Kondyor Massif, Siberia

Kondyor Massif

The Kondyor Massif is a unique circular igneous intrusion massif with a diameter of around 10 km and about 600 meters high, formed one billion years ago after erosion shaped the molten magma crystallized under the earth’s surface.

Located in Eastern Siberia, Russia, the massif is surprisingly rich in rare and precious minerals such as gold, silver, platinum, plutonium, uranium, and it has even its own mineral, the Konderite, a mixture of platinum, iridium, rhodium, copper, lead and sulfur.

Formerly named “Urgula” by the indigenous population, as they believed the mountain to be sacred, it is more than a thousand km far from the nearest city, Khabarovsk, and definitely not a handy place to be visited. There are no tourist infrastructure and visitors need a special permit to access the surrounding area.

Image © NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Initiation Well, Portugal

Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira is a land located in Sintra, a small village nearby Lisbon, Portugal. Designed by the Italian architect Luigi Manini and built in the late 1800s by the rich owner Carvalho Monteiro (also known as Monteiro the Millionaire, Brazilian-Portuguese businessman, entomologist and freemason), the estate includes Medieval, Classic, Manueline and Renaissance styles buildings.

Among palaces, gardens, caves and lakes, the Initiation Well is arguably the most picturesque construction: an inverted 27-meter tower shape well with a staircase that was actually never used as a proper well. It is believed that it was used for ceremonial purposes linked to Tarot mysticism and Masonic principles

The number of landings and steps could be also associated to Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy and may represent the nine skies of paradise, the nine sections of purgatory or the nine circles of hell.

photo © mytouristmaps

Kilmainham Gaol, Ireland

Kilmainham Gaol

In the early 1800s, thousands of ordinary people were imprisoned at Kilmainham Gaol not only for serious crimes such as murder or rape, but even for cattle stealing and other minor crimes: a fourteen-year-old boy was convicted for seven days for stealing two loaves of bread.

This jail (now a museum), located in Dublin, is famous because of its link with the history of Irish nationalism: the majority of the Irish leaders in the rebellions from 1798 to 1916, prisoners during the Anglo-Irish War (1919-1921), and anti-treaty forces during the civil war were detained there.

In May 1916, during the Easter Rising, fourteen men were sentenced to death and shot by firing squads in the Stonebreakers’ Yard of Kilmainham Gaol. Seven of them had been the signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic that was posted on Easter Monday on the walls around Dublin and read on Sackville Street (now known as O’Connell Street, renamed in honor of the nationalist leader Daniel O’Connell ) by Patrick Pearse. These were Thomas Clarke, Seán Mac Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh, Patrick Pearse, Éamonn Ceannt, James Connolly, and Joseph Plunkett (the man who married Grace Gifford in the Gaol chapel the night before he was shot).

Kilmainham Gaol

The firing squads in charge of the executions at Kilmainham Gaol, composed of six kneeled and other six standing soldiers were provided with just one real bullet and the rest blank, so that they wouldn’t know who shot the killing one.

After the harsh treatment of those leaders of the Easter Rising, Irish citizens began to empathize with the Rising’s cause and later, in the general United Kingdom election in 1918, the Irish republican party Sinn Féin received huge support among voters in Ireland. They refused to take their seats in the U.K. parliament, founded a separate parliament in Dublin and declared Irish independence, ratifying the Easter Rising Proclamation of the Irish Republic, leading subsequently to the War of Independence in 1921.

The official closing order of the Kilmainham Gaol was issued by the Minister for Justice of the Irish Free State in 1929.

For information about the museum and bookings visit the official website https://kilmainhamgaolmuseum.ie/

photo © mytouristmaps

Nubian Pyramids, Sudan

Nubian Pyramids
photo © Wufei07

Less famous than the Egyptian pyramids but not less fascinating, those burial monuments belong to the ancient kingdom of Kush, a rival to Egyptian settled from 2500 BC in the Nubian Valley (modern Sudan) to AD 350, when the kingdom of Axum invaded and conquered the capital Meroë and ended the Kushite dominance.

Compared to the Egyptians, they are more recent (built a thousand years after), smaller (the highest is less than 30 meters, Giza’s is 139 meters), and with steeper sides. There are around 200 pyramids in the Nubian Valley, more than in Egypt.

Meroë, located 240 kilometers north of Khartoum, is the biggest and best-preserved sacred area, where 30 kings, eight queens, and three princes are buried.

Although relatively unknown (the last group of pyramids was discovered between 2009 and 2012), the Nubian pyramids are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011.

Mammatus Clouds

Mammatus Clouds
photo © Craig Lindsay – Mammatus clouds over Regina Saskatchewan

Mammatus clouds are striking cloud formations mostly composed of ice with unusual shape due to protrusions hanging from the bottom of the clouds, formed by sinking cold air.
They can extend for hundreds of kilometers and stay visible in the sky for up to a few hours, usually before or after a storm, bringing often rain, hail, or snow, depending on the temperature of the atmosphere.

They are usually associated with cumulonimbus, which is indicative of heavy storms, but they may also be formed from cirrus and altostratus clouds, or even volcanic ash clouds.

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150716-nine-rare-and-beautiful-clouds