Sunday Special – Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), Japan

Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion, close up – Photo is Public Domain:
Brücke-Osteuropa2011 Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto 1CC0 1.0

Glittering in the sun due to its gold leaf exterior is one of Kyoto’s most recognizable and loved sites – The Golden Pavilion, commonly called Kinkaku-ji in Japanese (though its official name is
Rokuon-ji – 鹿苑寺). Standing stately it is among an esteemed group of historic UNESCO World Heritage Sites collectively referred to at the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. The Golden Pavilion, reflecting its beauty on the mirror pond surrounding it, was constructed back in 1397 for the shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Further buildings were constructed later on and it became the Kinkaku-ji complex. Upon the death of the shōgun his son made the complex into a beautiful Zen Garden which has remained important to the monks since. During the Onin War in the 1400s the complex was, sadly devastated by fire with only the Golden Pavilion surviving. Restoration of the gardens ensued and it remained so until 1950 when a novice monk burned down the pavilion. Once again it was rebuilt, keeping very close to the original design.

Kinkaku-ji and gardens in Kyoto, Japan – Photo credit:
Ilya GrigorikKinkaku Ji Kyoto (129498505)CC BY-SA 3.0

Today the Golden Pavilion is Kyoto’s most visited site. Gathering from the photos I’ve seen I can understand why. Wandering the gardens, admiring the pond, taking in the history, and seeing the architecture sounds wonderful. Since it is so popular do expect that there will be crowds. It is located north of Kyoto is can take about 30 – 40 minutes to arrive, depending on your mode of transportation. There are buses that leave regularly from Kyoto Station. There is also the option of hiring a taxi or booking a tour so doing some research may be of benefit.

Sunday Special – Brú na Bóinne Monument, Ireland

Brú na Bóinne. An area of continual human settlement going back to the Neolithic era found is found in the east of Ireland (County Meath), at the bend of the River Boyne. Here you will find buildings made so long ago that they pre-date the Pyramids of Egypt. Now that is old. I need to get myself here on my next visit to the Emerald Isle. And being only about 40 km / 25 miles north of Dublin makes it quite accessible.

Aerial photo of Knowth passage tombs at Brú na Bóinne, Ireland – Photo credit:
Raemond CarolanDowth Passage Tomb 3CC BY-SA 4.0

In this UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1993) you will find the three passage tombs of Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth (filled with Megalithic artwork) along with numerous monuments that show the ingenuity and skill of the ancient architects of that time. The incredible area is the largest of its kind in Europe at a size of 780 ha / 1,927 acres. The monuments range from those of social, commerce and funerary design. It has been determined that the passage tombs were constructed around 3,300 BCE through to 2,900 BCE with extensive consideration of solar and equinox alignment. It appears the architects knew what they were doing. Visiting this ancient part of Ireland is possible though only via guided tours and tickets are required.

Newgrange passage tombs in
Brú na Bóinne , Ireland
– Photo credit:
ConoroharaBrú na Bóinne – 20170705121243CC BY-SA 4.0

Sunday Special – Golden Bridge, Vietnam

They appear as age-old weathered hands upholding a golden rope above the lush forests of the Bà Nà Hills. Not far from Da Nang, Vietnam, The Golden Bridge (Cau Vang) overlooks the Annamese Mountains (Dãy Trường Sơn) providing both a vast view of nature while taking in modern engineering and sculpture. Although you may think the hands have existed here for centuries they were, in fact, purposely designed to appear aged, as though they were always presenting the gold hued bridge as an offering.

The Golden Bridge, Vietnam. Photo credit:
Trung Le, Golden Bridge (Vietnam)CC BY 2.0

Bà Nà Hills was originally created as a resort town that opened in the early twentieth century CE by French colonists. Although the old resort no longer remains other attractions have come to the area over the years including a single-track cable car that is the longest in the world. The newest addition is the 150 m/ 492 ft bridge and it has wowed those who have visited. It may seem you can touch the clouds as you meander along at 1,400 m / 4,600 ft above sea level, marvelling at both nature and the engineering of man.

Sunday Special – Puente Nuevo Bridge, Ronda, Spain

One of the things I like about Instagram is that you see so many interesting places in the world by simply exploring. Because I like and post travel photos that is what pops up frequently in my feed and under “explore”. That is how I found out about this amazing looking bridge in the Andalusia region of Spain.

Not far from the city of Malaga lies the town of Ronda to the west. A small town of 35,000 residents it boasts history from the neolithic area,  the Romans, the Berbers, and is even the location for a portion of Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. This historic location is where this incredible bridge was built. The Puente Nuevo Bridge was constructed over 34 years beginning in 1759 CE. It is the newest and highest of three bridges in Ronda that stretch over a 120 m gorge running through the town. The Puente Nuevo Bridge, along with the Puente Romano and Puente Viejo bridge, connect the town and are points of interest in and of themselves. 


The incredible Puente Nueva Bridge connecting the city of Ronda, Spain – photo credit: Michal Osmenda from Brussels, Belgium, The Puente Nuevo in Ronda (7077354065)CC BY 2.0


Puente Nueva Bridge in Ronda, Spain – photo credit: Bert from Netherlands, Puente Nuevo de RondaCC BY 2.0