Atlas Obscura

Discover the world's strange and wondrous side. Tag us or use #atlasobscura for a chance to be featured!

From our friends at @HISTORY : In 1982, Elvis’ Graceland opened to the public. The mansion was originally built in 1939, and remains the centerpiece of the estate, although it has been considerably refurbished and embellished over the decades. Perhaps the crowning jewel of Graceland’s quirk is the Jungle Room. Elvis added his tropical man cave to his mansion in the mid-’60s. Its jungle atmosphere came complete with a built-in rock waterfall and green shag carpet, and he furnished it with ferns and lacquered wood furniture. It was the ultimate at-home tiki bar. The Jungle Room also became the King’s final recording studio, where he recorded much of his last two albums.
Superman ice cream is comically bright, but this specialty of the Midwestern United States isn’t just dyed to mimic superhero garb: It’s three flavors in one, and two are as regionally specific as the tricolor treat itself. Stroh’s Brewery, in Detroit, is often credited with developing the original Superman blend. Why was a brewery producing ice cream? It was the 1920s, and the company had to branch into legal fare after Prohibition banned their usual business. Their version included three flavors: lemon, Red Pop (based on a local strawberry soda), and Blue Moon. The exact makeup of the latter flavor is a lingering Midwestern mystery. 📸: Photo regrammed from @naomi_marie
As this once-proud mental health facility ages and succumbs to demolition, new plans rise in its wake. But much of the history that belonged with the ruins is being lost. Worcester State Hospital is an abandoned mental hospital off of Route 9 in Worcester, Massachusetts. In the 1870s, Worcester State Hospital was a campus of buildings, but now only two of those buildings remain, including the distinctive clock tower. As of August 2012, ongoing remodeling and construction projects were underway all around the hospital. A new mental health facility is being constructed just behind the abandoned clock tower, and the clock tower itself was being deconstructed. 📸: Photo by Atlas Obscura user PhotoSarah
The man who goes by The Prophet Isaiah migrated to the United States by way of Canada after having been born in Jamaica. While working as a contractor on Mt Erie Baptist Church, he claims to have heard the voice of God, and found his hands and tools began to create shapes and designs in the wood for which he couldn’t account. Around 2007 he began to build and design an ornate front to his home in Niagara Falls, New York and has been working tirelessly ever since. 📸: Photo regrammed from intrepid explorer @barkwoof.
Once the tallest building in all of early Melbourne, Coop’s Shot Tower was soon eclipsed by gargantuan skyscrapers and other modern urban behemoths. But rather than being torn down in the name of progress, a giant cone was built over the historic bullet factory to keep it safe. It was opened in 1888, and during its heyday it produced over six tons of shot per week. Luckily, the need for so much fire power dwindled over the years and the site diversified into other metal works. 📸: Photo by Wikipedia user Canley
From our friends at @HISTORY : In 1859 the famous tower clock known as Big Ben rang out over the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London for the first time. The name “Big Ben” originally just applied to the bell but later came to refer to the clock itself. Two main stories exist about how Big Ben got its name. Many claim it was named after the famously long-winded Sir Benjamin Hall, the London commissioner of works at the time it was built. Another famous story argues that the bell was named for the popular heavyweight boxer Benjamin Caunt, because it was the largest of its kind. Even after an incendiary bomb destroyed the chamber of the House of Commons during the Second World War, St. Stephen’s Tower survived, and Big Ben continued to function. Its famously accurate timekeeping is regulated by a stack of coins placed on the clock’s huge pendulum, ensuring a steady movement of the clock hands at all times. The tower is currently undergoing renovation, and the next four years will mean a happening not seen in London since WWI-the bell will not ring.
The cliffs of Armenia’s Garni Gorge are beautiful, consisting mainly of well preserved basalt columns that are so perfectly octagonal they look almost man-made. If it looks familiar, you’re probably thinking of the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland - just upside down! 📸: Photo regrammed from intrepid explorer
Confectioners can now create naturally pink chocolate. Following Nestle’s debut of white chocolate, ruby is the first new shade to hit the market in 80 years. Scientists in Belgium and France discovered a way to draw pink chemical compounds from red cocoa beans found in Ecuador, Brazil, and the Ivory Coast. It’s naturally pigmented and flavored—so think less Unicorn Frappuccino, more butterfly pea flower cocktails. 📸: Regrammed from @nathalieareco
The leaning tower of Tbilisi is one of the city’s most unusual buildings, attached to the puppet theatre of renowned puppeteer Rezo Gabriadze. Gabriadze built the theatre himself over a timespan of thirty years, reusing old pieces from abandoned structures of the old town, and from buildings destroyed following a major earthquake. The leaning clock tower was added in 2011. On the hour, a window opens at the small balcony at the top, and a mannequin of an angel strikes the bell. Below the clock, a screen opens and shows the circle of life: boy meets girl, marriage, childbirth and funeral. 📸: Photo regrammed from intrepid explorer @timdavhen.
Under normal circumstances, transportation infrastructure isn’t the sexiest component of the modern world. But there’s something unearthly about symmetry surfacing in mundane places. Take, for instance, this highway interchange in one of America’s most maligned states. It would seem a team of Florida’s engineers took the most graceful approach possible to designing the interchange at I-295 and State Route 202. It’s sometimes referred to as a “whirlpool” or “wash basin” interchange. Where do you find beauty in unexpected places? 📸: Photo from Google Maps
What’s your most peaceful travel memory? When you think of a place in the world that calms you, where do you think of? We love this moody shot of Austria’s Hintertuxer Gletscher, taken by @alexradsby. Just looking at it feels like a slow day of wandering empty mountain paths.
The Dutch call Indonesian lapis legit “bacon cake.” In English, the sweet goes by “thousand-layer cake.” Though both names are hyperbolic, they are a testament to this treat’s decadence. The Indonesian-Dutch fusion dessert features 18 to 30 individually baked layers of spiced butter, sugar, and egg yolk. 📸: Regrammed from @pomme28sg
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