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Essential Guide: Abandoned Palaces of History's Megalomaniacs

Darul Aman Palace, Afghanistan (via Wikimedia)Golden beds, crocodile ponds, guests drowning in rose petals, rooms full of treasure: the homes of absolute rulers have always been marked by stratospheric...

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Stasi Surveillance in the Shadows of the World's Largest Goth Festival

Just two days after the world’s largest goth festival had extinguished the candles for another year and the dark masses had left Leipzig, construction workers around the East German city’s main station...

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Libraries on the Beach

Pop-up library by Matali Crasset in Istres, France (photograph by Philippe Piron, via Designboom)Books and the beach go together like sun and sand, and around the world libraries have been set up right...

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The Soviet Lightning Machine Abandoned in a Russian Forest

photograph from esosedi.ru, via rt.comWhat is this curious concoction of towering tubes? Seemingly abandoned in a forest near Moscow, the electrical installation has been turning up on the internet for...

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Sacred Valley of the Inca

A weaver in Ollantaytambo, Peru (all photographs by James Emmerman)In the Andes of Peru, tucked between Cusco and Machu Picchu, lies the Sacred Valley of the Incas. A stretch of virtually untouched...

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The Rapture of the Deep: Descending into Germany's Harrowing Underground Realm

Entering Riesending: from this point it is 600 feet straight down (photo by Markus Leitner/Bavarian Red Cross, via Wikimedia)This unassuming hole in the ground is the only known access point to...

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Terror-Stricken in Paris: A Crypt of Bloodstains and Bones

Image of the French Revolution from "Histoire religieuse, monarchique, militaire et littéraire de la Révolution Française, et de l'Empire, depuis la première assemblée des Notables en 1787,...

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Forgotten Communist Monoliths of Bulgaria

The derelict amphitheater of Mount Buzludzha as it appears today (photograph by Darmon Richter)The Bulgarian Communist Party, who ruled this Eastern European nation from 1946 until the fall of...

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Atlas Obscura's Guide to a Strange Summer in NYC

It's deep into summer now in New York City, and here at Atlas Obscura we have a whole wunderkammer of wondrous events planned to make the most of the sunny season. We also have some recommendations of...

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Copyrighting Cartography with Fictional Places

Thomas Brothers Map Co. map of East LA (1966), one of the many companies to include trap streets (via david/Flickr user)With all the time and energy cartographers spend preparing maps, it makes sense...

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Looking Across the Universe at a California Telescope Open to the Public

 Saturn shot through the 60-inch telescope at the Mount Wilson Observatory. (photo by Steve Grant) In 1903, astrophysicist George Ellery Hale went hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains. Resting at the...

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Modern Mortality: A Q&A with "American Afterlife" Author Kate Sweeney

Graceland Cemetery, Chicago (photograph by Allison Meier/Atlas Obscura)The art of dying in the United States is in a league of its own in terms of options, and cost. While green burial sites sprawled...

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The Best New Wonders of July

Much of the Atlas Obscura is created by intrepid users around the world, out exploring the places no one else is noticing, or jumping into historical research that's been all but forgotten. In...

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The Art of Micronations: Rebellion through Creative Land Conquests

Once the domain of only the most determined of oddballs, micronations are a more common phenomenon since the advent of the internet. These days, you don't even need a physical territory to declare...

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Descend into London's Victorian Ice Wells

photograph by Darmon RichterThis underground realm in London is rarely accessible, but Sunday, July 20, it's opening to the public. No, it's not some sort of secret druid lair; it's a marvel of 19th...

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Unruly Places: Alastair Bonnett Explores a Feral World Untamed by Geography

Aerial view of Mecca in 2010, showing new construction alongside the Kaaba (photograph by Fadi El Benni, via Al Jazeera English) Mecca is one of the "unruly places" featured in a new book by Alastair...

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The Summit Scaling Subculture of Highpointing

We aspire to climb to the summit of Mount Rainier in Washington, as well as Charles Mound, at the top of a family’s driveway in northwest Illinois. We wish to ascend to the highest peak in the Rocky...

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The Cats That Got the Crème at Le Café Des Chats, the Paris Cat Cafe

When it first opened its doors last year, this crowd-funded Paris café – based on a Japanese concept Frenchified in the heart of the trendy Marais — was rumored to have a four-week waiting list for...

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Exploring the Storm Drains of Melbourne, a Secret Labyrinth of Tunnels and...

With more than 1,500km (932 miles) of underground tunnels hidden beneath its streets, it’s no wonder Melbourne has grown into something of a mecca for urban explorers. Its complex network of storm...

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Lovecraft in Brooklyn: A Reading by Candlelight in Green-Wood Cemetery

Clay McLeod Chapman reading at the Pierrepont monument in Green-Wood Cemetery (photograph by Mitch Waxman)Robert Suydam sleeps beside his bride in Greenwood Cemetery. No funeral was held over the...

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