Chichén Itzá – Sacred City to Both the Maya

In the flat, sun-baked region of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, an interesting hybrid of two cultures emerged. First was the Maya, with advanced knowledge of the cosmos, then around 1000 CE the Toltec, who brought...

Thebes – Ancient Center of Egyptian Religious Life

The cyclical rhythms of nature — the annual flood of the Nile that made agriculture possible and the daily phases of the sun — became the basis for Egypt’s worldview. The cycle of birth,...

Archipelago of Tonga

The archipelago of Tonga borders the western frontier of Melanesia, yet is distinctly Polynesian in race, culture and language. The actual land area is a scant 269 square miles (433 sq. km) of verdant...

Wind-Blasted Ruins of Tiahuanaco

High on the treeless plains just south of Lake Titicaca stand the wind-blasted ruins of Tiahuanaco. Here reside the remnants of a once-great ceremonial center called the “Gateway of the Sun,” appropriately elevated on...

The Cave Temples of Ajanta & Ellora

It’s quite a proposition, getting to the ancient cave temples of Ellora and Ajanta, in far-flung Maharashtra, India, about 388km (241 miles) east of Mumbai. What really makes it worth the trip is not...

Saint Peter’s Basilica – The Heart of Christianity

The autonomous state of Vatican City (Holy See) has been the focus of Catholic pilgrims for many centuries. Crossing the Tiber River on the Ponte Sant’Angelo bridge, the visitor is welcomed to the world’s...

Lourdes – The Most Visited Pilgrimage Destination in Europe

Lourdes was hardly more than a hamlet until 1858, the year a 14-year-old peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous had the first of 18 visions of the Virgin Mary at a location called Grotte de...

Axum – First Christian Kingdom?

The holiest city of the Ethiopian Orthodox faith, Axum was founded over 2,000 years ago and is capital to one of the most glorious empires in history. The numerous churches and monasteries of Axum...

Chaco Canyon – American Cradle of Civilization

Called the “American Cradle of Civilization,” Chaco Canyon represents the most important concentration of archaeological remains in the United States. The 12-mile (19-km) long and one-mile (1.6-km) wide canyon was a thriving urban center...

Nan Madol – Venice of the Pacific

Early European explorers called Nan Madol the “Venice of the Pacific” because the ancient city was built upon a coral reef and is intersected by artificial water canals. On the remote Micronesian island of Pohnpei...

Haleakala – Very Sacred Place to Ancient Hawaiians

Everything in East Maui centers around, or is inside, the massive cone-shaped Haleakala volcano. Rising 10,023 feet (3,007 m) into the tropical sky, from a sea-level base of 33 miles (53 km) in diameter,...

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The temples of Mesopotamian soared above the flat river valley, rising tier upon tier to the sanctuaries that crowned their parapets. As centuries passed, their walls grew even higher, culminating in the colossal neo-Babylonian...