Vintage Photographs and customs from a 1920s/30s Halloween

Today, we associate October 31 with candy, costumes, and creepy decor. But, have you ever thought about the origin of Halloween and how the ghoulish holiday has evolved over the years? Halloween has very ancient origins. Traditionally linked to the Anglo-Saxon world, Westernization and globalization have now led it to become everyone’s cultural heritage, even in other parts of Europe. The genesis of the holiday is controversial, but it is probably common to Celtic and Roman festivals, in a mix of celebrations that coincided with the Samhain, the Celtic New…

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The mysterious 12th century story of green children of Woolpit

The legend of the Green Children originated in the village of Woolpit, in the county of Suffolk, England, in the early part of the 12th Century, during the reign of King Stephen (1135-1154), a grandson of William the Conqueror, or King Henry II (1154-1189), depending on which version of the story you read. In the Middle Ages, Woolpit lays within the most agriculturally productive and densely populated area of rural England, and the village had belonged to the rich and powerful Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds. Different versions of the…

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In the Footsteps of wizard Merlin: Tintagel castle and underneath cave

High on the jagged cliffs of England’s southwestern coastline lies not only the remains of an abandoned castle but the mythical birthplace as well of one of most popular legends: King Arthur. And in the coastal cliffs beneath Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, lies an echoingly atmospheric cave. But, if the stories of old are to be believed, the cave may once have been home to Merlin, the popular wizard of Arthurian legend. Tintagel Castle has long been linked with King Arthur, as far back as Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote his…

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Cairndhu House – a piece of history in Northern Ireland

We are in Northern Ireland, off the Coast road in Carnfunnock Country park, near Larne, County Antrim. Originally built as a grand summer residence around 1875 for Mr Stewart Clark who was a wealthy Scottish textile industrialist, Cairndhu House has a rich history of grandeur and ruin and now lies in extreme disrepair. Sir Thomas Dixon, 2nd Baronet, married Edith, youngest daughter of Mr Stewart Clark in 1906, at Dalmeny Church, South Queensferry. After their marriage, they lived for varying periods at Graymount House, Hillsborough Castle, Drumadarragh, Luttrelstown, and Lucan,…

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Global XRS 7200: the luxury motorhome suitable also for a global apocalypse!

If the end of the world is a perfect script for eclectic writers and screenwriters of cinema, there are also those who, in real life, have thought of creating a vehicle that is perfect even if all would become reality and we were finding ourselves as catapulted into a post-apocalyptic film or science fiction. But, seriously. Have you ever had a dream of selling your apartment and travel the world in a motorhome? Of course, It’s one of the most fulfilling things one can do in lifetime. But to live…

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And you have a wheel of cheese to be eaten at your funeral?

Imagine setting aside a wheel of cheese at your wedding. What would it look like if it were served at your  funeral? Probably shriveled and brown, pockmarked from decades of mite and mouse nibbles and, above all, hard as a rock! You’d need an axe to slice it open and strong booze to wash it down. Of course, this is the cheese you  don’t want to cut even though it’s aged to perfection. However, a fossilized funeral cheese means you lived a long life! Jean-Jacques Zufferey’s home in Grimentz, high…

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Sanatorium du Basil – Belgium

In the midst of the Belgian Ardennes, on a remote hill overlooking the valley of Amblève and above the hamlet of Borgoûmont in a clearing in the middle of the woods at an altitude of 420 meters, stands an imposing dilapidated structure known to locals as the Sanatorium du Basil. This imposing building of approximately 150 meters in length faces south. While there was once less graffiti here, this abandoned structure is still a mysterious but charming place. The sanatorium was one of the many health spas that emerged all…

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Jane Greengold and the Impaled Pumpkins of Kane Street – Brooklyn

Halloween is a tradition in Cobble Hill, and Jane’s 274 spike fence is a tradition at the neighborhood. It was October 1998 when artist and public interest lawyer Jane Greengold though of a special use for the spiky fence guarding her home in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. As she looked out over the enclosure where Kane Street and Strong Place intersect, it dawned on her: why not adorn the fence with grinning, howling, shrieking pumpkins in the spirit of Halloween? “I’m not a violent person,” said Jane, “but when I saw…

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God, Science and Philanthropy: the strange story of Sir John Templeton and his library

Sir John Templeton was a bright, vigorous guy, born in Winchester, TN, with no indication that he would be someday become the sort of man to stumble out of a Gothic Victorian novel. Along with an extraordinary intelligence, he possessed an uncanny knack for playing the odds. Rising from his father’s failure in cotton futures, Sir John worked his way through Yale by working three jobs and winning hand after hand of poker at which he was really a prodigy. Now flush with money Templeton became a favorite in Yale’s…

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The curse of Milner Field – England ~

Nestled in a wood, reached only by a small country lane popular with walkers and cyclists, the ruins of Milner Field have lain hidden from view since the 1950s, when the mansion’s eerie reputation led to a failed demolition using dynamite. However, when even TNT couldn’t shift the seemingly cursed house, it was torn down instead. At least, as story goes. The mansion was built between 1871 and 1873, and it was the brainchild of Titus Salt Jr, the son of the wealthy Victorian industrialist and philanthropist Sir Titus Salt.…

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La Pascualita: the Mystery of the “Corpse Bride” exhibited in a shop window in Mexico

Embalmed corpses are not an unusual tourist attraction. Several popes are on view at the Vatican, and it’s normal that visitors still flock to see Lenin’s preserved body in Moscow’s Red Square. Yet however macabre, these corpses serve something of a historical purpose. But that’s not quite the case of La Pascualita, a Mexican tourist attraction that has long had people wondering whether it’s a mannequin or a corpse being used as one! Behind an unpretentious shop window of a small wedding dress shop, in Chihuahua, Mexico, there is the…

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The massacre of Gorla and the sad story of its little martyrs

Not many know that today is a sad day for the metropolis of Milan, Italy: October 20, 1944 is sadly remembered as the day of the Gorla massacre, an event that not everyone, not even the Milanese, knows. From Castelluccio Sauri, Foggia (a city previously destroyed during the Bombing of Foggia), in central-southern Italy, 103 American bombers left the airport and take off with the aim of targeting the Lambrate area, one of the city’s main railway hubs, but also industrial giants such as Breda, Isotta Fraschini and Alfa Romeo,…

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Onions in the Middle Ages were so precious that they were used also as money!

How many tears are shed by peeling an onion? Despite this little drawback, the use of the onion is normal, both for the taste that ensures in countless recipes, and for the benefits it brings to health. The onion has been used as a food for millennia, although modern archeologists, botanists and historians are unable to determine exact time and place of their first cultivations, because this vegetable is perishable and its cultivation leaves little to no trace. However, some written records enables us to paint a very interesting picture…

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Fontanelle Cemetery, Naples, and the cult of “pezzentelle” souls.

The Fontanelle cemetery is a place of worship located in in a cave in the tuff hillside in the Materdei section of the city of Naples, Italy. Inside there are about 40,000 human remains that derive both from the plague epidemics (1656) in Naples, and from the cholera epidemic (1839). Only the plague, according to some estimates, made at least 250,000 victims only in the capital of Campania region. In fact the plague reduced the population from 400,000 to 150,000. According to tradition, being buried away from the consecrated soil…

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Peveril Castle: impressive ruins in the heart of England.

The imposing ruins of Peveril Castle (also known as Peak Castle or Castleton Castle) rise above the charming village of Castleton in the English county of Derbyshire. It is one of the first Norman fortifications in England, even mentioned in the Domesday Book, a manuscript record of the “Great Survey” of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror. For many years the castle was forgotten, covered over time with lush vegetation. The first cleaning and minor conservation operations were carried…

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The almost forgotten story of Timber Ridge Road, Illinois and its murders~

If many people have heard the stories of the ghost at the curve in Timber Ridge Road, most are unaware of the details about what happened there. As usual, every time the tale has been told, the details were altered until the fact that a woman murdered her children became the only piece of truth. However, this horrible story is all too real. Less than 2 kilometers outside of Cambridge, Illinois sits Timber Ridge Road. As motorists travel west along Timber Ridge, they drive through a sharp curve marked by…

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Bueren Mountain: in Liege the stairs that will take your breath away!

Cutting down a steep slope right in the heart of the Belgian city of Liège, Bueren Mountain is not in fact a mountain, but a long staircase that can literally take your breath away by the time you get to the top. It is lit with 3000 candles for the “Nocturne des Coteaux de la Citadelle” on the first Saturday of October, and covered with flowers for the “Bueren en fleur”. The long staircase was built between 1875 and 1880 to remember the 600 Franchimontois, who were 600 men from…

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St. Jacob’s Well – Kansas, between sightless fish and a ghostly cowboy~

St. Jacob’s Well is a water-filled sinkhole in the Big Basin Prairie Reserve just south of Minneola, Kansas. The Big Basin Prairie Preserve is 1,818 acres of native mixed grass prairie managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. According to the legend, St.Jacob’s well it has never been empty, not even in the driest seasons. But that’s just one of the many popular stories about this mysterious body of water. One local story, that has been whispered through the century, is that the well is actually bottomless, or…

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Vampires, pirates and ghosts from Panteón de Belen (Santa Paula Cemetery) in Mexico

We are in Guadalajara, the capital and center of commerce of Mexico’s state of Jalisco. Panteón de Belen, known also as Santa Paula Cemetery, is located north of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Guadalajara in the heart of Mexico’s third largest city. The name Cementerio de Santa Paula, or in English, the Saint Paula Cemetery, comes from the fact that there is a chapel dedicated to the saint on the cemetery grounds. The cemetery was designed by the famous Mexican architect, Manuel Gómez Ibarra, who, 30 years earlier, redesigned the spires…

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Prague: the magnificent European capital cobbled with Jewish gravestones

Prague is one of the most touristic cities in Europe. It is a large UNESCO World Heritage site, full of fairytale towers, ornate statues and art nouveau façades. The beauties of its historical and cultural heritage arouse the imagination and evoke its millenary history in the heart of the Holy Roman Empire and of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. However, in the midst of all this beauty, there are stories that people probably would rather forget. Despite its 3.5 million tourists a year, Prague has a history of pain, suffering and genocide…

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Power Plant IM: one of the most popular urbex destinations in Europe

In a small district known as Monceau-sur-Sambre, within the Belgian town of Charleroi, there is an abandoned power station, the magnificent abandoned cooling tower of which still looms over the town no longer creating electricity, but providing a variety of surreal vistas. The Power Plant IM is owned and was operated by Electrabel, a Belgian energy corporation that generates electricity and heat while supplying electricity and natural gas to 6 million people. Power Plant IM was originally built in 1921 and when it was finished, it was one of the…

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La Casa del Diablo – The Devil’s House of San Luis Tehuiloyocan, Mexico

We are in San Luis Tehuiloyocan, Mexico, and despite the Cholula government has tried to eliminate the reputation surrounding the Amoxcalli Library and its dark past, the entire town still knows the building as La Casa del Diablo (The Devil’s House) because of the artwork on its facade and the rumors the home was the site of satanic worship. The images on the house date back to the 17th century and were created using a technique called “cracked stones”, that involved inserting volcanic stones into form figures to create different…

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Greyfriars Bobby: the most loyal of little dogs, or a Victorian era publicity stunt?

An adorable scruffy dog looks out over Edinburgh, atop a granite fountain built in his honor. Popular stories said that this little skye terrier known as Greyfriars Bobby kept vigil at his owner’s grave for 14 years after his death. The best-known version of the story is that the dog belonged to John Gray, who worked for the Edinburgh City Police as a nightwatchman. When John Gray died of tuberculosis in 1858, he was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, in the Old Town of Edinburgh. Bobby then spent the rest of…

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Pheasant Island: the only territory in the world that changes sovereignty every six months

You are not allowed to visit Pheasant Island, which lies near the Atlantic Ocean terminus of the French-Spanish border. But “it can easily be seen from the Joncaux bank, on the Bay Path,” the Web site for the local tourist office suggests, without a hint of irony! About six kilometers before the Bidasoa River flows into the Atlantic Ocean, its waters, which in the last stretch mark the border between Spain and France, bathe the tiny Pheasant Island, almost a wooded rock in the middle of the river. It was…

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The Moffat Ram~

In Moffat, Scotland, you can see a large bronze statue of a ram proudly surveys the town’s central marketplace from his privileged vantage point atop a sandstone fountain. It seems that it has more ghosts than it has ears, which would probably make it the world’s only haunted, earless statue of an ovine! The town of Moffat had a considerable career as a cattle and sheep droving centre, with the main street serving as a market and corral. The wool from the local sheep was spun locally, woven and dyed,…

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The sad story of Mieszko the Stone Bear in Warsaw – Poland

When walking past Warsaw’s Old Town and the Church of Our Lady of Grace, there is a small statue that does seem a bit out of place. It’s a bear, seemingly frozen on the church porch. This statue is said to be of Prince Mieszko, an adopted prince of Janusz I who was found in a bear’s den during a hunting trip. According to the legend he protected the bear and her cubs from being shot by putting himself between the animals and the hunters, a very brave move that…

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1950s Berlin: Photographs of a destroyed city

Berlin, 1956. About ten years have passed since the end of the Second World War, and Germany was at the beginning of a reconstruction, first architectural and then political, which would have lasted decades. Berlin was the capital of the German Democratic Republic (DDR), a city divided into two blocs between the West and the East, which from August 13, 1961, will also be physically divided by the Berlin Wall. While in the West began what was called the “Wirtschaftswunder”, the German economic miracle at the base of the flourishing…

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The charm of the SS Ayrfield, the ship-wreck transformed into a floating mangrove forest

Once cargo freighter and now a floating forest, the SS Ayrfield is a beautifully broken-down wreck, locked in Australia’s Homebush Bay probably for eternity. Once a center of industry, Homebush Bay was unfortunately contaminated with toxic waste and is now a commercial and residential suburb of Sydney. Before the 2000 Olympic Games, this place was a ship breaking zone, and the dozens of shipwrecks that still remain here, slowly rusting in its waters, are a constant reminder of its history. Once used to transport coal, oil, and war supplies, the…

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Hinnagami: the spirit that possess japanese dolls and grant their owners any wish

Hinnagami are powerful spirits from Toyama Prefecture, Japan, that live inside in dolls. In Japan dolls take on an important meaning, and this is why once they become old they are not thrown away, because an ancient Japanese belief says that inside the dolls there is a soul. Therefore instead of getting rid of dolls used, the Japanese put them on an altar with the utmost respect. The spirit within the dolls is considered evil, as the Hinnagami are spirits that grant wishes to the families that own the haunted…

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Goussainville-Vieux Pays: the post-apocalyptic remains of a bucolic town ruined by a plane crash.

Just to the north of Paris, under the flight path of the Charles de Gaulle airport, lies the remains of a little pretty French town. At least, until catastrophe struck. It is Goussainville-Vieux Pays (not to be confused with nearby, still-thriving Goussainville), that was once a postcard-like town, and for centuries, it functioned as a small, quaint farming village. The old town was once positively bucolic, surrounded mostly by green space. This was, ironically enough, what drew planners to select the area as the location for Charles de Gaulle airport.…

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