Seaman’s Memorial Tower: a tower that pays homage to local sailors who perished under the waves

The Seaman’s Memorial is a tower about 25-meters high that stands at the entrance to Conn Brown Harbor in Aransas Pass, Texas, where many commercial fishers set sail for the bays and estuaries along the South Texas coast. The tower, paid for by public donations, was dedicated on May 9, 1970, and is a permanet tribute to honor local seamen lost at Sea. A plaque that honor six Coast Guard airmen who perished when a flare was accidentally fired inside their aircraft can be found on the memorial’s walls, while…

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Praglia Abbey: a Benedictine monastery surrounded by the Euganean Hills

During the Middle Ages, many monks manually copied ancient books so they could be passed on to future generations. Over the years, the invention of the printing press made this work largely obsolete, but thousands of old books remained stored in monasteries. Many of those volumes lies still today in the library of the Benedictine abbey of Santa Maria Assunta of Praglia, an almost 1,000-year-old monastery and maybe one of the most important monumental and religious communities in the area, located in the town of Teolo, only 10 minutes from…

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Ajdovska Deklica: an unmistakable facial pareidolia in the Julian Alps and her fantastic story

Ajd literally means “heaten ” in Slovenian, but it also denotes a sort of supernatural quality. This rock formation, known as “Ajdovska Deklica” but traditionally known to English speakers as the “Heathen Maiden” that resembles a human face can be seen in the northern face of Mount Prisojnik near Kranjska Gora, in the Julian Alps in northwestern Slovenia. When you arrive at the top of the Vršič Pass, park your car and take some time to admire the high mountain peaks that look at the valley below: they are the…

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Beddgelert: a place of legend in the heart of Wales.

We are in Beddgelert, North Wales, just south of Snowdon. Meaning literally the grave of Gelert, Beddgelert was once described as “a few dozen hard grey houses, huddled together in some majestic mountain scenery”. A short walk south of the village, following the footpath along the banks of the Glaslyn leads to its most famous historical feature, “Gelert’s Grave”. According to legend, the stone monument in the field marks the resting place of Gelert, the faithful hound of the medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great. The story, as written on…

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The strange story of the Farne Island devils

The island that Saint Aidan (born around 590 and died in 651), an Irish monk that restored Christianity to Northumberland, (and later St Cuthbert) chose for his retreat was the largest and closest to shore of the Farne Islands, a volcanic archipelago off the coast of Northumberland, England. It is known as Farne Island (Farena Ealande), which may mean literally “Island of the Pilgrims”, and sometimes as Inner Farne. In summer, artic terns nest in the island’s carpet of sea campion and over-protective parents divebomb the heads of visitors treading…

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Neidhart Frescoes: a glimpse into the festive and private lives of medieval Europe

In 1979, during restoration works in an apartment near the center of Vienna, at Tuchlauben 19, a sensational find was uncovered: after removing plaster from the walls, a set of ancient frescoes were revealed. These works of art were ordered by Michel Menschein, a wealthy cloth merchant who wanted them as decorations for a private dance and banquet hall in 1407. The paintings depict songs by legendary bard Neidhart von Reuenthal (ca. 1180-1240) and tell stories of feasts, joy, and emotions experienced centuries ago. They tell of love and feasts…

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Diósgyőr Castle | Hungary

We are in the historical town of Diósgyőr which is now part of the Hungarian city Miskolc. Diósgyőr castle is a window into the traditions and history of this often-forgotten section of Northern Hungary and, in fact, It’s unlikely that you will find many tourists in this part of country. Its walls were likely constructed around the 13th-century upon a rock hill elevating from the valley of the Szinva stream, and the castle itself has a complicated history, as it was destroyed not long after its construction during a Mongol…

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Waterbuurt – Amsterdam’s Floating Neighborhood

Waterbuurt, Dutch for “water quarter”, is a state of the art residential development in Amsterdam, which consists of nearly 100 individual floating homes moored on Lake Eimer, in Ijburg district. The floating homes are no ordinary houseboats, but real floating houses, that float adjacent to jetties and are moored to steel pilons and they only move vertically with the changing tide. Designed by Dutch architect Marlies Rohmer, the houses have a “no-nonsense, basic design” but are comfortable at the same time. They were built at a shipyard about 65 km…

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Kauai, the Hawaiian Island home to thousands of feral chicken

The island of Kauai, in the Hawaiian archipelago, is home to thousands of feral chicken that have developed a real relationship with the island’s human inhabitants. From the pristine beaches of Lumbahai, to airports, gas stations, even urban parking lots, they are everywhere on the Island. They roam freely, and have adapted to lead a a variety of lifestyles in their Hawaiian paradise, from eating garbage and cat food, to depending on tourists for food, or foraging on native arthropods. It’s because of this lifestyle variety that the chickens relationship…

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The Broomway – Britain’s deadliest footpath that has claimed over 100 lives

It is rumored that the Broomway, a 600-year-old footpath connecting the coast of Essex to Foulness Island, in the UK, have claimed over 100 lives over the centuries, which has earned it the reputation of Britain’s deadliest path and the eerie nickname “The Doomway”. It begins as a rickety causeway at Wakering Stairs and, at high tide, abruptly disappears into the sea. When the tide is out, the path descends into an impossibly sticky tidal mud. Known locally as the Black Grounds, it is the sort you really don’t want…

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Zombie Hunters, a local singer or photoshop? The true story of loneliest house in the world

For years, a variety of photos of a mysterious solitary white house on the side of a green hill, on a small, deserted island surrounded by ocean as far as the eye can see have been doing the rounds on the web, earning the unofficial title of “loneliest house in the world”. But where is exactly? In Iceland. The Vestmannaeyjar archipelago consists of a cluster of small islands off the southern coast of the country. Elliðaey, or Ellirey, is the most northeastern of these islands, and home to the iconic…

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The “curse” of the Wooden Man of Egeskov Castle

We are on the Danish island of Funen (Fyn), near Odense. Hidden among the dusty rafters beneath Egeskov Castle spire is a curious wooden doll. No one knows to whom it belonged, how old the doll is, how long it has been there, or how it came to be left in the dark attic of the imposing 16th-century castle. The dust-covered figure is the size of a child and has been left, as if asleep, on a old pillow. Egeskov Castle is one of 123 manor houses and castles on…

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Voergaard Castle: a Danish castle supposedly haunted by a woman too independent to not be a witch….

In short, it is said that the lady of this Renaissance castle had the architect thrown into the moat and left to drown, so that he could never build another one like it… Voergaard Castle, locally know as Voergaard Slot, is popular both for its art collection and for its ghost stories, and it is located in Drottninglund, in northeastern Denmark. It houses works by artista like Goya, Rubens, and Raphael, as well as furniture belongining to both Louis XIV and Louis XVI and, with its oldest part dating back…

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Gleann Cholm Cille and St. Columba’s trail

We are in Ireland. The remote valley of Gleann Cholm Cille, in western Donegal, was already a holy site when Stonehenge was but a vision taking shape. Named after Columba, an Irish abbot and missionary evangelist credited with spreading Christianity in what is today Scotland, it is the setting for a pilgrimage on the anniversary of the saint’s death in 597AD. The three-mile journey (or ‘Turas’) is typically performed between the eve of 9 June (the saint’s feast day), and 15 August (the feast of the Assumption). Local tradition says…

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The curious background of Tombland Alley

Once known as the central marketplace of Norwich, England, the name of this historic alley, Tombland, is a bit misleading, as it has nothing to do with the burying of the dead. Actually, it is the combination of two Old English words meaning something like “open ground” or “empty space”, and indicate an area which was once the main market place before the Normans arrived in 1066. The most curious feature of Tombland Alley is the often-photographed Augustine Steward House, built in the early part of the 16th century for…

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Larnach Castle: a haunted castle high on a hill

Larnach Castle, one of only two castles in all of New Zealand, has a rich history, spotted with family drama, death, and a variety of ghost stories and, given the facts, It’s unsurprising then that its owner’s ghost is said to be a bit tetchy. The interior is filled with vintage furniture, beautiful designs, and cat artwork. However, this architectural oddity would be difficult to stumble across, unless you knew it was there. Hidden in the South Island is the city of Dunedin. Wandering through its streets, you’ll find dozens…

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Corenno Plinio: enchanting medieval hamlet on the eastern branch of Como Lake

Corenno Plinio is a small and charming medieval settlement just few minutes far from Dervio, on the eastern branch of Como Lake, Italy. It is an enchanted place that few people know, that stands atop a stone spur overlooking the waters of lake.Walking through its narrow streets and along the stairs built in the rocks, from the castle to the lake, it is impossible not to be charmed by this small hamlet that sweats history in every corner.Not by chance, it is also know as “The village of a thousand…

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Le Mort Homme: a memorial to the soldiers who died in the bloody battles to control Verdun in World War I

In World War I, the battle of Verdun was a really brutal battle that lasted from February 21 to December 18, 1916. Each meters around the French city was fought over by hundreds of thousands of French and German soldiers, and more from the farthest reaches of the European empires. There was 302 days of bloodshed, and historians still argue over how many actually died, with some estimates claimed near a million, from both sides. Even after the battle, technically won by the French, the story of Verdun wasn’t over:…

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Viareggio: a statue for Ettore, the cat friend of fishermen

Ettore was abandoned in a cardboard box along the pier in Viareggio, Italy. It was 1997, and from that moment on this special cat has no longer had a home or a human owner, but countless different homes and friends. Especially the local fishermen, who went back and forth every day along the pier, becoming his family. The leftovers of the fish constituted the dinner of little Ettore, who patiently awaited his daily ration every day. It was a cat that entered the hearts not only of fishermen, who saw…

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Fairy Rock, the place where according to local legends fairies used to dance in the moonlight and invite handsome young men into their grottoes ~

The ancient engine house of Saltom Pit is the first large-scale mine ever sunk below sea level. It sits at the base of Fairy Rock on the coast of Whitehaven, England, and Fairy Rock itself is slowly slipping toward the structure. Probably because the soft layer of coal and shale beneath the heavy sandstone becomes slippery when rainwater seeps into its cracks, causing the sandstone to break and tumble downward. Or, it may be an act of revenge by fairies…. There was a time when Fairy Rock was famed throughout…

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Tarpeian Rock: in the early Roman empire, people deemed traditors and criminals were tossed to their deaths from this rock

Tarpeian Rock, or locally Rupe Tarpea, is a steep cliff located on the southern side of the Capitoline Hill, just above the Roman Forum and, for centuries, the location was used an an execution sites. People who had been convicted of crimes were thrown from the 25-meter cliff ledge down to the Forum below. This method of execution carried a stigma of shame and was considered a fate worse than death. It was reserved as punishment for crimes that were considered especially heinous like treason, murder, and perjury. Also larcenous…

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Tham Piew Cave: a tangible reminder of an atrocity that took place during a secret war.

On this day, November 24, 1968, daily life began much as it had for some time. Villagers, accustomed to bombs and rocket attacks in the region, had long sought refuge deep in the extensive limestone cave systems of eastern Laos. Along with hundreds of men, women, and children from neighboring villages, rebel Pathet Lao fighters occasionally sought refuge in the dozens of large caves throughout the region as the insurgents made their way through eastern Laos. However, if most of the caves proved to provide safe haven, Tham Piew Cave…

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Fairy Steps, the legendary stone steps that were once used to haul coffins up the rockface ~

From Beetham village, England, a path climbs to Beetham fell and leads to the so-called Fairy Steps. The second of two flights of stone steps, where the narrow passage squeezes between two sheer rock faces via a flight of natural stone stairs is so named because of a legend. Apparently, if you descend this narrow stone stairway without touching the rocks on either side, the local fairies will grant you a wish. Other legends talk about the fairies using the steps to escape a witches’ cauldron, and it is said…

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Katzenbalgen, the Monument to Homeless Cats

In Braunschweig, Germany, where the streets Hutfilter, Damm and Kattreppeln meet in the pedestrian zone, the most gorgeous, humorous and unconventional monument of the city has stood since 1981, the “Katzenbalgen” stele by Siegfried Neuenhausen, a former professor at the Braunschweig University of Art and one of the most outstanding personalities in Lower Saxony’s art scene. The monument is impressively large and looks like a high stele, on which a variety of bronze cats are fixed in different poses. All people who see the monument for the first time notice…

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Nine Ladies stone circle and their King Stone

This bronze age stone circle is situated in a woodland clearing high on Stanton Moor, Derbyshire England. The curious arrangement consists of nine upright stones purposefully set in an about 9-meters diameter circle and an additional lone stone sits about 30 meters away. As with most stone circles, nobody really knows why it was built and, of course, generations of fertile imaginations have come up with their own mythological explanations. According to a popular local legend, nine young maidens danced at the Sabbath to the tunes played by a lone…

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Hanoi’s Train Street: twice a day a speeding train passes only inches from the homes of this residential neighborhood.

Between Le Duan and Kham Tien street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, Vietnam, arounds 3 p.m. and 7 p.m every day, a train hurtles through a series of narrow streets in bustling, maze-like Old Quarter. So drying clothes are carried inside, children ushered indoors, and bikes pulled to the side of the road just before the train passes, with less than a meter of clearance at most on each side. Try to imagine: in some places the train is mere centimeters from the buildings. The street’s residents press tight to the…

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Drangurinn Rock and the Elves in South-Iceland Folklore

Drangurinn rock is a mysterious giant tuff rock formation that sits below the Eyjafjöll Mountains in the south of Iceland. However, according to Icelandic folklore, it did not get there naturally, but It is said that a semi-legendary outlaw tore it from Mount Hrútafell and dropped it just there. According to the story, a strongman named Grettir Ásmundsson once passed through this area in a bad mood. In his rage, he grabbed a handful of the mountain and flung it westwards onto the lowlands. The rock he threw down is…

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Obake Kaidan: a flight of this “ghost staircase” has 40 steps on the way up, but only 39 steps on the way down….

In the Nezu district of Tokyo there is a stone staircase know for a really strange feature. Known as Obake Kaidan, literally “Ghost Stairs”, it has 40 steps on your way up…but 39 when you go down. The staircase was once very narrow and dark, probably deserving of its nickname but, after an expansion work a handrail was added to it and the width of the stairs was doubled. However, the staircase on the left trails off halfway for no reason, and its steps are uneven. Of course many urban…

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El Cañuelo: the small fort that played a huge role defending Puerto Rico’s capital city

Puerto Rico is well known for its well-preserved Spanish fortifications in Old San Juan, such as El Morro, the most visited tourist attraction on the island. However, while you exploring the famous fort’s walls and enjoying the amazing view of the San Juan Bay, you may notice something else, a smaller and seemingly less impressive looking fort. Actually, it was El Morro’s most important ally in times of conflict. Fortín San Juan de la Cruz, known locally simply as El Cañuelo, was built on the west side of San Juan…

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Old City Wall of Berlin: the last remnants of a massive medieval wall that once encompassed the city

November 2019 marked 30 years since the Berlin Wall, which divided East and West Berlin for more than 25 years, fell. But Berlin is a city which has been surrounded by walls since its very beginning. Maybe not everyone knows that, centuries before Berlin’s most notorious wall epitomized the Iron Curtain, another wall defined the german capital’s cityscape. It is the Berlin Stadtmauer, or City Wall, that was erected sometime during the 13th century as a defensive barrier to fortify the city. Spanning about 2.5 kilometers, the wall encompassed Berlin’s…

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