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Why Figures Swarmed with Toads Lurk on Middle Ages Cathedrals

There’s a figure of an unusual woman on the cathedral in Worms, Germany. She’s just above the south portal on the right hand side.The front of the statue at Worms (photograph by Jivee...

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Inside the Honecker Bunker, An Abandoned Cold War Secret Seeking a Future

The Honecker Bunker (photograph by Ciarán Fahey)Buried under sand and rubble in a nondescript forest north of Berlin lies a massive Cold War treasure with its secrets sealed shut, locked up and...

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Clootie Wells: Where the Trees Are Weighed Down in Rotting Rags

Clootie Well, Munlochy, Scotland (photograph by Davie Conner)In scattered sites around Scotland, England, Ireland, and other places where the pagan roots still show through the modern landscape, you...

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Abandon Ship: 5 Maritime Disasters Lost to Time

Long before concrete, the highways of the globe were water, and the crafts that glided through them brought people and goods to new markets, new opportunities, and new worlds. The modern use of...

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NYC's Possible Pompeii Columns That Link Its Great Fire to Ancient Volcanic Doom

Delmonico's on Beaver St. in Manhattan (photograph by Allison Meier/Atlas Obscura)Are relics from Pompeii — that Roman city wrecked by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD — embedded in the façade of one of New...

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Today Me, Tomorrow You: Rome's Sculptural Skeletons

Sant’Agostino, memorial to Cardinal Giuseppe Ranato Imperiali, by Paolo Posi (design) and Pietro Bracci (statuary), 1741 (photograph by Elizabeth Harper)The dead are everywhere in the churches of Rome....

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The Ship Wrecked by Wheat Forgotten on the California Shores

Prow of the Dominator in California (photograph by Adam Ness)It's amazing how an event that captured the public's attention so much in the 1960s could be so easily forgotten in the decades that...

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Wishing Trees: Where Money Grows in the Branches

Coins in the Aira Force wishing tree in the English Lake District (photograph by Claire1066/Flickr)In some places people toss coins into fountains begging for a wish, but in parts of the United Kingdom...

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The World's Grossest Rivers

Pollution in the Citarum River, Indonesia (photograph by MangAndri Kasep)It's hard to overstate the importance of rivers in human history. They incubated great civilizations, created massive,...

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A Temple to the Electrical Dawn: Budapest’s Abandoned Art Deco Power Station

The control room of the Kelenföld Power Station (all photographs by the author)Hidden in Budapest’s XI District, on the banks of the Danube in the unfashionable side of Buda, lies an iconic monument...

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New York's Most Metal Cemetery

The Virgin Mary sinking into the earth of Brooklyn's Most Holy Trinity Cemetery (all photographs by the author)Glimpsed from the L train as it rumbles up to the open air at the Wilson Avenue station in...

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Infiltrating London: Subterranean Exploration in the British Capital

London is a complicated place. It is a melting pot of cultures and races, a nexus for trade and travel, which archaeologists believe to have been occupied for more than 6,000 years. With every passing...

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Americana in Watercolor

A California road (illustrated by Chandler O'Leary for Drawn the Road Again)Part of any exploration is observation, and while most of us impulsively reach for phone or camera to preserve new views in...

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Recycling an Abandoned Paris Train Station into an Unconventional Café

La REcylcerie (all photographs by Ophelia Holt)Located in an abandoned train station on the Petite Ceinture in Paris, La REcyclerie is a unique café which prides itself on being the product of...

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Atlas Obscura's First Geographer-in-Residence: Kcymaerxthaere

My name is Eames Demetrios and I am the Geographer-at-Large for Kcymaerxthaere. In that capacity, I go around the world installing markers and historic sites that honor events from a parallel world in...

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Backyard Bugs: LA’s Unsung Biodiversity

Sitting in gridlock watching wildfires burn in the distance, it’s easy to fall victim to the stereotype of Los Angeles as an apocalyptic wasteland. Freeways, parking lots, and stripmalls make it...

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Eight Beaches Where Strange Things Wash Ashore

Dead Horse Bay, Brooklyn (photograph by the author)For those with the beachcombing drive, even the most average-looking stretch of sand holds allure. But while collecting rocks and shells is nice, some...

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LA's Patron Saint is a Third-Century Martyr in a Postmodern Tomb

Saint Vibiana's tomb in the crypt of Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral (photo by the author)St. Vibiana is always on trend. No wonder she’s the patron saint of Los Angeles. She’s currently located in...

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Warheads & Reactor Cores: Cuba’s Nuclear Legacy

Cuba is a nation of retro-tech and 1950s automobiles, as well as a largely manual agricultural system. It may be hard then, to now picture this Caribbean island as a nuclear power. And yet, for a brief...

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Tasmania's Most Surreal Art Museum Is Also a Cemetery

Unless otherwise stated, images courtesy of the Museum of Old and New ArtSomething stinks in Tasmania. “Where else in the world,” I asked myself, pinching my nostrils, “would one of the main cultural...

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