A postcard from Colombia: Pablo Escobar’s former lakeside retreat
On the shores of the El Peñol-Guatapé Reservoir the infamous Colombian cocaine drug-lord Pablo Escobar built a lavish estate which he named La Manuela, after his daughter.
Gallery: looking back at buildings
One of the (many) things I like to photograph when I travel are the various buildings I see. Buildings tell us so much about how people live, how they work, how they worship. Or, if they are old buildings, how they once lived/worked/worshipped.
A stroll around Fountains Abbey
In 1132 a small group of monks left their Benedictine Monastery in York, fed up with the extravagant and rowdy lifestyle of the monks there. Seeking a more devout and simple way of life, they were granted a parcel of land by the River Skell where they built a small wooden church and applied, successfully, to join the Cistercian order.
Wat Phou: walking in the footsteps of the king
Wat Phou is a pre-Angkorian Khmer Hindu temple at the foot of Mount Phou Khao. The Khmer chose this site because the unusual shape of the mountain peak seemed to them to resemble a Shiva linga. Today it was so hazy that the peak was hard to make out, but we had seen it yesterday in the late afternoon sunlight.
Dhofar, the Land of Frankincense
You can’t travel far in Oman without hearing the word frankincense. Every Omani home burns this fragrant resin daily, it is an intrinsic part of Omani life. Not only does it make the home smell nice, it also keeps flying insects such as mosquitoes at bay. The best quality frankincense is steeped overnight in water which is then drunk at breakfast time to treat a variety of ailments. And inhaling the smoke is said to be good for asthma.
A city shaped by earthquakes
Antigua, or Antigua Guatemala to give it its full name, is a city shaped by the movement of the earth on which it stands. It was founded in 1543 and despite the ravages of several earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, it was for over 200 years the capital and economic centre of the whole Kingdom of Guatemala. This was a significant country, covering what today we know as southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Gallery: Ta Prohm, Angkor’s Royal Monastery
In a clearing in the jungles of Angkor the Buddhist king King Jayavarman VII built a monastery, Rajavihara, meaning ‘Royal Monastery’. We know it today as Ta Prohm. Here lived more than 12,500 people, including 18 high priests and 615 dancers. The temple was wealthy, amassing riches such as gold, pearls and silks.
Seen better days: the ruined villages of Oman
Not many countries can have seen such rapid change as did Oman in the 1970s. When Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said overthrew his father in a bloodless coup in 1970, Oman was considered one of the most technologically and educationally deprived countries in the world. In the first 25 years of his reign it moved from a largely feudal society to a rapidly developing modern one.
‘Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
The crumbling red stone ruins of the Kasbah of Telouet hide a secret; within their walls lie the remains of a glorious and self-indulgent palace, where Pasha Thami El Glaoui asserted his power and wealth. These atmospheric ruins are relatively off the tourist trail, although easily visited on a day trip from Marrakesh.
Campo da Morte Lenta: Camp of the Slow Death
On the southern outskirts of the small fishing town of Tarrafel on Santiago, one of the Cape Verde Islands, is a haunting sight. Now a museum, this former concentration camp, also known as Campo da Morte Lenta, commemorates a darker time for the islands, under Portuguese rule.