Archive for the ‘Videos’ Category

The Great Pyramid of Giza

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest of all the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and is the only one still intact. As the burial chamber for the fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu, it took an estimated 20,000-30,000 workers to build over a 20 year period.

Here are a few more facts about the iconic architectural marvel:

1. The Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure for over 3,800 years, until Lincoln Cathedral’s spire surpassed it around 1300AD in England.

2. It is estimated the Great Pyramid consists of more than 2.3 million limestone rocks, unless it was built on top of a substantial core of rock. While this is possible, scientists still aren’t certain.

3. Contrary to popular belief, the pyramids were not built by slaves. They were actually built by workers who lived in the surrounding villages. While no ancient artwork already discovered depicts female workers, archaeologists have found the skeletal remains of women which show evidence of heavy lifting of stone. Therefore, it has been concluded that women may have had a part in the building of these massive structures.

4. You can enter the tomb of the Great Pyramid, but you’ll have to the use Robbers’ Tunnel dug by workmen employed by Caliph al-Ma’mun around AD 820. Recently, the entrance to the Pyramid has been restricted to groups of 100 morning and afternoon. The reason for this involves the moisture in our breath. When we exhale, the moisture creates salt within pyramids and tombs resulting in damaging cracks.

5. Under the leadership of Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquties, photography inside the pyramid is now strictly forbidden.

Do you think the amount of visitors to the Pyramids in should be limited in order to preserve them?

Witness the sheer magnitude of the Great Pyramid with your own eyes on our Egyptian Odyssey tour.

The Red Army, Chorus that is…

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

The Red Army Chorus, the official performing group of the Russian Armed Forces, includes a mens choir, orchestra, and dance ensemble. While famous for their performances of classic Russian folk songs, they also sing a variety of operatic and popular material. The ensemble began touring Russia in the late 1920′s under the direction of Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov, who also wrote the National Anthem of the Soviet Union. During WWII, the Red Army Chorus gave more than 1,500 performances for troops at the front. The group also runs a choir school and ensemble for boys, which tours with the mens group.

Today, enjoy a video of the Chorus performing “Kalinka,” a classic Russian folk song, where the singer attempts to woo a woman by comparing her to a snowberry, a raspberry, and a pine tree. And they say romance is dead!

Like what you hear? Join Smithsonian Journeys and travel to Russia for a private performance of the Red Army Chorus in St. Petersburg, one of many special elements of our Imperial Russian Waterways tour.

Who’s your favorite musical group? Please share!

It’s Not Easy Being the First

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

No one can say this more than Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Their transcontinental expedition was filled with unpredictability, natural dangers, and Native communities who were not ready to have anyone move into their territory. The story itself, without any embellishment, is dramatic with equally intriguing characters including Thomas Jefferson, a young Shoshone woman named Sacagawea, and a team of men known as the Corps of Discovery who faced a landscape that had never been navigated or mapped.

Why had it taken until 1804 to even start exploring the Pacific Northwest? It was a project that Jefferson had been pondering while living in France in the 1780s, knowing it could lead to huge opportunities for the very young United States of America. He also heard talk that King Louis the XVI of France was interested in exploring the region. While the royal had officially proposed a scientific expedition, Jefferson felt the French King had a political mission in mind.

Knowing the expedition was extremely dangerous, President Jefferson provided peace medals to the Corps to introduce themselves to the various tribes they met along the way. But on the trail, it was Sacagawea and her infant son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, who slept wrapped on a cradleboard, that reassured the tribes that the group meant no harm.

Although Lewis and Clark are best known for laying the groundwork for westward expansion and creating the first maps of the region, their observations were also useful to scientists researching the natural wildlife that the Corps of Discovery encountered. Even though they were never intended to be a scientific expedition, their work helps us preserve the indigenous species and natural landscape of the early 19th century.

Explore the natural landscape as the Corps of Discovery would have seen it on the In the Wake of Lewis and Clark: Aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion tour. 

Do you think Lewis and Clark have received enough credit for their contribution to American history? Share Below.



Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
Blue footed boobies are some of the many striking birds native to the Galapagos.

Blue footed boobies are some of the many striking birds native to the Galapagos.

Some of the most unusual wildlife found on Earth is living on the Galápagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador. From sea lions and tropical fish to penguins and iguanas, the islands are teeming with animals who are as curious about you as you are about them. To the Left, a blue footed booby gets ready for a dance, which he’ll choreograph to impress the ladies, showing off his blue feet and flapping his wings. When a female bird finally chooses him, he’ll mate for life, taking his turn each season to incubate their eggs.

Click here to find out more about our Galápagos  adventure setting sail this July.

Which wild animal would you most like to get close to? Share please!

Video: Seattle’s Glass Artists

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Western Washington has long been a vibrant center for glass artists. Check out this mini-documentary about what it’s like to work in a glass-blowing studio and how glass objects are crafted.

Think you can take the heat? Join us this August for our Glass Art in Seattle tour. We’ll take you to studios, galleries, museums, and private collections to learn more about this intriguing art form.

If you’re local to DC, click here to learn more about the Washington Glass School.

What do you think of glass art? Please share!