Cave di Marmo is a sprawling series of white marble caves and quarries stretching from Carrara, Italy, into the surrounding mountains. The milky stone sparkles in the sunlight and almost seems to spill down the mountains like thick patches of snow.
There’s now a museum nestled within the heart of the quarries. It allows people to take a tour and explore the quarries to learn about the history of how the stone was excavated, as well as its use in art and architecture. Inside the museum, you can find huge, beautiful sculptures made from the very stone that surrounds the site.
People have been trekking into these mountains to quarry the marble for thousands of years. The ancient Romans admired its beauty and purity. They sourced rocks from these mines to create some of their most iconic buildings like the Pantheon and the Column of Marcus Aurelius. In the renaissance, the Florentine guilds purchased a huge block of marble from the quarry which Michelangelo used to create his David statue.
The marble is famous outside of Italy, too. It’s been used in gorgeous, grand buildings throughout the world. But though millions have passed by statues or wandered through buildings made with the stone, far fewer have explored the actual quarries it came from.
There are objects that will inevitably get lost: socks, hats, cheap headphones, attachments to households appliances. But some things you try harder to keep hold of: your wallet, your keys, America’s nuclear warheads.
It doesn’t always work out.
In 1956, for instance, a B-47 bomber was flying from Florida to an overseas base, with two nuclear cores on board. After meeting up with another plane to refuel, it disappeared. The U.S. military never found any trace of the plane, its crew, or the nuclear materials.
When the military does lose nuclear weapons, it’s rare that their location is so mysterious. More often, planes have jettisoned weapons during in-flight emergencies, for the safety of the crew, and the high explosives built into the bombs have gone off. (Conventional explosives set off a bomb's nuclear reaction; in early designs, the radioactive cores of nuclear bombs were often kept separate, as a safety measure.) But on occasion the weapons do disappear.
Two years after the bomber went missing over the ocean, another B-47 was flying a simulated combat mission on the coast of Georgia, when...
If you're roaming the aisles of a Hungarian grocery store in search of one of the country's most popular chocolate bars, look no further than the refrigerated dairy section. With more than one million fans on Facebook for one brand's version alone, the snack known as Túró Rudi is a curd-filled force in Hungary.
Túró translates to "cottage cheese," but the term misleads those who expect curds sitting in tangy whey water. The Hungarian rendition is more similar to quark or fromage blanc, a style of fresh, creamy cheese. Locals make this essential ingredient from fresh milk or buttermilk.
Túró Rudi began as a homemade sweet produced on family farms throughout the countryside. Women crafted logs of fresh túró from their cows' milk, then smothered them in chocolate. The modern, packaged iteration still coats the treat in chocolate, but uses a sweetened dairy curd stick (which resembles cheesecake). The cheesy treat now comes in various flavors, including strawberry, coconut, and apricot.
Over the last 50 years, Túró Rudi has undergone a variety of ingredient and design changes. Various companies produce the bar, but the most easily recognized rendition comes in a wrapper branded with iconic red dots, made by Pöttyös ("with polka dots").
Many of Berlin’s lost letters fill this unique museum. And not letters as in notes sent through the post, but 3-D pieces of forgotten or abandoned signs.
The Museum of Rescued Letters (Buchstabenmuseum) was established in 2005 by Barbara Dechant and Anja Schulze. What began as their personal passions for and collection of typography has grown into a museum packed with a jumble of discarded letters and signs otherwise doomed for a dumpster.
Typography enthusiasts are welcome to visit the museum to browse bits of the collection. Most of the letters come from Berlin, but a few were sourced from elsewhere in Germany and beyond. Old shop signs, logos, and letters fill the space. Some are arranged by color, while others are clumped together to form an eclectic alphabet soup. Abandoned neon signs buzz and glow within the darker corners.
The letters and words are more than just forgotten ghosts of cafe signs past. The museum aims to document, research, and restore the many signs scattered about to the space to preserve otherwise lost fragments of the cityscape. Many of the exhibits are accompanied by little notes that detail their histories and typeface.
The Gulliver Airship sits atop a Prague museum, looking as though it crash landed within the city. Seemingly precariously perched atop two buildings, the Zeppelin almost looks as if it could slide into the sky at any moment.
But the wood and steel airship isn’t actually an airship at all. Instead of lighter-than-air gas, this Zeppelin is filled with book-bearing people. It’s a gathering and reading space, a spot for people to hunker down with a book or discuss literature related to the DOX Museum’s mission to encourage critical thinking about social issues.
The unusual reading space is wonderfully bright and airy. Sunlight streams in to create mesmerizing striped shadows that flicker across the floor. The museum also hosts various literary talks and events within the airship.
The nearly 140-foot-long Zeppelin is in sharp contrast with the museum building’s sleek concrete and glass architecture. This mishmash of styles was exactly the museum director’s goal. He wanted to add a “parasitic” structure that would clash with the building’s modern, industrial style.
According to the museum, the reading room’s surprising shape is rich with utopian symbolism. The wooden Zeppelin harks back to the late 19th early 20th centuries, when the early airships first took to the skies and inspired onlookers with idealistic visions for unprecedented future technological progress.
Plenty of people in Worcester drive by the American Antiquarian Society every day, but few know about the vast amounts of knowledge held inside. This research library and learned society rivals the Library of Congress in terms of its historical content. Historians from all over the United States and beyond make pilgrimages to come here to do their research.
The institution was founded by Isaiah Thomas, creator of the Revolutionary Era newspaper The Massachusetts Spy. It started with Thomas’ own massive collection of antique printed materials and has since expanded to house millions of books, newspapers, and manuscripts. Many prominent figures, including 14 U.S. presidents, became members to gain access to its trove of historic treasures.
It’s said that the society houses roughly two thirds of all the books printed in the country from 1640 up until 1820. One of its crown jewels is the 1640 Bay Psalm Book, the first book printed in North America. The society also holds one of the largest collections of newspapers printed in the country before 1876.
Anyone over the age of 18 can become a member for free for life, and once you do, the society will allow you to touch and flip through their centuries-old literature—so long as you have clean, dry hands (no...
Local guides will tell tourists that all is not as it seems with the peach-colored house with green shutters at 32 Habersham Street. Look at the house, and you'll notice its windows have a unique decorative style to them, said to be due to the fact they were installed upside-down.
How did this oddity occur? Pranksters blame it on the Sears catalog craze. Long before the advent of the internet, the Sears catalog provided people all over the United States with a single source for all of their mail-order shopping. You could purchase just about anything through the catalog, including, apparently, DIY home construction kits.
Though this house is not in fact a Sears catalog home, that hasn't stopped that particular myth from running wild. The house and it's rumored construction mishap have become a quirky point of interest on city tours and have tricked many a visitor, despite the signs disputing the story hanging outside.
Correction: This entry previously stated that this home was a Sears Roebuck...
Chiang Mai's Elephant Poo Poo Park brings a whole new meaning to eco-tourism. The interactive outdoor museum introduces visitors to the process of making paper from a rather unconventional source: elephant poo.
Making paper from elephant poop is a sustainable, eco-friendly alternative to traditional tree-based products. By not using trees, it helps reduce deforestation and makes sure the abundance of animal waste isn’t wasted. The paper is entirely sanitary and stink-free.
The process of transforming elephant poop into everyday paper is actually pretty straightforward. Once workers have scooped the poop and gathered it, they then wash the waste so that only the plant fibers remain. The fibers are then boiled and sanitized, then mixed with other non-wood pulp fibers. Finally, the intriguing mixture is screened and dried, just like typical wood-based paper has been for thousands of years.
Visiting the Elephant Poo Poo Park gives people an up-close encounter with the whole process. You’re even invited to get involved, so be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. The park also has information about traditional paper making, which began in China nearly 2,000 years ago. In addition to the tour, people can check...
The signature chocolate sour cherry gelato at Vivoli, the oldest gelato shop in Florence, Italy, is made with an abbondanza of fruit, declares Silvana Vivoli. As the institution’s third-generation gelato maker, Vivoli specializes in making a distinctive stracciatella (whose secret, she reveals, is a hint of added cream) and the mandarino, which delivers a tang of citrus to the tongue. Every morning, Vivoli whips up the desserts in her shop’s kitchen, all the while remembering her father Piero’s lessons: That good gelato requires time, effort, quality ingredients, and a personal touch.
But what if gelato came in the same flavors, and without an abbondanza of anything? That almost happened just after the Second World War, when a new product, Mottarello, arrived. As the very first industrial ice cream in Italy, Mottarello wasn’t there to coexist with artisanal gelato. It attempted to replace gelato altogether—and almost succeeded. “The idea,” Vivoli says, “was to kill artisanal gelato.” As Luciana Polliotti, curator of the Carpigiani Gelato Museum in Bologna, Italy, puts it: “These were important years because it was like David versus Goliath, and David won.”
Although gelato had been invented several hundred years before the 1950s, it was originally just served for wealthy folks at banquets. Gelato didn’t become widely available to the public until the end of the 19th century. Most of these gelato shops operated as small family businesses well into the 20th century, but it became tougher to make...
About 31 years ago, when Dr. Joy Reidenberg was a graduate student at Mount Sinai Graduate School of Biological Sciences, she climbed into a trailer, then on top of a stranded 11-foot-long pygmy sperm whale lying on its back, and “cut the midline of its throat to get past the blubber.” She parted the blubber and muscles of the 1,000-pound whale to the sides and located the hyoid bone, “which is a free-floating bone in the neck,” she says. Underneath this bone was the trophy she came to claim, the larynx, “which is a cartilaginous structure at the top of the trachea.”
She then “freed up the muscle connections that attach the larynx to the sternum and the hyoid bone.” She did the same to the tongue and walls of the pharynx. Reidenberg then cut the trachea a few inches below the larynx to release its link to the lungs. Lastly, she removed the larynx, with some attached trachea, and placed it into a plastic bag.
The night before, she had received a call from the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, now known as the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ Office of Protected Resources leads this effort to coordinate emergency responses to sick, injured, or dead marine mammals.
The network informed her about a stranded whale in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The specimen was headed...
The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, the only bushplane museum in the world, celebrates an iconic piece of Canadian history. It was here that the idea of fighting forest fires using bushplanes was born.
In 1944, an Ontario Provincial Air Service (OPAS) pilot began experimenting with dropping water on forest fires. In the 1950s, OPAS perfected the technology, and by 1960 all 35 Beavers and 8 Otter of the Provincial Air Service had been fitted with water tanks that were controlled via a lever in the cockpit.
Housed in the original home of the air service, the museum exhibits trace the history of bushplanes in Canada, and the role they played in the both the development of the North, and in forest fire protection.
Among the many fascinating exhibits on display at the museum is the collection of de Havilland bushplanes. The company made several models, such as the Moth, but none attained the legendary status of the Beaver. The centre's Beaver CF-OBS was the first Beaver off the production line, and became the first one to go into service with the Ontario Provincial Air Service on April 26, 1948.
The de Havilland company often named their planes after Canadian animals, and the Beaver lived up to its name as a hard worker. It flew with floats, wheels, or skis, and...
The war was over—Japan had surrendered. The third plutonium core created by the United States, which scientists at Los Alamos National Lab had been preparing for another attack, was no longer needed as a weapon. For the moment, the lab’s nuclear scientists were allowed to keep the sphere, an alloy of plutonium and gallium that would become known as the demon core.
In a nuclear explosion, a bomb’s radioactive core goes critical: A nuclear chain reaction starts and continues with no additional intervention. When nuclear material goes supercritical, that reaction speeds up. American scientists knew enough about the radioactive materials they were working with to be able to set off these reactions in a bomb, but they wanted a better understanding of the edge where subcritical material tipped into the dangerous, intensely radioactive critical state.
One way to push the core towards criticality involved turning the neutrons it shed back onto the core, to destabilize it further. The “Critical Assembly Group” at Los Alamos was working on a series of experiments in which they surrounded the core with materials that reflected neutrons and monitored the core’s state.
This small town single-screen cinema is a nostalgic reminder of the importance of movie theaters before the days of television. Amazingly, the theater has managed to survive within the era of multi-screen complexes.
Even more incredible is that throughout its life it has been continually used for its original purpose. Most historic cinemas in Britain have had at least some period of either dereliction or alternative use, with many having been converted into bingo halls.
The authentic exterior boasts a beautiful period frontage complete with touches of Art Nouveau and Classical elements. Its inside nearly rivals the impressive facade. Three quarters of the rows of seats are original (people often complain they’re uncomfortable, but there is good legroom) and there’s evidence of the old gas lighting system at the rear of the interior. The restored interior decoration is as near to the original as one could hope. The modern sound system is also great.
Seeing a movie here is a real experience. If you’re lucky enough to find a screening of a classic movie then the experience is even better. For some, it’s a dose of pure nostalgia. For a younger crowd, it’s like looking back in time.
The Scala's claim to be the second oldest functioning cinema in England does not, however, seem to be correct as there are several in the country which date back to 1909.
On April 22, 2018, the Sistine Chapel streamed a concert online for the first time in history.
The Sistine Chapel is most famous as a visual experience. Visitors crane their necks to see Michelangelo's frescoes, which depict various biblical scenes and and cascade over the walls and ceiling. But over the years, the chapel has also hosted a variety of musical acts, from the in-house Sistine Chapel Choir to U2's guitarist The Edge.
For this milestone—which was arranged by the digital radio station Classic FM—the choral group The Sixteen and the string section of the Britten Sinfonia performed an hour-long work called "Stabat Mater," by Sir James MacMillan. (The work is, fittingly, an old piece made new: It's based on a 13th-century hymn, and MacMillan's version premiered in 2015.)
"These great sacred places always have something special about the acoustics," the conductor Harry Christophers told Agence France-Presse. While some of this specialness may have rubbed off during the various conversions and compressions inherent in the streaming process, this did not deter far-off audiences, who flocked to the stream by the tens of thousands.
Indeed, so many people tried to tune in that many were greeted by an unholy site—an endless buffering wheel. During the first few minutes of the show, the comment section was a cascade of check-ins: "Not working in Derry, Ireland." "Not loading in Maine,...
When Iain Cameron, a snow-obsessed Scot, picks his way across the Highlands in July or August, he’s often wearing shorts and a t-shirt. That’s all well and good when he’s tromping through emerald mosses, sprawling lichens, and stubby grasses. It starts to feel a little strange when he approaches patches of lingering snow, and stranger still when he strolls right into a snow tunnel and finds himself standing beneath scalloped ceilings about 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding landscape.
Compared to some of the world's soaring mountain ranges, Cameron says, Scotland's are "no more than bumps, really." The highest peak, on Ben Nevis, tops out around 4,400 feet—just high enough for semi-perennial patches of snow to persist from one year to the next. When enough snow has collected during the winter—and especially if it gathers high on Ben Nevis or in the Cairngorms range, and near water—conditions can be ideal for this fleeting frozen topography.
“As spring gets warmer and the ground starts to thaw, the water will move, and a trickle will burrow a hole through the snow,” Cameron says. As the warm air blows through this channel, also called a randkluft, it bores a tunnel that sometimes grows wider and wider until it’s large enough to walk through. Depending on how deep the snow cover was, the tunnel might be 15-20 feet high and traversable for...
Inside jokes can be like mementos among friends. They can last a lifetime, or, in the case of Francesca Berrini and Lindsey Rickert—the recipients of “The Fellowship of Highway 95”—they can elevate a donkey to mythical status.
The second day of the Fellowship, a week-long artistic journey from Las Vegas to Reno up Nevada’s "Free-Range Art Highway" organized by Atlas Obscura and TravelNevada, began at the Atomic Inn in Beatty with a top-of-the-morning bray. Hearing a suspicious rustle outside of their hotel room, Berrini and Rickert clambered outside to check on their camper van. They were greeted by “a sweet-faced burro from the hills,” as Berrini wrote in her travel journal that evening.
Breaking the golden rule of inside jokes, the two immortalized the donkey in the photo collage above, titled My New Friend, which introduces the unofficial mascot of their trip to the world.
The mysterious purple splotches that lend the image its aged look were the result of an experimental development process. Days after she met the donkey, Rickert dipped a film strip featuring Walker Lake into its own waters and stored the specimen for weeks. The snippets of text appeared in a book purchased the next day in Tonopah. Overall, the piece incorporates elements that span the entire course of the artists' journey.
Having bonded over their...
At Atlas Obscura, we're always trying to fill our growing database of hidden wonders with surprising, fascinating, and amazing places from all over the globe, and there are certain destinations where we especially need the help of our explorer community. One of the locations we want to know more about is Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Once known as the “Oil Capital of the World” thanks to its historical role in the oil industry, Tulsa is also filled with undiscovered corners and local wonders. For instance, the city is home to a pair of giant praying hands, courtesy of Oral Roberts University. There’s also the “Center of the Universe” in downtown Tulsa, a strange acoustic anomaly that acts as a public echo chamber. We're certain there are many more incredible places and experiences to be had in Tulsa, and we need your help to tell their stories!
Are you a Tulsa local, or a frequent visitor? Do you know of a little-known museum, an odd monument, or an amazing, hidden place in Tulsa that's not already included in our Atlas? Have you had an incredible or unusual experience in Tulsa that more people should know about? Fill out the form below, and thanks in advance for helping us explore Tulsa.Loading...
The mention of a maraschino cherry usually conjures up one of two images: Either a bright red bead atop a scoop of ice cream, or a dark, liqueur-preserved globule submerged in a cocktail. There’s no confusing one of these cherries for the other, though. Each represents a distinctive food culture, a unique preservation method, and even a different plant species. Yet consumers and manufacturers alike refer to them both as maraschino cherries.
The story of how two wildly different fruits became known by the same name begins with the maraschino cherry’s Croatian roots. The craftspeople in Croatia’s Dalmatia region first began preserving their cherries in liqueur roughly two or three centuries ago. According to Christopher J. Jolly’s Science, Service, and Specialized Agriculture: The Re-Invention of the Maraschino Cherry, major historical sources agree that its birthplace was the town of Zadar. Here, in this ancient city on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, locals enjoyed access to traditional maraschino cherries’ key ingredients: The dark cherry Prunus cerasus var. marasca—which they brined in seawater—and the clear maraschino liqueur derived from its fermentation.
The Girolamo Luxardo company, founded in Zadar in 1821, is the best-known maker of both maraschino liqueur and maraschino cherries. The First and Second World Wars forced many Croatian farmers to relocate to Italy—so Luxardo has operated as an Italian company since 1945. There, those with a sweet tooth...
Located a stone's throw (or rifle shot) away from Playa Girón, one of the beaches within the Bay of Pigs, Museo Girón houses exhibits and artifacts related to the infamously fruitless American-led invasion of Cuba. The items inside the small, two-room building detail the history of what’s been touted as the first defeat of U.S. imperialism in Latin America.
In April 1961, at the height of the Cold War, about 1,400 exiled Cubans landed in Cuba with the goal of overthrowing Fidel Castro. The operation was planned by the Central Intelligence Agency, which opposed Castro’s communist policies and ties with the Soviet Union.
The invasion failed. About 100 of the invading troops were killed, and the majority of the survivors were taken prisoner and later returned to the United States. More than 170 members of the Cuban Armed Forces were killed and more than 500 were wounded during the battles.
This museum includes exhibits detailing the invasion and counter-attack, the types of weapons used, how the Cuban troops lived and trained, details of the Cuban troops who were killed, the impact on civilians, and how American prisoners-of-war were treated. There’s also a poignant mural dedicated to the victims and displays of their personal items and a short film about the invasion. Tanks and aircraft used...
The building at 16 Lexington Ave looks like a lot of other Cambridge, Massachusetts houses. It's a two-unit home, with a peaked roof and a wide front porch. In the early 1970s, though, the building served a different purpose: It was the headquarters for a militant feminist group called Cell 16. Issues of their journal, No More Fun and Games, poured out of the front door and into mailboxes nationwide. The house even hosted the group's martial arts studio.
It wasn't just them. In the 1970s, Cambridge, Boston, and their environs were filled with countercultural hotspots. Wander a few blocks from Cell 16's former home base, and you'll find a whole cluster of former utopian hubs: a youth counseling center, a draft information office, the home base of a commune that wanted to buy out the whole neighborhood, and the headquarters of the Citizens League Against the Sonic Boom.
All these radical places—and many more—live again in a series of zines called Mapping Out Utopia. Created by Somerville librarian Tim Devin, the series catalogs and situates hundreds of alternative schools, clinics, businesses, and organizations in the Boston area. Some, like all of the ones mentioned above, are long defunct. Others are still thriving. All fall under the umbrella of what Devin sums up as "counterculture:" groups that were trying to change the world by changing their own daily lives.