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Best of the Week – 2010.09.15

OLD NEW SYNAGOGUE - Praha, Czech Republic

Praha New Old Synagogue - Prague, Czech Republic - Atlas Obscura Blog

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A ladder built into the back of this synagogue leads to a sealed door. The attic is rumored to hold a golem - an animated anthropomorphic being - brought to life from a pile of mud to protect the Jews before becoming too powerful and uncontrollable. The Old New Synagogue, located in the Jewish quarter of Josefov, Prague, was built in 1270 and is still being used as a house of prayer. The oldest surviving synagogue in Europe, Old New has been the main synagogue of the Prague Jewish community for more than 700 years.

Complete Atlas Obscura entry on Praha’s Old New Synagogue

REGGIE THE ALLIGATOR - Los Angeles, California

Reggie the Alligator in Los Angeles - LA Alligator California - Atlas Obscura

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First seen swimming in Machado Lake at Harbor City in California, Reggie the Alligator became a media sensation in 2005, inspiring a line of merchandise after he was named the official mascot of the nearby Los Angeles Harbor College. It is suspected that Reggie, now six and one half feet long, was raised in illegal captivity and released by his handlers - two men from San Pedro - into the lake when he was no longer wanted. Now in captivity at the Los Angeles Zoo, Reggie wasn’t caught until 2007 despite efforts in 2005.

Complete Atlas Obscura entry on Reggie the Alligator 

ROBINSON CRUSOE ISLAND - Chile

Robinson Crusoe Island - Chile - Atlas Obscura Blog

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It was on the Juan Fernandez Island that sailor Alexander Selkirk was marooned in 1704 and lived for more than four years with only a musket, a Bible, and some supplies before being rescued. Selkirk inspired Daniel Dafoe to write the classic novel “Robinson Crusoe,” for which the island was renamed in 1966. Hundreds of tourists flock to the island for its coral reefs and white sand beaches annually, but a small group live year-round in the village of San Juan Bautista. Home to one of the most highly endemic ecosystems in the world, the island has been considered of maximum scientific importance for decades.

Complete Atlas Obscura entry on Robinson Crusoe Island 

OVUM II - Ivankov, Ukraine

Ovum II - Ivankov, Ukraine - Atlas Obscura Blog

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Where civilization ends and the so-called exclusion zone of Chernobyl begins, artist Armin Koelbli has placed a giant sculpted egg. The sculpture, called Ovum II, is only 27 miles from the former nuclear plant on a highway roundabout, and is surrounded by abandoned villages and long-dead farms. Brought from Germany, the idea is that life will break through the egg - which functions as a time capsule - and survive radiation. The letters inside are sealed inside of a secure drum that is identical to the ones used to dispose of and store radioactive waste.

Complete Atlas Obscura entry on Ovum II in The Ukraine 

JOGGINS FOSSIL CLIFFS - Nova Scotia, Canada

Joggins Fossil Cliffs - Nova Scotia Canada - Atlas Obscura Blog

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Famous for being the most complete fossil record of life during the Coal Age that occurred more than 300 million years ago, the Joggins Fossil Cliffs is considered so perfect that it was mentioned in Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species.” Discovered by Sir William Dawson, the cliffs hold trees frozen in place for millions of years, the footprints of numerous creatures, and the earliest reptiles entombed in hollow logs. Dawson himself uncovered the fossil of Hylonomus lyelli, which remains the earliest known reptile in the history of life on earth. It was named the provincial fossil of Nova Scotia in 2002.

Complete Atlas Obscura entry on the Joggins Fossil Cliffs