Six wonders of the ancient world
When it comes to ancient wonders, there's more to explore than Petra, Angkor Wat and the Coliseum. So to uncover a few structures that aren't typically on the tourist trail, we turned to question-and-answer site Quora, where users have been sharing their opinions on some of the most impressive ancient structures in the world. What made the list? Among others: a network of ancient Micronesian floating islands, an underground Anatolian city carved entirely of volcanic rock and a prehistoric Phoenician site comprised of monumental stone blocks so large, it remains a mystery how they were cut and moved.
Underneath the small town of Derinkuyu, 750km southeast of Istanbul in Cappadocia's Nevsehir province, lies the largest system of caverns ever built by hand – Derinkuyu – Turkey's underground city, which shares a name with its more conventional, above-ground counterpart.
This ancient Anatolian wonder has all the trappings of a well-developed municipal centre, with schools, stables and churches – but rather than rising from the ground, Derinkuyu's meeting places are carved from soft volcanic rock 60m to 85m beneath the surface.
Built between the 7th and 8th Century BC, the underground complex was built to defend against attacks from marauding armies. Though it was intended as a temporary shelter, its amenities were impressive: some 600 above-ground doors from which someone can enter the underground city from, 15,000 ventilation ducts to provide fresh air, as well as multiple wineries, cellars and a complex network of passages, tunnels, and corridors.
“It was large enough to shelter around 20,000 people with their livestock and food stores," Quora user Trishla Prasad wrote.
Considering its age, the underground city is in excellent condition and is accessible today via numerous tours. Travellers should be advised, however, that exploring the complex involves a lot of stairs.
Nan Madol, Federated States of Micronesia
Built around 1200, the mysterious floating Micronesian city of Nan Madol comprises a series of man-made basalt islets separated by a network of canals. Located on Pohnpei, more than 3,600km east of the Philippines in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it's no surprise that the site is fairly unknown.
“[Nan Madol] was apparently the residential complex of the island elite and each islet served a specific purpose, such as canoe building, cooking, caring for the sick, and was probably roofed over with timber and palm thatch," said Terry Newman, who has visited the site twice. “It is a crude and primitive Angkor Wat overgrown by the jungle, but no less mind blowing in a place with no history of permanent structures, let alone architecture."
Located in eastern Lebanon's Beqaa Valley, the well-preserved ancient site of Baalbek was settled some 9,000 years ago, eventually attracting a series of ancient peoples, including Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. It was used primarily as a religious site, with monumental temples devoted to gods such as Bacchus, Venus and Jupiter.
“The Temple of Bacchus alone is bigger than the Parthenon in Greece," wrote Quora user Ella Ryan. “The neighbouring Temple of Jupiter has only five of its 54 Corinthian columns still standing, but at 22m tall and two metres in girth, they are jaw-droppingly enormous and are said to be the largest in the world."
At the foundation of Jupiter's temple is a trio of megaliths, some of the biggest individual building blocks in the world. How each block was cut and moved into place is still somewhat of a mystery, but some say they were positioned into place by Roman cranes (primitive devices consisting of a winch, a rope and a block with pulleys).
Newgrange, County Meath, Ireland
Newgrange's massive, rounded dome rises from the emerald plains of Ireland's County Meath like a grass-topped UFO. Constructed more than 5,000 years ago, during the Neolithic period around 3,200BC, this ancient site is storied in Irish folklore and considered one of the most important megalithic structures in Europe.
The structure itself is a huge grass-topped mound made of alternate layers of earth and stone. At 76m across, 12m high and covering 4,500sqm of ground, the Unesco World Heritage site is ringed with a facade of white quartz stone, added during a reconstruction in the 1970s. Inside is a chambered passage that stretches for 19m, ending with three small chambers thought to be ancient burial sites.
This ancient structure's secret: it's a remarkably accurate time-telling device, wrote Elle Land. The structure is aligned with the rising sun and its chambers are flooded with light during the Northern Hemisphere's winter solstice (occurring on 21 December this year). “As the sun rises higher… the whole room becomes dramatically illuminated," Land said. “The intent of its builders was undoubtedly to mark the beginning of the New Year."
Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Maharashtra, India
About 30km northwest from the city of Aurangabad, India's Ellora Caves are considered the pinnacle of Indian rock-cut architecture. The site's 34 caves were carved from the stone face of the Charanandri hills between the 6th and 9th Century.
The caves are most valued for their ancient paintings and sculptures, considered masterpieces of Buddhist art that are considered the beginning of classical Indian art. The Archaeological Survey of India calls them “the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting". The Ellora site is also home to the impressive Kailasa Temple, which is carved from a single rock. “Its sheer size and architectural finesse completely stuns anyone," said Hamid Shah.
About 100km northeast are the Ajanta Caves, a spectacle dubbed “one of the great wonders of the ancient world" by British historian William Dalrymple. The formidable caverns were cut into cliffs between the 2nd and 7th Century to house Buddhist temples, shrines, prayer halls and dormitories.
“Over the years, due to time and negligence, most of [the cave's] mural paintings have peeled off but you can see its former glory from the ones which have survived and been preserved," Shah wrote. “It is still a beauty even after 1,500 years."
This article was written by Husna Haq from BBC and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).
A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.
"At the beginning of the pandemic, we knew we were uniquely positioned to utilize our widebody aircraft and our network to keep commodities moving, so we quickly mobilized various departments throughout the airline to launch a cargo-only network of flights that would keep commodities moving," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "Thanks to those efforts, United Cargo has delivered millions of items to countries all around the world. We would not have been successful without the steadfast support of our employees, industry partners and our customers."
Since last March, United Cargo has transported almost 850 million pounds of freight on cargo-only and passenger flights. The airline will continue to monitor market trends adjust its cargo-only flight schedules to help ensure we are meeting our customer's evolving shipping needs.
Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:
1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more
Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.
Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.
2. Check out the Travel-Ready Center
Our Travel-Ready Center makes it easy to get a personalized overview of everything you need to do in preparation for your flight. Just enter your confirmation number or MileagePlus® number and you'll find detailed information on all the documents, tests and more that you'll need for your trip.
3. Read and sign the Ready-to-Fly checklist
Before completing check-in, all United travelers will need to read our Ready-to-Fly checklist and confirm that they understand and agree to our policies. These include:
Acknowledging that you haven't had any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
Agreeing that you will not fly if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 21 days
Confirming that you will follow all policies regarding face masks, social distancing and other health and safety measures we've adopted
4. Arrive early; avoid the stress
Airports can be busy, especially during peak travel periods like spring break season. The TSA advises arriving at the airport two hours before your flight for domestic travel and three hours for international travel in anticipation of long security lines. This can help ease the stress when navigating busy check-in areas, security lines and crowded boarding gates.
5. Get familiar with CleanPlus
United CleanPlus℠ is our commitment to delivering industry-leading cleanliness as we put health and safety at the forefront of your experience. We've teamed up with Clorox to redefine our cleaning and disinfection procedures and Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols, like:
Disinfecting high-touch areas on board and in the terminal
Using electrostatic spraying, Ultraviolet C lighting wands and more advanced measures to clean aircraft cabins before boarding
Redesigning our mobile app to allow for touchless check-in and contactless payment, along with enhanced travel assistance features
Implementing high-efficiency (HEPA) filters on our aircraft that completely recirculate cabin air every 2-3 minutes and remove 99.97% of airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria
Studies show COVID-19 exposure risk is minimal when air filtration systems and masks are in use, so you can rest assured that the steps we've taken to keep you safe truly make a difference.
6. Wear your mask
Federal law requires all travelers to wear a face mask in the airport, including customer service counters, airport lounges, gates and baggage claim, and on board during their entire flight. Make sure you review the requirements for face masks, including what an acceptable face mask looks like.
7. Get ready for a safer boarding process
To make boarding even safer, we now have travelers board their aircraft from back to front. At the gate, just listen for your row number to be called – we'll ask a few rows at a time to board, starting with the last row of the plane. This helps everyone maintain a safe distance from each other during boarding without slowing things down. As you step onto the plane, flight attendants will hand each passenger a sanitizing towelette, which you can use to wipe down your seat to ensure it's extra clean.
8. Pack smart
Before packing your bags, check to see what exactly you can carry on and what you should plan to check. You can also copy your confirmation number into our Baggage Calculator tool to learn about the bag allowance included with your reservation, as well as the cost of checking any additional bags.
9. Check your flight status, important notices and weather
Check the United app regularly for the latest updates on weather conditions, flight status, gate numbers and seat assignments. You can also visit our Important Notices page to find essential information and updates about travel waivers, international travel, TSA and security, airports and United Club locations.
10. Relax and enjoy your flight
Once you're on board, it's time to sit back and enjoy your flight. Our flight attendants will be happy to help you with anything else you need.
This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.
"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.
We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.
Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Take your next video call from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude with United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Newly added to our collection is a background encouraging our employees and customers to vote. Our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. No matter which party you support, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and vote.
So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started.
To use on Zoom:
- Start here by downloading your favorite United image to your computer or mobile device. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- Next go to your Zoom app (you'll need to download the app to access backgrounds) and click on the arrow to the right of your video camera icon in the bottom of the screen.
- From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.
To use on Microsoft Teams:
- Start by downloading your favorite United image to your computer. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- C:\[insert your device user name here]\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- If you're using a Mac copy the images to this folder on your computer:
- /users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- Once you start a Teams meeting, click the "…" in the menu bar and select "Show background effects" and your image should be there
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We are humbled by your selfless sacrifice.
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This is the story of Jason and Shantel. You see, Jason and Shantel love each other very much. They also love traveling and they love the classic Adam Sandler film, The Wedding Singer.
It all began when Jason reached out to United's social media team, hoping for assistance with his upcoming plan to propose. Some phone calls and one borrowed guitar later, the stage was set for Jason. Put all that together, mix in some helpful United employees and, voila, you have a truly memorable marriage proposal. Congratulations to this fun-loving and happy couple, and here's to many more years of making beautiful music together.
A big thank you to Chicago-based flight attendants Donna W., Marie M., Karen J. and Mark K. for making this proposal come to life.