Nan Madol

Federated States of Micronesia

For many travellers, Nan Madol is the highlight of their Micronesian odyssey. An important political, social and religious centre built during the Saudeleur dynasty, Nan Madol was a place for ritual activity and the homes of royalty and servants. Comprising 92 artificial islets it's built on the tidal flats and reef off the southeastern side of Pohnpei.

Wide basalt pillars, up to 7.5m (26ft) long, formed naturally into hexagonal columns. They were quarried on Pohnpei Island and hauled to the site by raft, then stacked horizontally around the islets as retaining walls; the resultant twisting canals are known as the 'Venice of Micronesia'. On the level surfaces were temples, burial vaults, meeting houses, bathing areas, and pools for turtles, fish and eels. The eastern half, Madol Powe (Upper Town), had priests and rituals; the western half, Madol Pah (Lower Town), was the administrative section.