MNN Galleries

30 of the most beautiful places in the world

By: Melissa Breyer on July 8, 2014, 9:01 a.m.

Photo: Stephen Lew/Shutterstock

26 of 32

Antarctica, Southern Ocean

The stark frigid atmosphere of the southern tip of the globe may not be all that hospitable, but its beauty is sublime. Antarctica holds the title as the coldest, windiest and driest continent, with nearly 98 percent of it covered in very deep ice. This all conspires to create stunning landscapes of pure white snow mingling with blue ice in structures of architectural magnificence. Striking as it is though, the land is so forbidding that the sea supports most of the continent’s wildlife, which is relatively meager in diversity. There are a number of flying bird species, as well as eight species of penguins, seven species of pennipeds and around 10 species of cetaceans. However, you may be surprised to learn that there are over 100 species of moss, 400 species of lichen-forming fungi and over 1,000 species of free-living fungi. Heroic life forms, to be sure!