Thann, Alsace and L’œil de la Sorcière (The Witch’s Eye)

The little town of Thann lies on the eastern slopes of the Vosges, in the département of Haut-Rhin (Alsace). A historic town which once belonged to the Habsburgs in the Middle-Ages, it is renown for its remarkable Gothic church and the Rangen vineyard and, in fact, it is also the southern gate to the Alsace Wine Route. According to the legend, the town originated from a miracle attributed to St. Theobald, the Bishop of Gubbio (Umbria, Italy). In 1160, Ubald (or Theobald) saw his death coming soon and promised his…

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The remains of Buchanan Castle in Scotland

The eerie remains of Buchanan Castle are located west of the village of Drymen in Stirlingshire, central Scotland. Interestingly, although it bears the name of the Buchanan Clan, none of the Buchanans ever lived there. And in fact it is not even related with them, except that the original castle on the site (Buchanan Auld House) was the ancestral seat of Clan Buchanan for several centuries. Historically, the old house and surrounding lands had been the property of the Clan Buchanan but passed to the Clan Graham in the late…

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Cape Bruny: the second oldest lighthouse in Australia

The Cape Bruny Lighthouse, that towers 114m, is an inactive lighthouse located at the southern tip of Bruny Island, Tasmania, Australia. First lit in March 1838 and eventually decommissioned on 6 August 1996, It is the second oldest lighthouse in Australia. The project was commissioned by Governor George Arthur in 1835 after a series of shipwrecks south of Bruny Island. Cape Bruny, and in general southern coastlines, were feared by many early navigators and Tasmania had over 400 shipwrecks around its wild coastlines. The catastrophic wreck of the convict transport…

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Minnesota’s Split Rock Lighthouse: the picturesque cliffside beacon that no longer calls to sailors but shines once a year in honor of a famous shipwreck.

The cliffside lighthouse is built on a 41-meters wall of rock overlooking Lake Superior. The structure was designed by lighthouse engineer Ralph Russell Tinkham and was completed in 1910 by the United States Lighthouse Service at a cost of $75,000, including the buildings and the land. It was built after the disastrous Mataafa Storm wrecked 29 ships in the area five years previous, and one of these shipwrecks, the Madeira, is located just north of the lighthouse. At the time of its construction, there were no roads to the area:…

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Remembering Undercliff Sanatorium, Meriden

The state of Connecticut is home to many well-known abandoned mental hospitals. For decades, the Undercliff Sanatorium, a former state health facility, lied at the base of South Mountain, near Hubbard Park in Meriden. Even though it was shuttered, some claimed it was still in use….by the ghosts of former patients. It was originally opened in 1910 as the Meriden Sanatorium and, in 1918, became the first facility in the nation dedicated exclusively to treating children afflicted with tuberculosis but also measles, chickenpox, and smallpox. The name was changed to…

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Nicolas Cage’s Pyramid Tomb in New Orleans’ oldest cemetery~

Actor Nicolas Cage has long been known for his eccentric behavior both in front of the camera and in the real world. Born Nicolas Kim Coppola and nephew of The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, he adopted his stage name to avoid nepotism on the job and claims to have gotten inspiration from Marvel superhero, Luke Cage. As interesting as his acting career is, his personal life is equally enigmatic: his celebrity success has allowed him to buy everything, including private islands, dinosaur fossils, English and German castles, shrunken heads,…

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‘Nemuri-Neko’: is the Sleeping Cat asleep, or just pretending?

We are in Japan. As we already know, Tōshōgu Shrine, the burial place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, is the most popular tourist attraction in Nikkō. Of course, It’s popular for its elaborate architecture, but also for its carved details, including the three wise monkeys and others. One of the most notable carvings is the Nemuri-neko, or the Sleeping Cat, at the entrance to the okumiya (rear shrine) where Tokugawa Ieyasu’s remains are housed. The carving is attributed to Hidari Jingorō, a legendary 17th-century artist who…

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The Three Wise Monkeys of Tōshōgū Shrine in Nikko, Japan

The grand Tōshōgu Shrine was built in 1617 in Nikkō, and it is one of Japan’s most lavishly decorated shrines. It is actually the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was later deified, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, a dynasty that ruled Japan from 1603-1867, with its capital in Edo, current day Tokyo. This Shinto shrine is a part of ‘Shrines and Temples of Nikko’, a UNESCO World Heritage site and 5 of its structures are categorized as the National Treasures of Japan. A cobbled path leads up to its…

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Cereseto castle and its secrets

Cereseto is about 50 kilometres east of Turin and about 30 kilometres northwest of Alessandria, Northern Italy. Probably established around 500–600 AD. and mentioned in records of the Bishop of Asti from around 957 AD., it is perched on a hill, and is dominated by its castle. The town was the property of the Graseverto family of Asti, who probably built the first castle around 900–1000 AD, but completely demolished in 1600. It was 1910 when the financier Riccardo Gualino and his wife launched construction of a new castle with…

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Sibiu, the romanan city where the roofs don’t sleep.

We are in Sibiu. Geographically, it is located in the southern part of Transylvania, close to the Carpathian mountains. Built in the 1100s by the Saxon settlers invited by the Hungarian King in Transylvania, Sibiu, also named Hermannstadt, managed to preserve untouched most of its architectural heritage. While walking around the Romanian city, you’ll start to notice something a bit odd, and you may even get the sense that someone, or something, is watching you. And, wnhile you gaze at the city’s architecture, you’ll start to realize are the houses…

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Cabo da Roca: the most westerly point of mainland Europe.

We are in Portugal. The diverse heritage and stunning architecture make it a must-see for history lovers, while its very good cuisine is a foodie’s dream and the coastline attracts surfers and beach-goers from all over the world. If you’re planning a break to this fantastic country, don’t forget to stand on the Most Western Point in Europe Okay, technically just continental Europe, but that’s still pretty cool. To do this, you’ll need to head to Cabo da Roca, in the municipality of Sintra. The beautiful coastal trail offers stunning…

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North Carolina’s Can Opener Bridge: this too-low North Carolina railroad trestle is still a notorious truck executioner

At the corner of Gregson and Peabody streets in Durham, North Carolina lies what at first glance appears to be an innocent railroad trestle – but this is no ordinary railroad trestle. It is sinister and cunning and will mercilessly scalp any vehicle too high and mighty for its own good. Well, most bridges in North Carolina have a 15-foot clearance (about 4,5 meters), but this was designed in the 1920s and built in 1940, and so it has a clearance of 11 feet 8 inches (3,6 meters). This architectural…

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St. Stephen Bulgarian Church: the unique cast iron Church of Istanbul

We are in Istanbul, Turkey, a city that has no shortage of houses of worship, and the Bulgarian Church of St. Stephen set along the shore of the Golden Horn blends in with its holy brethren at first glance. Upon closer inspection, however, this cross-shaped basilica is like few others in the world. St. Stephen Church has the detailed ornaments of a regular Orthodox stone church, but it’s actually made of prefabricated cast iron elements. Sometimes referred to as “The Iron Church”, it is considered the largest prefabricated cast iron…

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How Blacksod lighthouse changed the course of the World War II

Blacksod Lighthouse, Fód Dubh in Gaelic, is a lighthouse at the southern end of the Mullet Peninsula, Erris, County Mayo, at the entrance to Blacksod Bay, Ireland, where the catch of the day will always include wild Atlantic lobster. The area also boasts jaw dropping scenery and offers sanctuary for Irish whales & dolphins under supervision of the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group. The 150-year-old structure is made of local granite blocks, which are believed to have come from Termon Hill, a nearby isolated outcrop of high quality granite in…

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The curious abandoned Sea Cable Car of Sidi Ifni (سيدي إفني), Morocco

Sidi Ifni is a city located on the west coast of Morocco, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, with a population of approximately 20,000 people. The economic base of the city is fishing. Not by chance, in 2000, an important fishing port was completed, which serves as a base for fish exports. Walking along the beach, toward the port at the southern end of town, you may spot a huge concrete structure a little ways off the shore, standing lonely in the middle of the sea. The huge abandoned…

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The gray cat ghost at Fairport Harbor Lighthouse – Ohio

Even though the Fairport Harbor Light on Lake Erie, Ohio, was given the amazing nickname “The light that shone for 100 years”, it actually doesn’t live up to its name. The current lighthouse didn’t earn the nickname alone, because Its predecessor, which was built in the same site, shone for the first 46 years. The original lighthouse was built in 1825 and, when the population of the town reached 300, the Painesville Telegraph issued a notice asking for lighthouse bids. Collector of Customs, A. Walworth, signed the proposal but, unfortunately,…

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North Island Lighthouse: the oldest lighthouse in South Carolina ~

Heralding the entrance from the Atlantic Ocean into the shipping channel between North Island and South Island stands the oldest lighthouse in South Carolina. For two centuries, mariners have passed this lighthouse on their way to or from Winyah Bay and the Seaport of Georgetown, located 10 miles away. On a sunny, clear day, the North Island Lighthouse (or Georgetown Light, as it has sometimes been called) is visible from Belle Isle Marina as a tiny iridescent white column while, at night, it is discernible from the same vantage point…

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Cape Bojeador Lighthouse – the Philippines

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, in the Philippines, also known as Burgos Lighthouse, is a cultural heritage structure in Burgos, Ilocos Norte, that was established during the Spanish Colonial period in the Philippines. It was first lit on March 30, 1892, and is set high on Vigia de Nagpartian Hill overlooking the scenic Cape Bojeador where early galleons used to sail by. After over 100 years, it still functions and serves ships that enter the Philippine Archipelago from the north and guide them safely away from the rocky coast of the town.…

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Rusovce Mansion: a once-fairy tale mansion in Slovakia now stands in a state of disrepair.

We are in the Rusovce borough, part of Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. Surrounded by crumbling walls and Rusovsky Park, a beautiful sprawling English park, the Rusovce Mansion, english for Rusovský kaštieľ, is a decaying example of neoclassical architecture. There are records of a castle at this location dating back to 1266, but today visitors to the area will only see this once-glorious white building constructed between 1840 and 1906. The current mansion was built on the site of an older manor house from the 16th century, with a medieval structure…

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Robbins Reef Lighthouse – Staten Island, New Jersey

The Kill van Kull is a tidal strait between Staten Island, New York and Bayonne, New Jersey, that connects Upper New York Bay with Newark Bay. Marking the eastern end of the Kill is the Robbins Reef Lighthouse. Dutch colonists acquired the island of Manhattan in 1626, and it was formally incorporated as the city of New Amsterdam on February 2, 1653, encouraging many Dutch settlers to put down their roots in the area.As the Dutch settled the area, explorers referred to many of the locations based on shape, geography,…

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La maison dans la Loire: the sunken structure that looks like the victim of a catastrophic flood.

Known simply as “La maison dans la Loire” (literally the House in the Loire), the three-storey building looks like the victim of a flood that once swept it away, but sometimes appearances can be deceiving…. If you walk along the river Loire, near the town of Lavau-sur-Loire, just a stone throw away from Nantes, are a rather unusual sight: a tilted building located right in the middle of the river. You’d think it was brutally swept away by some catastrophic flood, or something similar, but it was actually placed there…

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Anclote Key Lighthouse: this skeletal cast-iron tower in one of Florida’s most remote state parks was built to withstand wind and waves.

At the Southern edge of Anclote Key, Florida, a spindly red-brown tower rises above the surrounding treeline, topping out at about 34 meters. It is the Anclote Key Lighthouse, which served as a navigational aid for ships in the Gulf of Mexico for nearly a century. The unusual beacon is located on the largest of the Anclote Keys, a group of barrier islands in Florida. The city was officially incorporated in 1887, the same year that the railroad reached the area and the lighthouse was erected, originally commissioned a year…

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Manila Cemetery: known as “Beverly Hills of the Dead” is full of luxurious final resting places

Not even death put an end to the luxurious lifestyles of some of Manila’s wealthy Chinese residents. Here, in the capital of Philippines, the dead have better houses than the living ones: the Chinese Cemetery of Manila is a real little neighborhood, with many tombs reaching the size of real mansions, including all their modern amenities. The mausoleums lining either side of two-way streets within the cemetery are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities that many living people can only dream of: they have fully-functioning kitchens and bathrooms with luxury fittings, and…

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West Quoddy Head Lighthouse: this striped tower is the furthest east you can go in the United States!

A nondescript gravel road leads to a quaint old stubby lighthouse on the furthest point east in Maine and, indeed, the whole of the United States. West Quoddy Head is now a state park and small museum, but it has also served as a lookout on the coast of Maine since 1808. It is an easterly-pointing peninsula in southeastern Lubec, overlooking Quoddy Narrows, a strait between Lubec and Campobello Island, Canada, that provides access to Passamaquoddy Bay and harbors located on the St. Croix River and other rivers which the…

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Beechworth Cemetery and Chinese burning towers

The discovery of gold at Ballarat in 1851 sparked Victoria’s famous gold rush of the 1850s. This led to the probably most significant event in the evolution of the state of Victoria, Australia: the mass migration of people from across the globe to the region hoping to become rich. It’s believed that at the peak of the gold rush, 6,000 miners arrived in the region each week, including many Chinese nationals who converged on Beechworth seeking fortune around the late 1850s. As the population in Beechworth (then surveyed as Mayday…

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Tolbooth Tavern: now home to a drinking establishment, this Edinburgh building has a macabre history ~

Edinburgh is a very pictoresque city that offers visitors and tourists several nice locales to take a picture. One such place is located along the Royal Mile, in an area known to locals as the Canongate, and it is the Tolbooth Tavern, situated in an impressive stone building with an ornate clock tower. But what many tourists may be unaware of is that this building hides a quite macabre past. Originally built in 1591, the building that contains The Tolbooth Tavern was used to collect tolls from travelers who wished…

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Gamsutl: nestled high atop the peak of Mount Gamsutlmeer, this abandoned russian village is one of the oldest settlements in the region.

We are in the Gunibsky district of Dagestan, Russia, where lies Mount Gamsutlmeer. At an altitude of roughly 1,400 meters above sea level, resides the pictoresque village of Gamsutl, known to be one of the oldest settlements in the region. Translated from the Avar, the majority ethnic group of the republic, Gamsutl literally means “at the foot of the kahn’s fortress”, leading many to assume that someone named Khan chose this location to build his fortress or tower, to defend himself from his enemies. And, eventually, a community evolved around…

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Blackhead Lighthouse | Northern Ireland

Blackhead Lighthouse, located only half an hour from Belfast and on the Causeway Coastal Route, was built in 1902. It marks the very northern end of Belfast Lough where it opens out into the North Channel that separates Northern Ireland and Scotland. Over the years, It would have guided many famous vessels during Belfast’s golden age of shipping, including the ill-fated Titanic. It was converted to electric operation in 1965, and lightkeepers lived at the station until 1975. It is one of 65 lighthouses operated by the Commissioners of Irish…

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Casa Hamilton, the charm of abandonment overlooking the Atlantic Ocean

The island of Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands. It is famous for its active volcano, Mount Teide, which is considered the third-largest in the world. But here there is also a place that combines a sense of abandonment and breathtaking views: it is the Elevador de aguas de Gordejuela, better known as Casa Hamilton, a pumping station where hydraulic pumps once transported the abundant waters of the Gordejuela springs to hills and banana plantations, located in the extraordinary area by Los Realejos. This set of ruins, which…

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The oldest comic in the world? In a tomb in Jordan!

It was drawn 2,000 years ago and does not depict superheroes, cute little animals or thieves in a luxury car, but the workers of the ancient city of Capitolias, in the north of Jordan, one of the 10 Greek-Roman cities listed by Pliny the Elder as the Decapolis, a group of semi-autonomous Hellenistic cities on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire, between present-day Israel, Jordan and Syria. The painting, which is the oldest example of modern “comic”, with the phrases pronounced by the protagonists spelled out next to their…

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