Pirates and gallows at Execution Dock: nautical “justice” in modern London.

The city of London was once the largest port in the world, and as such attracted its fair share of pirates and smugglers. Try to imagine. Still in the first decades of the 19th century, travelers approaching the port of the city of London on the Thames were greeted by a horrible sight: the river was flanked by a number of gallows, from which corpses hung in decomposition, were exposed in iron cages. The wind rocked the human remains, causing a sinister crunch that terrified sailors. The infamous London Execution…

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Dhanushkodi, the ghost town returned by the sea.

Dhanushkodi was an Indian city located exactly opposite Sri Lanka, the last human outpost before the narrow channel between the two nations. The meaning of its name means “End of the Arch”, and symbolizes the particular geographical position of the city. India is a country full of surprises, both natural and man-made. Dhanushkodi, located is probably the place where the wonders of nature and man become one. This is a place shrouded in mystery, that’s easy to miss by the regular tourist. In fact, it’s not really a part of…

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The controversial Captain Cook’s memorial, where he met his violent end.

We are on the Big Island of Hawaii, precisely at Kealakekua Bay, where an 8-meters-high obelisk looms up from the coastal forest to remember the place where British explorer Captain Cook met his violent end. The obelisk was set up as a memorial by his compatriots in 1878, on a land that, while still technically part of the United States, is owned by the British. Rising up against the sky, the tall white spire strikes a beautiful contrast against its natural surroundings: the rugged ground, the high cliffs and the…

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Beatrix Potter: from scientific studies to beloved children’s books

No children’s books has captured hearts quite like of these of Beatrix Potter, the beloved author inspired by flora and fauna found in the pictoresqua English countryside. She wrote and illustrated 28 books, including the universally beloved Tale of Peter Rabbit. If lot of people are familiar with these well-known stories, few know that the wirter earlier work included scientific studies, inspired by a true love of nature. Beatrix Potter was born in London in 1866 to a family of artists. Her father, Rupert, was a barrister who dabbled in…

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The Golem of Prague and the origins of the myth of the clay giants

In Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated anthropomorphic being that is magically created entirely from inanimate matter (usually clay or mud). The word was used to mean an amorphous, unformed material in Psalms and medieval writing and it plays a very important role in the history of the city of Prague. In fact, the term seems to derive from the Hebrew word gelem, meaning raw material/lifeless earth clod. Not only that, it seems that the name recalls the mud of the Moldova river with which the small humanoids were…

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The German couple which traveled for 26 years, through 179 countries along 550 thousand miles with a Mercedes G-Class

If Gunther Holtorf had a lengthy career with Lufthansa beginning in 1958, in 1989, he left his job to take an on-the-road journey. Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the man and his wife Christine left for a 26-year road trip through 179 countries along 550,000 miles (885,139 km). The couple had originally planned to spend only 18 months outside their Germany, to visit the African countryside in his on their Mercedes-Benz 1988 G-Wagen nicknamed “Otto”, but that one-and-a-half year leisure time has at the end turned into a…

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AcquaSpa: a dive into the urban decay.

This water park and wellness center, located in Pantigliate, at the gates of Milan and inaugurated in 2005, was completely abandoned in 2014. The abandoned Aquapark was divided into Blue Lagoon, which was the area for adults and had 10 types of water slides, including the Black Cannon for the most daring, and Laguna Baby, the area for children aged 2 to 10 years. Within the aquaspa there were swimming pools, sauna and massage rooms, as well as gyms and a sport hall. What, until a few years ago, was…

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Buntzen Lake Powerhouses: the set of Stephen King’s IT Miniseries~

The area around Indian Arm, British Columbia, is a very beautiful place to go for a hike: there are many trails accessible by foot, by mountain bike, or by horse. But beware around the Buntzen powerhouses on area’s eastern shore: There were some really creepy clown sightings there some years back! Buntzen lake used to be named Trout Lake, and was also called Lake Beautiful,and was renamed to Buntzen Lake in 1905 at the opening of the tunnel to Coquitlam Lake. Along the edge of the water, there is a…

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10 bizarre Easter traditions around Europe

As Christmas, Easter is one of the most important religious festivities for Christians and it’s the day when religious people celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and culminates in the commemorations of Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday that this year is celebrated exactly today. Easter is very popular in many states of the globe and in some countries, especially Christian-Orthodox ones, it represents a more heartfelt feast than Christmas, unlike Christian-Catholic ones. For the ancients, this period represented instead…

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The Chios Rocket War is the most explosive Easter in the world!

We are in Greece, where, during the celebration of the Mass the night before Easter Sunday, it is customary to launch fireworks. However, nothing is as spectacular as the event that takes place in Vrontados, on the island of Chios. Rouketopolemos, literally rocket war, is the traditional manifestation that takes place every year on the occasion of Orthodox Easter, and which sees two rival parishes engage in a most unusual and dangerous tradition that has been taking place quite possibly since the Ottoman era. The churches, which sit on opposite…

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Tranquille Sanatorium in British Columbia: a haunted place?

The Tranquille Sanatorium and its surrounding quarters were built in 1907 when the sanatorium was established to treat patients with tuberculosis (also known as the white plague), during the time when TB was treated with exposure to fresh air. The area itself, just outside Kamloops city limits, where the North and South Thompson meet and flow into Kamloops Lake was purchased in 1905. It seems that Tranquille was the name given to an Indian chief, “Sanquil”, who had formerly called the property his territory. “Tranquille” is the French word for…

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Travelers Monument: one of the most curious parts of the journey on the Mojave Road, California~

The Mojave Road, is a historic route across what is now the Mojave National Preserve in the Mojave Desert in the United States. This rough road stretched 147 miles (237 km) and today has become a famous trek for off-road enthusiasts. The Old Mojave Road was first used by Native Americans, then Spaniards, and later early American settlers to make their way west through the dangerous Mojave Desert. The traveler’s Monument is one of the most curious parts of the journey on the Mojave Road. This large pile of rocks…

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Prague: the penguins at Kampa Park which share a serious message about the environment.

We are in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic and one of the most beautiful city in the world, a place which has long attracted artists and wandering spirits. The city has a magnetic appeal for visionaries, scientists and astronomers, and displays every branch of architecture and art across the last thousand years. The streets of Prague are just full of statues and sculptors. Some are more conventional, depicting well known figures from Czech history, some stand as a memorial to events in the nation’s past, some are abstract,…

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The Viking diet: surely better than that of many others medieval people

The Vikings are famous in the common imagination for their large banquets of meat and beer, but what did they actually consume beyond alcohol and meat? The peoples of the North had a varied diet, rich in wild and bred animals, fruit, cereals, poultry and fish and many other foods that they collected in the wild. Although one might think that it was a simple people, their diet was much richer and more diversified than the rest of Medieval Europe. That’s true, Scandinavia is cold, however many foods are available…

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The forgotten story of the Radium Girls and the Toxic Radioactive Products marketed in the 1920s

In 1917, lot of patriotic young girls counted themselves lucky to have landed war work at a large warehouse complex in Orange, New Jersey. The pay was fantastic, roughly three times the average working girls’ wage, and the work was light: the main job the young ladies were given was to apply glowing paint to the faces of clocks, instrument gauges, and wristwatches for the United States Radium Company. Once a thin layer of white paint, impregnated with the newly discovered element radium, was layered onto the dials, their hands…

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Centro Ceremonioso de Pamashto: a mysterious circle of stones in Peru

We are above the village of Pamashto, a short ride from the historic town of Lamas near the city of Tarapoto, Peru, a high-jungle city that was an unmarked town until the completion of the Carretera Marginal de la Selva (Jungle Highway) in the late-1960s. The small archaeological site know as Centro Ceremonioso de Pamashto (Ceremonial Center of Pamashto) sits on a grassy hilltop, and it likely dates back to around the time of the Inca Empire, if not before, but who exactly built it and, above all, why, remains…

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Tanzania: the lake Natron and the petrified animals

Don’t let the ring of salty marshes along the edge of Lake Natron fool you: this body of water is one of the most inhospitable areas on Earth! We are in Monduli, Tanzania. Even if the salty red hell is a beautiful sight for eyes, unfortunately conceals a terrible secret. Colored a deep red from salt-loving organisms and algae, the lake reaches hellish temperatures and is nearly as lethal as ammonia. We known that most human settlements throughout history have formed around lakes and rivers, however, the barren and inhospital…

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Top 25 of the most famous ghost photographs ever taken

To start with, this article has nothing to do with whether or not ghosts exist. I don’t have an official stance on such matters. Whether or not these ghost images are real or not is up for the reader to decide. Since ancient times, various legends and folk tales have told about the presence of otherworldly figures in the real world. With the spread of photography, some of these testimonies have resulted in disturbing images of ghosts (more or less real). Skeptics consider these photographs to be the work of…

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The “Bazooka Vespa”: the scooter that could destroy a tank.

Its technical name was “Piaggio Vespa 150 TAP”, but it remained known among the experts and military history enthusiasts as “Bazooka Vespa”, for the imposing M20 cannon that crossed it longitudinally in its entirety. It was commissioned by the French Ministry of Defense in the fifties, commissioned by the licensee in Piaggio France (ACMA) requested the development of a vehicle for military use, which was already the concessionaire for the production license of the original Vespa vehicle on French soil. The result was a very special Vespa of which there…

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Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane of New York: Its history and the 400 found suitcases.

Perhaps the Victorian buildings may be falling to pieces, but the contents inside them betray a lot about the sometimes happy, sometimes tragic lives of patients at Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane. Even if asylums often carry connotations of dark and terrible existences, Willard and other institutions like it were intended to be a better alternative to systems in place for taking care of the mentally ill. Historically, in the early 19th century, those without anyone to care for them and incapable of taking care of themselves were left…

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The mysteries of the Stanley hotel, the hotel which inspired Stephen King’s Shining.

“Any big hotels have got scandals [sic]…Just like every big hotel has got a ghost. Why? Hell, people come and go. Sometimes one of ‘em will pop off in his room, heart attack or stroke or something like that. Hotels are superstitious places.” Stephen King, The Shining (1977) In October 1974 Stephen King, at the time the rising star of horror literature, spent one night with his wife Tabitha in a rather disturbing old hotel, at the bottom of the Rocky Mountains during their brief residency in Boulder, Colorado. With…

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From a meeting place of high society to an esoteric temple: the sad fate of the abandoned hydrotherapy center of Oropa.

The road that connects Biella to the sanctuary of Oropa winds through the crags of the valley, and resembles any winding mountain road in northern Italy. In reality, this small road carries with it an endless series of testimonies of the “glorious” Biellese past. The most evident traces are those of the suggestive tram that connected Biella and Oropa from 1911 to 1958. The sanctuary of the Black Madonna of Oropa, located in the Italian province of Biella, in Piedmont, is one of the most important religious destinations in the…

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Carhenge, the American Stonehenge made of vintage cars

Near Alliance, Nebraska, there is an exact copy of Stonehenge, but made entirely from vintage cars. All of us, at least once in a lifetime, came across some images of Stonehenge, the most famous and impressive “Stone Circle” in the United Kingdom located near Amesbury, Wiltshire. A set of megaliths, some of which are topped by horizontal elements, a structure that is believed to be an ancient astronomical observatory, but whose real purpose still remains a mystery. Certainly less common is come across images of Carhenge, located in Nebraska, in…

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Coffin technologies that protect you from being buried alive!

The fear of being buried alive is know as taphophobia, and as early as the 14th century, there are accounts of specific people being buried alive. We are in High Middle Ages, and when the tomb of philosopher John Duns Scotus was opened, his was reportedly found outside of his coffin, his hands torn up in a way that suggests he had once tried to free himself. In 17th century England, it is documented that a woman, Alice Blunden, was so knocked out after having imbibed a large quantity of…

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Key West, the doll Robert and a long series of inexplicable events.

This story from Key West, Florida, has always aroused and continues to arouse great curiosity: the protagonist is a life-size doll donated in 1906 Otto family’s maid to Robert Eugene, a 5-year-old boy at the time. The child immediately ties himself to the strange, straw-filled doll with the look and clothes of a naval officer and in his arms a little dog, deciding to call her with his first name, Robert. Instead, he prefers to call himself Eugene, or Gene, as his family called him. It wasn’t long, however, before…

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The watercolours paintings that documented Earth

A new website is digitising millions of watercolours, to make instantly available a wealth of incredible historic images. Watercolour World is the brainchild of former diplomat Fred Hohler, who embarked on a tour of Britain’s public collections and realised quite how much there was to do on watercolour alone: Norwich Castle Museum held about 4,500 paintings by a single artist and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew had somewhere between 200,000-300,000 watercolours in its drawers. The value of this project is that it views these historic paintings as documents, not…

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Barron Ghost Town: another abandoned mining town.

As we know, in the late 1800’s there was a gold rush in western America. If most gold seekers headed out west to California, Canada and Alaska, Washington was perfectly settled in the middle. So, while they were heading up to Canada for their chance at glory, they were bound to stop in Washington. Some glorified Okanogan even called this area the “El Dorado of the North”, and of course, within a short burst of time, various mining camps were set up along the mountain side, one of them being…

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Thomas Pursell’s and Wildwood Cemetery of Williamsport, Pennsylvania~

In the suburbs around Williamsport, Pennsylvania, there are some places of great interest. There is a road called the “End of the World”, that appears to be the edge of the world when you drive along it in the middle of the night. About 8 kilometers from that, there is Wildwood Cemetery. The cemetery has a good side and a bad side, and it’s an ambiguos place for different reasons: is supposed to be filled with fairies on a clear night, but there is also a hill at the top…

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