12 remarkable monuments

It’s not a cheery subject, but travellers encounter all types of memorials – many of them quite moving.

Ranging from grand structures to stark, simple and sometimes disturbing statements, memorials cover many subjects.

Some are subtle. Others are deliberately in-your-face.

All give cause for reflection.

Here are 12 of the most remarkable monuments that we’ve seen.

National September 11 Memorial and Museum, New York City, USA

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This is a tribute to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, as well as people killed in the World Trade Centre bombing in February 1993.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, Germany.

Located near Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, this memorial can leave you feeling disoriented and uneasy. But, you won’t forget it.

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The Cenotaph, London UK.

Situated in the Whitehall area of central London, this was originally a temporary structure that became permanent after an outpouring of national sentiment in 1920.

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Neue Wache, Berlin, Germany.

This striking memorial for the victims of war and tyranny is incredibly powerful in its simplicity – a room empty except for a mother holding a child under an open roof, exposed to the elements.

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World War II Valor in the Pacific, Pearl Harbour, Hawaii.

This memorial includes the sunken remains of the USS Arizona, lost in the Pearl Harbour attack.

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American cemetery, Normandy, France.

Like much of this area of France, the sea of white crosses certainly gives cause to reflect.

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The Australian War Memorial

Located at Canberra, Australia’s national capital, this is an acclaimed and intricate memorial.

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Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial and Museum, Oranienburg, Germany.

This was one of the biggest concentration camps operated between 1936 and 1945. A visit to the site is a moving experience indeed.

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Topography of Terror, Berlin, Germany

Few words seem to be spoken as people move around this huge display, in the former headquarters of the SS. Not for the faint hearted.

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Soldiers and Sailor’s Monument, New York City, USA

An imposing structure in Manhattan’s Riverside Park, this one commemorates Union Army members who served in the American Civil War.

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Monument Against War and Fascism, Vienna, Austria.

Simple yet memorable, this stands on the spot where several hundred people were buried alive in a World War II bombing raid.

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The Anne Frank Centre, Berlin, Germany.

Located in Berlin’s Mitte district, this memorial also serves a dual purpose as an educational centre. Fittingly, it is somewhat hidden in an unremarkable building – signifying Anne’s life in hiding from the Nazis.

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This is far from a complete list of prominent memorials worldwide.

For example, we have not seen the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial at Budapest; the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington; Arlington cemetery in Virginia; or the Motherland Calls memorial at Volograd, Russia.

However those we have visited each left their mark in different ways. We recommend a visit to them all.

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New York series: where to explore in the Big Apple

Most people know the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and the World Trade Centre site – but here’s 16 more icons of New York City well worth seeing

1. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) – 11 W 53rd Street

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Photo courtesy Wikimedia, Flickr and hibino

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A masterpiece

2. Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) – 36 W 44th Street

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Photo courtesy Wikimedia, Flickr and mister-e

3. Guggenheim Museum – 1071 5th Avenue

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4. M & M World – Times Square

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5. The High Line elevated garden – West 34th Street, from 10th & 12th avenues.

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6. Grimaldi’s famous pizzeria – 1 Front Street, Brooklyn

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7. Empire State Building – 350 5th Avenue

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8. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, Central Park

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9. Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi – 1021 6th Avenue

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10. The Hotel Chelsea – 222 West 23rd Street, between Seventh and Eighth avenues

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This famous hotel may be closed for renovations

11. Diana Ross Playground, Central Park – West 81st Street

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12. Times square commercial neighbourhood – West 42nd to West 47th 

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13. Macy’s Department Store – 151 West

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14. Bronx Zoo – 230 Southern Blvd. Bronx

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15. Ed Sullivan Theatre radio and TV studio – 1697 – 1699 Broadway

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In the days of David Letterman

The main photo shows New York City’s Staten Island Ferry which carries 22 million people a year between St. George on Staten Island and Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan.

The five mile, 25 minute ride provides a majestic view of New York Harbor and a no-hassle, even romantic, boat ride, for free!

 

New York City

Don’t miss this New York City oasis

It was a sunny Autumn day in New York City when we came across Trinity Wall Street.

Striding briskly through the frenzy of the city’s Financial District, in lower Manhattan, we were unexpectedly faced with an extraordinary sight – an old burial ground of tilting headstones, manicured green lawns and shady trees.

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Alongside this green oasis – in the shadows of surrounding skyscrapers – stood a magnificent old stone church built in the classic Gothic Revival style.

We meandered along the stone pathways of the graveyard to discover that we’d stumbled upon a venerable American institution – Trinity Wall Street Episcopal church and its famous 300-year-old cemetery.

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Photo courtesy: Village Voice

Apparently, the church site dates to 1697 when it was earmarked by the English King William 111 as the Anglican seat in the capital city.

There have been three church buildings on the site – near the corner of Wall Street and Broadway.

The current structure was built in 1846 and has been designated as a national historic landmark because of its architectural significance and place in the history of New York City.

We were told that, at the time of its completion, the 281 foot Neo-Gothic spire, surmounted by a gilded cross, dominated the skyline of lower Manhattan and was the highest point in New York until being surpassed in 1890 by the New York World Building.

Trinity became a welcoming beacon for ships sailing into New York Harbor.

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Pausing in the shady cemetery, we also discovered that the two-and-a-half-acre yard contained the tombstones and memorials of notable 18th Century New Yorkers, including many leading participants of the American revolution and the early years of Republic.

We were also intrigued by the obviously more modern bronze sculpture of a tree alongside Trinity Church.

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Apparently, the base of the sculpture is made from the roots of a huge sycamore tree that had stood for almost a century before it was flattened by falling debris from the nearby World Trade Centre after the September 11 terror attacks in 2001.

During the attack, people took refuge in Trinity from choking clouds of dust.

The tree sculpture carries a credit to artist, Steve Tobin.

Heading back into the busy Manhattan Financial District, we marvelled at the enormous contrast of such an oasis of calm and tranquility amid the hustle and bustle.

From Central Park to the High Line and Turtle Pond, such contrasts are not uncommon in New York City, where a special kind of beauty can await around almost any corner.

Main photo courtesy  Gigi alt (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

New York City Upper West Side

New York: a humble tree you should find

The  best travel experiences are often the unexpected ones.DSCN0468

For example, the ‘Freedom Tower’ is a ‘must see’ for visitors to New York City.

Set amid the Financial District of Manhattan Island, the tower and its adjoining September 11 Memorial and Museum stand on the site of the former the World Trade Centre.

A striking view from all sides, the tower complex also contains an unexpected surprise.

While visitors marvel at the cascading waters of the North and South memorial pools and silently read the names of the  2,983 people who died in the Twin Towers, it’s easy to overlook a humble pear tree standing nearby.

Yet this pear means a lot to the Big Apple.

The survivor

Known as ‘The Survivor Tree’, the Callery Pear was pulled from the ruins of the World Trade Centre, where it had stood in the plaza area since the 1970’s.

The tree trunk was charred and covered with ash, but it refused to go down – and was nursed back to health at a local nursery.DSCN0469

After also surviving a massive storm in 2010, the pear tree was replanted in the grounds of the September 11 Memorial, as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth.

Since then, the tree – which is surrounded by more than 400 Oaks in the eight  acre grounds of the memorial – increasingly has become an attraction in its own right – accepted as a living example of  the ability to bounce back from trauma.

Continuing the symbol

With the aim of keeping the Survivor Tree alive for coming generations of visitors, officials at the memorial propagated the fruit of the pear into seedlings, which have now grown into  saplings.

In years to come, a new generation of travellers may be able to visit the offspring of ‘The Survivor Tree’ standing in NYC’s Central Park or other prominent public places.

See directions for visiting the September 11 Memorial and don’t miss ‘The Survivor Tree’.

New York City