Northern Ireland’s Peace Walls, U.K.

Belfast Peace Walls
Peace Wall in Cupar Way, Belfast, photo © mytouristmaps
 

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.

Russian Seven Wonders

As written by the historian Herodotus (450 b.C.), the ancient list of the Seven Wonders of the World was formed by:

Colossus of Rhodes
Great Pyramid of Giza
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Lighthouse of Alexandria
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

The only still existing wonder is the Great Pyramid of Giza, the other wonders were destroyed by the time and the human’s hand.

In 2007, the New Seven Wonders of the World list was declared after an initiative by the Swiss corporation New7Wonders Foundation:

Great Wall of China
Petra, Jordan
Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
Machu Picchu, Perù
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Taj Mahal, India
Colosseum, Italy
Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

In 2008, a curious initiative by the Russian newspaper Izvestia, Radio Mayak and a Russian television channel, determined The Seven Wonders of Russia:

Mount Elbrus


Mount Elbrus 

Volcano located in the western area of Russia, it’s the tenth most prominent mountain in the world and the highest Caucasian (5.643 m) mountain.
Mount Elbrus has two twin summits, whose ascent is accessible to all climbers, though,  according to many experts, it is considered dangerous because of its potential volcanic activity.

Cathedral
The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed
Church located in the Red Square, Moscow, it’s now a museum, built from 1555 on orders from Ivan IV Vasilyevich “the Terrible” in commemoration of the capture of Astrakhan and Kazan.
The cathedral, since 1990 in the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s list, is one of the most famous Russians symbols.

Peterhof
The Peterhof Palace
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and referred as the “Russian Versailles”, it is a series of outstanding palaces and gardens located in Saint Petersburg, built in 1714 on the orders of Peter the Great.

Mother Russia
Mamayev Kurgan
A memorial complex in the city of Volgograd commemorating the Battle of Stalingrad (World War II, 1942- 1943), built between 1959 and 1967. 

The complex is dominated by the Mother Russia statue (85 m high).

Geysers
The Valley of Geysers
Located in the Kronotskij Natural Reserve, Kamchatka Peninsula, this spectacular valley has one of the largest concentration of geysers in the world with hundreds of living geysers and hot springs.

Discovered in the 1950’s it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site; the valley, due to its instability, is often subject to geological disasters like the events in 2007 and 2014 that had hardly damaged the landscape.

Baikal
Lake Baikal
Formed more than 20 million years ago and located in the southern area of Siberia, it is the largest by freshwater, the deepest (1.642 m depth) and maybe the oldest an clearest lake in the world.

In 1996 the lake was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Manpupuner
The Manpupuner rock formations 

Also known as the Seven Strong Men Rock Formations, these seven gigantic (30-45 m high) stone pillars are located in the Pechoro-Ilychski Reserve, western Ural mountains.
The pillars have bizarre shapes formed through the effects of wind, rain, ice and snow.

Pitcairn Islands

Pitcairn Island

The Pitcairn Islands archipelago is formed by four volcanic islands: Pitcairn, Henderson (which is included in the UNESCO world heritage list), Ducie and Oeno. It is located in the Southern Pacific Ocean and it is the least populous national jurisdiction in the world (about 50 inhabitants).

Its history is famous because of the Bounty mutineers, who settled the islands in 1789 after taking control of the ship and abandoning its commander William Bligh and 18 crewmembers.
The wreck of the Bounty is now still visible underwater in Bounty Bay, Pitcairn Island.

 

But the beauty of the beaches and the atolls must not deceive: in this heavenly place life is not the best: the inhabitants (descendants of the famous mutineers and Tahitian women) have lived various vicissitudes for two centuries: from clashes with the local population in the first period (which led to the killing of some of the mutineers) to the latest pornographic pedophile scandals that involved the inhabitants themselves.

Maybe the mutiny was not such a good idea…

Oradour-sur-Glane, France

Oradour sur Glane
© Matt Brown

10th of June, 1944. World War II.  After the murder of the Sturmbannführer Helmut Kämpfe, a Major of the Nazi Waffen-SS, the Germans troops, in revenge, entered the town of Oradour-sur-Glane and killed 642 civilians, including women and children (except the only woman survived, Marguerite Rouffanche), murdered by bombs after they were gathered in the church.
It was one of the worst massacres during the World War II; now the (ghost) village, as a permanent memorial, is exactly as it was upon its destruction, with the Mayor’s car still where it was parked in 1944.

With great indignation of the French people, all those convicted in connection to the massacre were released from prison after the trial.

The Mel Gibson movie The Patriot featured a scene where a church filled with civilians was burned by enemy troops, based on the Oradour-sur-Glane events.

Presidio Modelo, Cuba

Presidio modelo
Presidio Modelo, © I, Friman

The Panopticon Prison:
a prison model conceived in the 1780s by the British prison reformer Jeremy Bentham, where the inmates were constantly kept under surveillance. That model has considered innovative due to his efficiency despite the few staff and it was thought to improve the behavior of the inmates.

One example of the Panopticon prison was the Presidio Modelo, built on the Isla de la Juventud, in Cuba under President Gerardo Machado.

The five circular blocks, overlooked by a central watchtower with the capacity to house up to 6,000 prisoners, were inaugurated in 1926.
Raul and Fidel Castro were imprisoned there from 1953 to 1955 after their revolt against the Moncada barracks. After the victory against Fulgencio Batista, Fidel Castro used the prison to house his political enemies, but after various riots and hunger strikes due to the overcrowded conditions, the Presidio Modelo was permanently closed in 1967.

The prison is now declared a national monument and serves as a museum and a school & research center.