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A Journey Through Time

Every city, state and country has historic sites that tell a story, whether it’s as significant as the signing of the Declaration of Independence or as simple as the childhood of a famous author. And when you connect with those stories, you can truly connect with your destination.

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Mayapan Ruins
Mayapan Ruins

Mayapan Ruins

Also known as the Banner of the Mayas, Mayapan is considered the last great Maya capital. The Pre-Columbian Maya site is south of the town of Telchaquillo, which is in Yucatán, Mexico. More than 4000 structures, most residences, are packed with the ancient city’s walls. Archeologists believe that Mayapan’s main temple is a smaller version of Chichen Itza’s Temple of Kukulkan. 960 1280

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Labna: Gateway Arch

Labna: Gateway Arch

Located in the Puuc Hills region of the Yucatán Peninsula, Labna is a ceremonial center located south of the Uxmal archaeological site. The Gateway Arch (pictured) is not an entryway into the city; it’s a passageway between public areas. 960 1280

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Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is one of the largest Maya cities, and it is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. More than 1 million tourists visit the Mayan ruins every year. The Temple of Kukulkan (pictured) -- also referred to as El Castillo -- stands 98-feet tall with 9 square terraces, and it’s a big draw for crowds during the spring and fall equinoxes. As the sun sets, visitors crowd around the pyramid to see the shadows on the steps that resemble a snake. 960 1280

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Copán Ruins

Copán Ruins

In western Honduras, Copán -- another Maya archeological site -- was once the capital city of the Maya civilization from the 5th to 9th centuries AD. It was occupied for 2,000 years, and more recently, the Copán River was diverted to protect the site from damage. 960 1280

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Tikal Ruins

Tikal Ruins

Tikal, located in the Guatemala’s Peten Basin was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979. It was the capital of a state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the Maya. It is part of the Tikal National Park. 960 1280

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Ek Balam Ruins

Ek Balam Ruins

Built in the Maya Classic Period, Ek Balam has a grand central pyramid, 2 large palaces and numerous other temples and buildings. At the height of its history, it was a large city, and the architecture dates back to the Late Classic period. 960 1280

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Lamanai Ruins

Lamanai Ruins

Belize’s Lamanai Mayan ruins are surrounded by the jungle’s thick vegetation. And in case you didn’t know, the word Lamanai comes from the Maya term “submerged crocodile” -- a nod to the reptiles that live along the banks of the New River. 960 1280

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Xel-Ha Inlet and Ruins

Xel-Ha Inlet and Ruins

Mexico’s Xel-Ha ruins, part of the Xel-Ha Lagoon Eco-Park, is located between 2 Maya archeological sites -- Akumal and Tulum. The lagoon was a popular trade port between towns along the coast and to Cozumel. Some structures still have painted hands and other drawings of the Maya. 960 1280

Angelique800326, Wikimedia Commons  

Muyil Entry Plaza

Muyil Entry Plaza

Although rarely visited, the Muyil ruins is one of the earliest and longest inhabited ancient Maya sites, located south of Tulum, in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. These ruins are found along a Caribbean trade route that was once accessible via a series of canals. 960 1280

Dennis Jarvis, Flickr  

Xunantunich's El Castillo

Xunantunich's El Castillo

Just 80 miles of Belize City, Belize, Xunantunich sits on a ridge above the Mopan River, where visitors can clearly see Guatemala’s border. El Castillo (pictured) -- 130-feet tall -- is the second tallest structure in Belize, after the temple at Caracol. 960 1280

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The Church of Coba

The Church of Coba

In Quintana Roo, Mexico, Coba’s Nohoch Mul is the tallest pyramid in the Yucatán Peninsula. It is 12-stories tall and has 120 steps to the top, where you can get a panoramic view of the jungle and the tops of the other ruins in the area. 960 1280

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Xlapak Palace

Xlapak Palace

The Xlapak Palace (pictured) was located in a Maya ceremonial center in Yucatán, Mexico. The Palace is only 20-meters long adorned in typical, but stylish Mayan architecture style with columns, colonnades, geometrical figures and superimposed Mayan masks of Chaac, the Mayan god of rain. 960 1280

Dennis Jarvis, Flickr  

Uxmal, Pyramid of the Magician

Uxmal, Pyramid of the Magician

Uxmal is the Maya word for “thrice-build,” which refers to the construction of the Pyramid of the Magician (pictured). The Maya would often build a new temple over an existing one, and in this case, 5 stages of construction were found. At its height, Uxmal was home to about 25,000 Maya. 960 1280

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Kinch Kakmo Pyramid

Kinch Kakmo Pyramid

In Izamal, Mexico, visitors come to see the magnificent Kinch Kakmo pyramid. Kinch Kakmo -- the Maya word for fire parrot -- was believed to descend to Earth to consume offerings made at the top of the pyramid. 960 1280

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Becan Mayan Pyramid

Becan Mayan Pyramid

Head to the Campeche, Mexico, to see the Becan Mayan ruins. Visitors can explore 20 major ruins, including a number of temple pyramids immersed in the jungle. Becan was a major city, occupied from 550 BC and abandoned around the 9th century AD. 960 1280

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Palace and Park of Versailles
Palace and Park of Versailles

Palace and Park of Versailles

Palace and Park of Versailles
The magnificent Palace of Versailles was home to French kings from Louis XIV to Louis XVI. The grounds include this “Orangerie” garden, built between 1684 and 1686, to showcase one of the day’s most expensive food items: the orange.
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Urban, Wikimedia Commons  

Decorated Caves, Vézère Valley, Lascaux Cave, France

Decorated Caves, Vézère Valley, Lascaux Cave, France

Decorated Caves, Vezere Valley
In 1940, these Paleolithic paintings -- nearly 20,000 years old -- were discovered in one of 25 caves in southwestern France’s Vezere Valley. The most notable were found in the Lascaux Cave. Here’s an image of aurochs (the ancestor of domestic cattle) painted with mineral pigments.
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Prof saxx, Wikimedia Commons  

Carcassonne

Carcassonne

Carcassonne
Time for dungeons and dragons! Travel back to medieval times at Carcassonne, a fortified French town in the south of France. Its mighty walls stretch nearly 5 miles, and once kept out invaders such as King Pepin the Short -- take that!
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Gabriele, flickr  

Roman Theatre of Orange in France

Roman Theatre of Orange in France

Roman Theater of Orange
This ancient Roman theater stands in France’s Rhone Valley. The remarkably well-preserved structure -- now 2,000 years old -- was built during the reign of Augustus, whose Roman Empire stretched from the Atlantic to the Euphrates.
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Carlton Browne, flickr  

Bordeaux, Port of the Moon, in France

Bordeaux, Port of the Moon, in France

Bordeaux, Port of the Moon
Ah, the glow of Bordeaux. In southwest France see the “Port of the Moon,” a town situated along the Garonne River. (The town owes its nickname to the moon-shaped bending of the river.) Here’s a view of the town’s stone bridge, built on Napoleon’s orders to modernize the ancient Roman city.
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Fontainebleau Palace and Park

Fontainebleau Palace and Park

Fontainebleau Palace and Park
Where did French kings go to escape the city? The Palace of Fontainebleau, of course. About 34 miles from Paris, the palace was built in the 16th century, surrounded by formal gardens, orchards, woods and this sleepy lake.
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The Cevennes, France

The Cevennes, France

The Cevennes Region
Journey to the southern part of central France for a stunning mountain landscape: In the Cevennes, you’ll find deep valleys dotted with stone farmhouses like this. The area also inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, a trail-blazing classic of outdoor literature.
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Georges Seguin, Wikimedia Commons  

Roman Amphitheatre in Arles, France

Roman Amphitheatre in Arles, France

Roman Amphitheater in Arles
Wanna see a gladiator fight? There were once plenty at this amphitheater in Arles, a city in the south of France, in the first century A.D. Through the centuries, Arles made the graceful transition from ancient to medieval city, retaining mighty markers of the past like this.
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Pitons, cirques and ramparts of Reunion Island

Pitons, cirques and ramparts of Reunion Island

Pitons, cirques and ramparts of Reunion Island
France has 27 overseas regions -- including Reunion Island, in the southwest Indian Ocean. The island is a natural wonderland: pitons (that's volcanic plugs), cirques (valleys formed by glaciers) and ramparts (wall-like stone ridges) make up 40% of the island.
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Jennifer_greatoutdoors, flickr   

Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans

Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans

Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans
In the 18th century, salt was super-valuable. The salt was extracted by boiling water over wood fires. This building, Saline Royale (Royal Saltworks), in eastern France, was the hub of that activity. It’s also notable as an important achievement in industrial architecture.
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Rolf Sussbrich, Wikimedia Commons  

Paris, Banks of the Seine

Paris, Banks of the Seine

Paris, Banks of the Seine
A great city begins by the banks of a great river. View Paris’s evolution, from prehistoric days to its wide-scale development between the 16th and 17th centuries, in a walk along the Seine River. Among the classical architecture you’ll see: the Institute of France (pictured here), built as a college around 1670.
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Vezelay Church, France

Vezelay Church, France

Vezelay Church
More than one crusade was launched from this church. A monk named St. Bernard called for the Second Crusade from here. Later, English king Richard the Lionheart joined forces with French king Philip Augustus to launch an invasion of the Holy Land. On the more tame side, the church is said to house the relics of Mary Magdalene.
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Gulf of Porto, Calanche of Piana

Gulf of Porto, Calanche of Piana

Scandola Reserve, Corsica
Journey to the central western coast of Corsica island. Within this French territory, a nature reserve is home to porphyritic rock masses (when one group of crystals is clearly larger than the other group). The reserve also includes seagulls, sea eagles, cormorants (a bird species) and nearby islets with abundant marine life.
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Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris
You’re looking at one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. It took nearly 100 years to build Notre Dame. Later, during the French Revolution, a few rowdy revolutionaries damaged and, in some cases, destroyed its religious imagery. An extensive restoration followed.
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Lagoons of New Caledonia

Lagoons of New Caledonia

Lagoons of New Caledonia
Long ago, New Caledonia was part of a super-continent. Then it separated from Australia 65 million years ago, and eventually reached its present position in the southwest Pacific. Today, the archipelago (and French territory) is home to one of the 3 most extensive reef systems in the world.
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Travail personnel, Wikimedia Commons   

City Center in Le Havre, France

City Center in Le Havre, France

City Center in Le Havre
The port city of Le Havre, in northwestern France, suffered the most damage of any other French city during World War II. Then a 70-year-old architect named Auguste Perret led the city’s reconstruction. The result: out of the ashes, a rebirth … with a little help from the innovative use of concrete.
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Palace of the Popes in Avignon

Palace of the Popes in Avignon

Palace of the Popes in Avignon
The Pope didn’t always live in Rome. In the 14th century, the seat of papacy moved to Avignon, in southeastern France. Why? Turns out, when Gascon Bertrand de Goth was elected Pope, violent clashes erupted in Rome. Suddenly, moving to Palais des Papes, a fortress surrounded by ramparts, seemed like a nice idea.
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Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion

Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion

Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion
Wine grows here. Lots of it. The Romans introduced wine-making to the fertile area of southwestern France known today as Saint-Emilion. The area has another big draw: It’s on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. Drink up.
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