UNESCO Historical

Machu Picchu

Link to Wikipedia

Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel in southern Peru.  At 7,970 feet above sea level, Machu Picchu sits high above the Sacred Valley northwest of Cuzco.

Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was constructed as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). It is the most familiar icon of Inca civilization. The estate was abandoned during the Spanish Conquest and remained unknown to the outside world until American historian Hiram Bingham rediscovered the site in 1911.

Built in Inca style with polished dry-stone walls, there are three primary structures: 1. Intihuatana, 2. the Temple of the Sun, and 3. the Room of the Three Windows.

UNESCO declared Machu Picchu a World Heritage Site in 1983.

Budapest, Hungary

Stop #25

This was my second visit to Budapest, with my first visit about 15 or so years ago.  The city is as beautiful as I remember it, but this time it felt like there were a lot more tourists.  I was probably too ambitious about seeing as much as possible in the day and a half that we spent there, clocking just about 22 miles on my iWatch in one day!  But I’ll have great photos to remember this city for the rest of my life, so it was a small price to pay!

There are three additional portfolios for Budapest and the links are below.  I wanted to capture more details of each because I remembered them being some of the most incredibly beautiful places from the last time I visited this city.


  • Hungarian Parliament – this was one of our first stops.  I got pictures just after sunset and during twilight and then returned the next morning for dawn pictures.
  • Buda Castle – now a museum, it is the building you see on the hill with the green dome in all the pictures of the Buda side of Budapest.
  • Fisherman’s Bastion – I visited early morning to beat tourists and then returned with Randy later in the afternoon.
  • Liberty Statue on Gellért Hill – we climbed this hill after I had already been walking around for miles that day, so I was a little pooped at the top.
  • Heroes’ Square in City Park – we caught this during the golden hour!
  • National Theatre
  • St. Stephen’s Basilica – we visited before leaving so I just realized that the photos are still on the memory card in my camera…oops.
  • Széchenyi Chain Bridge – the pretty bridge with the lions on each end.

Krakow, Poland

Stop #6

By far, this is one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever seen. It rivals Prague and Budapest, which are both extraordinary.


  • Royal Wawel Castle and Cathedral –  Today it is a museum housing the Crown Treasury & Armory, State Rooms, Royal and Private Apartments, Lost Wawel, and Exhibition of Oriental Art. We needed separate tickets for each of them, so we splurged and it was worth it! The State Rooms and the Private Apartments were the best part. The Cathedral was consecrated in 1364! And the original was founded in the 11th century!
  • The main square is Rynek Glowny (main square) – Europe’s largest medieval town square (200m x 200m).
  • Town Hall Tower – The Tower is the only remaining part of the old Kraków Town Hall (Ratusz,) demolished in 1820 as part of the city plan to open up the Main Square.
  • St Mary’s Basilica –  The first church was built in the 1220s. The views from the tower are a real highlight and have amazing views of the whole city.
  • The Church of Saints Peter and Paul is a Roman Catholic, Polish Baroque church built between 1597–1619. It is the biggest of the historic Churches of Kraków.
  • Florian’s Street is one of the main streets in the Old Town.
  • On our way out of town, we visited Schindler’s factory, which housed the former enamel factory of Oskar Schindler, the Nazi who famously saved the lives of his Jewish labor force during the Holocaust.

In 2000, Kraków was named European Capital of Culture.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this 13th century historic center is a merchant’s town with Europe’s largest market square and numerous historical houses, palaces, and churches with their magnificent interiors.  The town’s fascinating history also includes remnants of 14th century fortifications and the medieval site of Kazimierz with its ancient synagogues, Jegellonian University, and the Gothic Cathedral where the kings of Poland were buried.

Toledo, Spain

Stop #16:

We started our trip to Toledo in Castile– La Mancha, the land of Don Quixote.  You will see the windmills in the photos below.  In Toledo, everything seems to be about El Greco’s paintings.  But driving into Toledo is a wonderful experience, with views of the walls, fortress, churches visible for miles.

Toledo sits on a rocky mount with steep hills, and is surrounded on three sides by the Tagus River. The original Alcázar dates from 192 BC and was built by the Romans.  It has been updated since then by the Visigoths and the Moors.

Highlights include:

  • Alcázar- with four columns and visible in many photos below.
  • Cathedral – Most of the building dates to the early 15th century; it features a depiction of Mary presenting her robe to Ildefonsus, Toledo’s patron saint, archbishop of the city in the 7th century. This Cathedral was inspired by Chartres and other Gothic cathedrals in France.  In the middle of the ambulatory is an exemplary baroque “illusionism” by Narciso Tomé known as the Transparente, a blend of painting, stucco, and sculpture. The Cathedral has several El Grecos.
  • Puente de Alcántara. Roman in origin, this is the city’s oldest bridge. Next to it is a heavily restored castle built after the Christian capture of 1085 . We took many photos from the other side of this bridge.
  • Puente de San Martín. This pedestrian bridge on the western side of Toledo is where we took some of the night photos.

Thanks to Fodor’s Travel Guides, Trip Advisor, and Wikipedia for the great lessons that helped me to plan and summarize this trip.

Córdoba, Spain

Stop 12:


  • The Roman Walls surrounding Cordoba were built after the Romans captured the city in 206 BC.  The walls are now part of a UNESCO World Heritage site designating the town’s historic center.
  • Mezquita (Mosque) – see this portfolio here.  The Mezquita is Córdoba’s mosque that was converted to a Cathedral in the 13th century.  It is so beautiful that it required its own portfolio.
  • Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Fortress of the Christian Monarchs). Built by Alfonso XI in 1328, the Alcázar is a Mudejar-style palace with splendid gardens. (The original Moorish Alcázar stood beside the Mezquita, on the site of the present Bishop’s Palace.).  The Christopher Columbus statues and pools and fountains were located here.
  • The Caliphal Baths are Arab baths located in the Cordoba’s historic center and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.   Photos are below.
  • Madinat Al-Zahra (Medina Azahara). This building no longer exists in full form.  It is basically some ruins currently being restored and excavated and a museum. Abd ar-Rahman III built this massive building in the foothills of the Sierra Morena by for his favorite concubine, az-Zahra (the Flower) starting in 936 and continuing for 25 years. In 1013, it was sacked and destroyed by Berber mercenaries and wasn’t rediscovered until 1944.

Thanks to Fodor’s Travel Guides, Trip Advisor, and Wikipedia for the great lessons that helped me to plan and summarize this trip.

St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg, located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, used to be called Petrograd (from 1914) and Leningrad (in 1924) and back to Saint Petersburg in 1991.

Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703. From 1713 to 1728 and from 1732 to 1918, Saint Petersburg was the Imperial capital of Russia. In 1918 the central government bodies moved from Saint Petersburg to Moscow. 

The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monumentsconstitute are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saint Petersburg's Hermitage is also the largest art museum in the world.


Related Portfolios


The featured picture, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, was demolished during the Soviet period, and later reconstructed from 1990–2000.  The rest of the photos were equally thought provoking and brought me back to a time when I was young and completely fearful that the Soviets were going to threaten our existence and our future. Some of my favorite sites included St. Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square and our trip out to Moscow University.  I also liked the view of the Moscow International Business Center and the cityscape from the Western side of the city.

Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Link to Wikipedia

The Summer Palace is a vast complex of lakes, gardens, and palaces in Beijing. While it was an imperial garden in Qing Dynasty, the Summer Palace dates back to the Jin dynasty in 1153, when the Jin capital was moved from Huining Prefecture to Yanjing in the Fragrant Hills and Jade Spring Hill in the northwest of Beijing.

In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List. It declared the Summer Palace “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value”.