Carpet-weaving existed in Persia (modern-day Iran) since around 500 BC and remains an important part of art and culture – around 1.2 million carpet weavers work in Iran today. Persian carpets have long been collectors’ items and are regarded as amongst, if not the, world’s best. They are traditionally hand-woven on a loom, and usually made from wool dyed bright colours. There are thousands of different motifs and layout designs; common patterns include religious motifs, paisley, flowers, fish, stripes, trees, hunting scenes and geometric shapes. The Pazyryk Carpet, found in Siberia in 1949, dates from the 5th century BC and is the world's oldest surviving carpet.
Cape Horn is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego Islands in Chile. Whilst not the southernmost point of South America, it was used as a major landmark for cargo ships navigating the Drake Passage on their round-the-world trade routes. The waters are extremely dangerous due to unpredictable currents, strong winds and icebergs, and many ships foundered here. Since the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, the need to sail round Cape Horn was made redundant, although it is still navigated by some round-the-world yacht races and recreational sailors.
'The Creation of Adam' (c. 1511) - the painting by Michelangelo adorning the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel - Credit: Erzalibillas
Renaissance art developed in Italy around 1400 and spread its influence across Europe, reaching a peak in the early sixteenth century. Founded on classical techniques, the renaissance period was seen as a ‘rebirth’ and combined traditions with a contemporary approach to art. It was in this period that the first real use of perspective in painting can be seen. Religious and mythological themes were highly popular; voluptuous angels appear regularly. Some of the most famous artists of the period are Botticelli, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Holbein and van Eyck.
The Royal Academy was based in Pall Mall when it was founded in 1768, before being moved to purpose-built quarters in Somerset House on the Strand in 1780. Somerset House was designed by William Chambers and is still a centre for art and culture, as well as housing part of King’s College London. The Royal Academy moved to Trafalgar Square in 1837 and then, in 1868, to its current location in Burlington House, Piccadilly.
Great Queen Street is a road in Central London, beginning at Kingsway in the east and turning into Long Acre. It is home to Freemason’s Hall, the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England, which has stood there since 1775.
Seven Dials is a road junction in Covent Garden where seven streets meet. It is marked by a pillar holding six sun dials, due to the original seventeenth-century plans being for only six roads to converge. Nearby Covent Garden was a fashionable area and it was hoped that Seven Dials would be too, but by the nineteenth century it had deteriorated and was one of London’s most notorious slums. Its infamy continued into the twentieth century when Agatha Christie set The Seven Dials Mystery there. Today, Seven Dials is a mostly prosperous neighbourhood consisting of shops and restaurants.