Let these epic panoramas paint their pretty pictures on canvases so vast, over scales so astounding that you would not miss them for the world.
From fictional behemoths to modern-day skyscrapers, humankind has a perverse obsession with one-upmanship, constantly conceiving the next world’s biggest. Pushing the envelope is great, but do we really need an 829m tall building to prove our mettle? Instead, look to these monumental destinations that bring so much more to the table than just colossal proportions.
Salar De Uyuni
If one does not know any better, he might assume the ethereal vistas of Salah de Uyuni are the otherworldly kind. However, a trip to the Altiplano will cast away any doubts about image manipulation. Amid the Andes in southwest Bolivia, Salah de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt salt. The desolate area of about 10,582 sq km is covered by a thick crust of salt that extends to as far as the eye can see, forming quilted, polygonal patterns on the ground. At certain times of the year, nearby lakes overflow, and a thin veil of water transforms the flats into a surreal reflection of the sky, offering breathtaking photo opportunities as heaven meets earth.
Intercontinental travelling takes on a whole new meaning in this obituary Icelandic fissure. Obsucred within the Þingvellir National Park in southwestern Iceland lies Silfra, a rift that contains what many claim to be the clearest water on Earth. The rift owes its crystal clear freshwater to layers of porous lava rock that percolates the water for 30 to 100 years before emerging from the depths below. This produces extremely pure, portable water that allows for underwater visibility of over 100m, revealing a world swathed in majestic blue. Equally fascinating is the fact that Silfra is right at the crux between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. These divergent intercontinental bodies drift about 2cm apart annually, essentially making Silfra a dynamic, “living” dive site as the shifting creates new tunnels, caverns and underwater terrain for new and returning divers alike to explore.
Dubai Miracle Garden
The launch of the Dubai Miracle Garden can be cheekily interpreted as the UAE’s answer to Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, which opened its doors a year earlier. Being relatively late to the game, it is made up with the sheer scale of its flora-themed installations and its immense collection of vibrant, lust plant lives. Every year from mid-November to mid-May, the world;d largest natural flower garden springs to life, filling an area of 72,000 sq m with a sensory barrage of verdurous colours and pleasant scents. The garden houses enormous works of art such as the world’s largest flower installation in the form of a life-sized Emirates A380 Airbus that is draped in more than 500,000 fresh flowers and plants. Also part of the garden’s repertoire is an impressive functional 15m flower click whose design changes according to the seasons as with most of the other blossoms-laden installations, making visits every quarter of the year uniquely charming.
A palatial getaway awaits those who walk into the halls of the Würzburg Residence . Located in Germany’s Bavaria region, the 18th-century palace is home to masterworks of Neoclassical art while embodying the attainments of Western architecture of its days. The construction of the building was entrusted to the then-unknown Balthasar Neumann, who later went on to gain legendary status for his work at the Residence and the famed Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. For the former, Neumann’s incomparable suite of rooms – vestibule, staircase, White Hall, and Imperial Hall – were decorated and furnished by artists and craftsmen in a joint creative. In particular, the palace’s remarkable formal reception room staircase dressed in the Baroque style is a testament to Neumann’s ingenuity. However, the artistic crescendo only reveals itself when visitors look up. On the ceiling, Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s magnum opus, the world’s largest ceiling fresco, is displayed in its full splendour. Depicting the four continents – Europe, America, Asia, and Africa – this relic dormant alongside several stunning artworks, perfectly preserved of the most curious of eyes.