Best Christmas Decorations Around the World

The entire world is soon going to indulge with the Christmas celebrations in full fervor and pompous. people will get busy decorating their homes, buying gifts and sending Christmas messages to their loved ones. The festival of Santa Claus and Christmas tree is incomplete without the elaborate decorations.

Long before the festival month begins, the decorations begin everywhere on the globe.

Here is a list of the best decorated places in the world:

1) Paris

The city of love and fashion!! For the fashion freaks and the duos, this place is the best. The romantic Eiffel tower is lit up with millions of lights. With snowfall and the beautiful decoration the city looks more glamorous than the entire year.

Pastry shops serve special Christmas cakes and puddings, French toasts, turkeys and fish fillets. You hear carols as background music everywhere. It’s a merry making time.

2) Sydney

Far away in the opposite corner of the world Sydney has a colourful Christmas, again a warmer destination. The biggest Christmas tree in Martin Place is a huge decoration.

A cruise ride in Sydney during Christmas is a only one of its kind experience. A beach Christmas is something where you get to do only in Sydney.

For the animal lovers Christmas can be spent at the Taronga Zoo. The markets are open at night hours as well. The carol concerts and the fireworks in the sky it’s like a real 3D movie.

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and beautiful” – Norman Vincent Peale

3) Beijing

Though China doesn’t have a major Christian population, Christmas is celebrated with high spirits in the beautifully decorated city. The blue lights give a very soothing decoration.

The market is the main attraction for tourists. The shops are bright lit with lights. Some of the restraints serve the best of Christmas flavours. It’s a peaceful merry making season.

4) Mexico

The piñatas and the handmade brown paper candle decorations. This place is the most beautifully decorated for an old soul’s satisfaction.

The fireworks light up the sky on the Christmas Eve midnight mass. The pocadas are beautiful processions of people. Every house has a miniature of Bethlehem and is nativing. It’s a time machine’s destination to baby Jesus birth era.

5) New York

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is the most spectacular part of the city. Not one but dozens of Christmas trees are decorated. Rest are in snow only the main one is decorated with stockings, stars, bells etc.

The Times square has a bazillion things happening. There is confetti falling from the sky, the LED’s glowing like anything and the music hardcore. The crowd in itself is a decoration!!!

6) London

The Oxford Street has a different kind of light and a different colour the city looks like a rainbow amidst the snowy surroundings.

Wreaths hanging at every door, stockings, bells, Christmas trees and the lights, it’s a old style Christmas. The countryside is even more sweetly decorated.

7) Munich

Marienplatz area has the hundred foot tall Christmas tree. The entire city is wrapped in golden lights. The archaic buildings look even more authoritative and conventional in the traditional Christmas decoration.

It’s a very peaceful, silent and nostalgic Christmas celebration. The decoration is like a beautiful golden mesh of delicate wires, a veil of the city.

8) Tokyo

Japanese Christian population is not significant. However the Japanese are known for their brilliance and etiquettes. The floors are laid with lights like a sea of lights.

The trees are decorated with lights and goodies. The decorations are sophisticated and have the signature of the peace loving country.

9) Italy

The city on water Venice is the most beautiful sight during Christmas time. The ferries are decorated with flowers, wreath and even small Christmas trees,

Roman Colosseum in Christmas decorations will give you feels!!! It is the most beautiful royal landscape.

The snow covered roads reflect the scenic beauty of the country like a mirror ball.

10) Hungary

The entire country is a mellow display of lights. Budapest has beautiful lights crossing over the top. The street lights are decorated like old lamp posts. Angels made of lights are put up everywhere.

The roadsides are filled with Christmas trees. Unlike the huge ones, many tiny ones are all along the roads. It’s like a painter’s canvas!!

Enjoy the festival the way you want to, decorate your homes, light up your hearts and do the thanksgiving. Wish you all a merry Christmas!! Do share your experiences in the comments section.

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Top Things To Do In Mazatlan

Believe it or not, I sometimes do take from architecture as a profession and hobby. During these times I travel to far flung places. Here is one of those places. I hope you too also take a break from architecture, buildings and designs and taste something different for a change.

Located along the Pacific Coast, at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains, Mazatlan is Mexico’s biggest commercial port and a sought-after tourist destination for both, land-based vacations as well as cruise trips. Once a party destination for spring breakers, the resort town of Mazatlan has emerged into a travel spot for families, older tourists and budget travelers. Nicknamed as the “Pearl of the Pacific” because of its golden beaches and marine life, Mazatlan offers attractions and activities to suit everyone’s tastes.

Best Time To Visit Mazatlan

The best time to visit Mazatlan is during the months of October and November. The rainy season is over, temperatures are in the high 80s and many hotels still offer very good deals, but to enjoy all these perks of the fall season, you must do you bookings well in advance. December to March is peak season so expect inflated hotel rates and crowds. June to September is a soggy wreck with frequent rainstorms. You can also save a buck by visiting in April or May.

Getting Around in Mazatlan

The public bus system in the city is simple to use and easy on the pockets too. If you plan to tour the town with many stops in between, you can opt for a taxi or rent in a car.  Another option to tour Mazatlan is in the open-air carts or Pulmonias. They are pricier than taxis but allow you to experience the local culture closely!

Must-See Attractions in Mazatlan

In Centro Historico or Old Mazatlan, check out the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, a magnificent 19th century cathedral and your cameras will not stop clicking. Treat your taste buds to some delicious shrimp tacos and papas locos (giant baked potatoes) available with the street side vendors. Stroll by the beautiful statues of the Malecon and watch an evening performance at the Teatro Angela Peralta, the Opera House. Also, a must-see is the sea lion show and the bird theater in the Mazatlan Aquarium, the largest of its kind in Mexico. Take a tour of the Pacifico brewery that offers samples of ales and lagers only available south of the border and check out Pueblo Viejo or the ‘Old Town’ characterized by its cobbled streets and historic buildings. If you have time, you must experience the sunrise from atop the El Faro, the highest operating lighthouse in the world.

Outdoor Activities in Mazatlan

Water sports rule in this seaside resort town. Tourists can hire water sports equipment like kayaks, banana boats and snorkeling gear (for snorkeling & diving click here for more destinations) from the several tour and travel companies scattered throughout town. Jet skiing and kayaking excursions are also available. Surfing, sport fishing and whale watching are popular activities here and the city is home to the choicest of surfing spots. Birding and horseback riding tours offer a more easygoing beat. In recent times, golf courses designed by Lee Trevino and Robert Trent Jones Jr. have aided Mazatlan evolve as a golfing destination.

Accommodations and Dining In Mazatlan

Like most resort towns, Mazatlan offers a variety of accommodation options. Golden Zone or ‘Zona Dorada’ features most of the beachfront hotels, resorts, and restaurants. Room tariff is economical as compared to room rates in the US. Hotels in the downtown area tend to be less expensive but the rates rise as you move north and into the Zona Dorada. Mazatlan also offers a varied assortment of eateries, from fine dining restaurants to the budget ‘loncheries’ which serve only lunch. Mazatlan is home to one of the biggest shrimp fleets in the world, which is why fresh shrimp is usually on the menu.

Nightlife in Mazatlan

Mazatlan parties late into the nights. American students throng here for spring break and at the end of February, the locals get on to the streets with live music and dancing to celebrate a weeklong festival. Each Sunday night, the Hotel Playa Mazatlan exhibits a free fireworks display on the beach in front of the hotel.

Shopping In Mazatlan

There are plentiful of shopping options available in Mazatlan. Shop for local goods like pottery, clothing and crafts right outside the historic center. Zona Dorada may have the biggest collection of shops, but tourists need to be careful as this area is a major tourist trap. Mazatlan also has open-air markets and indoor shopping mall for goods like local arts and crafts, silver jewelry and souvenirs.

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How I Relished Old World Architecture In Merida

Merida is the largest city on the Yucatan peninsula, with a population of around 1 million. By virtue of its local customs, colonial homes, hidden courtyards and tropical gardens, the city of Merida maintains a very easygoing and an old-world feel.

The cultured Mexican city of Merida enjoys a vibrant ambience with music concerts, dance and art exhibitions, local carnivals and religious celebrations being organized almost throughout the year. But the day-to-day affairs move at a laid-back beat, thanks to the Caribbean climate.

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With several hotels and restaurants, cultural appeal and a bustling shopping scene, Merida, the Yucatan capital, is not only an important tourist center but is also the perfect base for exploring the nearby Mayan ruins and natural wonders of the area. If you happen to be in Cancun, then Merida should be in your list as it has an old world charm which is a huge departure from resort towns in the area.

ATMOSPHERE

Merida happens to be one of the safest cities in Mexico along with Playa del Carmen, so you can enjoy being a tourist here without ever feeling like one. Old limestone mansions dating back to the 19th century border the wide boulevards. Palacio Canton, one of the most decorated mansions of the city. Located on the city’s grandest boulevard, Paseo Montejo, this mansion is home to an archaeological museum that features Mayan treasures. The streets, which are lined by trees, are scattered with food-cart vendors and beautifully decorated horse-drawn carriages that are the main mode of getting around in the city. There is a lot of hustle-bustle around the city centre and market area, especially on weekend nights when the narrow streets around its central plaza are closed to traffic and music from the sidewalk cafes fills the air.

MAYAN INFLUENCE

Francisco de Montejo of Spain conquered the Mayan city of T’ho in 1542. The limestone buildings of T’ho reminded him of the ancient Roman structures of Merida in Spain and hence he renamed this city as Merida. The Mayan culture reflects in almost every aspect of this city – the architecture, cuisine, art, music, language and even the regional costumes!

ACCOMODATIONS

Merida offers visitors a variety of unique accommodations. The old mansions in Merida are a representation of the wealth made in this region in the 19th century. Most of these colonial homes of the city have been transformed into luxury inns and hotels. Some travelers prefer putting up in one of the luxury haciendas (restored plantations) in the countryside that offer spa services and eco-tours of the jungle.

DINING

Merida’s food scene is flourishing due to locavores and gourmet chefs. The trademark flavors of Mayan cuisine are sour orange, habanero chiles and roasted meats, but Merida is a cosmopolitan city where chefs merge local ingredients, like fresh fish and tropical fruits, into present-day savories. Many restaurants in Merida offer ‘courtyard dining’ where guests can relish a leisurely dinner by candlelight, under the stars, ringed by bewitching flowers and plants.

SHOPPING

A large number of shoppers flock to Mérida’s busy market district where vendors offer a colorful mix of jazzy mementos. Top quality local products in Merida include the famous Yucatecan hammocks, lacework, linens, guayaberas (lightweight shirts for men), Panama hats, local baskets, pottery, spices, embroidered huipils (wee-peels) and rebozos (lightweight shawls, worn by Mayan women).

DAY TRIPS

Merida is in close proximity to world-famous Mayan ruin sites such as Chichen Itza (74 miles to the east) and Uxmal (50 miles to the southeast).

Hacienda de Sotuta de Peon is a henequen plantation just 25 miles south of Merida, where visitors can view the harvesting of the fiber that was used to make ‘sisal’, which is an important product in the Yucatan even today.

The small and charming community of Izamal is just a 45-minutes drive west of Merida. Graced as “magical” by the Mexican government for its charm and eternal appeal, Izamal is a peaceful retreat of colonial buildings built on the top of an ancient Mayan center.

60 miles to the southwest of Merida is the seaside community of Celestun, which happens to be the breeding ground for one of the world’s biggest flamingo flocks.

To beat the crowds and the heat, it’s a good idea to visit these sites in the early Morning.

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10 Most Unique Buildings Of The World

The human mind never fails to astonish us with its creativity. Architecture is one such discipline where its creative faculties are best employed. Here we present to you a list of 10 unique architectural marvels which have caught the eye of one and all due to their alluring designs. Some of these buildings are quite strange and bizarre while some have really great architecture. You might be even shocked to know that some of these exist, really.

1. THE CROOKED HOUSE

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The Crooked House is located in Rezydent Shopping Centre, Sopot, Poland. It might be a little difficult to believe, but it is actually designed ‘crooked’. The house was built in 2003 and was designed by the architect Szotynscy Zaleski and whoever sees the house cannot help but wonder how he must have thought of such a strange design. It is spread over an area of 4000 square meters. Though it is crooked, the house is still symmetrical and so it just looks weird and not ugly to look at.

2. THE FOREST SPIRAL, GERMANY

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The Forest Spiral is located in Darmstadt, Germany. It is a residential building complex shaped in the form of a spiral. The designer of the building is Friedensreich Hundertwasser, an artist, and the architect is Heinz Springmann. It is also called the Hundertwasser building. The building is beautifully designed with the right use of colours giving it a dazzling appearance. It has a green roof, 12 floors, 105 apartments, an artificial lake, a playground and a courtyard too. It appears as though the windows are out of order.

3. THE BASKET BUILDING, UNITED STATES

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The Basket Building is located in Newark, Ohio, United States. It is shaped like a huge picnic basket and it actually is the world’s largest basket. It is actually Longaberger’s home office. It is a 7-story building and spreads over a vast area. It has recently been announced that the building is for sale.

4. HABITAT 67, MONTREAL, CANADA

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The Habitat 67 housing complex is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. This building was built as a part of the Expo-67. It looks like cubes arranged over each other. Each of the houses in the complex has its own garden. Though the building looks unstable due to its design, but it is quite comfortable to live in. The architect of the building is Moshe Safdie. The project under which the building was constructed was actually intended to create affordable houses for people, which are closely spaced, but also private at the same time.

5. THE DANCING BUILDING, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

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The Nationale-Nederlanden building in Prague, Czech Republic is also known as the ‘Fred and Ginger’ building and more popularly as the dancing building. Well, these names are due to the fluid design of the building. The building was completed in 1996 and was designed by the architect Vlado Milunic in cooperation with a Canadian architect Frank Gehry. This building was constructed on an empty riverfront plot. It has a unique design with the towers of the building spiralling around each other. It is made of glass and has ancient architecture. The Celeste Restaurant is located on the top floor. You can view the Prague Castle from the restaurant while relishing your favourite dish here.

6. THE CUBIC HOUSES, NETHERLANDS

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The Cubic Houses in Rotterdam, Netherlands have been built by the architect Piet Blom. The building has been built over a pedestrian bridge. It has 38 cubes attached to each other at different angles, resembling the branches of a tree and together forming a forest like structure of cubes. Each of these cubes has three levelled living areas. Together, it appears to be a beautiful piece of architecture.

7. NATIONAL CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, CHINA

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Abbreviated as NCPA, the National Centre for the Performing Arts is located in the sprawling city of Beijing, China. It is an opera house shaped like an ellipsoid dome due to which it looks like a huge egg and is also called The Giant Egg. It is made of glass and titanium and looks stunning. The construction of this building took 6 years, from December 2001 to December 2007. It has three halls which can seat 5,452 people and is surrounded by an artificial lake. The building covers an area of 12,000 metre square. It was a designed by a French architect Paul Andreu.

8. PIANO AND VIOLIN BUILDING, CHINA

piano-building

And we have another one on our list from China. This bizarre, but elegant building shaped like a giant piano and a violin, is located in Huainan, China. It was built in 2007 and is a showroom for city planners. It was designed by the designers from Huainan Fangkai Decoration Project Company and the architecture students from the Hefey University of Technology.

9. THE NAUTILUS HOUSE, MEXICO

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This beautiful shell-shaped house was built in 2006 by Javier Senosiain, a Mexican artist of Arquitectura Organica. It is located near Mexico City and has been designed as per the concept of bio-architecture. The idea of bio-architecture promotes the use of the natural forms of life in architecture, which in this case is the aquatic life. The complete design of the house is quite innovative, unique and a complete blend of the modern and contemporary styles of architecture. The house has a dominant organic theme and will make you feel close to nature. The whole idea about the house aims to create and maintain a harmony with nature. The house also has an indoor garden.

10. BMW WELT, GERMANY

bmw-welt

The BMW Welt in Munich, Germany is one of a kind as far as its architecture is concerned. It was constructed during 2003-2007 by Wolf Prix from the architectural firm Coop Himmelblau. Its design is one of the best among the car delivery centres in Germany. Adding to all this, the luxury showroom is also solar powered. It has high grade solar panels on the roof to capture the solar energy which is then distributed to the whole building. It also has thermally efficient surfaces within, to maintain constant temperature as well as natural ventilation systems. The building has a public gallery, a children’s centre and a conference suite.

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Looking for a home in Playa del Carmen? Overlook these 7 flaws

Individual tastes and preferences will always defer no matter what. Everybody loves personalisation as it gives a sense of ownership. There is scope for personalisation in every aspect even while buying a home in Playa del Carmen.

In fact a house gives utmost freedom to decorate it as the owners want. Therefore this should fact should be kept in mind while finalizing a house as sometimes buyers tend to put off a deal just because they are not satisfied with minor features such as paint or wallpapers.

Since buying a house in Playa del Carmen is in itself a huge investment that people don’t want to spend on other repairs. However real estate experts that home owners should deter from minor repairs or expenses. While deciding on the budget is advisable to keep spare money to cover some minor repairs which are as follows:

  • Wallpaper: This is a minute aspect one would want to lose a perfect deal over. The taste of buyer and seller will definitely defer hence be reflected in the choice of wallpapers. This doesn’t mean it is some irreversible damage. Very often one indulges in home improvement after couple of years residing in it. But there is no harm in doing it before one formally starts residing in a new house.
  • Kitchen cabinets: Style is ever changing and appliances of utility need constant renewal. This applies to kitchen cabinets as cabinet re-facing is an inexpensive task. With few extra bucks one can make the old cabinets and drawers look new.
  • Unnecessary wall adornments: Mirrors are common in this category which was a rage sometime back. With the changing trend one would like to put some wall hanging or painting. If none suits then one can simply paint it for the fresh look.
  • Window decor: One of the most noticeable features of a house is the windows. If they are done in a tasteless manner then it might put off the buyer. But one should remember that it gives an opportunity to the perspective buyer to incorporate in their rich style.
  • Broken heating or cooling system: Both are quintessential for modern day living. If the damage isn’t too huge and under control then the house should be given a thumbs up. Decisions shouldn’t be hasty as it might lead to over-estimation of costs.
  • Closet doors: Closets are essentials and it is important that they remain in perfect condition as valuables are stored in them. However a few missing doors isn’t some damage that cannot be repaired.
  • Bathroom grout: A discolored one is a signal for danger as majority of buyers understand it as a sign of a moldy house. They shouldn’t base their judgment on just what they see. A home inspector should be contacted to find out the real damage and whether it can be fixed with a little scrubbing.

At the end of the day it is definitely the buyers call but they need to be guided properly. Some issues which seem huge at the surface might be a superficial one. Hence a good buyer should go to the depth of the problem to figure out its impact and not stick to ‘seeing is believing’ phrase.

This is a post by our author of the week, Marco. He is a real estate expert and blogger. He frequently writes on real estate, travel and good.

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10 Most Beautiful Churches Of The World

Here, we present to you a list of the 10 most beautiful churches of the world. These churches are some of the best examples of architectural excellence and despite your religious beliefs, you will definitely appreciate these beautiful masterpieces of art. Some of these churches are centuries old and have ancient architecture, while some are embellished with modern art.

The traditional churches are usually in the shape of a cross with a dome, while the structure of the modern ones varies over a wide range of architectural designs.

However, whether traditional or modern, all the churches on this list are definitely worth visiting. So, read on to get a glimpse of these sacred marvels.

1. THE SAGRADA FAMILIA, BARCELONA, SPAIN

sagrada_familia

The Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic Church located in Barcelona, Spain. It is a large church and was designed by a Catalan architect named Antoni Gaudi. This church is one of the most beautiful churches that you will see in your lifetime. The construction of the church began in 1882 and it is still incomplete. However, the church is still a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture of the church is a combination of Gothic and curvilinear styles. It has a number of structural columns and arches. In November 2010, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed it as a minor basilica. The spires of the church are yet to be completed, after which, Sagrada Familia will become the tallest church in the world as well as the church with the tallest spires.

2. ST. BASIL’S CATHEDRAL, MOSCOW, RUSSIA

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The St. Basil’s Cathedral is the popular name for the ‘Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat’. This one is a Russian orthodox church located at the Red Square in Moscow, Russia. The church was constructed during the period 1555-1591 under Ivan, the Terrible as a symbol of his capture of Kazan and Astrakhan and is the geometric centre of Moscow.  This church has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. The design of the church is what makes it so unique. It is shaped like flames of bonfire rising into the sky and this particular design has no analogues in Russian architecture. It is often referred to as Kremlin due to its being located in the Red Square, which is quite close to Kremlin.

3. NOTRE DAM DE PARIS, PARIS, FRANCE

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This beautiful Gothic, Roman Catholic Cathedral is located in Paris, France. It is considered to be one of the most outstanding examples of French Gothic architecture. The cathedral is also particularly important as it holds the official chair of the Archbishop of Paris. What adds to its grandeur, are the beautiful sculptures and stained glass which are in contrast with the earlier Romanesque architecture. This cathedral is among the first few to have employed the arched exterior supports (flying buttress). The cathedral has enticing spire and towers as well and it was completed by 1345.

4. ST. PETER’S BASILICA

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The Papal Basilica of St. Peter, popularly known as St. Peter’s Basilica is located in the beautiful vicinity of the Vatican City, Italy. The church was built during the late Renaissance. It is considered to be one of the most sacred places of Christian pilgrimage and has a very special place in the Roman Catholic tradition. Another distinguishing feature about the church is that it has the largest interior among all Christian churches of the world. The basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, one among the 12 apostles of Christ and also the first Bishop of Rome. It was constructed during the period 1506-1615. Michelangelo designed the dome of the church, and it is the tallest dome in the world.

5. HAGIA SOPHIA, ISTANBUL, TURKEY

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Hagia Sophia is located in Istanbul, Turkey. Initially, Hagia Sophia was a Greek Orthodox patriarchal church, then it was converted into an imperial mosque, and now it is a museum. It is an awe-striking example of Byzantine architecture. It has a massive dome and was the largest cathedral in the world for almost 1000 years, until the completion of Seville Cathedral. It has a beautiful interior and the central dome is supported by 40 arched windows.

6. HALLGRIMSKIRKJA

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The Hallgrimskirkja is located in Reykjavik, Iceland. It is a Lutheran parish church. It is the largest church in Iceland and not just that, it is also the sixth tallest architectural structure in the country. The church has been named after Hallgrimur Petursson, an Icelandic poet and clergyman and the author of the Passion Hymns. The church was constructed during the period 1945-1986. The church is centrally located in the city and a very famous landmark. It houses a large organ pipe and is also used as an observation tower.

7. CATHEDRAL OF FLORENCE, ITALY

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The Santa Maria del Fiore, popularly known as the Cathedral of Florence, is located in Florence, Italy. The basilica has a wide central nave with 4 square bays and an aisle on either side of it. The whole plan forms the shape of a Latin cross. The church also has Gothic arches and a very beautiful interior.

8. CHARTRES CATHEDRAL, CHARTRES, FRANCE

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Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, commonly known as Chartres Cathedral, is located in Chartres, France. The most striking fact about this church is that it has retained a lot of its original structures, especially the original stained glass windows. On the exterior, there are heavy flying buttresses and the west consists of two contrasting spires. It is one of the most outstanding examples of French High Gothic style.

9. WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL

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The Winchester Cathedral is located at Winchester, Hampshire, England. The cathedral is known for having the longest nave among all Gothic cathedrals of Europe. Another fact about this cathedral is that the famous author, Jane Austen, was buried in the North aisle of the nave. The cathedral has a spectacular interior design.

10. ST. MARK’S BASILICA, VENICE, ITALY

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Saint Mark’s Basilica is located in Venice, Italy. It is one of the most beautiful churches of Venice. It was constructed in 1650 and has since then been one of the most famous pilgrimage destinations. It is an enticing example of Byzantine architecture.

 

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10 Most Beautiful Libraries Of The World

A library is like bookworm’s paradise and if you are one, this article is definitely for you. We bring to you a compilation of the 10 most beautiful libraries of the world. These libraries have some of the best architecture and the most elegant of interior designs.

Our top 10 beautiful libraries are spread all over the globe. Besides having the best collections, these libraries also have the most marvelous of exterior and interior designs that you will ever come across. Even if you are not a bookworm, the look of these libraries will surely make you want to be one.

1. STOCKHOLM PUBLIC LIBRARY, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Stockholm-Public-Library

The Stockholm Public library is located in Stockholm, Sweden. It was designed by the Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund. The library is perfect blend of the classic and modern designs. The roof of the library is white and textured and has a cloudy appearance. The main hall is circular and is stocked with books in all Nordic languages. The main entrance has a high staircase. The library also has a park with plants, sculptures and a reflecting pool. The interior of the library has rich artwork. The lobby is decorated with scenes from the Iliad. The cylindrical shape adds grandeur to the library.

2. STRAHOV MONASTERY LIBRARY, CZECH REPUBLIC

Strahov_Theological_Hall,_Prague

The Strahov Monastery Library located in Prague, Czech Republic is the largest and one of the most beautiful monastic libraries in the country. The library has two majestic baroque halls from the 17th and 18th centuries. The ceilings are embellished with figures of Divine Providence as well other Biblical frescoes such as Adam and Eve. The unique feature of the library is its compilation wheel which enables finding books easily by turning and rotating the shelves. The lobby outside the hall displays shrivelled remains of sea creatures such as sharks and turtles. Visitors are not allowed into the hall as it was found that change in humidity levels due to the breaths of visitors could damage the frescoes.

3. RICHARD J. RIORDAN CENTRAL LIBRARY, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

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The Central Library in Los Angeles is one of the most important buildings in the city. The exterior architecture of the library is built along the lines of the Art Deco design. The interior of the library has a beautiful rotunda and a staircase. It has a bronze chandelier as the centrepiece. The important incidences and events in the history of California are depicted by decorative stencils. The library is also a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument. The library is surrounded by Maguire Gardens.

4. VENNESLA LIBRARY AND CULTURE HOUSE, VENNESLA, NORWAY

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The Vennesla library is located in Vennesla, Norway. This is not just a library, but a community centre as well. It has a café, a learning centre, meeting and administrative areas and even a cinema. The library has a unique structure of 27 ribs for proper ventilation and natural light, whose shape varies throughout. It has also been designed in way to serve as a low energy system. The library was designed by architects Helen and Hard. This is a sustainable building which is both socially and environmentally apt for visitors. The library was completed at the end of 2011. It is located next to the main town square. The wooden beams in interior of the library are designed in a way that gives it the appearance of a whale.

5. STATE LIBRARY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA, ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA

Adelaide_City_Library

Located in Adelaide, South Australia, this is one library which will take your breath away when you enter it. While on the outside the library looks more like a glasshouse, while on the inside it has a rich interior design. The design of the library is along the lines of French Renaissance style. The library houses a number of books on Australian indigenous culture and history. The library also gives the facility of a Flickr account where people can post their own pictures of the South Australian culture and life.

6. VANCOUVER CENTRAL PUBLIC LIBRARY, VANCOUVER, CANADA

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The design of the Vancouver Central Public Library has been inspired from the Colosseum in Rome. The library has nine floors and covers the area of an entire city block.  The library houses coffee shops, office areas, underground parking and even retail. The distinguishing feature of the library is its beautiful rooftop garden. However, public access is not allowed to the garden. The library is famous for having been used in the sets of a number of films.

7. THE LIBRARY OF EL ESCORIAL, SAN LORENZO DE EL ESCORIAL, SPAIN

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This beautiful library located in the royal town of San Lorenzo De El Escorial is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The library was built under King Philip 2. It is considered to be a masterpiece due to its elaborate design. The most alluring feature of the library is its series of 7 frescos, which depict seven liberal arts such as astronomy, music, rhetoric, etc.

8. ROYAL LIBRARY OF DENMARK, COPENHAGEN, DENMARK

royal-library-denmark

Located in the beautiful city of Copenhagen, this library originally came into being in 1648. However, it was renovated in 1999. The library has a middle section of clear glass on either sides are metal segments which are shiny black. Due to this, it is also called the ‘black diamond’. The library has an incredible collection of European works and a vast number of books on the history and culture of Denmark as well. The original copy of the first known Danish book is also preserved here. The library also houses a café, national photography museum and a performance hall.

9. ROYAL PORTUGUESE READING ROOM, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

Biblioteca_Nacional_do_Brasil

This library has a palatial interior design and will give you a royal feel as you enter it. The library was actually built in Lisbon and was then shipped to Rio de Janeiro. The library has a beautiful limestone exterior, inspired by the Jeronimos  Monastery in Lisbon. The library has altar made of ivory, marble and silver at the entrance. It also has stained glass windows in red, blue and white.

10. SEATTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY, CENTRAL BRANCH, WASHINGTON

Seattle_Public_Library_Main_Branch_Reading_Room

The Seattle Public library located in Seattle, Washington was designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. It has 11 stories and is made in glass and steel. The library is built on a hill which makes it possible to enter and exit the library on different floors.

 

 

top-10-luxurious-hotels

10 Most Luxurious Hotels In The World

Are you one of those globe trotters who just love the idea of living in the best hotels while your wanderlust takes you to the most exotic of foreign lands?

To make your travel quests easy, we have here a list of the 10 most luxurious hotels in the world. With a boost in the hospitality industry, these top hotels are now competing to provide the most luxurious stay to their guests and offering them excellent services.

All these hotels have a long built reputation with their customers and some also have a number of branches spread all over the world. So, the next time you embark on an adventure, you will probably know where you will be staying.

1. THE EMIRATES PALACE, ABU DHABI

emirates-palace-hotel

The Emirates Palace tops our list as the most luxurious hotel. The construction of the hotel took approximately $3 billion. This hotel has it all from the white sand beach to around 1000 mesmerizing crystal chandeliers. The marble used in the hotel has been imported from 13 countries. There are 394 rooms and suites as well as 40 meeting and conference rooms. The hotel also boasts of a luxurious spa and a number of pools and fountains. Staying at this lavish hotel will give you the feel of a royalty.

2. THE PENINSULA HOTEL, HONG KONG

The_Peninsula_Hong_Kong

This hotel came into being in 1928 and it is the oldest hotel of Hong Kong. However, the hotel has continued to maintain high standards and is known for its perfect fusion of the eastern and western hospitality traditions. Not just does it entice you with its aura of elegance and grandeur, it also draws you closer to history through the beautiful artefacts and antiques which gracefully enhance the beauty of the hotel. The hotel has beautiful rooms and grand lobbies. It also provides free international calling facility to its guests.

3. BURJ AL ARAB HOTEL, DUBAI

burj-al-arab-dubai

The Burj Al Arab Hotel is one of the top choices of the royalty. Its design resembles the shape of a billowing sail. It has a breathtakingly beautiful architecture and the best of the facilities, such as tennis courts and an attached heliport. The service provide by the hotel is also top class including 24/7 on call butlers, a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce and in-suite check-in. The lavish suites of the hotel span two floors and have the best amnesties and stunning views. The hotel also provides its guests with a plethora of nightlife and entertainment options.

4. THE WESTIN EXCELSIOR, ROME

the-westin-excelsior

The Westin Excelsior, located in the beautiful vicinity of the Via Veneto district of Rome, was built in the year 1906. The hotel has a lovely architecture and all the rooms are equipped with the best state-of-the-art facilities. However, the most striking feature of the hotel is its Villa La Cupola Suite. The suite has been recently renovated at the cost of $7 million. This suite is one of a kind, spanning two floors and embellished with traditional designs and frescos. It is also the largest suite in Italy. The suite has all the luxuries including Jacuzzi, a sauna, steam bath, a fitness room and even a separate dining room. If you are someone who doesn’t mind shelling out extra bucks for all these facilities, this is the place for you.

5. RITZ-CARLTON, TOKYO

ritz-carlton-tokyo

The Ritz-Carlton hotel is located in the Roppongi district of Tokyo, Japan. The hotel is housed in the Midtown Tower from the 45th to 53rd floors. The interior designing of the hotel has been done by Frank Nicholson, a Massachusetts-based interior designer. The floors are made with limestone and granite and the walls are lined with anegre panelling. The lobby has a huge glass screen and the carpets have linear patterns. The hotel also has a French restaurant, Forty Five, from where you can view the Tokyo Tower at night. The main dining room of the hotel serves Japanese cuisine and has the traditional Japanese chabudai (the short-legged table) and zaisu (the floor chairs), each of which can accommodate 6 guests. The hotel also has a spa and a pool.

6. FOUR SEASONS HOTEL, TORONTO

Four_seasons_hotel_toronto

The Four Seasons chain of hotels and resorts is a well renowned name in the hospitality industry. It is the best in terms of luxury, consistency and management expertise.  The one in Toronto is located near the posh area of Yorkville. It has a spa, granite bathrooms, floor to ceiling windows and around 250 guestrooms.

7. THE PLAZA, NEW YORK CITY

the-plaza-new-york-city

The Plaza hotel is located in New York City and was built in 1907. In 1969, the hotel earned the designation of National Historical Landmark .The main attraction of the hotel is Royal Plaza Suite. The suite has 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms and looks over the beautiful city of Manhattan. The suite also houses a library, gym, formal dining room, kitchen, butler’s pantry and a grand piano. It has a private elevator too.

8. ATLANTIS PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS

atlantis-paradise-island-bahamas

The hotel is built as tribute to the lost ancient city of Atlantis. It is spread over an area of 141 acre and is one of the most popular luxury resorts located in the spectacular surroundings of Bahamas. What catches the eye in this resort is its Royal Towers Bridge Suite. The suite is on the 23rd floor and has 10 rooms with full length windows. It has a formal dining room, a grand piano and two entertainment centres. It also has a 22-karat gold chandelier. A staff of seven is there to cater to all your needs.

9. PALMS CASINO RESORT, LAS VEGAS

palms-casino-resort-las0vegas

This hotel is located in the Sin City i.e. Las Vegas. It has rooftop suites which have the capacity to accommodate around 250 people for a party. These suites also have gym, Jacuzzi, sauna, private elevator, media room, private bar and a rotating bed.

10. MARDAN PALACE HOTEL, TURKEY

Mardan_Palace

The Mardan Palace hotel is located in Antalya, Turkey and was built by Telman Ismailov, a Russian billionaire. The hotel has the largest swimming pool in the Mediterranean. It has a spa, 17 bars, a sunken aquarium and 10 dining spots. The interiors are beautifully designed with gold leaf and Italian marble.

 

10 Most Expensive Houses Of The World

10 Most Expensive Houses Of The World

Ever wondered what would it feel like to live in one of the most expensive houses of the world? Well, we cannot make that dream of yours come true, but we can definitely give you a sneak peek into the costliest homes on the planet.

Yes, here we have compiled an exhaustive list of the 10 most expensive houses of the world. Most of these exquisite houses are owned by billionaires comprising of some of the world’s richest business tycoons and celebrities.

Some are ancient and have historical value, while some have the best modern architecture. Some of these are even for sale. So, if you have a budget that suits it, keep an eye.

From having indoor and outdoor pools to panic rooms, these luxurious houses are more like modern castles. Read on to have a glimpse of the abodes of the richest of the rich.

10. THE BRAN/ DRACULA’S CASTLE

THE BRAN/ DRACULA’S CASTLE
THE BRAN/ DRACULA’S CASTLE

If you are into vampire and Dracula stuff, this one will particularly interest you. It used to be the home of Vlan, the Impaler, also known as the original Dracula. The palace belonged to the royal families for several years and has now been converted into a museum. This ancient castle has 57 rooms, and 17 bedrooms. The interior design is ancient with antique furniture. So, if you are a historical enthusiast, you should definitely pay a visit. The castle is located in Transylvania, Romania. The price of the castle keeps fluctuating. However, it is currently valued at $152 million.

9. THE PINNACLE

THE PINNACLE
THE PINNACLE

This house is located in Big Sky, Montana. It is the largest property in the Yellowstone Club. This is a cozy mountain-side mansion which has it all. It has heated floors and fireplaces, a gym, several pools, a wine cellar and staff to attend to your needs. For the super-rich people, it has a private ski and golf community. Adding to that, it also has a private ski lift. The house is owned by real- estate developer, co-founder of Yellowstone Club and timber baron, Tim Blixseth with Edra Blixseth. The house is priced at $155 million.

8. FRANCHUK VILLA

FRANCHUK VILLA
FRANCHUK VILLA

The house has the prime location in Belgravia, Central London. It is a Victorian style villa and has 10 bedrooms and 6 floors. It has a private movie theatre, a panic room, an underground indoor swimming pool, sauna, and a personal gym too. The property is owned by Olena Franchuk, daughter of Ukraine’s second president. It is worth $161 million.

7. THE HEARST MANSION

HEARST MANSION
HEARST MANSION

The Hearst Mansion is located in San Simeon, California. This mansion has been featured in the movie ‘Godfather’. It was also the honeymoon destination of the U.S. president J.F. Kennedy. It has also hosted many famous personalities including Winston Churchill, Jackie Kennedy and Clark Gable as well.  It has three swimming pools, 29 rooms, a disco and a movie theatre. The house is owned by William Randolph Hearst’s trustees. It is now a part of the California Park System and a heritage and tourist spot. It is priced at $165 million.

6. ELLISON ESTATE

ELLISON ESTATE
ELLISON ESTATE

This vast estate is owned by the co-founder of Oracle, Larry Ellison. The property is spread over 23 acres with 10 buildings. It has a tea house, a bath house, a koi pond and a man-made lake as well. It is located in Woodside, California. The property is valued at $200 million. Larry was inspired by Japan’s Samurai Era, which can be seen reflected in this property.

5. KENSINGTON PALACE

KENSINGTON PALACE
KENSINGTON PALACE

This lavish property is owned by Indian steel magnate, Lakshmi Mittal. It is located in London on the Billionaires Row and is at close proximity to the house of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It has 12 bedrooms, an indoor pool, Turkish baths and a parking space with a capacity to accommodate 20 cars. The property is worth $222 million.

4. FAIRFIELD POND

FAIRFIELD POND
FAIRFIELD POND

This magnificent estate is located in Sagaponack, New York. It is spread over 63 acres and has 23 bedrooms. The house has three swimming pools, tennis courts, squash courts, a bowling alley and a basketball court. It also has 39 bathrooms and a 91-foot long dining room. It is owned by Ira Rennert, owner of the Renco Group. Its price is $248 million.

3. VILLA LEOPOLDA

VILLA LEOPOLDA
VILLA LEOPOLDA

This beautiful house is exotically located in Cote D’Azure, France. It was built by the Belgian king, King Leopold II in 1902. This house was famously used in the sets of the classic movie, ‘To Catch A Thief’ in 1955. The house is owned by a Brazilian philanthropist, Lily Safra. This 50 acre property has an exceptionally large guest house, a commercial sized greenhouse, a helipad, a swimming pool and a pool house and an outdoor kitchen. It has 27 stories and 19 bedrooms. It has a vast garden too, and it is said that there are 50 full-time gardeners employed to take care of the garden.  The house is valued at $750 million.

2. ANTILLA

ANTILLA
ANTILLA

The Antilla is located in Mumbai, India. This is not just a house, but a whole world in its own with highly modern architecture and interior design. The architecture is based on an ancient Indian tradition of Vastu Shastra. Each floor has a unique and aesthetic design. It is a 400,000 square foot building with 27 stories. The building is so huge that a staff of 600 people is required just to maintain it. It has three helicopter pads and six underground parking floors. It also has a four-story garden, a gym, jacuzzi and ballroom. This house belongs to Mukesh Ambani,  the richest man of India and the owner of the Reliance Group of Companies. The building is valued at $1 billion.

1. BUCKINGHAM PALACE

BUCKINGHAM PALACE
BUCKINGHAM PALACE

Well, we have all heard of this one. The Buckingham palace makes to the top of our list of the 10 most expensive houses of the world. Though the house is not for sale, but the valuation of the palace by the National Building Society is $1.56 billion. The palace is located in London and is home to the Queen of England. The current owner of the property is Queen Elizabeth II, since 1952. The palace has a total of 775 rooms which includes 92 offices, 188 staff rooms, 19 state rooms, 52 bedrooms and78 bathrooms.