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“BAGAN IS unquestionably one of Asia’s—indeed the world’s—great sights,” says the first edition of the Rough Guide to Myanmar (Burma). More than 2,000 temples are scattered across an area of almost 70 square kilometres.
The magnificent Buddhist shrines were built over two centuries during the golden age of the Bagan Empire, between 1050 and 1280, when it was one of Southeast Asia’s two great powers, the other being the Khmer Empire in Cambodia.
The Khmer built its own set of major monuments at Angkor, and these are the only rivals to Bagan, with the difference that “the temples of Bagan remain relatively free from crowds,” says the guidebook, “and still retain much of their prevailing magic and mystery—for the time being at least.”
The guidebook says a minimum of three days is needed to see the most important parts. If you’re especially keen, “a thorough investigation of the whole site could take the best part of a year.”
It suggests starting in the walled city of Old Bagan (about 550 kilometres northwest of Yangoon), then tackling the Central Plain before finishing up with the sites between Nyaung U and Old Bagan.
However long you stay, when exploring, “it’s best to take your time—rush at Bagan, and you’re likely to become rapidly templed out and terminally stupa-fied.”
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MORE THOUGHT OF as the place to see Renaissance works Italy hasn’t been known for contemporary art galleries, but that changes with the 9 May opening of the Fondazione Prada in Milan.
Seven years in the making, the 19,000-square-metre site has twice the gallery space of the new Whitney Museum in New York.
Even if you don’t like contemporary art, there are a number of reasons to visit the venue:
• the design is by Rem Koolhaas, the star Dutch architect whose recent commissions include major projects in Taipei, Rotterdam, London, Mexico City and Riga
• the cafeteria, Bar Luce, was designed by U.S. film director Wes Anderson (The Royal Tennebaums, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel, all Oscar winners for best screenplay); it’s done in formica, 50s style
• the inaugural film showing in the 250-seat theatre is by Roman Polanski
The museum is is a 100-year-old warehouse district; it repurposes storage space and a distillery as well as adding new structures.
There are seven launch exhibitions, including Serial Classic, which bows to Italy’s classical past by displaying 70 ancient sculptures, including numerous reproductions of work by the 5th-century B.C. Greek artist Myron, whose originals have not survived.
Among the contemporary artists on show are David Hockney, Yves Klein, Piero Manzoni and Donald Judd.
Unlike the recently opened Fondation Louis Vuittton in Paris, “the Prada Foundation will not be selling architect-designed handbags festooned with its label,” says The Guardian.
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