City of Ronda

Ronda is a city in the Spanish province of Málaga. It is located about 100 kilometres (62 mi) west of the city of Málaga with a population of approximately 35,000 inhabitants.

Ronda was first settled by the early Celts, who, in the 6th century BC, called it Arunda. Later Phoenician settlers established themselves nearby to found Acinipo, known locally as Ronda la Vieja, Arunda or Old Ronda. The current Ronda is however of Roman origins, having been founded as a fortified post in the Second Punic War, by Scipio Africanus. Ronda received the title of city at the time of Julius Caesar.

The city is situated in a very mountainous area about 750 meters (2,460 ft) above mean sea level. The Guadalevin River runs through the city, dividing it in two and carving out the steep, 100 plus meters deep El Tajo canyon upon which the city perches.

Three bridges, Puente Romano, Puente Viejo and Puente Nuevo, span the canyon. The Puente Nuevo is the tallest of the bridges, towering 120 metres (390 ft) above the canyon floor. All three serve as some of the city’s most impressive features.

American artists Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles spent many summers in Ronda as part-time residents of Ronda’s old town quarter called La Ciudad. Both wrote about Ronda’s beauty and their collective accounts have contributed to Ronda’s popularity over time.

Below you will find a stunning gallery of images that show the beauty of this stunning Spanish city. What a view!


The Most Famous Photograph in the World?

Recognize this photo? It’s the default wallpaper for Microsoft Windows XP. Released in 2001, there were over 400 million copies in use as of January 2006 (not including pirated copies).

Now imagine how many friends, family members, work colleagues and people using public workstations have no doubt used a computer or peered over someone’s shoulder with this very same desktop background.

It’s easy to assume that the image has been seen billions of times the world over. While many may have assumed this image was computer generated, or some kind of composite digital manipulation; it’s indeed a real location, shot by a real photographer who stakes his professional career that it wasn’t enhanced or manipulated.

The image is known as Bliss and was originally shot by Charles O’Rear in 1996. The location? Sonoma County, California, southeast of Sonoma Valley. O’Rear was en route to Marin when he decided to pull over to the shoulder of Highway 121. He took his medium format camera, slipped through a wire fence and took the shot.

Microsoft owns the picture outright and a non-disclosure agreement prohibits him from naming the exact figure, but O’Rear does say it was an ‘extraordinary’ amount and one of the largest amounts ever paid to a living, working photographer. He says at the time, it was second only to that paid to another living, working photographer of then-President Bill Clinton hugging Monica Lewinsky

Photograph by Simon Goldin

The photograph above is what ‘Bliss’ looks like today (shot in 2006 by Simon Goldin). The field is now a vineyard. If you’re curious, you can even see the exact location on Google Maps with the following coordinates: 38.250124,-122.410817

It’s interesting to see how this photo of happenstance is O’Rear’s most famous. He spent 25 years travelling the world shooting for National Geographic, he has nine books of classic wine photography to his credit, yet it’s this landscape photograph that is undoubtedly one of the most famous photographs in the world.


Potala Palace

The Potala Palace is located in Lhasa, Tibet. It is named after Mount Potalaka and was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, India, during the 1959 Tibetan uprising. It stands as a symbol of Tibetan Buddhism, built on the Red Mountain at an altitude of 3,700 meters.

Lozang Gyatso, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, started the construction of the Potala Palace in 1645 after one of his spiritual advisers, Konchog Chophel (d. 1646), pointed out that the site was ideal as a seat of government, situated as it is between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa. It may overlay the remains of an earlier fortress, called the White or Red Palace, on the site built by Songtsen Gampo in 637.

Today, the Potala Palace is a museum and was recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Below you will find some beautiful photographs of this incredible palace along with additional facts and figures. Enjoy!

The building measures 400 metres east-west and 350 metres north-south, with sloping stone walls averaging 3 m. thick, and 5 m. (more than 16 ft) thick at the base, and with copper poured into the foundations to help proof it against earthquakes.

Thirteen stories of buildings – containing over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and about 200,000 statues – soar 117 metres (384 ft) on top of Marpo Ri, the “Red Hill”, rising more than 300 m (about 1,000 ft) in total above the valley floor.

This central member of Potala is called the “red palace” from its crimson colour, which distinguishes it from the rest. It contains the principal halls and chapels and shrines of past Dalai Lamas.

The White Palace or Potrang Karpo is the part of the Potala Palace that makes up the living quarters of the Dalai Lama. The first White Palace was built during the lifetime of the Fifth Dalai Lama and he and his government moved into it in 1649. It then was extended to its size today by the thirteenth Dalai Lama in the early twentieth century. The palace was for secular uses and contained the living quarters, offices, the seminary and the printing house.

The yellow building at the side of the White Palace in the courtyard between the main palaces houses giant banners embroidered with holy symbols which hung across the south face of the Potala during New Year festivals.

The number of visitors to the palace was restricted to 1,600 a day, with opening hours reduced to six hours daily to avoid over-crowding from 1 May 2003. Visits to the structure’s roof was banned after restoration works were completed in 2006 to avoid further structural damage. Visitorship quotas were raised to 2,300 daily to accommodate a 30% increase in visitorship since the opening of the Qingzang railway into Lhasa on 1 July 2006, but the quota is often reached by mid-morning.


We'll probably have a close encounter with Aliens this century

It’s a scientific prediction that will get dollar signs pinging in Steven Spielberg’s eyes: We could make contact with aliens in less than 100 years. But according to one of our leading physicists, it is a matter for governments – rather than Hollywood – who should start preparing for our first extra-terrestrial encounter now.

Speaking at the Euroscience Open Forum conference in Dublin, Jocelyn Bell Burnell said: ‘I do suspect we are going to get signs of life elsewhere, maybe even intelligent life, within the next century. How well prepared are we? Have we thought of how we approach them? Should we put them in a zoo, eat them, send in GIs to bring them democracy?’

She said we are most likely to find alien life where we find rocky planets with carbon dioxide and ozone in the atmospheres. The Oxford University professor said: ‘If we do suspect there is intelligent life out there, are we going to make ourselves known to them or not? ‘There are interesting questions about who you would tell first – the Press, the Prime Minister, the Pope? We should start thinking now.’

However, she said that even if we do find signs of alien life, it is likely to take decades to talk to them from Earth via radio or lasers. Professor Bell Burnell said: ‘Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. So you are probably talking of conversations that could take 50 or 100 years, just one way.’

Previous research has found almost half of Britons believe in little green men. The poll of more than 2,000 men and women for the Royal Society found that 44 per cent are of the opinion extra-terrestrial life exists and more than a third of those questioned said we should be actively searching and trying to make contact with ET.

Worrying: Stephen Hawking has warned that aliens may plunder Earth for its resources

Scientists are divided about whether we should be advertising our presence to inhabitants of other planets.

Some say that if we alert hostile aliens to our existence we risk an invasion that could lead to the end of life on Earth. They argue that if ET has the technology to cross space to reach us any defences we have will be all but useless.

And Stephen Hawking has warned that aliens may plunder Earth for its resources.

Advocating that we do everything we can to avoid contact, he said: ‘We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.

‘If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans.’


Shaharah - City and Bridge

If you look at Yemen's 10-rial coin, you will see one of the most beloved landmarks of the nation: the Shaharah bridge, a narrow stone construct that somehow, almost impossibly, spans a deep ravine to reach the village of Shaharah in one of the most important historical districts of the country.

The bridge was built in 1904 to link Jabal (Mt.) Al-Emir with Jabal Faish to ensure safe travel on and defense of the precipitous slopes. The bridge itself is near the summits of the peaks. Hundreds of tourists from all over the world come to Shaharah each year to explore the rich heritage and cultural treasures of the city, with the famous bridge being just the starting point.

Shaharah is presently designated a district of the Governorate of Amran, about 120km north of the local capital. It was previously part of the Governorate of Hajjah.

The two mountains of Shaharah, now known as Al-Emir and Faish, have had a number of names through history. One name, Al-Mu'attiq, is probably related to its height and inaccessibility. Some sources say that the name Al-Mu'attiq comes from the story of a slave who took the mountain as a refuge from his master. The slave's master was unable to reach the heights, and so hence the name.

The mountain was also called Al-Mashtur because it was divided in two, with a gap in between extending along the north side under the Nahir gate, one of the four main gates into the city.

Prince Mohammed, whose nickname was Dhi Al-Sharfin, chased the Sulaihins here in the 5th century AH and defeated them in battle, taking the city as a shield. He built 511 houses and brought about the name Al-Emir's Shaharah.

Shaharah was also known as Faish City because one of its doors was named for a Himyarite ruler, Al-Qil Dhi Faish Al-Himyari.

Shaharah is distinguished for its attractive scenery and historical treasures. The city is divided into 16 old residential districts, each with a mosque and cistern. In the center of the city, the main market is very much like Suq Al-Milh in Old Sana'a.

The most famous sight is the bridge, which had a defensive purpose. It was built by Al-Asta Saleh Al-Suaidi 300 meters above the valley floor. It is 20 meters long, built by traditional means.

The city also has a number of ancient castles, citadels and mosques. The Jamaa Al-Kabir (Great Mosque), which is in the center of the historic city, is considered unique in terms of architecture alone. It was built by the Imam Al-Qassim, who died in 1028 AH. It is still used as a gathering place for Friday prayers every week. Outside the mosque are three domes, the tombs of eminent scholars and ancient rulers of Shaharah.

Among Yemeni cities, Shaharah stands distinguished for its cultural value because of the contributions in has made to literature, poetry, and the judiciary system. One of the most prominent poets to originate there was Zainab Al-Shahariah (1114 AH). Shaharah was also a home and training center for many famous revolutionaries and warriors.

Despite being on top of a mountain, it was not historically invulnerable to invasion, so the wise residents found means of defending themselves. A high long wall was built around the city covering a total length of about 8km. Every access-point had a door and a guard tower with weapons stores for soldiers. The wall has eight gates, four of them major portals and four of them minor.

The main gates are named Bab Al-Nasser, Bab Al-Naher, Bab Al-Silal, and Bab Shaharah Al-Faish. Visitors to the city had to enter through these doors. The sub-gates are Bab Al-Haram, Bab Al-Jazir (the Bridge-Gate), Bab Al-Suaid, and Bab Al-Sirueh.

Most of the old buildings of Shaharah are four stories high; the Shaharah Citadel has fifty rooms, towers at its east gate, a mosque and a pool. The strong, thick wooden gate of the citadel is especially awe-inspiring. The citadel includes underground granaries carved into the stone of the mountain, a bakery, a small barracks with secret passages, and a pool used for swimming and irrigation.

Elsewhere in the city, visitors can enjoy the sights of a number of other famous buildings, all featuring the distinctive architectural style of this wonderfully attractive city.


Top 8 Beautiful One-Colour Towns in the World

We've all heard about the colorful towns around the world, there are really lots of them and their facades are very colorful and striking. But, are there any towns that are painted in only one color? Of course there are, but they are very rare. Exactly, the following list deals with these unusual tourist destinations - a one-color towns, enjoy the article.

1. Júzcar, Spain

Júzcar (220 residents) is a town in the province of Málaga, part of the autonomous community of Andalusia in southern Spain. In spring 2011, buildings in the town (including the church and gravestones) were painted blue to celebrate the premiere of the Smurfs movie. 4,000 litres (1,100 US gal) of paint was used.

In December 2011, Sony Pictures offered to repaint the town. Citizens voted to leave the buildings painted blue, as an estimated 80,000 tourists visited in the six months following the repainting. The town normally sees 300 tourists per year.

2. Izamal, Mexico

Izamal is a town in the Mexican state of Yucatán, 72 km (about 40 miles) east of state capital Mérida. Izamal was continuously occupied throughout most of Mesoamerican chronology; in 2000, the city's estimated population was 15,000 people. This settlement is known in Yucatán as "The Yellow City".

The first thing you notice about Izamal is the color: Virtually all the buildings and facades in Izamal are painted a rich mustard yellow, as is the convent. It is a very walkable city, and part of the pleasure of Izamal is simply wandering about its narrow streets, discovering picturesque facades, stone churches, artistic workshops and even Maya pyramids behind every other corner.

3. Jaipur, India

Nicknamed the “pink city”, Jaipur, the capital city of the desert state of Rajasthan, features architecture of pink sandstone - from grand structures and forts to tiny markets. The town looks even more surreal with elephants, camels and cows strolling past the pink buildings.

Jaipur was founded in 1727 AD. by Sawai Jai Singh II and was named after him. In 1863 Jaipur dressed itself in "pink" to welcome Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria. The colour became an integral part of the city and it came to be known as `The Pink City`. The capital city of Rajasthan still preserves its rich heritage and culture and is a fine blend of antiquity and modernity.

4. Jodhpur, India

In the middle of the barren Thar desert you will find Jodhpur, also known as Blue City. It got that nickname because every little building and house in this fortress city is painted in a blue color, so from above it looks like a blue spot in the middle of the Thar desert.

It is still unknown why they all painted in the color blue, but some will say that it has something to do with the caste system in India. This historic city is full of forts, palaces and temples.

5. Collonges-la-Rouge, France

Collonges-la-Rouge is 23 km (14.3 mi) southeast of Brive in the Limousin. This French town is a very attractive, and very popular with visitors to the region - the first thing you will notice is the colour of the place - more or less all the houses have been constructed from the local sandstone, which is very red!

The town is a member of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France association ("The most beautiful villages of France"), and is actually where this association was created. It is one of the most visited sites in the Limousin - a region in central France.

6. Piódão, Portugal

The historical village of Piódão is located in the slope of Serra do Açor (a mountain in central Portugal). The houses are built in the local materials: slate walls, roofs covered with stone slabs and wooden doors and windows.

Due to dark stone that is the basic building material, almost all the houses in this village are brown. It was considered Portugal’s most typical village in the decade of 1980.

7. Ubrique, Spain

There’s a good reason the famous “White Towns” of Andalusia, in southern Spain, are all white-washed. The sun is hot in Andalusia, and white paint reflects the heat, keeping interiors cool. There are 1,500 white towns in Spain, scattered throughout the country, most of them situated in Andalucía. Many of them are hidden in remote places and are almost unknown.

One of the largest and most famous "white towns" is Ubrique. This town is located in the province of Cádiz, Spain. According to the 2005 census, the city has a population of 17,362 inhabitants. Almost all the facades of houses, buildings and institutions in the town are painted in white.

8. Chefchaoen, Morocco

Chefchaouen or Chaouen is a town in northwest Morocco. It is the chief town of the province of the same name, and is noted for its buildings in shades of blue.

The ancient town of Chefchaoen in Morocco served as a refuge for Jews during the Spanish Reconquista in the Middle Ages. Jewish refugees who fled Europe during the 1930s revived their neighborhoods in Chefchaoen by using a blue tinted whitewash on their homes. The color caught on, and now much of the town appears washed in a light blue rinse.


Top 8 Most Unusual Tunnels

The tunnels are mostly human creations that commonly pass through the mountains and hills. But there are tunnels that have a very unusual purpose, appearance or location. This is a list of tunnels that you can not see often, because they are rare or unique. That is why, some of them have become very popular tourist attractions.

1. The Tower Tunnel, Japan

One of the most curious building in Japan is the Gate Tower Building in Osaka, Japan. This building is the result of an unusual compromise between the land owner and the Japanese government. The 5th, 6th and 7th floors of this 16-story office building is occupied by an express highway - passing right through the building. On the building's floor information board on the ground floor, the tenants for the three floors are listed as the Hanshin Expressway.

The tunnel does not make contact with the building. Highway passes through as a bridge-tunnel, held up by supports next to the building. The highway is surrounded by a structure to protect the building from noise and vibration.

2. Tunnel Log, California, USA

Tunnel Log is a tunnel cut through a fallen giant sequoia tree in Sequoia National Park, California, USA.

The tree, which measured 275 feet (84 m) tall and 21 feet (6.4 m) in diameter, fell across a park road in 1937 due to natural causes. The following year, a crew cut an 8-foot (2.4 m) tall, 17-foot (5.2 m) wide tunnel through the trunk, making the road passable again.

3. Tunnel of Love, Ukraine

One of the most beautiful tunnels in World can be found near the city of Klevan in Ukraine - The Tunnel of Love. This is in fact a train tunnel of trees. It's the main attraction in the area and also one of the most beautiful places in Ukraine.

During the warm months of the year the trees planted next to each other form a fairy green tunnel along one kilometer (0.6 mi) long section of the railway. Not a lot of people seem to know very much about the tunnel, or have ever heard of it at all, making it a well-kept secret.

4. Tunnel Rock, California, USA

Tunnel rock is located just inside the entrance to Sequoia National Park in Central California. A huge granite boulder beneath which the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) dug a tunnel for the roadway in 1938. The road now bypasses the 'tunnel' but visitors can walk beneath this "balanced rock".

5. Tunnel of Fish, Spain

Journey to the undersea world of the 70 meter (230 ft) tunnel at the L'Oceanografic (marine park) in Valencia, Spain where the sea life becomes part of your life. The water moves around and above you as the illuminated lights reflect off the many fish swimming through this unique tunnel.

The blue and green hues of the water and the specially designed glass used for this tunnel, reflects tourists visiting and gives the impression of almost being part of the sea existence. If staring eye to eye with these fish is not enough excitement for you, wait until you come face to face with a shark, eel or stingray. Thousands of tourists stroll this incredible tunnel every year and explore the fascinating life of many different species of fish.

6. The "L" Tunnel, Illinois, USA

This tunnel is located above the McCormick Tribune Campus Center at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

A major design challenge was the noise of the public transit tracks passing over the lot. The solution was to enclose a 530-foot (160 m) section of the tracks in a stainless steel tube passing over the building. The tube's support structure is completely independent of the building's, to minimize vibration passing between them.

7. Natural Tunnel, Virginia, USA

Natural Tunnel is a massive naturally formed cave that is so large it is used as a railroad tunnel. The tunnel's 200-foot (61m) width is large enough to accommodate trains, so in 1906 Southern Railway established a passenger line that snaked under the natural structure. Today, the passenger rail is no longer in use, but freights continue to haul coal through the tunnel on a regular basis. The awe-inducing nature of the structure led William Jennings Bryan, 1896 presidential candidate and Woodrow Wilson's secretary of state, to declare it the eighth wonder of the world.

8. Guoliang Tunnel, China

The magnificent tunnel road in the Taihang mountains was built by 13 local villagers headed by their chief, Shen Mingxin, and took around five years to finish. This tunnel was opened to traffic in 1977. The 1200 meter (3,940ft) long Guoliang tunnel is about 5 meters (16ft) high and 4 meters (13ft) wide.

The tunnel passes through the side of an almost vertical section of a mountain with many holes that looks likes windows. Traveling this road is extremely thrilling because of the seemingly bottomless cliff right next to it.