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Atlas Obscura’s 20 Most Incredible New Places of 2014

It’s been another amazing year of discovery at Atlas Obscura, from a handmade amusement park in an Italian forest to an eerie island temple supposedly guarded by snakes. As we did in 2013, we’re celebrating our favorite new additions for the year.

Below are the 20 most incredible new places from 2014! Thanks to all our fantastic users who have contributed. Have a curious destination you want to share? Join Atlas Obscura and start participating in our international community of explorers. 

AI PIOPPI PLAYGROUND
Treviso, Italy 

Ai Pioppi Playground Ai Pioppi Playground (photograph by Oriol Ferrer Mesià)

A 40-year project of one man’s lifetime, the Ai Pioppi Playground hidden in an Italian forest is a handmade amusement park, including a colossal merry-go-round, a swinging bridge, and other rides that all operate without electricity. Read more >

ABANDONED MARX GENERATOR
Sychëvka, Russia

Abandoned Marx Generator (via esosedi.ru)

This Soviet-era lightning machine, known as a Marx Generator, was built in the 1970s in a forest near Moscow to test insulation. It’s mostly abandoned now, but was explored by a drone earlier this year, and was restarted in AugustRead more >

GUSTAVE EIFFEL’S SECRET APARTMENT
Paris, France

Gustave Eiffel's Secret Apartment The Eiffel Tower’s secret apartment (photograph by Serge Melki/Flickr)

Even the world’s most iconic destinations have their secrets. On the third level of the Eiffel Tower in Paris is a private apartment built for Gustave Eiffel himself to entertain the science elite, including figures like Thomas Edison. It recently opened for visitors to peek into. Read more >

RA PAULETTE’S HAND-CARVED CAVES
Ojo Caliente, New Mexico

Ra Paulette's Hand-Carved CavesRa Paulette’s caves (via racavedigger.com)

Artist Ra Paulette has spent over 25 years carving New Mexico caves into intricate art meant to inspire meditation. He plans to leave the subterranean sites quietly in place as something to be discovered through serendipity. Read more > 

GOA GAJAH
Ubud, Indonesia

Goa GajahGoa Gajah (photograph by mastahanky/Flickr)

The gaping maw of Goa Gajah leads into an ancient Indonesian temple. Known as the “Elephant Cave,” there aren’t any pachyderms, but there are a lot of incredible monsters carved amongst stone flames. Read more >

THE HELIX
Caracas, Venezuela

The HelixThe Helix (photograph by Damián D. Fossi Salas/Wikimedia)

El Helicoide, or the “Helix,” was meant to be Venezuela’s point of pride, a 1960s modernist shopping center topped with a dome by Buckminster Fuller. Instead, funding ran out, and it was shadowed in its reputation as a prison and headquarters of the secret police. Read more >

CLOWN MOTEL
Tonopah, Nevada

Clown MotelClown Motel (photograph by librarianguish)

We’ve seen a lot of terrifying things at Atlas Obscura… mummies, ossuaries, snake islands. But the Clown Motel — situated on the edge of a Nevada desert, decorated with thousands of clowns, overlooking an abandoned graveyard — might be our new winner in horror. Read more >

PRORA
Rügen Island, Germany

Prora from the air.Prora, Germany (photograph by Klugschnacker/Wikimedia)

Prora in Germany was meant to be a Nazi resort with 10,000 rooms. With WWII, the complex was abandoned, and remains looming half-finished on the coast. Read more >

ROYSE CITY FUTURO HOUSE
Royse City, Texas

Royse City Futuro HouseRoyse City Futuro House (photograph by amboy)

Finnish architect Matti Suuronen imagined a 1960s architecture of prefabricated UFOs that could fit any living situation. However, only around 100 were ever built and fewer survive, including this one out in a Texas fieldRead more >

CROSSNESS PUMPING STATION
London, England

Crossness Pumping StationCrossness Pumping Station (photograph by Amanda Slater/Flickr)

London in 1858 was plagued by the “Great Stink,” where sewage festered in the river. The Crossness Pumping Station, a Victorian wonder of ironwork, saved the city from the stench. Read more > 

MUMTAZ BEGUM
Karachi, Pakistan

Mumtaz BegumMumtaz Begum (via wkitravel.com)

For over 40 years at a Pakistani zoo, Mumtaz Begum has told fortunes from her cage. The half-fox, half-woman is actually played by a performer who inherited the role from his father in a curious family tradition. Read more >

BARCELONA SUPERCOMPUTING CENTER
Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona Supercomputing Center courtesy Barcelona Supercomputing Center

What to do with a disused center of faith? In Spain, a 19th-century church has held the Barcelona Supercomputing Center since 2005, one of Europe’s most powerful supercomputers. Read more >

TOWER OF THE SUN
Suita, Japan

Tower of the SunTower of the Sun (photograph by takato marui/Flickr)

This year, Japan’s Tower of the Sun, the symbol of Expo 70, reopened for the first time since the world’s fair, so visitors can once again see the trippy insides of the 233-foot psychedelic architecture by Tarō Okamoto. Read more >

SERPENT D’OCÉAN
Saint-Brevin-les-Pins, France

Serpent D'OcéanSerpent d’Océan (photograph by Yves LC/Wikimedia)

In 2012, artist Huang Yong Ping unveiled a skeletal sea serpent off the coast of France. The Serpent d’Océan stretches 400 feet, its silver bones revealed by the rise and fall of the waves. Read more >

KELENFÖLD POWER STATION
Budapest, Hungary

Kelenföld Power StationKelenföld Power Station (photograph by Jennifer Walker)

Budapest’s Kelenföld Power Station once lit up the city, but now its Art Deco architecture is only occasionally revealed for rare tours, the early 20th-century glass ceiling as stunning as ever amongst the old machines. Read more >

THE KING’S CROSS ICE WELL
London, England

The King's Cross Ice WellKing’s Cross Ice Well (photograph by Darmon Richter)

Before refrigeration, there were ice wells. One of these 19th-century wonders was recently revealed beneath London’s King’s Cross Station, and is welcoming the public to descend into the cooling chamber. Read more >

SARCOFAGI OF CARAJÍA
Luya, Peru

Sarcofagi of CarajíaSarcofagi of Carajía (photograph by Gaston E./Flickr)

The Sarcofagi of Carajía are giant mummy holders dating to 15th century. Thanks to their remote location 700 feet above the Peruvian valley floor, some of the original skulls still top their human-like forms. Read more >

GEAMANA
Geamana, Romania

Geamana, Romania Geamana (photograph by Sergiu Bacioiu/Flickr)

The Romanian village of Geamana thrived until 1978. Then when copper was found in the region, the town was flooded as a dumping site, with some ruins still rising above the toxic lake. Read more >

TANAH LOT
Tabanan, Indonesia

Tanah LotTanah Lot (photograph by Fabio Gismondi/Flickr)

Atop a Balinese sea crag, the Hindu temple of Tanah Lot is said to be guarded by sea snakes, including one legendary gargantuan serpent that supposedly winds its way beneath the waves. Read more >

NOVA CIDADE DE KILAMBA
Angola

Nova Cidade de KilambaNova Cidade de Kilamba (photograph by Santa Martha/Wikimedia)

Not all ghost towns are old; many have been built this century. Nova Cidade de Kilamba was funded by oil money with 700 eight-story apartment blocks in the 2000s, but the housing ill-fits the region and sits hauntingly vacant.  Read more >

Thanks to all the Atlas Obscura contributors who made 2014 a year of discovery! We look forward to uncovering more of the world’s wonders in 2015, and welcome you to join our community and contribute to our growing portrait of a curious planet.