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The Underwater Restaurant of the Red Sea

The world’s first underwater restaurant and bar, the Red Sea Star Restaurant is still one of the most amazing places on Earth.

Located in Eliat, Israel’s southernmost city, the Red Sea Star was built in 1998, in an area that had become very dirty and polluted, due to illegal human activities. Designing and planning the underwater structure lasted 4 years, during which time, a coral nursery was created, to revive the beautiful underwater life that was once present in the area. The actual building lasted another 4 years.

Submerged six meters under the Red Sea, this underwater restaurant, bar and observatory features a marine-themed interior design and a large number of windows that allow visitors to check out the underwater paradise that surrounds them. The Red Sea Star is the world’s only night-time underwater observatory, using a soft light (specific colors and wave lengths) to reveal the natural habitat, without disturbing it.

Red-Sea-Star-Restaurant

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The Phallic Monuments of Love Valley

The appropriately-named Love Valley is a part of Cappadocia that features some rather excited exciting natural structures.

Before you ask, no this is not where the annual Phallic Festival is celebrated, it’s one of Turkey’s most interesting tourist destinations. Apart from its breathtaking beauty and one of the best trekking places in Asia, Love Valley is famous for hosting a relatively large number of literally rock hard…willies. That’s right, the eroded volcanic ash monuments resemble phalli proudly reaching for the sky.

Like the inspired dude who post this story on Neatorama said: “If God created Love Valley, he most likely did it when he was a school boy.” Brilliant!

via Trifter

Love-Valley

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Unique Swiss Ice-Palace Is a Winter Wonderland

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Switzerland, the open air Ice-Palace features an impressive collection of castles, towers and grottoes made of ice.

The Ice Palace (Eispaläste) is located in the middle of a forest, near Black Lake, in western Switzerland. Designed by Karl Neuhaus, a talented ice sculptor, the Ice Palace celebrates its 23rd exhibition. The cold climate in the Freibourg area can only sustain this frozen masterpiece for around three months, from Christmas until early March.

The best time to visit the Swiss Ice Palace is after sundown, when all the structures and sculptures are illuminated with colorful lights. It’s a truly memorable sights that attracts thousands of tourists every year.

Freibourg-Ice-Palace

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The Grotto of the Redemption

The Grotto of the Redemption is an excellent example of what man can achieve with faith and hard work.

Paul Dobberstein was a German immigrant ordained as a priest in 1897. At some point he fell critically  ill with pneumonia and vowed he would dedicate his life to building a shrine to The Virgin Mary, if she would save his life. Father Dobberstein survived and soon after his recovery began gathering piles of rocks for his mission. His search for materials lasted 14 years.

Construction of the Grotto of the Redemption, in West Bend, Iowa,  began in 1912. Foundations were poured, stone slabs were set into place, all in the name of The Holy Virgin. Father Dobberson was actively involved in the building process and many times his hands would crack and bleed from all the cement. He would say “there isn’t any redemption without a little blood”.

Though West Bend isn’t the best place to look for crystals and semi-precious stones, Paul Dobberstein traveled to Hot Springs, Black Hills and Carlsbad Caverns and managed to gather truckloads of materials for his Grotto of the Redemption. The redeeming priest worked on expanding and improving the grotto until he died, in 1954, at the end of a long day’s work.

At the time of Dobberstein’s death, the Grotto of the Redemption was the size of a city block and is still expanding today. The crystals, semi-precious stones and petrified wood used to decorate the structures of the grotto are said to be worth over $4,300,000.

Considered “the world’s most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells and petrifications in one place”, the Grotto of the Redemption welcomes over 100,000 visitors every year. It reminds me a lot of the Ideal Palace.

Grotto-of-the-redemption

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Japan’s Famous Wine Spa Reopened

Located in Kowakien Yunessun, the biggest, most popular spa center in Japan, the outdoor has opened its gates once again.

Hundreds of gallons of Beaujolais Nouveau, the most popular wine in Japan, are used during the 12 day period the wine spa welcomes its guests. Four the last four years, Japanese wine lovers have had the opportunity to drink and bathe in the liquor they love so much, at the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun.

The red pool is constantly fed wine through the wine-bottle-shaped spring, while a sommelier stands by to fill up the glasses of those craving some more Beaujolais Nouveau.

Apart from a wine pool, the spa center also features a sake spa, green tea spa and coffee spa, where clients can bathe in the drinks mentioned.

wine-spa

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Mexico’s Island of the Dolls Is Beyond Creepy

Known as “La Isla de la Munecas”, by the Spanish, The Island of the Dolls is perhaps the creepiest tourist attraction in Mexico. Located within an extensive network of canals, south of Mexico City, the island is a place of mystery and superstition.

Almost every tree growing on the island is decorated with old, mutilated dolls that give anyone the feeling that they’re constantly being watched. The story behind the Island of the Dolls began when a hermit by the name of Don Julian Santana moved here. Although he was married he chose to live the last 50 years of his life alone.

Don Julian used to say he was haunted by the ghost of the little girl who had drowned in one of the canals around the island. Some say he used to fish the dolls from the water because he though they were real children, but the truth is he was collecting and placing them around his home as a shrine for the spirit that tormented him. At one point he even traded home grown fruit and vegetables for old dolls.

Ironically, in 2001 Don Julian Santana was found dead by his nephew, in the same canal that he said the little girl drowned in. Now his Island of the Dolls is one of the world’s weirdest tourist attractions. Some tourists who visited this place claim the dolls whisper and you must offer them a gift upon setting foot on the island, to appease their spirits.

via Bizarre

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Witches’ Well – An Estonian Oddity

Located in Tuhala, northern Estonia, Witches’ Well has fascinated locals and tourists for thousands of years.

Founded around 3,000 years ago, Tuhala host one f the most unique natural phenomena in the world, Witches’ Well. Most of the time the 2.5 meters deep well looks totally normal, but after heavy rains it starts spouting up water and floods the entire area. The local population have been blaming this strange occurrence on witches.  It’s said they gather in a sauna below the ground and beat each other with birch branches causing a commotion on the surface.

Scientists say the bizarre phenomenon occurs when the underground Tuhala River can’t handle the volume of water gathered from rainfalls, but the people of Tuhala don’t want an explanation, they like living in a world surrounded by magic. There are some who claim to have seen burning demons flying over their town, while others still believe in the Estonian God Taara.

Whether you choose to believe that witches are behind the flooding of Witches’ Well, or you believe it’s nothing more than a perfectly explainable natural phenomenon, Witches’ Well remains a must-see attraction of Estonia.

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Berkeley Pit – A Toxic Tourist Attraction

That’s right, Berkeley Pit is one of the few places in the world where you have to pay to look at a giant pool of toxic waste.

Located in Butte, Montana, Berkeley Pit is a former open-pit copper mind turned weird tourist attraction. It’s one mile long over half a mile wide and 1780 feet deep, 900 of which are full of extremely toxic water. On the surface, the poison looks a lot like blood and is so saturated with copper, miners were able to harvest the metal directly from the water. From 13 million gallons of water, 400,000 pounds of copper were produced.

The acidic water includes chemicals like arsenic, cadmium, zinc or sulfuric acid and, if you were to drink some, it would corrode through your digestive system before getting a chance to poison you. In 1995 a flock of migrating geese landed on Berkeley Pit and never took flight again. A total of 342 carcasses were recovered. Since the incident a bird watch program was implemented.

But, interestingly enough, good things can come out of toxic waste. Scientists have discovered new types of bacteria that have adapted to the harsh conditions of Berkeley Pit, by producing highly toxic compounds that improve survivability. These chemicals have proven very resilient to cancer and further research is currently ongoing.

Berkeley-Pit

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The Ideal Palace

Le Palais Ideal is one of the most popular examples of naive art architecture, built by Ferdinand Cheval, a French Postman, over a period of 33 years.

Cheval began building his Ideal Palace in April 1879. While he was on the job, the postman tripped over a stone and was impressed by its unusual shape. Inspired by the stone, he returned the following day and started gathering more rocks and putting them in his pockets. Over time he began carrying them in baskets and then, in a wheelbarrow.

With no architectural skills whatsoever, Ferdinand Cheval managed to build his Ideal Palace, combining several styles and using the Bible and Hingu mythology as inspiration. He spent 20 years on the outer walls alone, binding the stones together with lime, mortar and cement and decorating them with all sorts of chapel and temple models.

Cheval wanted to be buried in his Palais Ideal, but French law didn’t allow it. So he spent the last years of his life building himself an intricate mausoleum, in the cemetery of Hauterives. His palace was recognized as a masterpiece and is now a cultural landmark and one of France’s popular tourist attractions.

palais-ideal

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The Marble Caves of Rio Tranquilo

Located in the Coyhaique province, Chile, the Marble Caves are some of the most impressive attractions of Patagonia.

Las Cavernas de Marmol, as the Spanish call them were created by the clear waters of Rio Tranquilo that dug into a giant limestone peninsula, creating an impressive labyrinth of caves. The peninsula is known as the Marble Cathedral and can be reached by boat, during a guided tour.

Marble-Caves

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Blue building of Rotterdam

I guess the Dutch have a thing for colorful infrastructure, because the famous Yellow Brick Road is also found in Holland.

This blue building is set in the Delfshaven district, in Rotterdam and it used to be one of the towns least interesting buildings and one of the most unnoticed by the public. The administration asked an artistic firm to freshen the place up, or it would be demolished. They chose to paint the place blue and the deal with the neighborhood is that it will stay this way until the community comes up with a new plan for the area.

Funniest thing is the blue building has become the most photographed building in Rotterdam. That’s how important 2 layers of paint can be.

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World’s largest swimming pool

I have to say that after seeing these pics, I’ve decided I’d love to visit this place as much as I’d love to visit Devil’s Pool, at Victoria Falls, in Zimbabwe. It’s just one of those sights that simply takes your breath away.

This man-made wonder is 1013 meters long covers 80 acres, its deepest end reaches 115ft and it holds 66 million gallons of water. If you want to take a dip in the world’s largest swimming pool you’ll have to travel to San Alfonso del Mar in Algarrobo, Chile, where a computer-controlled suction and filtration system continuously pumps water from the ocean, keeping crystal clear.

Although it wasn’t cheap, costing around $2 billion to build and another $4 million/year for maintenance, the pool seems to be worth it as it has been attracting huge crowds of curious tourists, since it opened in December.

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Morning Glory Pool

Set in Yellowstone National Park in the US, Morning Glory Pool is one of our planet’s many natural wonders. It is one of the park’s many hot springs and it was named in 1880, due to its resemblance to the well-known flower. The pool used to be completely blue, but human kind had to screw things up, as it always does, and because of the debris that’s been thrown in along the years, part of the vent has been clogged. That caused the temperature of the water to decrease, allowing bacteria to settle in, and that’s how the yellow fringe was formed. I’m not saying it’s less beautiful now but, in recent years the bacteria has started moving more and more towards the center of the pool and if the vandalism doesn’t stop, we might soon admire Morning Glory Pool only in photos…

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Miguel Hermoso Cuesta/Wikimedia Commons

 

Jellyfish lake

Before you go laying the “this is photoshoped” line on me, do a little search on the web and convince yourself it is real. It’s actually one of the most well-known diving places in the world, set in Palau. Actually if any of you watched Survivor Palau, you might remember this as one of the sights.

Jellyfish Lake was once connected to the waters of the Pacific ocean, but is now completely isolated. The large population of jellyfish living here was believed to be missing those stinging cells, also known as nemastocysts, but it turns out they do have them, only they’re really tiny. That’s why it’s perfectly ok for people to swim so close to the jellyfish, our tissue doesn’t feel the sting.

This is definitely one of the “must-go before I die” places, right up there with Devil’s Pool and Morning Glory Pool!

Photo: tata_aka_T/Flickr

Photo: Shinji/Flickr

 

Karni Mata, the temple of rats

The Karni Mata Hindu temple was built by Maharajah Ganga Singh in the early 1900s as a tribute to the rat goddess, Karni Mata and the most intriguing aspect of it, is that it’s home for over 20.000 worshiped rats.

The legend behind this temple is that Karni Mata, a matriarch from the 14th century was a reincarnation of Durga, the goddess of power and victory. at one point one of her clansmen’s child died and she tried to bring it back to life only to be told by Yama, the god of death that he had already reincarnated as a rat. Karni Mata struck a deal with Tama, that all her dead clansmen would reincarnate as rats, until they were ready to be born again into the tribe.

It’s a nice story but I can’t stop thinking about how that place must smell…

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