pont du Gard, France


I tell ya, those ancient Romans had a pretty long reach (though not as much as Genghis Khan had in his day). The Romans traversed far. With them they brought some fairly cool inventions of the time. Today’s special is one of those: the Roman aqueduct of Pont du Gard in the south of France. 

This three story stone aqueduct, which looks to me to be in quite good condition, was built around 50 BCE to move water to the Roman city of Nimes. It is almost 50km/31 miles long and is the tallest of the aqueducts constructed by the Romans. In 1985 it was claimed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

  

Sunday Special – Hadrian’s Wall, England


The reach of the ancient Roman Empire was quite an expanse. At the time of Emperor Hadrian (117 – 138 CE) parts of what is now modern-day north Africa, Turkey, Europe and England were under Roman rule. In hopes of preventing invasions from the northern “barbarians” and to maintain his northernmost border Hadrian had the wall built. This wall, much of which remains standing today, runs 117.5 km (73 miles) from east to west from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway in Northern England. Today, it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Visiting this ancient wall is relatively easy. Many sections have cycling paths or can be seen on foot. Hadrian’s Wall Path spans the length of the wall and is often quite close to it.  Walks, farms, castles and Roman history can be experienced at many places along the wall. Additionally, it is completely unguarded, thus allowing people to touch or stand on it should they desire. Though one may want to remember that doing so may damage this part of English history.

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Portion of Hadrian’s Wall near Housestead, England (photo is Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons)


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Remains of Housesteads Roman Fort along Hadrian’s Wall (photo credit: Owned and taken by Mediatus via Wikimedia Commons)