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British actress Olivia Williams with sabre fish.
Just as there are places in the world with an unusually high concentration of biodiversity, some patches of land provide a particularly fertile environment for cultural interchange, hybridization and aesthetic mashups. These cultural crossroads are the laboratories of civilization. Distinct elements of humanity come into contact, paths cross, mixing and recombining, adapting and innovating, creating something greater than the sum of the parts.
As with productive ecosystems, these are often places of transit, frontiers, or islands amid a vast nothingness. Commerce, conquest, climate and imperialism usually drive the intermingling of different peoples, generating both friction and beautiful moments of coexistence and tolerance. More than abstract social experiments, these cultural crossroads also happen to make some of the most interesting, historically complex places to visit. This slide show looks at spots that reveal layers of history like paint peeling on an old house. You can find more cultural crossroads, both past and present, on http://www.trazzler.com/tags/cultural-crossroads
Every Sunday, Salon presents a feature from Trazzler spotlighting surprising travel stories from across the globe. Unexpected discoveries and strange, wonderful treasures are condensed into slide shows that entertain as much as they educate.