10 Tourist Attractions to Visit Before You Die
From the towering engineering marvel that is the Golden Gate Bridge, to Taj Mahal’s majestic beauty, here are ten landmarks you need to visit at least once in your life.
1. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Superlatives flow when describing this world-famous landmark. It is the third-largest single-span bridge ever built, and, when it was erected, it was the longest and tallest suspension structure. Named after the part of San Francisco Bay dubbed “Golden Gate” in the mid-19th century, the bridge opened in 1937. There are breathtaking views of the bay from this spectacular structure, which has six lanes for vehicles as well as a pathway for pedestrians and cyclists.
2. Taj Mahal, India
One of the world’s most famous buildings, the Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631. Its perfect proportions and exquisite craftsmanship have been described as “a vision, a dream, a poem, a wonder.” This sublime garden-tomb, an image of the Islamic garden of paradise, cost nearly 41 million rupees and 1,100 lb. of gold.
3. CN Tower, Toronto
This 1,815 ft. high engineering marvel has been classified as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. In the 1970s, the railway conglomerate Canadian National Railway (CN), in consultation with local broadcasters, decided to build a transmission mast to meet Toronto’s growing telecommunication needs and to demonstrate its pride in the city. Upon its opening, the tower so impressed visitors that it soon became one of Canada’s principal tourist attractions. Its revolving restaurant is renowned for both its food and wine, and its spectacular views.
4. Petra, Ma’an Governorate, Jordan
Set deep in the rock and protected by the walls of a valley is one of the world’s most marvelously preserved and impressive archeological sites: Petra. There have been human settlement here since prehistoric times, but before the Nabataeans came, Petra was just another watering hole. Between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century AD, they built a superb city, the center of a vast trading empire. In AD 106, Petra was annexed by Rome. Christianity arrived in the 4th century, the Muslims in the 7th and the Crusaders in the 12th. Petra then lay forgotten until the early 19th century.
5. Newgrange, Ireland
The origins of Newgrange, one of the most important passage graves in Europe, are steeped in mystery. According to Celtic lore, the legendary kings of Tara were buried here, but Newgrange predates them. The grave was left untouched by all invaders except the Danish, who raided its burial chambers in the 9th century. In 1699, it was rediscovered by a local landowner, Charles Campbell Scott. When it was excavated in the 1960s, archeologist Professor M.J. O’Kelly discovered that on the winter solstice, December 21, rays of sunlight enter the tomb and light up the burial chamber – making it one the world’s oldest solar observatories.
6. Tower of London, England
Soon after he became king in 1066, William the Conqueror built a castle to guard the entrance to London from the Thames Estuary. In 1097, the White Tower, standing today at the centre of the complex, was completed in sturdy stone; other fine buildings were added over the centuries to create one of the most powerful and formidable fortresses in Europe. The tower has served as a royal residence, an armoury, a treasury, and, most famously, as a prison for enemies of the crown. Many prisoners were tortured, and among those who met their death here were the “Princes in the Tower,” the sons and heirs of Edward IV. Today, the tower is a popular attraction, housing the Crown Jewels and other priceless exhibits – powerful reminders of royal might and wealth.
7. Empire State Building, New York
One of the world’s most famous buildings, the Empire State Building broke all the height records when it was first finished. Construction began in March 1930, not long after the Wall Street Crash, and by the time it opened in 1931, it was so hard to find anyone to fill it that it was nicknamed the “Empty State Building.” Only the popularity of its observatories saved it from bankruptcy. However, the building was soon seen as a symbol of New York throughout the world.
8. Rocamadour, France
Pilgrims have flocked to Rocamadour since the discovery in 1166 of an ancient grave and sepulcher containing an undecayed body, said to be that of the early Christian hermit St. Amadour. King Louis IX, St. Bernard and St. Dominic were among many who visited the site as a spate of miracles were heralded, it is claimed, by the bell above the Black Virgin and Child in the Chapel of Nortre-Dame. Although the town suffered with the decline of pilgrimages in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was heavily restored in the 19th century. Still a holy shrine, as well as a popular tourist destination, the site above the Alzou valley is phenomenal.
9. Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, Quebec
The shrine to St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, is the oldest pilgrimage site in North America. In 1620, a group of sailors who had survived a shipwreck established the shrine and dedicated it to St. Anne. In 1658, a chapel was erected and since then several churches have been built on this site. The fifth and present one, which dates from the 1920s, receives 1.5 million visitors every year, including those who come for the annual pilgrimage on St. Anne’s feast day (July 26). The collection of crutches inside the basilica’s entrance bears witness to its reputation for miraculous cures. Inside, the dome-vaulted ceiling is decorated with gold mosaics portraying the life of St. Anne. She is also represented in a large gilt statue in the transept, cradling the Virgin Mary.
10. York Minister, England
The largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, York Minister is 519 ft. long and 249 ft. wide across its transepts, and houses the biggest collection of medieval stained glass in Britain. The word “minister” usually refers to a cathedral served by monks, but priests always served at York. The first minister began as a wooden chapel, used to baptize King Edwin of Northumbria in 627. There have been several cathedrals on or near the site, including an 11th-century Norman structure. The present minster was begun in 1229 and completed 250 years later. In July 1984, the south transept roof was destroyed by fire. Restoration cost $4 million.