We’ve all heard of the seven wonders of the Ancient World, like the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. There is even a more modern list
We’ve all heard of the seven wonders of the Ancient World, like the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. There is even a more modern list of wonders that include the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Cali and the Empire State Building in New York. But what about the hidden wonders that don’t get the same amount of coverage as their more famous counterparts. In this article, we look at some of the hidden gems from around the world that more people need to know about, starting with:
The Hand of the Desert, Chile
Have you ever wondered if giants are real? While I’m not saying they are, seeing the 36-foot-tall Hand of the Desert is enough if make you question everything you know about folklore. This unnerving sculpture is about 46 miles south of the city of Antofagasta in Chile and invokes feelings of loneliness, seclusion and helplessness, which is precisely what sculptor Mario Irarrazabal set out to do.
The Temples of Humankind, Damanhur, Italy
One hundred feet underneath a modest, unassuming home in the northern Alps of Italy lies a vast, intricately decorated system of temples so impressive, the Italian government dubbed them the Eighth Wonder of the World after their discovery. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled upon the remains of a secret society, but in fact, these temples were built in 1979 by Oberto Airaudi, a former insurance broker and a team of like-minded volunteers, using nothing more than hammers and picks to dig out the stone from beneath his hillside home.
Although the temples were closed down by Italian authorities back in the 90s, control was eventually returned to the builders and you can now visit the site and enjoy the nine chambers filled with spectacular murals, mosaics, stained glass, carved columns and a hall of mirrors.
Tunnel of Love, Ukraine
This tunnel of greenery can be found between Klevan and the town of Orzhiv on the Kovel-Rivne rail line in Ukraine. The train line splits in two near Orzhiv, and one section goes to a secret military base. It’s said that this base is from the time of the Cold War, and thus trees were planted along the railroad tracks to hide its location. Today, this stretch of railway is called the Tunnel of Love, and it’s one of Ukraine’s most famous tourist attractions.
Die Rakotzbrück (Devil’s Bridge), Germany
Located in Kromlauer Park in eastern Germany is a 19th-century bridge, and its reflection in the water beneath it causes it to form a perfect circle. View it from anywhere, and you’ll see an excellent example of its accurate construction. Just remember, crossing the bridge is prohibited.
Goblin Valley, USA
Lying 216 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah, this valley is worth a visit for its eerie, goblin-shaped rock formations. Over the years, the soft sandstone has succumbed to wind and water erosion, leading to strange natural structures that wouldn’t look out of place on a Mars-scape. It’s almost enough to make you believe that you are on a different planet.
Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
Aptly named for the visions of hell that it invokes in all that view it, this natural gas crater in Darvaza, Turkmenistan has been burning for more than 50 years! No-one has an accurate guess as to when the gas will run out and the relentless fires will die down, so it’s worth checking out sooner rather than later. Just try not to stand too close, since it does get blisteringly hot.
Bone Church, Czech Republic
3,642 km away from the hellish visions of the Door to Hell is a similarly ghoulish yet fascinating spot to visit. The Sedlec Ossuary or the “Bone Church” in Kutna Hora is known for using human bones for all its decorations. Chandeliers, candelabras, garlands of skulls hanging from the naves, all made up from the calcinated remains of over 40,000 human skeletons. While it certainly looks creepy, it does attract over 200,000 visitors every year.
Palais Ideale, France
Another story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, the Palais Ideale was built in 20 years, starting in 1879 by a French mailman named Ferdinand Cheval, using hand tools and from pebbles, unique stones, cement, lime and mortar and filled with tiny sculptures. Cheval also built his own mausoleum nearby, which took him a further eight years to complete.
Les Machines de l’Ile, France
One of my personal favourite places to visit as a fan of steampunk culture, the Machines de l’Ile is an ode to the city of Nantes’ industrial heritage and is home to living machines like a massive automated elephant that can hold 49 passengers, a Marine Worlds Carousel, a walkable Heron Tree, and a number of other automated creepy crawlies. It’s a unique amalgamation of art, theatre, culture, and technology that needs to be seen to be believed.
So, there you have it folks, a look at some of the lesser-known marvels you can travel to and make amazing memories. Have you been to any already? Share your experiences in the comments.