Last modified on June 15th, 2017 at 8:13 pm

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Three Great Cities – How They Have Transformed

If you are visiting these cities after 10 years, or so, you will have difficulty recognizing them –let’s take a look at 3 such cities and their important and must-see tourist attractions.

Last updated on June 15th, 2017 at 08:13 pm

Most travelers keep returning to their favorite destinations to experience the same things again and again. However, as much as we want places to remain as we remember them, the fact remains that change is inevitable – history will bear testimony to that. As they say, only change is permanent.

While, consciously or subconsciously, we may want certain favorite destinations to remain the same forever, most of us, if not all, know for a fact that change is bound to happen. It’s the way of life – it’s all about evolving.

It is when the change is as rapid and all-encompassing as witnessed in the cities we are about to discuss, that we are shocked, taken aback, pleasantly surprised or disgusted – depends on the individual.

We have selected the following 3 cities that have undergone a phenomenal transformation in the last decade or so – barely recognizable if you are visiting after 5-10 years. Whether they continue to be great destinations for you is a matter of personal likes and dislikes – but the metamorphosis is irrefutable. Let’s find out!

Dubai, UAE

Leave alone 5-10 years; this is one city that has the potential to surprise you even if you are returning after just a year or so. The transformation of Dubai has been happening at such a large-scale and so rapidly that every time you visit Dubai you are likely to see an addition or two – or maybe more – to the already congested skyline, or some other eccentric addition that will leave you breathless.

Here are ten of the major landmarks that make Dubai what it is today:

The Burj Khalifa – The Burj Khalifa, Arabic for “Khalifa Tower”, standing at a height of 829.8 m (2,722 ft) is the tallest structure in the world, as of now.


Palm Islands – A man-made, palm-tree-shaped, 3-island archipelago, offering ultra-luxurious living in addition to a host of activities on offer for tourists including upscale shopping malls, luxury hotels, and beach resorts – you name it.


The Dubai Fountain – Located on the man-made Burj Khalifa Lake, this musical fountain plays contemporary and classical music from around the world while shooting water 500 feet up in the air – it is indeed a sight to behold.


The Burj Al Arab – Shaped like the sail of a sailing vessel, the Burj Al Arab is the world’s tallest hotel and has been repeatedly voted as the world’s most luxurious hotel.


The Dubai Marina – Built on a two-mile stretch on the Arabian Gulf shoreline, the Dubai Marina is a district in Dubai, an artificial canal city that can accommodate over 120,000 people in residential complexes and villas.

Exclusive waterfront construction along the shoreline including presidential palaces, upscale swanky hotels, state-of-the-art shopping and entertainment centers put the Dubai Marina up there at the top in so far as offering luxurious lifestyles is concerned.


The World – Roughly shaped like a gigantic map of the world, The World is a man-made archipelago comprising 300 small islands. It is built in the waters of the Persian Gulf four kilometers off the Dubai coast with private homes, dream resorts, estate homes and more.

It is an architectural and engineering marvel not seen elsewhere in the world. It is a major tourist attraction in Dubai.


The Wild Wadi Water Park – The Wild Wadi Water Park is situated in the Jumeirah area of Dubai, next to the Burj Al Arab and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

It has the distinction of featuring in The Amazing Race 5, The Amazing Race Asia 1, and in The Amazing Race Australia 2.


Mall of the Emirates – The Mall of the Emirates is a huge shopping complex with international department stores, a multi-screen cinema and a ski center. Developed and owned by Majid al-Futtaim Properties, it opened in November 2005 and is located at interchange four on Sheikh Zayed road.


Jumeirah Mosque – It is a landmark mosque with the reputation of being the most photographed mosque in the world. It offers guided tours to non-Muslims aimed at promoting cultural understanding.


Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo – Winner of the ‘Certificate of Excellence’ award by TripAdvisor in 2012, and the ‘Images Most Admired Retailer of the Year – Leisure & Entertainment’ award at Images RetailME Awards 2012, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo located at the Dubai Mall is home to 300 species of marine wildlife including sharks and giant rays.

Some of the other landmarks of Dubai worthy of a mention are the Al Sahara Desert Resort, the Dubai International Convention Exhibition Center, Shaikh Zayed Road, Dubai Creek, Dubai Festival City, Gurunanak Darbar Sikh Temple, Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, Al Bastakiya, Deira Clocktower and more.


Shanghai, China

While most Chinese cities are growing at express pace, there is no place like Shanghai where it is happening faster. All around Shanghai you can see old buildings being razed to the ground and gleaming new skyscrapers and apartment blocks replacing them at breakneck speeds.

Be ready for a bigger, shinier, hi-tech Shanghai to greet you if you haven’t been to the city in a while.

Following are some of the important Shanghai landmarks that make the city unique.

The Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower – Located at the tip of Lujiazui in the Pudong New Area by the side of Huangpu River, opposite The Bund, The Oriental Pearl Tower’s futuristic architecture makes it an outstanding landmark in the Chinese metropolis.


The Shanghai World Financial Center – The 101-floor Shanghai World Financial Center is a multi-purpose skyscraper with offices, hotels, conference rooms, observation decks, and ground-floor shopping malls.


People’s Square – This large public square is located south of Nanjing Road (West) and north of Huaihai Road (East) in the Huangpu District of Shanghai. It is home to Shanghai’s municipal government headquarters building and is used as the standard reference point for measurement of distance in the Shanghai municipality.


The Bund (Wai Tan) ¬– The Bund is a 1500- meter long waterfront area in central Shanghai facing the modern skyscrapers of Lujiazui in the Pudong District. The wharves and buildings on this section of Zhongshan Road including some adjoining areas make up The Bund. It is one of the most preferred tourist attractions in Shanghai.


The Jin Mao Tower – The Jin Mao Tower is an 88-story skyscraper and with a height of 420.5 meters (1,380 feet), it is one of the tallest buildings in the world. Like the Shanghai World Financial Center, it is a multi-use building, housing a shopping mall, offices and the Grand Hyatt Shanghai hotel, which at the time of completion was the highest hotel in the world.

Other noteworthy Shanghai sites are the Shanghai Circus World, Shanghai Tower, Pudong New Area, Peace Hotel (Heping Fandian), Old Town (Nanshi), Jade Buddha Temple, M50 Creative Park, Shanghai Circuit, Zhongshan Road among many others


Lisbon, Portugal

If you happen to be at a high vantage point in Lisbon you will be able to gauge the scale and pace of change happening in the Portuguese capital. The entire Lisbon skyline is dotted with hundreds and hundreds of cranes.

With the financial crisis behind them, the Portuguese are on a building spree with a steady flow of money from tourism and foreign investments. These are certainly exciting times for the Portuguese.

Following are some of the mention-worthy landmarks of Lisbon:

Oceanário de Lisboa – Designed by Peter Chermayeff and built for the Expo 98 World Exposition, The Oceanário de Lisboa or the Lisbon Oceanarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world holding an incredible collection of marine life. Not only that, it also serves as an aviary to dozens of species of birds from all over the world.


Museu Calouste Gulbenkian – The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian is one of the most famous museums in Europe with a massive collection of priceless Western and Eastern art. The museum is named after an American oil tycoon who donated his vast private art collection to the museum before his death in 1955.

Gulbenkian’s mind-boggling collection includes priceless works of art from around the world spanning 4000 years, all the way from ancient Egyptian times to the late 20th century.


Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga – Portuguese for ‘National Museum of Ancient Art’, the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga is another priceless gem in Lisbon’s cultural crown – a “not-to-be-missed” attraction on any tourist itinerary.

The museum is housed within a 17th-century palace west of the city center. It is home to the largest collection of 15th and 16th-century Portuguese paintings in addition to a more than impressive array of European, Oriental, and African art.


Torre de Belém – Built during 1515-21, the Torre de Belém, or the Belem Tower, stands proudly near the mouth of the Tagus River.

It was built as a fortress in the middle of the river but due to the shift in the watercourse over the years, it now finds itself in the shallows.

Such is the importance and iconic stature of this monument that it is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Elevador de Santa Justa – The Elevador de Santa Justa is an antique elevator looming over the city’s downtown area, the Baixa district.

Designed by French architect Raoul Mésnier du Ponsard, the tower was opened to the public in 1901 with the purpose of linking Baixa with the Largo do Carmo in the Bairro Alto neighborhood, a happening locality in the city known for its expensive shops, Fado houses, and small restaurants.

Some of the other important and tourist-worthy landmarks in Lisbon are:

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos – Built in Honor of Portugal’s Age of Discovery

Museu do Oriente – Showcasing Portugal’s Presence in Asia and the Far East

Museu Nacional do Azulejo – Dedicated to the art of Decorative Tilework

– Lisbon’s magnificent Cathedral

Padrão dos Descobrimentos – A Tribute to the Age of Discovery

Arco da Rua Augusta – Iconic 19th-century arch

Lisboa Story Centre – Interactive cultural center

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