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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.

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KidZania – Career-Building Theme Park for Kids

KidZania is a chain of theme-parks where children can decide what they want to be when they grow up, by actually doing the job.

Do you remember, as a kid, when someone asked you “what do you want to be when you grow up”? And you would say things like astronaut, fireman, doctor without actually knowing what those jobs actually implied. Well, at KidZania, children have the opportunity to experience all kinds of jobs and decide if they really like them.

Luis Javier Laresgoiti, a true theme-park innovator, was the one who came up with the concept of Kidzania and was further developed by Xavier López Ancona, a Mexican entrepreneur. The first career-building theme park was opened in 1999, in Mexico City and there are now 6 Kidzania parks around the world (Tokyo, Monterrey, Jakarta, Koshien and Lisbon).

At Kidzania, children can try popular jobs like firefighting, driving planes, being a doctor, as well as well as being a mechanic or flipping burgers at a diner. The point is for kids to have fun and learn the value of money and work, at a young age. Parents are allowed to watch the kids as they perform the jobs, but they are not allowed to help them.

At the end of the day, the young workers are paid in KidZos (official currency of KidZania).

Photos by GETTY IMAGES via Telegraph.co.uk

KidZania

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Lena’s Stone Forest

One of the most beautiful natural wonders of Russia, Lena’s Stone Forest is also one of the most difficult to reach, by tourists.

Known also as Lena’s Stone Pillars, this incredible rock formation is not only beautiful to look at, it’s also holds important information on the formation of the organic world. Fossils from various organisms dating back to the Cambrian era could supply invaluable insight on life evolved on planet Earth.

Lena’s Stone Forest offers tourists a unique sight. Colossal stone statues rise up from the earth and pierce the sky, like giants frozen in time. The pillars are grouped together and stretch for tens of kilometers, along the river banks.

Unfortunately reaching this wondrous place is no easy feat. It lies in a part of Siberia not yet touched by civilization and it will take you roughly four days to reach it, from Moscow. After a long flight, you’ll encounter armed locals more than glad to take you to Lena’s Stone Pillars, in their boats, for a “small” $500 fee. The boat ride lasts about 3 days, but once/if you reach your destination, it will all have been worth it.

via English Russia

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Hotel Made Out of 200,000 Plastic Key Cards

The Holiday Inn Key Card Hotel was built by card-stacking master Bryan Berg, from 200,000 discarded hotel key cards.

To mark the relaunch of their hotel chain, numbering 1,200 establishments, Holiday Inn inaugurated the world’s first key card hotel, in Manhattan, New York. It’s made up of a guestroom, bathroom and lobby, featuring life size furniture made-out of key cards.

Bryan Berg, who built his first record-breaking house of cards when he was only 17, back in 1992, said this was his toughest challenge yet, because he has never created human scale structures before. The Key Card Hotel was opened on September 17 and will be in business until September 21. During the five day event, Bryan Berg will build a replica of the Empire State Building, inside the lobby of the strange hotel.

via Daily Mail and Xinhua

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A Preview of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Theme Park

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a theme park based on JK Rowling’s best selling series, Harry Potter, due to open in the spring of 2010, at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure resort, in Orlando.

Artists have drawn artworks to show the world a small preview of the magical theme park. Let’s have a look at what we’ll be able to experience in the world of Harry Potter:

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Caveland – A Perfect Home Built in a Cave

Believe it or not, there are people out there who still live in caves and the weirdest part of it is, they actually enjoy it.

Curt Sleeper and his entire family have been living inside the cave they’ve appropriately named Caveland, for the last five years. Their unusual story begins back in December 2003, when Curt was searching for a commercial property on eBay and he stumbled across a cave, in the Fetus/Crystal City area, Missouri. I guess it’s true what they say, you can find anything on eBay.

Curt visited the property and fell in love with it on the spot. Where most others may see just an inhospitable environment, he saw a perfect home for his family, so he started working on it right away. The Sleepers used all their savings and inheritance money to build a comfortable house and the result is simply mind-blowing, as you can see in the pics below.

There have been some rough bumps for the sleepers, but the toughest time was at the beginning of 2009, when, due to the economic crisis, they couldn’t refinance their mortgage. Since banks weren’t interested in appraising an odd cave house, Caveland had to be put on sale on eBay, for $300,000. Fortunately, the Sleepers managed to find some long-term financing and they are still living in their unusual home.

via Caveland

Caveland

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The Seven-Color Earths of Chamarel

The strange formation known as the Colored Earths is located near the village of Chamarel, in southwest Mauritius. The exposed hills form seven different color patterns: red brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow.

Promoted as the most beautiful attraction of Mauritius, during the 1960s, the Colored Earths are still one of the most popular destinations on the island. This unusual geological wonder was formed when volcanic rock cooled at different temperatures, in multicolored layers. Rains have shaped the rock into small hills that look like dunes of sand and, the first time you look at them, it will seem like the colors are actually just shadows. But after taking a closer look you’ll realize the seven colors are very real.

But this unusual coloring of the hills at Chamarel isn’t their only bizarre trait. Geologists have been fascinated with the Colored Earths ever since they were first discovered, but haven’t yet been able to explain why they never erode in spite of being  exposed to harsh elements and torrential rains.

The Colored Earths of Chamarel also have the unique property of settling into layers. If you take a handful of each of the seven-colored sands and mix them together, they will eventually separate into seven different colored layers.

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The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta

Most cemeteries around the world are quiet, solemn places where colors, jokes or smiles aren’t seen very often. But the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta, in Romania is probably the most bizarre cemetery on Earth, where many people come to enjoy themselves.

Located in the small village of Sapanta, in northern Romania, the Merry Cemetery is one of the country’s most popular destinations. Tourists from all over the world come to this place to see over 800 colorful oak crosses, covered with paintings that depict scenes from the life of each person buried there. Some even have funny lyrics about the way they lived their lives.

In most cultures death is serious business, but at Sapanta it’s reason for laughter and celebration. The origin of this belief can be traced back to the ancient Dacians, who believed they were immortal and death was nothing more than a passing stage to a better life.

The first cross in the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta was painted in 1935, by its founder, Stan Ioan Patras. Since 1960, over 800 wooden masterpieces were added, transforming the cemetery into an outdoor art museum.

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The Blue Cave of Croatia

Located on the Croatian Island of Bisevo, the Blue Cave is one f the most spectacular caves in the world.

Croatian fishermen have known about the existence of the Blue Cave for a long time, but it has been revealed to the rest of the world in 1884, when a small entrance was blown-up in the side of one of its walls.Before this happened, the only way to access the cave was to dive underneath its wall.

The best time to visit the Blue Cave of Bisevo is on a sunny day, between 11 am and 12 pm, when the sun rays penetrate the water and reflect off the limestone bottom of the cave, filling it with an incredibly beautiful blue light. It’s a truly unique experience that makes visiting the Blue Cave totally worth it.

via Atlas Obscura

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Paradise is moving to Dubai

If you haven’t started saving up for a house on the Palm Paradise of Dubai, you’d better start soon the construction will be done soon. Progress is significant according to these pics, with several houses actually finished and ready to welcome their owners. Just imagine walking out of one of those beauties and plunging into the clear blue waters…must be heaven on Earth!

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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…

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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!

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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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The Icehotel

Situated in the village of Jukkasjärvi, 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, in Sweeden, the Icehotel is one of the most fantastic tourist locations on the face of the Earth. Using pure, clear ice from the frozen Torne River, artists from all around the world come to Jukkasjärvi every year, to sculpt beautiful ice and snow structures. We are not aware of how spicy the prices are ( you can check here) but we’re sure it’s a unique experience that’s gotta be worth every penny!

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