First built between 1712 and 1732, the Long Room, the main chamber of the Trinity College Library, has remained largely untouched since 1860. It’s a remarkably beautiful room full of carved oak, and shelves crammed floor to ceiling with 200,000 of Ireland’s oldest books.
Trinity College was created in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, to educate and strengthen the Protestant Reformation sweeping Europe. Catholic students studying there were originally required to obtain a dispensation or risk excommunication.
The Library and the Long Room contain many other treasures, including Ireland’s oldest harp, believed to date back to the 15th century. Known as the Brian Boru Harp, it’s also the model for the Guinness trademark logo. The Book of Kells, a magnificently illuminated version of the Christian Gospels dating from the 9th century, is housed there, as well as a rare copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
There is a sense of timelessness in the Long Room walkways, where you can tread the same path as some of the college's famous alumni – among them Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and Samuel Beckett.
A tiny medieval town in the heart of Romania, Viscri has preserved its 12th century origins and is quiet, unspoiled and intimate.
There are no hotel signs, golden arches or tourism offices here – instead, you can help the landlord prepare dumplings for dinner, watch a real blacksmith shoeing working horses, or bring the cows home at sunset with the farmer. You might smile at a duckling waddling after its mother down the main street, or enjoy some authentic music from nearby Bavaria – harp and voice duo – at the heritage-listed church.
The village of 500-odd inhabitants is made up of charming medieval and Renaissance era whitewashed buildings with handmade tiled roofs.
Green fields and heavily forested hills in the surrounding countryside offer glimpses of a nearby castle. The church is fortified, following a tradition unusual in Europe but common to the region.
Immerse yourself in this rural Transylvanian idyll – remote, wooded and wild.
Poignant plaster-cast statues of citizens in their final moments; perfectly preserved bathhouses, homes, temples, and forums; painted frescos and intricately tiled mosaics still clinging to walls – Vesuvius both destroyed and preserved the town of Pompeii in the massive eruption of AD79.
Much of the village has been excavated and is laid out in the classic Roman grid pattern. As you wander through the silent streets, it is easy to imagine the bustling life of the town and its citizens so many centuries ago before disaster hit.
You can choose to include a guided tour of Pompeii combined with nearby Herculaneum as part of a day trip from Naples, or stay for the whole day and explore the town in depth.
Still run as a commune faithful to the principles of Mao Zedong’s time, Nanjie Cun is a tiny oasis of communism in the competitive market economy of modern China.
Billboards are replaced with banners, images and slogans glorifying Mao and the Communist party. Songs and speeches from the former leader are heard instead of advertisements. Mao’s smiling face can be seen on every corner along with portraits of Lenin, Marx, Stalin and Engels.
There are no private cars in the village. In true Communist tradition, residents are guaranteed life-long free public transport, job security and a rent-free apartment.
Nanjie Cun is located in Linying county 128km south of Zhengzhou. It houses China’s last collective farm, as well as ventures in food, packing, printing and pharmacy.
Experience a different China, and the citizens’ way of life of more than 60 years ago.
Home to towering old-growth forests and many endangered and rare species, Tongass National Forest is one of the world’s largest remaining temperate rainforest areas. The area has 19 designated wilderness areas including the Mendenhall Glacier, which runs for 12 miles from the Juneau Icefield to Mendenhall Lake.
There are many adventures to be enjoyed here, including hiking, bear-viewing, fishing, kayaking and panning for gold. If you’re after a unique Alaskan experience, try a sled-dog ride on the glacier, hiking boardwalk trails in the 800-year-old forest, fishing for salmon in icy mountain streams, or just relaxing at a rustic cabin.
The wilderness is home to many native species including black bears, bald eagles, wolves, moose and spawning salmon.
One of the most enjoyable ways to access Tongass is via cruise ship. You can also hike, sail or fly by floatplane to one of the many remote wilderness cabins or camping areas.