Madaba Map - Jordan

Madaba Map: Mosaic of Jerusalem

The Byzantine church St George in Madaba, Jordan, is home to the “Madaba Map,” an impressive and by far the most well-known mosaic in the Holy Land. Floor map mosaic. Dating from the second half of the 6th century, the floor map mosaic depicts the geography of the Holy Land in the 6th century. It […]


Mosque of Córdoba, Spain | A Walk to the Mezquita’s Mihrab (Video)

Walk down the center aisle of the Mosque of Córdoba (la Mezquita) to view the spectacular mosaic-clad mihrab and unique eight-point dome over the maqsura. This section of the mosque was built by Al-Hakam II from 961-965 The Call to Prayer Explained To get a translation of the call to prayer, see our related post.

Relief at Borobudur Lalitavistara - Triumphs As Buddha

Borobudur: Relief Scenes from the Life of the Buddha (Video)

Borobudur, a massive 9th century Buddhist temple in Java, Indonesia, holds some of the best reliefs in the Buddhist world, recounting events in the life of the Buddha. Approach Guides’ founder David Raezer offers a tour of the eight best reliefs. This video is produced as part of our Insights Series in conjunction our guidebook […]

Copan, Honduras Maya Stela "A"

Maya Cosmology & Symbols: The Ceremonial Serpent Bar

Ceremonial bars — also known as serpent bars — are a common symbol in the Maya world and often depicted being wielded by rulers on stelae. Such stelae were typically erected to commemorate a period-ending event (when the Maya base-20 long-count calendar zeroed out), commonly associated with change or rebirth. The bar typically ends in two […]

Qanat - Palermo Sotterranea (Interior)

Off the Beaten Path in Sicily: Palermo’s Qanats

The qanat (pronounced ka-naht) is an Arab-designed underground canal/irrigation system that directs water from a high-elevation aquifer water source to a town or agricultural area along a perfectly-calculated and very slight downward grade (see illustration). Invented by the Persians in 1000 BCE and functioning as a “below-ground aqueduct,” it is ideally suited to warm, dry […]