The Mysterious Blood Falls

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One of the most amazing sights in Antarctica, the Blood Falls have been a mystery ever since they were discovered, in 1911.

A bloody column of water coming out of a glacier isn’t what you’d expect to see in the frozen land of Antarctica, but if you visit Taylor Glacier, that’s exactly what you’re going to find. At first, scientists thought they were dealing with some sorts of red algae, but further research proved the bloody color was caused by something spectacular.

It turns out a small lake was sealed under Taylor Glacier roughly 2 million years ago. Incredible, isn’t it?!? Actually no, what’s incredible is the glacier acted like a natural time capsule for the ancient microbes living in the lake. These invisible forms of life have survived without oxygen, light or heat and are considered to be the “primordial ooze” out which every living thing on Earth evolved.

The Blood Falls are proof life can be found in the most extreme environments, probably even on other planets, like Mars.

via Atlas Obscura

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The Incredible Hanging Temple of Hengshan

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Similar, in a way, to the Hanging Houses of Cuenca, the Hanging Temple of Hengshan is an amazing display of architecture.

The Hanging Temple of Hengshan literally hangs on the side of Hengshan Mountain, sustain by only a few wooden poles. You would think this kind of a building couldn’t for hundreds of years, but it is believed the temple was built during the late Northern Wei Dinasty (386-534AD), by a monk called Liao Ran. It was restored during the 1900s.

The gravity-defying Hanging Temple of Hengshan is comprised of 40 chambers, liked through a network of passageways, and hosts not one but three religions. Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism are all worshiped here, in harmony.

via Atlas Obscura (one of my favorite sites!)

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A Beautiful, Bug-Infested Ceiling

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Looking at it, Heaven of Delight looks like a beautiful painting, but in reality, it’s made out of one million six hundred thousand jewel-scarab wing cases.

In the 19th century, it was customary for the king of Belgium to give a space in the Royal Palace to contemporary artists. This tradition died with King Leopold II, in 1909. Fortunately, Queen Paola is an art enthusiast and decided to revive the custom by commissioning an artwork by artist Jan Fabre.

With the help of 29 young artists, Fabre created Heaven of Delight,  a fresco in the Hall of Mirrors, completely out of the glowing shells of jewel-scarabs. It contains various shapes that glow in a greenish-blue light, depending on the angle from which they are viewed.

Jewel-beetles are not a protected species so it was easy for Jan Favreau to gather them from countries like Thailand, where they are eaten as a delicacy, and use them for his Heaven of Delight. This masterpiece can be admired in the Royal Palace of Brussels

via Angelos

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The Hanging Houses of Cuenca

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Also known as “Casas Colgadas“, The Hanging Houses are the most popular attractions of Cuenca, Spain.

The history and exact origin of The Hanging Houses is unclear. Some believe they are of Muslim origin, while others say they are Medieval. Centuries ago, this kind of building was frequently seen throughout Cuenca, but nowadays only three “Casas Colgadas” remain, built in a cliff, above Huecar Gorge.

La Casa de la Sirena (House of the Mermaid) and the two Casas de Rey (Houses of Kings) were built somewhere between the 13th and 15th centuries and have been renovated in the 20th century. Now the houses host the Museum of Abstract Arts and a restaurant, but they remain the most photographed landmarks in Cuenca.

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Ball’s Pyramid – Mountain in the Ocean

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Located 20 km southeast of Lord Howe Island, in the Pacific Ocean, Ball’s Pyramid rises 562 meters above the waters.

Ball’s Pyramid is all that remains from a shield volcano that was formed 7 million years ago and is the tallest volcanic stack in the world. It was discovered in 1788, by Lieutenant Henry Ball, but no one was able to climb to its summit until 1965.  In 1982 climbing was banned and soon after all access to the island was restricted. Nowadays, the policy has changed and climbing is allowed, but only under strict conditions.

In 2001 researchers found a small population of Lord Howe Island stick insects, a species thought to have been eradicated by the black rats that were introduced on Howe Island. The 24 rare inhabitants found on Ball’s Pyramid are now being bred in captivity, in hopes of reviving the species.

Photos via Snegopad

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The Living Bridges of Cherrapunji

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It might sound like an exaggeration, but the root bridges of Cherrapunji are indeed alive. Unlike most parts of the world, these bridges are grown, not built.

Known as the wettest place on Earth, Cherrapunji is home to some of the most amazing plants. One of these is the Ficus elastica tree, a sort of rubber tree that grows a ind of secondary roots from higher up in the trunk. The War-Khasis, a local tribe, noticed this plant and realized its potential.

Using hollowed-out betel nut trunks, the tribesmen are able to direct the roots in whatever way they like. When the roots grow all the way across a river, they are allowed to return to the soil, and over time, a strong bridge is formed. It takes up to 10-15 years for a root bridge to develop, but it becomes stronger with each passing year and are known to last for centuries.

Boulders and stones are placed among the rubber tree roots for an easier crossing. The living root bridges of  Cherrapunji are incredibly sturdy, able to sustain more than fifty people at a time.

via rootbridges

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Milestii Mici – The Underground City of Wine

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Milestii Mici is a small settlement, located 20 km south of Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. It might not look like much , but it sits atop the greatest wine cellar in all of Europe.

Milestii Mici has become internationally famous for its impressive wine collection, known as the Golden Collection. It has been acknowledged by Guinness Book of Records as the biggest wine collection in Europe. The cellars of Milestii Mici hide approximately 2 million bottles of wine, of which 1,5 million are collection wines.

The cellar complex under Milestii Mici is also the biggest one in Europe, stretching over 250km. At this point only 120 km are in use, so there’s enough room for more wine. The most expensive bottle of wine in the cellars of Milestii Mici is worth 480 euros.

I can’t imagine how anyone can find their way around this giant catacombs, let alone a specific bottle of wine.

via Doo Doo

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The World’s Biggest Pipe Organ

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Surprisingly enough, the world’s largest organ isn’t located in a cathedral or a church, but in the center of Macy’s Center City Store, in Philadelphia.

The Wanamaker Grand Court Pipe Organ is the largest playable pipe organ in the world. Its console alone weighs 2.5 tons and the entire installation weighs 287 tons. It was bought by John Wanamaker in 1909 and installed in his store, but, unsatisfied with its size, the owner built an organ factory in the store’s attic, in order to enlarge the Grand Court Pipe Organ.

The Wanamaker Pipe Organ was played in 1911 for the first time and has been entertaining Philadelphia shoppers 2 times a day, Monday to Saturday and even more often during winter holidays.

This giant organ has 28, 482 pipes. 6 manual keyboards, 42 foot pedals and is able to deliver incredible sound power. The organist, Peter Richard Conte has 729 color-coded buttons to choose from, just when he wants a different rank of pipes to be played.

Photos by REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES SOCIETY BUSINESS ENTERTAINMENT)

via Drugoi

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Total Privacy at Clingstone

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This 103-years-old mansion in Rhode Island is built on a small, rocky island far away from any nosy neighbors. Just like this house, built close to Oslofjord Island, Norway, it offers total privacy.

Clingstone mansion was built in 1905, for a cost of roughly $36,000, by J.S. Lovering Wharton, a distant cousin of 79-year-old Henry Wood, the present owner of the house. He and his ex-wife bought it in 1961, for $3,600 and managed to bring it back to life after it had been abandoned for two decades.

Mr. Wood and his family found an ingenious way of preserving this 23-room architectural wonder: the Clingstone work weekend. Every year, around Memorial Day, the Wood family and up to 70 friends gather at Clingstone to clean the mansion and fix any of its problems. Practically, any volunteer workers are welcome.

In winter time the boats and floating dock are stored at the nearby Jamestown Boatyard, in exchange for a week’s stay at Clingstone, during the summer.

viabookofjoe

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Waldspirale – The Wooded Spiral of Darmstadt

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Located in Darmstadt, Germany, the Waldspirale apartment-building was designed by Austrian artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and built during the 1990s.

There are other apartment buildings in Darmstadt, but the U-shaped Waldspirale is special. Its diagonal roof is covered with grass, shrubs and trees and the facade follows an irregular grid organization.

Waldspirale has over 1,000 windows, but no two are the same. The handles on the apartment doors and the windows are also unique.

Waldspirale was completed in 2000 and people actually live in it.

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Weirdest Hotel in China?

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Personally I think it has a shot at the title of weirdest hotel in the world, but it’s definitely not the best looking one.

Located in Hebei province, China, the Tianzi Hotel was built sometime in the 2000-2001 period. It is a ten-story high representation of Fu Lu Shou (good fortune, prosperity and longevity) that apparently holds the Guinness World Record for the “biggest image building”…whatever that means.

You probably won’t find much more info about the Tianzi Hotel on English websites. Don’t know if it will help, but it’s also known as The Emperor Hotel and Son of Heaven Hotel.

via Killer Directory

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Mooning of the Amtrack Train

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On every second Saturday of July, people gather outside the Mugs Away Saloon, in Laguna Niguel, California, for the annual Mooning of the Amtrack.

Known also as the Mooning of the Train, this tradition dates back to 1979. Legend has it it all started when a rich person walked into the bar and promised free drinks to anyone with enough balls to show their naked behinds to the passing Amtrak train.

This year around 1,000 people attended the mooning and a great time doing so. there were no incidents, unlike last year, when many of the 8,000 mooners got intoxicated in public and the festivities had to be shut down.

The trains are mostly full when they pass by the Mugs Away Saloon and the conductors even slow down so the passengers can really enjoy the view.

via Hohota

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The Zipper Pond of Taiwan

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An artistically designed pond that looks like it could be zipped up at any time.

Designed by renowned Taiwanese sculptor Ju Chun, the Zipper Pond has become one of the most popular attractions at the Juming Museum, outside Taipei.  It does look absolutely amazing…I mean I’ve seen some beautiful ponds in my time, but a zipper pond? That’s special.

via Crooked Brains

photos by JT

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Bous a la Mar Festival, in Denia, Spain

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Spanish people really have a thing for bulls, don’t they. Bullfighting, the festival of Pamplona, they’re all centered around the bull.

During the Bous a la Mar Festival, in Denia, near the city of Alicante, people get chased by bulls through the streets and into the Mediterranean Sea. The brave participants plunge into the waters just before the bulls are about to catch them. The animals often fall into the sea as well, where they are taunted some more. Eventually, the bulls are caught with a lasso and towed back to shore by a boat.

via Telegraph.co.uk

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La Tomatina – Biggest Food Fight in Colombia

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What started as La Tomatina of Bunol, Spain, is now also a popular celebration in Sutamarchan, Colombia and even Dongguan, China.

On June 14, locals of Sutamarchan and many tourists gathered on an old football field to stage Colombia’s biggest food fight of the year. Around 15 tons of tomatoes were sacrificed in La Tomatina this year. The food fight, inspired by the much more famous Tomatina of Bunol, is part of a three day tomato celebration. A tomato-eating contest and a competition for the largest tomato, are also part of the celebration.

via Telegraph.co.uk

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