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Top 10: The best parks around the world!

July 25, 2013 09:24 IST

Top 10: The best parks around the world!

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This week, we bring you the top 10 parks that featured in TripAdvisor's Travellers' Choice listings.

The world's largest travel website, TripAdvisor, has announced its Travellers' Choice Attractions awards that are based on the quality and quantity of traveller reviews of attractions, featured its site in various categories.

Today, we bring you the top 10 parks around the world. We begin with:

10. Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore

Spread across sprawling is a 183-acre plot, Singapore Botanic Gardens are open from 5am to midnight and do not charge admission fee. The gardens house a tropical rainforest of around six hectares that is older than the gardens. The rainforest here and a larger one at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve are located within the Singapore's city limits giving the city the distinction of being the only other one besides Rio de Janeiro that boasts of having a tropical rainforest within its limits.

In one remote corner of the Gardens are some small trees called the Tongkat Ali or Eurycoma longifolia. The root of this tree is used as an aphrodisiac and is very potent for males with low sperm count. This tree takes 25 years to mature and the root powder is now added to coffee and tea. It helps to raise the male libido for those who consume Tongkat Ali.


Image: Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore
Photographs: Calvin Teo/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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9. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

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The Golden Gate Park is a large rectangular shaped urban park, much like the famous Central Park of New York City. The park contains gardens, museums and ample green space. Popular attractions within the Golden Gate Park include the California Academy of Science, the DeYong Museum, the Japanese tea gardens, Conservatory and the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. The Golden Gate Park is one of the most heavily visited parks in the United States and one of San Francisco's most important attraction areas.


Image: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California
Photographs: Brocken Inaglory/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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8. Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, France

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These formal gardens, open to only royalty before the French Revolution, now serve as one of Paris's most popular destinations for relaxation. Known as Jardin du Luxembourg, they serve as the second largest public park in Paris. As a Tripadvisor traveller writes, the park offers a lot of activities for the children as well as numerous of benches for the elderly, to just sit and unwind. "There is also a restaurant (albeit with a limited offer) where you can get a decent meal, or you can just grab a sandwich and a bottle of wine and have your own lunch there," the reviewer writes.


Image: Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, France
Photographs: Kirua/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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7. Guell Park, Barcelona, Spain

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Count Eusebi Guell was a prominent industrialist in Barcelona who was inspired to build a garden city with 60 houses on a hill called Montaña Pelada (Bare Mountain). The park was designed by prominent architect, Antoni Gaudi, and built between 1900 and 1914. The venture was not successful and only two houses were built. Count Guell convinced Gaudi to buy one of them. This house, designed by Ramon Berenguer, is now the Casa-Museu Gaudi, which contains furniture designed by Gaudi and other personal effects of the architect. The city of Barcelona has owned the park since 1923.

At the entrance to the park, you will find the main staircase with a dragon fountain made of broken bits of glazed ceramic tile (trencadis). This leads to the Salon of the Hundred Columns, which was supposed to be a market place. The columns really number only 84 and are Doric in form. The ceiling of the Salon has tiled mosaics with designs on the ceiling. On top of the salon is a public square with a very large undulating bench in the form of a sea serpent that has backrests adorned with the broken bits of glazed tile. The bench was made by the architect Josep Maria Jujol. At the top of the park is the Closed Chapel, which has a large cross on top of it. This place has very good views of the city. The park was declared a Patrimony of Mankind by the UNESCO in 1984.

To some, the highlight of Parc Guell is not the architecture of Gaudi, but the views of the city. It is definitely a nice walk and worth the effort to visit.


Image: Guell Park, Barcelona, Spain
Photographs: Walter Horvath/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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6. Balboa Park, San Diego, California

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One of the most popular urban parks in the United States, this bucolic paradise is packed with an array of attractions.

Spread across 1200 acres, the park features gardens, walking paths, museums, theaters and of course the world-famous San Diego Zoo. The site of the park was placed in reserve in 1835 making it one of the oldest in the US dedicated to public recreational use.


Image: Balboa Park, San Diego, California
Photographs: Stephane D'Alu/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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5. Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois

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Completed in 2004 (four years late and enormously over budget), the Millennium Park covers the area north of the Art Institute in Chicago built on air rights over commuter train tracks along the lakefront.

The Crown Fountain by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa features 2 glass block columns with LED display facing each other rotating 1,000 faces of Chicago residents at random for approximately 5 minutes, culminating with a pucker of the lips before a spout of water cascades onto the plaza below. The fountain is very popular with kids in the summer and extremely entertaining to watch.

Cloud Gate (more commonly known as The Bean) by British artist Anish Kapoor is another amazing site to see. The way the sculpture reflects the city, sky, and passers-by keeps everyone entertained. The Pritzker Pavillion by architect Frank Gehry is a sculptural piece that has to a certain degree been eclipsed by the bean and fountain.

While it is beautiful, it sits back away from the crowds only accessable to those on stage and cut-off to the rest. Not to mention there is not a good vantage point for snap shots.

The BP Bridge, also designed by Gehry is interesting, but again lacks any good focal point to take in the piece itself. Many question why architect Santiago Calatrava wasn't commissioned for this part since he got his start designing spectacular bridges. The peristyle in the NW corner of the park is quaint, but compared to the more modern components of the rest seems to be out of place. It is a nearly full size replica of the peristyle which was originally in the same location between 1917-1953.

Its columns are made of Indiana limestone while the base is built from French limestone. Lurie Garden is a 2.5 acre garden within the park which pays homage to the City's motto: 'Urbs in Horto' (City in a Garden).


Image: Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois
Photographs: J Crocker/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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4. High Line, New York City, New York

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The High Line is an elevated railway transformed into a public park on Manhattan's West Side. The park features lush horticulture, artworks, seasonal food vendors, community programing, and unique views of the Hudson River and New York City skyline. The High Line runs between Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues.


Image: The center section of the High Line, New York City, New York


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3. Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado

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Garden of the Gods is a wonderful place to check out the rock formations, vegetation, and wildlife in the area -- which are both typical or red sandstone rock formations found in many parts of the West, and also unique in detail to this location. Great views of Pike's Peak, and great trails for easy hiking with families (including trails with good wheelchair access).

Since the park was given to the City of Colorado Springs, it has seen millions of people. With 1319.12 acres, 1.5 miles of paved trails, 15 miles of additional trails that take you through the park to get up close looks at its beauty. If you have the time, and have a high clearance vehicle, you may want to head up Rampart Range Road, located just east of Balanced Rock, it will take you above the park and show you the city of Colorado Springs in the background of the Garden. The first 2.4 miles are inside the park, after that is the public shooting range, Rampart Reservoir and Woodland Park.


Image: Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Photographs: Robert Corby/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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2. Central Park, New York City, New York

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Extending from 59th to 110th streets between 5th and 8th avenues [Central Park West], Central Park is one of the iconic sights of New York City. While it may appear to be a beautiful natural area, be aware that it is entirely man-made except for the glacier scarred protruding rocks. It is claimed that more earth was moved in its construction than in that of the Panama Canal. The intent of the park's designers was to present as many varied landscapes as possible within the given area. One encounters lakes, hills, forest, formal gardens, and a vast lawn. The various bridges and arches of the park enhance the charm of the place and there are several hidden roads that cross the park that are revealed only because the sound of the traffic gives them away.

In the 1970s, the park became symbolic of urban crime and a place to avoid. Fortunately, those days are long gone and the park attracts huge numbers of visitors from all over the world. The operation of the park has been given over to the Central Park Conservancy, a not for profit group suppported by the city and the inhabitants surrounding the park. Recent years have seen a great deal of park land renovation and restoration of historic bridges, etc.

A great place for a stroll. You can start anywhere you'd like. Just walk in at 59th and wander in. Check out the local artists and their wares. Head over to the zoo. Check out the Dairy, now the spot for shopping. Ride the carousel or skate at Wollman rink. Stop by Strawberry Fields and at West 72nd Street see The Dakota. You can do the usual horse-drawn carriage ride or ride a horse yourself! Sit for a bit along the mall and reminisce about all who sat there before you. Take in lunch at the boathouse or just buy food from the many vending carts. See the Obelisk at the back of The Met. Walk through the tunnels and emerge out to daylight and see the fountain. Continue on around the reservoir. And finally reach the ducks on the pond.


Image: Central Park, New York City, New York
Photographs: Ed Yourdon/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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1. Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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North America's third-largest park draws eight million visitors per year, many of whom may skate or walk past you on the Seawall, a scenic, 5.5-mile path running along the water on the park's perimeter. It's just one of many trails among the park's 1,000 acres, which also house an aquarium, nature center and other recreational facilities.

About 10 per cent larger than Central Park and about half the size of London's Richmond Park, it attracts about eight million visitors every year, which include locals as well as tourists. There are an estimated half million trees, some of which are hundreds of years old and about 200 km of of trails and roads that the Vancouver Police Department's equine mounted squad patrols.


Image: Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Photographs: Bobanny/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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