50 Entertaining Facts about Iconic Tourist Destinations Every Traveller Should Know

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26Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat in Cambodia is the largest religious structure in the world. It is 80 times bigger than St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, and at least 3.5 times bigger than the Vatican City itself. It was built to the Hindu god Vishnu by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the period 1113–50.

27. In 1687, the Parthenon in Athens exploded when it was hit by a Venetian mortar round in a war between Venice and the Turks. The building was being used by the Turks to store gunpowder. One account says the Turks did not expect the Venetians to target such a historic monument. 300 people died.

28. The Easter Island heads actually have bodies that were swallowed by the ground due to the sheer age of the statues. Their burial also preserved ancient petroglyphs from erosion.

29. After a 10 year, $40 million project, the Leaning Tower of Pisa stopped moving for the first time in its 800-year history. The tower is now expected to stay stable for at least 200 years.

30. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was not originally going to be painted orange. The orange color was only supposed to be for a sealant and was to be painted with black and yellow stripes to ensure visibility by passing ships. The orange color worked better for fog so it was kept instead.

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31It's a Small World

Disneyland had to close the "It's a Small World" ride for several months in 2007 for renovations because people were too fat for the ride and the boats were regularly getting stuck.

32. The Great Pyramid of Giza was once covered in highly polished white limestone before it was removed to build mosques and fortresses.

33. Grand Central Terminal in New York City is so radioactive that full-time workers are exposed to more radiation than is permitted in nuclear plants.

34. The eternal flame at Arc de Triomphe in Paris has only been extinguished once by drunken Mexican football fans who urinated in it after the final of the 1998 World Cup when France defeated Brazil.

35. China's Terracotta Army were handmade, have functioning weapons and every face is unique.

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36Forbidden City

The Forbidden City, built-in 1420, was so well-designed that it withstood over 200 earthquakes and can withstand one with a magnitude of 10.1 on the Richter scale.

37. Las Vegas is a long way from being the gambling capital of the world. Macau’s gambling revenue is a whopping 5 times larger. Both of them are beaten by Japan. About 4% of Japan's GDP is generated by Pachinko gambling. The revenue Japan collected from these machines was more than Last Vegas and Macau combined.

38. The famous Las Vegas Strip is not actually in the city of Las Vegas. It sits immediately south of the city limits and is technically located in the unincorporated towns of Paradise and Winchester, Nevada.

39. Yellowstone National Park was established by the US Congress in 1872 and is widely considered the first national park in the world. At 2.2 million acres, the park is larger than the state of Rhode Island and since the 1960s it has been attracting at least 2 million tourists per year.

40. As recent as 1867, it was illegal for foreigners to visit Japan so no tourism existed for all of Japan's history. It was only after 1867 and the Meiji Restoration that it became legal for foreigners to enter Japan.

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41Smithsonian History

The founder of the Smithsonian, James Smithson, was a British scientist who willed his fortune to his nephew and in the event, his nephew died with no heirs, to the US government to set up an “Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” James Smithson had never visited the US in his lifetime.

42. Thanks to the U.S. version of the sitcom “The Office”, Scranton, Pennsylvania has gone from a former coal city into a major tourist attraction, revitalizing its downtown area.

43. The Ceremony of the Keys which is carried out every night at exactly 9:53 pm at the Tower of London, is believed to be the oldest military ceremony in the world. Originating in the Middle Ages, it has never once been canceled though it was delayed once during World War 2 due to enemy action.

44. Westminster Abbey has been rebuilt 4 times. The original structure was built in 960 and it was finally rebuilt in 1517. For comparison, the original predates Machu Picchu built-in 1450 by nearly 500 years, yet the final build was completed less than 60 years after.

45. The Christmas tree that is annually set up in Trafalgar Square is donated by Norway as a token of gratitude for British support to Norway during World War 2.

46Lincoln Memorial

About half of the Lincoln Memorial is hidden underground. The 43,800-square-foot basement was built with dozens of concrete columns to support the weight of the marble structure.

47. Roughly half of the Americans will at some point in their lives visit the National Mall in Washington D.C.

48. When Washington became president, he scrapped the plans for “Washington monument” as he didn’t want to use public money for a personal memorial monument. Long after he died, in 1833, a small group of Washingtonians established a society to raise private funds for the project and got it built.

49. Workers at Yosemite National Park used to create a 3,000-foot “waterfall” of fire by building a massive bonfire at the top of Glacier Point and push the burning embers over the edge. The practice went on for almost 100 years and only ended in 1968.

50. New York City paid more to buy the land for Central Park than America paid for the whole of Alaska. The land for the Central park was bought at $7.39 million in 1855. In 1867, the USA paid $7.2 million for Alaska.


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