Light pillars are beams of light formed by an optical phenomenon created by the reflection of light from flat hexagonal ice crystals horizontally suspended in the atmosphere.
Different shape and colour depend on the source of light, which can be natural (sun, moon) or artificial (streetlights), on the position of the crystals: the higher they are, the taller the pillars are, and on the number and dimensions of the crystals: the larger and more numerous they are, the more pronounced is the effect. Due to the low temperature required, this effect is typical of arctic regions.
Located in the central Italian region of Marche, about one hour drive west of the city of Ancona, this gorgeous temple designed by the Italian architect Giuseppe Valadier in 1828 was originally a refugee for Christian pilgrims.
The temple is at the entrance of the Frasassi caves complex, whose Abisso Ancona is one of the biggest cave chambers in the world, 180 meters long and 200 meters tall, enough to accommodate the Milan Cathedral.
Beside the temple stands the Sanctuary of Santa Maria Infra Saxa, built in 1029 and completely carved into the rock.
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Fanjingshan, also known as Mount Fanjing is a stunning mountain area located in the Wuling Mountains, in the Guizhou province of China.
The mountain site is formed by three peaks: the Mushroom Rock (2.318 m), the Old Golden Peak (2.474 m) and the spectacular Red Cloud Golden Peak (2.336 m) on whose top, onto a 100 meters high rock pinnacle, the Mile Temple and the Shijia Temple are connected by a bridge above the rift that splits the peak into two parts. Visitors can reach the two temples by the whole walking trail (8.888 steps, 5-6 hours), or by cable car and a shorter trail of about 2.300 steps. Fanjingshan is a sacred Buddhist mountain, a pilgrimage destination for thousands of worshipers every year.
The whole Wuling Mountains area has plentiful biodiversity with more than two thousand species of plants and endemic endangered animals like the grey snub-nosed monkey, the Chinese giant salamander and the forest musk deer.
Mount Fanjing can be reached from the city of Tongren by a two hours bus drive and the best period to visit it is from March to November.
The area surrounding the municipality of Bonito is one of the best natural attractions in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, in the South-Western part of Brazil.
One of the best sightseeing from Bonito is the Rio da Prata and Rio Sucuri / Rio Formoso, where floating guided tours allows to snorkel and dive into the crystal-clear water: a unique scenery created by the water flowing onto the limestone rocks.
About 20 km West from Bonito other striking natural formations are the Abismo Anhumas (Anhumas Abyss), an underground lake 70 meters below the ceiling of an enchanted cave with underwater stalagmites, (among the biggest in the world, up to almost 20 metres high) and the Gruta do Lago Azul Natural Monument, one of the biggest flooded caves in the world, were prehistoric large mammals fossils of giant sloth, sabre-toothed cat and giant armadillo have been found.
50 km South of Bonito, the Buraco das Araras, a massive sandstone crater, hosts hundreds of aracari toucans and red/green macaws.
Also known as Al-Ḥijr or Hegra, this impressive archaeological site belonged in the first century AD to the kingdom of Nabatean, a nomadic Bedouin tribe of the northern Arabian peninsula, whose capital was Raqmu, now known as the famous Petra (Jordan).
According to the Quran, it is believed that this is a cursed place, owing to the punishment with natural disasters given from Allah to the Thamud people (8th century BCE) for their idol worshipping.
The outstanding location consists of 131 rock-cut monumental tombs and was the first Arabian proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.
The site is reachable by car from the nearest towns with flight connections: al-Wajh (100 km) and al-Ula (20 km).
All visitors need a permit to visit Mada’in Saleh (you can easily obtain the permission in the Hotels near the site).
Some of the Northern Ireland‘s neighborhoods are still divided by walls: the Peace Walls (or Peace Lines) separate the nationalists/Catholics/Irish from the loyalists/Protestants/British people.
Most of them are in Belfast, others are also existing in Portadown, Derry and Lurgan, with a total length of around 34 km; some of them have gates that are opened only during daylight.
The walls were initially built as a temporary structure to avoid the violence episodes; the first peace line is dating back to 1969 in Belfast after the riot that had involved nationalists, loyalists and police that caused more than 150 homes destroyed, almost two thousand families evacuated, 8 killed and more than 700 injured people.
The number of the walls have raised from less than 20 in the early 1990s to more than one hundred nowadays; there was also an increase after the Irish-British Good Friday Agreement of the 10th April 1998.
According to the public local opinion, the walls are still necessary to maintain the peace and avoid the violence in those areas: the majority of the people still think that more time is needed to change the mentality that has caused lots of conflicts in the past.
In September 2017, the Northern Ireland Department of Justice published its Interface Programme, which intention is removing all the structures by 2023.
Reading the messages of thousands of people marked on the Peace Walls, it is evident that the thought of the people, with or without walls, is still aimed at peace.
The Lough Tay, located in the Wicklow Mountains, about 50 km south from Dublin, is also known as the Guinness Lake due to its shape and colours.
The white sandy beach on the northern coast makes the Guinness foam. The brown colour of the water close to the beach (due to the water coming from the streams that rise on peat covered uplands) complete the incredible visual similarity to the famous Irish pint.
You can see the lake from the R759 scenic route, or if you want a better view from the top, take the walking trail towards the Luggala mountain (accessible from the R115 — the best scenic drive in the Wicklow mountains) or the Djouce mountain, one of the most spectacular walks in the Wicklow Mountains, from which you can see the whole Dublin bay and, on a clear sky day, also the Welsh coastline.
The Lough Tay beach was chosen in 2013 as the set for the village of Kattegat in the Vikings tv series.
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