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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 Blighand 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.
10th of June, 1944. World War II. After the murder of the SturmbannführerHelmut 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.
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.
The Neolithic village of Skara Brae is located near the Bay of Skaill, 15 km North from the city of Stromness, on the west coast of Mainland island (Orkneys Islands, Scotland).
Thanks to the layer of sediments that have hidden and protected the village until 1850, the Neolithic village is kept in perfect conditions despite 5000 years of age (its origins predate the construction of the pyramids of Giza and Stonehenge) and it is considered today one of the best-preserved prehistoric villages in the world.
In the movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), Indiana Jones talks about Skara Brae to his students during a class at Marshall College.
At Orkney Islands / Scotland’s Northern coast, you can watch orcas and whales and have a swim in awesome sandy beaches (…beware of the freezing water!).
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