Port Arthur, Tasmania

Port Arthur prison colony is one of Australia’s most impressive physical reminders of its convict past.  Set on the scenic Tasman peninsula, it must have been the site of great convict hardship and suffering during the 19th century.

The eeriness and emotional power of the site is further heightened by the tragic events of April 1996, when a lone gunman committed the worst single-shooter mass killing in Australian history there.

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Where the cafe once stood and where a dozen people lost their lives in 1996, is now a simple memorial garden.  It felt like the eeriest place on the entire site.

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Red Fort of Agra

The Red Fort of Agra is an immense fortress-palace and was the seat of government of the Mughal Empire for much of its existence.  It sits not far from the Taj Mahal, near the banks of the Yamuna river.

Famously, it also served as the prison of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, imprisoned there by his own son Aurangzeb, the last of the Great Mughals.  The old Shah Jahan would stare out of the palace window towards the Taj Mahal, which he had ordered built in memory of his wife Murg Mumtaz.

Agra_Red_Fort

Agra_Red_Fort

Agra_Red_Fort

Agra_Red_Fort

Monasteries of Meteora, Greece

Built between five hundred to a thousand years ago, the monks and hermits of the Greek Orthodox Church sought ever more remote and difficult-to-reach places from where to pray and contemplate.

Hence their position amongst these spectacular sandstone rock formations in central Greece.

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Meteora_monastery

Meteora_monastery

Meteora_monastery

Nowadays a sealed road links all the monasteries and they are as much tourist museums as they are living monasteries.

Jaisalmer, the sandstone city

Jaisalmer skyline

Jaisalmer is a desert city located in the Thar Desert of western Rajasthan.  Its proximity to the India-Pakistan border means there is a large military presence nearby, but the city itself is famed for its beautiful golden-brown sandstone.  Every building in the city seems to be made from it.