Shinto Shrine in Otsuchi, Japan
Photograph by Xu Xiaolin, laif/Redux
A red torii welcomes the faithful to a Shinto shrine in Otsuchi, Iwate, Japan. The town was devastated by the March 2011 tsunami; most of its fishing fleet was wiped out. The shrine, dedicated to the town's fishermen, was rebuilt after the deadly event.
Keizersgracht Canal, Amsterdam
Photograph by Gavin Hellier, Alamy
A lighted bridge extends over Keizersgracht Canal in Amsterdam, the Netherlands' cosmopolitan capital and its largest city.
Castell Dinas Bran, Wales
Photograph by Jim Richardson, National Geographic
A climb to the ruins of medieval Castell Dinas Bran, also known as Crow Castle, is rewarded with a panoramic view of the town of Llangollen and the surrounding Dee Valley in northeastern Wales. English invaders built most of the country’s many castles.
Vancouver Island, Canada
Photograph by Bronwyn Proven, Your Shot
The coastal rain forests of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, cast a spell on a visitor. "In the winter, everything is so misty and ethereal it feels like you're in a different world," photographer Bronwyn Proven says. "The island is like fairy country. It lulls you with its beauty, and once you've spent a few winters, it's almost impossible to leave."
Uyuni Salt Flat, Bolivia
Photograph by Heiko Meyer, laif/Redux
Earth and sky are indistinguishable on the Salar de Uyuni, a vast salt flat in southwest Bolivia. A great lake covered this area 16,000 years ago. When it dried up, it left a 4,000-square-mile basin of salt, the world's largest such deposit. It's also one of Earth's flattest places—relief varies by less than 16 inches.
Photograph by Frans Lanting, National Geographic
In Madagascar, baobabs like those shown here—which grow to 80 feet or more—are valued for their fruit and bark. The trees are among hundreds of vulnerable plant and animal species found on the geographically isolated island.
Gardens at Versailles, France
Photograph by Emmanuel Lattes, Alamy
Orange trees outline a formal garden at Versailles, once the epicenter of French royal power. The Versailles gardens took 40 years to complete; Louis XIV valued them as much as the palace. During the winter, the fruit trees are moved inside.
Havasu Falls, Arizona
Photograph by Tim Fitzharris, Corbis
The twin streams of Havasu Falls splash down the Grand Canyon into a pool on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, which lies just outside the national park. The pool's bright blue color comes from high levels of magnesium in the water.
Guggenheim Museum, Spain
Photograph by Allan Baxter, Getty Images
A bronze spider towers 30 feet above a plaza at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. "Maman," created by French-American artist Louise Bourgeois, is more than 30 feet wide and includes a sac of 26 marble eggs.
Photograph by Alastair Grant, AP
Fireworks explode over Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament as the arrival of the New Year is celebrated in England’s capital city. The bell known as Big Ben is housed in the Elizabeth Tower, one of London’s most iconic structures.
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