Saturday, April 11, 2020

Saturday, April 11, 2020

favorite ancient cities and old towns

Posted by Hippobean at 2:13 PM
In Hippo's travels:

1. Pergamon - Bergama, Turkey -
Hippo loves ancient cities, archeological sites. And none is as stunning as Pergamon. On a promontory, pure white columns of the Trajaneum. Light grey andesite blocks 5 meters wide, 1 meter long and 30 cm deep pavements on the Acropolis. Sanctuary of Asclepion with the circular treatment center, the Temple of Telesphorus. Temple of Demeter. Roman theater. Serapis Temple, the Red Basilica with two round towers and the Pergamon bridge, the largest bridge substruction of antiquity. Not much else remains but one could imagine the grandeur of the Acropolis. It completely stole Hippo's heart. Ah, Hippo's most beloved ancient city!


2. Jerash, Jordan -
The Hadrian Arch, the oval forum surrounded by an intact colonnade, and I imagined what it was like in the days of Jerash where inhabitants walked daily through this impressive oval plaza. 800m cobblestones cardo maximus lined with corinthian columns, with remains of shops and vendors on both sides, The 1500 seats south amphitheater adjacent to the Zeus temple. The Artemis temple with several intact reddish and pink corinthian columns The 3000 seats north theater. The cathedral floor with mosaic depicting animals. The Hippodrome, the Nymphaeum, the baths, the agora, all still intact. Truly an awesome archaeological site. It took 2 trips to Jordan for the Hippo to finally make it to Jerash.


3. Wrocław, Poland -
The Wrocław rynek, on the banks of the Oder river. The buildings, the noble mansions, sported brightly colored facades, the baroque red brick town hall was enormous and imposing. Most impressive old town.




4. Petra, Jordan -
Magical walk through the Ciq in Petra by night. In the morning, the rocky walls showed off their true colors of red, deep orange and brown. Awe inspiring. No words can describe it. Uniquely carved tombs, temples and houses along the cardo. Made the climb up to the Monastery. Even more impressive than the Treasury. After the climb of 900+ steps, i turned to the right and what I saw took my breath away. The Monastery façade was enormous and very very tall. The view from surrounding Nabatean hills up there was spectacular. All ochre hills and rocks all around. This was my favorite part of Petra. The valley floor was impressive enough but the Monastery façade was really something else. I sat there with a cup of mint tea and just gazed on the Monastery façade. So impressive, the Hippo's been there twice.


5. Essaouira, Morocco -
The Portuguese Mogador. Meandered through the cobblestone alleys and discovered colonial architecture and the signature blue doors and windows. Love those alleys where every corner there was some unexpected discovery, every door decorated uniquely, every lamp a different shape and shade. Up on the 15th century Portuguese ramparts of the North Bastion, the Atlantic was misty and foggy. By midday the seafood were piled high and displayed at the stalls by the Port. Between us we sampled a whole flat white fish, bunch of calamari and 2 giant prawns each. Simply grilled on open fire with no spices added, and they were so deliciously fresh we've ordered seconds. Fortified port with skiffs, reminded me of Portugal. Drinking mint tea and watching the sun set on the Moulay Hassan square. The Riad here made to Hippo's hotel list. The Hippo truly loved the Mogador.



6. Dubrovnik, Croatia -
Fronting the Adriatic, the best town wall walk, fresh air and expansive view of the sea on one side and the aerial view of the old town on the other. Red roofs, church steeples. The pedestrian Stradun (Placa), paved in limestone, lined with shops and restaurants. Up a few steps, old churches. Side lanes up the hill led to more shops and restaurants. the Hippo went up one and found the GOT shop, sat on the iron throne for a khaleesi's moment. Best old town.


7. Antigua, Guatemala -
Volcán de Agua. Volcán de Fuego. Volcán Acatenango. A town with 3 volcanoes. Colorful picturesque buildings lining the cobblestone lanes. A woman washing clothes at the open lavandaria. Bernal Diaz house on the street named after him. White and purple jadeites. It was like we just walked into the old colonial era. Reminiscence of my childhood.





8. Palenque, Mexico -
A big monument the Temple XIII, the temple of Inscriptions where Pakal, my favorite Maya dude, was buried deep inside. It hits you with incredible awe as you walked into Palenque. Impressive! The queen tomb covered in red. Bas-reliefs on the roof comb of the Temple of Inscriptions. The Temple of the Cross, high above. The Palace compound, with the aqueduct running beside it, a 4-level observation tower, Corbel arch corridors and the Patio de Los Cautivos, an inner courtyard showing relief panels of the captives. A grand staircase descending to the ball court and to the breathtaking Templo del Conde, on the left. Most impressive! Atop the Temple of the Cross, panoramic view of the entire site. The temple of the Foliated Cross with carved wall panels and hieroglyphs. SmallLeo insisted on photo after photo. Hippo's number one most favorite Mayan site.


9. Khiva, Uzbekistan -
When I woke up in the morning, i pulled open the curtains in my window, and saw the tallest minerat in Khiva. A single lonely girl walked on the square right in front of my window in the morning twilight, adjusting her headscarf. The walled city was filled with cobblestoned streets, narrow and ancient. Merchants with their stalls set up lined every street. Colorful silk scarves, fur hats, carved wooden goods, hand paintings, and beautifully painted ceramics, designs I've havent seen before, more beautiful than the greek ones. I've walked outside the thick city walls and the view from the outside was just as impressive as from the inside. I climbed to the roof of the Akshi Bobo Bastion, admiring the full view of the entire walled city. Islam Khoja Madrasa and Minaret. Kalta Minor Minaret. Muhammed Amin Khan Madrasa. Ichan Kala statue of Al Khorezmiy, the man who introduced zero and father of Algebra. Kunya Ark. Rakhimkhan Madrasa. Allakuli Khan Madrasa. Tashauli Palace, which made it to Hippo's favorite temples and mosques list. Paklavan Mahmud Mausoleum. No other ancient town offered this much. My eyes feasted on all the monuments of this most beautiful ancient silk road town.



10. Machu Picchu, Peru -
The effort was much to get there. Wake up at 4 in the morning to catch the one and only train from Cuzco to Machu Picchu. The train zig-zagged up the hill, then down to and through the Urubamba valley, along the Urubamba river, finally reaching the jungle where the lost city of the Incas was situated.


The train ride scenery was spectacular, the snow capped Andes, arid valleys turning into fertile land, then the dense vegetation in the sub-tropical jungle...all that in 3 hours time! Then from train to a bus at Aguas Calientes and zip-zagged again up the hill to the ruins. And finally, after all these years, the Hippo laid eyes on the most desired lost city. Trek up to the Intipunku, just so she could claim she did the Inca trail, if only for a very small portion of it. Every 10 steps or so, I turned back to admire the view. The ruins themselves were great but not entirely all that impressive. it is the setting in the midst of the jungle and below the Huayna Picchu which offered direct and most clear view of the ruins, that made it so absolutely stunning. After exploring the Inca cidadel, Hippo found a quiet place up on the hill, sat down and spent a few solitary moments admiring the ancient city. It's truly marvellous.

Getting to Machu Picchu would be more fantastic and adventurous if you hike the Inca Trail. However, the Hippo suffers from altitude sickness and with her advanced age, she'd probably never be able to do the Inca Trail.

Runner Up:

Kasbah Ikelane - Tinghir, Morocco
Passing through lush palmeries that lined the banks of the Todra River, kasbah Ikelane stood in front of us, inviting. On the terrace of the town mosque, we could see the entire kasbah made of mud and straw houses. What a feast to Hippo's eyes who love adobo ruins! We've visited a few kasbahs but all renovated or in living conditions. This one was abandoned. More to the prize which awarded it the runner up.


Bonus:




Jerusalem Old Town, Israel -
The drive up to Jerusalem 22 years ago as the bus rounded up the hill, we sang ירושלים של זהב and הבאנו שלום עליכם. The air was cool and crisp as contrast to the humidity of the rest of Israel. First view of Jerusalem old town, the Kidron Valley, with the Mnt of Olives on our left and the old city walls and Mtn Moriah on the right. In the Last Supper room, we went all quiet and suddenly someone started to sob, so forcibly as if she was repenting her sins or was sorry Jesus was about to be cruxified.
The old cardo. Hezekiah's tunnel. Zion Gate. The jewish quarter, clean and quiet. the armenian and moslem quarters, filled with shops, all yelling and hassling to sell you something, loud and annoying. 22 years ago i slipped my prayer wish paper into the cracks of the western wall. 22 years ago, Ww walked the Western Wall tunnel till the sealed Warren's Gate, through which they believed the Ark of Covenant was carried away. An honor


The mtn of olives, mtn moriah with the dome of the rock on the temple mount, נחל קדרון the kidron valley, between the mtn of olives and mtn moriah, with the Yad Avshalom (absalom tomb), Zechariah's Tomb, Garden of Gethsemane (Γεθσημανή, גת שמנים) where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before Jesus' crucifixion, the Church of all nations overlooking the valley, all familiar to me. Oh, I've been here before and seen these ancient monuments, the landscape of the holy land, and the bible stories, again, became real and alive.

Moses only gazed upon the promised land, he wasnt allowed into it. The Hippo was there twice.

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