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london, tower, poppies, history, culture

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Poppies at the Tower of London

London, England

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row.” During WWI, only the blood-red poppy could be seen blooming up from the grave-covered, barren landscape of northern France. An image immortalized by John McCrae in his poem In Flanders Fields, the poppies went on to symbolize the country’s staggering loss of life. Ceramic artist Paul Cummins paid tribute to this sentiment with his art installation piece Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, filling the Tower of London’s moat with 888,246 ceramic poppies, each one representing a British military fatality.


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Highclere Castle's saloon
Highclere Castle's saloon

Highclere Castle's saloon

A view of the saloon -- a room for socializing, set in the center of the house -- in Highclere Castle in Newbury, England. The ancestral home of the Carnarvon family since 1679, the castle has recently been made famous as the setting for the hugely popular TV series, Downton Abbey. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

This entrance hall leads into the saloon, which is decorated in a gothic style with ornate decoration, including leather wall coverings. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

A view of the music room in Highclere Castle. Sitting on 1,000 acres of beautifully landscaped land and gardens, the castle is open in the summer months to visitors. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle's music room

Highclere Castle's music room

The ceiling of the music room, seen here reflected in the mirror, was painted in the 1730s by English painter and one of the founding members of the Royal Academy of Arts, Francis Hayman. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle's music room

Highclere Castle's music room

Italian 16th-century tapestries hang in Highclere’s music room. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle's drawing room

Highclere Castle's drawing room

This photo of Almina Wombwell sits in the drawing room, which is decorated with bolts of green French silk given to Almina by her banking tycoon father, Alfred de Rothschild. She became the lady of Highclere Castle when she married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon in 1895. 960 1280

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Highclere Castle's library

Highclere Castle's library

The Earl's desk is displayed in the castle’s library. An active Tory in Parliament, the 4th Earl of Carnarvon would retreat here in what has been nicknamed the “withdrawing room.” In Downton Abbey, Lord Grantham can often be found in this room, mulling over papers and fretting about the future of the estate. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle's library

Highclere Castle's library

This hidden door leads from the library to the music room. 960 1280

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Highclere Castle's library

Highclere Castle's library

There are over 5,600 books stored in Highclere’s library, with the earliest dating back to the 16th century. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

These bells were used to summon the servants, with each bell corresponding to a different room in the castle. 960 1280

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Highclere Castle's Oak Staircase

Highclere Castle's Oak Staircase

The Oak Staircase was designed by English architect and artist, Thomas Allom, who is also known for his work with Sir Charles Barry in designing the Houses of Parliament. The staircase took a year to carve and install. Downton Abbey fans will fondly recall Lady Mary descending this staircase in her wedding dress, on her way to exchange vows with Matthew Crawley. 960 1280

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Highclere Castle's dining room

Highclere Castle's dining room

Found in the castle’s dining room are a series of portraits, including, most notably, the equestrian portrait of Charles I by Sir Anthony van Dyck, a Flemish artist who became England’s leading court painter. 960 1280

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Highclere Castle's Red Staircase

Highclere Castle's Red Staircase

The Red Staircase, leading to the second floor and what was once the nurseries, is the other main staircase in Highclere Castle that is used by the family. 960 1280

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Highclere Castle's Mercia bedroom

Highclere Castle's Mercia bedroom

On the first floor alone, there are 11 bedrooms and between 40 and 50 throughout the rest of the castle. The Mercia bedroom, seen here, is decorated with 18th-century silks. Downton Abbey fans may recognize the bedroom as belonging to Cora, the Countess of Grantham (although the Earl of Grantham is known to sneak in after the ladies’ maids and butlers have gone to bed). 960 1280

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Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle was remodeled for the 3rd Earl in 1839 by Sir Charles Barry after he finished the Houses of Parliament. Barry described the castle’s architecture as Anglo-Italian. 960 1280

Allan Baxter/Getty Images  

Swallow’s Nest, Ukraine
Swallow’s Nest, Ukraine

Swallow’s Nest, Ukraine

This ornate castle stands atop a cliff 130 feet high, on the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine. Built between 1911 and 1912, the neo-Gothic structure offers great views of the Black Sea. And while the castle may look a little shaky there on the edge of Aurora Cliff, don’t be fooled -- the castle was strong enough to withstand a 7-magnitude earthquake in 1927. 960 1280

flickr  

Positano, Italy

Positano, Italy

Italy’s Amalfi Coast is home to several towns -- and the village of Positano is arguably its star attraction. Situated on a steep, rocky slope, the town is dotted with colorful stucco buildings that enliven the Mediterranean scene. 960 1280

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Taktshang Monastery, Bhutan

Taktshang Monastery, Bhutan

At a dizzying 3,000 feet above Bhutan’s upper Paro Valley, Taktshang Monastery is the most famous Buddhist Himalayan monastery in the South Asian country. It was built in 1692, with subsequent restorations in 1958 and 2005. 960 1280

Douglas J. McLaughlin, Wikimedia Commons  

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

On a rocky hill above the German village of Hohenschwangau stands Neuschwanstein Castle. The 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace was commissioned by the king of the German state of Bavaria Ludwig II. At an elevation of 2,620 feet, the palace offers amazing views of the Alpine foothills to the south and hilly terrain to the north. 960 1280

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Bonifacio, Corsica, France

Bonifacio, Corsica, France

On the southwest tip of the French island of Corsica you’ll find Bonifacio. This ancient fortress town was established in the 12th century by the Republic of Genoa to thwart invasion by the Moors. Here’s a view of the Bonifacio fortress, perched on a limestone plateau overlooking the harbor of the same name. 960 1280

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Oia Village, Santorini, Greece

Oia Village, Santorini, Greece

Small white houses dot the rocky hillside of the Greek village Oia, overlooking the Aegean Sea. The porous volcanic rock upon which the houses stand are the result of a volcanic eruption that occurred during the Minoan period -- about 3,500 years ago. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Holy Monastery of Varlaam, Greece

Holy Monastery of Varlaam, Greece

Perched on a cliff 1,224 feet above central Greece’s Meteora Valley, the Greek Orthodox Holy Monastery of Varlaam stands in tribute to faith -- and engineering precision. Built on natural sandstone rock pillars in 1541, Varlaam is one of 6 similarly constructed monasteries in the region. 960 1280

Dido3, Wikimedia Commons  

Castellfollit de la Roca, Catalonia, Spain

Castellfollit de la Roca, Catalonia, Spain

The Spanish town of Castellfollit de la Roca is situated on a rocky precipice -- over 164 feet high and more than half a mile long. The eye-catching terrain is a result of volcanic eruptions that took place thousands of years ago. Once solidified, the lava became the hard rock basalt upon which the town resides today. 960 1280

Juanito Ricart, flickr  

Dar Al Hajar, Yemen

Dar Al Hajar, Yemen

This stone mansion -- known as the “Rock Palace” -- served as a summer retreat for the imam of Yemen in the 1930s (in his day, the country’s equivalent of a president or king). Intricately built on a towering rock, the 5-story structure dates back to 1786. The upper level was added in the 1930s. 960 1280

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Al Deir Monastery, Petra, Jordan

Al Deir Monastery, Petra, Jordan

The rock-cut architecture of Petra, Jordan, stretches back to the 6th century B.C., yet it remained unknown to the Western world until 1812. Since then, the “rose-red city half as old as time,” as an 1845 poem described it, has become an enviable tourist destination -- described by Smithsonian Magazine as one of the top places to see before you die. Among Petra’s sites is the Al Deir monastery, pictured here. 960 1280

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Neemrana Fort-Palace, Rajasthan, India

Neemrana Fort-Palace, Rajasthan, India

Nestled in the foothills of the Aravili mountain range in western India is Neemrana Fort Palace. The 25-acre fort was built in the 15th century, then converted into a luxury hotel about 25 years ago -- with gardens, a pool and an amphitheater on its sweeping grounds. 960 1280

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Xuankong Monastery, China

Xuankong Monastery, China

Built -- amazingly -- more than 1,500 years ago, the Xuankong Monastery stands more than 246 feet high, on a precipice in China’s Shaxi province. Its remarkable endurance over a millennium is a result of oak crossbeams fitted into holes chiseled into the rock. 960 1280

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Mont-Saint-Michel, France

Mont-Saint-Michel, France

Perched on the rocky islet of Mont-Saint-Michel (less than a mile from the Normandy coast) is this 13th-century, Gothic-style Benedictine abbey. Its eye-catching location stands in technical and artistic triumph: For centuries, the abbey’s bay location has been subject to some of the strongest tides in Europe, as high as 39 feet. 960 1280

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Popa Taungkalat Monastery, Burma

Popa Taungkalat Monastery, Burma

At more than 2,417 feet high, the vast volcanic plug of Taung Kalat in central Burma is home to this Buddhist monastery. At the top of the summit, enjoy a panoramic view: the ancient Burmese city of Bagan to the south, a conical peak to the north. 960 1280

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Hearst Castle, California

Hearst Castle, California

At an altitude of 1,600 feet, you’ll find the Hearst Castle in Sam Simeon, CA. The mansion was built in this area of coastal California over a 28-year-period for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. He nicknamed the estate “La Cuesta Encantada (“The Enchanted Hill”) -- you can see why with dramatic views of the surrounding Santa Lucia Mountains and nearby Pacific Ocean. 960 1280

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Hanging Houses, Cuenca, Spain

Hanging Houses, Cuenca, Spain

Tucked into a mountain valley at 8,000 feet you’ll find Cuenca. The town’s most amazing sight is Las Casas Colgadas, or "overhanging houses" -- a row of 14th-century homes a nail-biting distance from Huécar river canyon. 960 1280

  

On the Rocks  16 Photos

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