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History

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History

From ancient civilizations rich with gold through exploitive Spanish rule, Bolívar’s hard-fought liberation and a bloody civil war to a brief dictatorship and ruthless drug cartels, this land of emeralds and coffee beans has emerged to face the 21C with renewed hope and the promise of greater security.

PRE-HISPANIC PERIOD (PRIOR TO 1500)

Mystery surrounds the pre-Hispanic period of the region now called Colombia; biased, Spanish colonial accounts are not reliable sources. In recent years efforts have been made to unravel parts of this history, and scientists have made progress in attempting to undo some of the damages inflicted upon sacred areas by successive waves of marauders.

The earliest evidence of human habitation in present-day Colombia is found at the El Abra site outside Bogotá, in the municipality of Zipaquirá. First excavated in 1969, the remains at El Abra were discovered in rock shelters around swamp areas, and date to about 12,400 years ago. Closely linked to the remains of hunted game found at the Tibito site near the current day town of Tocancipá, they are believed to be among the earliest in the Americas.

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Must Stay

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Prices and Amenities

The properties listed below were selected for their ambience, location and/or value for money. Prices (in US Dollars) reflect the average cost for a standard double room for two people (not including applicable city, state or provincial taxes). In all these places, June to September is peak travel season, and reservations are recommended well in advance. Many of these hotels offer special discount packages, so it’s best to check online.

Luxury

Fairmont Olympic

   450 rooms

411 University St., Seattle. t 206-621-1700 or t 888-363-5022. www.fairmont.com/seattle.

The city’s premier luxury hotel sits at the heart of downtown. Its historic ornate Italianate building embraces refined rooms in neutral colors with thick drapes to hush outside noise. Amenities include a well-equipped health club and swimming pool. The Georgian (), housed in a greenhouse conservatory-inspired space, features French cuisine.

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Excursions

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Point Defiance Park a

5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma. t 253-305-1000. www.metroparkstacoma.org. Open daily half hour before dawn–half hour after dusk.

At 702 acres, Point Defiance Park is one of the largest city parks in the nation. It has plenty of places to enjoy the out-of-doors, whether hiking through the park’s dense stands of old-growth Douglas-fir forest; watching bald eagles dive for salmon in the tidal rapids below 250ft cliffs; beachcombing at Owen’s Beach or strolling through the rose, dahlia or Japanese gardens. The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquariuma sits near the park’s entrance, and the Fort Nisqually Living History Museumaa is located on a 5mi forested loop drive that offers viewing opportunities of raccoons as they scamper along the road shoulder, and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and waterway. Outside the park’s entrance is a Washington State Ferries dock for ferries bound for nearby, rural Vashon Island.

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Olympia

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Woodland Park Zoo aaa

Phinney Ave. N. t 206-684-4800. www.zoo.org. Open May–Sept daily 9:30am–6pm. Rest of the year daily 9:30am–4pm. $17.75, $11.75 children.

Covering 92 acres, this world-class zoo is highly acclaimed for its conservation ethic (the zoo is home to 35 endangered species) and naturalistic habitats. It offers dynamic glimpses of 1,100 animals engaged in natural behavior: grizzly bears fish for trout in a stream on the Northern Trail, orangutans shimmy up trees in Trail of Vines, zebras dash about in African Savanna, and jaguars peer warily from behind a kapok tree in Jaguar Cove.

Pacific Science Centeraa

200 Second Ave. N. t 206-443-2001. www.pacificsciencecenter.org. Open year-round Mon–Fri 9:45am–5pm (til 6pm Sat–Sun). Closed Tue Sept–May. $16, $11 children (ages 6-15).

Pacific Science Center
©John Keatley/Pacific Science Center

Grizzly bear, Woodland Park Zoo
©Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

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PAINTING

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Architecture

Shaped by Celtic beginnings, the early influence of invading Norsemen and the recurrent colonisation – peaceful or otherwise – by the English, the nation’s culture has developed into a fascinating hybrid that is impossible to pin down. Rugged and romantic, traditional and modern, it is always evolving, yet manages to remain true to its roots.

ECCLESIASTICAL

CELTIC FOUNDATIONS

Mainland Scotland retains two of the earliest buildings erected by the Celtic clergy, the round towers of Brechin and Abernethy. Dating from the late 10C to early 11C these refuges or belfries are outliers of an Irish tradition. Although tangible remains are few, the Christian faith was an important unifying factor in Dark Age Scotland.

ANGLO-NORMAN PERIOD

Scotland of the mid-11C with its Celtic and Norse influences was soon to undergo a new and gradual Anglo-Norman colonisation. It was the west and north, the strongholds of the old cultures, that resisted the new imprint.

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