If money was no object, what’s the number one place on your ‘must see’ list? We’re sure you have your own thoughts and ideas but what about the billion or so tourists who travel every year? Where do they all go? Google ‘world’s top tourist destinations’ and you’ll find list after list, but would you be surprised not to see one British tourist site or even the Eiffel Tower? Of course you would, and we bet you’ll NEVER guess what’s at number one!
Every year, dozens of tourist websites publish lists of the world’s most popular and most visited tourist destinations and you’d think that places like the British Museum (6.7m annual visitors), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (6.3m) and the Colosseum in Rome (5.1m) would be way up the list but they don’t even make the top 50.
Colosseum in Rome © Gary Ullah
Not surprisingly, there are four Disney parks in the top 20 (Orlando, California, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea) as well as 15 other theme parks in the top 50 and the list we are referring to was published by tourism site Travel + Leisure.
The numbers are based on data supplied by various government agencies and industry reports such as the Global Attractions Attendance Report. The report came hot on the heels of the annual ‘state of global tourism’ report by the World Tourist Organisation which (for 2013) said that there was a 5% y-o-y growth (an additional 52m tourists) bringing the total up to a staggering 1.087bn – around 1 in 7 of the world’s population.
Disney World Magic Kingdom © Joe Penniston
The report said that the biggest growth in international tourism came from Asia, Africa and Europe but not surprisingly the most visited region in the world is Europe with 563m visitors in 2013 (52% of the world’s tourist market) followed by the Americas with 169m visitors and Africa with 56m.
There are a few caveats. Travel + Leisure define tourist attractions as ‘cultural and historical sites, natural landmarks, and officially designated spaces’ so whilst specific areas such as the Las Vegas Strip make the list, shopping malls, beaches, bridges and sites that attract almost exclusively religious pilgrims such as Mecca for the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage and Sabarimala for the Ayyappan Saranam Hindu pilgrimage to Kerala, India were omitted despite welcoming many tens of millions of annual visitors.
Some sites are naturally restricted by their accessibility. Yellowstone National Park (3.2m) takes a special effort to get to, as does the Terracotta Army in Xi’an, China (4.8m) and Machu Picchu in Peru which has a restriction of 2,500 entries a day, or 912,500 annually.
Machu Picchu © Dennis Jarvis
From 50 to 25, you’ll find the usual suspects of the Taj Mahal (7-8m); Bourbon Street in New Orleans (7.47m); the Sydney Opera House (8.2m); the Louvre in Paris (9.33m) and the Great Wall of China (10.7m), but what sites make the coveted Top 25? How many have you been to? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
25. St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City – 11m
24. Epcot, Disney World, Florida, USA – 11.2m
23. San Antonio River Walk, Texas, USA – 11.5m
22. South Street Seaport, New York, USA – 12m
21. Balboa Park, San Diego, USA – 12-14m
20. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, USA – 13m
19. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France – 14m
18. Tokyo DisneySea, Tokyo, Japan – 14.1m
17. Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, USA – 14.28m
16. Forbidden City, Beijing, China – 15.3m
15. Disneyland, Anaheim, USA – 16.2m
14. Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo, Japan – 17.2m
13. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, USA – 18m
12. Disney World, Orlando, USA – 18.5m
11. Basilica of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, Mexico City, Mexico – 20m
10. Grand Central Terminal, New York, USA – 21.6m
9. Niagara Falls, New York, USA & Ontario, Canada – 22m
=7. Sensoji Temple, Tokyo, Japan – 30m
=7. Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo, Japan – 30m
6. Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, USA – 30.5m
=4. Union Station, Washington DC, USA – 40m
=4. Central Park, New York, USA – 40m
3. Times Square, New York, USA – 50m
2. The Zócalo, Mexico City, Mexico – 85m
1. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey – 91.2m
Grand Bazaar Istanbul © Pedro Szekely
See, we told you you’d never guess what was at number one! The Grand Bazaar is a 15th century market famous the world over for hand-painted ceramics, beautifully intricate carpets, Byzantine jewellery, copperware and of course Turkey’s famous coffee. A drink so important to the country it has been designated a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Turkey, described as ‘the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage’.
at 15 Oct 2015
As we move around the Monopoly board, it seems that some of the sets were put together at random and some were chosen by association. As we come to the end of the second side, the oranges have a clear link; they are all connected by the law. Bow Street is most famous for the Magistrate’s Court; Marlborough Street also had a Magistrate’s Court and Vine Street had a police station, once one of the busiest in the world.
Millions and millions of people play Monopoly in all its various guises and we all have our favourite sets – a straw poll in the Euracom office suggested that Rob likes the four stations, Richard likes the ‘greens’ of Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, Joe likes the blues because they’re close to his beloved Arsenal and Kelly likes the purples of Park Lane and Mayfair. However, if winning the game is your sole aim, the oranges are statistically your best bet. Why? Well, the ‘jail’ corner (including Just Visiting) is the single most visited square and the most frequently thrown dice scores are 6, 7, 8 and 9. You can see where we’re going with this…
Bow Street (£180); Rent: £14; 1 House £70; 2 Houses £200; 3 Houses £550; 4 Houses £750; Hotel £950
Bow Street in Covent Garden was constructed in 1633 by Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford and was given the name ‘bow’ purely because of the shape of the road. The most notable resident around this time was ‘Roundhead’ Oliver Cromwell and in the 18th century, Bow Street was associated with the pornography trade but the most famous building on the short thoroughfare was the Bow Street Magistrates’ Court, established in 1740.
Bow Street Magistrates Court © Matt Brown
The most well-known magistrates’ court in England for most of its 266-year existence, one of the first ‘habitual’ disorders they sought to stop was crime as a result of gin consumption. In order to tackle these crimes, magistrate Henry Fielding brought together eight reliable constables to make arrests and serve writs. Known initially as ‘Mr Fielding’s People’ their reputation for honesty and efficiency earned them the famous moniker the ‘Bow Street Runners’.
This group, the first uniformed police unit in Britain, soon became more organised and was the precursor to the Metropolitan Police.
A series of famous names passed through Bow Street Magistrates’ Court including playwright Oscar Wilde (who ordered tea, toast and eggs from the Tavistock Hotel to be delivered to his cell), murderer Dr Crippen, suffragettes Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, Chilean dictator General Pinochet, 60s crime bosses Ronnie & Reggie Kray and most recently, radical Islamic cleric Abu Hamza.
The court closed for good in 2006 and was converted in to a boutique hotel and today, Bow Street is most famous as the location of the Royal Opera House.
Marlborough Street (£180); Rent: £14; 1 House £70; 2 Houses £200; 3 Houses £550; 4 Houses £750; Hotel £950
Marlborough Street is in Soho running west to east from the junction of Regent Street at its western end. At the eastern end it becomes Noel Street.
It was developed in the early years of the 18th century as Great Marlborough Street and was so named for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, the commander of the English Army. At first, the street was a very fashionable place to live but as the 19thcentury came around, it became, as it remains, a commercial street with perhaps its most famous resident being the instantly recognisable black and white Tudor beams of Liberty.
Great Marlborough Street © Stig Nygaard
Like Bow Street, Marlborough Street was well known for its magistrates’ court where famous defendants in cases heard there include The Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones and Beatle John Lennon.
The musical connection continues with the HQ of Sony Music and well-known classical and jazz record store Harold Moores Records but early in the 20th century it was a hub for the automotive industry.
Vine Street (£200); Rent £16; 1 House £80; 2 Houses £220; 3 Houses £600; 4 Houses £800; Hotel £1,000
Even though today Vine Street is a 70-ft long dead end, it also has a fascinating crime-based history. We know for sure that the street was named after an 18th century pub called The Vine but further to that, it’s thought that there may have been a vineyard in or around the locale in Roman times but try as we might, we can’t verify that factoid.
Around 1750, a court house was built at the western end but closed in 1836 when the court system in Westminster was overhauled and in about 1767, Vine Street Police Station was built. Originally intended as a watch-house, a school operated on the first floor and there were two cells in the basement.
It went on to become one of London’s major police stations and one of the busiest in the world in the 19th century and it closed in 1940. As foot traffic in the area increased, it was re-opened in 1966 but closed for good as recently as 1997.
De Dion-Bouton, once the largest car manufacturer in the world had a showroom at number 10 and at 45, residents included United Motor Industries and Charles Jarrott & Letts, concessionaires for de Dietrich, Oldsmobile and Napier cars.
Vine Street London © Howard Lake
The most famous activity at the Vine Street Police Station occurred in 1895 and it involved John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensbury, the man who gave his name to the rules that form the basis of boxing, and Oscar Wilde.
Angered by an apparent homosexual relationship between Wilde and his son Alfred, Queensbury referred to Wilde as a ‘Sodomite’ and Wilde then sued him for criminal libel. During the court case, Queensbury’s barrister portrayed Wilde as a vicious older man who preyed on young boys and Wilde quickly dropped the case when he was informed that Queensbury’s legal team intended to call on several male prostitutes to testify that he was indeed promiscuous.
Queensbury then issued a counterclaim against Wilde for the huge amounts of money incurred in organising a defence and appointing a legal team which he won, leaving Wilde bankrupt. He was subsequently sentenced to two years’ ‘hard labour, hard fare and a hard bed’ first in Pentonville Prison and then in Wandsworth Prison after being charged and convicted of gross indecency.
With his health and reputation in tatters, he exiled himself to France and died at the Hotel d’Alsace in Paris in November 1900.
Back to Vine Street and today, it is nothing more than a nondescript dead-end populated predominantly with the rear facades of properties facing other streets.
at 15 Oct 2015