Architectural Wonders of the 12th Century

          This was the century of the Crusades, religious battles between East and West over the Holy Land. The first stirrings of the Renaissance were also evident here; the first European universities were established.

               1. Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia (1113) — This incredible complex has been rescued from the jungle and treats visitors to a glimpse of the Buddhism of long ago.

               2. Leeds Castle, Maidstone, England (1119) — Leeds is one of the most beautiful castles in the world, and it is one of my personal favorites. The light-colored stone and its setting above a tranquil moat lend an aura of elegance to the place.                                

Leeds Castle

                 3. El Alcazar, Segovia, Spain (1120) — Here is another of the world’s most beautiful castles. Along with Neuschwanstein, it was an inspiration for Cinderella’s castle at Disneyland.                       

El Alcazar

                 4. Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland (1124) — This formidable fortress sits at one end of Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile. Soldiers are still garrisoned here, and the castle is the scene of Military Tattoo each summer.                           

Edinburgh Castle

                 5. Palace at Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland (1128) — Sitting at the opposite end of the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle (#4 above), this royal is strongly associated with Mary, Queen of Scots, regal rival of Queen Elizabeth I.                       

Holyrood Palace

                 6. Bath Abbey, Bath, England (1156) — This rather small but beautiful church is located in the center of the city, near the famous Roman Bath that gave the city its name.                      

Bath Abbey

                 7. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France (1163) — This classic Gothic cathedral is one of the most visited sights in Paris. It is famous as the setting for the Victor Hugo novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.                            

Notre Dame Cathedral

                 8. Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa, Italy (1173) — Piazza dei Miracoli is certainly one of the most beloved ensembles in the world. The Leaning Tower is the campanile of the nearby Duomo and began leaning soon after its construction. Scientists seem to have arrested the process which threatened to destroy the landmark.                           

Leaning Tower of Pisa

                 9. Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park, Montezuma County, Colorado, USA (1190) — Native Americans built these communes in alcoves within the sandstone cliffs of the desert Southwest to protect themselves from enemies. Mesa Verde protects the best-preserved of these cliff-dwellings.                           

Cliff Palace

                 10. Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France (1193) — The church that epitomizes Gothic cathedrals can be seen for miles because of its prominent location. It is a popular day trip to the southwest of Paris.                              

Chartres Cathedral

            11. Giralda & Cathedral of Seville, Seville, Spain 

Giralda & Cathedral, Seville

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