Travel the world through the eyes of an architect

Architecture Travel: the 5 best cities to visit in the world.

The best cities in the world to visit in the summer.

“To look is a cradle” writes Arminius: What is the best representation to describe the experience that a journey gives you? 

The goal will be the orchestra conductor of our itinerary and its choice, the first step towards the planning of our adventure.

A brief practical guide for architecture enthusiasts: the 5 best cities to visit during the coming summer months.

There are five of the best millenary cities in the world, considered as such for the purely architectural characteristics that distinguish them, testimony of ancient civilizations, ancestors of our history.

PETRA – In Jordan, land of contrast where the sea meets the desert, hides a wonderful city to visit that many of you will know: it is Petra, located 250 km south of Amman, inside a basin surrounded by mountains, east of the Arabian Wadi, the great valley that from the Dead Sea reaches the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea. The archaeological site appears to be one of the most beautiful and interesting in the world, accessible through the Siq, a narrow canyon with high and mighty walls leading to the “Treasury” of Khazneh.

The facade of the treasury represents the diamond of Petra: 43 meters high and 30 meters long, it reveals the genius of the architect who realized it; carved into the rock, as well as the whole city from which it derives its name, it leads to tombs, ancient tombs and the Roman-style theater. Through a staircase of 80 steps you can also reach the Ad-Deir Monastery.

Petra has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site on December 6, 1985 and the surrounding area in 1993, the National Archaeological Park. It should not surprise you to know that in 2007 it was declared one of the so-called New Seven Wonders of the World.

MACHU PICCHU – Peru, inheritance of the prestigious Inca empire, with its ten thousand years of history is one of the richest lands in testimonies of millenary civilizations; Machu Picchu, located on the top of a mountain, is considered the most prodigious example in the architecture of the world landscape.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and named in 2007 as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, it was discovered on July 24, 1911 by Yale professor and explorer Hiram Bingham.

The mausoleum-city has large stone buildings that extend from the high sector (hanan) to the low sector (hurin); in the first one are the Temple of the Sun, the Royal Residence, the Sacred Plaza with the Temple of the three windows, the main Temple and the Intihuatana, the stone placed on a hill that still confuses archaeologists for its function: astronomical observatory, sundial or sacred altar?

In the lower part there are, instead, several groups of smaller buildings that made up the houses, tents and places to raise animals. The most amazing part of the complex is to the north of the citadel: a narrow and steep staircase leads to Huayna Picchu (the Young Mountain), where from a height of about 2700 m you can look over the entire archaeological site of Machu Picchu. 

AGRA – India, five thousand years of history that from the peaks of the Himalayas plunge us into the waters of the Indian Ocean. Agra, citadel in the north of the country that houses the iconic Taj Mahal, a mausoleum built by the Mughal Shah Shah Jahan for the beloved late wife Mumtaz Mahal with the will to make their love immortal.

The Taj Mahal, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, represents one of the buildings that comes closest to perfection in architecture: An expanse of white marble inlaid with fine precious stones is reflected in the mirror of water at the imposing entrance. The suggestive position near the sacred river and the magnificent ornamental gardens, as well as the perfect symmetry, make the monument remain the most spectacular in the world, in the eyes of visitors.

Near the Taj Mahal are the 20-meter-high red brick walls of the Agra Fort, a great fortress where, at the will of the ambitious son, the ruler Jahan spent the last years of his life locked away, gazing at the Taj Mahal and mourning what he had lost. 

CHICHÉN ITZÁ – Mexico’s northern Yucatán peninsula is home to one of the largest and most important Mayan archaeological sites in the world: Chichén Itzá, also nominated in 2007 as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and recognized in 1988 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The center of the city, surely one of the most beautiful and fascinating cities to visit in the world, is named after the great pyramid of Kukulkan also called El Castillo, characterized by four staircases running on all sides; these staircases are no longer used as in the past. The Temple of the Warriors, on the other hand, is composed of a large stepped pyramid surrounded by a few rows of columns representing Mayan warriors.

A particularity of this spectacular archaeological site is undoubtedly the presence of the largest ball court in Yucatan, 166 meters long and 68 meters wide.

GIZA – Egypt is certainly famous for its pyramids, testimony of one of the oldest populations in the world; in Giza, in the context of the great Pyramid of Cheops, reclines the Sphinx of Giza, which is said to protect the entrance to the ancient Greek city of Thebes, proposing a riddle to travelers to allow them to pass.

The sphinx has the appearance of a lion lying down with the head of a man wearing a Nemes headdress of the pharaoh. It has enormous dimensions and is striking for its mystical presence within the surrounding expanse of sand and stone.

The most important thing we can notice about the different cities mentioned above is their architectural macro-dimension; in fact, the cities were built “on a measure of divinity” rather than on a human scale: the monuments, the statues themselves, had enormous dimensions, which we could define as “out of scale”.

We live in a world in constant and frenetic change in which we cannot avoid looking at the past, following the example to move towards the future… “Looking is a cradle.”

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