Architecture, Culture, and Historic Facts

The Taj Mahal

Construction of the Taj Mahal a monument to love, is said to have been completed in the 17th century.

  • The Taj Mahal is a famous mausoleum (a building that contains burial chamber or tombs for the deceased) in India.
  • It is situated in Agra, a city in the Uttar Pradesh region of northern India.
  • The Taj Mahal was built as the final resting place for Mumtaz Mahal, the third wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.
  • The name Taj Mahal means “crown of palaces”.
  • Construction of the Taj Mahal spanned two decades, beginning around 1632 and finishing around 1653.
  • It is made of white marble, and ornately designed throughout the entire structure expect the grave site (which is in keeping with muslim culture and beliefs).
  • One of the Taj Mahal’s most recognizable features is a large white dome that is often called an ‘onion dome’ due to its shape. It is 35 metres (115 feet) high and is surrounded by 4 smaller domes.
  • The full height of the Taj Mahal is 171 metres (561 feet).
  • The Taj Mahal is considered to be one of India’s most admired works of art, as well as a famous landmark and a tourist attraction that draws millions of visitors every year.
  • It includes a large garden, a reflecting pool, a mosque and other mausoleums.
  • The gardens were first grown in keeping with muslim traditions of the 17th century but later changed to more like an English garden during British colonial rule.

The Fall of the Ming Dynasty

The fall of the Ming dynasty in China took place during the Baroque era.

  • The Ming Dynasty is one of China's most prominent dynasties and spanned nearly 3 centuries and collapsed in 1644.
  • The Great Wall of China which had been constructed in parts during previous regimes was in need of severe repairs in the 14th century and was completed during the rule of the Ming dynasty.
  • It was during the Ming dynasty that maritime trade was established between China, India and the Persian gulf.
  • An European presence was also allowed in the country, which in turn influenced Chinese cuisine and added ingredients like peanuts and sweet potatoes commonly used in its cuisine to date.
  • The Ming dynasty also oversaw the emigration of the Chinese merchant class to different parts of Asia.
  • The traditional blue and white porcelain beloved to date was also a legacy of the dynasty.
  • Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit priest from Europe started the first Catholic mission in China during the Ming dynasty.
  • It was also a time of great literary renaissance in the country.
  • The collapse of the Ming dynasty was a direct result of corruption and financial problems for the imperial house.
  • Added to the above, agricultural disasters during unusually cold and long winters, pitiful harvests and inability to pay the military caused mass scale rebellion and instability, resulting in the final Ming ruler committing suicide.

Peter the Great

Peter the Great of Russia reigned during the Baroque era and is responsible for modernizing the country.

  • Born in 1672 he had to share power with his mother and brother until their deaths in 1694 and 1696 respectively.
  • His greatest wish was to make Russia one of the greatest powers of the sea and oversaw the creation of the Russian Navy, which became a forced to be reckoned with.
  • In order to modernize the country he travelled to many parts of Europe, met with kings and rulers, took notes about architecture, culture and the military infrastructure, which he promptly implemented back in Russia.
  • It was during his rule that rank based not on birth but on service to the empire was established, thus giving many of the loyal subjects an avenue to uplift their social rank.
  • He did away with taxes on landowners and households and instead created a poll tax system that forced paupers and serfs to pay taxes.
  • It was under his reign that St. Petersburg was founded and became the capital city of Russia.
  • He died in 1725.

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