A round-up of some of our favorite new entries to grace the front page of Atlas Obscura. Don’t forget to add or alert us to your favorite wondrous sites

GRANDE BALLROOM - Detroit, Michigan

Detroit's Grande Ballroom - Best of Atlas Obscura - Detroit Lives


One of Detroit’s most famous centers of rock music and counterculture from the 1960s actually opened four decades earlier as a jazz dancehall. Abandoned and left to deteriorate in the early 1970s, the stage is now open to urban explorers who date to enter the crumbling structure. Fixtures were stolen and windows busted some thirty years ago and, while signs were posted in 2006 claiming the site would serve as the future home of Chapel Hill Ministries, no restoration work has been done. The Grande Ballroom remains empty.

Complete Atlas Obscura entry on Detroit’s Grande Ballroom 


R1 NUCLEAR REACTOR Stockholm, Sweden

R1 Nuclear Reactor - Stockholm Sweden - Atlas Obscura Best of Blog


Now a popular venue for modern art and dance performances, Sweden’s Reaktor 1 was built 25 meters directly underneath the KTH Royal Institute of Technology within 1 km of about 40,000 people who would have been hurt in the event of a problem at the site. In July 1954, the scientists working at R1 produced the country’s first nuclear reaction. Work continued at the reactor for two more decades, until the site was decommissioned in the 1970s due to its proximity to Stockholm, a risk that was overlooked during the heady days of the Cold War and nuclear armament following World War II.

Complete Atlas Obscura entry on Stockholm’s R1 Nuclear Reactor


LOTUS LAKEUdon Thani, Thailand

Lotus Lake - Udon Thani, Thailand - Best of Atlas Obscura Places


Tucked into rice farms in the Northeast corner of Thailand, giant bodies of water filled with millions of flamingo-pink lotus flowers are known for the most part only by the local villagers who venture past the tall elephant grasses to collect snails and lotus stalks for food. While the seeds and stems are eaten by the locals, the lotus flower is an important Buddhist symbol. The wetlands where these flowers grow are home to about 80 different species of bird, including several that are endangered today.

Complete Atlas Obscura entry on Lotus Lake



Merenid Tombs - Fes, Morocco - Best of Atlas Obscura Blog


Built in the 14th century, the Merenid tombs of Morocco have been torn apart by looters. But what they lack in their original decorative charm, the tombs make up for with the view. Situated high above the wall of Fez Medina, the tombs look out over a patchwork of minarets, satellites, laundry lines and the occasional garbage fire. Carved into the nearby hills are man-made caves that serve as dwellings for some of Fez’s less fortunate. Directly beneath the tombs, visitors will find two large graveyards used as grazing grounds for the local shepherds.

Complete Atlas Obscura entry on the Merenid Tombs



Ohio State Reformatory - Shawshank Redemption Prison - Mansfield Ohio


Recognizable for its use in “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994) starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, the Ohio State Reformatory took more than two decades to build, between 1886 and 1910. In operation until 1990, the prison, also known as the Mansfield Reformatory, a classic example of Germanic castle architecture, is impressive in both scale and construction. Because more than 200 people died in and around the prison’s wall while it was still in operation, including several guards, it serves as a popular destination for those that believe in the paranormal.

Complete Atlas Obscura entry on the Ohio State Reformatory (Shawshank Prison)