Buzludzha Monument - Gorno Novo Selo, Bulgaria
On top of a remote peak in the mountains of Bulgaria where a battle between the Bulgarians and the Turks raged in 1868 and again in 1891, stands an unusual abandoned monument. In celebration of socialist communism, the government in power during the height of Soviet influence decided to have the Bulgarian Army erect the monument. With several large statues and murals , the Buzludzha Monument includes huge images of Lenin and Marx overlooking an arena built to host state functions and celebrations. Above it all blazed a red star-shaped window in honor of Soviet Russia.
Pando, The Trembling Giant - Fishlake National Forest, Utah
Believed to be the most massive living organism in the entire world, Pando is an enormous grove of quaking aspens that are all genetically identical and share a single root system. Comprised of approximately 47,000 individual trees, Pando spans 107 acres and weighs more than 6,600 tons. Experts estimate that Pando, which can be found in Utah’s Fishlake National Forest, is more than one million years old. The future of the giant, though, is grim: Overgrazing deer and elk have damaged Pando’s root system and few young stems have been growing to replace the dying older trunks.
Heidelberg Thingstatte - Heidelberg, Germany
More than 1,000 Thingstatte were supposed to be built around Germany as part of Joseph Goebbels’ “Thing” movement of 1933, in which he envisioned a series of huge outdoor settings where thousands of people could gather and be indoctrinated by the Nazi regime. Only 45 were finished, the first built in 1934 and the last only two years later. Designed by the architect H. Alker, who worked for the Reich Labor Service, the Heidelberg Thingstatte covers 25 meters of sloping land and overlooks the city. It features two hexagonal towers constructed to hold flags and lighting systems and could hold more than 20,000 people.
Castle Frankenstein - Darmstadt, Germany
It’s unclear whether or not Johann Konrad Dippel, an alchemist born in Castle Frankenstein, served as the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s mad scientist of the same name. Regardless, Dippel had a colorful life that could easily provide the details for his own novel. Rumored to create potions, perform electrical therapies, and partake in gruesome experiments involving body parts stolen from the graveyard, Dippel set up a laboratory for making gold in Berlin and spent time in prison for political activities before dying of a stroke. Castle Frankenstein now lies in ruins with only two towers and a chapel remaining.
Darien Gap - El Choco, Columbia
The Pan-American Highway stretches nearly 30,000 miles from the northern shore of Alaska to the southernmost tip of South America. But there’s a 54-mile-wide section that sits unfinished between the countries of Panama and Colombia because of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The national park is filled with rare plants and wildlife, but also with indigenous people and a wide variety of paramilitary groups who earn money from drug sales and kidnapping. Attempts to build transportation routes across the area have all encountered problems from the geography and native populations.
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