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Welcome to the Instagram blog! See how Instagrammers are capturing and sharing the world's moments through photo and video features, user spotlights, tips and news from Instagram HQ.

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sochi2014, sochi, sochi olympics, winter olympics, current events, Location Feature,

Sochi: Building a City for the Olympics

To view more photos and videos from Sochi, browse the #Sochi2014 hashtag, explore the Сочи / Sochi, Sochi, Морской Порт / Sochi seaport, Олимпийский парк / Sochi Olympic Park and Горнолыжный Центр - Роза Хутор | Rosa Khutor - Alpine Center location pages on Instagram

"Two years ago, I came here and I remember these small, old two-story houses and this tiny airport," recalls Russian Instagrammer Julia Mikhaleva (@myatna). “As I was flying into Sochi for the Winter Olympics, I looked out of the window and all I could see were lights upon lights coming from this big city.”

Julia is one of many Russians who have been amazed (“and pleasantly surprised,” she adds) by the rapid transformation of Sochi to prepare the city for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Sitting on Russia’s southernmost coast looking out onto the Black Sea, the resort town was a popular holiday destination for its warmer climate and proximity to alpine ski slopes. A train line now connects brand new venues at the “coastal cluster” and “mountain cluster” for the 2014 Olympic events.

The successful bid to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi also led to the construction of new buildings, a new road infrastructure, an expanded airport and hotels. Sochi’s metamorphosis is also expected to turn the city into a popular ski resort for locals and tourists after the Games.

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location feature, cats, Cat Island, Japan, 田代島, Tashirojima,

A Visit to Japan’s Cat Island: Tashirojima (田代島)

For more photos and videos of Tashirojima’s cats, explore the 田代島 location page.

Off the Oshika Peninsula on the eastern shore of Japan sits Tashirojima (田代島), a small island that is home to about 100 people and hundreds of cats. “Cat Island,” as Tashiorjima is commonly called, was once home to a fishing industry and about 1,000 people, but the population has steadily declined and aged since its peak in the 1950s.

The island’s cats—believed to bring good fortune by locals—are Tashirojima’s biggest draw these days. Feline fanatics that are lucky enough to make the journey can also explore the island’s many cat shrines and cat-shaped stone monuments.

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Casapueblo, uruguay, location feature, carlos páez vilaró,

A Visit to Carlos Páez Vilaró’s Inhabitable Sculpture, Casapueblo

To see more photos and videos of Casapueblo, explore the Casapueblo location page.

In 1958, Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró purchased property on Punta Ballena near Punta del Este, Uruguay. He built a wooden lodge on the land to live in and then began building a grand, inhabitable sculpture there stage by stage. Páez Vilaró created each new portion of his Casapueblo (“House-Village”) in the image of the mud nests that local hornero birds build.

The final product is a 13-floor surrealist compound of whitewashed cement and stucco that looks like nothing else in South America. The site has been a leading tourist destination in Uruguay since the late 1960s and now houses a museum, art gallery and Hotel Casapueblo.

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Location Feature, rio de janeiro, brazil, hang gliding,

A Bird’s-Eye View: Hang Gliding over Rio de Janeiro

For more photos and videos of hang gliding in São Conrado, explore the Pedra Bonita location page.

Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro is known for its breathtaking views and natural beauty, a combination that makes nearby Praia São Conrado one of the world’s premiere hang gliding spots for tourists and locals alike. Hang gliders experience a bird’s-eye view of iconic landmarks such as Pão de Açúcar and the Cristo Redentor statue on Corcovado mountain. The setting allows hang gliders to savor an adrenaline rush while feasting on Rio’s jaw-dropping skyline. A few daredevils have shared their experience through photos and videos on Instagram.

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Ostankino Tower, location feature, Russia, Moscow, Architecture,

Floating Above Moscow in the Ostankino Tower (Останкинская телебашня)

To see more photos and videos from Moscow’s Ostankino Tower, explore the Останкинская телебашня location page.

Soaring 540 meters (1,772 feet) into the sky above Moscow, Russia, the Ostankino Tower (Останкинская телебашня) provides radio and television signal as well as an astounding view for those who venture to its top.

Completed in 1967 and named after Moscow’s Ostankino district, the tower was the world’s first freestanding structure to top 500 meters. Today, visitors can snap both panoramas of Moscow and the earth 360 meters (1,180 feet) below the tower’s glass-bottomed observation deck.

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southbank skatepark, current events, Location Feature, london, south bank,

Saving Southbank Skatepark with @rich__

To view more photos and videos from Southbank skatepark, explore the Southbank Skate Park location page.

Strolling tourists along London’s Southbank next to the River Thames might at first miss the graffitied walls of the undercroft skatepark. The skatepark is home to skateboarders, graffiti artists and freestyle cyclists. Local Instagrammers also visit to shoot street art and take advantage of the park’s scenic vantage point of the London Eye and skyline.

"The main railing is a great place to stand and snap away," says Rich Pearce (@rich__) who often visits the location to shoot. “The far ends are where the jumps and wipeouts happen, but great shots can be taken from the inside as the light comes through in various places.”

Development plans have put the existing skatepark at risk, but Southbank Centre promises another skatepark just 120 meters (394 feet) away from the current site as part of the new plans. Still, protests to preserve the current skatepark, led by the group Long Live Southbank (@savesouthbank), have gained high-profile support from artist Damien Hirst, singer Rita Ora (@ritaora) and boxer Mike Tyson (@miketyson).

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Location Feature, brazil, street art, graffiti, speto, beco do batman,

Beco do Batman: Where Street Becomes Art

For more photos and videos from the graffiti murals in Vila Madalena, explore the Beco do Batman location page.

Tucked away in one of São Paulo’s most bohemian neighborhoods, Vila Madalena, you’ll find a discrete alleyway known to locals as “Beco do Batman.” The passage is home to some of the city’s most respected graffiti artists’ work and murals cover the walls in explosions of color, capturing the city’s vibrant graffiti scene and overall creative energy. Artist Speto (@speto) considers Beco do Batman “a peaceful and playful manifestation of street art in the city.” He painted his first mural at Beco do Batman in 2006 when he was given a wall by Boleta, a fellow artist he deeply admired. Speto’s mural, a beautiful large bird, is still there today and has deep significance for him as an artist.

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Location Feature, hallasan, south korea,

Winter Hiking on Hallasan (한라산), South Korea’s Tallest Peak

To see more photos and videos of Hallasan and its crater on the peak, explore the 한라산 (漢拏山, Hallasan) and 백록담 / Baengnokdam / 白鹿潭 location pages.

Located in the center of Jeju Island, Hallasan (한라산) is South Korea’s highest peak, reaching 1,950 meters (6,398 feet) above sea level. Flowing lava shaped the mountain when a volcanic eruption first created the island.

For many hikers, winter is considered the best season to explore Hallasan. The trails are usually covered with a thick layer of snow making the journey especially beautiful. Hikers gear up with strapped-on spiked boots and trekking poles to enjoy the hike through the snow covered landscape.

In total, Hallasan has five hiking trails. Donnaeko (돈내코) is the only open trail that starts from the southern half of the island, which leads to a point near the peak called Witse Oreum (윗세오름). Eorimok (어리목) and Yeongsil (영실) are shorter trails that also terminate at Witse Oreum. Gwaneumsa (관음사) and Seongpanak (성판악) take much longer to hike, but lead to Baengnokdam (백록담), a magnificent volcanic crater lake at the peak of the mountain.

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Fort Point National Historic Site, surf spot, Location Feature,

Surfing underneath the Golden Gate Bridge

For more photos and videos of the surf at Fort Point, explore the Fort Point National Historic Site location page.

On the south end of San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge lies Fort Point National Historic Site, home to one of the most picturesque surf spots on the planet. Under ideal conditions, waves break right under the bridge and wrap around the point into a protected, calm cove. Beautiful though it may be, beware: the outgoing tide is strong, white sharks often visit the waters and the fickle left break is short, narrow and crowded. Surfers can catch the waves at only one takeoff point, which makes the lineup contentious and has earned Fort Point a reputation for territorial surfers.

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Pasaje Lanín, location feature, user feature, User Feature,

Discovering Argentina’s Pasaje Lanín with @gotlib

To view more photos and videos of Pasaje Lanín, visit the Pasaje Lanín location page and follow @gotlib on Instagram.

"I’ve always liked street art because it’s more democratic—it can be appreciated by everyone," says Buenos Aires Instagrammer Agustín Gotlib (@gotlib). “I’m really excited by the creative potential of the graffiti that’s appeared in the streets of Buenos Aires.” On the weekends, Agustín often visits the neighborhoods of San Telmo, Barracas and Palermo to shoot street art. “The streets are quiet on the weekends and the art has room to breathe,” he explains.

On one such weekend, Agustín discovered Pasaje Lanín—an entire alley of street art in Barracas. Artist Marino Santa María, who lives on Pasaje Lanín and has a studio there, decorated 35 houses on the street with wavy stripes of tile and paint. He painted his own house first, and soon after neighbors asked him to decorate their houses as well. Agustín fell in love with Santa María’s work immediately: “I liked the abstract forms and bright colors of the facades and how they covered people’s homes—it’s art unifying with life itself.”