Jul-3-2016: My first stop on the trip was the replica Wolpa synagogue in Poland. I did some research on all of my sites before the trip, and this was one of the most interesting synagogues was the original Wolpa synagogue. Most synagogues adapted to the landscape around them, but the Wolpa synagogue was different. It was a wooden synagogue with designs on the inside that weren't a part of the local culture. However, the original was burned in World War II, so I had to go to a replica of the synagogue. I still could feel the culture embedded in the architecture even though it wasn't the original.
Jul-6-2016: Today I arrived in Vatican City to go see St. Peter's Basilica. The basilica started construction in 1506 but wasn't completed until over 100 years later. This was the second St. Peter's basilica, and it was built to replace the worn first basilica, which was commissioned by Constantine. This basilica had many beautiful columns which were supporting semi-circular arches. It had breathtaking artwork on the walls and very tall domes, which are common with a lot of other Christian structures in this city. The tour of basilica took a lot longer than I expected due to its sheer size. I eventually left and ate lunch at 3:00.
Jul-9-2016: I've been in Jerusalem for a few days, observing the local culture (THERE'S A LOT). I took a helicopter tour yesterday, and I saw this wall with a large crowd gathered in front of it, so today I decided to go there. It's called the Western Wall, and it is very important to the Jewish people. It used to be a part of the outer wall of Temple Mount (Jewish conduit for the spiritual world), which was destroyed by Romans in 70 CE. The wall is the last remaining part of the temple, so it is now one of the holiest Jewish places. There isn't much to see, but it has a riveting history which is deeply intertwined with the cultures in Jerusalem.
Jul-13-2016: Yesterday, I drove drown to Bethlehem in a rental car from Jerusalem. I couldn't resist taking pictures of its beauty. I came here to see where Christianity was born. Bethlehem is where Jesus was born, making it a very important and holy site to Christians. I thought it was cool to see how the city changed from the biblical Bethlehem to the modern version.
Jul-16-2016: After seeing the wonders of Judaism and Christianity, I decided to travel further south to Mecca. Today I was planning on going to the Kaaba (Ka'ba or al-Ka'bah). It is the holiest site in all of Islam, therefore the Haram Mosque was built around it. The true importance is that it houses the Black Stone, the only remaining part of the original Kaaba. The prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail built the original Kaaba, which was destroyed many times. The Black Stone is key to the ritual that Muslims do during their pilgrimage to Mecca. They must kiss the Black Stone and walk around the Kaaba to complete the ritual. It is very sacred to their religion, and I even found that my iPhone has an emoji dedicated to the Kaaba.
Jul-20-2016: I arrived in India today, but I was too excited to wait to see the Taj Mahal, so I went there straight from the airport. As soon as I saw it from I distance, I was enchanted by its beauty. The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum commissioned, in 1632, by Mughal ruler Shah Jahan for his wife. Islamic architecture seems to focus on domes everywhere, I must have counted at least 8. There are also many pointed arches inside and outside of the building, and there are towers called minarets on the exterior of the main building. Overall, the building was distinct from the Wolpa Synagogue and St. Peter's Basilica due to the slight characteristic differences.
Jul-22-2016: After visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra, I went to the Hindu holy city of Varanasi. It is sometimes called the spiritual capital of India, and it is a site of pilgrimage for many Hindus. The city sits right on the bank of the Ganges. It is believed that if a Hindu dies in Varanasi, then they will be liberated from the cycle of reincarnation, and they will not suffer any karmic consequences in to next life because they will stay in death. This is apparently a good thing, and it is called moksha. Another belief is that if you bathe in the Ganges here, your sins will be washed away with the current. I wandered the city and I took bath in the Ganges just in case.
Jul-24-2016: My next stop on the journey was Nepal, specifically Lumbini. It is a place of pilgrimage for Buddhist's around the world. Siddhartha Gautama, otherwise known as the Buddha, was born in Lumbini circa 600 BCE. Queen Mayadevi gave birth to the Buddha, leading to the creation of Buddhism. I visited Ashoka's pillar, the Mayadevi Temple, the Sacred garden, and then I went to my hotel.
Jul-27-2016: I left Nepal and I arrived in Cambodia for the purpose of seeing Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat was a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu. I was stunned by the structure as soon as I laid my eyes upon it. It was enormous! The Hindu architectural features were fairly easy to spot, such as the geometrical symmetry of the temple and the square and circular patterns across the building. These were all recurrent throughout the entire temple, and the intricate patterns provided a sense of devotion to the work put into the building.
Aug-1-2016: I arrived in Indonesia a few days later. Borobudur would be the wonder I would see today. Borobudur is a Buddhist temple built in 750 CE. I couldn't tell at first, but after seeing aerial photos, I could tell it was supposed to be in the shape of a lotus flower. The building is composed of 6 square layers and 3 circle layers on top. Each floor has many small structures called openwork stupas, each containing a statue of Buddha. The magnitude of the structure made me want to convert to Buddhism just from seeing it in person.