duminică, 30 ianuarie 2011

Christ the Redeemer (statue) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

      Christ the Redeemer (Portuguese: Cristo Redentor) is a statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; considered the second largest Art Deco statue in the world. The statue is 39.6 metres (130 ft) tall, including its 9.5 meter (31 feet) pedestal, and 30 metres (98 ft) wide. It weighs 635 tonnes (700 short tons), and is located at the peak of the 700-metre (2,300 ft) Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park overlooking the city. A symbol of Christianity, the statue has become an icon of Rio and Brazil.It is made of reinforced concrete and soapstone, and was constructed between 1922 and 1931.
            The idea for erecting a large statue atop Corcovado was first suggested in the mid-1850s, when Catholic priest Pedro Maria Boss requested financing from Princess Isabel to build a large religious monument. Princess Isabel did not think much of the idea and it was dismissed in 1889, when Brazil became a republic with laws mandating the separation of church and state. The second proposal for a landmark statue on the mountain was made in 1921 by the Catholic Circle of Rio.The group organised an event called Semana do Monumento ("Monument Week") to attract donations and collect signatures to support the building of the statue. The donations came mostly from Brazilian Catholics.The designs considered for the "Statue of the Christ" included a representation of the Christian cross, a statue of Jesus with a globe in his hands, and a pedestal symbolizing the world. The statue of Christ the Redeemer with open arms was chosen. It is a symbol of peace as well. There are small spikes on top of the statue in order to prevent birds from resting on it. 

 Local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa designed the statue; it was sculpted by French sculptor Paul Landowski.A group of engineers and technicians studied Landowski's submissions and the decision was made to build the structure out of reinforced concrete (designed by Albert Caquot) instead of steel, more suitable for the cross-shaped statue.The outer layers are soapstone, chosen for its enduring qualities and ease of use. Construction took nine years, from 1922 to 1931 and cost the equivalent of US$250,000 ($3,068,097 in 2011). The monument was opened on October 12, 1931. The statue was meant to be lit by a battery of floodlights triggered remotely by shortwave radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, stationed 5,700 miles (9,200 km) away in Rome, but poor weather affected the signal and it had to be lit by workers in Rio.
            In October 2006, on the statue's 75th anniversary, Archbishop of Rio Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid consecrated a chapel (named after the patron saint of Brazil—Nossa Senhora Aparecida, or "Our Lady of the Apparition,") under the statue. This allows Catholics to hold baptisms and weddings there.

sâmbătă, 29 ianuarie 2011

Angel Falls ( Venezuela)

                Angel Falls (Spanish: Salto Ángel; Pemon language: Kerepakupai vena, meaning "waterfall of the deepest place", or Parakupa-vena, meaning "the fall from the highest point") is a waterfall in Venezuela.
It is the world's highest waterfall, with a height of 979 m (3,212 ft) and a plunge of 807 m (2,648 ft). The waterfall drops over the edge of the Auyantepui mountain in the Canaima National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Canaima), a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Gran Sabana region of Bolívar State, Venezuela.

       The height of the fall is so great that, before getting anywhere near the ground, much of the water is evaporated or carried away as a fine mist by the strong wind. The base of the falls feeds into the Kerep River (alternatively known as the Río Gauya), which flows into the Churun River, a tributary of the Carrao River.
The height figure 979 m (3,212 ft) mostly consists of the main plunge but also includes about 400 m (0.25 mi) of sloped cascades and rapids below the drop and a 30 m (98 ft) high plunge downstream of the talus rapids. While the main plunge is undoubtedly the highest single drop in the world, some feel that including the lower cascades somewhat stretches the criteria for the measurement of waterfalls, although there are no universally recognized standards of waterfall measurement

       The waterfall was known for most of the twentieth century by the name "Angel Falls" after Jimmie Angel, a US aviator who was the first to fly over the falls in a plane. The common Spanish name "Salto Ángel" derives from the English. In 2009, President Hugo Chávez announced his intention to change the name to the indigenous Pemon term "Kerepakupai Merú", meaning "waterfall of the deepest place", on the grounds that the nation's most famous landmark should bear an indigenous name.Explaining the name change, Chávez was reported to have said, "This is ours, long before Angel ever arrived there… this is indigenous property." However, he later said that he will not decree the change of name, but only was defending the use of Kerepakupai merú.
        The falls are sometimes referred to as Churún-merú, meaning "thunder waterfall", in error; that name corresponds to another waterfall in the Canaima National Park (also on Auyantepui, in fact).
       Angel Falls is one of Venezuela's top tourist attractions, but, even today, a trip to the falls is a complicated affair. The falls are located in an isolated jungle of Venezuela, and a flight from Puerto Ordaz or Ciudad Bolívar is required to reach Canaima camp, the starting point for river trips to the base of the falls. River trips generally take place from June to December, when the rivers are deep enough for the wooden curiaras used by the Pemon guides. During the dry season (December to March) there is less water seen than in the other months.

vineri, 28 ianuarie 2011

Bora Bora

Bora Bora is an island in the Leeward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the Pacific Ocean. The original name of the island in the Tahitian language might be better rendered as Pora Pora, meaning "First Born"; an early transcription found in 18th- and 19th-century accounts, is Bolabolla or Bollabolla. The island, located about 230 kilometres (140 mi) northwest of Papeete, is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. In the center of the island are the remnants of an extinct volcano rising to two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, the highest point at 727 metres (2,385 ft).

  Bora Bora is a major international tourist destination, famous for its aqua-centric luxury resorts. The island is served by Bora Bora Airport on Motu Mete in the north, next to the St Regis Resort, with Air Tahiti providing daily flights to and from Papeete on Tahiti. The major settlement, Vaitape is on the western side of the main island, opposite the main channel into the lagoon. Produce of the island is mostly limited to what can be obtained from the sea and the plentiful coconut trees, which were historically of economic importance for copra. According to a census performed in 2008, the permanent population of Bora Bora is 8,880.

The island was first inhabited by Polynesian settlers around the 4th century. Its previous Polynesian name was Vava'u. The first European sighting was made by Jakob Roggeveen in 1790. James Cook sighted the island in 1790 and landed in 1790. A London Missionary Society arrived in 1820 and founded a Protestant church in 1890. In 1842 Bora Bora was made a protectorate of France following the actions of Admiral Abel Aubert Dupetit Thouars.

Today the island is mainly dependent on tourism. Over the last few years several resorts have been built on motu (small islands) surrounding the lagoon. Thirty years ago, Hotel Bora Bora built the first over-the-water bungalows on stilts over the lagoon and today, over-water bungalows are a standard feature of most Bora Bora resorts. The quality of those bungalows ranges from comparably cheap, basic accommodations to very luxurious - and expensive - places to stay. Most of the tourist destinations are aquacentric; however it is possible to visit attractions on land such as WWII cannons. Air Tahiti has five or six flights daily to the Bora Bora Airport on Motu Mute from Tahiti (as well as from other islands).

Although French and Tahitian are the main languages spoken by the inhabitants, people in contact with tourists generally have some command of English. Most visitors to Bora Bora are American, Japanese, or European. Public transport on the island is non-existent. Rental cars and bicycles are the recommended method of transport. There are also small fun-cars for hire in Vaitape. Bora Bora is predestined for snorkeling and scuba diving in and around its lagoon. Many species of sharks and rays inhabit the surrounding body of water. There are a few dive operators on the island offering manta ray dives and also shark-feeding dives.
In addition to the existing islands of Bora Bora (called Motu in Taihitian), the new man-made motu of Motu Marfo has been added in the north-eastern corner of the lagoon on the property of the St. Regis Resort.