GLOSS Volume 1, Issue 5 - 2018 - Page 90

T R AV E L Cultural Crossroad One of the oldest cities in Central Asia with a rich history stretching back close to 3,000 years, Uzbekistan’s Samarkand has been home to many civilisations and cultures, leading to it being dubbed the Crossroad of Cultures by UNESCO. It has been home to Greeks when it was conquered in 329BC by Alexander the Great and then Persian Sassanians around 290AD. It has played host to Turks and then to Arabs who brought in the spread of Islam to that region. The area also underwent rules under a Mongol era, the Timurid Empire as well as Soviet rule. Surrealist Fantasy Land Look-up popular destinations in Mexico and it will take a while before you run across San Luis Potosí, as it gives way to places like Mexico City, Cancun, and Tulum. Unbeknownst to many though, the state of San Luis Potosí is a wonderful location due to its rich history as a major gold and silver mining hub from the 16th to 19th centuries. But history isn’t all this place has to offer. The southern region of the state houses the village Xilitla, home to fertile mountains and springs, offering up background-worthy vistas begging to become a post on your Instagram feed. Among these panoramas lies Las Pozas (The Pools), a surreal group of structures created by the late English p oet Edward James. The monuments are spread over eighty acres of land, standing 2,000ft above sea level, and carry names such as The House with a Roof like a Whale, The House on Three Floors Which Will in Fact Have Five or Four or Six, and The Staircase to Heaven which, ironically, leads nowhere. Built over the span of nearly four decades, the scores of concrete sculptures are accompanied by many trails in situ composed of steps, ramps, bridges as well as narrow, winding walkways. Construction of this Dalí-esque escape cost more than Dh18m though fortunately, a trip there won’t even amount to a drop in the millions of dirhams bucket. These days, however, the city is noted for being an Islamic centre for scholarly research as is evident in its abundance of mosques and mausoleums. Prominent landmarks include Registan, Bibi- Khanym Mosque, Gur-e-Amir, Afrasiab Museum of Samarkand, and Shah-i-Zinda, to name just five.