Petra is a historical and archaeological city in the Jordan that is famous for its rock cut architecture and water conduits system.  Established sometime around the sixth century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan as well as its most visited tourist attraction.  It lies on the slope of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah, the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.

Excavations have demonstrated that it was the ability of the Nabataeans to control the water supply that led to the rise of the desert city, creating an artificial oasis.  The area is visited by flash floods and archaeological evidence demonstrates the Nabataeans controlled these floods by the use of dams, cisterns, and water conduits. Continue reading Petra


Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple

The Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut is located beneath the cliffs at Deir el Bahari on the west bank of the Nile near the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.  The mortuary temple is dedicated to the sun god Amon-Ra and is located next to the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II, which served both as an inspiration, and later, a quarry.  It is considered one of the “incomparable monuments of ancient Egypt.”

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Château de Chambord

The royal Château de Chambord at Chambord, France is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinct French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures.  The building, which was never completed, was constructed by King Françoise I in part to be near to his mistress the Comtesse de Thoury, Claude Rohan, wife of Julien de Clermont, a member of a very important family of France, whose domaine, the château de Muides, was adjacent.  Her arms figure in the carved décor of the château.


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Château d’Amboise

Château d’Amboise was built on a spur above the River Loire. The strategic qualities of the site were recognized before the medieval construction of the castle, and a Gallic oppidum was built there.  In the late 9th century Ingelgarius was made viscount of Orléans and through his mother was related to Hugh the Abbot, tutors to the French kings. Ingelgarius married Adelais, a member of a prominent family (a bishop and archbishop were her uncles) who controlled Château d’Amboise. He was later made Count of the Angevins and his rise can be attributed to his political connections and reputation as a soldier.

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Villa Torlonia

Villa Torlonia is a villa and surrounding gardens in Rome, Italy, formerly belonging to the Torlonia family.  It is entered from the via Nomentana.  It was designed by the neo-Classic architect Giuseppe Valadier.  Construction began in 1806 for the banker Giovanni Torlonia (1756-1829) and was finished by his son Alessandro (1800-1880).  Disused for a time, Mussolini rented it from the Torlonia for one lira a year to use as his state residence from the 1920s onwards.  It was abandoned after 1945, and allowed to decay in the following decades, but recent restoration work has allowed it to be opened to the public as a museum owned and operated by Rome’s municipality.

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