Tag Archives: History

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Texas Just Declared Its First World Heritage Site

This past weekend, the five historic missions in San Antonio received official designation as a World Heritage Site. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the culmination of a nine-year effort to secure the missions with this elite status, reported San Antonio news station KENS5. The missions join an impressive list of other U.S. World Heritage Sites, including Yosemite National Park, Monticello, Independence Hall, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Officials estimate that the new designation will invigorate tourism to the missions—to the tune of a hundred million dollars and tons of new jobs in the local tourism industry. Want to beat the rush? Here’s what you need to know about America’s newest World Heritage Site.  

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The San Antonio Missions

The World Heritage designation recognizes the historical nature of the missions, which were communities developed by the Spanish in the 1700s to defend against French expansion into Texas and convert indigenous people so that they might become Spanish citizens and help maintain control of Texas.

The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park consists of four visitor areas spaced about two miles apart from each other. The whole region is brimming with chances to learn about Spanish and Native American heritage. Each of the four churches (the first four entries in the following list) are also active parishes.

The missions are:

  • Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purisima Concepción de Acuña, or Mission Concepción. Dedicated in 1755, the church is the oldest unrestored stone church in America. Several of the rooms still boast original frescos.
  • Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, or Mission San José. The largest of the missions (its nickname is the “Queen of the Missions”), the building was restored to its original design in the 1930s.
  • Mission San Juan Capistrano, or Mission San Juan. Founded in 1716 in eastern Texas, the mission was transferred to San Antonio in 1731. The stone church, friary, and granary were completed in 1756. A self-sustaining community, residents San Juan produced iron tools, cloth, and prepared hides in addition to growing fruits and vegetables and raising livestock. Surpluses were used to establish a trade network that extended to Louisiana in the east and Mexico in the south.
  • Mission San Francisco de la Espada, or Mission Espada. This was the first mission in Texas and was founded in 1690. Originally founded near present-day Weches, Texas, the mission relocated to San Antonio in the early 1700s and added a friary in 1745. The mission’s residents specialized in blacksmithing, weaving, masonry, and carpentry, trades which influenced San Antonio’s post-colonial transition.
  • Mission San Antonio de Valero, or The Alamo. Founded in 1718, the mission’s era lasted until 1793, when the Spanish converted it into a military barracks and outpost. In the 1800s, the Alamo became a hotly contested military base and served as the site of the battle for which it is still well known today.  

Each of the missions are connected to each other and the San Antonio River by the Mission Hike and Bike Trail, which weaves through old neighborhoods and farmland along eight miles of paved pathways (16 miles out and back). Water is available at each of the missions, but travelers should only expect to find food near Missions Concepción and San José.

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Where to Stay

The city of San Antonio is almost as exciting to visit as the missions themselves. With 20 million visitors arriving each year, the city has developed plenty of exciting places to visit, such as museums, theme parks, nature hikes, and fine dining. Flights into the city are fairly inexpensive, and the city is also home to a wide variety of budget-friendly hotels. The Wyndham San Antonio Riverwalk, Omni La Mansion del Rio, and Hyatt Regency Riverwalk are all great options.

Come for the history; stay for the vibrant contemporary city. The San Antonio Missions have been around for hundreds of years, and with their new designation as a World Heritage Site, it’s clear they’ll continue to make an impact for years to come.

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A Stone’s Throw From Stonehenge Lies a Massive New Mystery

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Located in Wittshire, England, Stonehenge is one of the world’s most iconic man-made landmarks. Tourists flock to the raised stones to ponder their origins and meaning. Are these the marks of an alien burial site? Were ancient sacrificial rituals conducted here? How were these stones raised before the advent of modern technology? Stonehenge baffles tourists (and historians) to this day as it sits isolated in the middle of the English countryside.

Recently, a group of archaeologists from the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project uncovered the extensive remains of a 90-stone structure less than two miles from Stonehenge. Using remote sensing technologies, the archaeologists were able to detect the presence of the massive stone monument, which is currently buried under a bank of grass. Though the archaeologists aren’t entirely sure when the monument was built, they are able to place its construction as contemporary to Stonehenge itself, some time between 2,000 and 3,000 BC.

This new discovery means Stonehenge is not isolated and may in fact be relatively small in comparison to its newfound neighbor. Scientists and archaeologists alike are scrambling to figure out the significance of the new monument and where it figures into the history of the area.

Luckily for them, the new monument is surprisingly well-preserved, and excavation of the stones could lead to specimens more easily researchable than Stonehenge. If full excavation occurs, the monument would form a half moon that dwarfs its sister site. Preemptive hypotheses suggest the new stones might’ve been used for ancient calendar purposes, as a sacred space for religious acts, or as the wall of an arena.

In a statement released to the press by the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, Paul Garwood, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Birmingham, reflected on the project’s game-changing discovery, “The extraordinary scale, detail and novelty of the evidence produced by the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project is changing fundamentally our understanding of Stonehenge and the world around it. Everything written previously about the Stonehenge landscape and the ancient monuments within it will need to be re-written.”

Regardless of what scientists uncover, this story will be an important one to watch unfold. And in the near future, the discovery might also be a can’t-miss addition to the English travel itinerary.

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See 1K Years of Irish History in a 5-Day Road Trip (Legendary Pubs Included)

By: Fiona Moriarty, Hipmunk

There are as many reasons to see Ireland as there are people who travel to the Emerald Isle. History, geology, pub culture, folklore, and breathtaking views are all par for the course for travelers to the island.

If you have a few days to spare, you can soak up nearly all that Ireland has to offer while rolling through the southwestern half of the country. Here’s a road trip itinerary guaranteed to make you “ooh,” “ahh,” and promise to come back.

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Day 1: Dublin to Kilkenny

After flying into Dublin and spending the night in Ireland’s capital city, prepare for a cross-country adventure full of historical sites and breathtaking views. Rent a car and set off on a short drive (approximately two hours) to the artsy town of Kilkenny.

Check in at the quaint Kilkenny House Hotel before heading to Kilkenny Castle, which was built in the 1100s. Then venture on to Dunmore Cave, which features some of the finest calcite formations in Ireland. Once you’ve had your fill of history and geology, return to Kilkenny to explore its many arts and crafts shops and downtown restaurants.

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Day 2: Kilkenny to Killarney

Buckle up for a day of striking scenery. There are so many sights to choose from on this leg of the journey that you can’t go wrong. If you aren’t off-put by crowds, then don’t miss visiting the popular Blarney Castle or driving part of the gorgeous Ring of Kerry. For a (slightly) less traveled path, stop by King John’s Castle, the historic Swiss Cottage, or the Muckross Friary and traditional grounds.

Arrive in Killarney and check into the quirky and contemporary Ross Hotel. Since you’ll no doubt be tired from the long day’s drive, enjoy food and drink at the hotel’s restaurant before tumbling into bed.

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Day 3: Killarney to Ennis

Explore Irish history on the way to the small town of Ennis by stopping by Bunratty Castle, the geologically marvelous Burren, and/or Craggaunowen – The Living Past, where you’ll learn how the Celts lived, farmed, and hunted in Ireland. Enjoy dinner in Ennis before retiring to the upscale Ashford Court Boutique Hotel.

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Day 4: Ennis to Galway

Travel to the western edge of the country in order to take in one of the most gorgeous views around at the stunning and popular Cliffs of Moher (Fun fact: These are the so-called “Cliffs of Insanity” from the film The Princess Bride). If you’re still in an adventurous spirit after visiting the cliffs, head to Aillwee Cave, which was formed by glacial melt waters and is situated close to Galway.

Finish the drive to Galway and check in at the luxurious Jury’s Inn, located near the historic Spanish Arch, the Galway City Museum, and Eyre Square (If you’re feeling budget-conscious, consider staying in the friendly Galway City Guesthouse instead). After dumping your luggage, enjoy dinner and drinks at any of Galway’s many restaurants and pubs.

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Day 5: Galway to Dublin

Spend the morning exploring the sites of Galway before hopping back in the car for the three-to-four-hour ride to Dublin. If you fancy some detours on the way back to the capital city, stop at medieval Athenry Castle, the monastic ruins of Clonmacnoise, or Trim Castle, where Braveheart was filmed.

Upon returning to Dublin, settle in at the supremely well located Blooms Hotel before enjoying dinner and drinks out on the town. Whether you retire early or partake of the Temple Bar neighborhood’s pubs all night, be sure to contemplate what a wonderful trip it’s been.  

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The History Of Flight Attendant Uniforms

When people imagine a flight attendant uniform, they might conjure up images of neck scarves, flattering knee-length skirts, and perhaps a pillbox hat set slightly askew on a perfectly coiffed head. Though these imaginings are hardly false, they’re also not entirely true. We did a little research and found out exactly where uniforms came from.

The first flight attendant uniforms were actually quite plain. In the 1930s, when commercial flying first began, many customers were rightfully fearful of the new technology. To assuage these fears, airlines hired nurses to come on board to help calm the nerves of their passengers. The uniforms they wore were long and dark-colored, most often in shades of hunter green, navy, or slate. Through the thirties, forties, and fifties, uniforms remained simple and professional, with crisp lines, conservative skirts, and practical shoes.

It wasn’t until the sixties and seventies that airlines began using the flight attendant uniform as a springboard for expressing the creativity and personality of their brand. As flying became more popular, and the interior designs of planes became more fantastical, and so did the clothing worn by the women serving customers food and drink. Designers such as Balmain, Halston, and Pucci lined up to design the new uniforms, which were colorful and sexy, and reflected the mod stylings of the time.

During this time, restrictions for hiring flight attendants became stricter, with a large emphasis placed on physical appearance. Airlines crafted minutely detailed guidelines for how they wanted their flight attendants to look and be: young, fresh-faced, thin, single, reasonably attractive. Flight attendants on the most popular airlines (such as Delta or American Airlines) were meant to be as breathtakingly gorgeous as models, which resulted in a highly-glamorous period of flight. The images of flight attendants through the sixties and seventies are iconic and might still be what many people think of when they think of airline stewardesses.

As we enter the eighties and nineties, though, uniforms shifted once again to a more practical and professional design. Colors returned to the dark neutrals of the first days of flight, and though many flight attendants were still considered beautiful, the overall aesthetic was less glamorous. Near the end of the 20th century, flying became a more practical, and commercial, means of transportation, so the luxurious fantasies of early flight dissipated into something that was more mundane and cost-effective.

This has persisted into the present day, where flight attendants mostly look like the people they’re serving in flight. Their uniforms are simple and neutral, and there is less emphasis placed on age or physical appearance. There is greater diversity, too, especially with the number of men who now serve as flight attendants. However, though the everyday coach passenger may never get to experience the ultra-luxe stylings of those early sixties and seventies flights, those with thick wallets or enough frequent-flyer miles can still enjoy the pleasures of airborne fantasy.

Come find out why Pamukkale is Turkey’s greatest hidden treasure

Pamukkale is a stunning wonder to behold and a very surreal experience for anyone visiting this amazing place. Etched into the Turkish hillside in Aegean, amongst the searing heat and sweltering sunshine lies the perfectly white mountains of Pamukkale. At first glance you may believe you’re staring out at the famous Rockies or the French Alps, as Pamukkale’s white, snow-like, appearance really gives it that chilling impression. This is what makes the Pamukkale Mountains such a surreal experience when you’re trekking along its trails, as you feel you should be cold being surrounded by so much white but you are most definitely not!

The Turkish summers are well renowned for being long, dry, and very very hot! Luckily Pamukkale has many beautiful pools of mountain springs you can cool down in whilst exploring this epic natural phenomena. Watch out though, some of the springs are hot so maybe not the best thing if your wanting to cool down. However, the hot springs are perfect if you are on a romantic, midnight stroll and fancy a dip with a bottle of champagne or two!

Now for all you geologist geeks out there let’s go in to how the amazing white mountains of Pamukkale were created and the hardcore facts. Pamukkale gains its white appearance from being made up of the rock calcium carbonate, which is deposited by the hot water springs that travel over 320 meters from the River Menderes, which is located deeper in the Aegean valley. When the calcium carbonate is despoiled on the surface, carbon dioxide is released and continues to do this until it is at a equilibrium with the water in the air. The chemical reaction between the calcium carbonate is intensified by the heat and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Although it is hard for geologist to pin point exactly, they estimate that up to 4.9 square kilometres of the Pamukkale landscape is covered by the white calcium carbonate with a 1mm of thickness due to this constant chemical reaction between the rock and atmosphere.

Pamukkale meaning ‘cotton castle’ in Turkish, has been a protected World Heritage Site since 1988 and was first discovered by the ancient Greco-Romans in the 5th century. The Greco-Romans were as mesmerised with Pamukkale as people still are today, as they built their famous city of Hierapolis very close to it. The Hierapolis ruins are still a major attraction as you can still explore the ruins of this wonderful city and swim over its huge ancient remnants in the Cleopatra pools located here.

The former Roman Baths of the city of Hierapolis are still in use today and have been converted into a Archaeology Museum since 1984. The museum holds many stunning artefacts and is definitely worth a peek whilst visiting this magical place.

So, if you’re in the mood for something different and wish to explore a place truly out of this world (and maybe even stay in villas in turkey), Pamukkale is definitely for you!