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Archive for the ‘Amazing’ Category

Stately in Abandonment: Witley Court

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During its heyday Witley Court was one of Europe’s most lavish Victorian estates. An iconic portico and timeless fountain – both penned by famed designers – are hallmarks of this West Midlands treasure. Nearly one hundred were on staff, and for centuries it served as a residence for British Lords who often entertained royalty.

However an early twentieth-century fire ravaged the building, and a prohibitive cost to rebuild forced the owners to abandon the home. It wasn’t until decades later the derelict building was rescued by a preservation commission, and today it stands as the grandest Victorian manor in arrested decay.

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World’s Oldest Space Launch Facility: The Baikonur Cosmodrome

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About 1,300 miles (2,100 km) southeast of Moscow in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, the world’s oldest and largest operational space launch facility is still conducting launches. The Baikonur Cosmodrome was originally constructed by the Soviet Union in the late 1950s as the base of operations for its space program.

The Cosmodrome has been an important part of space exploration history, having been the launching site of earth’s first satellite and first man in space. Today operations have been scaled down, but it remains one of only a handful of active space launching facilities in the world.

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Derinkuyu & The Underground Cities of Cappadocia

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In 1963, a man in the Nevşehir Province of Turkey knocked down a wall of his home. Behind it, he discovered a mysterious room. The man continued digging and soon discovered an intricate tunnel system with additional cave-like rooms. What he had discovered was the ancient Derinkuyu underground city, part of the Cappadocia region in central Anatolia, Turkey.

The elaborate subterranean network included discrete entrances, ventilation shafts, wells, and connecting passageways. It was one of dozens of underground cities carved from the rock in Cappadocia thousands of years ago. Hidden for centuries, Derinkuyu‘s underground city is the deepest. Read more…

Sigiriya: The Lion Rock of Sri Lanka

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Deep in the middle of Sri Lanka, a massive column of rock juts out from the green tropical forest. It reaches 660 feet tall and features frescoes, graffiti, and landscaped gardens. The rock is known as Sigiriya (see-gee-REE-yah) and holds a special place in the island’s cultural history.

It was established as the stronghold of a rogue king over 1,500 years ago, and today the Sigiriya complex stands as one of the earliest preserved examples of ancient urban planning. Ultimately the rock was unable to save its king, but it succeeded in preserving ancient Sinhalese culture.

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The Forgotten Castle on the Hudson

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On a lonely island fifty miles north of New York City, the bricks of a once-proud castle slowly return to the earth. The crumbling fortress is one of several remaining structures on tiny Pollepel Island, an abandoned six-and-a-half acre crag hugging the east bank of the Hudson River.

The 100 year-old Bannerman’s Castle was originally built as an arsenal, and has been abandoned for the last forty five years since a fire ravaged the island in the summer of 1969. It was the creation of a nineteenth-century businessman and served as an advertisement for the era’s largest military surplus empire.

When the castle’s namesake passed away, the island was forgotten. It’s brief resurrection was cut short by a fatal fire. For half a century the building has been losing battles against nature. Absent intervention in the very near future, it may lose the war.

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Concrete Arrows and the U.S. Airmail Beacon System

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Scattered across the United States are a network of mysterious concrete arrows. They are often found in remote locations or areas difficult to access. Some will be accompanied by a small shack, a few have a metal tower affixed to their base. Many are in good condition while others have succumbed to nature. The shape and direction of the arrows vary, but it is clear they served the same purpose.

The purpose was important: helping early pilots navigate U.S. transcontinental flights at night.

In a era before radar, pilots used ground-based landmarks for guidance. This solution worked for flight during the day, but grounded pilots at night. Before long, a system of beacons was established across the United States to guide airmail pilots around-the-clock. When radar and radio communications made the beacons obsolete years later, most were torn down and abandoned.

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