The Cliff House (San Francisco/ California)

The Cliff House has always been one of the true San Francisco icons. It went through several major incarnations since its humble beginnings in 1858 when Samuel Brannan built the first version out of the lumber salvaged from a ship that broke down on the basalt cliffs below.

The 7 story Victorian Chateau pictured in this post was built in 1896 by Adolph Sutro. It survived the 1906 earthquake with little damage, but burned to the ground in less than 2 hours on September 7, 1907, after existing for only 11 years. Luckily at the time of the fire the hotel had no guests as it was undergoing renovations.

Today's version of the cliff house is much simpler and serves as a restaurant.

Villino Ruggeri (Pesaro/ Italy)

Located on the beach front of seaside town Pesaro (at Piazzale della Libertà) Villino Ruggeri is an extraordinary gem of Italian Art Nouveau or Stile Liberty as they call it there.
It was built between 1902 and 1907 by architect Giuseppe Brega for pharmaceutical industialist Oreste Ruggeri.

The exterior is covered with decorations inspired by plants and the marine world - even lobster eave brackets!
The original outer gate was destroyed in 1936 when Ruggeri, despite the artistic value of the structure, was forced to donate iron to the country.
Today the house is a private residence.

Shah Cheragh Mirror Mosque (Shiraz/ Iran)

Shāh-é-Chérāgh (Persian for "King of the Light") is a funerary monument and mosque in the city of Shiraz, Iran. It houses the tomb of the brothers Ahmad and Muhammad, sons of Mūsā al-Kādhim and brothers of ‘Alī ar-Ridhā.

From the outside it looks like a traditional mosque but the interior is mind blowing! Everything is covered in intricate mosaics of mirror & coloured glass.

Al Struckus House (L.A./ California)

Perched atop a steep hill, the Al Struckus House looks over the San Fernando Valley.
Renowned Modern architect Bruce Goff designed the house for engineer, woodworker, and art collector Al Struckus, but sadly Goff died just a few months after construction began in spring 1982 so Bart Prince oversaw the completion of the design.

It has a four-story-high central cylinder surrounded by five smaller connected cylinders clad in natural redwood, glass tiles, and undulating stucco.
The house embodies Goff’s philosophy of organic architecture, stating that each design should be as unique as its owner, reflecting and enhancing their style of living.

Meteora Monasteries (near Kalambaka/ Greece)

Sitting atop towering sandstone rock pillars there's a cluster of medieval Eastern Orthodox monasteries rising 400 m above the Peneas valley and the small town of Kalambaka on the Thessalian plain.
Meteora translates from Greek to "suspended in air" or "middle of the sky" and originally you could only gain access by being pulled up in a hanging net or basket or by climbing flimsy rope ladders. According to legend, one monastery founder was carried to the top of the mountain peaks on the back of an eagle.
From the 11th century on, the region's caves sheltered hermitic monks, but by the 14th century the orthodox monks were constructing elaborate stone and terracotta buildings, safe from marauding raiders below. During the 18th and 19th century, the monasteries were secure hideouts, housing not just persecuted monks but also guerrilla fighters called klephts who fought for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Today, of the 24 original monasteries, only six are active. In the 1920s steps were cut into the rock, making the complex accessible via a bridge from the nearby plateau.
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