Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Known locally as "the pregnant oyster," this center for the arts was a gift from the US to Berlin in 1957.
When building the structure that would serve as their royal residence, India’s famed rulers (the Mughals) had no intention of settling for a mere castle or paltry palace. Never. They thought bigger; much bigger. In 1565, construction began on Agra Fort, a 94-acre military fortress made of red sandstone that would house and protect their imperial city.
The Mughal Empire was established in 1526 by Babur, a Timurid prince and descendant of Genghis Khan. When Babur was ousted from Central Asia, he set his conquests on India. His young Empire expanded, but grew increasingly unstable, pervaded by war.
Decades later, Akbar the Great succeeded Babur’s son. His reign marked a span of prosperity and promise for the Mughals, and included the ambitious revamping of Agra Fort. The Fort had always served as home base for the early Mughal rulers, but when Akbar took power, he recognized the strategic value of its locale, and transformed it into the capital.
Akbar had the Fort entirely rebuilt, instructing his (roughly) 4,000 daily builders to lay a foundation built of bricks in the inner core and have sandstone on the exterior. Eight years later, the Fort was complete, boasting seventy foot-high walls and four gates: one each side, with one that opens to the Yamuna River.
It’s not only the framework of the Agra that’s noteworthy. Within its walls lie many stunning palaces, courtyards, and gardens, including the Jahangiri Mahal, seen here, the main palace for women of the royal household, including the wives of Akbar. For the beauty of both its exterior and its residents, the Jahangiri Mahal was considered the most important building inside Agra Fort.
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