Great Cultural Monuments

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

featuring Marc Antoine's "Point of View"

The great Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria is one of Europe’s most popular castles. Thanks to its breathtaking location and architecture, the castle looks like something out of a fairy tale. This was somewhat the intention of Bavarian King Ludwig II, who ordered the construction of the castle as a fantasy retreat from reality.

After losing control of the Bavarian army and most of his real power, Ludwig II began planning a series of lavish palaces and castles where he could isolate himself and indulge his dreams of royalty. Neuschwanstein Castle was designed to be an idyllic medieval-style castle, with much of its design paying tribute to medieval legends, especially the legend of Parzival the Grail King, and the romantic operas of Richard Wagner, one of Ludwig’s heroes.

Unfortunately, the grandeur of Ludwig’s dreams exceeded his actual power and assets, driving him broke and leading to his deposal and later death. Though Neuschwanstein Castle was mocked at the time as an impractical project by “Mad King Ludwig,” today it is one of the region’s most respected assets and largest tourist draws.

Marc Antoine is contemporary jazz guitarist. Though gifted from a young age, his playing was threatened by a serious accident to his left hand while he was a teenager. Despite a grim prognosis, Antoine recovered to become one of today’s leading jazz guitar acts. Currently living in Spain, Antoine frequently tours with other contemporary jazz greats including David Benoit, Dave Koz, and Chris Botti.

Links

Neuschwanstein Castle
Wikipedia article: Neuschwanstein Castle
Bavaria Tourism
Marc Antoine Official Site


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Linderhof Palace, Germany

featuring Keith Phillips' "The Millstone"

The German state of Bavaria is renowned for its beautiful views and magnificent architecture, and some of its most impressive sites were built under the rule of King Ludwig II, the area’s “fairy tale king.”

During his 22-year reign, the king commissioned two palaces and a castle. Linderhof Palace, featured in this video, is the only one to have been completed as planned. Surely eccentric, and even known to some as the “Mad King,” Ludwig went heavily into debt to construct these buildings, which largely pay homage to King Louis XIV of France and the romantic works of composer Richard Wagner. This debt became one of the reasons for the king’s eventual deposition.

Ironically, Ludwig’s self-indulgent projects have become great assets to Bavaria and have paid for themselves over time through their popularity and appeal to tourists.

Keith Phillips is a solo piano and keyboard performer from Atlanta. Phillips has a diverse musical background: in addition to his rich classical training, he has performed in cover bands for years, working in many genres. Phillips released his debut solo album in 2003 and has since started his own Sleepy River Studio, named after Georgia’s Chattahoochee River, where he finds inspiration.

Links

Bavarian Palace Department: Linderhof Palace and Park
Official Bavarian Tourism Site
Wikipedia article: Ludwig II of Bavaria
Keith Phillips Official Site


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Wat Arun at Sunset

featuring Jean-Luc Ponty's "I Only Feel Good With You"

Thailand holds tens of thousands of Buddhist temples, but none as famous as Wat Arun, the beautiful “temple of the dawn” in the capital city of Bangkok.

The exact age of Wat Arun is unknown, but it dates back at least to the 1600s, during the era of the country’s Ayutthaya Kingdom. The iconic spires– or prongs– were not added until the reign of King Rama II in the nineteenth century. The tallest spire is a symbol for Mount Meru, the center of the Buddhist universe. It stands over 260 feet tall. Visitors to the temple can climb the central prong via a series of steep steps, for a beautiful view of surrounding Bangkok.

This eScapes video features Wat Arun at sunset, as seen from across the adjacent Chao Phraya River. Though the site’s nickname, “Temple of the Dawn,” alludes to Arun, the Hindu personification of dawn, the best time to see the temple is actually in the glow of the sunset.

Jean-Luc Ponty is a jazz and rock violinist who has been instrumental in expanding the role of the violin in modern music. Torn between orchestral performance and jazz at a young age, Ponty chose to solely pursue jazz and released a debut album at the age of 22. Since then, Ponty has become a popular act in jazz and rock, performing solo and collaborating with other artists on worldwide tours.

Links

Tourism Authority of Thailand
Bangkok Tourism Division
Wikipedia article: Wat Arun
Jean-Luc Ponty Official Site


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The Pyramids of Giza

featuring Dave McMurray's "My Brother & Me"

Few sites in the world are as revered as the pyramids of the Giza Necropolis. These timeless structures seem to simultaneously defy time and logic and they stand in the shifting Egyptian sands.

The oldest and largest pyramid at the site, the Great Pyramid of Khufu, was built more than 4,500 years ago and was the tallest man-made structure in the world for 3,871 of those years, until the completion of England’s Lincoln Cathedral in 1311 AD. It is also the only surviving destination from the original Seven Wonders of the World.

Just as famous in modern times as the Great Pyramid is the nearby Great Sphinx. Also located on the site are the Pyramid of Khafre (identifiable by its smooth limestone cap) and the Pyramid of Menkaure, standing beside the smaller Pyramids of Queens.

The incredible age and size of the pyramids lends itself to their greatest mystery. Despite centuries of research, very little is still known about exactly how ancient Egyptians managed to place the limestone blocks that make up the pyramids. The Great Pyramid alone contains about 2.3 million blocks, each weighing more than a ton. Still, workers were able to build the pyramid in a relatively short period of time, fitting the blocks together with extreme precision.

Dave McMurray is a Detroit-based multi-instrumentalist best known for his mastery of the tenor, soprano and alto saxophones. He is also talented with the flute, keyboards, and percussion and, in addition to his solo career, has recorded with some of the biggest names in music including Bob James and Bob Dylan.

Links

UNESCO World Heritage Center Profile on the Pyramid Fields
Wikipedia article: Giza Necropolis
Boston Museum of Fine Arts: Giza Archives (collection of scholarly articles on the site)
Dave McMurray Official MySpace


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The Burying Point (Salem, Massachusetts)

featuring David Lanz's "Cristofori's Dream"

Salem, Massachusetts is infamous for its history of witch trials and executions, which took place during 1692 and 1693. The Salem area is now a popular (though sometimes macabre) historical attraction. The witch trials, however, are only a small part of a larger history, and Salem is also significant as an early American settlement dating back to 1626.

Salem’s Charter Street Cemetery, also known as “The Burying Point,” has links to many facets of the city’s early history. This scenic cemetery is the second-oldest in the United States, and holds the remains of one of the original Mayflower pilgrims. Also found on the grounds is the grave of Justice John Hathorne, a judge during the witch trials and the great-great-grandfather of author Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Scarlet Letter author added a W to his surname to separate himself from the legacy of his ancestor.

David Lanz is a Grammy-nominated composer and new age pianist who has been credited with helping to create the new age genre in the 1980s. A Seattle native, Lanz has also explored the rock and jazz genres and has released dozens of albums.

Links

Find a Grave: The Burying Point (list of graves in Charter Street Cemetery)
Official Salem Guide for Visitors
Official Website of Salem, Massachusetts
David Lanz Official Site


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Detroit Institute of Arts (American Landscapes)

featuring Mendelssohn's "Piano Trio #2 in C Minor"

No visit to Detroit is complete without a trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts, a 658,000-square-foot museum with one of the top collections of artwork in the United States. Founded in 1885, the museum is home to a diverse collection of art from a broad span of eras and cultures. Some of the museum’s most famous pieces include Diego Rivera’s enormous “Detroit Industry” fresco and an 1887 self portrait of Vincent Van Gogh.

This eScapes video takes you on a relaxing tour of the museum’s gallery of American landscapes. Most of these works are from the mid-19th century and the centerpiece of this gallery, Frederic Edwin Church’s 1862 painting Cotopaxi, is thought to be a reflection on the onset of the Civil War.

The other works displayed here are more tranquil: Jasper Francis Cropsey’s Indian Summer, depicting a couple dwarfed by a colorful autumn landscape, and Thomas Cole’s From the Top of Kaaterskill Falls both inspire calm and a connection to nature.

Links

The Detroit Institute of Arts
Visit Detroit (non-profit visitor information)
Wikipedia article: Frederic Edwin Church
Pure Michigan: Official Travel and Tourism Information


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Paris (Eiffel Tower & Arc de Triomphe)

featuring Ken Navarro's "28 (For Kristin)"

Paris has a reputation as the most romantic city on the planet, and it’s easy to understand why. Whether it’s a ride down the River Seine, a walk through the Louvre Museum, or a twilight picnic at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, the greatest sights of Paris seem designed for two.

Known as the “City of Light” for its role in the Enlightenment, Paris is one of the world’s foremost cultural centers: a giant in fashion, food, and the arts. This eScapes scene features two of Paris’ most famous landmarks: the Eiffel Tower, originally built as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair, and the Arc de Triomphe, decorated with scenes from French military history.

Ken Navarro is an award-winning contemporary jazz guitarist. His impressive discography of nineteen top charting albums showcases his appeal to a wide range of listeners with inspiring compositions and superb guitar performances.

Links

Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau
The Eiffel Tower
Arc de Triomphe Paris
Ken Navarro Official Site


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Château Margaux, France

featuring Craig Chaquico & Russ Freeman's "Riders of the Ancient Winds"

Bordeaux’s Chateau Margaux is one of the most prestigious wine producers in France. Though its history dates back to the 12th century, it wasn’t until the 1570s that the grounds were used as a vineyard.

The beautiful chateau itself wasn’t built until the 19th century but it’s already become a French historical monument, as well as a monument to the French winemaking tradition. Chateau Margaux wines are known throughout the world and have a price to match their reputation. In 2011, bottles of Margaux ranged from $225 to $2,400. One even holds the honor of being the most expensive bottle of wine ever broken: a bottle of the 1787 vintage, alleged to have been owned by Thomas Jefferson, and insured at $225,000.

Craig Chaquico is a guitarist best known for his role in Jefferson Starship and Starship, which charted multiple gold albums. After great success on the pop music charts, Chaquico went solo in the 1990s as an instrumentalist and continued his success into a fourth decade.

Russ Freeman is a contemporary jazz musician best known for being the frontman of The Rippingtons, a Grammy-nominated collaboration that has hosted many successful musicians.

Links

Chateau Margaux Official Site
Official Site of Bordeaux Wines
Bloomberg.com: Chateau Margaux Luxury Liquidity is Pricey
Craig Chaquico Official Site


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Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux

featuring John Tesh's "Eleanor Rigby"

Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux is one example of the stunning gothic cathedrals found throughout France. This cathedral dates back to at least 1096 AD, but much of its striking architecture was added over the next 400 years.

The cathedral’s twin bell towers on the north facade, featured prominently in this eScapes video, are highlights of the building’s exterior. Four bell towers were initially planned, but only two were constructed due to concerns over the building’s weight and the risk of it sinking into the ground.

The Cathédrale Saint-André, sometimes more simply known as Bordeaux Cathedral, has been witness to nearly a thousand years of history. In 1137, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII were married in the cathedral. Or were they? (The marriage was annulled in 1152.)

John Tesh is a composer and instrumentalist also known for his work on radio and television. Tesh left his long television career, best known for his seat on Entertainment Tonight, to pursue music in 1996. Since then, he has been a force in the classical, new age, and worship music genres and has gained even more recognition as the host of the nationally-syndicated John Tesh Radio Show in which he blends music with lifestyle advice and tips.

Links

Bordeaux Official Tourism Site
Bordeaux Cathedral Saint Andrew Official Site
French Moments Sydney: Bordeaux Cathedral
John Tesh Music Official Site


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Machu Picchu

featuring Brian Culbertson's "Let's Get Started"

Few South American archaeological sites are as stunning as Peru’s Machu Picchu. In the middle of a mountain forest nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, this Inca city uses natural materials to create an aesthetic harmony with its natural surroundings.

This site was one of the last sanctuaries for the Inca Empire as it fell to Spanish colonialism. In fact, the Spaniards were never able to find Machu Picchu and it remained hidden until 1911. As a result, it is a notably intact archaeological site although it is threatened by increasing tourism and commercial infiltration.

Outside the city, the tranquil Andes Mountains are home to a variety of interesting wildlife, including Peru’s famous llamas. A pair of these llamas is featured at the end of this sample video. Additional wildlife can be seen in the full version of this scene, now airing on the eScapes Television Network.

Brian Culbertson is a contemporary jazz instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. Especially skilled as a keyboardist and trombonist, Culbertson is influenced by funk and soul music and has collaborated with some of the biggest names in jazz. Culbertson is also a frequent opening act for Barry Manilow.

Links

UNESCO World Heritage Centre: Machu Picchu
L.A. Times: 100 Facts for 100 Years of Machu Picchu
Peru Tourism Bureau
Brian Culbertson Official Website


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